πŸ›ΊπŸ’¨ Well, I Guess This Is Now A Three-Wheeled School Bus Driver Blog πŸšΈπŸ‘¨β€βœˆοΈ

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(Edited)

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I now have a seven-strong tuk-tuk crew even though I only ever intended to take Mey-Yii to school along with the @kidsisters.

Kindness Is Weakness In Cambodia πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ

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Β  Β  Β Most of my readers probably already know Mey-Yii, the girl next door abandoned by her mom who found a better husband and wanted to ditch the old blood to create her new family. She is barely watched over by her drunken chain-smoking Grandma gambler, and from sun-up to sun-down she is now our responsibility whether we like it or not, so we've been trying to guide her as much as possible.

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Β  Β  Β I am a spiritual person although I don't blog about it much as I feel this part of me is very personal. I will say though that as a Rastafari, guiding the youths and living an upright life are of the upmost importance. Additionally, I feel this human experience is something I am only passing through, and it is full of tests, trials, and tribulations. I don't believe in the NGO mentality, but I do believe we should always the do the right thing no matter how overwhelming it may seem.

The Village Gossip Mill 🎑

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Β  Β  Β With this in mind, know that our village has probably less than 60 or 70 residents, and the gossip mill is hot like fire because the soldiers and their families live on salaries which require very little commitment. It's come to our attention that Mey-Yii is viewed as a throwaway kid by 50% of the village, and many people have come to tell us bad stories about her. We have tried to explain that she is a product of her environment, and she is not to be blamed for never having a good rolemodel in her life.

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Β  Β  Β Well, now that I have three kids going to school every day, the Super Cub gas-saving plan no longer works because we are too high in numbers now. In addition to this, some other neighbors of ours have asked to take their 4 children to school. I agreed only because this family is a bit like ours, and a few of the children they are looking after are also throwaway kids. We understand they are poor like us, but also doing the right thing by taking in extra children to care for. They offered 100,000 riel ($25.00 USD) per month for fuel expenses, but we told them to wait til the end of the month and only give what they can afford to spare.

I Just Can't With These Humans πŸš€

Β  Β  Β Just last night my wife was at a neighbor's house just visiting and hanging out, when a random village lady strolled in and told us we need to also take her kid to school, and enroll him too. My wife let her know we are not an NGO, and the only reason we spent three hours enrolling Mey-Yii is because she has no proper guardian in her life. In slightly kinder wording, my wife basically said "My husband is the one doing this each day, not me, and if you want to enroll your kid you'll get off your lazy a** and do it yourself if you actually care.

Β  Β  Β Bear in mind it's nearly impossible to register someone else's child in school here, and we had to lie and say Mey-Yii was without guardian which caused us to jump through many bureaucratic hoops. Can you believe what this woman's response was to my wife? She said "Tell em' I'm pregnant." She was basically implying for us to enroll her kid on the grounds that she's pregnant and can't be bothered to do it. That level of entitlement is mind-boggling, and a blatant misuse of our kindness. Monkey-B's teacher is 8+ months pregnant and still shows up for work every day πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ. I just can't with humans anymore, bye universe!

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44 comments
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Maybe because you are a foreigner that is why they make use of you, they might think you have all.
but yeah sometimes being too kind is not that good also.

You guys really have a very good heart to take care of those kids.
sending some !LUV to you

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That is correct a lot of the time, most Khmers think all foreigners are rich, and they never believe me when I say buying land is 10x cheaper where I'm from in Indiana in the USA. The kids are the most important though, and I know they will do what they can to help me when I need it.

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I was expecting to read more then realized β€œbye universe” was the end of the post.
Great that you and your family can help other kids. Mey-yii looks happy to be a part of your family.
It’s a total different story when parents are capable and decide to be lazy or carefree re parenting.

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My sense of humor was a little dark on this day, but it is reflective of my attitude lately. The parents in this village are frustrating to say the least, but if we don't help the neighbor kids a bit, nobody will.

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Jeez, the story of Mey-Yii is so tragic and I can't believe that the community response to this is that "oh well, shit happens!"

You are a good person for taking this on man, if you believe in Karma you certainly deserve the bright end of that spectrum. I would imagine that Mey-Yii hasn't experienced much in the way of joy in her life and it hurts me to think that there are probably many many others that are in the same situation as her. I just can't understand the mentality of a person that could just walk away on their own child like that.

