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Little Henry in Cambodia

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Snoozin' not cruisin'This is supposed to be the only way to travel in Phnom Penh. But I can't reach the pedals!

Maybe if I wake this guy up, he will know how it works?
Coconut vendorNow, this is the way to travel! With the coconut vendor. He knows his way around all of the city. Even got a comfy little seat for me on the side. Can you see me?

He sometimes sells the whole coconut, but usually people ask him to chop off just the top so they can get the sweet juice out. He is very skilled at this. As you can see he has already prepared a lot of the coconuts by cutting away most of the outer husk around the top. When there is an order, he lays the coconut on its side, one quick chop with his chopper and straight through the shell, neatly cutting a little scallop lid off the top to put the straw into.

It is called tuk daung. The juice of the coconut.
Motorcycle figureheadIf the coconut man is a little slow, there is always a passing motorcyclist. This one needs a counterbalance at the front because he has a lot on the back already. This is one of the macho riders who doesn't tie down his load. Still, there are not too many holes in the road, so there is not too much bouncing around.

These guys try and cram as much onto the motorcycle as they can. They are hired by other people to deliver goods around town, so the more they can carry, the more they can get paid. So this man has put a few extra boxes between his legs and over the handlebars. This pushes the knees out a bit and makes it hard to use the brakes, but hey, who's stopping anyway?
Elephantine transportThen, for the more scenic side of town, like the royal palace, the best way to get around is the elephant. A little bit rocking and rolling but everyone notices you!

You have to watch the trunk though, he likes to explore with the tip, especially small things. He is looking for bits of food I think. The mahoot feeds him mainly on sugar cane and that gets a bit monotonous.

The trick with elephants is not to be on the ground when they are around, espcially when you are my size!
Anyone for rambutan?Being small, it is easy to hide out sometimes.

This is the rambutan seller. She walks the streets all day with her basket of fruit on her head. If you want some, just call her over and she takes it down and lifts up a bunch and tells you her price. I think you are supposed to act surprised and tell her a lower price. This goes on for a bit until they agree to swap fruit for money or else she puts the basket back up and keeps going.

The trick here is not to get sold along with the fruit!
Wat clockAh, some nice green grass at Wat Phnom. This is the biggest hill in the whole city - it must be nearly 25 metres tall! This is where the elephant comes every day to work. He takes people for rides around the base of the hill. Must be boring for him.

On top of the hill is a stupa - that's the grey thing in the background. And beside it (behind the tree) is the Wat Phnom wat (or pagoda). Lots of cheeky little monkeys live in the trees and are always messing about. But they don't eat grass, so there is plenty for me.

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Trolley manWell, time to leg it to somewhere else.

This trolley man is alright, but a little bit slow and he seems to complain a lot. I can't understand most of what he says, but there is something about a camel and some straw...but I've searched the load and I can't see any straw anywhere. He must be dreaming about another life.

I wonder why he doesn't have a motorcycle, like the other guys?
Drying fishSometimes there are some problems with the language here. I thought they said come and look at the flying fish, but all that is here are drying fish!

Dried fish are a very common food source in Cambodia. They are dried right out and sometimes salted as well, and so they can keep for many months without refrigeration. But it takes a lot of work. The drying takes several days, so you have to take them in and put them out again daily, and if it looks like rain, you have to take them in again.... I think I'd just eat them fresh.
Monks at workNow, these guys have it good. They wear these robes that can be yellow or orange or brown. They walk along the street and stop in front of houses until people come out and give them food or money!

When the people give something, they do a little chanting, nod their heads and head on out. I've figured out the coloured robes all right, but I have to get one of those cute little yellow umbrellas, the sun is so hot here.

They even walk barefooted, like me! But I have to study the way they stand, it looks hard. The way this guy splays his feet out - ow, I don't think I can do that without dislocating something....

When they get back to GHQ (that's general headquarters) - it is a pagoda! And all these other guys, all dressed the same, have been out all doing the same thing - there's plenty of food. So, they put it all together and share among themselves and to the people who did not go out and to some students living at the pagoda too.

