A palm sugar farmer, Cambodia

The palm sugar farmer

When I travel I meet odd people. Quiet, calm men, normally, who for some reason decide to take me under  their wing and treat me with enormous kindness, for no reason at all.

Sugar palms

One day I had travelled to the Cambodian countryside to attend my friend's family ceremony. In the afternoon we had nothing to do at all, and so a young sugar farmer decided he would take me around on his afternoon chores, collecting the sap of the sugar palm which was later turned into palm sugar over a fire.

Collecting sap from sugar palms

It was a hot, hot afternoon and my friend,  the monk Sina, came with us. He had with him his treasured digital camera, and took lots of snaps of us.

The farmer and the monk, Sina

The farmer said almost nothing. It wouldn't have mattered if he had, because I knew no Khmer. But he smiled at me and took great care that I was always comfortable. There was something beautiful about him, though he was dressed in his work clothes. I fancied I could do that forever, spending the close of an afternoon walking around the dry rice fields gathering the sugar palm sap.

Monk Sina

My new book, Destination Cambodia, is due for release in September 2013. It is filled with stories of my time in Cambodia, one of the most fascinating countries in Asia. Please pre-order a copy at your local bookseller - it is published by Allen & Unwin.
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