Monday, September 27, 2010

Kep Crab Market

The Big Crab Monument
I like Kep. The place is dullsville, but a pleasant dullsville, good for reading books, watching sunsets, riding the area a bit and lazing about the seaside. And of course there is the crab. They build monuments to crabs in Kep, and understandably so. Crab is to Kep what Angkor Wat is to Siem Reap (...or perhaps what the bars are to Phnom Penh.) The post-Bokor tourist industry in Kep is founded on crab-lunch-at-the-seaside. Until recently that was pretty much the only reason tourists came to Kep and is still one of the main reasons.

These days there are a few proper restaurants around the peninsula including the guesthouse restaurants, but the traditional and most popular dining venues have always been been the open-air places at the seaside - the platform gazebos along Kep Beach and the crabshacks of the Kep Crab Market.

I like the Crab Market. A meal at the Crab Market is amongst my favorite dining things to do in Cambodia. The Market is an oceanside cluster of a dozen-plus rickety old wooden shacks hugging the water's edge. Almost all are restaurants, and until recently exclusively seafood restaurants. There's a lovely local feel to the whole place. Popular with the Cambodian tourists long before westerners discovered it. Downhome, friendly and real. To sound cliché, a little piece of authentic Cambodia.
Stormy Day at the Crab Market
In Kep for a couple of days last week, I stopped in for an early dinner at the Crab Market. Avoiding the touristy places at the south end, I chose a small crabshack in the middle, Restaurant Srey Pich, I believe. Clearly a family operation. Mom cooking, daughters serving, Dad watching the TV. It was a blustery coastal evening, ordinary for the monsoon season. The surf was all churned up milkcoffee brown and the ocean wind was blowing, sometimes hard through the restaurant. Sitting near the sea side window (for the view) I had to hold onto my half empty can of Anchor beer to keep it from blowing away. In fact after that first Anchor I switched to big (heavier) bottles of Angkor beer for only that reason, greater stability in a strong wind.

A beer and a half down, time came to order. I asked the cook if the crabs were meaty, which of course she affirmed with great conviction. I've discovered that for some reason the crabs in Kep (and the whole coast of Cambodia) are meatier some days than others. I don't know why. The crab marketeers tell me that the meatiness of the crab is linked to the lunar cycle - that crabs are thin at the full moon and fat with the new moon. Don't know if that's true, and couldn't see the moon anyway, but I have been burned before by false claims of fat crabs. Skeptical, I reiterated, "Today? The crabs are fat TODAY??" She assured me that the crabs were particularly "thom-thom" (big-big) today - that they were "skoam" (skinny) the previous week but had gotten fat and plentiful in the last few days. Just to be on the safe side I ordered the big plate of fried pepper crab for 30,000 riel (US$7.50.) It was only 10,000R more than the small plate. I also ordered a small sour shrimp soup for 15,000 riel.

The crab came fat and meaty just as she had promised, cracked and covered with stalks of fresh green Kampot pepper corns. The big plate was truly BIG. More crab than I could eat, almost. And they were delicious. Fresh and sweet. And the small sour soup turned out to be a large flaming tureen of at least 15 good size shrimp, plenty of soup for two. Along with a couple/few big bottles of tepid Angkor beer on ice, it was all quite the feast.

As I ate, I watched the storm out over the ocean, murky monsoon skies and great gray sheets of rain sweeping across the water. Just out the window, hard-faced women hauled crab traps in and out of the surf. The wind blew and waves lapped and the whole place creaked under the strain. Hot sparks scattered from the flaming tureen across the table and wisps of rain blew through the restaurant. I lined Angkor beer bottles into a wall against the wind, protecting the tureen. A dog (presumably the family dog) laid under my chair waiting for scraps, occasionally whimpering short reminders of his patient presence. I finished dinner and had a smoke and another beer. The waitress lit and relit my fag and never let my glass run dry (or short of ice.) Nice Cambodian place.

But something concerns me. There have been disturbing developments at the Crab Market of late. The Market has recently made the quantum leap from being exclusively local to having a few western-style and run places. There is now a pizzeria and an international-style bar in the Crab Market. A very bad sign for traditionalists. Instead of the sounds of lapping waves and badly dubbed Khmer TV, Western bar music now wafts through the Crab Market at night. If these places are successful, this bug will likely spread. More will follow. And I will lose my rustic old Cambodian Crab Market.

