Monday, March 21, 2011
The first phrase I learned in Khmer was "chul moi".
It is used in the same way that the English say Cheers, or the Germans say Prost, or the French say Santé.
It's literal meaning is "as one".
I learned that first phrase while sitting under a bamboo awning, on the side of the road just outside of Phnom Penh. We had just been to the Killing Fields and my slightly overwhelmed tuk-tuk driver stopped for a drink of Cambodian water (which is not really water). So, I sat in this roadside bamboo watering hole with a couple of khmer men, who were drinking away their past, present and future. It was definitely Cambodian water but felt a bit like an Irish pub when everyone raised their glasses and said "chul moi".
Cambodia has changed me. I am back in Bangkok (and glad to be home), but I'm still carrying Cambodia around with me... chul moi...