Now Choeun says we have time to visit a village.
We stop at a spot with a mixed collection of houses and a large stand displaying merchandise for sale. This village looks much like others we have passed, with a mix of housing that ranges from dilapidated shacks to beautiful, lovingly maintained homes. Like most houses here, these are generally traditional wood structures built on stilts. They are open and airy and the TV set is often clearly visible inside.
Being able to walk around lets us examine the village more closely, providing an opportunity to view some of the details of village life, such as the well,
a laundry “room,”
a sunny kitchen, and
well-maintained fish traps.
As Choeun leads us around, explaining these things to us, children break away from their chores – and even from their play – to check us out.
Choeun tells us this village is different from others, in part because they are trying to develop a business making palm sugar. The sugar is fine, but not as nice as the amazing palm sugar we had in Thailand. As I watch them make it, it is easy to see why there is a such a difference – the high level of precision that went into the production of sugar in Thailand is largely absent here. Still, they have developed a unique product to add to the other local crafts and tours of their village to bring in additional income. I hope they do well in their endeavor and that, over time, they will develop the expertise to make palm sugar as fine as their Thai counterparts.
I do my part before we leave by buying a lovely woven purse and some wooden mobiles.