Changing times.

At dinner, I brooded over this thought. Lamented even. After dinner I wandered down to that new bar to glare at this intruder, to see if they had any customers. They did. I sat down for a quick drink and look round. Pool table, bar, 10 or 15 people in the place, a lot for low season September. I ordered another, this time a shot, and moved toward the pool table. And then... Plied by temptations other Crab Market places don't offer - cocktails and spirits by the shot (including the demon tequila,) cold beer, a proper bar to sit at, decent music and a late closing hour - that bar kept me there until after 2AM. And made me come back the next night too.

Damn them.

Enjoy the Crab Market while you can.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Towering Phnom Penh

Skyscrapers rise along Monivong Blvd., two of several under construction and more planned, threatening to transform Phnom Penh from a quaint, low-rise, distinctively Cambodian city into a generic, skyless, gray and glass metropolis that could be anywhere in the world.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Khmer Pedophiles and the Cambodia Daily

Cambodia Daily, Sept 21, 2010, page 24
In the Cambodia Daily newspaper, foreigners who have been caught having sex with a minor child in Cambodia are routinely (and justifiably) referred to as 'pedophiles' or 'alleged pedophiles,' and the problem of 'foreign pedophiles' is almost always noted somewhere in such articles. There are also disturbingly regular reports in the Cambodia Daily of Cambodians "raping" children in Cambodia. In fact there currently seems to be an epidemic of Cambodians sexually abusing children. But, regardless of the age of the victims, Cambodians are never referred to as 'pedophiles' in the Cambodia Daily.

Helping to illustrate this point, today there are two stories in today's Daily set side-by-side (see above,) one of a foreign "pedophile" who sexually abused an 8-year-old boy and later two 16-year-old boys. Next to it there is a story of a Cambodian man who allegedly "raped" an 8-year-old girl and a 5-year-old girl on separate occasions. For some reason, the Cambodian who allegedly repeatedly sexually abused children is not referred to as a 'pedophile' or 'alleged pedophile' in the Daily article. And even though the article notes literally hundreds of cases of sexual abuse against children by Cambodians, there is no mention of pedophilia. Now, I could imagine several possible reasons for the different vocabulary used in these two specific articles in today's paper, that is if it weren't for the fact that in the dozens and dozens of stories of the sexual abuse of children by Cambodians and foreigners reported in the Cambodia Daily over the last decade, the Daily has never once referred to a Cambodian child sex offender as a 'pedophile' in any of its articles (at least in my semi-systematic observation.) Let me repeat for emphasis, not even once.

Assuming my observation is accurate, there would seem to be a pattern here. The Cambodia Daily seems categorically averse to attaching the label of 'pedophile' to Cambodian offenders, and I was just wondering why. What is the difference between Cambodian and foreign child sex offenders when it comes to being a 'pedophile?' Is there a racial component to being a 'pedophile'? Can a Cambodian be a pedophile or is that a category reserved exclusively for foreigners?

UPDATE: October 23, 2010
The Cambodia Daily provided a nice example this week. Two articles, same writer, 4 days apart, two men, one Khmer, the other a foreigner, arrested for virtually the same crime - purchasing sex from girls younger than 15. The article describes stereotypical pedophile behavior on the part of the Khmer man - engaging in serial sexual abuse of children, choosing his residence so as to have access to children, 'luring' them into his home where he would then pay them for sex.... Yet, in the article about the Khmer man, there is no mention of 'pedophilia.' Whereas in the article about the foreigner, (which in fact has less to do with the nature of the crime than in his accusation about the court,) pedophilia is not only mentioned but is in the headline. Very odd.

(Click on the article to enlarge it.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

St Michael Church, Sihanoukville

St. Michael Catholic Church, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
By comparison to most Cambodian provincial capitals, many with histories counted in the centuries, Sihanoukville is a very new city. Nothing but jungle and a few fishing camps prior to the 1950s, the town was first established in 1960 as an adjunct to the newly constructed deep water port. Few of Sihanoukville’s historically or architecturally significant buildings from the period between 1955 and 1970 still exist. In fact, as Sihanoukville only saw about 10-15 years of development before the country descended into war, there weren’t that many in the first place. Most of the original public and port buildings, the ritzy beach villas, and even the King’s residence have all succumbed to the years. Amongst few others, significant early structures that still remain include The Independence Hotel, the train station, Wat Leu, staff housing on Victory Beach and one building that is probably the least likely of all the structures in Sihanoukville to have survived the last 35 years, St Michael Catholic Church.

