Life During the Khmer Rouge Rule of Cambodia – A Conversation with My Mom

On September 15, 2017, the Netflix movie “First They Killed My Father,” directed by Angelina Jolie will be released. After seeing the trailer, I couldn’t help but remember the stories my great grandma, grandparents, and mom had told me about their life before and after the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge (The Communist Party Kampuchea), started in April of 1975, and ended January of 1979. I decided to show my mom the trailer, get her feedback on this upcoming movie, and just have a conversation about her life during those dark times.

When I showed my mom the trailer, I did not tell her what she was about to watch. As she was watching the trailer, she started saying, “what?” “this is….,” and as the trailer was concluding, “this is Cambodia.”
Note: I’m speaking to my mom in English, and my mom is responding in Cambodian, so I am translating my mom’s response to English.

Q: What do you think about the trailer, “First They Killed My Father?”

No movie or TV show can explain what really happened. It can show what happened, but there’s so much more outside of it. The feeling and emotion of what we [people of that time] went through, can never be truly shown on TV. Yes, most of what I saw in the trailer, I went through myself, but there’s just so much more to it. The feelings and pain we felt at the time – I don’t know how to explain it. That time felt like forever. We had no calendar or anything to really keep track of the days that had gone by. We lived in fear, and we kept trying to survive. I don’t even remember my actual birth date. I still remember when I heard on the radio that the war was over – “3 years, 8 months, and 20 days,” but it felt a lot longer than that, a lot longer.

Q: In this trailer, kids were trained to use weapons. Did they really trained kids to use weapons?

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Common Questions Twins Get Asked All the Time

A while back, I was asked some “twin” questions by friends, and co-workers. After talking about it with my identical twin sister (Wendy), we realized that we still get questions that ranges from normal to outright ridiculous. Here are some frequently asked questions that we usually get from friends, co-workers, and relatives.

Have you guys ever switched places when you were in High School/College? 

No, we did not. I know some twins who did switched places. But for my sister and I, we have subjects that we’re better at. For example, in High School I was better at English, Math, and Physics while my sister was better than me in Biology and Chemistry. When we attended college, she majored in Business while I majored in Communication. Switching places would give us so much anxiety because we would be constantly worrying about what might happened.

Do you do the freaky twin thing? Like answering at the exact same time.

One time, someone asked my sister and I if we do the “freaky twin thing” and followed up with, “when is your birthday?” We both obviously have the same birthday, so we both naturally gave an answer at the same time since the question was directed at both of us. They were astonished by our response and said, “that was freaky.” If we both know the answer to something, and you ask both of us at the same time, you’re going to get two same answers at once.

Do you two always finish each other’s sentences?

Not always. But when we do, it’s because we are both well-informed of the given topic, or we just have the same interest. For example, we both used to do competitive figure skating so we know all the technical rules and regulations of the sport, and as a result we are more likely to finish off each other’s sentences. Because of this, it usually leads to the next question of- Continue reading “Common Questions Twins Get Asked All the Time”

Garden of fresh vegetables & herbs

This past weekend I went home to visit my parents. Usually, I would stay indoors and be lazy while my mom spoils me with her amazing food. I have yet to reach her level of cooking skills, but a lot of my friends (and ex-boyfriends) has complimented my cooking skills (lets just say my ex gained a few extra pounds when we were dating haha).

It’s amazing how fresh vegetables and herbs can really transform your dishes, and I really appreciate it when my mom gives us bags loaded with veggies/herbs for my sister and I to bring back to our apartment. It saves us time on grocery shopping, and on grocery expenses. But sometimes, our mom gives us a little too much. She would usually give a bag of cucumbers, herbs, or zip lock bags of Thai Chili Peppers (which I still haven’t used them all up yet). When we tell her we don’t need any of it she says, “I still have more in the garden, so take it.” And often, she would make us feel guilty by saying, “do you want me to finish all these ingredients by herself?”

Currently, my parents’ garden consist of a mango tree, tomato tree, lime tree, and orange tree. Corn, Lemon grass (mom uses this for her amazing Thai curry/soup), cucumber, Thai basil, Thai chili peppers, mint, green onions and many more. One of my favorite vegetables from my parents’ backyard is green papaya. I love it when my mom asks me if I want to make Thai papaya salad. When I feel like making it, she would then go out to pick a papaya (I was too short to reach for one myself), and we would start preparing the dish.

It’s a very nice feeling to just go out into a garden and carefully pick your vegetable/ herb. I’m still a newbie at picking vegetables and herbs, so when my mom asks me to go out and pick stuff for her, I’m yelling across the garden into the house, “mommy how can you tell which one is good or not?!” and she would respond by telling me to look at shape, size, color etc.

Note: this is only a small portion of my parents’ garden. I was too scared to go to the other side because of the bees.

This week, my mom gave us eight cucumbers. She said to just eat them on the side with ours meals or something. Eight cucumber is a lot, and on top of other vegetables that I would like to eat, I’m worried that I won’t use them all in time before it spoils. I’ve been looking up some recipes online but I haven’t really found something that I’m interested in making. For now, I might buy humus, and eat it with the cucumbers. Hopefully, when I visit my parents again they won’t give us too much stuff to bring back.

– Stories by Cindy

Sharing some of my life moments

Lazy day – Curry + Ramen

At the beginning of 2017, one of my New Year Resolution was to eat healthier. It started off great, but recently I’m having difficulties staying consistent. There are weeks where I’ll cook healthy meals everyday, and then there are weeks where I’ll eat instant ramen 3-5 times a week.

This week one of my lazy cooking is Japanese curry. I woke up at 6 am to make this curry with ground pork and a lot of mushrooms. Sadly, there was no other vegetables in my refrigerator – it’s a sign that I need to do some grocery shopping. Making curry does not require a lot of time which is why I consider it my lazy day food. I would just throw anything that I find in the refrigerator (preferable vegetables since I’m trying to eat more vegetables), and use Japanese curry roux – Vermont or Golden Curry brand. With just 3 ingredients (including the roux) I was able to finish cooking this in about 30 minutes (without forgetting to cook the rice). My favorite recipes are from the website Just One Cookbook.

When I come home from work, of course I have to give my spoiled dog (Chibi) attention. He usually jumps around on the couch or bark at my sister and I until we sit down on the floor. After, he would crawl onto our lap and turn onto his back for a belly rub. When I get home I’m usually starving, so I made instant kimchi ramen because it’s the quickest option. To make it ‘healthier,’ I added fermented kimchi and some bean sprouts. After, I was just lounging around the house watching Youtube videos, and shows on DramaFever. I should really start being more productive, but there’s something about summer that makes you want to be lazy.

– Stories by Cindy

Sharing some of my life moments

My First Cosplay Experience

Anime Expo (AX) 2017 is approaching, and it’s that time of year where I’m scrambling to get all my costume together. This year, I am cosplaying as Honoka from Love Live! School Idol Project with my sister (as Kotori) and friend (Umi). This would be my friend’s first time cosplaying and attending a large convention, so for the last 6 months we were informing her of our experience and tips when cosplaying. Since I was already sharing my experience to my friend, who is cosplaying for the first-time, I thought I share my first cosplay experience on my blog.

Anime Expo 2015 – Sakura Kinomoto Cosplay | Anime Cardcaptor Sakura

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