The dog story:

Sophy, myself and his entire family and friends from Battambang, Cambodia were driving in a two van caravan. That is two vans about 30 people total going to some destination in rural cambodia. The driver of van 1 and the leader of our expedition around Cambodia was kind of a rascally guy who I wouldn't exactly trust around my kids (if I had any). Anyways Sophy and I are in the front van being driven by said rascal. Van 2, driven by the rascal's equally questionable friend following close behind. We're driving through rural Cambodia--there are Cambodians (and accompanying children, cows, and other debris) occupying all roadside space selling gas, soda, chips or just sitting and doing nothing except being Cambodian.

On this rather dusty byway, there is a dog in the middle of the road with head buried in it's crotch, vigorously chewing itself. The road is bumpy and the van is going about 30 M.P.H. The driver says, in Khmer, "Hmm. I guess that dog is not moving" with about as much emotion as I would tell you the time of day. He then proceeded with similar lack of emotion to run over the poor mongrel without so much as thinking of applying the brakes. We hear a soft, fleshy thud as Van number 2 does exactly the same thing, this time the thud is louder. When we finally stopped at our destination about 10 minutes later, the driver of Van 2 says that our van hit the dog in the middle but he hit the dog with his tire, and thus made a louder thud. They talked about this like you or I would talk about what happened on Monday Night Football. The thing about it that astounded me was the fact that this was just not a problem for any of the 28 Cambodians at all. It was just like going over a speed bump to them. Meanwhile I'm trying hold back the tears and vomit caused by watching a dog die so...easily.

I'm teaching intermediate level II english. They speak and write English at about 4th grade level. But it's different than teaching 9 year olds. They have mature minds (they range from 17-30 something). There are cultural differences and pronunciation difficulties. Yesterday I was having problems not laughing at hearing them pronounce 'vegetable'. The school I'm teaching at is somewhat of a factory school, they get the students in for cheap and tell the teachers to go at it. Essentially they gave me a student copy of the book and said go ahead and teach. I've heard from other foreign teachers at the school that the admin will never reprimand you for performance. It seems like the main duty is just to show up and try to follow the book. I feel like this is the perfect place to get my feet wet teaching. I wish I had more guidance but I don't so I'm making the best of it. I'm still applying to other schools.

I told Nick that he could move in with one month's rent. And that John and you could stay and that john would pay between 325 and 375 per month and you'd 'throw him a couple bucks' as well. I think he and his GF want to live in the basement.
you hail a motodop or motorcycle taxi pretty easily: Walk off the sidewalk a bit and raise your arm, and within moments a guy with a baseball cap and a dust mask (usually) will stop.

Then comes the hard part. Telling a guy who speaks no english where you want to go. Even if I read the place names off of the place's sign, for example, pagoda otnalaum; he still won't understand because my pronunciation is wrong. Pronouncing things like they do is another animal entirely.

If you know exactly where it is, you can just point. The driver will keep driving straight, into oblivion I guess, if you don't tell him to turn or stop.

If you don't know exactly where you want to go, say just any bank. Then it's next to impossible to communicate your destination, unless you've learned 1) the word in khmer and 2) how to pronounce it.

So getting around is hard. But I've made some friends; one a 19 year old medical/english student at the nearby high school and college who also lives in a wat, or pagoda but it is not a monk; owns a motorbike and will be living in the apartment that I just rented. Three or four cambodians can easily live in a speace that would barely suit as for a living room. He speaks little english but tries. He knows the city well and is a full time student. He wants little from me other than to hang around an English speaker. You see, English is in demand here, it's rapidly becoming necessary to the emerging middle class and business sector. Banking, medicine, hotels, all feature English literate employees. That's why my teaching pays $7 hour, which is a lot in a country where a cup of khmer coffee and a bowl of noodle soup with beef comes in at about 60 cents and the average salary is some figure under $100 per month in Phnom Penh. Even less in the countryside.

Even people who have studied English for a decade and are probably much smarter than I am can't compete with a native speaker's skills. Native speakers don't need to know when to use who/whose/that or when the present perfect should be just the present tense. We instinctively know what is right. At one locally run (I.E. cambodian management) school, I was introduced to the textbook written by the much-heralded, "King of Grammar". a Cambodian (whose head-shot appears on the school's brochure/pamphlet) man with a doctorate from a local university (you and I wouldn't call this a REAL P.H.D). After reading the introduction I concluded that since he made over ten mistakes that if he is a King, then it is of the 'no clothes' variety.