St Michael Church of Sihanoukville is almost completely unique amongst Catholic churches in Cambodia. Under Khmer Rouge rule from 1975-1979, religion was outlawed and churches in particular were targeted for destruction, both as religious structures and as symbols of the bourgeois West. Most churches, including the grand Cathedral in Phnom Penh, were leveled. Only two of Cambodia's 73 churches survived the Khmer Rouge period and St. Michael of Sihanoukville was one of those two, the other being Carmelite Chapel in Phnom Penh.

Sign: St. Micael catholic Church Sihanoukville
I drove up to St Michael Church day before yesterday to check the state of things and take some photos. It is an old and intriguing looking place, at least by Sihanoukville standards. The church occupies a prominent piece of land located near the entrance to the town, originally donated to the Church back in the late 50s by King Norodom Sihanouk. Set back from the road a bit and elevated at the base of Sihanoukville Mountain, the church faces the sea and commands a sweeping view of the area. The church building bears a unique architectural form, like a terracotta A-frame, tepee-shaped at first glance, seemingly neither wholly Cambodian nor western in artistic origin. According to official records* St Michael Church was inaugurated in 1962, though actually constructed in 1960. The church building was designed by French Catholic priest Father Ahadobery with the assistance of famed Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann.

I first visited St Michael Church back in 1995, trying to gather some information on the place, just as a matter of curiosity. There I met an accommodating old priest who tried to answer my questions, though it took some significant linguistic gymnastics to do it.

On that first visit, when I arrived the gates were open but the church closed and the grounds seemingly deserted. Uninvited, I wandered about taking photos until a couple of nicely dressed kids walked up and with very limited English asked if I wanted to meet "Ta." 'Ta' is a Khmer honorific for a respected elder person, and though I couldn't be certain who they were talking about, it sounded like a step in the right direction. I first apologized for my poor Khmer and then asked if I might please meet ‘Ta.’

The kids disappeared and a few minutes later an old white man emerged from a nearby house, an ancient man really, perhaps an octogenarian. The children followed beside him and presented him to me as “father.” The old man smiled and greeted me in French. A difficult start. I speak a little French, but not much, really only enough to rehearse the niceties and then ask if he could speak English. "Non," he said apologetically. After another abortive attempt at speaking French, I switched to Khmer on the chance he might understand. His eyes brightened and he responded in clean fluent Cambodian, much better than mine. My Khmer at the time was limited, but sufficient. Now we had a common ground. As we spoke together the kids giggled at the two barang forced to speak Khmer in order to communicate with each other. They really couldn’t get enough of us, snickering on the sidelines for the next hour.

The old man told me his name, but I was simply unable to understand his pronunciation, and never did get it clear, which I deeply regret. In hindsight I suspect I know who he was though I am hesitant to say without further confirmation.

He said that he had been the priest there at St. Michael Church since the late 1950s, and had been in Cambodia for at least a decade or two before that. Kindly and accommodating gentleman that he was, he proceeded to give me a tour of the grounds and the church and told me the story of St Michael Church as he knew it.

As we walked around the building he emphasized that the church reflected a seafaring theme appropriate to a port town, noting that it was named for St. Michael the patron saint of sailors, and more importantly that the nautical motif was embodied in the design and even spirit of the church. He led me to the back and pointed out the ‘ship’s sail’ brick latticework that made up the entire rear wall. He then backed us up away from the building so as to allow a wider view. Sweeping his hands in the air he traced out the boat shaped brickwork along the sides. “Bateau! K’pal Tuk!...Voila!” he declared. I honestly hadn’t notice before, unobservant as I apparently am, but once he laid it out for me it became quite obvious. Viewed from the side the church is a boat and the walls its sails.