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Tragic indeed, and I've told my wife far too many times how hard we would lay into her grandma for dropping the parenting bar. It's bizarre how direct and open Khmers can be when commenting on one's physical appearance, income, etc., but when it comes to the stuff that actually matters, the culture doesn't permit criticizing like this, which I feel allows more societal and moral decay.

I find it's a common thing here that a woman marries a guy and a has a few children, but because folks often marry too young here and also don't discover themselves until much later in life, these first families/marriages end in divorce or partial separations. All too often the new love/husband refuses to be a stepdad and wants genetic children only, I guess because the thought of mixing new "mini me's" with some other guys kids is just unacceptable.

If our neighbors lived in Kentuckiana, everyone would eventually get choked out within a few weeks for acting the way they do. I'm not a huge fan of my country, but I am glad that we as citizens do hold each other to a certain standard of human decency.

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This is probably a common feature of a lot of SE Asia. Virtually every woman I knew in Thailand that was unmarried and in their 30's had a kid tucked away somewhere, normally being taken care of by the grandparents. It is quite rare to encounter a single mom that is actually directly looking after their child/children. I haven't gone out of my way to meet a great many Vietnamese people, but from what I hear it is a similar situation with any single people past their 20's.

I know in Thailand the state does almost nothing to help in these situations but at least there it seems as though a strong family bond kind of makes up for that, which I think is better. However, if you run into a situation like yours, that can be a really bad thing since that girl isn't going to get anything from her family or the state. It's a good thing there are empathetic and kind people like you in the world.

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The situation doesn't sound too different from what happens here. I haven't spent enough time in Thailand to get a feel for how it happens there, but it does feel in Vietnam that a single woman can easily be self-employed and financially stable, and I think this causes husbands to respect their wives more.

Here in Cambodia it's rare to see a single woman with kids gainfully employed and living a healthy single life, so this often causes them to stay with philandering/abusive husbands even when they would rather be apart.

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(Edited)

I think if I agreed to enroll her child, maybe later and some other family would do the same. We let her kid ride to school with our child and she uses us to register her child on her behalf. I really can not believe that she could say these words to me and I really do not understand why they are lazy to enroll their children in school, but they are not lazy and have many children 😩. Abum's grandmother says to me, 'Do not be so kind, they do not think you are kind to children, but they think you are stupid and want to use you free.But I just wanted to do what I can do with those kids and I think you are like me too.

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It sounds like she is taking advantage of your kindness and you have to draw the line somewhere!

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It is usually me that goes psycho at some point, and Mey-Yii's grandma is really pushing the limits of what I will tolerate. If I see bruises all over that girl again, Mey-Yii's grandma and her husband are gonna be the first folks in this village to taste the wrath of the nice naive new folks in town.

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"Play fool to catch wise" as they say in Jamaica, an expression I like. Something has to change in the Khmer culture, a greater respect for nature, a sense of duty to provide the youths with a brighter future, and these things aren't going to happen by repeating the mistakes of the past forever.

Doing the right thing here is hardly ever easy or comes without much ridicule, but there is a reason the village children want to spend time at our house. Perhaps a few years from now the village kids will be looking out for us more than their own parents 😁. What comes around goes around, even if many Khmers don't actually believe in the karma their religion teaches them.

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Ugh you sound like you have to deal with some horrible people. I'm glad Mey Yi has you in her life .. how could you NOT care for the poor love?

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It is hard for me to relate to the culture and religion of Cambodia, but I do love living here despite all the negative aspects. I really feel this life is a test, and that these situations are the real tests of character, not how we treat lovely house guests who come to share only good moments.

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Sometimes when we are too kind, others will take advantage of our kindness. But I believe that you will be blessed and rewarded for your kindness.

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I think you are right, I don't expect any blessings to befall us from nearby families, but the seeds are planted in the minds of these village youths, and they see the hours I spend each day to assure they get an education, even if not a good one by international standards.

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Mey-Yii's story is very sad, and even more sad is why she had to be born into such a family. Have a mother and grandmother who only think about their own pleasure to the point of abandoning their own flesh and blood

it's really wrong if we become good people in society, sometimes our kindness is taken advantage of by people who are lazy, cunning and deceitful. An example is what you are experiencing right now my friend. But know that God does not sleep and He will repay all your kindness with other greater good. Didn't you say that you are a spiritual person, I'm sure you understand what I'm saying πŸ™

Hopefully tomorrow is a day full of goodness for you my friend πŸ‘

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There are two main cultures here in Cambodia, the Khmer Buddhism culture and the Cham Muslim culture, they are a minority group, but the second largest in the country. Our current area has no Muslims, and the town where the girls go to school has no mosque yet, and only a few Muslims living there.

