Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Meet The Cambodians

Man and his dogs

This is one of my favourite photos from Cambodia. Rice field, person, dogs, birds, greeen! This is a special kind of rice which they grow in the dry season. It takes three months form planting to harvest, which is very short, and it is very nutritious rice. They can only grow it in the flood plains of large rivers and the Tonle Sap lake where the soil is very fertile.

Bicycle Lady

Bicycles are the predominat form of local transport for Cambodians, they are everywhere! This lady was pushing her bike past one of the temples in the late afternoon. Pity the shadow of the photographer snuck into the bottom right corner of the pic!

"Bag for you, Lady! Only 3 dollars, bag for you lady?"

There are people selling souvenirs and refreshments to tourists everywhere! One of the most amazing things abot Cmabodia is that even though most of the population are desperately poor, there are hardly any beggars. People seem proactive and proud, and so everyone is trying to sell something. Bags, t-shirts, scarves, postcards, cooldrinks, guidebooks etc. One has to learn very quickly to say 'No, thank you!' firmly, but nicely! The hardest is saying no thanks to the cute little kids who've been sent to sell a pack of postcards or 5 bracelets for a dollar. They are almost irresistible. But there is a problem with parents taking their kids out of school to sell things and bring an income into the family so it is something one must try to avoid.

Waiting Game

This lady was selling fresh pineapple outside Preah Kahn temple. How much time these vendors must spend just waiting.... and hoping.

Boys on Bikes

They are riding past Angkor Wat temple. As we did our rounds of the temples I often wondered how the local people who live their daily lives 'in the shadow of Angkor Wat' must feel about it. Do they ever stop and take in it's magnificence? Do they just see it as an income? Do they wonder what all the fuss is about? Do they wish they could get rid of the hordes of tourists....I certainly did! But I was one fo them too.

Everybody loves to watch monkeys!

We were so enjoying watching this troop of monkeys in the grounds of Angkor Wat, and we weren't the only ones either. These boys were on their way somewhere, but stopped their bikes to have a good luck and laugh at the monkeys and their silly antics!

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts, diddeliddi...

If Bicycles are the main mode of transport, motorbikes come a close second.
And coconuts are the main staple after rice. A very typical scene.

Chicken 'Indaba'

'Indaba' is a Zulu word for a gathering to discuss important matters. If only I knew the Cambodian equivalent, for this is certainly what was happening here. This was our bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Jules had seen a lady loading in a bunch of live chickens into the bowels of the bus as we left Phnom Penh, and when we stopped at this restaurant for a break, they were all dead! How terrible! We had got a faint whiff of something 'turpentiney' while we were in the bus, and I suppose it must've been much worse in the bottom of the bus and too much for the chickens. Such a tragic story. The owner was understandably irate, but the bus driver was taking no responsibility.

Chicken 'Indaba' Victims

Playing and Sleeping.

I love how kids just get on with having fun - often in such an ernest fashion, too!
She was playing in a pile of building sand near the restaurant where our 'chicken' bus stopped. I guess the doggie was just tired.


These are the children of Mr Lei, the boat driver and jungle-trek guide at Rainbow Lodge.
The older brother was helping his younger brother to learn how to read - or so it seemed.
Education is one of the biggest challenges in Cambodia: because of high levels of poverty, many children work from a very young age. So many kids are on the streets selling stuff to tourists or helping their parents in the fields or elsewhere. Ensuring decent education for these children is a real challenge. Seeing these two seriously studying a book every afternoon while we were at Rainbow Lodge was heartening.

Boy's Best Friend.

Tagging along with screams of laughter!

I took this photo from our boat from Koh Rong island back to the mainland. These two boys were on their way out fishing when our boat passed them. They couldn't resist the opportunity to hang onto the rope and tag along for a while! They hung on pretty tight but eventually they were both flung off. They were having an absolute ball!

Plodding along.

Water buffalo are such an important asset to Cambodian farmers.

Apsara Beauties.

This was a traditional dance show we watched in Siem Reap - these wowen dancers are known as 'Apsaras' and stone carvings of them are all over the temples of Angkor.
I hadn't realised how many similarities there are between Cambodian and Indian culture. This dancing reminded me quite a bit of tradiitonal hindu danicng I've watched in Greytown!
Hinduism has beenthe state religion of Cambodia - or the Khmer Empire - on and off since about 50 A.D. Angkor Wat is the biggest Hindu temple in the world. In between, Buddhism has also had a big influence on the spirituality of the Cambodian people, and currently Buddhism is recognised as the dominant religion, but there is still a lot of Hindu influence in the culture. Cambodians who speak English sometimes show a hint of the kind of accent one hears from Indian people speaking English as a second language.

The wheels in Cambodia go round and round...

This picture is rather iconic, if I say so myself: magnificent, ancient stone temple in the background, and Cambodians on the top 3 forms of transport in the foreground: Tuk-tuk, bicycle and motorbike.

Floating Market on the Tonle Sap lake.

See previous post for details...


MOM and DAD! Do you remember the picture of me wearing Dad's big deerstalker hat?
Here it is all over again...in Cambodia! I think she is just a lot cuter!

Mr Tao

He was out Tuk-tuk driver for the first three days in Siem Reap. What a friendly, kind and humble man. He took us everywhere we wanted to go and was always more than happy to wait for us. We had some interesting chats with him which helped us gain some insights into 'ordinary life' in Cambodia. Bless him. This view of him from behind is so typical of our experience there!