Interior of St. Michael Catholic Church, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Hot in the open sun, we went inside, into the church. The interior was and is strikingly spartan, but to impressive effect. It was not unlike the interior of a Cambodian Buddhist pagoda devoid of the Buddha image and its accouterments. The church is single room, a largely unfettered space, without pews, chairs or ornate alter, only a small lectern, the crucifix and some flowers, yet with a open ceiling, soaring roof and towering sail shaped brick latticework at both ends, allowing light and a gentle breeze to enter. For the high ceiling and constant breeze it was surprising cool inside, even on a hot day. Like a boat, the space was open but contained. Come Sundays the Catholic community of Sihanoukville, all in a boat together in this church. The space was simple but captivatingly complete, as if the design and the presence of the essentials said "enough." No further adornment required. The air was one of unembellished serenity, born not of austerity but a sort of aesthetic minimalism, an ideal place in which to meditate on God.

According to the priest the church has seen it share of fair and very troubled times.

On his history of St Michael Church, from its birth back when the French were still building the port until the beginning of the Khmer Rouge period a decade and a half later, St. Michael served the local Catholic community, primarily French (in the early days) and other foreigners, particularly ethnic Vietnamese which has always made up the bulk of the congregation. There are in fact very few Khmer Catholics in Cambodia. Even after centuries of missionary work, the Catholic Church has had precious little luck converting Khmers to the faith, capturing well less than 1% of the population for their efforts. On the other hand, more than 7% of the comparative large population of Vietnam is Catholic, most of them in the south, from which many of the ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia originate.

According to the priest during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-79, St Michael Church was used as a jail and an animal shed, but unlike almost every church in Cambodia, it escaped destruction. He speculated that perhaps the church’s very unchurch-like appearance saved it. Devoid of its function as a church, it did not look like religious structure and, unlike other more traditionally designed Catholic churches around the country, St Michael did not seem an obvious symbol of the bourgeoisie that the Khmer Rouge were trying to destroy.

The priest claimed that after the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 the church saw very little ascent in its station, and was used as a storage building of some sort through the 1980s into the 90s. He said that St. Michael was not reopened as a church until 1993 during the UN administration of Cambodia and has been operating continuously as a Catholic church ever since. As of today… well… as of day before yesterday when I was there, it appeared very little different than it did when I was first visited in 1995. In fact I have visited the church more than a dozen times in the last decade and a half and it has remained essentially the same save a few details. Now there are more out buildings, a new terrace and gazebo in front of the church, a bigger crucifix inside and small pictures on the walls marking the Stations of the Cross, but that is all that can be counted changed in the last 15 years.

Grotto at St. Michael Church, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
That said, I did notice something on this visit I had never noticed before. Perhaps it was always there and I just missed it, or perhaps it is a recent addition. It is something I don’t fully understand.

Behind the church, on a lush garden path leading up the mountain, is a shrine of some sort to the Virgin Mary, but a shrine unlike I have seen before. At a distance I first guessed it a traditional Cambodian spirit house. But on closer inspection I could see an image of the Virgin atop and the shrine appeared more a representation of a cave than a spirit house. Perhaps a model of the cave tomb of Jesus? Or a Cambodian inspired house for the spirit of Mary? Or something else. I am not sure and there was no-one around to ask. A question for my next visit to St Michael.

*For more on the architecture of St Michael see Building Cambodia: 'New Khmer Architecture' 1953 - 1970 by Helen Grant-Ross and Darryl Collins.

St Michael Church is located in Sihanoukville city at the base of Sihanoukville Mountain, just off the corner of Boray Kamakor and Kampuchea-Soviet Mittapheap Streets.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monsoon Sunset

Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Monsoon season.

No photoshopping here. This lava-like sky is exactly how the sunset appeared both to the camera and the eye, and lasted a good 30 minutes. Even the violet in the sand and waves is not an artifact of a skewed white balance but (mostly) a reflection of the deep blue sky over my shoulder. Photo taken from the section of Victory Beach just north of the central headland. Koh Pos (Snake Island) in the foreground, Koh Rung Island on the horizon. 

Sunsets are always best in the monsoon season. Great paint-spattered skies need clouds as canvas. Empty-sky dry-season sundowns are mostly variations on the big orange ball, sometimes hazy, other times less so. Monsoon season clouds provide the tablua rasa for grand, multicolored ocean sunsets.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Annoying words and phrases heard in Cambodia

The Angelina Jolie Tree (ugh!)
Farang - 'Farang' is not a word general to Southeast Asia. It is a Thai word. Southeast Asia contains many countries, Thailand is but one of those countries, and each country has its own language. If you are going to use local lingo, use the lingo local to the country you are in. You're not in Pattaya anymore. In Cambodia, foreigners are 'barang.'

