The Fear of Not Knowing

I guess one of the most difficult parts of moving and adjusting to new life in Cambodia is the fear of not knowing the culture, the language, and the way of life in Cambodia. What is totally unacceptable in the US are totally acceptable in Cambodia like taking 4 kids on your scooter on a crazy road of this country. This scooter was passing by us when I asked Andrew to go faster so I could snap a picture. This is totally normal in Cambodia.

Police stopping you just to take some bribes is totally normal. And we were told if we’re ever stopped by a cop here, don’t argue and settle it right then and there. If we argue and drag the issue and are taken to the police station, our car will never be the same again because they’ll take the parts from it. Not only that, foreigners never win any legal battles here so there’s no point arguing. Just give them what they ask for.

Then there is the fear of things we consume. We bought 2 pots here and one of them turned black on the inside (the top part where water wasn’t touching) just from the heat. Makes me think twice about the pots and pans I bought here. Coconuts on the road that are already peeled and white are never to be consumed because it’s put in some “toxic” liquid to make the peeled husk white. I actually saw a Caucasian man cook his own patty at a market because he said he can’t trust that they’ll cook it fully saying, “Hey, this is Cambodia.” We saw a big water jug on a dispenser that contains filtered water in a restaurant but then there were other jugs on the ground with open caps…hmmm…what kind of water is in the jug that’s on the dispenser?

It is quite stressful to always be on our toes for our safety in every area of our lives. We’re into our 4th week in Cambodia and I think I’ve spent the entire last 3+ weeks trying to survive and keeping my family in health than anything else. I guess there will come a time when I’ll give tips to newcomers about the big differences between living in the US and Cambodia and even offer them comfort. But for now… I think I just need a little break…

모든것이 다른 캄보디아. 이제 도착한지 4주째 들어간다. 이곳에 와서 내가 한일은 가족의 건강과 안전을 위해 늘 독수리의 눈을뜨고 지켜본일이 다 인것 같다. 미국에서는 상상할수도 없는 일들이 이곳에서는 정상으로 여겨진다. 어린 4자녀를 오토바이에 싣고 이 복잡한 캄보디아 거리를 다니는 모습이 이곳에서는 너무 당연한 일이다. 교통법을 위반하지 않아도 외국인이면 경찰이 세워서 돈을 요구한다. 이때 묻지도 따지지도 말고 그냥 돈을 주란다. 잘잘못을 가리려 경찰서까지 가면 그곳에서 우리 차의 부품들이 도난당할것이고 외국인은 캄보디아 법을 이긴 역사가 없단다. 먹는것도 늘 걱정이다. 식당에 생수통에 물이 있길레 가지러 갔더니 땅에 뚜컹이 열린 다른 생수통들이 줄서 있었다. 과연 저 생수통의 물은 깨끗한 생수일까? 우리의 안전을 위해 모든것을 의심하고 질문하는 일이 매일의 일상이다. 앞으로 익숙해지기까지 새로운 힘이 필요한것 같다.

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