My Southeast Asia Trip Part 7 (and I didn’t get eaten by a tiger)!

Hello all,

Well, it’s just about time to leave Cambodia. I didn’t even get a chance to go to Laos, which I had included in my itinerary, but that’s all right. My revised schedule now gives me more time in Vietnam, so I won’t complain. Yet.

Ok, so now it’s time for the “What are you going to annoy us with this time, Coop?” portion. Which is, to say, this entire note. Well, ladies, gentlemen, and hermaphrodites, it’s time to truly do something interactive. Remember those practice SAT tests you used to have to take? Yes, it’s test time. Please keep track of your score so that you can be sure to feel bad after an undoubtedly poor performance. Don’t worry; there are hints, answer keys, and even explanations so that next time, when it really counts, you don’t fail so badly. Not that you’re going to do poorly.

Because of the nature of the practice questions, the number of answers might range from two to five. Sure, this might affect your probability of getting a problem right by guessing, but then again, you should be relying on skills and not guessing, right? So many excuses, and you haven’t even started the test. Gotta improve your atttitude, dude.

Let’s start, shall we? Try not to exceed 40 minutes per question.

*****TEST START*****

Please pick the best answer:

1. Most wrong food seen since day 1 of my trip:
a. Fried cockroaches
b. Live skinned frog
c. Alaska reindeer dog
d. Sardinian maggot cheese

2. Newest dessert crisis:
a. Not having it
b. Having real sugar used instead of corn syrup
c. Lumps of odd jelly-coconut-rice concoctions topped with shaved ice and a raw egg

3. If you enjoy those holes in mini-golf where you hit the ball, it disappears into one
of several chambers, and then comes out in a surprise location and usually seems to
roll way right of the hole, then…
a. You should try hitting into a different chamber next time
b. You should have one a free game
c. You totally spelled “one” wrong there, idiot, but I guess spell check is always right, so nevermind
d. Mini-golf is exactly like real golf, right?
e. You’ll love bathrooms and sinks in Southeast Asia because when something goes down the
drain, you never know where or when it will re-emerge. I got a surprise the other day.

4. Euphamisms used by non-English speaking individuals, translated, and referring to
a. “Big girl!”
b. “You have a big daughter”
c. “Strong”
d. “Sir”
e. All of the above

5. Decade my hair is in on this trip:
a. The 90s
b. The 00s, which don’t sound cool
c. It will always be stuck in the 80s

Answer key, problems 1-5:
(c) A and B were expected, but the reindeer dog still scares me. D doesn’t exist here, silly. But it does exist.

(c) A raw egg. Come on!

(e) Just let it be and where protective clothing next time.

(e) Old news

(c) (Don’t) look at any photo of me to verify


6. Worst retaliation at a roadside stop:
a. Being called a cracker
b. Being told you’re pretty
c. Being cut in line many times when you really gotta go
d. Having a live tarantula put on you if you don’t buy fruit or bugs from the whining young hawkers

7. Horns, which are used on a basis of about 6 honks per minute, honk in what two
a. m2 and octave
b. P4 and P5
c. M3 and tri-tone
d. unison and m6

8. The game show, “Let’s Stare at the White Chick” is not an actual show played in
which countries?
a. Just Malaysia
b. Just Cambodia
c. Just Thailand
d. All of the countries above, plus America and every other country I’ve ever visited

9. Cambodian food is so varied and unique, it’s as inventive as…
a. Dyson was for vacuums
b. Swiffer was for brooms
c. Something else really inventive that’s not cleaning-related
d. It’s not varied or unique at all. It’s boring as eep.

10. Cambodian food is so repetitive and unflavorful, in fact, that to see a food one
hasn’t yet seen by the third day in the country means…
a. You’re dead
b. You’re deaf, but since this has nothing to do with it, you have no taste buds.
c. You’re blind
d. You’re both deaf and blind
e. Though warranted, it’s unfair to insert a Helen Keller joke here, given that the woman
accomplished far more than most of us every will, starting research organizations, campaigning for
civil rights and liberties, travelling the world, becoming an author, and much more.
f. Insert Helen Keller joke here.

Answer key, problems 6-10:
(d) The Khmer food at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market is a million times better than the stuff here. Plus, there’s variety, which is something the people here don’t quite understand.

(a) Duh.

(d) Obviously.

(d) Yeah, it’s unfortunate. I was excited the first day, but quickly realized that everything after that was the same.