The Bodge - Duuuude, as cool as 'The Bodge' may seem rolling off the tongue, it just makes you sound like a pretentious wanker, much like that earring makes you look.

Kampuchea - 'Kampuchea' is the Khmer word for Cambodia. Pol Pot insisted the world say Kampuchea. 'Cambodia' is the English word for Cambodia. If you are speaking English, speak English. Saying 'Kampuchea' when you are speaking English doesn't make you sound in-the-know. It makes you sound like a Khmer Rouge sympathizer.

Yuon - For you Cambodians speaking English (or French,) a similar point. When you use 'yuon' when not speaking Khmer, your ugly implications are abundantly clear. If that is not your intent, when speaking English use the English word, Vietnamese.

'nom Penh - Dropping the 'p'  from Phnom Penh identifies you as having been in Cambodia about a month, just long enough to over-think it and get it wrong, which is probably not the image to are trying to project. In Romanized Khmer, 'ph' is neither said like an 'f' nor is it silent. It is pronounced like a 'p.' The city name is pronounced P'nom Penh.

The Penh - See 'The Bodge,' wanker.

The Angelina Jolie Tree - Iconic old tree towering from the ancient jungle-temple Ta Prohm, now reduced to a Hollywood cliché because it was in a big-name movie for a few seconds.

Maenamkhong, Ankor Vat, Pnum Pen, etc. - Archaic and foreign spellings and pronunciations say that you've done all your research on internet and/or never left your office in Phnom Penh.

"He bought her." - Employed by NGO types to add dark implications and a melodramatic flare when refering to a man who uses a prostitute. He did not 'buy her' any more than he bought the taxi driver who drove him to the bar. He purchased her services, not her.

clicks, Nam, ville, gook, etc. - The Vietnam War is over and you weren't there anyway. Distance is measured in kilometers, not 'clicks.' The country is Vietnam, not 'Nam.' A village is called a village, not a 'ville.' And 'gook' is just offensive.

LBFM - Why not just have 'SEX TOURIST' tattooed on your forehead?

Sustainability - NGO catch word of the decade. Formerly meant something like 'the capacity to endure,' but now designates all things good and PC, and as such has become all but meaningless.

War-torn Cambodia, emerging from war, haven for pedophiles, victims of the Khmer Rouge, jewel of Indochina, etc. - Tired old newspaper clichés from the 90s, still in use today. Journalists, if you're going to use clichés please write some new ones, preferably something up-to-date and relevant to today's Cambodia.

"I'm a volunteer." - No you're not. You're a pity tourist on a package holiday, likely on daddy's dime.

Have I insulted everyone?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Brothel Bust

Street 63 brothel raid
Police lead girls wearing masks to van
This afternoon I witnessed a brothel bust here in Phnom Penh. Just happened across it as I walked up the street on my afternoon constitutional. The police raided a house amongst the strip of karaoke joints on Street 63, an area known for its brothel-like activities. Places that cater primarily to Cambodians and Vietnamese.

It was a peaceful bust from what I could see standing across the street. The police spent at least an hour in the place, presumably taking photos and gathering evidence. At one point the MPs showed up escorting some high ranking police or official, but they eventually moved on. At the end the gates of the house slid open wide and people began to emerge. The police led a half dozen working girls, all wearing
Gawkers at Street 63 brothel raid
Gawkers like me
surgical masks, to a waiting van. Two children wandered out of the house nonchalantly and tried to disappear on the back of a motodup, but the police collected them and put them in the van too. They also arrested what appeared to be the mama and papason, putting them in a separate vehicle with the officer in charge. The police locked the front gates, tagged it and left.

These days this sort of thing is neither new nor uncommon. The Cambodian police have been using the anti-pimping laws for several years now, and to some significant effect. There are still plenty of prostitutes working the bars and clubs in Phnom
Street 63 brothel raid
Police spot escaping children
Penh, and even on the streets in some areas, but regardless of what some NGOs may tout, the days of red light districts and the open brothel has long passed in the city, save a few comparatively small protected exceptions, like this little string of mostly Vietnamese places along 63. And today the civilian police raided one of those places, presumably because it was operating as a brothel or involved in trafficking.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Secret to Surviving Cambodia

Surviving Cambodia (as a long-term expat) requires, if nothing else, self-discipline.

