Friday, 20 May 2016

so similar and so different at the same time

Last week I didn't go to Bible study as Soeun and I were both vomiting.
Then we cancelled our weekend plans because the toddler had a fever.
Then cancelled Monday because we were all recovering from that.
Then Monday night the baby got a fever, and on Tuesday night I almost went home from work when she had some other weird symptoms.

That's been the general pattern of the last few months. We keep getting sick, and keep having to change plans because of it.

In some ways it reminds me of the two years we were in Aus. We kept cancelling plans all the time due to ill health.

In other ways it is really different.

This is MUCH less stressful, although physically hard, and frustrating at least these are all short term normal health issues. The others toddlers we play with are also getting fevers randomly. People get the flu, people have tummy issues.

When in Aus we had the the physically hard side of it as well as it being so stressful. The health problems got worse and worse despite doctors visits , lifestyle changes, trying medicines etc etc. On top of that because it was hard for us and doctors to understand it was even harder for the people around us to understand which added to the strain.

I'm just realising this now, how much less stressful it is when I tell friends I can't come to events because we are vomiting and/or have fevers etc. Its easy for them to get it, as they have probably had it themselves. Sooo different to our life in 2011-2012..

Nevermind the fact that we were going through all that at the same time as living back in Aus after a number of years in Cambodia....

Saturday, 14 May 2016

tail end of hot season

These days one of us is out almost each night while the other looks after the kids, it feel exhausting at the best of times but with power cuts and sickness added in, its even more exciting.

Early this week I left  for work feeling hot and tired and gross. I often feel like that in the afternoon, esp on a hot day with no power as this one was. It was extra hard to leave as the babysitter who has just started working for us just messaged to say she was sick and not coming. Soeun was staying home anyway, so it was ok, but he was hoping to get some lesson prep done, and have help with the kids while he cooked dinner. No power, no babysitter, erk!

Anyway, by the time I got home I was feeling worse. Soeun had had a hard afternoon and evening with the kids and when I finally got home it got even harder- they were still awake and then I started vomiting... I had started the day feeling gross and it only got worse....and then Soeun was vomiting too. It was a really yucky evening, with the kids still awake, the power on but not enough to run the air con ... both parents sick while the kids still energetic and awake late at night!

Thankfully it was short lived. Two days later I was eating normally again, and feeling better. Just in time as now the toddler is sick. He had a high temperature yesterday, so we had an eventful night, including a few hours with no power just as I was trying to make dinner.

Soeun is busy with an old family friends wedding. He considered not going because of all the sickness and power cuts this week, but we already missed an important wedding a couple of months ago so we didn't want him to miss this one too.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

our next trip to aus...????

Its been longer than we would have liked since our last trip to visit friends, supporters, churches in NSW. The last few years we have had so many big changes we haven't really had a chance, we always seem to be moving to a new town or having a baby.

This time last year we were hoping to make a quick trip but it didn't work out. At some stage we'd like to make another trip like this one : click here for Aust trip 2010. "Exhausting but good..." to quote myself.... see below below for full quotes.

These kind of trips are usually both very exciting and very hard. This time around if feels a bit harder as it will be the first time we do it with chronic illness and kids, and also because of the way we left there is a bit of a mental hurdle. It was hard the whole time we were there (almost 2 years) but we kept trying to make it better/hoping it would get better. In the end we had to leave in desperation/ exhaustion.

From our 2010 trip:

"Over the last 6 weeks I've slept in about 8 different beds. 
Over the last 4 weeks we've done the watering can presentation about 22 times. 
We've seen lots of people we haven't seen for 3.5 years, others I haven't seen for about 8 years. 
Some friends and family we saw for the last time in X amount of time as we all live overseas. 
It's been our first winter in 5 years.
Lots of meetings and lots of people helping us. 
Exhausting time but it's been good to try to get things set up for next year."

"Well my brain is quite full at the moment. Being new in the country it takes ages just to do basic stuff, and I feel tired and overwhelmed. But its also exciting to see people, and there are so many interesting things to look at. I keep running into people when I'm walking down the street because I'm too busy staring at everything. And maybe because people here walk on the wrong side of the foot path. I'm enjoying the foot paths, thats something I miss when in Cambodia. Each day here I feel like I'm trying to organise what I'm doing today and trying to think about what I need to do do get ready for next week as well.
I'm feeling much better than I was earlier on. The first few days always seem to be horrible. "

Monday, 2 May 2016


Our 2nd KNY in SR. So different from April anywhere. Stars decorate the town and there is heaps of stuff on, although I still have not been to anything (its hot, don't really have transport). We usually just get together with family. My mother in law couldn't make it this year because of the drought.
My bil came tho, and I was surprised when he was listening to our neighbours.  It was the first time he'd seen the ceremony where you splash water on your old people. It was my first time to hear it last year, but its familiar to Soeun.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

hot season so far...

Can you see the man in the tree? Our landlords hire a guy to climb up and harvest the big bunches of coconuts from this tree in our front yard. The last harvest day happily coincided with our friends visit. The kids enjoyed watching the man climb up the long palm trunk and lower down the bunches.