(e) Be prepared to tell me an awesome Helen Keller joke to redeem your point


11. Thailand is lacking in bread : crime ::
a. I am lacking in portion control : sad
b. Cambodia is lacking in everything : life
c. Just a and d
d. Just a and b


12. I’m exactly 12 hours ahead of EST.
a. True
b. False

13. I really, truly, have finally gotten a tan.
a. False
b. False


Okay, so this is really obnoxious, but it only gets worse from here. Start your practice timer now after a 15-minute snack break, preferably during which you should consume some type of food you know I can’t eat here and then brag about it in some RE: email.



13. If you’re on a bus in Cambodia and there are two motos and a car in front of you
going 83 km/hour, plus a truck coming towards you at 91 km/hour, what will your
bus driver do if he’s only capable of accelerating 3 km/second and there are only
114 metres between the first moto and the oncoming truck?

a. Pull out a calculator to measure the time until impending doom
b. Keep driving
c. Close his eyes and pray to Buddha while snacking on some dried fish strips and caressing his belly
like Khmer so enjoy.
d. Triple pass for no particular reason.and not pull back onto the right side of the road until the
truck and the bus are two seconds away from a head-on collision

14. What is the square root of i?:
There are two square roots of i: (1/[square root of]2)(1 + i ) and (-1/[square root of]2)(1 + i)

Should I know this? No, really, it looks like a joke question and as if it’s fine I don’t know it

when I first look at it, but if I look closer I realize I studied this in skool and it’s not that hard, and
now I feel guilty and dumb for not remembering, and I don’t even want to continue this test and
don’t know why I keep answering these questions. I think I’ll stop. After the next one.

15. In the capital city, Phnom Penh, I…
a. Got grabbed at by taxi drivers and had to physically tear them off of me and my bag
b. Got attacked by a crazy man with a screwdriver
c. Got hit by a moto while crossing the street
d. All of the above

No, seriously, I’m 150% serious when I say I don’t even have a semi-serious injury from being hit by a moto.
150% minus 50% for the “semi” in semi-serious means I’m 100% okay.

150% divided by 2 for the “semi” in semi-serious means I’m only 75% okay.

Neither of the above rules apply, because semi-serious doesn’t include missing limbs, which I don’t have, missing, that is, plus, how can one be over 100% of anything?

Wait, where was the actual question?

C and D

Answer key: Problems 11-15:
(d) I miss good bread. Also, Cambodia unfortunately has little to offer.

(a) Now you can definitely plan when not to be online.

(a) or (b) I carry the rare gene that allows me to get skin cancer in a fraction of the time it takes tanners to do so.

(a) Technically the right answer, though in pre-practice tests, 86% of the participants picked (b). Then committed suicide. Only 27% of those attempts were fruitful.


Non-question question: (e)


Please read the story below:

I went to an island with a travel buddy. We got a bungalow with a bathroom. We took a long bus ride up to the jungle after that. Then we came back to Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh. I had fun. I write good.

Please answer the following questions and choose the best possible answer according to the story above.

16. While going to the bathroom in the beach bungalow, I encountered…
a. An unexploded land mine
b. A scorpion
c. Someone’s missing arm
d. A mini Procompsognathus

17. When on the bus trip, I asked the bus staff when we would stop for a bathroom,
and in response, the bus promptly…
a. Stopped at the next rest stop, clean and complete with toilet paper
b. Pulled over one minute later at a luxury patch of brush on the side of the road

18. When given bathroom stalls to use, Cambodian men prefer to:
a. Pee on the way to the stalls
b. Step around to the back of the stalls and go there instead
c. Pee in a third location that’s smack in public
d. Pee at any of the above locations, then lift their shirts and rub their bellies as either a way to
cool down or show off their stunning nastiness

19. While dining in the jungle, the meat used for meals, despite being a few days old
and (of course) not refrigerated, was perfectly edible because, quoted from our
a. “I never get sick.”
b. “I just cooked it the other day and it doesn’t smell.”
c. “I just killed the possum.”
d. Insert some other choice else here when you’re not being hit on by Nigerian men in the internet
cafe in which you’re typing. It really is hard to think, and he just proposed to me

20. After exiting the bush after my multi-day jungle trek, I emerged with:
a. A pre-engagement ring from the amazingly attractive, chain-smoking, teeth-stained, gaunt,
nasty old ranger
b. The amazement at having seen two wild elephants, a wild tiger, and a leprechaun.
c. 72 cuts, scrapes, and bruises on my body
d. 72 cuts, scrapes, and bruises on my body, plus three Brangelina-inspired adopted Cambodian

Answer key: Problems 16-20:
(b) Oh, COME ON. I know a scorpion isn’t as exciting as the other choices, but come on, I saw a scorpion!

