Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year, New Blog Design
We hope you like the recent rennovations to code brown. Inspied by 1970's kitchen design we have given the place a decidedly retro feel. Park your sunburnt orange torana out the front, step inside, I have a Marvin record playing and theres a fondue stirring on the stove. Enjoy.

The new year also brings a new job for Bec - hooray! Bec starts work on January 8 with Social Services Cambodia as a Social Work Training Advisor. It sounds like a great job and a good bunch of folks to work with so we are very excited.

Happy New Year to All.

Bec & Ben

Sunday, December 24, 2006




Saturday, December 23, 2006

Seasons Greetings
It has been a while since I (Ben) have posted. I have nothing of note to really say. Soya milk still consumes my life and I’m loving it. We wanted to wish everyone a great Christmas (or Khmer-istmas as we have come to know it here). We have low key but enjoyable festivities planned. Nic and Melissa are here and we will spend as much time as possible with them until their departure back to Aust. on boxing day (applications for new friends are still open folks). We will also be joined by Sven (who is actually Australian, not Swedish) and our good friend John.

Whilst posting I would like to say thanks to Nathan (aka Nifty, Scatronix and Monsignor) for his precious tips that have enabled full stereo recording in my home studio. The tips have been revolutionary and only required the purchase of a few small stereo plugs. This has established renewed productivity in my favorite pastime - very amateur music recording - Lifesize Order rides again. Thank you Nathan.

And while Im at it, well done with your hearty contribution to "Movember"- you grow the nastiest handle bar moustache this side of Paul Sr. (of Orange County Choppers Fame).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

All things novel...
Ah Ben and I love this time of year in gets cold! Well our definition of cold. I mean it's still warm during the day but with a nice breeze...but at's cold...really it is...last night I watched tele without the need to have a fan on - miraculous! I even put on a jumper...but that probably doesn't mean much to a lot of you back in Australia who have seen me wearing a jumper on a 30 degree celsius day. Clearly I am not the best gauge on temperature.

And speaking of novel things...I also did something crazy and out of the ordinary yesterday - ironing!! With our dear Ming being sick, Ben and I are left to fend for ourselves - shocking I know! I hear you all gasping with horror that we might actually have to clean up after ourselves. Your concern is noted and appreciated.

Anyway, yesterday I ironed Ben's shirts! I was worried I might have forgotten how...but domestic servitude is like riding a never forget.

Today, I'm trying to muster up the strength to clean the bathroom. My least favourite household chore. Maybe I should bake a cake instead?

Friday, December 15, 2006

An unwell Ming Yim
Yesterday Ming Yim had an operation on her throat, I think for a thyroid problem. So today I went to visit her in hospital. I wasn't sure initially if I would be able to go as Ben and I had been advised that the hospital may charge her more if they knew she had contact with foreigners. Crazy I know. But Ming Yim's niece assured me that it would be fine and so I got the room details from her and made a time to visit.

It was a bit of an adventure finding Ming Yim in this hospital, due to a combination of arriving at the wrong entrance, not speaking enough Khmer and all sorts of muddles. But through Ben and his excellent staff at work and their liaising with Ming Yim's daughter, I managed to find my way there.

Ming Yim was in fine form for someone who had just had an operation on her throat. She's one that loves a chat and so having tubes come out of her throat and being bandaged wasn't going to stop her. She's a stubborn thing as well, so she insisted I sit on the bed with her, well lie on the bed with her. That we eat oranges together, that we both have a sleep and that I stay for hours. She's quite good at getting her way :)

I have to say, going to the hospital was an eye-opening experience in itself, if not a little confronting. The building is quite beautiful architecturally speaking but it's not that clean...and it is very sparse. The rooms seem more like prison cells and the equipment very primitive. There is no nursing staff to speak of - all patient care is provided by the family. So who knows what happens if you don't have any. The family provides all the food and does things like changing the colostomy bags, washing the patient and being there to attend to their needs. Ming Yim's daughter looked quite tired...might have been all that bossing around by Ming.

Ming had me laughing while I was there though, as she made funny comments like; "this room isn't very nice" and "there is no television for me to watch". If I didn't know any better I'd say she was bored. We talked a lot about the trip to Siem Reap and she talked about missing Andrew and Anth...and how her sister Oum Sim cried when she saw the photo of the two of them because she's sad they went back to Australia. So I think Ben and I are being requested to visit Kampong Speu in the near future and to stay the night. I also said to Ming that we should go down to the beach one weekend and she had me just about naming the date.

I plan to go back and visit Ming again tomorrow and take some food (she really seemed to enjoy those oranges). I took her some Soy milk today (always doing what I can for Ben's business) and Ming drank one very might have to get her more of them as well.

