Made in Cambodia

posted by Sumon Ray

Made in AmericaMade in BangladeshMade in India, Made in Thailand, and the mantra continues as I try to pack my luggage for my excursion to the Kingdom of Cambodia. I searched through my wardrobe and did not find a trace of clothing originating from Cambodia. I figured I would have something from Cambodia considering what a shopaholic I am. The Golden Buddha in my living room stared at me and I stared straight back wondering if it had its roots in the land of the Khmer. As I rushed over to see if it had a label on it, my mother calls me to get ready so we can go buy a swimming trunk for Cambodia. I glanced once more at the Buddha and rushed to my car that was made in Japan.

I quickly walk into Marshalls and am excited to peruse through the endless line of swimming wear for men. Out of all the swimming trunks, this yellow swimming trunk caught my eye like a halo that surrounds God-like figures. I tried ignoring the yellow swimsuit and went for the blue swimming trunk that looked like something Ricky Martin wore in his photo shoot with his two sons, Valentino and Mateo. I picked up the blue swimsuit and was shocked at how short it was. I know I have been called scandalous before, but I wanted to keep America beautiful. I slowly put the swimsuit away and brought my way over to the yellow swimsuit. Something about the yellow swimsuit made me grab it and hold onto it as I looked at the other choices in the fashion show of swim wear. Yellow in Buddhism means rejection and I almost rejected the yellow swimsuit. Buddhism came to my mind because it is the main religion followed in the Kingdom of Cambodia. For many years, people ignored the country of Cambodia and never thought of visiting its territories mainly because of the Khmer Rouge (Genocide that occurred in Cambodia in the 1970s). Maybe because of the fact that I had experienced rejection from others in my past, I could not allow seeing anything being rejected. I laid the yellow swimsuit on my shoulder as if I was draping a yellow robe around me as Buddhist monks do and smiled as if I had adopted a newborn child.

Excellence in air, Korean Air. Kam Sam Ni Da (Thank you).” The previous phrase sang to me in my ears during my journey from Atlanta to Seoul and finally Siem Reap. I had seat 50A and shared the row with a quiet Korean fellow. If he hadn’t been so sleepy and distant we could have been the next Harold and Kumar. Instead, I listened to music and watched a cornucopia of movies. Also, the fashion show of Korean flight attendants was amusing to watch as they put on a façade for all the passengers. The Korean flight attendants moved around like dolls around the plane waiting on the beck and call of anyone’s needs. They were like Korean dolls that said “Kam Sam Ni Da” whenever you pressed the right button.  I didn’t need to watch the Korean dramas that they played on the plane because I was watching one right in front of me.  The flight attendants were the protagonists trying to make a living and the passengers including me were the antagonists of the drama. The expressions on the faces of the Korean Air flight attendants made them seem like professional actresses because I could hear the background music that went along with their emotions during different circumstances. After awhile, I got tired of all the drama and fell asleep like what many people do when watching countless hours of television.

The air smelled of mud, cow dung, and incense. It was a familiar smell and made me think of India. I stayed in a guesthouse for the first night in Siem Reap. In the morning, I rode in a tuck tuck (auto rickshaw used in Cambodia) to Journeys Within Bed and Breakfast where I will be staying at while in Cambodia. I discovered that tuck tuck is not a Khmer (language spoken in Cambodia) term, but adopted by the Cambodian from the Thai. Even in Cambodia, I could find things made in Thailand. As the tuck tuck approached the property for the bed and breakfast, it reminded me of my family’s erstwhile garden estate house in Calcutta, India. The main bungalow was flanked by many coconut and mango trees and there were surrounding bungalows and gazebos around the complex.  I settled into my bungalow, which was ironically named the Buddha Bungalow. I opened the door to my bungalow and a picture of the Buddha caught my eye. I smirked and remembered the eye staring contest I had in my living room with my Golden Buddha back home. I started unpacking my clothes and the yellow swimsuit was the first thing I saw.  I gently took the swim trunk out and the label on the inside of the trunk readMade in Cambodia.


1 comment so far

  1. Paloma on

    Sumon! I’m so excited for you! Take lots of pictures and keep updating the people that had to stay in old, boring USofA. LOVE the blog.

    PS. Khmer Rouge was also the gov’t that was in control and led the genocide. Something I actually learned in class this year! LoL

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