Kun, Khun, and Ghin

Trip Start Jan 19, 2005
Trip End Feb 23, 2005

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Monday, January 31, 2005

Okay I'm going to cut to the chase here... as I've been sitting in this Internet cafe for a long time today.

We took the public bus from Kratie to Phnom Penh (the capital city of Cambodia). I won't describe P.P. here, as I will be spending quality time there in a few days. We had a few hours in Phnom Penh and then we hopped into a cramped little mini-bus and headed for our next destination.

After about 1.5 hours, we arrived in the province of Takeo. I'm pretty sure few Westerners make it here and if they do, they're only passing through. Our intentions were to pass through the province as well but we were also going to spend the night at a local family's home.

From a remote rural road we pulled into the yard of our homestay. For Cambodians, the family seemed quite well off. They had three wooden houses, a separate squat toilet, a grotty-looking lily pond, and acres of open space surrounding them. The owner was a truly fascinating gentleman. I believe he was about 76 years old and he had had 14 children. I met one of them while I was there and amazingly he was only 17 years old.

The owner, Khun, had also, like so many others, suffered through the Pol Pot regime (1975 - 1979). A few of his kids had even been killed by the government during this time. Fortunately for himself, he was an uneducated man and, because of that, he was never labeled as a threat to the government.

He was moved off his existing property though. Apparently his house was much bigger before '75. When he returned in 1979, he found his house had been torn down. Finding some wood scattered throughout the countryside, he began to rebuild his house. The three houses that stand today are the exact three houses he built 26 years ago.

Tonight involved a lot of drinking. Khun's son-in-law, Ghin, drank with us and was a bit of a bizarre man. First off, it was difficult to talk to him, as he didn't speak English... and the only Khmer I can speak is best suited in a restaurant setting. And secondly, he was very touchy feely and seemed to take a liking to myself. It wasn't anything risque, it was just a lot of man-touching that I'm not used to. I didn't know how to react. Was this a Cambodian custom? Did I have to react in kind? Was I to feel his pectoral muscles, as he felt mine? Everybody just laughed at us. I must admit it was quite funny, but how was I going to unlink his arm from mine?

After showing an interest in watches, I decided to fish out my broken Cambodian Prime Minister watch and see how Ghin would react to it. Well, let's put it this way, I never saw it again. After inspecting it, he mockingly put it in his pocket as if to say, "I'm keeping this". Well, he did just that. I didn't realize he still had it until the next morning. I didn't care. It was broken and I was looking for a way to unload that watch anyways.

Funny stuff though, I'm there to spend a night at a traditional Cambodian home, and what do I get? Good 'ol Ghin decides to feel up my upper body and then nicks my watch. Truly priceless!
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