I hopped on my motorbike and ran into the market in Kampot this morning. I had been by it a lot, and in stores around it, but this was the first venture inside. Markets are the lifeblood of Asia, and I don't think you can understand any Asian culture without spending time in its markets.
The market in Kampot is a typical Asian market, with a crush of people all focused primarily on the fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, housewares, cooked food stalls, snacks and so on. It is a very organized chaos, and a great deal of fun. There is the section where the gold sellers/money exchange sit and seem to mostly eat noodles, except for the ones making jewelry, the tailors and an assortment of other vendors.
The vendors laugh (gently) at my attempts to speak Cambodian, and we wave our hands a lot and point at this and that, and in the end the right things, more or less, get bought at a reasonable price.
This morning was a quick trip to get mangoes, papaya, dragon fruit and bananas. The papaya wasn't right, but I got the rest. The mangoes are small but yummy. This is just the beginning of Cambodia's secondary mango season. The main one is in April, when the soft mango rains fall. But November has a mini season. That is good for us as we were in mango withdrawal. Four small mangoes were about fifty US cents. The whole trip to the market, including some optional snacks and paying for parking the motorbike (then I can leave the helmet with it), was a US$2 proposition, and that makes it even more pleasant.
It is all grist for the writing mill, the interactions with people, the learning how things can work (well) in a completely different way. My theory is that living this way gives me fresh eyes.