Backpackers, tourists and travellers share some pretty funny stories when they meet. They will brag about the crazy adventure in Malaysia with some weirdo guys who plied them with free booze (wink) or the trip down the mountain in a ute through torrential rain with a drunk driver and two friends getting drunk in the back tray (double-wink) or that time they clambered over a landslide in Laos through a small village and then picked up a local bus that screamed around the mountain corners in the dark to Vang Vieng (triple-wink). But the most common stories seem to be those that involve toilets, bowel movements or vomit….why is that? Is it that we can share those experience and realise its not just us struggling with something? Or is it that we just love to out-gross each other?! I’d say the latter….we really are just kids when it comes down to it.
Long weekends are something Cambodian’s get to celebrate quite often. There are days off for any number of religious, political or social reasons, and as an expat here it can be a great opportunity to go visit neighbouring countries like Vietnam or Thailand without using your annual leave. For one particular long weekend here, Pchum Ben, Mick and I decided to take advantage of the 5 days off and make our way to Vietnam where we would indulge in any number of tasty foods and hang out with some friends who were going to be there. Awesome!
A good burger is hard to beat. Sometimes you just want to get your mouth around some grilled meat with beetroot, tomato and lettuce and feel that yummy comfort. But Mick and I don’t eat bread so we make our own versions – burger salads! Just as delicious but eaten with a knife and fork instead of with our hands.
Its been 6 months since Mick and I first moved to Cambodia and started working here and what a fun adventure it has been. There’s been torrential rain, protests, armed police wandering the streets, amazing food, kittens, exploring, bike rides, visitors and more. We have had challenges in our jobs, and achievements too. There’s been many fun nights with our friends, long lunches, lazy Sundays and travel planned. I could detail each and every one of these things, but I thought I would list 10 things that I am loving, and hating, about Cambodia.
Do you have any others that you might add to this list? There sure is plenty more that I would!
Mick and I generally don’t eat much Western food when we go out, much to the dismay of our friends. I find that the options for asian food are much more interesting and exciting, not to mention cheaper. And knowing how to cook Western food probably adds to that disinterest when we eat out. A lot of the “barang” restaurants here serve up food that Mick and I don’t eat either – burgers, pizza & pasta – and often its a letdown. I think in Australia we are spoilt for reasonably priced pub fare that sets you up for disappointment in other places. Shakespeare’s Hotel in Surry Hills, for example, has big generous servings of salads, grilled meats, lamb shanks and schnitzels for $12.50. You can eat a steak for $10 at some places on given nights, and you are usually rewarded with a delicious meal. Sometimes the places here serve up chewy steaks, limp salads and weird combinations of dishes.
This last week has been a controversial and unstable one for Phnom Penh. A three day demonstration organised by the CNRP plus increased police and military presence in the capital city culminated in one man dying, many injured and emergency discussions between the opposition leader (Sam Rainsey), the prime minister (Hun Sen) and the King to come to a peaceful agreement.
This blog post summarises really well what went on easier than I could so check it out for more info on what went down and was reported via social media, noting that mainstream media is controlled by the government so there was a distinct lack of information circulated using that method.
I recently posted this on our friend, Jimmy (from Jimmy Eats World) blog to help enlighten his peeps to the challenges of cooking in Asia, and the awesome food adventures you can have. Stove-top, rice flour pizza is amazing…but what do you think??
Cooking dinner at home here in Phnom Penh is limited to what can be cooked on the stove top. On high. Slow cooking, low cooking, oven cooking is possible with some alterations to the stove as the gas stove we cook on is pretty basic and we don’t have an oven. Some people are horrified or feel terrible for us living under such primative conditions but the reality of it is – who really wants to cook with an oven when the ambient temperature is 30 degrees?! Not me.
Mick and I have been fortunate enough to live through an election period in Cambodia. It was noisy, it was loud, it was exciting. I love election periods back home (usually) so seeing how the system worked here was very interesting. The election was held on July 28 and the month-long campaigning period leading up to it was filled with campaign parades, concerts, many many newspaper articles and rumours and gossip about each and every candidate. In that respect, it is no different to the politicking back in Australia, but the difference here is that the opposition here faces a very strong (near impossible) uphill battle to take over leadership.
Three months….yikes! It’s hard to believe that it has been 3 months already! It seems like just a short time ago that we were frantically throwing our things into boxes, eating final meals of Aussie sausages and lamb roasts and drinking the last coopers beers before getting on the plane. And yet it also seems like such a long time ago that we were saying teary goodbyes to everyone and setting off with trepidation to Cambodge…. We are now old hat’s at this. We know where to go, how to get there and what to do once we get there. We can explore the markets without screwing our noses up at the stink of dried fish and pig guts on display. We don’t turn around at every clap, honk or “LADY! SIR!” that we hear on the streets. We can even ride our bicycles down the main roads without worrying that we will get smashed by a car or motorbike.
As I previously mentioned, we were fortunate enough to have a stray cat take a liking to our place and have her kittens in in about 6 weeks ago. We lost one of the kittens to an AWFUL MONSTER (tom cat) but the other four grew, and grew, and grew! They have been the source of much enjoyment and frustration (they are learning how fun it is to claw their way up your legs for a cuddle) and I will be sad to see them go, but pleased too. I’ve always been a massive fan of cats and kittens, but I much prefer cats. Kittens are hard work!