Saturday, 9 January 2016

Garbage truck


Lime prints on a mostly cloudy day


 Yesterday was such lovely cool weather I di d some painting, it was meant to be fun for the toddler. His most exciting thing was using the dirty water to clean his beloved exavators.


Sunday, 3 January 2016

Language learning

Sunday morning show pile!
"I'm beautiful!" the toddler sometimes yells out when he gets out of the bath. If he were speaking Khmer it would make more sense as the word for "clean" and "beautiful" are the same.

He is learning to speak both languages, and sometimes we see that he is learning the right context for each. Before the baby was born I remember he saw Soeun riding up on the moto. He turned to me and said "Daddy!" then turned to his Cambodian grandma and said "Ba!"

The other day he fell of his bike and started laughing, but then it turned into loud cries. THe day after Grandma was remembering this and talking about what happened (in Khmer of course). He then turned to me and told the story in English, and acted his crying/laughing out.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Christmas 2015

This was one of the most Christmassy Christmases that I've had in Cambodia. After growing up in Aus where its obvious Christmas is coming weeks before Dec 25, then living in places where its not celebrated it was fun to be at home in this tourist town this year. Millions come every year to see the temples so a whole big industry to cater for this exists. So in December we took a tuktuk up and down a big road in the evening to see the lights! 

Even though Dec 25 isn't a public holiday in Cambodia, Siem Reap has lots of tourists so the big hotels have lights!
Also, as we weren't in the middle of moving house and I wasnt sick, we had a Christmas tree!! Making it was an advent activity, along with gingerbread and some other things.

Also the Khmer church normally has a huge Christmas thing, but it can be on any Sunday sometime from November to Jan, but this year Christmas fell on a Friday and the church we 're in had their Christmas on the Sunday after. It felt much more Christmassy to me to have Christmas the day after Boxing day rather than on say Jan 8th, or November 15th.

And the expat church here actually had a gathering on December 25th that we went to together!
Our Christmas tree 2015

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Everyone is so rude!

About 14 years ago I was walking along the street and people kept bumping into me. It was so annoying. The others on the short term team and similar experiences if my memory serves me correctly. I felt like everyone in the whole country we were visiting was being rude.

A long termer nodded knowingly when we shared our frustration. They explained that as we were from Australia, where people drive on the other side of the road, we also subconsciously walk on the other side of the road too.  So all the people in our host country thought we were the ones being rude?!

I try to remember this experience when I'm feeling frustrated with things in Cambodia. Sometimes it seems people are being so rude, or various other negative things that make life hard. But I keep trying to tell myself maybe they see me as rude or lacking common sense/doing something weird/doing things the wrong way/wearing weird looking clothes/ liking ugly furniture/ thinking good things are bad/ putting value on  what I see as worthless etc etc.

Sundays this year

People often ask us what its like to be in a cross cultural marriage, and mostly its hard to come up with an answer. Its just our normal. The air we breath. But maybe church is one interesting thing of note. I wrote a newsletter on this a few months ago but not sent yet.

 Soeun is a Khmer church leader, so Sundays are a big day for him, and of course he should have his family being part of the church as well. So he is really involved, preaching, music etc while for me it mostly doesn't feel like a spiritual or even social thing, but a language and culture experience. And it means I have less time and energy to go to an English language church. And even if I do its not a family thing, its just for me.  So each new place we live we have to figure out how to do it. Some years in Phnom Penh it was working when I went to a Tuesday morning English womens group and we went to church on Sunday morning together, and I sometimes made it to an English language church in the afternoon. Over the years we've tried a few other combos that haven't worked as well.

So this year..

For a few months Soeun was sort of going to both the morning and afternoon service, earlier in the year when we had just moved here. I was going to the English language church in the afternoon, I visited the morning Khmer one a few times.

Once we got  back from the having-baby-in Aus trip Soeun had worked out that he would be mainly serving at the afternoon service, so now we all go there as a family. Ive started going to the English language womens Bible study during the week, sans toddler.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

chronic sickness management

I joined some facebook groups recently for people with vestibular disorders. Its been really helpful to find others with similar struggles- perhaps our time in Aus would have been easier if we had known others then (maybe not, we might only be ready for this now).

