I first tried “krolan”, sticky rice in bamboo, by Angkor Wat when I first came to Cambodia in March. It was tasty and a great snack. I’ve eaten much sticky rice in my time, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in bamboo.
Krolan is often sold on the street and I haven’t seen it sold in any shops yet.
I was really excited to go fishing for the first time in Cambodia, even though I suck at fishing and I was reminded of that when I tried to do it again with my friends. Thankfully, if you weren’t good at fishing, you can just nap in the hammocks and eat.
My Khmer (Cambodian) friends invited me and we spent the afternoon fishing, eating and lazing around by the Tonlé Sap, a combined river and lake system that is the largest body of water in South East Asia. It creates more than 75% of Cambodia’s fresh water fish cash and directly supports approximately more than three million people.
There are many tourist buses that pass along this route and the food is more expensive than the centre of town. But the resting on a hammock and sharing a meal with good friends for the afternoon is well worth it.
Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar and Vietnam are going to be the newer members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2015. One of the impacts of this integration is it will be easier for people to find work in other member countries, similar to the European Union. The claimed objective of ASEAN is to narrow the development gap and speed up economic integration.
However, I was talking to some of my Cambodian friends about how they feel about ASEAN and quite a few of them are worried about increased competition for jobs with members from other countries. The educational system and graduation rates in Cambodia on all levels is far behind other member countries.
Cambodia will experience even more changes in the next few years, particularly with the results that people are waiting for of the recent national elections and the ASEAN integration.
It takes you at least four times longer than a Cambodian to do labour tasks like shoveling and laying bricks
I tried to be useful in helping my friend build a house and his cousin showed me the right shoveling techniques. Needless to say, I was still slow. I’ve seen kids pick up piles of bricks and move them faster than most Western people could. Good thing I’m not building a home in a community.
When you’re moving, you think one layer of stuff covering the moving vehicle is considered full.
When my colleagues and I were moving a bunch of stuff out of the house, the bikes covered one layer of the moving wagon and we thought that was enough for one trip. But our Cambodian friends yelled, “Put more things!” He successfully packed on three more layers of stuff without anything falling off.
One of my friends said, “Only in Cambodia. Westerners will just pay more money to move things a bit at a time but we will try and fit everything in.”
You’re so impressed every time a 14-year-old Cambodian boy changes your flat tire
This is one of several upcoming posts of “You know you’re a Westerner in Cambodia when . . .” If you have other ideas, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course in Cambodia, we wouldn’t have a farewell party for a colleague in an office, restaurant or home. What better place to do it than a rice field!
The organization I am working with puts the most effort in organizing meaningful goodbyes from making banners, videos and crafts for outgoing staff and volunteers. This party topped it off with a full on dance party, fruit picnic and games.