Updated March 23, 2007
He's a 14 years old Cambodian kid. His name is Yet Pich Panha. He was sitting next to me along the way and I think I only notice him 2 hours after the bus left Siem Reap as I dozed off straight away. He tried to strike a conversation with me and knowing most Cambodian didn's speak English and my Khmer is next to zero, I was ignoring his "I-want-to-chat" gestures, which to my surprise, he speaks good English. I was embarrassed at my own ignorance.
CK : me P : Panha
CK : How should I call you?
P : You can call me Panha.
CK : Can you write your name in Khmer?(he wrote the above in my notebook)
CK : Your English is very good. Do you study English in school?
P : Oh, I study in international school
(no wonder! must be very rich then)
CK : Wow... must be very nice school. What is your father's occupation?
(see.... my question was structured in the simple way, still alluded by the fact that his English level is way higher than that. again, ignorant me. and his father must be some businessman or big shot being able to send his children to international school)
P : Oh, my father is working in the Ministry of Defense.
(see.... loaded! and wow.... I dunno the word ministry when I'm 14!)
CK : You like to watch TV?
P : Yes, I like to watch TV. I like programs like CNN, Star Movie, Star World. (wow.... he really watch those? im impressed). I like to watch football as well. I like Beckham, Figo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo. I like wrestling as well.....................(he went on to name some wrestlers' name but I can't remember)
P : Near my house, there's a Soccer Olympic Stadium. My brother is an ex-national player. He broke his shoulder so he cannot play anymore.
OK, he continued to talk and I keep on listening. His mother put lots of hope in him, hoping he can speak perfect English. He used to study Chinese too as his mother said China is going to be strong in the future but he didn't like the Chinese character which is quite difficult for him. He said he has some relatives who is now residing in Canada. One of his aunties were back from Canada and stay for month in Cambodia. He said he will be there also in a few years time when his English is good enough.
He asked me if I know where is Canada and I drew him a map to show him where Canada is.
He asked me about Hawaii as well and I drew it on the map. Luckily my geographical knowledge cukup makan.
Panha is quite an articulate kid and his patriotism is eminent. He talked about the Cambodian history and said that Cambodia is the strongest in the region before they were attacked. He is particularly interested in history and asked me about Malaysian history as well. In a way, he is very mature and that surprised me. However, I wish he enjoyed his childhood more and be less serious. Being a kid, he's still a kid because he like the slapstick Thai comedy shown in the bus and laughed heartily at the show. Bless him. Just don't be like me, who don't even get to watch cartoon during my childhood.
WISH PANHA A BRIGHT FUTURE FILLED HAPPINESS. HOPE HE CAN CONTRIBUTE TO HIS AILING COUNTRY WHICH HE LOVE VERY MUCH.