Most have had their lives changed dramatically- they can't work full time anymore, or sometimes at all, they can't look after their kids, they can't drive. Its only diagnosed after eliminating other things, and by the pattern of symptoms so it usually takes months to work out what you have before you can even think about how to manage it.  By that time its already taken a big toll on your mental health, social life, work life etc.

And from reading what other write it seems some people have worked out their triggers, but for many it seems so random. Sometimes cheese sets it off, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the attacks come out of no where, often the buzzing and ear pressure is just always there and you have to try to live with it.

The diagnoses from a sydney doc was "vestibular migraine", but if I use that term people often assume its a headache thing (and there is a headache involved actually, but its more an ear thing).

Members discuss things like whether its useful to go to the ER at hospital if things become acute. Theres not much they can do for most ppl , and it seems many doctors aren't really aware of these disorders anyway.

People often have trouble explaining it to their family and friends, its probably the same for any invisible chronic illness (or many others things). Family often think members are making it up, or get frustrated when sufferers keep not showing up to things. They get blamed for being unreliable and/ or lazy.

It seems like there are lots of different drugs people are trying.

Thankfully SOeun's symptoms are much less debilitating in Cambodia, so he can do many things here and live almost normally. It s hard when he is a bit sick though, it becomes a bigger problems than pre march 2011. Life is still frustrating but not as bad as when in Aus.

Just a short plane ride away is Bangkok, full of doctors and hospitals. Maybe we should start seeing a doctor there to help with management or maybe that would be a waste of time and money? Its hard to know.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Carrying stuff around...

6 kg of red meat
10kg of wholemeal wheat flour
a solar panel
at least 2 kg of honey
some breakfast cereal that was on special in Aus when I was packing, it cost $2, i saw the same thing for 5USD in the supermarket in Cambodia
a loaf of saltana bread
a Christmas cake (homemade)
a bike helmet


Ironically this last trip back from Australia I actually had baggage weight to spare! It felt a bit wasteful and frustrating in some ways, given that other times I'd made the trip I'd had to get rid of so much. But it was fun to bring back some treats and useful things that are harder/more expensive to find here.

At the end of 2012 we moved back to Cambodia after 2 years in Australia. It was hard getting 2 years of life back down to 20kg. Sad to leave behind the new bed sheets we had, and pretty much all of my clothes as I was pregnant so they were going to be any use anytime soon.

It had to be 20 kg not only for the place ride back but for all the travelling in Aus on public transport I was doing before I actually got to the plane. My pregnant self had to be able to carry everything between stops and stations and on and off vehicles.

 I think I stayed in at least 3 different towns before and caught quite a few buses, planes and trains before I hauled my bag to the international airport. Somehow during that time I lost my only pair of shoes (not including thongs) I was keeping esp for the plane ride. I ended up taking my brother in laws O day freebies after an extensive search of both my sisters and my parents house. (including the wheelie bins as I was carrying things in plastic bags, could be mistaken for rubbish)

Monday, 9 November 2015

Random bits of news

We had a power cut recenlty so we got to try out our roll up solar panel with got in Aus
The bread machine broke! I asked around on facebook about getting it fixed, no luck. I tried to buy a new one but came home empty handed to find Soeun had taken it apart. When it put it back together it worked again.

Soeun recently got a bike, and we got some safety gear for it in Aus.

A meal Soeun had with the toddler and a friend, within the temple park.  
Supermarket shopping, drumming with oat tins. This particular trip was unusual asI left the baby at home. The toddler hadn't been out for awhile so I was trying to make it a fun day for him as well as shopping. He pushed the trolley around and threw things in it, this time they were things that we actually buy, rather than random things.

Near Angkor Wat, now that I'm not so tired and sick with being pregnant I've been able to ride my bike a bit when someone is looking after the kids. Its nice to live near an area with smooth road and trees- a little different from riding to work in Phnom Penh!



With a baby and a toddler the days are pretty exhausting. Although actually I feel a bit better than when I was pregnant. The toddler doesn't really like going to sleep or eating so thats a constant challenge. I was so excited to make him blue pancakes. He likes pancakes, and he likes colours so I wrongly assumed he would like blue pancakes...

