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    Posted November 10, 2010 by
    Phnom Penh, Cambodia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Monopoly turns 75

    Monopoly the Phnom Penh Edition


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     aipohaku lives in Los Angeles, California, but visited Cambodia in November 2008.
    - nsaidi, CNN iReport producer

    I lived with three families during my short stay in Cambodia two years ago. This photo is taken in the home of my first host family.


    We had blackouts every now and then but I remember on my first night when the lights went out, Leeang who was nine years old, knocked on my bedroom door and handed me a lighted candle. I had my slim and tiny book light on and he was fascinated by it. "My mother is asking if you would like to come downstairs." Leeang was very friendly and welcomed me with wide eyes and a curious attitude. His sister, Kan, who was only five was very shy at first but warmed up to me in time. I left their home earlier than planned because I found another home closer to work. On my last day it was Kan that tried to stop me from leaving by placing a chair in front of the door.


    I made a good friend in Leeang's mother, Li. Some weekends we'd get up at 5 am and sneak in an early morning walk before the chaotic motos took over the streets. On other weekends she'd work overtime at the office and I'd come along to work at a spare computer. We hardly saw each other on weekdays. In addition to her office job she also rented apartment units, which she owned, above her home. Maybe it was because I had gone to college with her husband's brother that I had the privilege of living in her home rather than in the apartment.


    In the evenings she was busy looking after her tenants. Her husband was very quiet and rarely spoke but he was always listening to music after work. Loud in-your-ears-Khmer music! The kind they play on the six-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap when you're trying to sleep but can't because your ear drums are about to rupture. He loved to play music and she loved to dance.


    One afternoon I came home while the kids were playing a game and they invited me to join them. I was blown away that Leeang had designed his own version of Monopoly, the longest (a couple of hours at least) and oldest (Happy 75th anniversary!) board game I've ever played. He had gathered office supplies, hand-drawn the game board, money and trivia cards. Like his mother the landlady, he played banker and collected money. He designed the board based on his own neighborhood with the parking spaces, jail, parliament, electricity and water utility spaces, bank, railroad, and bridge.  I wondered how he came up with the idea and he explained that one of his friends from school had the "real" Monopoly board game.


    I lived with Li and her family for only six weeks but before I left I gave her son, Leeang, his own book light and "real" Monopoly board game which he adored. I should have traded for his original Phnom Penh edition.

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