When praying mantis aliens tell you to quit your job and become a soothsayer, sometimes you follow their orders. At least that’s what one woman here in Phnom Penh did earlier this year. Eileen, who declined to give her full name in case her mom found out about her drastic career change, was working in international development in Cambodia but now sits in a colorful stall in one of Phnom Penh’s teeming markets. Her fortune-telling services have proven popular with locals who have dubbed her “Kru Khmer Barang”—the Western shaman.
After a storm destroyed their home, Tha Sophat's parents left their native Cambodia to seek work in Thailand. Tha Sophat stayed with his grandfather, a farmer who struggled to keep the boy healthy. One day, the grandfather found little Tha clinging to the udder of a cow. The motherless 1-year-old was suckling.