Mostly the last month and a half has been hot and hard, most of the time at least one of us has been sick (at one point we ALL had the flu at the same time) and its a constant battle to try to keep good sleep and eating habits. Mostly it feels like we get nothing done in a day, except surviving.

Sunday, 28 February 2016


The cool season has said goodbye and soon it will be the hottest time of the year! 

Talking about how we might change our habits and move furniture to cope with it. I realised I don't need to stop taking the kids for walks, we just need to get out earlier. It normally takes me about 4 hours to get ready to go out, but for a quick  prebreakfast walk I've started just strapping the baby on and finding shoes for the toddler and I.  Its so nice to be out in the cool air with the sunshine and trees, hopefully we can make this a habit throughout the hottest weeks, as most of the day we'll be inside.

A breakfast of pork and rice out on our corner only cost about 75 cents, so we'll probably do that often over the next few months.

The toy fire truck came on our walk this morning. And the toddler carried his breakfast home, he wasn't really into eating when there was so much to look at.

Grilled pork with rice- and egg and pickled veg and soup and iced tea

They say the more papers under the table the better the food at the rice eating place.

And after hot season we will be saying goodbye to friends.  The expat community is like that, lots of goodbyes esp at the end of the school year (which is around June). There are at least 2 families who we've been meeting for playdates leaving Cambodia in May. Then a few others will leave in June/July. Some leaving Cambodia, some just away for summer holiday or to have a baby.

Even though we don't teach or go to school my week is with others who do, so in June there will be lots of changes to our normal activities.

Monday, 22 February 2016

one year in this tourist town

In some ways living in Siem Reap isn't pretty similar to living in Phnom Penh, in other ways there are some really unique things.

I've been enjoying getting to know the expat community here, its seems smaller and more connected than in PP. Or maybe its because of Facebook, or maybe because I started off knowing a few people from when they lived in PP, or maybe its because I have kids now. Or maybe because I shop at supermarkets more now.

Within a few months I was running into people I knew everywhere; the doctor, the travel agent, the supermarket etc etc. The other day I was buying eggs and the toddler started pointing and saying the name of one of the other toddlers he plays with. It turned out our friends were just a few metres away talking to our waiting tuk tuk driver who also happened to be their old friend.

The temples bring millions of tourist here so many people work in tourism. Church members are tuk tuk drivers, work in guesthouses and restaurants.

Some things have 3 different prices. I'm used to one price for Khmer and a higher price for foreigners, but in SR we have a 3rd price. An even higher one for tourists. (Or more generally good and services tourist are more likely to use are priced much higher than I would expect.) In some ways the tourist industry seems like one big scam.

front door

there's good and bad things about our new front door

the main bad thing is that even though its a nice fancy new door which cost our landlords a lot, they installed it the opposite way to the double screen door which means i can only just fit through the gap if i'm holding the baby (unless i bend down and up to unbolt both sides which is a hassle to do if you are just quickly coming or going)

on the plus side
-people can't see in
-i can open and close it with one hand, which is really handy when you have a baby and tiles on the floor, i used to need two hand to do the lock and then all my body weight to push open the rusty metal grill thingy
-i think rats and scorpions will find it hard to get in
-i can lock it and go to bed, then soeun can come home and unlock it from the outside (instead of a padlock we put on either the outside or the inside depending on if we were in or out)
-people can't tell if we are in or out by looking at the door
-we have heaps more space inside because we don't need to have the clothes horses in front of the door for privacy and protection , so it feels more spacious and safer (the clothes horse almost fell on the baby once)
-also safer as we can get out faster in case of fire, it used to be that we had to move the clothes horse, then find the key, then open the screen door, then unlock the padlock, then struggle with the heavy metal grill thing, its easier now that im not pregnant but still hard as you need both arms

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Cool season walks, More friend time, some odd cold snaps, some church outing

With one strapped to my front and the other in the stroller I ve been trying to entertain the kids and make the most of cool season at the same time. Walking is  not really a thing here but we ve managed to enjoy it over the last few months. Today there was some crying coming from the stroller because of the heat, so the days are numbered.

In recent weeks we've been excited to start meeting more often with toddler friends. In particular Ive been getting to know two other "barang" mums with Khmer partners who also have young kids. 
During the tail end of cool season we had 2 really odd cold snaps. Temps went down really fast and a long way for a few days. It was sometimes 15 C at breakfast time! (it didn't actually snow but it was such a dramatic weird event this 12 year old photo reappeared)

It seems the toddler needs more and more social interactions with other kids, but our old playgroup now meets in the afternoons and we struggle to get out regularly at that time.  The Khmer kids who he was playing with a lot when we just got back from Aus are back at school now. So its been great to find some friends who can come to our place or meet us in the morning. We also started the toddler at a day care centre type place, hopefully he'll be able to enjoy playing there too. And baby ballet class! 

Church goes to a village about once a month, and this time the toddler went overnight for the first time.  He had so much fun. And again when he tagged a long with church when they went to the lake.
On the Tonlesap Lake

Potato and lime printing at home

village church

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