In Cambodia, the rainy season starts in May and ends around November. At its peak which is around now (September), it normally rains every 2 out of 3 days.
As I watch Vanou (one of my local students who is 11 years old) crossing the watery alley with his bicycle, my true admiration goes to the Khmer’s resilience and readiness for the rainy days!
First of all, most of the Khmer houses (especially in rural Cambodia) are built on stilts. Although the local communities could not afford much furniture in their houses, but one thing they would never cut corner is having the strong and steady stilts holding up the entire house.
When the houses are on stilts, not only they can escape from the rainy season floods (which is very often) but they also offer a cooling area for community gathering during the dry days.
Not far from here, there is Kampong Phluk which has been turned into a deep water village. In fact, it is a famous floating village that all houses (homes, schools, shops, temples etc) are built on the incredibly high and strong stilts. It is part of Tonle Sap, which is the Asia’s largest freshwater lake that covers an area of 2,500 square kms
The rainy days are fantastic for children too! There are natural playgrounds created everywhere. While strolling around the villages on my motorbike, I often hear laughters and see children swimming (naked!) in front of their houses. The joy and happiness on their tiny little faces are just priceless.
Another local activity during the rainy days is fishing. Children from my local home have been telling me every morning, ‘Let’s go fishing!’, and they are absolutely serious when it comes to fishing! I often see people holding their fishing baskets, nets or rods to find their catch. They hope to bring home some fish so that the many children and elderlies can have an unusually good feed (for free).
My Khmer friends and families inspired me, “Always look at the bright side in life! One can always find joy (even in challenging environment) as long as you are ready and look for it.”
What is your way to get ready for the ‘rainy days’?
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One of the most traditional dances in Cambodia is the Apsara Dance. It’s slow and sensual movements signify beauty, which I heard that even kings in the history couldn’t resist it.
Girls here in Cambodia learn to dance like Apsaras at a very young age. Their movements are just mesmerising.
I like watching the Apsara Dance not only because of the highly skilled dancers nor the beautiful costume they wear, it is because the long standing tradition, cultural reflection and ability to pass it on to next generations to come.
It makes me feel closer to the history and enables me to slow down to enjoy the moments.
What tradition would you like to pass on to the generations to come?
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Food is a very important element of life. Not only it provides the nutrients to give us energy for all functions of our body, but it gives us much pleasure when we are sharing it with others.
In Cambodia, meals are shared and we always eat together. Although not all families could afford to put plenty of food on the table, but the joy and happiness of eating remains regardless how much they have to share.
In Cambodia, there are two seasons. As principal Nika says, “we have rainy season and not rainy season (aka dry season). Right now we are in rainy season”.
Today, it is not rainy at all and the sun is working extra hard! We are hot and sweaty as we continue to build a strong foundation for the new classrooms.
Today, I started volunteering for the new classroom construction at Chea Smonn School in rural Cambodia.
I have no idea what to do nor have any experience in construction. But the master builders Mr Ny and Mr Nian were supervising our effort nicely... so I was an assistant brick layer, woohoo!
If we could choose a superpower, perhaps is not bad to be able to know the unknown.
The ability to foresee things that are yet to happen or simply have the knowledge about certain things that others may not know. How cool is it?
I remember... one of my senior leaders used to spot my grammatical mistakes in emails or presentation like a flash, which was way before he even paid any attention to the messages I was getting across I used to mind it, in fact hated it! I felt absolutely embarrassed about it.