Sunday, January 8, 2012

Risky Trip

along the road to Vietnamese border, we see the motordub delivered a lot of products from Vietnam for one time

On New Year, I visit my friend’s wedding at Snouk, Kroches province where the fresh water dolphins live. Snouk is just about 18 kilometers from the Vietnamese border. After the wedding, I cross the border to Vietnam to visit a small market called Varler.’ Because I had never been there before, I expect it will be a huge market like Phsar Orussey or Phsar Kandal in Phnom Penh. Actually, it’s just several flats in which the Vietnamese bring their fruits to store before they transfer to Cambodia.

I really get upset with the permission paper that I ask from the police in Cambodian side. But Varler market is just a two kilometers from the border and I can even see it from the border. I was told that I must not violate the Vietnamese laws, or I will be jailed. But my friend Chan So Ratha insists me to go beyond though I have to break the law. Ou Mom, another friend of mine, stand silently. Finally we follow him. Each of us exchange 10 US dollar to Vietnamese currency Dong. All of us get about 600 000 dong for 30 US dollar.

We decide to go to a bigger market called Loc Ninh, about 14 kilometers from the border. Ratha and Mom ride behind a big woman on motordub and leave before me. I ride behind a young Vietnamese boy who claims that his mother is also Cambodian. But he speaks very bad Khmer. I find it difficult to communicate with him, but he is likely to know what I want. As seeing the camera hanging around my neck, he realizes I want to take some beautiful places in Vietnam back, so he cross some interesting place, football field, the tanks display or the swimming pool.

When we arrive at the market, it is not too big either. It looks similar to Phsar Dermtkov in Phnom Penh. But Ratha admires the irrigation system near the market. He gets surprised, “wow! water is so clean. I want to try how it tastes.”

As soon as I hear Ratha’s word, my body gets shaking as it disgusts with this dirty water. Anyways, I know he is just kidding me. We look for something to eat, but we don’t know where to get food. We decide to go to the high way though we are risky to be arrested by the police. Finally we find a local food store. Three of us enter, and I walk next to the shelves where foods are stored. But a friend of mine, Ratha, ordered by speaking in Khmer to the seller. “Wow!,’ I am thinking in my mind. “If she knows we are Cambodian and tell police to arrest us. We probably can not protect ourselves because our permission paper is about 10 kilometers out of valid.” I keep silent, but I point my figure to any food I want to eat. I used to live in France and visited Germany, so I know very well that body language is more efficient in such occasion.

While we are sitting, an old woman, about 60 years old, walks from the inside and brings food to us. She speaks in Khmer to us, “oh! all of you are Cambodian! I confused that you are Lao. That’s why I don’t speak with you because I don’t speak Lao. If you are Cambodian, I also speak Khmer.”

Everybody gets surprised because we don’t expect that we will meet any one here who can speak Khmer. We don’t ask many questions to this old woman, and we just listen to her instead. She tells us that she was born in Kraches province, but her parents are also Vietnamese. She studied French language in Phnom Penh. But in 1974, before Khmer Rouge regime, her family moved to settle in Vietnam. She got married and had children then. But she says she missed her livelihood in Cambodia so much. A few years ago she visited Phnom Penh, and she saw a lot of things have been changed, but she still recognized Phnom Penh very well. That’s it her story.

I just visit the market a few hours and then we return to the border. Ratha is a bit happy as he can make it up with safe trip. We get out of Vietnam around 5 o’clock. At the border, I see many trucks export products from Vietnam to Cambodia. at the same time, i see a few oxcarts export some products from Cambodia to Vietnam. I feel that the exportation is still classical for the Cambodia side. It’s not fair!

the immigration office at the Vietnam side

the immigration office at Cambodia side

Cambodia exports products to Vietnam by oxcard

Chan So Rath (left) & Ou Mom

the irrigation system at Loc Ninh market in Vietnam

the tank is displayed in Vietnam

the road in Vietnam

Loc Ninh market

A Vietnamese woman wears her traditional hate Doun

the football field