Cambodia is a free country in the clearest and rawest sense of the phrase. A libertarian paradise of sorts, and as such, hard on the weak, including the weak of character. Cambodia will happily allow you to drink every night away, or do drugs with abandon, or drive like a madman, or whatever your particular poison, she will let you indulge it (cheaply) until it does you in or, if you are lucky, drives you out. This of course can happen in this west too, but the west is also full of little nets and safety catches and other moderating influences. You drive a motorcycle blind drunk and helmetless enough times in the west and eventually you're going to get caught and end up in the legal system, forced into AA or whatever. You do drugs and drink to excess and eventually the girlfriend will leave you, family will get on your case, you'll get busted for drunk driving, etc. But not in Cambodia. You are king and master of your world here, even creator. You can do it here until your liver explodes or you become a splatter on the road. Nobody and nothing will intervene. In Cambodia, the only thing that is going to stop you is you. If self-discipline is not part of your personality, one way or the other, you will not be here long-term.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

'Rain' by Arijan Jansonius


Originally drawn in 1998 here in Cambodia by Dutch artist Arijan (Aryan) Jansonius, inspired by the rainy season in Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville or perhaps both. Motion, knowing detail and the every present rat. Issued as one in a set postcards available in Cambodia at the time.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ghost Attack!

Some friends of the family are in town from Nha Trang Vietnam doing the tourist thing here in Cambodia. Their first time here. Just a three day tour. Though I have met a couple of these people before when I was in Vietnam, I don't know most of them. They were due to go back to Vietnam this morning until one of them, a 16 year old girl, became unexpectedly possessed by a troublesome ghost.

As they were walking to a restaurant this morning for lunch, the girl was suddenly seized in what appeared to be some kind of fit, going very pale, her muscles becoming rigid and she began laughing maniacally. First time anything like this has happened according to her family. She became uncontrollable, so the relatives packed her back to the hotel. There, it was suggested that she may have become possessed, perhaps picking up a poltergeist when she accidentally touched one of the 'spirit boats' (see photo) that are sometimes left on the street by people trying to rid their house of bad spirits. I tried, as sympathetically as possible, to suggest that there might be some other more natural explanation, but my words were respectfully ignored.

The hotel manager, staff and a few other kibitzers came to the room to help. Everybody was trying to calm her down and appease the unruly spirit. Many in the group were clearly skeptical of the situation but politely played along. The possessed girl said, in Vietnamese, that she didn't want to go back to Vietnam, she wanted to stay here in Cambodia. People burned incense and planted food and drink strategically around and outside the room, trying to draw the ghost out, but with no success.

She jerked about, looking rather like a monkey, clumsily examining things in the room as if through new eyes. At that point, their taxi driver, who is Khmer, stepped up and told the ghost in Khmer that the girl was going back to Vietnam, that the ghost would have nowhere to go once in Vietnam, and that it would be better for it to leave her body here while she was still in Cambodia. She responded in good, clear, properly accented Khmer, "I don't want to go. I like this body. This is fun. I will not leave this body," and then went back to maniacal laughter. The Vietnamese and Khmers all freaked out, even the skeptics - the driver took several steps back muttering "coo! coo!" ('poltergeist, poltergeist,') Mom and Grandpa started crying, the hotel staff fled in fear. According to the family, the girl doesn't know one word of Khmer. I don't know her background, but I can attest to the fact that these people are Vietnamese that live in Vietnam and in my limited observation do not appear to know any Khmer. When I first met her and the family a couple of days ago, I tried speaking Khmer with them since my Vietnamese is so bad, and they didn't even understand a simple 'hello, how are you?' (sousedey, sok sabei?)

Anyway, shortly thereafter she passed out. Somebody went to fetch a monk and the anti-ghost activities continued until she awoke about 10 minutes later, back to her former unpossessed self, but complaining of being very tired and sore. Now the family is spending an extra day or two in Cambodia to consult with monks at the local pagoda regarding this problem. They don't know if the ghost has left or not. They don't want to carry it back to Vietnam for fear that out of its element it will become attached to their house or somebody in the house. Mom wants to leave now, fearing that more Khmer ghosts may attack the family. They're all giving me the 'see, I told you' lecture, fortunately in a language I don't understand,. It's been quite the drama. Grandpa wants me to warn other tourists to be careful of spirit boats when in Cambodia, and of the generally aggressive nature of Khmer ghosts. So consider yourself warned.