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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
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Entries in men (2)


How's this compare to where you've been?


That's the question three fat white guys discuss at a garden restaurant on a breezy Saturday. They were dropped off by a van. They meet friends.

One wealthy self assured Arab man with forehead sunglasses and his tall sleek jaguar girlfriend in tight jeans, tighter top and rattling high heels. Her feet are small and beautiful. Coiffeur hair. Originally, "inner part of the helmet." She leaves half her noodles. A Frenchman and his pregnant wife. She laughs a lot.

The weekend escape exercise from the capital. The three amigos booked rooms for their Cambodian honeys coming down from Phnom Penh and now they're drinking beer. The waft of suds and distinct European body odor drifts along the river. Intelligent life on Earth is a rumor.

The answer? "Now we've got women," said one man.

Sounds like a history story about a group of seafaring men who raided a Mediterranean city. They kidnapped all the women. The city men were pissed off and raided another coastal town, kidnapping all the women there. This is how war started. Revenge baby.

One day the women were asked about this event. "No," they said. "We weren't kidnapped. We went willingly."

No squeeze, no please.

This is a five minute free writing exercise. Keep your hand moving. The birds are singing. 

I live at Orchid. Orchid is important because I love orchids. They have many yellow and purple orchids growing, hanging, from planters. I feel great with orchids. I am a traveling gardener with unlimited potentials. Plural.

I remember many orchids in Indonesia. They were cheap. I decorated the front porch with multiple colorful orchids - red, orange, purple, white, and yellow in clay pots with a charcoal base. Orchids took me to the mountains to see my wild friends. (5 minutes)

At 7:30 a.m. the Orchid restaurant is filled with the smell of burning fires from refuse, plastic bags, and organic material. German travelers spit out their harsh dictatorial guttural sense of determination. It is harsh. They are planning to invade, to provoke a war to justify their extreme greed for land and slaves.

Teutonic tongues mix with screeching Khmer tongues. Question. What is louder than a group of Khmer people? Answer. Another group of Khmer people.

Babbling comparisons display firm purpose. They establish their memory-fiction with a drunken slow administrative tone. A singing bird says, "Good-bye, I'm taking wing. The sky is my refuge from description. The divine details create uncertainty in my grand plan."

Khmer children bleed water.

ROUGE: a rainbow with the smell of laughing birds, clouds and rivers. Milling around.

Thank you for your attention.


The Temple of Literature, Ha Noi.

Warrior statue, ink. Xiamen, China.


No women in tuk-tuk land


Now here this. The tuk-tuk is leaving in five minutes. Departing for points unknown. A massive celestial event known as YOUR LIFE will depart in five minutes. You are advised to assemble all the necessary documents, certified seals of approval, water, guide books, sunscreen, funny money and so will visit the following areas on your short, fast, easy tour.

Bring your life with you. And a guidebook with heavily creased pages. If you attempt to read while moving at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, you will discover a new sense of perspective.

You may be surprised or traumatized  to realize your experience at Angkor is not about "seeing" the temples. 

Angkor, Bayon and Beyond...

Please conclude various private and group discussions to ascertain your destination. The tuk-tuk driver has his helmet and vest. His vest has a green four-digit number. If he tries to bring you into Angkor without the vest he faces massive problems. For starters he will lose his job and have to return to his small, isolated village where he will plant rice. The biggest dream for many young men is to become a tuk-tuk driver.

If he loses his tuk-tuk job his family will starve to death. This is a common problem here. Death by starvation.

A tuk-tuk river driver has an easy job. An easy life. He drives you to a temple and crashes out. You feed him. He takes you back where you started. He makes $15-20 for the day. The average person's daily wage is $2.03.

Not a single woman in Siem Reap is a tuk-tuk driver. There are 3-4 women tuk-tuk drivers in Phnom Penh. They are as rare as clean drinking water, sanitation, hospitals and schools.

Why? A woman doesn't work as a tuk-tuk driver because: 

  1. it's too dangerous
  2. it's inappropriate
  3. it's foolish
  4. they lack the education, intelligence, drive, initiative
  5. they haven't broken free of deeply ingrained social and cultural stereotypes: a woman's place is in the home, taking care of kids, washing, cleaning, and cooking.

Thirty years ago a woman was lucky to finish 9th grade. She married and stayed at home. It may take another generation before women become tuk-tuk drivers. So it goes.



Lina studies Engineering in Phnom Penh.