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07 Apr 2002

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Khmer New Year is approaching and young people have been playing games on the streets for several weeks now, standing in circles and chasing each other around. The rules of the game eludes us, but the purpose is clearly just to have fun. Last night we were invited to a party by one of our students who lives right behind the factory. It was held outside in their small yard and started at around 5 p.m. with a sit-down meal for the hundred or so guests. Nice to have some real Khmer food for a change - spicy chicken, noodles with fried beef and onions, pork and a peanut sauce. After eating, the tables and chairs were pushed to one side, apart from a round table with a pot plant which the guests danced round. Khmer traditional dancing is a strange thing to behold as the participants almost seem to be dancing alone, taking small shuffling steps and swinging their arms in a manner similar to Thai dancing - quite elegant really. A few of the young guys got down to some serious boogying as the music hotted up, but everyone else kept up a gentle swaying during even the fastest songs! The drinks flowed, the smiles increased and everyone looked set for a long, happy evening...