Monthly Archives: September 2013

Counting in khmer


Here in Cambodia, the official language is Khmer. Now Khmer is a very interesting language definitely worth a bit of research (Here is the Wikipedia page to start you off). It is also a difficult language for many to learn, as it has a different type of alphabet than most western languages use. It uses an alphasyllabary writing system, so…. difficult.

្ឈ chhô cʰɔ
្ញ nhô ɲɔ
្ដ ɗɑ
្ឋ thâ tʰɑ
្ឌ ɗɔ
្ឍ thô tʰɔ
្ថ thâ tʰɑ

Here are 10 of the 35 Khmer Consonants

And, since we are only in Cambodia for about a month, I didn’t expect to learn much of the language. So, while I know “thank you”, “how much is this”, and a few other strategic phrases, I cant speak it to save my life.

Luckily though, a large percentage of Cambodians (especially people who interact with westerners) speak at least some English.

At least enough to help us order fruit

Numbers, however, I wanted to learn. Generally, numbers are a lot easier for me to learn, as it is a constant pattern, and predictable, and easy.

And Khmer numbers were interesting to use…

So, the modern Khmer Number system is biquinary, meaning it uses both base 5 and base 10. So, when counting, you count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5+1, 5+2, 5+3, 5+4, 10.

Value Khmer prounciantion
0 sūny
1 muay
2 bīr
4 puan
5 prâṃ
6 prâṃ muay
7 prâṃ bīr
8 prâṃ pī
9 prâṃ puan
10 ១០ ṭáp
11 ១១ ṭáp muay
20 ២០ mbhai

Now, not only did I enjoy learning about this new number system, the students enjoyed leading me and the other pathfinders in counting, all the way up to 100 (muay ray).

I miss them

Modern Embassies

The PathfindersProject trip is a long one…..
This trip is a year long, in 8 countries, and with more than 10 service location. So a lot of planning went into the trip…..



One of the official emails we received.

That being said, things change, and success favors the prepared and the flexible, so one of the precautions we took was to register our trip with the US Embassies in the countries we are going to.

This means that (since we live in the technology age) we get email updates from the Embassies whenever there is a concern, with information about the concern, including suggested safety precautions.

Now, this is a wonderful service provided by our government, and I feel it is very appropriately done.

That being said, they provide more services, such as apps for your smart phone (makes sense), a facebook page to like (seems a little silly) or even following them on twitter


The Official Twitter page

Now it’s not that I don’t think these services should exist (I’m sure lots of people gain from it, with almost no cost to upkeep) but I just think it is absurd that you can follow your embassy on twitter….

Oh the world we live in… It is beginning to make me feel like a crotchety old man.

Missing them….

So, today was our last full day in the village. We will be heading back to Siem Reap tomorrow afternoon. And after only a week in this village, a week without running water, electricity, Internet, and non-squat toilets, I have begun to adjust to this way of life…to adjust to sleeping on the floor under a mosquito net, with dogs barking in the night….

And I will miss it.

I will miss the stare of the villagers, who haven’t seen white people in long enough to make us a spectacle. I will miss the meals, made lovingly for us with good will, love, fresh rice, and dramatically oversized portions. I will miss having Chia translating the words of his friends, newborns and family to us, as they don’t speak any English at all.

And the monks and children that we teach English to, who have likely never heard a native English speaker before, and the huge smiles on their faces…. I will miss them the most.

I’m not sure if I will grow to miss the references to how I am the “Fat Man” (fat is a good thing here, so they mean it as a compliment) but I think I may.

I doubt I will miss the dogs barking and fighting all through the night (keeping me up) or the woven mats for sleeping, or showering with a bucket from a pot of rain water in front of the neighbors, or the squat toilet….

Oh squat toilet…… I will miss you least of all…

But then, who knows?

The mind is a fickle, silly, sentimental thing, which has a habit of remembering things too fondly….

Tonight, we had a going away party, and afterwards, the women who hang around us at home, and make us food, and watch us when we eat it gave us a gift. They represented the families who now have wells (and fresh water) thanks to our support. They gave us their blessings, and their thank you-s, and wished us good travels and a safe return, and told us to come back to this village someday. They told us they they may not remember our names, but they would remember us, our faces (my fat-ness), and they reiterated their gratitude for what we did for them.

I will miss them….