Things that make you go hmm… An Unwelcome Visitor

Living in a foreign land, I have tried to be friendly. But some guests just aren’t welcome. Such was the case with this rather large centipede that we found crawling across our living room floor. It seems like when it rains that lots of little, and sometimes not so little, crawling things try to seek shelter in our home. We have many geckos that aren’t too bothersome, and I figure that they help eat bugs. However, I wasn’t for sure if this centipede had much value, so its stay in our house didn’t last long…


Into the Fog

100_0510Fog may make for a nice picture as it engulfs the Golden Gate Bridge, but I have never heard anyone say that they like to drive in the fog. However, five days a week, I get up from bed and go into the fog. The fog is not along the road, and I don’t recall ever seeing fog in Phnom Penh. The fog that I am speaking of doesn’t cause much of a visibility problem, but it does cause an understanding problem. I think that it was one of my Greek or Hebrew teachers in seminary who spoke of language learning being like driving through fog.

As you learn a new language, it always feels like your brain is in a continual state of fogginess, or so it seems. This is because most teachers are continually trying to teach their students new words and grammar structures. So as a language student, I often feel like I vaguely grasp a newly introduced concept or word, and then the next day something new is again introduced. Thus, it seems like I am always seeing blurry shapes on the horizon that I can’t quite make out.

However, it is amazing to look back on lessons that seemed so foggy at the time, and realize that now they seem so crystal clear. The other day, I flipped through the book from my level one class and realized that somewhere along the way, the fog lifted and now the lessons seemed quite easy. Even though, at the time when I was first learning them, the lessons seemed quite difficult and at times almost overwhelming. Really, I think that the only way to learn a new language is to persistently go into the fog, and hope that somewhere along the way the fog lifts…

Things Along the Road… Money Changers

100_0025Well, it my be hard to top the shock value of the first post in this series: Things Along the Road… Fried Crickets, but most of life can be rather mundane. So this post along with many others may not be all that exciting, but they will continue to give a brief snapshot of life in Cambodia.

Money changers, especially in areas around the markets, are another common thing to see along the road. The official currency of the country is the riel. However, the US dollar is widely used throughout the whole country. In the past, coins were used, but the current system does not use any coins, US or Cambodian.

exchanging_moneyThe current exchange rate is about 4,300 riel for 1 US dollar. But most small shops and restaurants give an exchange rate of 4,000 riel for 1 US dollar. The money changers in small booths along the road offer the best exchange rate. So one can gain about 7 cents per dollar by getting money exchanged at a road side booth rather than using US dollars at places where prices are charged in the Cambodian riel. When getting money exchanged, each US dollar is closely inspected, because the use of counterfeit dollars is a fairly common occurrence. Also, I think my brain is still adjusting to dividing prices by 4,000 to see how much the price is in dollars.