(b) I can’t even describe it. Oh, and it happened about 4 more times on subsequent trips.

(d) Best answer, and the belly patting is grosser than the urinating.

(b) or (d). Equally correct and good choices.

(c) Adopting normal Cambodian kids is so last year. I’m waiting to adopt until I can get a feral child from the African bush.

****END TEST****

How’d you do?
1-20 correct: Have you looked in a miror lately? Yeah, you shouldn’t.
21 correct: You cheated, not unlike how Jamal Malik did in Slumdog Millionaire.

I hope you learned a little something here. Don’t feel too badly about doing poorly, okay? As long as you use what you learn and do better next time. Will there be a next test? Of course not, but be prepared just in case.

Since I was on an island and also in the jungle, I really didn’t get a chance to get online. I’m in Cambodia for only one more day, and then it’s off to my last stop, Vietnam! I’ll be coming home in December.

I hope all is well, and stay away from (a) motos, (b) H1N1, and (c) Alaskan reindeer dogs that aren’t certified kosher.

Much love,


My Southeast Asia Trip Part 6 (and I haven’t stepped on a landmine yet)!

Dear friends and family,


I know it’s been a while since my last email, and I apologize for that. I have been quite busy going here and there and exploring all over. What I’ve noticed, other than my expanding figure, is that many of you seem confused by the various terms I use. “What in the world is a ______, Kathryn?” Or sometimes it’s, “You managed to do WHAT in a ______?” So to help make it easier, I’ve made up a dictionary of sorts of Southeast Asian terms. I know it’s not in alphabetical order, but I just wrote a word down when I thought of it, and that’s what you’re reading. There are two sections for your viewing pleasure: Words and Numbers. I hope that by reading this, you’re able to learn a few new words and numbers in the Khmer, Thai, and Malay languages. Enjoy!




Bed (phlawhr) – n. ­ 

a place on which to sleep. Surfaces include cement, tile, wood, bamboo, or other cuddly materials


Mat  tress (yous´ – less) – n.  an optical and physical illusion taking place where an inviting sleeping cushion actually provides no padding and serves no purpose


Clean (???æ¡??) – ? – No entry found; origin unknown


Sizz  ler (dohn’t´ – goh´) – not a tr.v..  a once-popular steakhouse and buffet chain considered delicious only by faulty childhood memories. Occasionally spotted in unfortunate American towns. Recently spotted in northern Thailand. Avoid at all costs. Any consumer will want to kill him or herself after consuming any food or liquid at this establishment. This is a fact


Ice  Cream (r??ce´ – dr??m) – n.  a sweet confection messed up by Southeast Asia. Eaten with bread and rice in Thailand, but messed up further in Malaysia. Considered shaved ice mixed with rosewater syrup, coconut milk, and tamarind juice atop rice threads, several kinds of beans, and corn. Also considered wrong


Cock  roach  es (eh´ – vr?? – wear) – n.  a visual weight-loss supplement


Tail  gate  ing (th??s´ – ??z – tooh´ – cl??hs) – tr.v.  traveling in one moving vehicle dangerously closely behind another moving vehicle, allowing the follower a closer encounter w/ a water buffalo’s posterior than ever desired


Ro  ti – Ca  nai (wear´ – ??n – n?? – yourk´?) – n.   the new favorite dish of a certain fatso. Not commonly found unless in Malaysia, where it’s served at Indian-Malaysian restaurants. Consists of the most delicious, chewy and multi-layered warm flatbread and served with spicy dhals, chicken gravies, beef curries, and more. Costs under $1 before conversion.


Fat (koop) – – Kathryn Cooper


Fatter (koop nowh´) – – Kathryn Cooper now.


Obese (wurks´ tooh) – – a multi-purpose word used to describe Kathryn Cooper spanning any time period between the last 10 years and the next many decades.


