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Mr. Noodle In Cambodia

· Thoughts

Travelling. Oh my… I love everything about it. I love the crowded airports. I love the process of going through to get my ticket, check my bags, go through customs, and wander the airport looking at all the things. Maybe getting the odd massage or Starbucks coffee, and just watching all the people go by and wondering where they are going and where they have been. To be truthful I even don’t mind the cramped seating on the plane, but I do draw the line at the plane food! My favourite part is the people. Meeting them, seeing what they do, how they live. I love it!

I was fortunate enough to get away for 6 weeks a couple of years ago. There were 4 parts to my trip. A raw food retreat in Phuket; a week in Bali; two weeks in Cambodia on a G Adventure tour (which by the way is an amazing Canadian company to travel with. Bruce Boon Tip, the owner wrote a book about his view and process of running his business – super insightful and inspiring called LoopTail); and a week in North Thailand. I am going to tell you about part of a day in Cambodia.

We were in Battambang on a motorcycle tour and arrived at this run down property (that isn’t actually an identifying description as everything is run down). We are told this is a noodle business and we are in for the treat of watching the art of making noodles.

We walk inside a there is an old guy pressing down on a stick, which in turn is pressing a cylinder of paste through a screen and into almost boiling water. Did I mention how hot it is around these parts? It’s about 32 degrees at 10 am and getting hotter by the minute. And yet here we congregate, around fire and boiling water! No points for being smart today!

We are shown how the rice gets soaked in water until it goes mushy. It is then put in bags to drain out the water, and once most of the water is drained it is like a paste, which they form into the cylinders, then pressed into the water. The water has to be exactly the right temperature or the noodles won’t be edible, and they can’t sell them and they can’t make money.

It turns out this guy sporting quite the set of biceps is SEVENTY YEARS OLD. Yes, you read that right. This is amazing. Not just because he works from 3 am to 3 pm EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE, but the average age in Cambodia is something like SEVENTEEN! So meeting older people is a bit unusual. One of the guys with us wanted to try pressing the noodles. He is a pretty fit tall guy. I think Mr. Noodles comes up to his elbow! He grabs the bar and is struggling to push it down, yet this old guy does it like it’s nothing. This is such an odd scene of contradictions.

What I can’t get over is how HAPPY this man is. I mean he is glowing with this happy energy and seems so very content with his day. I just can’t imagine it. How differently we see things in the western “more developed” countries. We whine and complain about our 8-hour shifts with benefits in air-conditioned spaces, and then I see this man and wish I could bottle his secret. The world would do better with more of his spirit. I am getting too hot to stick around and now we have to go see how rice paper is made. Time to go!

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