Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The man in charge

Village Life planting rice August 2006

Leaving Cambodia, there are two options: fly or overland. Flying is much much easier, though very expensive considering the departure tax is $25. Overland is much much cheaper, though rarely easier. It is a nearly 20 kilometer long stretch that takes up to 6 hours sometimes because the road condition is very unstable. It's usually riddled with pot holes and collapsed bridges due to the constant traffic of oversized and overloaded trucks bringing in cement and goods from Thailand.

I opted for the cheaper option since cash is low at the moment and I want to have enough for spending money in the expensive US of A. I could have spent more on flight tickets direct from Cambodia and had a little more time with the family and friends, but why not have a little adventure, too?

On the drive to the border of Cambodia and Thailand, we stopped to have a bite to eat. The "fam" was famished since they probably didn't have breakfast before departing. You see we took along another teacher and then picked up Ma, sister and boyfriend for a total of 6 bodies in the Camry. I was in the back, which probably wasn't a good idea since our car already rides low and my extra kilos don't help. But it was either me in the back for 3 people there and Ma and sis sharing the front, or me in the front with 4 people squeezed in the back.

Anyhow, at the restaurant, everyone was waiting for Da to order the food since he's the ne they look to to make decisions. It didn't matter that the mother was there, as long as Da was driving and was around, he should choose the food. So, this meant I had to get up and inform him of his obligation since he was stretching his legs after the intense driving. I was handed the menu in his absence, but since I don't read Khmer, it would work.

Sambor Preikuk_Kompong Thom Mar 06
The t-shirt says "I'm not BIG, but I'm clever"

While Da is not the oldest son, he is treated like one, since the oldest is actually considered to be very feminine, preferring to stay at home and cook rather than do boy things like driving around or playing sports. It makes for a difficult relationship between the brothers, but the family always looks to Da for the important family decisions, such as if and when his sister should get married. It's a huge burden for him at times, but he can't shrug it.

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