One of our Cambodian guides shared his hopes with us, just as a Laotian guide did. (For that entry, CLICK HERE).
His ambition came in four parts. First, he wanted to get married. Now in Cambodia, for a male, this is not an idle thought for it is the male that has to come up with the funds to cover the obligatory three-day wedding celebration. This can cost $4 – $5000 in itself, a substantial sum to accumulate here. According to him, the main event can involve hundreds of guests, plus “the woman wants a special wedding dress to show off to her friends” and there appear to be Joneses even inCambodiato keep up with. On the last day, you have an extra cost as you host 800 or more people at a massive party, a number to us that sounds like your whole village and even their distant relatives. But, he said, this is not so much of a problem because your friends hand you packets of money as a gift during the first two days so they cover it for you. At least these days the male has a say in the choosing of the female, unlike the parental controls of the past.
So, after that ordeal, errr…rather happy occasion, he wants to have a child or perhaps two. Then, he wants to be responsible and make sure he has taken care of his elders and his family, and with 7 siblings that’s a lot of making sure things are OK, particularly with a few wayward brothers in the mix. But, most importantly, he needs to make sure that his children grow up right and that his wife has a livelihood of some sort – a store or business – that would let her take care of herself and the family.
He knows he must act responsibly before he can take the final step. And that one is to become a monk and devote himself to meditation and prayer for the rest of his life. He had been a novice at a monastery when young. To meet family needs at that time, he left to get a real world education, learn English, etc., and qualify for the kind of job he has now. And his evident excitement when he heard Buddhist monks chanting one evening showed how important he considered this goal. Now about thirty, he is not sure when that will happen, but knows the exact form of “retirement” he wants.