My dear Kacvey,

Your reminding me about the blog which is supposed to be only about Cambodia is well taken. But let me then ask you this question: Have you ever noted how many Khmers celebrate the Chinese New Year (春节) and observe the Qing Ming (清明)? Phnom Penh is a ghost town on the former occasion, and the traffic on all highways are a nightmare on the latter!

Could you then entertain some of the above mentioned people with whom you acquaint with this story  – extracted from “Tales from five thousand years of Chinese History” (上下五千年) – that took place during the Jin (晋) dynasty (265-315 AD) in the capital city of Luoyang (洛阳), but after the end of The Three Kingdoms (三国) in 280 AD.

In 279 AD, after defeating the Wu (吴) army in Jianye  (建业) (today’s Nanjing 南京), Emperor Wu of Jin (晋武帝) unified the country. In the imperial court, there were 3 richest men: Yang Xiu (羊琇), Wang Kai (王恺) and Shi Chong (石崇).

Shi Chong was far richer than Yang Xiu and Wang Kai who, both, were related to the royal house by marriage and also possessed greater power than Shi Chong who was the most corrupted man in the realm. Shi  Chong was so rich that, upon his arrival in Luoyang and desiring to put Wang Kai to shame, he instructed his culinary staff to use candles in lieu of firewood because he had heard that Wang Kai’s household used sweetwater from maltose to wash pots and pans. Thus a wealth contest began between Shi Chong and Wang Kai.

Wang Kai responded by commissioning the construction of a 12-mile long stretch of screens made of purple silk along both side of the road leading to his house. This lavish fencework created a sensation in Luoyang.

Not to be outdone, Shi Chong …

(To be continued to Part II)