I have, however, lived in Muslim villages here in Cambodia, and also in Muslim majority towns, and I must say the social decay that plagues Khmer families doesn't exist in the Muslim communities. There are several reasons for this, but most of all the lack of alcohol, gambling, and prostitution are big factors.

Although I am not a Muslim myself, I sure miss having Muslim friends and neighbors because they are much easier for me to relate to, and I think more interested in discussing life, problem-solving, etc. Although I don't call my way of life a "religion," it is known as Rastafari by some people, although I call myself a Nazarite as I have taken the vow of the Nazarite.

It is an Abrahamic way of life, many similarities with Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, so I often find it is easier for me to relate to people from these walks of life.

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It's very interesting I read your reply to my comment, and really I also just found out that Khmer and Muslim culture is the second largest in Cambodia. I hope the Buddhist-majority Cambodian people have a high tolerance for other religions, it's very sad to read news like what happened in Myanmar 😩

That's right, my friend @justinparke, because alcohol, gambling, and legal prostitution are forbidden (Haram) in Islam and generally Muslims obey this rule, although there are still one or two people who do it but the majority of Muslims around the world obey the prohibition the. And you can search on google where the countries with the highest crime rates or social damage in the world are countries that legalize alcohol, gambling, prostitution and so on.

I personally am also happy to have friends like you my best friend, because I do not discriminate in choosing friends. And it's obvious that you're a fun friend to talk to about anything, and yeah I've never heard of Rastafari and Nazarite. It could be a fun topic for us to discuss πŸ˜„

Ibrahim alaihis salam is a Prophet and Messenger for us Muslims, and we are also obliged to believe in him as we believe in Prophet Muhammad SAW, so of course we have great respect for him too. Have a nice day my friend πŸ™

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Most of the Muslims here are ethnic Cham people that came here from Malaysia/Indonesia centuries ago. They sailed here, and because the river here is very wide and deep, they were able to sail deep into the interior of the country. Many of them are still fishing cultures and living in fishing communities, but because much time has passed since then, many of the Muslims have purchased land and become agricultural.

I just remembered I met a now-famous musician many years ago here in Cambodia, and he was from your country, he goes by the name of Ras Muhammad. He played a small reggae show in the town I was living in, and somebody said he was also Rastafari like me. I went and saw him drinking, smoking, and trying to find a girl to take home after the show, and I think he was only using the Rastafari image for marketing appeal in his reggae music.

Have you heard of him before?

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It seems that you know well the history of Cambodia, its politics, its multi-ethnicity and the history of the entry of religions there. It seems that your love for Cambodia is so great, even though you are actually a citizen of the United States, aren't you πŸ˜„

I do not know him @justinparke, only occasionally read news about him in online media. Moreover, the genre of reggae music is not very liked by the majority of Indonesian people. Automatically information related to his personal life, I don't know much about it. but if you want to know my assessment of him based on the youtube video you shared, then based on the lyrics of the song I can judge that maybe he is a Rastafari adherent. I also read from online media, he has lived in the United States since childhood, attended elementary school until he finished his bachelor's degree in Brooklyn and knew and studied reggae music there too, until he got the title "Ras" there. And the title "Ras" is until now juxtaposed in front of his name Ras Muhammad..

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I can imagine how happy they will be when you deliver and pick them up with this vehicle you have.
This vehicle is very valuable to them my friend.

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We usually have a good commute, and sometimes a few laughs.

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It's pretty crazy that there are such mind boggling senses of entitlement. It exists here in a different form.

If there are throwaway kids here, they would be snatched up by officials. This child that you care for is the luckiest child ever. I'm sure that your influence will guide her to be someone her mother will beg to be around when she's older.

Her mother will be lucky if she isn't rejected and have to ponder hard about ditching her kid. I'm not against grandparents taking their grandchildren in circumstances, but grandparents are suppose to be high on the level of nurturing and caring.

I agree with you and say all the time, how people suck.

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Same same but different as they say here, the western "Karen" comes to mind, and there are plenty of Cambodian "Karens," although the manifestation is very different than in the west. I sometimes remind Mey-Yii that her grandma would be in jail where I'm from for treating her the way she does.

