Thursday, 18 September 2014

Discovery- 3 things I only just found I can get at the local market

I usually get some food etc at the local market and some at the supermarket. For example most of our meat, veg, fruit etc we can get at the market but if I want to buy foreign things like oats or wholegrain pasta I need to go to a shop.

I recently saw this cinnamon packet in a shop and asked Soeun about the khmer name for cinnamon. I hadn't heard of it used in Khmer cooking so I was surprised to see this was made in Cambodia. Soeun said when he was little he heard people talking about "sweet wood" used in medicine. THen i remebered when i was in CHina i used to buy cinnamon from the chemist.

For some reason I alwyas thought I had to buy cooking foil at the market, I guess I haven't seen khmer use it much, but recently I got some at the market after ages trying to explain what it was- like paper but made of metal.. "oh you want to cook fish"" no i ddon't want to cook fish but i said yes anyway and the seller handed me the foil!

And the other thing is cheese cloth, well thats what I call it. PPl use it cover dishes and food, and wipe dishes and maybe strain food too.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

hey, don't push in! and why are you standing so close to me?

Choosing foreign food from the shelves as I walked up and down the straight aisles. The smooth floor, air con, fixed prices, food in packets, the lack of chaos and heat and noise lulled me into a false sense of security. I was surprised to find myself getting annoyed when I went to pay.

The process of choosing what I want to buy had been so much like it would be in Aust and in the big supermarkets like Thai Hout and Lucky, I had unconsciously expected that when I went to pay I would be part of a line of people. However it turned out to be claustrophobic huddle like at the market.

I don't think it bothers me at the market, I know its going to be like that, having that expectation  is the difference between just going with the flow or getting irritable.

Sunday, 22 June 2014


Recently spent a few days visiting and learning about another town in Cambodia. This involved:

- eating a hamburger with a Khmer couple,
-some Cambodian curry with a Dutch/Aussie  family,
-cottage pie with a UK/Aussie (Chinese Malaysian) family
-as well as lots of coffee and bread with the Danish couple we stayed with. That was great for me but poor Soeun was starving so they brought in some white rice for him (they don't have any in their house).

Also had a visit from some of the extended family. As an Aussie I find the relationship titles on the Khmer side so amusing. For example with met a 3 year old boy who is our baby's "nephew" and our "grandchild".

Our baby enjoyed the company/ entertainment of the 4 half Aussie kids we spent time with, as well as his Cambodian nephew.

Our trip there was an adventure, one good thing was the TV was broken.

 When we got there we found that all the expats pretty much only go on the expensive safe bus which costs almost 3 times as much. I didn't realise there was such a difference, but we were happy to go back on a bus with brakes that worked, had 2 drivers on board, had leg room (no need to squash in sideways), suspension (bumps become kind of fun rather than painful), and it was really clean and they gave a water and a snack!! And the places they stopped had toilets with hand washing facilities and toilet paper which was a nice surprise, although the food was more expensive, some meals were $4.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A funeral

We were having breakfast just over a week ago and Soeun told me that one of our neighbours had either just died or was about too. He knew because he could hear the monks beginning to chant. He didn't know who or why but the whole neighbourhood knows when there is a death.

I find it weird that even though we may not know the family we know straight away that this is happening. Whereas Soeun finds it weird that we know nothing else about people who live less than 100 metres from us.

Later that day a huge tent was set up in the street with tables, and another tent outside our house for the kitchen. The noise of music, monks and cooking continued for a few days, often starting around 4 or 5am.

Soeun heard that it was a grandma who had died, and he heard the announcment about when they were taking the body to the place where they burn them. It just sounded like noise to me, constant clanging and babbling. Soeun spent his pre-school years with his grandpa who was a religious leader, he often went to death beds to chant, and Soeun went with him.

It was a relief to me when I saw a vehicle like this the one in the photo coming down our street. It was to take the body away and the 2 tents packed up on the same day. No more noise!
Photo thanks
Well.... no more noise until they set it all up again for the 7 day ceremony. The kitchen was right under our window, so we had fishy smells in our room, as well as early more putting-up- and - taking- down tent noise.

Similar things happen for weddings and one year old parties around here.

Saturday, 7 June 2014


I breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday.

7 of the previous 11 days we had workmen in our house, plus Soeun had been sick. It meant that some days we had to stay home when we had planned to go out, and some days go out when we had planned to stay home.  Most of our regular weekly activities went out the window, along with some one-off special things we were looking forward.

Some days we had to stay home and let in the workmen, who sometimes turned up on the day they said they would. Some days we had to go out as there was no where safe for the baby to play or because we felt it was wise to go to the doctor, with Soeun's headache getting worse each day. And mostly we didn't know ahead of time- the workmen would come unexpectedly or not turn up when we thought they would, and with Soeun health we kept thinking he might be getting better so no need to go to the doctor.

They fixed heaps of stuff that we had been waiting for ages to fix eg plumbing issues we noticed 6 months ago that would have been there the whole time. We are the first people to live in the house, its new, so its not like these leaks happened with the wear and tear of time, the shower drains were just never hooked together and sealed, so the shower water was seeping into walls and ceilings. Fixing that only took a day, but then they had to deal with the 18 months of water damage that had caused - sanding and painting.

Also the upstairs electricity has always had issues. It keeps turning itself off , I think thats a safety feature. We have had people into look at it before but the issues are ongoing, and these guys also couldn't find anything wrong with it. But then, because they were here for so long they got to see what happens when its on (I think one of them got an electric shock).

