As I walked into the kitchen, I saw two geckos running toward each other. I stopped in my tracks, afraid that they would both run towards me to attack. But, as I stood there, they began attacking each other.
After a few seconds of dueling, one took the upperhand and bit the others head–I mean, literally, one had the geckos head completely in its mouth. They stood there for awhile, long enough for me to run to my room, grab my camera, and take a few pictures (unfortunately, none came out clearly). But it was such an interesting sight. After a few more minutes of staying still, the other finally broke out of its mouth somehow. They must have gotten tired of dueling, because they just went their separate ways.
The rainy season has begun here and with it has come a welcomed break from the heat. But on the downside comes driving in the rain often and a great increase in the mosquito population. Mosquitoes must have water to lay their eggs in to complete their life cycle, and the rainy season offers an abundance of ideal places for mosquitoes to lay eggs. Some species of mosquitoes can go from an egg to an adult in just 4 days.
A few weeks, ago I had stopped at a street side electric shop to see if I could find a bug light to buy to aid in keeping the mosquito population at a minimum inside my house. I didn’t know the exact name in Khmer, but I asked if the shop had mosquito lights. But all this inquiry received was a very puzzled look from the salesman, and I realized that I did not know the proper name for it in Khmer. I thought for a moment and then asked if they had a light for killing mosquitoes in Khmer. With this, the look of puzzlement left the salesman’s face, and I was led to a shelf with several bug lights on it. In Khmer, the name for the bug light literally means ‘machine electrocuting mosquitoes.’ Which is a fitting name, since the blue lights are only a lure to draw the mosquitoes in where they are electrocuted to death. It may sound cruel, but I have yet to meet anyone who is upset by the death of mosquitoes.
I recently bought another bug light at a shop along the road close to where I live. I had tried and failed to buy one a few months ago at this shop, and I thought that they just didn’t have them. However, this time knowing the proper name, when I told the store owner what I wanted, he quickly pulled one out from under the counter.
Inch by inch, I am moving forward in my ability to communicate. It is a slow process, but every so often a small but encouraging breakthrough occurs.
Yes, that is right! Fried crickets. There are many food carts along the streets here in the city. Most of the food is fairly typical dishes that one would expect to see here and an assortment of fruits and vegetables. However, when I see the food carts with crickets and a variety of other bugs, I always think to myself that I can’t really believe that people eat things like that. But having said that, Daniel and I recently, under much pressure from some Cambodian friends, gave them a try. My thought is still that a fried cricket is something that is better to be seen than tasted. From my observation people here eat them like snack. So instead of grabbing a bag of potato chips or pretzels, they snack on a few freshly fried crickets. And as you can see from the picture, if you don’t like fried crickets, there are plenty of other fried bugs to choose from.
This is the first of a series of posts that Daniel and I are starting called: “Things Along the Road…” We will basically be trying to capture pictures and share a few thoughts about, as the title says, things along the road. So be watching for more posts in the weeks ahead.
Five hours drive led us to Siem Reap, where the Angkor Wat is located. As expected, I fell asleep through half of the drive there as the droning sound of the tires rolled through the streets. Whenever I’m awake, I’d stare out the window watching as we pass by houses on stilts, traps used to catch crickets, pigs hanging in ropes behind vans, and people piled inside and on top of cars. These are actually things I see on a regular basis while driving to the village, yet something I haven’t seen until now was the Buddha statues being carved. We actually passed by many of these places on the way to Siem Reap. It sort of makes you wonder how many are being made per day as at one point I saw nearly every house had a moderately large sized Buddha statue sitting in the front yard of the houses. In fact, I think I’ve seen these statues nearly everywhere; in the provinces especially.
Siem Reap was definitely a very worthwhile trip, seeing enormous temples and elaborate designs on nearly every wall. I was amazing by every temple we visited because of the size and detail of each design on the walls. This is a reminder of the creativeness and ingenuity that God gave us, yet it saddens me to see when these man-made objects become the source of worship as many tourists would make a quick bow at each statue.
At one point, an elderly lady tried to get us to take an incense and walk up the temple to place it in front of the Buddha. I had to refuse, but the lady was pretty persistent in trying to get us to do it.
For anyone who has plans to visit Angkor Wat
You might want to be prepared to either feel guilty or spend lots of money on things you don’t need. At the entrance of every temple, a large group of people will start running to you to get you to buy something… when I say running, I mean literally they run to you. What makes this even more tough are the little kids who are maybe 6 or 7 years old asking you in a sweet voice “Buy for one dollah” with a desperate look on their faces. There were many times when I felt like I wanted to buy something. There were even sellers in other parts of the city.
As we stepped out of an ice cream store later that day, a group of little girls asked us to buy something. When we refused, they asked us to trade their products for ice cream instead as they looked inside the store with a longing look on their faces. By their sweet faces looking inside, I wanted to buy ice cream for all of them!
… in Khmer that is. A couple days ago in language class, our lesson was about the weather, and it came at a good time. The past couple weeks have been a transition from the hot season to the beginning of the rainy season. The hot season has drug on a bit longer than normal this year, but it is thankfully coming to an end now. The past several days have had at least a little rain each day. Our teacher is always good about giving us phrases to use that a typical Khmer person would use. I can now say, “It is so hot that I want to die” in Khmer, which would have been quite useful to know during the hot season.
Below is a page of the lesson about weather. As you look at the Khmer text below, you will notice that there are not spaces between every word. Instead, there are only spaces between each phrase. This is an added challenge to learning to read in Khmer. But as I have become more familiar with the words, I am finding that I can remember which group of letters make up a word.
Below is a very literal English translation of the above Khmer text.