Not little green apples….

Cambodians, especially the deaf youth, live a simple lifestyle that is closely linked to nature. Today there was excitement in the morning break when the students discovered two small green mangoes on a tree on our property–unfortunately too far out of reach for even our mango-picker poles.

I love mangoes but the idea of eating a hard, unripe green mango is yechy for me. Cambodians put some sort of salt or spices or something on the green mangoes and think it’s heavenly.

Royal Plowing Day

Today King Sihomani attended the annual royal plowing ceremony in Kampong Speu Province. The ceremony, held at the beginning of the rainy season, is to predict the fortunes of various agricultural crops in Cambodia.

First two oxen make three plowing trips across the designated field, attended by royal officials.

Then the oxen were led to seven platters with various foods, to see which they would choose. Today the oxen favored rice, corn, and soybeans indicating to the officials that those crops will be bountiful this year. The other offerings placed before the oxen were sesame, grass, water, and wine.

[Now you know! If you want to invest in Cambodian soybean futures, now is the time!]

[Photos are from the Khmer Times.]

Take your pick….

I don’t like to cook–and don’t even have a stove in my house, just a microwave. Cambodia has many of these food stalls–simple shops set up on the street where a woman or a family cooks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or more big pots of what the Cambodians call “food,” i.e., something to be eaten with rice which in Cambodian culture is NOT food.

Once every week or so, I go to a food stall near my house and lift the lids of the six pots there to see what has been prepared. I look for things I might like and also look for the chopped red chilies in a pot. Those pots I REALLY avoid.

I tell the cook I want enough food for four people and give her a plastic box to put it in and then I ask for enough rice for four people and give another plastic box for that. Then I go home and each night of the week I eat the same thing fired up in the microwave. Supper for five nights costs me $6.25.

Musica Felice #12

Ms. Miwako Fujiwara is a professional pianist, composer, and musical organizer, and last weekend she presented her 12th charity concert at the Sofitel Hotel.

The theme for this concert was Europe Day and each of the selections came from one of the countries of the European Union.

Miwako always invites the staff of DDP to attend the concerts and usually some of our deaf staff are part of our group. They don’t always receive and appreciate the full musical experience but they enjoy meeting others and here they were enjoying some croissants and pastries at the break.

Khmer New Year

For all its drive to be a UN-named “moderate income”country and despite all the high-rise buildings and new international airports, Cambodia is still an old-style rural homeland. 85% of the people are farmers and even the city dwellers all went back to their home provinces this week for the Khmer New Year. And there they played the traditional new year games and had the traditional new year dances just like they have for centuries. In that regard, not much has changed. [Photos are from the Khmer Times.]

This is a game similar to duck-duck-goose. Can you imagine your neighborhood getting together for a game like this on January 1st? Can you even imagine your neighbors getting together?
A tug-0-war is a traditional new year game!
And so is the Cambodian version of the pinata.

Khmer New Year

Today was the last day of the Khmer New Year holiday, an extra day added to the official three days because they fell on a weekend. I was surprised that almost everything remained closed.

This is the ABA bank which is probably the most used bank in Cambodia because they so aggressively got stores to accept smartphone payments. Every place you go has an ABA QR code on display. I went by this branch today just to check to see if they were open because they are a bit different from other banks. They don’t keep banking hours! They are open 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM six days a week! Unheard of, in my experience! (Note table with red cover holding food and drink offerings for the spirits on this holiday.)

Khmer New Year

As with any major national celebration in any country, the Khmer New Year has several practices and rituals that are considered part of the event. One practice in Cambodia for the new year is the erecting of some sort of traditional rural display that harkens back to the kingdom’s ancient roots.

This financial institution has a rather prominent display outside their main office. Featured items are traditional music instruments, fish traps, straw hats, wooden tools.
Outside a resort hotel in Phnom Penh is this display focused on hats worn by field workers and different types of woven baskets.
The girls vocational school where I have mass on Monday mornings went for a scaled-down display with just a few sections of the knotted palm branches that are used to make roofs.