Take 14 (Click the number for info of entire trip)
It’s dark. 6:15 PM. I was experiencing a boring evening without “sunset photo op” as I had two years ago here. This is one of the night shots I made without expectation of a success, due to the weak light condition on the shaking floor of the church during a strong windy moment. So please don’t rate its photographic value. This is just for illustration of the continuing story…
Tuan—the church keeper returned from rice dealer with a not-so-good news: they have 2.3 tons of rice in stock, and the fixed price is 57,000 Cambodian riel per bag of 50kg. If we want more, we must wait for 2 more days because transportation of a large amount of rice from Siem Reab town to shore at Phnum Kraom by truck, and from shore to the floating dealership by boat could not be any faster.
We sat down again to resolve the math:
Total availability of 2300kg for 90 families: each family would receive 25.5 kg. The current price per kilogram is 1,140 riel gave us a big surprise with 50% increase (the printed donation form obtained a week before my trip from Franciscan Charity has been outdated: their listed price of rice was US$10.00/50kg-bag or 800 riel per kilogram.)
We rounded down to 25kg/family, and would need 2,250kg at the cost of 2,565,000 riel. I made a prompt decision: an amount of 10,000 riel in cash (US$2.5) will be given to each family “to buy fish sauce and salt”, to deplete the remaining fund.
Because none of us has a calculator, each of us (Tuan, my nephew and I) had to do the math 3 times until all numbers matched, in order to avoid possible error by half way or last minutes of the distribution of rice; we didn’t want the contributed funds to fall short and get into a dilemma with people awaiting for the promised donation. All of us suddenly became the students at final exam while any tiny mistake is unacceptable…
After midnight, Tuan offered some drinking water bought from town for my nephew and me to take a shower, which we denied. Even though we can repay him with our own money, we felt guilty to do so while the majority of Chong Kneas residents drinks the same Tonle Sap water which they dumped garbage into or washed their clothes or defecated.
Before returning to the back of floating classroom where his family resides, Tuan told us to have the church’s door open for fresh air. We didn’t do so, as to reply to my question about security in this area, he told us about a killing less than a month ago in the Khmer section of same village Chong Kneas: two Vietnamese men beheaded a Cambodian man after knowing he possessed a loan of a million riel to purchase fishnet and boat. Authorities has never been able to recover the money, but Cambodian community discovered the two criminals hidden over Phnum Kraom Mountain; they beat up to death one, before police arrived to save the second one. With this reminder, I set my tripod within reach, and warned my nephew if someone moves in and he receives the secret signal from me, he must lay still since I would definitely use the solid and heavy Bogen Manfrotto 3205 tripod with its attached 3030 head as weapon of defense. He said “good-night”, and added, “Uncle, it's unwise to take such a trip when you become the first ever unwelcome guest among a Vietnamese community like Chong Kneas! And had I knew this dangerous situation, I am sure I didn’t accept your invitation.”
Failing to find a proper reply, I handled him the bottle of 98% DEET mosquito repellent, and laid still, trying to focus on the tomorrow task in front of my people.
Critiques | Translate
PSYOPS (0) 2007-05-27 8:02
I am in with every details of the continuous challenges your nephew and you have encountered while taking this trip.
It's good to have both of you back in one piece from such a bulge where you were unarmed and the result has to be left to chance and your remarkable endurance.
Thank you and God bless!
TRASH (0) 2007-05-27 10:33
Your photo captured at late hours from inside Chong Kneas prompts a question about your "guest" status. No, your relative and your are not. You arrived in 2005, you reported, you accepted the role to relay the donations, you returned, and you stayed overnight. I don't agree if you call this a travel. In fact, you went back home to Chong Kneas, to help us forwarding some humble help to your villagers.
God bless you and your friends who are behind the donated rice.
ChristineLe (59) 2007-05-27 11:09
To the photographer's nephew:
“Uncle, it's unwise to take such a trip when you become the first ever unwelcome guest among a Vietnamese community like Chong Kneas! And had I knew this dangerous situation, I am sure I didn’t accept your invitation.”
Your statement is a two-fold one:
- Had you and your uncle been murdered and the $900 been taken away, you are correct.
- Since you and him escaped all danger and imposibility and returned with "mission accomplished", he was stupid enough to gain success.
Whatever term you prefer, congratulations for your once-in-a-lifetime trip. Besides residents of the village, you and him are the only outside travelers to have such experience and actual view of this evening scene.
mikecone (15) 2007-05-27 12:45
Whether you are ashamed or proud, you are the first photographer to be stupid to experience the night within the Vietnamese floating village, while others spent $$$$ to come to Angkor Wat which is only ten miles away.
My respect to your commitment to your poor people!
- Copyright: Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) (8578)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2007-03-18
- Categories: Daily Life, Event
- Camera: Canon EOS 20D, Canon EF 70-200 F4 L
- Exposure: f/4, 1/5 seconds
- Details: Tripod: Yes
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): The Floating Misery, A quick return to Chong Kneas [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2007-05-27 4:40