I have two and a half weeks left in Cambodia and it will be gone before I know it. So, I'm trying to make the most of my time here. I'm still working hard on a mural for RDI. It should be done soon, but I have no idea when. I had a really good birthday on Saturday. I lazyly spent the day in Phnom Penh, drank lots of fruit shakes to beat the heat, and got a massage (they're only $5-8 for an hour, I couldn't pass it up).
Next week is Kmai new year, because the Sampsons will be leaving soon to go back to the states for a month we started celebrating it early for the kids. Last night, lots of people from the village all went over to one of the larger houses to celebrate. I ate the best meal I've had since being in Cambodia. It was amazing, it's hard to describe what we had because we don't have anything like it back home. We had some kind of spicy cold salad (looked kind of like cole slaw) with strips of chicken mixed in it. Then we had rice noodles with some kind of cabbage like substance that was really really sweet. To top it off we had a pot of duck meat with spinach and hot peppers. And of course rice was served with all of this too.
I think I may start celebrating Kmai new year in the states:
After dinner everyone was handed a small bottle of talcum powder (some powders included menthol). And as you can guess the fun soon began. There was a white cloud hovering around us in the yard and every once in a while you'd catch the strong minty smell of menthol. We were told to hope and pray we don't get it in our eyes (which I did). It was a lot of fun and everyone joined in from the three year olds to the old men in the village. No one was exempt. You had to constantly watch your back; you never knew who would sneak behind you and smear powder across your face or dump it in your hair. This continued for about 15 minutes until everyone was out of powder... but the fun wasn't over.
Next came the water. Those small talcum powder bottles quickly became containers for water once you removed their tops. Anything that could hold water became a weapon (coke bottles with holes in the lid, cooking bowls, powder bottles, etc). The water fight lasted a long time. It's a wonder no one got hurt. There were clothes lines you had to dodge on one side of the yard and a slick concrete slab beneath the house.
Our games lasted about 45 min-hour. But this is just the beginning, next week is the big celebration. Almost every business closes down for the week and travel becomes nearly impossible. People will set up regular road blocks and have powder and water waiting for their victims. Usually they will ask for a bribe; you either pay or you'll be coated in powder and drenched with water. 4000 riel= one dollar. Marc Hall said he usually stocks up on 100 riel (.o25 cents) and gives them out if he doesn't want to get attacked; it doesn't take much. It's a lot of fun! I guess most of the road side markets capitalize on the celebration and sell 6-8 packs of talcum powder for a cheap price.
Recently, village children have begun waiting by the road with buckets of water to hit people passing by. No one in the villages owns cars, so they have no protection. Most ride bicycles or motorbikes and if several people need to get somewhere they usually ride on massive flat-bed carts pulled by a motorcycle (looks kind of like a hay ride). Yesterday, girls going home from the local garment factory were caught helpless by their young water wielding tormentors. But today the girls were ready for the onslaught with water balloons to fight back. The fun has just begun....
I need to finish my mural. I may work on it next week, but I have a feeling I may be a wet paste most of the time.