24 Sept 2014 Koh Sralao Village, Province of Koh Kong
So this was the homestay they were talking about, I couldn’t help thinking as I sat in this hut. For dinner we had some rice, soup with carrots and celery (it was nice, homely) and some chicken (bones) with ginger. They did not join us for the meal, and I couldn’t help wondering if we were taking up their share of the food for the night.
We spoke to the host of the house tonight, a 72 year old man who’s been married to his wife for more than 50 years. They were married when they were 16, and had met in school in a nearby province. She had 17 pregnancies before, by which only one daughter remained today. 7 miscarriages, 4 passed on during the Khmer Rouge, and the rest.. Fever, perhaps.
He had moved here from Preyvent province in 1982, previously working at a government hospital before they sent him here. Something like the Ministry of Health. They had since stayed here, set up this little house and lived here since.
Pi and Srey Nead
Sayut (72m) Bern (wife) Piak Dai (son 17) Tiere (daughter of Sayut), Mik Nea (March) (son of Tiere)
The Khmer Rouge – why did they kill? He didn’t know. Life then was tough.
What was the happiest moment of his life? I told Wee to ask. He said, he didn’t have much, he doesn’t have much money, all he has is his family, and being with his wife, his family makes him happy. Kristal and I ‘awwed’ in unison.
Did he have any advice for us?
Unlike Cambodia, he did not have a lot of money in his work, so we should always take hold of whatever opportunities, because over here, he does not have much opportunities.
Could he give us a Khmer name?
Srey noch and srey nit (ned) – meaning beautiful and smart, and ned is the sibling. There’s something about naming, and being named, that creates a sense of attachment.
I wanted to show him some pictures on my phone. As silly as it sounds, I feel so ashamed of all that I have. I scrolled past the pictures, the Dimsum I had, and I felt strangely ashamed to show him.
When I awoke this morning I felt thankful for the sun – even the sun was a blessing and a privilege, I realised. I guess I’d never thought of the sun in this light before, how important it was, for the sun’s rays to shine in for me to see. I’ve considered it before, but from last night this was particularly poignant.
Morning, 25 Sept – Even the rising sun is such a blessing. Gosh, at night time I open my eyes and I can see absolutely nothing. As we navigate our ways to the toilet, behind us is pitch darkness and we see only a meter ahead.
27 Sept 2014 – Asian Hotel
How time flies. 3 nights passed, just like that. 2nd night of sleeping was fine, showering got easier, last night I even peed at the ‘outdoors’ rather than a toilet. How adaptable! Hehe. Sometimes I think I can stay in a village for a year. Maybe not years like 5 years, but 1 year is entirely possible, I think. Today afternoon I taught Srey Noch ‘apple’, ‘banana’, etc words as she scrawled clumsily across her chalkboard. Another boy joined in and we flipped the textbook for images which I said aloud in English, and made them repeat. It was lovely, and sometimes, I do wonder if I would have gone that route if not for MOE. I think, really, I very well might have – after today’s experience, and that of afew days ago. Who knows, right? Maybe when I’m 27 (ah, opportunity costs…) or… Well, well. Not raising any expectations for myself. Right now I’m just listening to acoustic music in my room, in aircon, alone. Ultimate therapeutic environment. Blankie, aircon, pillow, music, and a writing journal. I actually love writing, pen to paper, I miss it, these endless scribblings and writing. I could go on forever, endless words that fill up pages – except I can’t bear to fill these beautifully printed pages with crappy insignificant ramblings.
I feel like I’m getting in touch with my past self again, my younger self, and possibly the self that I was, the self that I could have been. At present I feel kind of… Contented? Rekindling (TRYING to rekindle, very much more like) with my first true loves – reading, writing, having deep conversations. Travelling. A certain someone, as I’ve come to admit, reminds me of that person, that person that I was, or could have been, and I am jealous, I am 😦 But as I splashed furiously in the muddy waters today, I did wonder if my past self would have been as ready as I am. Maybe yes, but more so I feel like a part of me wants to reinforce that identity of wandering in forests and muddy mangroves. Then again, it was always there, I think, creeping beneath. I’m somewhat worried that I’ll finish this journal and fill it with low-quality crappy thoughts and phrases. Tomorrow there’s r&r, and right now, frankly, I want to stay in the room alone, with the freedom to do whatever I want – chill in the room, sleep, music.