Mul  lets (hear – tooh´?) – pl.n.  an unfortunately common site in Malaysia, most often found on middle-aged, creepy, and single Malay men waiting to prey on and/or grope Kathryn Cooper


Air  con  di  tion  er (nawt – n??s – wahl´ – h??ng- ??ng) – n.  Infrequent Usage  a stagnant, unattractive wall decoration


Toi  let – Pa  per (1.) ??hn´ – l?? – ??hn – dr??hmz or (2.) shr??dz´  ??hn – s??´ – k??ndz  n.  Infrequent Usage – 1. (rare) a thin sheet of semi-absorbent paper product intended for use as a cleansing wipe for the buttocks. 2. (common) the familiar roll serving a different function, and doing a rather poor job


Pa  per – Tow  els – see Toilet Paper (2)


Dish – Tow  els – see Toilet Paper (2)


Tis  sue (spr??d – jermz) 1. (futuristic) a thin sheet of soft, semi-absorbent paper meant to catch anything blown from the nasal passages. 2. (common; no relation to word) a lack of said material, leading to public nose-picking and snotting over any balcony or deck


Mon  gol  i  a (??z´ – nt – tooh – l??te; alt. sheed´ – f??ned – ?? – whay) – n.  a place recommended to Kathryn Cooper as the one possible country where, due to a likely lack of good food, she might not gain weight.


Wear – Pa 

 ja  mas (f??´ – sh??n – m??hst) – v. what the cool crowd does. A true kind of full-frontal fashion in Cambodia. Previously thought of as simply a comfy night outfit, and now all the rage as all-day, high-fashion, functional wear. Note: Must be worn in a bright, jewel-tone color with a ridiculously child-like print, especially when worn by a grown woman. Matching top and bottom required





9  various Indian flatbreads (entire pita-sized cipatti and pouri) that Kathryn once ate for a single dinner. Served with freshly made yogurt, curry, and multiple desserts


3 – typical number of workers outnumbering actual patrons at your average guesthouse (hostel), restaurant, or mini-mart in much of Southeast Asia, due to  overstaffing and a lack of need to work or do anything other than talk with friends and sit in hammocks all day


19 – mosquito bites gotten from typing part of this email the other night on an outdoor computer


1 – stinging ant bites gotten on the neck from sending this email out tonight


26 – seconds spent wondering why there’s a dude sleeping on the pool table next to this computer


348 – seconds spent sadly pondering the fact that the pool table is a permanent sleep solution for the dude, considering the fact that he’s got a whole blanket and pillow setup with a mosquito net on top of it all


2 – times in Cambodia that Kathryn Cooper has been called “sir,” quickly followed by a giggle and then, “ma’am.”


0.7 seconds  –  the time delay between turning on a Thai or Cambodian “open drain” bathroom sink and then feeling everything that went down the train splash onto your feet


0.5 seconds  – the time it takes one to remember that what just went down the open drain is about to splash onto one’s feet, at wish point it is generally too late to do anything except accept that your feet are about to get another dose of spent flouride



So now that you’ve learned a few new terms, I hope you can start to incorporate them into your everyday language! Just try one word a day, and in no time, you’ll be speaking like a local and gaining weight like a Coop.


As you know, last you heard I went snorkeling in Malaysia for several months. Actually, it was for less than a week, and though it was wonderful, I was eager to get started on my next volunteer project. This one had many parts, and had me doing photography, videography, farming, gardening, cooking, and much more. I lived with several Chinese families, an Indian family, mixed groups, Aborigines, and others. I spent time in several different parts of Malaysia, getting to work right under the Petronas towers, on farms, in the jungle, and around limestone cliffs.


It was such a beautiful experience that made me so, so glad that I’m on this trip. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing right now, and there’s no replacement for what I’m learning on this adventure. From the good to the bad, the exciting to the downright nasty, I’m thankful for every experience. Because I stayed the majority of the time with one woman (who ran most of the non profits or had the connections to every location I volunteered with in Malaysia), I got amazing insider advice on the true beauty, and the true problems, within Malaysia. From the logging of the rainforests to religion to communism, I was told stories and histories I never had a clue existed. My host wouldn’t even let me search online or type about any of these issues for fear that the government had her home tapped. One night when she was telling me one story in particular, she was convinced that a man sitting next to us in the restaurant was listening in on our conversation and possibly targeting her for rebel activity. Interesting highlights in Malaysia include the most sketchy train ride and Malay man ever, a crew of the biggest potheads I’ve ever met (including several elderly and teachers), an Indian New Year festival where I may not have blended in, and a man who explained my entire personality to me without even talking to me. Did I mention the hammock that broke with me swinging in it? Or the bamboo palace I camped in while staying on the property of a man who believed in another dimension and married a mentally retarded native because he believes he was his wife in a past life?


Anyhow, Malaysia had to come to an end, so it was off to southern Thailand for a bit and then into Cambodia. It’s mostly traveling from now on, so there will be fewer “local” or insider stories, and likely less ranting from yours truly. I better run now since I’m on an outdoor computer in Cambodia, getting eaten alive by more mosquitoes. 


I love all the messages you guys send and all the points y’all bring up in your emails, so keep ‘em coming!


Until next time,