The equivalent of an Aussie country mile is a Khmer minute. Patience is more than a virtue here!
Imagine a large aquarium. The fish move in and out and swarm as a pack. To the observer there is no rhyme or reason. Here riding and driving is like that. No one does what you expect so therefore you are never surprised. You need great spacial awareness and good insurance . . . oh and a Cambodian license.
What you can't get in Cambodia:
What you can get:
- Top sheets…any size….no idea why
- Sandals or shoes for men larger than size 8
- Locally made clothes (other than in very expensive boutiques made from local silk)
- Interesting fabrics
- Whole grain bread
- Beef sausages
- Aussie style BBQ's…business opportunity :?
- A mechanic who speaks English. You need great miming skills
- Solar panels…electricity is purchased from Thailand!!
- A road that doesn't look like it has been bombed (except in the centre of town)
What it has taught us:
- Any prescription drug known to man without a prescription…really
- Any kind of other drug you need but shouldn't buy
- Cheap massages, pedicures, manicures
- Khmer people who want to help but constantly amused by our very bad Khmer
- Lots and lots of tuk tuks
- Stomach bugs
- Cheap cocktails, beer and food and smokes/tobacco
- Any food style from anywhere in the world
- Huge gas bottles that fuel the Khmer stove right in the cupboard under the stove in the kitchen!!
- Poverty on a scale that is hard to imagine…over 60% of the population live on less than 50 cents a day
The most significant thing we have learnt, as the Dalai Lama said,
- Where to buy cheap alcohol
- To love and embrace the people/culture in Cambodia
- Take up the opportunities to make a small difference
- To not sweat the small stuff
- Here we will always be strangers in a strange land . . . and we are OK with that
- To look out for each other and our Khmer and expat friends
- Walk in single file
- That in spite of some of the worst atrocities committed on a people (Pol Pot, the USA and the Vietnamese) that forgiveness is possible. We see it every day with this community . . . they just get on with it
- That the way out of the poverty cycle for Khmer's is English . . . that means a job
- When you cross a road . . . run like you are fighting and don't look at the cameras . . . and whatever you do . . . don't hesitate. In the words of Douglas Adams "Don't panic and bring a towel". This is especially true when we are on the motor bike
- That we really are spoilt in Australia
- There is a rhythm to the traffic here
- That the performance of the Aussie dollar takes on a whole new significance living here . . . can someone speak to Tony and tell him we need it to be higher?
- It is very different living here to being a tourist
- That orphans aren't a tourist attraction . . . and should never have been
- That middle aged men from across the world should stop and think before using a poor village girl for their needs . . . fund them to learn English instead
- That most levels of Government here (and across the world) is corrupt . . . hence the above two points
"Be useful and be happy".