Sunday, November 30, 2008

The New Angkor Market

This is the New Angkor Market on National Road No. 6. It's near all the big hotels and has some souvenir shops in the front. Once you walk towards the back, it is just like any Cambodian market.
The first thing I noticed were the hammocks. These are very common in stalls in Cambodia, for the shopkeeper to sleep in. Sometimes they speak to you while still in the hammock, not bothering to get up to answer your questions. I guess it can be boring or tiring working in a shop all day, so the hammock is there to provide relief.
The buckets are filled with varieties of prahok or fermented fish paste. Sometime prahok is listed as Cambodian cheese in some restaurant menus, but don't be misled--it is nothing like cheese. I think at some point a Westerner must have compared its taste and odour to smelly cheese and that is how the name stuck.

A pig's head on display at the shop selling pork. I wonder why they do that--do people buy entire pig's heads?
And the second-hand clothes shop. Most Cambodians cannot afford new clothes, so they buy second-hand ones. Many of the clothes are actually donations, from Korea, Singapore, anywhere. I once met a Cambodian man who fished out a copper toned coin from his trouser pocket. It was a Singapore $1 coin! He had found the coin in the pocket of the trousers which he had bought at the market for USD2. I am sure the pair of trousers was a donation from Singapore.

When they arrive in Cambodia, however, it becomes a business. Wholesalers sell the donated clothes by the kilo, which end up at retail shops like this. They can cost anywhere from 1000 riels (25 US cents) to a few dollars an item. Sometimes you can find market stalls that sell clothes for as little as 400 riels (10 US cents) or less. The clothes here are all long-sleeved, because the weather in Cambodia now is cool. "We say it is winter in Cambodia," said my friend Sophon.

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