Life is cruel teacher at times, and I can't help but imagine a day will come when this perfect "new family" disintegrates, the mom finds herself in hard times, Mey-Yii is a young successful adult, and the mom tries to come back into her life because Mey-Yii has an income, apartment, spare bed, etc., and this sweet little girl will finally see the power dynamic has changed and she has a choice of whether or not to deal with their foolishness and fuckry.

I can imagine that day, Mey-Yii telling me in perfect English that she told her mom "Don't let the door hit ya' where the good lord split ya'!" Haha, okay, that scenario is not likely to happen, but perhaps a version of it.

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The social system is not good in your neighbourhood but I think , you will change their old mindset sooner or later. They will know that your help to the little girl is a hard blow to them. In the future, they will realize how important to enroll their kids to school and realize that school need some costs. You reap what you sow

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I agree with you, we reap what we sow, although sometimes these seeds take years and years to harvest, and this can be a frustrating test of the human spirit and patience, but not a test I want to fail in this life. I walked outside today and saw one of our neighbor girls helping to wash our dishes, and I didn't ask her to do this, I think it was just her way of saying thanks for taking her to school every day.

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I think this is a sad story but luckily you found her.. Sometimes, a lot of people never realize the importance of caring the young ones cause they are going to be leading the country in the future.. Great to hear that you've been helping out to make her life better.. it's not always a kind hearted person would do this. =)

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Perhaps Prime Minister Mey-Yii will grant me Cambodian citizenship one day 😁. In our situation we feel compelled to do this, otherwise she's at our house all day and we have to constantly feel guilty that she's missing out on so many important parts of life.

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"...throwaway kids..."

That is such a heartless attitude to have about a child. One would think that in a country that professes to be predominantly Buddhist, there would be more compassion towards other sentient beings. 😒

"...we had to lie and say Mey-Yii was without guardian..."

The sad thing is, you didn't lie (except perhaps in the eyes of a lawyer/judge). Mei-Yii was abandoned by her nuclear family, and her grandmother is providing her a place to sleep and an occasional $2.50 for a pair of shoes. So, I see no lie, in the grand scheme of things. And the child is so much better with your having said that, because at least she will be getting some semblance of an educationΒ β€” such as that is, in the culture. 😐

"...guiding the youths and living an upright life are of the upmost importance"

Maybe the village will learn this, by your example. It might take a while before they begin to ponder the situation and realize it, but we can only hope & pray that it happens. πŸ™

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It is ironic, but after traveling in many predominantly Buddhist countries, the view of karma is that if you get away with whatever you do without consequence, it must be because of a good dose of karma in your previous life. This attitude allows corrupt people to stay in power and an elite minority to plunder the country's resources simply because it goes unchallenged. The monks should have a duty to battle the social and moral decay, but instead their days are spent meditating, walking around collecting funds, and using the funds to make the monastery bigger. There are very few community programs or social work the monks do, in fact they don't have to cook because poor people gift them food each day. This is the opposite of Muslim and Sikh, Hindu faiths, where the temples often provide a community kitchen and feed the local homeless and poor each day. Sorry to bash on Buddhism, but it's not the idealistic religion painted by National Geographic and hipsters in the USA.

Haha, you're right about not lying, sometimes words have to carefully be chosen. Kids have a way of remembering positive experiences, and I've already reaped what I've sown here in Cambodia. I taught probably upwards of a 1,000 students in Siem Reap during my years spent there, too many students to remember all their faces and names. However, every time I visit the town, I can't go anywhere without one of my students greeting me and introducing me to the foreign tourists they are guiding around town.

When I see these kids as young adults speaking English and using the skills I taught them to financially support a family, I feel a great sense of satisfaction. The folks in our village will be slow to realize the error of their ways, but hopefully when they see what we do with our land, they will begin to follow suit, hopefully first by not burning heaps of plastic trash every day.

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Sometimes people will take advantage if you're too kind.

Mey-Yii is still lucky because of you and your family @justinparke.

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You're right, kindness is weakness in many parts of the world, especially so in Cambodia. Still though, I try not to let this way of thinking prevent a child in my locale from getting a much-deserved education.

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Why don't you live close to the school? Maybe walking distance from it. Is there a problem if you do that?

