Kirirom is a mountain that upper class Khmers go to on their holiday (Sunday). The only poor people there are the ones that live there and sell things. Everyone else who goes is quite wealthy--even more wealthy than my students (who are generally regarded as rich--even though most of them don't own cars).

I've pondered Navy's situation and come up with a workable theory, these are the facts:

--his family is from a province near Vietnam.
--They are vendors (of what I don't know)
--He owns (along with one or two partners) the largest Dental clinic in Cambodia.
--He started it with a classmate from Dental School seven years ago.
--He attended Dental school in Phnom Penh.
--He's 35 years old.
--He has received funding from a Japanese investor which allowed him to expand and fully modernize his clinic.

The following are my assumptions:
--He comes from a moderately successful Khmer family. But his level of success certainly has far surpassed the success level of his family.
--Him and his family saved money to pay for Dental School in Phnom Penh.
--With a combination of business acumen, talent and a lot of luck, his clinic grew to the point where it drew the interest of investors. He has the cool confidence and focus of most successful businessmen so this is not so surprising. He also has the wherewithal to understand that a Western style clinic (that is fully state-of-the-art and sterilized--most Dental clinics in Cambodia look something like Mechanic's shops) will do well in a third world country where people will travel just to get good cheap, competent Dental work.

Navy took me to visit Mount Kirirom on Sunday with his family. It was a two car
trip that started at 7:30. He was supposed to pick me up at 6:30
(that was his plan) but he called at 6:35 to say he just woke up. He wasn't nervous or unsure of himself in his confession of oversleeping, his voice was calm and serene. It was fine with me because I overslept as well. He called me at 7:10
and asked if I could see his car outside (a late-model Lexus Landcruiser), I told him I'd be down in a minute and hung up. When I went down, his car was waiting outside my house, but he wasn't in it, there were three friendly-looking Khmers motioning for me to enter so I did. The driver was a middle aged, darker looking Khmer who said little. Sitting shotgun was a light skinned, goofy looking teenager. In the back, a Khmer girl in her early twenties. The 18 year old kid greeted me first and we quickly began talking about Navy (my student) and some pleasantries
about Kirirom (how I've never been there,etc.) We travel to a business (which sells Westernized dental products, mostly whitening toothpaste, at Western prices.--the products are displayed in extremely well-lit displays with much space between as if
these are the latest scientific marvels) on Norodom that belongs to Navy's wife. Pudgy for a Khmer she has a rounded face, and that all too coveted whitish skin. She could pass for Chinese and at age 25, she comes off as pretty because her clothes are fashionable, her smile is easy and she has that certain cool confidence so ubiquitous in Asia. The talkative teenager is the wife's brother. The darker Khmer driver is, quite simply Navy's driver (this is how he's introduced, but he seems to function more as like a personal, or family assistant). Another family arrives at the business and accompanies us to Kirirom. They drive a '95 Toyota Camry.
The wife is in her late twenties dresses fashionably, and they have three small children. The husband speaks some business English, is probably in his late 30s (Navy is 35) carries a $400 Nokia (the same Model as Navy) and packs a holstered handgun (although not conspicuously). In a typical Asian manner, I'm not informed of any of this, and the fact that I don't know what's going on doesn't bother anyone in the slightest (nor does it bother me at this stage of my Cambodian experience). We travel to Kirirom but stop at Navy's farm for a spell to pick up some eggs and perhaps to show me off.