Tag Archives: culture

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… Fried Crickets

cricketsYes, 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. crickets_0 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.

Please Describe the Weather

… 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. 100_0511

Below is a very literal English translation of the above Khmer text. 100_0513

Beseeching a spirit…


I am always fascinated when I see something here in person or read about it in a local newspaper that gives insight into the religious mindset of the people here. Here is another example from the Wednesday, May 19, 2010, Phnom Penh Post newspaper:

More than 15,000 people came out for an annual ceremony in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district during which attendees beseeched a spirit for rain, a local official said.

The two-day ceremony in Ponhea Pun commune concluded Tuesday.

Commune chief Kou Eoun said villagers prayed for rain as well as for “peace for beasts and domestic animals”.

He said comedians and musicians accompanied a procession of 200 villagers who made offerings to a holy spirit called Neak Ta Pring Kh’aek on Tuesday morning, and that thousands of people travelled from surrounding provinces Read more >>