Cambodian Faces and Phrases


Cambodia is beautiful. And not just because of the temples. Everyday was an opportunity to meet someone new. I learned a lot from the people we encountered, most especially from our two Tuk Tuk drivers and trusted companions, Mr. Theoun and Mr. Bun. They taught us many Khmer words like “Akun!” (Thank you), “Suosday” (Hello), “Lea heuy” (Pronounced Li Hai and means Good bye), and “Jol Moi!” (Cheers). In return, we taught them a few basic Tagalog words and phrases.


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Along the way, we met others who imparted their own words. After seeing the confused expression on the waiter’s face when we drew a rectangle in the air (how we Filipinos ask for the bill), I asked the help of the manager and he taught me that the Khmer word for bill/check is “Kiet loi.” Two little boys in the floating village taught me a shorter version of “What’s your name?” which is “ch’muah ei?” after I struggled to pronounce the longer version. It made them smile, nonetheless, to hear me try.

I guess it’s the same when I hear foreigners saying Tagalog words like “Salamat!” or “Mabuhay!” When you want to know more about a place, you make a real effort to know the people and their culture. And to know the people, you need to learn how to speak their language. So that the very act of uttering a word or phrase means “I think you’re interesting and I want to get to know you” or something like, “I respect you, your culture, your language” or more often than not, “I’m probably saying this wrong but please please please I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.”

I scribbled down all those words in my tiny notebook so I wouldn’t forget. I wrote them as I heard them, so my spelling may be a little off. It was very practical (for those who can’t live without extra rice, “bai” will be a useful word). Every now and then, I whipped it out and looked up the appropriate Khmer word to use in the situation. And aside from being practical, it never failed to make the people smile.

Cambodia was such a rich and wonderful experience. Can’t wait to go on more adventures like that this year! 🙂

8 responses to “Cambodian Faces and Phrases”

  1. That photo with the tuktuk driver and the mirror is amazing!

    1. Thanks, Ta! That means a lot coming from you, the master photographer! Haha! Hope you’re enjoying your stay in Greece 😀

  2. Hi Trish! Learned about your blog from your Mom while we were having breakfast yesterday. 1) You’ve got the “Write Stuff!” …so fresh,so engaging …I wish I could write like that. (Reminds me of the blog “Legal Nomads” by Jodi Ettenberg,lawyer turned full time traveller/blogger/foodie.) 2) You also got the artist’s eye and the photographer’s timing! I’ve also been to Angkor Wat…saw what you saw and like you,took gazillion photos…but I never caught what you captured…the people framed against their cultural/natural backgrounds (I specially like the kids,the guy napping on a tree,the dancers on the mat,the lone biker on a dusty trail). Great stuff here! You should definitely keep on writing and maybe get paid for it (by Travel magazines,perhaps?) 🙂 – Tito Ted

    1. Hi Tito Ted! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog 🙂 And thank you for everything you just said (or typed down haha). Really really glad that you enjoyed the writing and photographs. I realized just recently that this is something I want to pursue, and it’s all very exciting, this whole traveling thing. Mom told me that you are writing and designing as well? Would love to see you work too! 😀 Thank you, tito!

      1. You’re welcome Trish. By all means,Travel..I’m told there are ways to do so cheaply (though I’ve never tried them…you may have heard of travel hackers??–check out this guy Ramit Sethi who’s into this stuff.) As for my writing & drawing i used to post stuff in a blog called “Boodge’s Musings” :… it’s a “Wala Lang—gusto ko lang mag-blog” type of a blog. (No direction whatsoever…just a way to let off creative steam so to speak.) I also attempted to create my own webcomic based on a character LOLO GROOVY…it’s on wordpress:
        (By the way it’s medyo adult…but since you’re over 18, I guess you can check it out.) I’ve since re-drawn the Lolo Groovy strips ( colored na siya!) but have not posted these as I intend to publish these into a comic book which I will then sell in Komikon. So from once high-paying corporate executive/consultant…to aspiring (and possibly starving artist-writer)…which of us two is DUMBER? Hahaha. Travel! Write! Enjoy Life…because You Can! 🙂

      2. Wow, you are really good at drawing comics! I liked the one of Cambodia! You have to teach me how to do that. Haha 😀

  3. Ganda ng shots mo, Trish. 🙂

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