Just a quick funny to demonstrate the service you sometimes receive here. Most if not all of the wait staff in restaurants along the riverfront in Kampong Cham are young villagers who have been employed because they have some level of English, which can range from a skerrick to fluent. They earn between $80 to $100 per month plus tips, which I am sure often surpass their actual salary. Most of them have limited training, often nothing other than what they learn on-the-job. They certainly don’t have experience being a customer and combined with the English they are required to make sense of in all kinds of accents, I am sure it can be very daunting for some of them, particularly those starting out in their mid-teens. Some of them have disabilities which are very common here, perhaps due to the subsistence lifestyle and also the fact that there is no disability support so you have to make a living no matter what. Given this overall picture, the service is usually not of a westernised standard and it is often very entertaining.
One of the funniest service events I have had came about a week ago when some of us turned up for a wine in the late afternoon. I ordered a white wine and waited to see what would come of it. This glass was presented to me.
As nurses our immediate observation was that my wine looked like a glass of haematuria (bloodstained urine). I held it up to the light and put my nose into it. We were busy commenting about the highly unusual white wine when the waiter, who had noticed our observations, returned and said “Sorry Madame. You said white wine but I put red wine first. Sorry!”. Oh I see! I have a Cambodian-style glass of rosë vino! Without further ado, we got on with drinking what had been served to us!
A few other photographs from around town in the past week:
For a year we’ve been in competition at who can count the most bodies on a single moto. Last night we beat our own record with seven!
In the mornings monks are seen visiting businesses around Central Market and beyond, collecting their daily alms. Recently I was having breakfast at the market when a group lined up at my outdoor eatery so I made a donation and was told to wait “because I will give you a blessing in English. I wish for you good life, good work, good luck, good money and good boyfriend”.
In the evenings the purpose of their presence in town is usually walking to or from one of the many schools offering lessons in Korean, English and various other disciplines. Cambodia’s most educated appear to be these young men who live inside the grounds of the many pagodas.
Scavenging for survival is a commonly observed occupation, in both the very young and the very old.
Cambodians regularly ask me, do I prefer to stay in Cambodia or Australia? For the moment, my answer is Cambodia. I am always greeted with “For me, I want to stay in Australia”. An understandable desire given the extreme difference in lifestyle and choices!