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Rainy season and roads

Soeun was calling out directions to the tuk tuk driver on Sunday night, five of us were going home from church. The driver is new to the area and didn't hear all the directions so we ended up on a really bumpy road. Most roads are bumpy but this one was particularly bad, plus at this time of year its all muddy and the potholes are full of water. It was pretty scary and painful! Soeun was holding the toddler and i was holding the baby, trying to figure out the best way to hold her neck and head with all the lurches and jolts. It felt like at any moment we could end up in the water and mud.

That set the theme of conversations for the week too. Lots of expats we know teach and send their kids to a particular school that has a long muddy road, it sounds quite dangerous at this time of year! The international church is meeting there too now, and the church bus ride this last Sunday was apparently a little too interesting.
This month 2008 in Phnom Penh

You know things are bad when a tow truck needs to be towed.... from Oct 2008

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Winter in Aus

Hot season here was hot and stressful..and then we went to Aus just in time for winter! It was very cold! And it was stressful to go back to Aus after fleeing due to ill health.

But we were well looked after and the birth went well, very fast and safe. And the baby is easier to look after than we expected.

The toddler had lots of fun getting to know his Aussie relatives and enjoying Aussie things like parks with grass and play equipment.


I had fun making use of the oven. (One day we want to get a full size gas oven but they are expensive and we don't really need one at this stage.)

 In Aus I not only had the use of a full size oven but also people who like eating oven cooked things as well as the ingredients and other equipment that goes along with it. Oh and also good oven using weather.

 I made some food I've made before also quite a few new things mostly involving flour and often yeast and or butter!

Friday, 11 September 2015

First rainy season in SR

Taken from just outside our front door, our floor was covered in water last night.
Yesterday Soeun was trying to prepare for a class he will be teaching next month. The books he wanted to look at were in a cardboard packing box, in the corner, wedged in by a table and the huge wooden thing our landlord owns. On top was 2 plastic tubs of other books. It was just too much effort to get to the box, esp as we only just moved the furniture that way the other day, trying to make space for a desk so he could sit down and work.

Luckily, in the evening our floor was suddenly covered in water. It had been raining for ages and stormy. We were waiting for the power to go out. We raced to pick things up and moved the furniture so we could get to the cardboard box of books hopefully before the water soaked through.

As we were racing around the toddler was trying to help us and slipped over a few time, while the baby lay neglected in her bed crying. Once we got all the things up that needed to be up I sat down with the toddler and baby and tried to calm them down while Soeun took the water out using a dustpan (with a long handle, kind of like a spade) and then a mop and then floor maps. Then he washed the whole floor- so its really clean now!

Friday, 4 September 2015

After an Aussie winter

Back to hot weather, power cuts and no wifi.

The endless supply of wheat and dairy is over, and once again I'm feeling the frustration of not being able to find somewhere comfortable to sit.

The first little while back in Cambodia each time is hard.

Things are ordered differently here, beautified differently, hygiene is done differently.

And of course I'm tired from travel and the different time zone and weather takes awhile to get used to again. Also I didn't speak/hear Khmer for about 3 months .....

We only just moved house a few months before we went overseas, so we are still settling in here. It was not  a case of come back , unpack and get on with things. We are still moving furniture around, looking to buy a few cupboards and a bed for the toddler, rummaging around in boxes and bags to find the blender/ that book for the lesson Soeun needs to prep/  the baby things etc etc....

I miss having a bedside table to put my glasses on, and my clothes stored in a cupboard in the bedroom. At this point in time there is no spare floor space on either side of the bed and my clothes are in various places so getting changed/having a shower takes a bit of planning ahead.

And what to do with the Toddler here...?? In Aus he enjoyed visits to parks- vast spaces of grass to run on and exciting play equipment, all free! We don't really have those spaces here, there is a private playground we can visit on Saturday mornings, its cost 2 US dollars tho, and at the mall there is a small soft playroom, that cost 75 cents.
First time to fly solo with a baby

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Medical appointments , paperwork and are all the family members eating and sleeping/?? are the things ive been doing and thinking about over the last little while. All 3 of them are sleeping at different times to each other and to others in the house. They each eat different foods and at different times as well.