Chey Ta Koun is a small village some 40 kilometers south west of Phnom Penh, in Kampong Speu province.
The last 10 kilometers of the road leading to Chey Ta Koun from Phnom Penh are unpaved. In the dry season it is very dusty. People riding motorbikes wrap their heads in scarves, otherwise their lungs will fill up quickly with sand and dust. There are lots of potholes which make the traveling slow and dangerous. In the rainy season it is often impassible.
Just outside the village there is a small community school with two class rooms. Other than the bare benches there is little that indicates that this is a school. Like the rest of the village, there is neither electricity nor running water. So classes can only be held when there is sun light.
The children seem weary of strangers. They don’t seem to know how to deal with us. They huddle together closely, perhaps for security. Probably very few outside people visit them, because of the remoteness. I am sure they will respond to us if we have more time. Unfortunately, we can stay only a little while this time. Perhaps in June, when we come again, it will be better.
The main source of water in the village is the rain water collected from the roof and stored in big pots. When that runs out, they have to buy water from the vendors, or travel long distances with containers to obtain water provided by the government.
Those who can afford it buy car batteries which can provide electricity for lighting, or even a short period of TV viewing.
The distance is just 40 kilometers, but it seems as if we have gone back hundreds of years.