Sunday, 23 November 2014

Signs December is on the way... Aussie facebook friends (In Australia) keep mentioning hot weather, as does the newspaper Canadian and Swiss friends  (who live in Cambodia) are discussing how glad they are to be missing the cold grey blizzardy weather Khmer neighbours are dressing their kids in their warmest clothes, its getting cold here, I think it got down to 26 deg

...meanwhile I'm feeling relief that its the one time of year when its not too hot

Sunday, 16 November 2014


Often rubbish is just put out on the side of the road in plastic bags or piles. People and animals can be seen poking through it. In the past I've heard of people buying a rubbish bin to put their rubbish in, only to have it taken away as the collectors assume its part of the rubbish.

Its been nice these past 2 years to live in an area where a lot of people put their rubbish in a basket or bucket. The rubbish truck comes and the collectors empty the rubbish into the truck and leave the basket/bucket on the side of the road!

Still the dogs get into the bins and spread rubbish around occasionally. It can be pretty gross to come home and have to step over the dirty nappies to get inside!

And then last week our basket disappeared...I think the collectors dropped it in the wrong place, I walked around and saw some that may have been ours but not sure. So we have a new one now, but there were a few days when we just piled our rubbish up at our gate.

Monday, 10 November 2014

An old list

This is from around 2012, it was on the bottom of the blog but I'm getting rid of it now as its out of date....

# of pieces of furniture we own: 0 (apart from the beanbag and hammock we were given)
# of suitcases we have: 5 (plus a 70 litre backpack)
#of places that are currently home: 4 and 2 halves
#of languages my husband is familiar with: 4 dead, 5 living
#of places our siblings currently live: 6 different towns

#of addresses I’ve had in last 13 years: about 9? Depends how you count

Young peoples group take a trip

When friends came for dinner on Wednesday Soeun was not home but there were about 5 extra motorbikes at our house.

He had left that morning at 5am with a bunch of young people from church.  They had all stayed over the night before so they could leave on the bus, needing an early start as they were headed for a far away province.

My friends asked me what they would be doing on the trip.
 "Nothing." I said.
I was jokingly corrected, "Oh thats called a 'retreat'. If you call it a retreat it sounds more spiritual."

Well, they finally got back on Saturday night, one day late as they were having so much fun. I've been looking through the photos on our camera to see what this nothing/retreat was about.

It was a very photographed trip, as everyone had a camera on their phone. While they were away I saw some selfies pop up on facebook, and then on our camera there are photos of the selfies being taken....

Some of the activities  included....

....fellowship with the youth at the local church

....killing chickens at 9pm at night in order to pack lunch for the next day, I think they had to leave at 5am for a day trip

....visiting ancient temples (spot the random French person!)

....swimming under a waterfall

 ....taking photos
Unable receive the GPS information
....and taking photos of people taking photos

It was amusing to me to hear that there were 22 phones being charged plus 2 other devices. Amused partly because the house isn't connected to mains power, and partly because there were less than 22 people. NB, there was only one toilet- 22 phones and 1 toilet, doesn't add up for me.

Recently solar panels have started getting cheap enough to buy. I don't know what all the city youth would have done without it.  I'm not sure how many power boards and extension cords were used! A tangled web on a wooden floor.

They arrived home tired and happy on Saturday afternoon. Soeun then had to get ready to preach the next morning,

Royalty, rowers and revelry

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Savour every last moment or start detaching?

Recently an American family left Cambodia for good. The mother described their plans for their last week and it was interesting to see 2 of her children's were doing opposite things. Their school had an overnight trip and one child decided to go and the other decided not to go.

We're leaving Phnom Penh soon and I find myself swinging between the 2 of these. On one hand I feel like I should spend as much time as I can outside with the people on our street as there is not much time left. On the other, I feel like what is the point of putting more effort into these relationship when we will have to say goodbye soon.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Province/city culture difference

Earlier I was just blogging about how my city friends have warned me life will be hard if we move to the province, and I was thinking about how there will be many lifestyle changes to try to adjust too. (See "3 warnings").  There is already, just living in Phnom Penh, but outside the major towns its even more different.

An example of this came up this afternoon. There are a group of young people (Khmer) from the city who have gone to spend a few days in the province. They planned to have a program with the youth at the local church at 4pm..... but no one turned up until 6pm.....2 hours late......

Even Khmer people have these annoying culture difference events, so imagine the foreigner!

How to host the perfect Water Festival dinner party

(or a description of what happened tonight)

0. Wait until your husband is away.

1. Have a Khmer friend over in the afternoon to put the rice on, she and her kids all wearing red tops.

2. Have one family bring over the curry, Water Festival snack for dessert, drink etc, whole family wearing pink/orangey/yellow type colour tops

3. Have another family bring watermelon cut to look like Christmas trees or fish. This family all wearing green tops.

4. Arrange the tables in front of the TV (to watch the coverage of the Water Festival, boats races, floating lights, marks when the river runs backwards- strange but true)

6. Have the token Cambodian prepare ombok (rice flakes eaten at Water Festival) with banana and coconut in a way that you haven't eaten before even though you have been in Cambodia for about 5 proper Water Festivals.

7. Get one of the guests to sweep and mop the floor after dinner.

8. Store left over watermelon and freshly got coconut juice in the fridge ready for playgroup tomorrow

9. Have a guest take cute photo of all the one year olds sitting on the stairs.

From the newspaper, Festival kindles painful memories (of 2010 stampede)

Away and racing

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

3 warnings

"Your skin will go black if you live in the province, " she warned me.

