Cow, Coffee and Communicating in Cambodia

The carmel colored grinning cow cam shooting out from behind a fence a few feet from my chosen path. It practically ran right into me. Seconds later a red scooter came flying out from behind the same fence. The laughing cow and the guys on the scooter seemed to be playing a game of who could get to the street faster; the cow won. The two local guys drove on past. I swear this grinning Elsie cow was gloating as it stopped to have a celebratory snack.

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It was all over in seconds. I love the surprises of life that take your breath away for moment and leave you with a relieved smile. A quick cow photo then back to the mission; find an iced coffee down a narrow road in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

A few doors down, I found a promising looking shop. I am lucky, easily ordering an iced coffee with sweet milk by locating a menu item on the chalk board. I was then proudly informed,”Free wifi”, while being escorted to a low Asian style wooden chair. One of my kind hosts put a fan up for me, pointed it my direction and turned it on full blast. My gorgeous iced coffee arrives.

I pull out a tin case with 10 American Spirits, my full ration for the day. “Can I smoke?” No ones says a word. No one moves. Clearly, I need to give more information. So, I pull out a fine tobacco product, display it for the room and I am offered a light. We are doing better, as now I know the answer.IMG_8090

Next, I need an ashtray. I fake flicking my ashes. The barista moves a stool from behind the counter, reaches onto a shelve underneath and hands me a clean clear glass ashtray as she says, “Where you from?”

“United States.” No reaction.
I try again, “America.” and get a nod of recognition.

“We don’t speak English.” the barista  says. Maybe not a lot, but I am positive she does better than she realizes. She just said 2 things, “Where you from?” and “We don’t speak English.”

Everyone looks my way. I point to the coffee and give the thumbs up. Light my cigarette with another thumbs up. Everyone is interested and watching. I move both my index fingers to the corners of my mouth and push my face into a smile big. The whole place smiles back and gives me a thumbs up.

Communicating is easy once you know the world is a safe place, a few words, some thumbs up, and lots of smiles is all you need. Even cows speak the universal language of laughter.

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