Budget study abroad. Low prices,
academic quality. Open to all.
Earn college credit. Easy to register.
Quick confirmation. Flexibility.
Can pay balance at arrival, or in advance.
Go with CSA - Center For Study Abroad.
Low cost programs since 1990. See website.
Become a world citizen with Easy Languages! ! Our language immersion programs bring you into the heart of any culture and offer you the added benefit of accelerated language learning. Courses start year round are available around the world. No minimum GPA required. For details, click here!
There is a tek kreluk fruit shake stand on the corner near our Phnom
Penh house. We go there on late nights after work at the Cambodia Daily. We walk out of our concrete-walled, metal-gated, concertina-wired
villa, and step into darkness. Like gunslingers, we mosey down the middle
of the abandoned street, avoiding puddles of mud and urine and floating
trash. Two of our staff have been robbed on this road by the police.
We joke nervously about this. It's about 500 meters to the light of
Monivong Boulevard, and the whirring sound of tek kreluk blenders.
The stands line the length of Monivong. We sit outside at a plastic
table in plastic chairs under a pale florescent light and watch the
Cambodians wake and start their day. Motor scooters buzz by, as cyclo
drivers silently peddle their three-wheeled passenger vehicles. Some
carry charred wood, others iron rebar, and still others live chickens.
Normally, Monivong is one of the busiest streets in the city. Chaos
and disregard for personal safety prevail, as scooters and motorcycles,
cars and Land Rovers all mish-mash together at a reasonably safe thirty
miles per hour. Occasionally, two scooters collide, sending the riders
sprawling. At night though, things are quiet. Cambodians go to bed early,
often around 8 p.m., and rise before partying Western expats even think
about going to bed.
In the native language Khmer, tek kreluk means "water shake." A smiling
Cambodian puts into a blender whatever fruits and vegetables are in
season: pineapple, papaya, durian, mango, dragon fruit, carrot, banana,
and others, a tornado of reds, yellows, and oranges. On top of that,
you get a raw egg, a cup of condensed milk and a load of ice.
Our stand is next to a massage parlor, a thinly disguised brothel.
Not that it needs to be. Prostitution in Cambodia is as accepted as
the sunrise, or government corruption. It happens every day, and always
will, people figure. Sometimes, while we drink our fruit shakes, a prostitute
will come out of the parlor and joke with the tek kreluk girls. They
will chatter in singsong Khmer, laugh, whack each other, joke. The prostitutes
do not speak to us. They perhaps recognize us as locals, not sex tourists.
This is good. We can relax. We drink with students, masons, teachers,
drivers, gangsters. Cambodia has all kinds, and they all love tek kreluk.
Teenagers meet here for a date, businessmen loosen their ties and debate
whether to drink something before or after visiting with the girls next
door, and old men sit around reminiscing. I wonder if the old men think
about Toul Sleng while they sip the sweet fruit juices.
Two blocks behind our little tek kreluk stand are the remnants of Toul
Sleng Prison, S-21, where 16,000 Cambodians died under Pol Pot's Khmer
Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979. They were held under water, whipped,
cut, burned, bludgeoned, and beaten. They had their pictures taken before
they died. They were chained to iron bed frames, forced to defecate
in U.S. military ammunition canisters. The Khmer Rouge leaders were
a paranoid sort, and more than a million and as many as two million
Cambodians died during their political purges. Slowly the Khmer Rouge
began to collapse on itself, losing power to a Vietnamese force that
took over in 1979.
In some ways, Cambodia has never recovered from all of that. Nearly
all Cambodians flinch at the first sign of physical contact. They laugh,
play ticklish, and poke me playfully in return. But underneath, I get
the feeling they remember things. They can't forget, and it's hard to
let their guard down. Ghosts, spirits, photos, and piles of skulls at
monuments won't allow them to. Nor can a casual visitor ignore any of
it. I look at my coworkers at the paper and the tek kreluk girls, at
their cheerful faces and benevolent smiles, and I can't understand how
such an awful thing like the Khmer Rouge regime happened to them. In
the face of such things, my concept of justice simply dissipates. I
can barely find anyone who wasn't personally affected by the regime.
My coworker's father was executed. My friend has no idea where his mother
is. Others lost sisters, brothers, or uncles. But I would never know
this sitting at my tek kreluk stand on a humid Cambodian night.
And the smiling, singing Cambodian girl at the tek krulek stand tells
me nothing of any of this. Once the ingredients are mixed together,
she serves our glasses to my friends and me with straws and glasses
of fruit-flavored water. She often sits down with us and plays a game
on paper similar to tic-tac-toe, or practices her English. But she never
mentions the Khmer Rouge or Toul Sleng, as if a tek kreluk shake can
sweeten the past too.