Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pchum Ben

It's Pchum Ben ("p-choom ban"), a national holiday honouring the dead. It's a bit like qingming (cheng meng) where the Chinese go to the graveyards to pay their respects to their ancestors. Here, though, people go to wats, or pagodas, to pray and offer food to monks.

Most people return to their provinces and so have my staff. It's a three day holiday for them (Wed to Fri). Boret our guard has gone to see his family in Kratie ("krachay"), Saveth to Kandal, Bonthuen to Takeo and Edany to Siem Reap. Channo hails from Kampot but won't be returning home for some reason. Only Sipha and Sok Lin are from Phnom Penh. Sipha tells me she will spend this holidays making bags commissioned by a shop at Psar Thmei (Central Market). For her, work never stops.

The city is very quiet and the streets have few cars. On Friday, the second day of Pchum Ben, my friend Sophon picked Dad and myself up to take us to the wat and then to his house for lunch. We went to two wats, the second, Wat Phnom, is the most famous in Phnom Penh and in fact what the city was named after.

At the first wat -- I forget the name, we sat with a monk who was very keen to speak with us in English. He had been learning English for a year and was keen to practice. When we bade adieu, he asked us to visit him anytime. He was very hospitable and offered us Coke. I took many pictures and will try to upload later.

Lunch at Sophon's was excellent--egg noodles with soup and deep fried spring rolls (filled with yam and meat). We also had appetisers of glutinous rice cakes filled with yellow beans which I absolutely loved. Sophon says these traditonal rice cakes have been made for hundreds of years--simple yet oh so yummy.

2 comments:

Pax said...

I'm learning about Cambodia through your blog.In Thailand there is a holiday that the Chinese celebrate. Which seems to be similar to qingming.Some This
have a mixture of Chinese & Thai although it's difficult to see the difference in their physical looks.
Even with the mixture of Chinese they look Thai. Apparently the mixture goes back many hundreds if not centuries.Thai's are good looking people.
Pax

Diana Saw said...

Hi Pax thanks for the message. Glad that you're learning about Cambodia. It's a really fascinating place. And I am humbled when I meet people who have been through the Khmer Rouge times, people I had previously only read about.
I am Chinese but my maternal grandmother was half-Thai. I am one of these people with "Pan-Asian" look. I have been mistaken for Thai, Canadian, Japanese, Filipino but strangely no one has correctly identified me as Singaporean here! Keep in touch Pax, and hope you can come visit one day!
Cheers,
Diana

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