Previously I have shared my experience with the Barbados festival. Last week, I took my advice about not losing time and spent my previous few days in Cambodia on the secluded Bamboo Island. I’m satisfied I did — it became out to be the highlight of my trip and my first glimpse into Khmer (Cambodian) culture. Experiencing local Cambodian culture on Bamboo Island.
Local Cambodian culture on Bamboo Island:
Bamboo Island is an hour of the country’s southern coast, close to the metropolis of Sihanoukville (wherein I’ve been the last month). It’s a small island that you may pass in 10 minutes and has only two beaches. There isn’t much snorkeling right here. There’s no Internet. No electricity from 6 pm – 11 pm. No warm water. No fans. It’s only you, the beach, an excellent e-book, and a handful of other people (there are ten bungalows).
I spent my days at the beach, did a freestyle poem night, the limbo, and picked up on the last season of the Family Guy. After some traumatic months of writing trying to meet my e-book deadline, it was only what I needed.
But what I liked most was my spending evening with the Cambodians on the island. I had come to the island with two buddies due to the fact they knew the supervisor of the motel, and he was having a “bungalow warming party” to celebrate his newly built bungalow. It could be him, the local personnel, and us.
After the kitchen group of workers had served the opposite guest, they closed down early, and all of us went over to the brand new bungalow for meals and beverages. I ate — and ate some greater. They stored putting meals on my plate and liquids in my hand. Curry dishes had been poured onto my plate, filling my mouth with fire, spice, and unknown hen parts. Savory BBQ fish became exceeding to me. There have also been grilled squid, shrimp, and vegetables.
I was struck at how extraordinary cultures out of doors the West continually appear to eat. Like plenty of the world, the locals in Cambodia experience communal eating. A tarp is positioned down, dishes are introduced and placed within the middle, and absolutely everyone sits crossed-legged across the table, grabbing what they want. There’s no plate or your plate. My dish or your dish. It’s a shared communal experience.
Back home, all of us order our own dish. There’s no sharing. It’s a solitary manner to each, which seems reasonable given our solitary nature. In the West, there’s mine.
I was struck not merely by how they ate, but what they ate as well. Like numerous rural areas I’ve traveled, nothing here is wasted. The squid is cooked whole, the shrimp head is eaten, and no part of that fowl is going unused. This isn’t specific to Cambodian culture; it occurs everywhere in the world and is in firm contradiction to the wastefulness of the West. Everything we devour is super-sized and thrown away. If it’s no longer best or considered “icky,” it’s thrown away. Wasted even though it’s flawlessly fine.
I could wax on poetically about this, divining excellent meaning about society, culture, and values from how human beings consume. I won’t, though; instead, I’ll say that sitting down, looking the Khmers eat, talk, laugh, and bringing me into their network turned into a happy and joyous experience.
After dinner, when the plates had been cleared away, the track cranked up, and the locals performed traditional dancing. Not for travelers, however, for the pleasure of it. Khmer dancing involves lots of sluggish hand movements, finger turning, and grace. Everyone becomes pushed up off the ground, and my friends and I were made (taught) to dance. We accompanied the Cambodians as they gave us instructions; unable to speak Khmer, we learned through following along. Become no person there to say do “left, right, left,” so we did our best to maintain it. Note: I’m sincerely awful at Khmer dancing.
As the night continued, I discovered a few simple Khmer phrases, became pals with one of the boatmen, and did a shot of some bad Khmer liquor with one of the cooks.
Had I followed my unique plans, I might have been at the island weeks ago, but I wouldn’t have come to recognize the supervisor, having best these days been added to him via my mainland pals. Even if there’d been any other party, I wouldn’t have been invited. Getting taken in Sihanoukville granted me the danger to give time with the locals in a way I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
My time on Bamboo jogged my memory of what I discovered in Greece, Bangkok, Amsterdam, and limitless other places wherein I got caught: culture only indicates itself over time.
As travelers, we circulate a lot. We scratch surfaces, but in no way, peel returned the layers of the onion. There’s simplest, so a good deal you can do in some days. If you want to understand an area on a deeper level, at some point, you want to stop, stay put, and soak to your environment.
Even if it was missing other places, you desired to visit.
So I bet in that sense, the month that I spent locked in my room wasn’t a waste of time that fed me my journey to Laos and Malaysia. That month became part of the journey to learning Cambodia a little extra deeply.