Cambodia may be one of the most economically poor countries in the world, but it is rich with natural resources and clever people ready to turn even the most meager meal into a feast fit for a king.
While some Khmers prefer to while away their time swinging in a hammock, most Cambodians are resourceful, ambitious people. Following the saying, "Mien Teuk; Mien Trei"- "Have Water; Have Fish"- Khmers can be seen trawling for fish anywhere there's water. Even in shallow drains by the side of the road, recesses next to buildings, and puddles in the paddy fields, people are known to fish the waters with "Angrut" and nets.
What drives them with such vigor is the many varieties of fish, frogs and snails lying in wait to be caught and prepared for dinner. What drives them with such vigor is the many varieties of fish, frogs and snails lying in wait to be caught and prepared for dinner.
"Just don't be lazy, go to where there is water, you will be rewarded,' said Sitha, who works full time as a security guard in a local school.
Samean, his wife and their only daughter know well the rewards of ambition. The family looks after a rice field and two buffaloes situated far from their provincial home. Because it is too far a distance to head home for every meal, the family often prepares their food in the field. "The pots and pans are there, and we cook rice and eat there in the field. We catch fish and snails from the field and we have a fresh supply daily," Samean said.
"Sometimes we get frog meat and sometimes we get snakes," he said. Since water may be found even in the most remote parts of the country, Samean's wife Kom says she and her family are never at a loss for food.
"In Cambodia, we are never out of supplies. There is water everywhere. That means we will always have food to eat," she said. "This is a gift from our forefathers."
Kom brings only a handful of rice when she leaves her home, knowing faithfully that she can depend on the water in the field to provide for her meals.
On weekends, Sitha said he gathers a group of friends to embark on great unknown adventures.
Armed only with nets and Angruts, the group often heads to wherever there's water to be rewarded with good company and fine food.
"We don't need a fishing rod to get fish in Cambodia. On a good day, we can get enough to also sell for cash. This is the best past time," the security guard decided for all.