I found out these guys are called monks. I wonder if they are related to monkeys?
Tortoise trapHey! Let me out of here!

I'm not a turtle. I might end up as someone's pet. Yerrgh!

Or worse - in the soup!

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Banana kingFresh bananas! Hey, but they are a bit green.

But what sort of paradise is this, where you can just walk outside and pick the fresh fruit straight off the tree? And if you are not picking it yourself, someone will walk past the front gate with fruit in a basket balanced on their head and will gladly sell it to you at a very reasonable price. This does, indeed, seem to be a land of plenty. Why then are the people described as poor? What more could they want?

Can you see me?
Travel by oxWhen you're in the countryside, you have to go with the local form of transport. This farmer is just returning from the fields where he has been ploughing all day with his two cows, using the plough you can just see the top of in the back of the oxcart - that big curved thing is the handle he holds to steer the plough through the mud.

Also in the oxcart is a lot of grass he has cut during the day for his cows to munch on when they get home to rest for the night.

Luckily he doesn't travel at night, he has two heads at the front but where are the headlights?
The trouble with guns...Hey, I found the problem!

It's up the front end.
Shooting timeSo, Australia is not the only place where they shoot up the road signs!

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Stung Treng monksThese guys are monks. All young fellas. They have come down from the provinces to study in Phnom Penh.

They might have their own flock and all, but I am not sure that they are supposed to fraternise with sheep....
Angkor Wat lookoutThis place is big.

They call it Angkor Wat.

I said 'What?"

Yes, Angkor Wat.
Icon at Banteay SamreEverything here is made from stone.

Even the windows. Although this one is broken. Let's see, there must be a cricket ball here somewhere....
Banteay SreiThis is one of the temples called Banteay Srei. You guessed it - big and made from stone.

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Window gazingHey, I was just looking out the window!

Would somebody get me down please!
Bayon entrance "Excuse me, is this the right way to Angkor Thom?"

Even when you are polite, they don't say anything. But you would think that after 900 years in the one place, that they would know their way around.

This is one of the demons guarding the south entrance to Angkor Thom and the Bayon - one of the quiet ones.
Coconut juiceFresh coconut juice, just what I need. The vendor just picks one off the pile and with three quick chops with the cleaver, the lid comes off! Better than a plastic screwcap!

I stood back a bit when the cleaver was produced, I can tell you.
FootsoreLooks like this bloke has gone all to pieces!

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Pre Rup temple"I'm the king of the castle, and you're the dirty rascal."
Model Angkor WatThis is more my size. This is a scale model of Angkor Wat and you can see how big it really is.

The outer wall you can see here in miniature is really a rectangle that is 215 metres by 187 metres!
Kramar wearerCambodia is located in the tropics, just north of the equator, so it is in the northern hemisphere. This means that it is hot nearly all the time. There is a wet season which lasts for nearly six months and a dry season of six months.

Since my shroud was getting a bit too hot to wear here, I have opted for the local fashion which is a scarf that they call a kramar. A kramar is a very useful thing. It can be used to cover your head to keep the sun off. You can tie it around your neck. You can tie it over your shoulder and carry things in it. You can wear it like a skirt. You can wrap it in a tight knot to put on top of your head to balance a tray. You can even clean the floor with it, blow your nose on it....
Koy tiew breakfastCambodians love to have noodle soup for breakfast. And they eat it with chopsticks! Also they have a fried bread that they dip into it too, which is called cha-kwai. In a restaurant it normally costs about a dollar.

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Royal palace visitorThis is the royal palace. It has the palacial location in town directly on the riverside where the two great rivers come together - the Mekong and the Tonle Sap - in an area know as Chaktomuk. This is the throne room, where the monarchs are crowned. There is a dancing pavilion (no, the pavilion itself does not dance) a pagoda and even a special building with an elevated platform for climbing onto elephants.

This architecture is very typical of Cambodia. A lot of the pagodas have tall structures, sloping roofs, elongated end roof structures and very tall windows.

