Thursday, April 11, 2013

Living in Battambang

Saran and I have only spent about two days with our dad's family in their homes at Battembong. Every night we return back to our hotel for our rooms with air conditioning and a bathroom with a sink, shower and regular toilet.
Our younger uncle is our host. His home, like many others here in Battembong, has the family business in front of the house. Our uncle's family runs a beauty salon and moto repair shop. Next to the salon is an open space where the cars and motos park. In the same open space is where the family gather around for their meals. There aren't any dining tables or chairs. When it's time to eat they lay out a few mats on the ground in front of the cars and motos and squat or sit around the dishes our aunts and female cousins prepare.
When in their homes, it still feels like we're outside. There are very few doors, or maybe it seems that way because of how the rooms are connected. There are barely any depths to the walls with cracks at every corner.
Electric fans are everywhere but does little for the American Cambodians. My parents, Saran and I are constantly sweating. Our hair and clothes would be soaked and look as if we got rained on. Our family - dry, not one bead of sweat in the 100 degree weather. What's even more crazy is that our cousins wear long sleeves and sweaters in this sauna temperature. Still no sweat.
The kitchen is next to their dining space. Barely the size of a walk in closet, multiple pots are always found sitting on an open flame they created. Dishes and bowls are all stacked along the walls. All cookware dented with char marks here and there. And only ladies are found in the kitchen.
The shower room and toilet room are found along side of the house. Like an outhouse, it sits on its own. I'm not sure what the shower room look like inside, but it's about the size of a telephone booth. The toilet room gave us a bit of a culture shock. The toilet was just a ceramic bowl with a hole at the center built right into the ground. Yes, we had to pop a squat. Though after learning that the first night we were there, we learned to go at our hotel.
In the back of the house sat two giant clay pots with water filled all the way to the top. Not sure what the area is, I'm thinking maybe it's where they wash their clothes.
It's crazy to see family like this. It's made me feel a lot more fortunate even though we grew up under rough conditions in the US, it just doesn't compare to how my family in Cambodia is living everyday.

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