Photographer's Note

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surprise with 50% increase (the printed donation form obtained a week before my trip from Franciscan Charity has been outdated: their listed price of rice was US$10.00/50kg-bag or 800 riel per kilogram.)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.


nhathuy, PSYOPS, TRASH, ChristineLe, mikecone, nicol_g has marked this note useful

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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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