The King of Cambodia, whose name is Sihanouk, lives in the residence at the palace when he is in Phnom Penh, but that is not so often at the moment, he likes to live in China!

Watch the naga!We have some snakes in Australia. In fact, we have a few nasty ones too. But we don't have any with seven heads!

This is the naga. Luckily it is mythological (that means that it is not real) and it is often used on very decorated buildings and was used often in the temples at Angkor Wat. This one is guarding the steps leading up to the pavilion that is used for dancing. But there were no dancers there today.

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Tiger with no teethThis chinese tiger tried to grab me but his mouth is too small! I was able to leap onto his nose where I could tease him but he couldn't get me. I mostly insulted him by telling him what silly little ears he has.
Royal gardenerNow here is a paddock that is to my liking! All that well kept sweet grass in the palace gardens. Even the bushes are edible - do you like the neat way I ate the leaves away?

I wonder if they would give me a job?
Seeking guidanceI even found someone to pray for me!

Well, I listened for a while and I heard my name mentioned but I also heard the words 'go away' mentioned too, so I am not sure where the sentiments lay exactly.

Her real job is to pray for the protection and preservation of the palace. But who could she be praying to? It can't be the christian god, because the country is Buddhist. Yet, it can't be Buddha either because his teaching does not contain any reference to treating him like a god. Maybe it is just a recognised action whose purpose is immediately obvious.

It's obvious to me, I'm off.
My size pagodaThis is more like it. A pagoda that is my size. Can you see me?
Farmyard friendsI found some mates down at the market. These guys are all made from clay, then they are fired in a hot oven until hard and after cooling get all these great colours to choose from.

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Can you read this?I wonder what this sign says?

Maybe if I knew what it said I might learn something?

Perhaps I could learn to read it? After all, if a ten-year old Cambodian can read it, why can't I?
Some Khmer consonants This is not so hard after all! These are some of the consonants.

In order, they read 's', 'h', 't', 'k' and 'l'.

They are pronounced as 'saw', 'haw', 'taw', 'kaw' and 'low'.

The Khmer language has 33 consonants in its alphabet.
Some Khmer vowels That was the easy part. These are some of the vowels, all using 's' or 'saw' as the consonant. As you can see, the vowels can be written in front of the consonant, or above it, or below it, or in front and behind or even in front and above! Easy isn't it?

These ones are pronounced as 'say', 'sai-i', 'sew', 'sou' and 'sow'.

The Khmer language has 23 vowels in its alphabet.
Khmer numbersYou guessed these ones right?

The numbers one through nine, then zero.
Little Henry in KhmerThis is my name in Khmer language. See the vowels at the top, and the one underneath?

If you show this to a Cambodian, they will be able to say 'Little Henry', almost perfectly!
Lettuce have someHey lady, down here!

I'd really like some of that lettuce. I'm getting hungry.

What? I have to pay for it? I can't beg unless I'm poor, handicapped or a monk?

Well, I don't want to be poor and I don't want to be handicapped if it means stepping on a landmine, so I'll to look further into this monk business.
Devils and NagaHere I am at the entrance to the 'Pagoda of the Ten Thousand Buddhas.' I thought there was only one Buddha, but I won't argue with them yet.

This pagoda is well protected by a line of devils and a naga. I should be safe here.

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Entrance to the monkhood Here it is, the entrance to the pagoda. It looks a bit dark inside there, but the outside is wonderful.

I wonder if the recruiting officer is in...?
Little Henry Monk Yep, he sure was!

Do you like my new outfit? Now I can get some lettuce for free. I wonder if there is anything else I have to do? Maybe a bit of study, learning all those chants and some meditation - that should be alright.
Rigged for begging This is my new begging bowl. I have to take it with me when I walk door to door and people come out and put some food in it and I say a few words to bless them. Then we all come back and eat together at the pagoda.

What an easy life.

I might just stay here....
Little Henry in the jungle I know the Frecko clan is going back to Australia soon. Should I go too or stay here and lead the spiritual life? It is a hard choice.

But whatever I do, or whatever you do with your own lives, just remember - it is a jungle out there!

Bye from me. It's been fun.

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