Last week I made my  neighbours laugh by having the same conversation I've been having with Asians friends for the last 10 years. I still remember when I discovered that Asians generally prefer white skin, over the tanned look that is often considered beautiful in my own culture.

“Teacher, your face is white.”
In my first few months in China I felt kind of offended to hear this. Was she saying I looked sick? Or like a ghost?
(Skin colour is more beautiful on the other side of the fence) 2003

My friend across the road here in Phnom Penh knows we are thinking of living in a remote province one day, she doesn't think its a good idea. She gave me the warning about my skin turning black as if it was something really bad.

 It just sounded funny to me I almost laughed. And she and her "younger sister" did laugh when I told them some people in Aus who have white skin try to make it darker.

First 3 weeks I mostly saw Soeun holding the baby, so in contrast the baby looked white, but then my Aussie friend with beautiful skin arrived and suddenly my baby was brown!

The other 2 warnings:

Another neighbour used to work in the province in question (development/aid kind of work), he also warned me:

"It was hard for me to find food and live there, and I'm a local, so it will be harder for you."

And my closest Christian Khmer girl friend also knows it will be hard.

"Life is easier in Phnom Penh and there are more schools for your kids."

Soon we will be moving out of the capital city, but to live near the remote (altho fast changing) province, not actually living away from doctors, mains power etc just yet.

If we do live out in a  village there will be lots of lifestyle changes for me to get used to, I think it will be pretty hard. But at this point in time the thing that sounds hardest to me is being away from medical care, just being in PP is already a bit scary for an Aus (I went all the way to Thailand to give birth), so being outside the big town is another step.

Also it will mean homeschooling, which previously I only had heard negative things about, but since joining playgroups I've met a few homeschooling mums (or "moms" I should say) so now feeling a bit more open to that idea.
There is no need to learn the phrase "Where is the toilet?" It can be anywhere. So much freedom in Cambodia

Monday, 3 November 2014

Watery week

Its pretty much the end of rainy season here, in fact i thought it was over but this morning there was a storm and the city became very watery!

Later this week is a holiday, Water Festival we call it in English. It hasn't been held properly since the stampede in 2010. Its a huge national boat race week to mark when the river runs backwards, usually many ppl from all over the country come to PP, so its really crowded. Perhaps like Tamworth during January but more extreme as Cambodians generally more packed in than AUssies anyway.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

October photos

Afternoon fun- I often see motos or bikes around with a string of roller blading kids attached to the back!

When we left Cambodia a few years ago they were just starting to fill in a lake in the middle of Phnom Penh. Its been very weird coming back and finding this vast space in the middle of the city. If I want to get into town I can ride my bike through it. Such a different view of the city to before, the mosque i used to live near by I can now see at the same time as the big government buildings on one of the main roads. They used to feel so far apart. And now there a few sky scrapers as well, which is another different thing.

Here is one of the roads in the filled in lake- or the refilled lake?

Monday, 20 October 2014


Our neighbourhood had a paved area, in the late afternoon many kids come out to play. We often share balls and trikes. Today there were some people playing a game where you had to jump over an elastic. There are a few hundred houses who share this space so we haven't gotten to know everyone, there are often people we play with who we haven't seen before. But there are also some families who we see many times each week, including a family opposite us who have a 3 yo and a girl the same age as our toddler.

It s so nice to have this space, in Phnom Penh its hard to find a place to hang out out side as most of the surfaces are covered in either buildings, ppl selling things or rubbish. Also its mostly too hot. Our neighbours mostly bring their kids out around 5-6pm. Most of the day this area is deserted but around that time its a colourful chaos of prams, roller blades, scooters, balls, pet dogs and even a monkey!

There are also a group of older women who do laps, walking around the outside doing exercise. I only recently realised our toddler put his hands together in a formal Khmer greeting (prayer hands) when he sees the "grandmas". They have been greeting him almost his whole life, and they all know his name.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

oops i guess we had a communication breakdown

When I invite other English speaking expats and their kids over to play in our wading pool, I know how to say it, they know what I mean. Recently I tried to invite some neighbours over, I thought they got what I meant, and the kids and been over to swim before so I didn't think it would be that complicated. But when they turned up, they didn't get in the pool with our toddler. I found out later they had just had a bath and were not allowed to get wet! Last time they swam at our place it was a holiday, and it was with their mum, but this time their mum was at work.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

I used to laugh...

Yesterday I got a lift home from playgroup in a friends car. She is also white, and also has a toddler. We both sat in the front with our toddlers on our laps. ( It was a really short distance.) I'm used to seeing Khmer families with lots of kids in the front, including on the drivers lap, I found it amusing that there were 2 of us , both white, doing it.

When I first came to Cambodia I was told that people don't go out to things if its raining. I thought that was kind of funny. I still turned up to teach my English class when it rained, but found no students there!

And the other week it rained in the morning. It was a Sunday, the time we were normally getting ready to go to church. We decided not to go as it was raining. When you are on a moto or even a tuk tuk a lightening storm with strong wind is scary! Also the roads around church flood, and its just so much work to drive through them, esp as you can't see the potholes under the water. I've come off my bike 2 times while riding over flooded pothole streets so I'm afraid of them now.

Some people in this part of the world stick a white menthol patch to their head when they have a headache. Looks really weird and funny to me. Last week I had a headache and neck ache. I got Soeun to stick some band aid looking things on my neck, it make it feel nice! Was able to get to sleep.