Photographer's Note

.Take 9 (Click the number for info of entire trip)

On 03-04-2005, my speedboat departed from Phnom Penh at same time, and arrived Chong Kneas at 12:52 PM. Believing that we would arrive around 1:00 PM, I tried to catch a nap inside the passengers compartment. In fact, I miscalculated: along with the cries for merchandises, the boat stopped its engine and speed by noon. I moved to the door where many little boats with sellers of fruits encircled our speedboat. Among the adults, I found a little boy starring at us with a hand of bananas. I guessed he is Vietnamese without English to cry for his merchandise. I asked, and he confirmed. So here he is, the first individual Vietnamese resident of Chong Kneas whom I traveled half the earth to meet.

Passengers consist of several categories: the majority is travelers excited to be transferred to “taxi-boats” to shore due to low tide, asking each other about Angkor Wat complex. Some of passengers are pedophiles frequently visiting the country to exploit children because Cambodia's weak law enforcement turned its big cities into famous markets for sex tourism. My nephew’s and my destination is the Chong Kneas Catholic Church, about 400 meters away.

Prior to my departure from Houston, I have telephoned my friend Sang Bui asking him to travel to this church to talk to Tuan Bui—the manager of the floating church and floating classroom—to arrange for our arrival and overnight stay. Sang confirmed that he went here twice and everything will be fine; "Tuan is expecting you to come."

In fact, things went wrong as we came. Tuan tried his best to help me but he forgot one important thing: to let his boss be aware of our stay. He made the decision by himself. He told me with his two boats he can help me go to shore to buy rice, and we would use the church platform to distribute it. He may have in mind that I was to handle a rice amount of a few hundreds kilogram. He thought once we do the humanitarian task, everything will be OK, and will be praised. He was wrong on what he thought. Sang was wrong to believe Tuan's simplicity and confirmed to me that I will be welcome. I was wrong to buy all what Tuan and Sang said. But not until after the Mass of Fourth Sunday of Lent, before leaving the church to return to his office in Siem Reab City, the priest questioned me “who gave you permission to stay in this church tonight?”. In other words, the church has been blocked to my intended use as place for rice distribution. We Vietnamese used to say “If you have money, you can even buy fairies.” No. Not here, in Chong Kneas, where I brought donations from my friends to just relay directly into the hands of poor people. But leave that story to other day. Today, I would like to introduce the face of a young “candidate” of poverty.


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 472 W: 125 N: 2331] (8456)
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