From Cambodia to Japan

A Cambodian Student Looks at Life in Two Different Worlds

Unusually Quiet

It’s Wednesday, and, according to my schedule, class starts from first period. I never like first period class. Early start time deprives me of my needed sleep. Well, today I woke up rather late to the sound of my second alarm, so I knew I got to rush to school.

Despite the cold morning of autumn, I found myself sweating hard as I sped my bike down the road then up the hill and up the hill till I got to my school, which is located on a hillside.

School today was unusually quiet. There were a handful of bikes on the parking site where normally you’ll see hundreds of them left there. There were even fewer cars. Not a soul, a single soul. The school looked as if it was deserted. I guess I was the earliest person to be here today.

Strangely quiet. The scene reminded me of the Langoliers, a short novel by Stephen King, in which a plane carrying a group of passengers accidentally travels back into the past. I was wondering if I had just slipped back through time while speeding my bike up the hill.

Not likely. The trees, the air and the sky were lively, fresh and clear- not as dead as the scene described in King’s novel. Besides, I could hear voices of sport trainers from the school’s playground which meant I wasn't the only person in the school.

Still there was another possibility: something wrong with my watch. Maybe it went faster than usual. I rechecked my watch. Nothing wrong. I was just right on time.

Now I began to suspect that today might be national holiday. So I checked the calendar in my phone. “Autumnal Equinox Day(秋分の日)”, it said. Well, that's it-national holiday. All I could utter was: “Oh, #$&%!!”

Misusing Royal Language

Below is a short story excerpted from Katelork (Book 8) written by Sonton Preyjea En between 1910s and 1920s . I laughed really hard when reading this. I hope you too will find the story hilarious as well as inspirational. The complete book is freely accessible at Unfortunately, it is entirely in Khmer , no English translation though.

* Click on each text for bigger view.

Earthquake in Cambodia or Ghost?

The online Kohsantepheapdaily, reported a few days ago about rumour of earthquake in various parts of Cambodia. I initially thought it was a kind of ridiculous rumour like the eating-bean-to-prevent-SARS that circulated the whole country three years ago. I've been in Cambodia for almost all my life and have never heard of a single case of earthquake in Cambodia(neither did my grandparents and my parents).

Not untill I learned from the news that there were earthquakes in Vietnam at exactly the same time when some buildings in Cambodia were said to be swaying did I come to believe the story is not made up this time. We might be suffering an aftershock from the major quake in Vietnam.

Jackychhay, a new Khmer blogger, wrote in his site a few days ago, confirming what has happened:

On Tuesday November 8, Around 3 P.M I was sitting on a wood-made bed and watching the ghost movie on channel 9. Immediately, the wood-made bed started shaking a little bit and I thought maybe someone pushed it, but no one was behind me only me alone.Then I began to be afraid abit because no one near me, or the ghost wanted to frighten me. How can it be I never believe the ghost exists in our world. I had concluded that maybe the wood-made bed is so old that it's shaking

Poem: Behind the Smile

Behind The Smile
Behind the smile,
Behind this happy face,
There seems to lie a deep sadness,
Hidden in your heart,
For you know some days,
The country that once prospered under your rule,
Will lose its light.

Behind the smile, however,
There seems to lie hope,
The hope that there will be days,
When the country will recover,
And transform itself to a new and better one,
And will be as peaceful and prosperous as in your time.

(Picture above:King Jayavarman VII who reigned from 1181 to 1219)

17th Century's Japanese Inscriptions in Cambodia

I just came across this site .Cambodia-travel while searching for articles on Post-Angkor Era. Was surprised to learn that there were Japanese settlers in the Angkor city in the 17th century

Moreover, in the 17th century there were Japanese settlements residing with the Khmer people in the Angkor city, as at least fourteen Japanese inscriptions had been found in the area. One of the most renowned Japanese inscriptions belonged to Ukondafu Kazufusa who had visited the Angkor and celebrated Khmer's New Year there in the year 1632.

I really want to know what the inscriptions are all about. Will check my school's library tomorrow to see if there is any book that contains informations about these inscriptions.