EXPAT. LESSONS: life will be different and you need to learn to expect the unexpected.
Tales of the unexpected from Cambodia
The primary children have a small standing bird aviary located near their classrooms….. but it didn’t seem to have any birds in it!
Over a recent weekend David and I went over to set up an office space for me (always a good thing after 10 weeks at work!) and as I was walking to the storage area I noticed a white dove in the aviary. Maybe I hadn’t noticed its arrival. It didn’t seem to have any food or water so I added some to the containers. Gave it little more thought.
Next school morning shrieks are to be heard from the primary area. Investigation finds there is a huge owl now happily located in said aviary and one beheaded dove lying on the floor. A quick call to maintenance required to dispose of the “body”!
Further enquiries are made and it seems that the school guard is responsible for both birds. First, he caught the dove and thought it would be nice for the kids to have a bird in the aviary. Good idea – followed by a bad idea: catching an owl (which easily stood 60cm high) and putting that in the aviary.
So, dead dove is removed……but a little later in the day the owl has disappeared!
This remains a mystery, but the Cambodian staff are confident he became someone’s (probably, yet again, the guard’s) meal! Eeeww!
(a Video does exist showing the aftermath of the massacre…..but in a style ‘atypical’ in Cambodia, I will not share).
SO….. on sharing and the media. Cambodian people do not seem to have any of the ‘filters’ that we would normally regard when making decisions about what to post and share on social media. Similarly, the online media, such as the Phnom Penh Post is likely to include far more specific information than we would usually receive. It would seem to have little regard for due process, family grief and even ‘innocent until proven guilty’. This means that you get a very graphic and often uncomfortably real understanding of Cambodian life. A motor vehicle accident this week highlighted this. A Cambodian national was involved in a hit and run. Immediately his car was surrounded by numerous locals who proceeded to engage in a brutal mob beating of the driver who is now in hospital. Details of the event were videoed and widely circulated through both regular and informal social media. In another incident an Australian man was killed in a bomb blast (shooting ranges in military grounds are not uncommon in Cambodia, with tourists paying to shoot assault rifles, throw grenades and fire bazookas at targets) when he picked up a Russian made bomb, which then exploded. Unfortunately graphic details of the aftermath were again quickly circulated on social media.
And lastly, on a lighter note, we suspect our neighbours feel sorry for us and consider us the poorest living in our street. (We live at #27 Street G…. Phnom Penh streets are either numbered or identified by letter). While we are very comfortable and enjoying our home, we are the only household in the street without a car.Something our little 6-year-old neighbour has taken to lecturing David about, as he doesn’t understand why we would consider push bikes and a moto adequate for our household! And most households have ‘house help’ in the form of live in or daily maids. We have conceded a little in this space and one of the cleaners from school is now supplementing her income by doing two hours a week for us one night after school. Most Expat. Staff has a ‘house helper’ to assist with cleaning, shopping, childcare and meal preparation. The standard for paying home-help is $2.50 an hour (a full time cleaner at school would be getting about $220US a month) and in J and C Borey, home help is the standard for the growing middle class here in Cambodia!
Cheryl Flight. High School Principal. Hope School