Kampong Thom, Cambodia | 01

I'm back here in Tropheungchuk, located in the distict Kamping Thom, Cambodia. The last time I was here was in September of 2013. I wrote several entries of my previous trip here in my old blog so do chect them out.

 

Concurrently, this was my second Cambodia trip and unlike the first one I didn't come here alone, I brought several other friends with me as well. We're doing a small scale charity project which I will cover the gist of it - but in another entry.

 

For now, enjoy images of a very secluded village. At the border of this village remained several river people, those who lived all their lives on boats and migrating wherever the river takes them.

 

The clock shows 7.11 AM, and I heard a voice coming from down under calling us for breakfast.

 

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Abang Syafie was calling us down. Abang Syafie used to work in Malaysia for 14 years, he's very fluent in Malay and a guy with a very dry sense of humor. The last time I was here, I stayed in his house as well.

His younger brother named Ersyad is a friend of mine. Ersyad is currently studying in Madinah University.

 

Abang Syafie said that this was just an appetizer for our real breakfast next. He asked me to shower first before then.

 

Abang Syafie has 2 children, a boy and a younger daughter. His son coloured these pages.

 

There were 4 of us and and all of us are university mates. 

 

We're only going to stay here for 2 days so the activities planned are a bit packed, but I'm sure we'll manage. The day before we stayed overnight in Phnom Penh. I might write about it in the future.

 

We were brought to a very near food stall for our breakfast. And I do mean very near, the stall must only be a hundre meter from Abang Syafie's house.

 

I was told that this makcik cooks half a pot of porridge eveyday and they are usually sold out.

 

So tasty and the portion given was so large. The villagers loved to spread chilli sauce on top of their porridge and so I did the same.

 

A bowl of this costs and equivalent of RM2.00. We ate the porridge around the stall amongst other villagers. Not much chattery going on around the place - people just sit down, eat, pay and leave.

 

What we are going to do next is to take a stroll around the paddy field near the village. Since there were four of us, Abang Syafie asked 3 other villagers to accompany us. They brought their respective motorcycles to ride us around.

 

I'm riding with Abang Syafie. The man in yellow is actually his brother. His name is Asyaari.

 

The story goes that several decades ago, the Cambodian government gave a huge lump of land to the village chief to be divided among the village folks. All were given the exact size but some received their lot of land farther away from the village.

 

Thus there are many undeveloped areas, mainly because some villagers have no means of transport and manpower to develop their land.

 

Due to this some villagers sold or rent their land to outsiders for them to develop it instead. Like this paddy factory. By motorcycle it took us nearly 15 minutes to get here and far, far away from the suburb.

 

Machineries.

 

From what I could gather, more and more businessmen from Mainland China are investing their resources here. A huge factor to it is the cheap labor cost.

 

Paddies are only harvested once a year here, due to the weak drainage and irrigation system.However much effort are given to improve this and statistic shows that total harvest of rice in Cambodia are growing year by year.

 

The sun was right above us at this time. Imagine working under these conditions everyday.

 

The workers are transporting these unmilled rice to be packed by other workers below. I gather the rice will be sent to another factory to remove the husk and bran to become milled rice.

 

Milled rice is what we layman call white rice. Unmilled rice on the other hand is called brown rice. The milling process removes a hefty amount of vitamins, minerals, fibres and some protein.  That's why some people consider brown rice superior than white rice.

The workers here are all locals but not from Tropheungchuk, they came from a neighboring village. Can't remember the name.

 

The main mosque of the village. After visiting the paddy factory we were supposed to go further down to the forest but the unfavorable road condition stopped our track. 

So went home for lunch and to rest up a bit.

 

We had our afternoon prayer here. Last time I wrote on how this mosque was unfinished even after more than a decade. While the mosque is still  unfinished, there's been steady construction progress throughout the year. They had finished building the toilet and male ablution area several months before.

As a rough statistic, I'd say the mosque is 85% finished.

 

The acoustics in this mosque is very bad though, if only we could invest in a decent sound system.

 

What I love about the village is that everybody knows everyone and their relatives. It feels as if the village is like one whole extended family.

 

Later we were called for an evening drink with Abang Syafie's father. His house is right in front of the mosque. Abang Syafie and his brother plucked coconuts from the trees behind the house.

 

As a side note, almost all these pictures are out of camera JPEGS. 

 

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Look at all these Canons. 

 

That is his father right there. And on the back is his mother. The hut that she is sitting on is literally their house, since their real house is a work in progress. For the time being, that hut is where Abang Syafie's parent live, sleep and carry on their everyday lives.

 

They actually had a house before, but the house was passed down to Abang Asyaari after he was married. The father wanting to give his son privacy moved out here.


This is their house which is still in construction. The father did all the work; piling, framing, texturing, flooring etc by himself. His sons of course helped a bit but the father insisted in being the sole artisan.

 

Their hospitality touched me. There are lots that we can learn from them.

I guess this is it for part one. The meat of the story will be in part two so stay tuned. Ustaz Yaakob which is pictured on the left is a major player in the second part.