Hi Everyone! Happy Halloween! I just got back from the rooftop pool at our hotel in Singapore and wanted to send out these tricks and treats before we head over to our friend’s Halloween Party. It’s good to be here but looking back over the amazing images from Cambodia makes me a little sorry that we’ve left it behind (also the amazing and CHEAP food– so good it deserves its own blog post– better get Josh on that one!)
This is a scarecrow in the front of a house in rural Cambodia. Most people believe that “ghosts” roam around at night ( not just on Halloween) and can do mischief. Families place a scarecrow at the front of the home to ward away the bad spirits and keep them safe. We saw many versions of scarecrows dressed in cast off clothes– some even with motorcycle helmets!
We came upon this beautiful scene by the river on our daytrip to the floating village. It was a neighborhood blessing and feast to celebrate the end of the rainy season. We hopped out of the car with our cameras whirring and were invited onto a floating platform made from lashed bamboo and thatch. The old holy people (we knew they were religious laypeople from their shaved heads and white clothes) sat in circles, men in one and women in the other. They had just finished a big meal and were settling down for a good gossip (and laugh at the sweaty American tourists!) But the women were so lovely– smiling and approving of us– the kindness in their eyes needed no translation.
Not sure if you can really capture the scary chaos of the traffic in this pic. Notice the 4 way stop sign here. Stopsigns and lights are ignored–everyone (in all 4 directions) enters the intersection together. This makes for more interested and tricky driving. Our guide said there’s lots of laws on the books– helmets, seatbelts, speeding, and the like, but there is virtually no enforcement of these laws. So most intersections look like this or worse in the evenings.
We were very surprised on our last day that our tuk tuk was pulled over for a traffic violation! Our driver blew through a red light and turned the corner into a crowd of armed police. He was asked to get off his motorbike and argued with the cops for a while. As we sat wondering what to do the cops were pulling lots more people over. Most of them looked pretty disgusted to be unlucky enough to get caught. The most official looking policeman came back to our tuk tuk and said that our driver had to pay a fine ** meaningful pause and sideways look at us** Josh understood his intention and got out a dollar. We paid our driver’s fine were then allowed to be on our way.
Treat # 3
This roadside stand of temple offerings was a beautiful treat in Siem Reap. The lotus flowers (the pink and yellow flowers in stacks) were being sold folded or unfolded. We bought some fresh unfolded ones and Emma took them back to our hotel. A lovely staffperson at our hotel (who befriended our family named Sa Em) taught Emma how to fold back the petals and reveal the yellow flat bud in the center. Buddha walks on lotus flowers so it is very common to see these flowers floating in a bowl of water tucked into the corner of a room.
Trick # 3
Bugs for sale at the market!!! For those of you brave enough to click on this photo– you can see the closer up version of fried grasshoppers, roaches, frogs and those black ones at the top are tarantulas. Fried tarantula is a specialty in Cambodia. And NO to answer your next question none of us ate of this stuff. I know that many cultures eat different foods and I am not casting aspersions on their dietary habits. The spiders, bugs, snakes, grubs, roaches and frogs are just not to my taste thank you.
In general the wet markets (the section of the market where fish and meat are sold) are pretty graphic. Max wasn’t inclined to like meat before our trip here– now I think it’s pretty unlikely that he’ll ever eat it. We saw frogs skinned, snakes scaled, chicken’s necks rung and eels flopping. We talked to Max about walking through the market and practicing the art of seeing but not seeing. Needless to say he was much happier in the fruit and veg sections.
Although we’ve seen their faces a thousand times– the children caused quite a stir when we walked through the markets. Many people wanted to touch Max (he found this quite annoying). Emma was quite noticed by the market ladies. They would turn and stare often telling the other ladies to look over at us and point to their eyes. Emma’s light grey blue eyes were unusual in this country of brown eyes.
We all thought it was funny when people asked the children for pictures or asked to pose with them in various temples. While Josh and I visited the upper levels of Ankor Wat (the children were not allowed in the highest levels so they stayed in the shade with our guide David) several Korean tourist ladies posed with Emma. We laughed and asked Max if he charged the ladies anything for the photo op! (this was a common practice by other Cambodians) And one other time we all laughed because some Thai tourists wre really excited about the kids and asked to have their photos with them. After the pics were taken they asked us in their limited English where we were from. When we told them California they all exclaimed OH! CALIFORNIA!!! (as if they just struck gold by collecting that special photo!) It was pretty silly.
So hope everyone has a good time trick or treating tonight and more news later-