Cambodia is a developing country and there are so many people who suffer poverty at the same time. Cambodia suffered a great damage after Pol Pot Regime, which caused most of Cambodian people live a miserable life and in poverty. Still most of Cambodian families have a hard time raising their kids because they have a financial crisis within their family. In Phnom Penh and in the countryside, we can see there are a lot of homeless people who mostly are kids and older people. In fact, each year, Cambodia receives a lot of aids from other countries. Moreover, there are many NGOs who try to help Cambodian children by providing free school, food, and place to stay.
Nowadays, the biggest problem in the Cambodian society is about lack of human resources. Because there are so many kids who decide to drop school and some of them do not have enough money to study. As Cambodia is a poor country, there are a lot of children who do not have a chance to go to school. Most of them end up selling some flowers or bracelets along the road, especially in Phnom Penh; while the others end up working at the restaurants like washing dishes or serving food. There are several factors that lead them to do this.
First, they do not have enough money to pay for the tuition fee. Even in the public schools, kids must pay money to study every day. They are afraid that they do not have enough money to pay for that therefore they decide not to go to school at all. Secondly, their parents do not allow them to study. There are many Cambodian families (mostly poor with low education) that prefer their children to find money to support the family. As a mother and father, why do they do like this to their kids? Why do they prefer to stay at home and let their kids go out and find money to buy food while they are doing nothing at all? In my opinion, I think the reason is that those parents might think that people mostly feel pity when they see a kid sell something along the road and they will end up helping those kids like by buying the flowers or sometime they give more money. I am so shocked to see that those parents just sit under the tree and watch their kids who are 4 or 5 years old stand on the road begging people for money or selling flowers under the hot weather. However, most people want to help those kids by deciding not to buy those flowers or give them money. Therefore, their parents might change their thoughts and stop their kids from doing that. In short, I hope the Cambodian government will come up with a solution to deal with this major problem soon.
Kralan is a snack that is made from Cambodia sticky rice cooked with coconut milk and soybean in a bamboo tube. Kralan is very popular for Cambodian people as well as for foreigners. We can find it everywhere in Cambodia, but especially in the province and it is a bit harder to find in Phnom Penh city. Now, there are some sellers who come from the provinces to sell it in the city, but they cost higher than in the provinces. A tube of kralan cost about 2,000 to 4,000 riels, depending on the size. The most delicious kralan comes from the Kratie province and it is hard to get one tube of the sweet snack in Phnom Penh. Here are the steps on how to make it. First, we have to have all the ingredients like sticky rice, soy bean, coconut milk, sugar and salt. We have to soak the sticky rice and soybean for 2 hours then wash it with cleaned water. Secondly, take the bamboo tree to cut into pieces at it joints, so the tube has only one way out to put the rice. Then take the tube and clean it with water. The bamboo tree must be the bamboos that grow in village because it has long tubes, contains a lot of water and has white flesh inside the tube. Third, take the sticky rice and soybean and mix together with a little salt and sugar. Next, we have to put it into the tube and stuff it tight. If it is not tight, the kralan will become muddy. Then cover the tube surface with coconut hast or banana leaves – stuff these tight at the top. Last step, we have to take all the tubes that are filled with the sticky rice and ingredients to burn where the coals are spread in a long line.There is a shelf in the middle that the bamboo tubes are placed on at both side of the fire. All sides of the tubes must face the fire, so it is well cooked. It takes about 35 to 50 minutes because we cannot use too strong of a fire. After it is well cooked, take it to be cooled and then remove the outer layer of the tubes, which were burned. Finally, the Kralan is done and ready to eat!
Sometimes If we are let out early from class for lunch and don’t know where to go we go to a food court. People should try the Sorya Mall food court – it’s the place I’d like to recommend. The price is suitable 8,000 to 16,000 riel (2-4$) and there are a lot of tables and chairs to choose to sit, though sometimes it can get crowded. There are all kinds of foods that are waiting for people to grab it. There is Thai food, Vietnamese food, Chinese food, Korean food, and food from Italy. How to get the food is by first deciding what you want after taking a look around and then take your money to the counter – across from the food stalls – and change it with one of the cards. For example I would change my money 20,000 riel (5 dollars) to get a card that has 5 dollars on it. Then you can take the card and purchase all kind of food and soft drinks up at the food counters. By using a card it makes it easy for people not to use the same hand to grab money and food at the same time. After you are done eating, left over money on the card can be retrieved by returning the card to the counter. But don’t forget about desserts. The desserts are also what should not be missed – like sweet taro and banana are famous desserts here in Cambodia, among many others. If you haven’t tasted them you should go now.
I recommend to the people in the city to try the food up there in Sorya Mall, its good, fast, and easy to get.
Grilled bananas are bananas you take from a farm and grill using wood charcoal. It tastes a little salty, as all the sweetness is gone – it is a dried out banana. They mostly sell them at huts or at the markets, but some people sell the grilled bananas by bike or moto carts. At a cart, the grilled bananas cost 1000 riel (about 25 cents usd) for five bananas. The grilled bananas will not affect your health if you eat a lot of them. They are easy to buy every where in Phnom Penh. The other things you see on the grill are potatoes. They cost 500 riel each. The potatoes are smashed and then packed back together in a circle and grilled, they taste slightly sweet, but not traditional sweet. In short Cambodians like grilled banana so much, but especially me – I eat them before and during class everyday
I was born into a traditional family. My father works at one of the ministries and my mother is a seller at Russian Market (Toul Tom Poung Market). I was at the market when I was little; I would say my second home is in the shop. I helped my mom at the shop since I was a small kid, until I became an adult. My mom’s shop is smaller than others and we sell all kinds of handmade jewelry. Right now, I want to share with you, the best things that tourists and buyers say to ask for a discount. As a buyer, they not only want the best service and quality, but also want the best price, which is a discounted price. I was faced with this situation many times since I was young, and it still happens all the time between sellers and buyers. At my mom’s shop we mostly have more tourist customers. If they walk-in and looking for a gift for their relatives in the morning almost 70% do not ask or say: “we are your first customer, so you should give us the good price.” or “We will bring you more customers and our tour-team to buy from you lots because your shop gives us the good price.” They should say this. However, in market there is not only one kind of customer, it also has customers who tell seller that they live in Cambodia three or four years (expats) so they know clearly about the price. In fact, this it is the hints to let seller know and will give them a discount and not cut them the high price. The last types of customers are those who have a friend who usually comes to purchase at shop regularly. They just mention their friend’s name and the seller will definitely give them a good price when seller knows who they are. So when you come to visit my shop and other shops in the markets – don’t forget to use these tips to ask for a discount. I’m sure I will give the best price ever that no other shop could give, just need to ask nicely.