Going to the Province for Khmer New Year

13925359731_457028e4a6_bKhmer New Year is a big deal. It’s like Cambodia’s version of Christmas, New Year and Easter holidays combined with more food and more parties. Seriously. Khmer New Year (or Chaul Chnam Thmey) aligns with Songkran in Laos & Thailand  along with Thingyan in Burma which means that travel at this time is expensive, difficult and exciting too. We got stuck once in Thailand when we tried to travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok at the end of Songkran and ended up on a horribly stinky (thanks to an overflowing & blocked toilet) and over-stuffed tourist bus. NEVER AGAIN.

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Cycling in Battambang

Making fresh rice noodles

Extruding the rice mash in to hot water to make fresh rice noodles.

As Khmer New Year (KNY) fast approached it became quite clear from speaking with people who suggested Phnom Penh would be quiet during the festivities. Not wanting to miss out on what KNY is all about we decided to make the trip to Battambang and Svey Sisophon in North Western Cambodia .

First up was Battambang. We were travelling with our friend and fellow volunteer Bron; who suggested we do a bicycle tour through the countryside and naturally we all leapt at the idea. We decided to go with Butterfly Tours, who are quite new to the business. Our guides were two young Khmer guys who seemed really switched on about their business, how to look after tourists and how to show off their beautiful country.

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End of an Era…soon

Today marks exactly 1 year since Mick and I embarked on this journey to Cambodia. Its been one whole year!?! EEEK! It sure doesn’t feel like it! It seems like it was just yesterday that we were living in our apartment in Camperdown, working in the city, spending our weekends with friends and family, exploring Marrickville and eating at the fish markets.

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Kep: the Crab Capital of Cambodia

When thinking about what represents Cambodia, seafood doesn’t often top the list. Angkor Wat, tuk tuks, dusty roads, amok, Siem Reap, Khmer Rouge, poverty, orphanages are probably what most people think of. But the seafood on offer, especially down in the southern region of Kep is sensational, particularly for those who are willing to get their hands dirty with crab, prawns or clams.

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Recipe: Stuffed Squid

One of the excellent things about being in Cambodia and living opposite a local market is the access to super fresh food every day. On any day I can wander across the road in the morning, collect any ingredients I might want for the day or evening meal, hand over a small amount of cash and go on my merry way. I will definitely miss this aspect of Cambodia when we leave!

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Olympic Stadium Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is sadly devoid of the leafy parks, sports fields and open areas that we are so used to back home. The main park areas near the Independence Monument, Vietnam Monument, Wat Phnom, Royal Palace and Riverside are surrounded by busy roads which makes exercise and picnic-ing not the nicest experiences.  Koh Pich (Diamond Island) is another local haunt of open areas that unfortunately is also devoid of trees so is really just a concrete jungle.

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Cambodia – Still developing

RobertoSerrini

Director Roberto Serrini created an incredibly moving piece of footage about Cambodia that was taken using a GoPro and a DJI Phantom drone. The resulting piece of work is a beautiful collection of people, farmland, homes and communities that show what Cambodia is like beyond the confines of the tourist spots of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Check it out here.

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9 Month in the Penh

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALife in general is coming along really well here, despite some of the political and social instability that has been going on the past few months. This has had some impact on our lives but not anything that is cause for concern! We are now used to the razor-wire barricades that are still around the city, and the guys with AK-47’s under their arms don’t even register any more…That makes Cambodia sound like a bit of a police state or war zone, but it is far far from that! We just happen to live in a country with a paranoid (and weathly) ruler who likes to show his “strengths” through intimidation…oh the fun!

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Review: Yeon Ga Korean Restaurant

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKorean food is something that I have come to really enjoy of late, which is funny considering Sydney is a bit of a hub of Korean food activity not Phnom Penh! But despite this, Mick and I live just around the corner from our own little “Korea-town” on Sotheros Blvd. Amongst the massage parlors, karaoke bars and hotels, there are some absolute gems such as Yeon Ga.

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Review: Sofitel Phokeethra Christmas Brunch

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This Christmas, Mick and I decided to take the bull by its horns and splurge on a feast at the Sofitel Phokeethra in Phnom Penh. We wanted to experience a buffet of international standard, drink as much wine as we could fit in our bellies and have a grand old time with our friends while we were away from our families. This was an excellent choice!

Christmas in Cambodia is not a big deal, unless you go to visit expat shops such as the local supermarket, gourmet shops or gift places. The rest of the country runs as normal as this Christian celebration isn’t anything to talk about. The expat sector is well catered for though with tinsel and trees and shortbread and ferrero rocher chocolates available at inflated prices in your shopping malls and supermarkets. Some places are getting into the spirit however with apartment buildings featuring giant snow-globes with santa and his sleigh inside, christmas lights adorning tuk-tuks and beer company banners with santa hats on street corners.

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