From Cambodia to Japan

A Cambodian Student Looks at Life in Two Different Worlds

Various forms of Khmer poetry

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Who was your ancestor?

Sometimes I wonder where my ancestors came from. I used to ask my parents about them. Sadly, though, it appears the blood line could only be traced back to as far as my great great grandparents or, say, a hundred years earlier. And it abruptly ends there.
But for Kung Te Cheng( Chinese: 孔德成), a Taiwanese, that is a little different from me. Mr. Kung is able to identify his ancestor who lived in China more than 2500 years ago. Guess who his forefather is. You got one clue: His surname is Kung ( ).
Well, here's the answer. He's Confucius(孔夫子), the great Chinese philosopher and thinker.
Mr. Kung Te Cheng is now a 77th generation direct descendant of Confucius, and is considered the head of the main line of descent. Of course, the line is not going to end here as he has a grandson and great grandson who is the 79th and 80th lineal descendent.
It’s fascinating in that after more than two an a half millenniums, the Confucius bloodline still survive. I’m now asking myself if I could be a descendent of some great persons who lived back thousands years ago. Well, who knows?( Hahaha) One thing I’m sure, however, is that my ultimate ancestor had to be here on earth as far as everybody else’s had. For I believe every human being shares the same ultimate ancestor(s).
(Picture: Wikipedia )

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Dirty Water...Drinking Water

Ugly and dirty as it is, you sure wouldn't think the water in this pond can be used for such purposes as bathing or washing clothes, let alone drinking. But people in Malai district of Banteay Meanchey, a province bordering with Thailand, do drink and use it in their daily life. Now they are having trouble. According to the Cambodia Daily, one person died and between 450 to 600 villagers have fallen seriously ill after drinking the water in this pond.

Such problem is not uncommon in Cambodia where
only 27% of the rural population have access to safe water. You don't have to travel to the remote area of the country to witness the lack of water. Just go to my home town in KampongSpue, which is only 48 kilometers from Phnom Penh, and drive down a few kilometers from National Road 4, you'll definitely see it.

( Picture from Kohsantepheap Daily )

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The Khmer Stamps

So the Cambodia Daily reported today that 1 million stamps bearing pictures of Prime Minister Hun Sen's wife have been produced. Since I have almost no knowldege of the Khmer stamps, I'm just wondering if any other living Cambodians have been featured on the stamps since 1979. Or is she the first living person to be depicted in almost 4 decades?

A brief check on google shows that living people had actually been featured on Cambodian stamps before 1979, as for example, former King Sihanouk in 1951 and 1952, both of his parents in the 60s, and former president Lon Nol in 1973.

( Picture courtesy of Kampuchea)

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Extreme Khmer Video

Haven't visited for a while. Just checked back again today and found a newly made video---" Former Students Today". Like other Extreme Khmer episodes, it's both hilarious and informative. I didn't know Ta Frank taught Khmer back in Seattle. His Khmer language is excellent. For more of his videos, go to

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Another Best Picture of the Week

Kohsantepheap is such an entertaining newspaper ( Despite some occasional grotesque images, language and over- sensationalized stories. I hope they don't read this because I know I will definitely get this reply, " After all, you read it for free. Why do you have to criticize?"). In today's issue, it presents another fascinating photo along with an interesting question, " Guess what is this?"

So can you figure out what it is? If you can't, then get your answer at the newspaper's site.

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Life is unfair

Found this cartoon on the net. Find it pretty hilarious.

Classic Picture From Kohsantepheap Daily

This 's gotta be Kohsantepheap's best photo of the week.

Keng Vannsak’s Doubtful Source

Keng Vannsak is arguably one of Cambodia’s most influential literary figures of the 20th century. In fact, I’m a big fan of his poems. I often quote some of the lines that I love on this blog and always admire his eloquent analysis on Khmer literature. But when it comes to history anatomy, I think he’s no where close to his literature’s fame.

His recent comment on King Jayavaraman VII, Cambodia’s most revered king, is both very shocking and controversial. Among the claims he made are that it was Jayavaraman VII who granted Sokothai (Now Thailand) its independence; that he was an utterly ruthless monarch; and that it was he who caused the downfall of the Khmer empire by building too many temples.

Mr. Vannsak said he based his “finding” on Mohaboros Khmer (or The Khmer Great Leaders), a history book written by Eng Sot in 1969.

Fortunately, I happened to have the book with me. I went through it several times as I want to verify his newly discovered “truth.” But I wasn’t able to find the page that matches his claim. Did Mr. Vannsak mistakenly cite the source, or did he merely make up the story?

Even if the text does exist, the book is definitely not a reliable academic source. First, Mohaboros Khmer is an exact copy of The Khmer Royal History, an old manuscript written almost a century earlier (around 1870) --- more than 600 years after the death of Jayavaraman VII . Moreover, It cites no source, and contains very questionable accounts of each king’s biography, dates and events. As Etienne Aymonier, a French historian commented on the original manuscript, “It is a document stuffed with unreliable dates... an indigestible and incomplete compilation of manuscripts.” (Henri Marchal , Angkor, 1955)

Second, the content of the book itself is almost close to fairy tales, novelized and filled with supernatural events. For example, at one point, it says a King lived up to 500 years while another lived up to 400 years (although the author does admit it’s impossible). At another point, it says a little prince was saved by a monk after having been swallowed up by a huge fish for days.

It's possible to ask how Mr. Keng Vannsak managed to make his “discovery” from such a book.

As a well-respected scholar, Mr. Vannsak should know which source is worth quoting or analyzing. In this case, however, he shows a complete disregard for academic standards. And it serves him nothing but to weaken his credibility.