They also fixed a leaky toilet, that only took a few minutes, but the leaky roof ended up taking a few days.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

"Why are you wearing socks?"
"Its hot"

Its been so hot and sticky lately, well I  guess it mostly is that way here. I pretty much wear the same all year round:  t-shirts and open shoes (usually thongs, or flip flops as most English speakers call them, or slippers if you are from Singapore etc). So different to when I was growing up, winter clothes, summer clothes etc.

unexpected eventful day

I thought I was going to be home with just the baby today. Saturdays and Thursdays are days of the week I can be home all day and no else comes over. On Saturdays Soeun is often out all day until after dark. But today.....

...his headache got heaps stronger, he's had it since Thursday. And last night he had some funny episode where he suddenly felt really weird, a bit like after he got bitten by a scorpion. So this morning when his pain was increasing, it scared us and reminded us of the 2 years we were in Aust recently. We actually talked about going to see the doctor, and Soeun is really sick of going to hospitals, so must be pretty serious  He had been taking parra, but then this morning I went and got something stronger and that seemed to help for today. Still pain, but not so intense.

So because of that we asked 2 younger sisters/aunties to come over to help out. They had breakfast at our place, they arrived while I was out going from chemist to chemist looking for painkillers.

And then 3 tradesman turned up. They came last Saturday, and then for 10 hours last Sunday and a few hours on Monday. I had thought it was all done so we were surprised to see them. I thought they were just checking their work. But they ended up staying all day, needed to do more stuff on the roof and also sanding and painting inside. So it was noisy and dusty! (still need to come back again)

Quite a contrast to how I thought the day would go.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Endless summer.....

So it feels a bit like its almost summer now (May) as the Americans around me, (esp ones with school kids, or who work at schools ) are getting ready for the long school holidays ("The Summer" as they seem to call it), many of them going  to visit  Nth America for June/July where it is actually summer.

And the last few months (March- April) are the hottest in Cambodia, and where I come from we call the hottest time of year summer.

And before that was Feb, and I went to visit my parents and siblings, which is something I would usually only ever do in summer.

And before that was Dec/Jan when it is summer in Aust, and while not very hot here, still warm. Also, that's when Christmas is so that made it feel summery.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Which goes with which?

1. gecko poo, cockroach, pumpkin

2. alcohol, building materials, hygiene products

3. Khmer, Nth American, Korean

4. roof, plumbing, electricity

a) common things advertised on TV
b) things that need to be fixed in our house
c) things the baby has eaten recently
d) people we see in a normal month

Friday, 25 April 2014

Triple surprise!

This afternoon our friends (an expat mum and baby) from down the road walked through our gate, when Baby saw them he made a noise and face like he was happily surprised. He seemed like he recognised them! The other baby did similar.
I was so surprised, I have never seen/heard him do that before, and I didn't know he would recognise them.
Just then Soeun noticed some orange flowers near our gate. He was surprised to see the blooms as there was no soil in the pot He had chucked a whole heap of bulbs in there ages ago after digging them up to use the soil for herbs.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

bus trip

We took a bus trip to the province a week before Khmer new year and the bus was this crowded! Wholesale boxes of cigarettes down the aisle plus huge bags of stuff, no room under the bus to put our stuff. And seems the tickets and seats didn't match up, i got baby and me settled in what we thought was our seat but then was told to move. Two girls thought it was their seat as their seat numbers were above it, but our seat numbers were too. When others got on they told me i was sitting in their seat....

Monday, 14 April 2014

Diarrhea, dizziness and lots of fruit! SOme of the things we brought back from out New Year visit to the family in the village. This week is actually new year, but we went early to avoid overpricing and overcrowding (Baby's first bus trip!) It always takes awhile to recover so this week is staycation. Nice to be at home with no one visiting, we think the baby is more healthy, not sure.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Surviving hot season

- Rise before the sun
-Lots of cold showers/ bath/ hose downs (if your tap water isn't stored up in the sun!)
-Embrace the mango
-Don't be 30-something weeks pregnant
-Lots of cold showers/ bath/ hose downs
- Get fly screens on the windows so you can get some air flow at night without too many mossies.
- Keep fans, lights, devices charged
-Lots of cold showers/ bath/ hose downs
-Don't be a mad dog or English man

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Returning to Cambodia in HOT season

... so far hasn't been too bad. Last hot season was really hard but so far (just a few days) its a it easier.  One good thing is we have power all day and night! another is I'm not pregnant so don't feel so hot! and we got a pool. It says to set it up in a sunny place, but as you can see we put it in the only bit of outside shade we have.

As always there are lots of changes we see when we get back. SO far I've noticed there is a new school next to the baby shop on the corner, the moto park near the market moved location and got a roof! shade!! and the place i eat near the market doesn't do dishes for lunch and dinner anymore. They still do pork and rice for breakfast but when I went to get dinner last night they only had fried rice or noodles. 
Its interesting that many people say Baby's skin is blacker now than when we left a  month ago. I think they are surprised as they would think of Aussies as having white skin, so why would a half AUssie baby get blacker when they went to Aus? I told them we don't have tuk tuks or motos so we tend to walk places. (Khmer friends often will go by moto even if its just a short distance). Also, as its cooler and there are footpaths and parks its nice to walk around just for fun, that part is harder to explain though. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Trip to Australia

Well, back in Cambodia after a month of visiting family in Aus! So great to take Baby to see Aussie side of family. Also made quick social visit to one supporting church as well as visiting 2 of my sisters (including a new baby and new house) and Soeun preached a couple time at a khmer church. We also did a first aid course, drank lots of yummy milk and enjoyed my parents backyard. The Baby got to sit on grass, Soeun got to eat fresh veg and herbs and I got to use a Hills Hoist.