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I'm super behind on comments, sorry for a late reply. In the time since you wrote this comment I have come up with a partial solution. The drive to and from school is roughly one and a half to two hours, and done twice a day it accounts for a lot of fuel and wasted potential productive time.

We ultimately bought the land because of the location, and if something like this were near a town, it would be full of trash, and we'd be swimming in styrofoam, used diapers, and instant noodle package wrappers. There is land set aside for a school in our village, and once the international border crossing with Thailand is completed, it will change this economy overnight.

The town where our daughters study is on the border with Thailand, and because of this the Chinese are already busy buying everything. Land prices in Thmor Da are minimum $10,000 USD per square meter regardless of property depth, much more expensive than most places in the USA, even though I can't seem to convince even one Cambodian than total monthly living expenses are cheaper in Indiana than in this town.

The border situation creates an inflated economy, and even in this town things always cost 10% to 30% more than regular just because of the Chinese presence. I thought about renting a room in the town to use an office space for more comfort when I come, and usually this would be $30 to $50 in a similar sized town anywhere else in Cambodia. Here a plain room without furniture is upwards of $350 a month, and the Chinese don't mind this price at all.

There is also a lot of illegal stuff going in Cambodian border towns, and often a large part of the local population is engaged in illegal activities. There is always a casino involved, and of course some social problems come with that. Just the other day while waiting for the kids to get out of school, a VIP from the capital stopped his car in the middle of the highway, and violently opened his door to hit a dog in the head that was standing in the middle of the road, not impeding his path in any way.

There are already a couple locals that want me to teach and English class during the time I spend here waiting for the girls, and they've offered free spaces for use, so this could be a future option once the logistics are all worked out.

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Is there anything available 1/2 way? 1/4 way? Because what you are doing is not sustainable. You will get into physical trouble and your health will deteriorate. Then it’s game over Justin.

You barely have any roots. It’s hard to believe the place you ended is the only decent affordable place in Cambodia and there is nothing else available close to decent education for two children

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A little less than half way is the "school" where I drop off 4 of our neighbor kids, and I put "school" in quotes because it is barely that. There are not enough students in that location for the government to justify getting committed teachers and make the facility proper. Based on what we heard about this school, the teachers rarely show if there is even a drop of rain, and when they do show up, they mostly play on their phones, and it seems very little education is going on there. It's not impossible to buy affordable land in some areas of the country, but I must admit most of the country is one big rice field void of trees and full of plastic trash fires. The air quality and scenery were the big draws that sent us to this part of the country, but almost everywhere with tourism potential already has inflated real estate markets.

We're rolling the dice here on some level, but the Thai border is on 28km away, and the border near us has never been an international crossing, but that is set to change before the end of this year. If/when the border crossing with Thailand becomes an international one, we'll be in a very good position here, and it's crazy how fast population centers can grow here when there's some kind of economic reason.

From the Thai border to Pursat, the provincial capital here, there is only one road for a few hundred kilometers, and we happen to score land on it. Within a year of the international border crossing completion, it's likely we'll have a decent school nearby and/or the crappy one that's not so far will be improved enough for us to send the kids there.

Until then though, I can't disagree with you, I've been burning the candle at both ends, and it's already taking it's toll on me. I've also thought about starting some kind of English school here in the village, and a project like this could potentially lure a Khmer teacher here to make it a joint Khmer/English curriculum private school. Our little Airbnb cabin project will be the economic driver for anything that may happen, so it's vital we complete it ASAP, but life always throws a wrench into well-laid plans.

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Well then, there's only so much you can take on. Will just have to shut it and stick to nourishing these few that you've commited. APE sponsor deal still on.

I should have just load that 2000HBD into the deposit so can you use 400 a month on all these expenses 🀣 too bad, they're now HP delegated for curation use.

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Far too generous bro, but this offer of kindness and support is beyond words, you're better to us than most family members, but let's that keep that an ASEAN Hive secret, and that will be easy because none of them read my blog.

We are probably less than two months away from listing the cabin on Airbnb, and this will be the gamechanger we need to become more stable. If worse comes to worse, I can always power down, and I have done a few small ones these last several months. The @asean.hive HP is above 5,000 now, and it's safe to say you are responsible for at least 50% of that.

If it was necessary, I'm the community would have no objections to powering down a bit each month for fuel costs to help the village kids. As I've already said though, I still dream of an ASEAN Hive Summit though, and I hope to retrofit our place to host all these potential future visitors.

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