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Small Town Takeo Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

On the road in Cambodia and I have no idea what to expect. Other than learning something about genocide and seeing a photo here and there of Angkor Wat, this land contains no prenotions for me to draw upon. I somehow guess that the people here will be unfriendly and hardened due to genocide. Boy was I wrong.

As our two vans pull into our homestay in Takeo, Siphen and her entire family receive us with big smiles and warmth. We wold stay the next three nights on mattresses in large rooms in her family complex. Cambodians are a very family oriented people, and tend to all live together in close groupings of buildings or a large house with the rest of their sisters, husband, parents, etc. Upon marrying, men are expected to move into their wives house. The women do much work around the house and taking care of their parents that it would be very hard for it to be done any other way. Another interesting thing about the family is that they have a big pond (pictured left) that is actually the result of a B52 bomb crater that destroyed their old house 30 years ago. And reluctantly for us their were no hard feelings.

We visited the local Takeo county high school the next morning and helped the kids practice English and to give them something out of the ordinary. It was alot of fun, we made the kids really nervous and many of them were shy to begin with, but many genuinely wanted to learn English, it is seen as the way up in these Asian societies. Another parallel is that in all the countries we have visited, the elementary, and high school systems are set up the same way as the US; a child goes to middle school with the same kids, then goes to a larger general high school with kids from further away, then college. From conversations with various Europeans, I guess it isn't that way in their countries, after 16 they transfer to a more specialized school then gap years, mentorships or attend college.

The one other person staying at our homestay was a very friendly American named Derek who worked for the Peace Corps in Takeo. Among other duties, he had taken a side-project in his spare time to train and coach a girls basketball team at the high school we were visiting. Basketball is just catching on in Cambodia so having an American coach gave the team a great edge. We got to watch one of their games and MAN, are these girls aggressive! The refs dont really call fouls and in 3 instances a girl fight almost broke out after an elbow or a trip. Derek's team ended up winning 48-2 so no wonder the girls were getting a little mad.

The next days were spend lazing around the homestay, helping build a house (kindof) and visiting a Cambodian non-profit elementary school. After this sweet homestay in the Cambodian country, we headed west to Phnom Penh, the economic and social capital of Cambodia.

permalink written by  JohnJack_Crestani on March 12, 2009 from Phnom Penh, Cambodia
from the travel blog: I Meet the SouthEast
tagged Cambodia, Takeo, Siphenmeas and HighSchool

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