Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Our Cambodian brother, Tee

Tee with a coconut
Today we left Battambang behind and have arrived in the hustly-bustly city of Phnom Penh, which is taking a bit of getting used to, after the quiet provincial town of Battambang. We have been here for four hours already and not taken a single photo.

Anyway, this chap, Tee was waiting for us as we got off the boat from Siem Reap to Battambang and recommnded to us that we go and stay in the Teo Hotel, as opposed to the Chhaya Hotel, where about ten aggressive touts were trying to load us into one of their three minibuses and telling us not to believe this Tee and that the hotel was going to be 3.5 kms out of town. Well, it all sounded very improbable so we went along with Tee, as he was a lot quiter, unassuming and more seemingly honest than the others. It was a good choice as the Teo Hotel had large rooms, excellent beds, good airco, a warm shower, clean towels everyday and it was as near to the centre as you would have wanted. The Chhaya on the other hand was right in the (noisy) centre and didn't look half as gfood as the Teo.

So, we would spend the next two days and evenings with Tee and his side-kick Nye and what a great time they gave us, motoring along through the beautiful countryside, stopping whenever we wanted and Tee telling us about life in Cambodia and his own life in particular.

He is the only son and has two sisters, of a farming family near Pursat, south of Battambang. He learnt English at school and had various jobs as he does not want to follow his father and elder sister into farming, as despite it looking so idylklic, he said that life is very hard on the farm. His father supplements his income by giving Bible lessons to various young people, paid for by some church. He is not Christian himself but welcomes the 30 dollars a month this job provides. Tee himself is an atheist and does not have much time for religion himself although he is quite happy for others to be religious as long as they don't try their religion out on him. Excellent!

He bought himslef a motorbike and uses this to transport tourists like ourselves around Battambang, in his nice unassuming way. He could buy his motorbike in Thailand for 300 dollars (illegally) thereby saving himself 900 dollars from the Cambodian price (due to heavy import duties). He uses his income to help pay for his younger sister go to high school and hopes to save money for himself to get some formal education as a passport to a 'proper' job.

Only when he has his proper jon will he have time for a girlfriend, girlfriends being an expensive luxury, it seems.

Anyway, he said that it is Cambodian custom that if you do not have many brothers or sisters, to nominate one or more of your good friends as brother or sister, which I think is a very nice idea, so in this way he became our Cambodian brother. If you are reading this, Tee, thanks again for giving us such an excellent time in Battambang.

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