Here's hoping she has a quick recovery as it's not nice seeing her unwell. Although I think she needs to have some surgery on her arm as well, I'm not sure why but her Doctor, who is apparently a foreigner said that he couldn't do it when he operated on her throat. So I'm not sure about all the details but hopefully it's not serious.

Ming Yim had quite the entourage with her which was nice to see. We even had a patient from next door drop by for a chat. He was an elderly man with no teeth and a lovely cherub like face. I asked Ming Yim, after he left if he was her boyfriend and got quite a playful slap.

Anyway, I hope this post finds you all well...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bangers, Burgers and Bad ideas...
It's no secret that Ben and I love Bangkok. You all may have worked that out by the frequent jaunts we make across the border and whilst we know some people see it as a sprawling concrete jungle...we see it as a haven of great food, shopping and movies...a place to indulge our Western sensibilities. So with a three day weekend at our disposal, we added in an extra day and spent 4 jam packed days in Bangkok with Nic and Meliss.

We revelled in our usual pleasures of Japanese food, markets and shopping centres but this was no relaxing break from the grind of Phnom Penh. We were on a mission...and the mission was Christmas shopping! We ambitiously imagined that we could shop for all the presents we needed and then mail them from Thailand, as it's cheaper, faster and more reliable than Cambo post. But like some good ideas...this one was not meant to be. Bugger! Why didn't we let our fingers do the walking and do all our shopping online?

Anyhoo, whilst we did manage to shop up a storm in exhausting, "I can't move my legs anymore" fashion; the postal system was where our plan fell short. You see we had Monday as a public holiday in Cambodia (Human Rights Day) and what do you know...Thailand had Monday as a public holiday too...for entirely different reasons but a holiday nonetheless (theirs was Constitution Day, which is ironic considering their constitution is presently nul and void). Anyhoo, despite information on the Thai postal website indicating that the main Post office would be open, it was closed. So there we sat, after days of shopping and after a nightmarishly fast taxi ride across town with the dawning realisation that we had no ability to mail anything. Bugger again!

However, with some quick re-packing we have managed to haul our load back to PP, to pay higher costs, for slower and more unreliable services. Aaaaah well. So if you receive a Christmas parcel from us in February...know that we tried to send it so it would arrive before Christmas. If you don't recieve a gift from us then it probably got lost or stolen in the mail. Honestly... ;)

And moving right along....

Most of you know what sophisticated people Ben and I are (why do I hear raucous laughter?). So it stands to reason that one of the first places we would go to eat in Bangkok would be Burger King...naturally. Ben, hungry for the mouth-watering and addictive taste of fast food decided to order a Triple Whopper. Huge understates the size of this burger entirely! As you stare at three beef patties piled up, one on top of the other, you begin to wonder how it is humanly possible for any person to fit this beast of a burger into their mouths. But alas Ben conquered his whopper in record time. Well ahead of the guy eating one a few tables away. However, not long after devouring the beast he fell victim to its power...experiencing cramps, nausea and general unwellness that usually comes with food poisoning. Was it the burger? Was it the oily omelets purchased on the street that morning for breakfast? Tough call...but suffice to say it wasn't pretty and our blog title sums it up. Aaah living in Asia...and eating Western fast's dangerous.

But the fun did not end here. We went to the movies! Nic and Ben saw "Casino Royale" (boring macho stuff) and Meliss and I went to the only chick flick that was playing...not to mention the only other option of an English movie aside from "Happy Feet". We daringly (stupidly?) bought the tickets for this movie without knowing anything other than it was called "Material Girls". We were of course dubious as to how good it was going to be. As we neared the cinema we saw a poster for it and discovered it starred Hilary and Haylie Duff. We became even more dubious. We entered the cinema and got sardined between a lot of Thais. The movie started and Meliss and I were cringing within minutes...but with optimism and joy at being in the cinema we persevered, believing it could only get better. It didn't. After an hour we could endure the pain no more and had to trample over quite a few Thais to get out of the cinema. After leaving, we concluded that the only way to enjoy that movie (as everyone else in the cinema seemed to be) was to have English as a second language and to not have acquired that much. Unbelievably, painfully, mind-numbingly torturous!

Speaking of bad ideas...Meliss and I were bemused if not a little concerned that balloon skirts seem to have made a come-back in Thailand. But it's not just balloon skirts, there's balloon tops, balloon shorts, balloon 3/4's madness I tell you. Now I am not without a history of balloon skirt wearing. I got into it in the 80s when I was a child with poor taste (although not that much has changed really). I teamed my white balloon skirt up with a black and white leopard print crop top and a thick elastic belt. Nice huh? Speaking of elastic belts, I saw a woman wearing one at a market in Bangkok as well...and she was high-panting it! What is going on? It seems to me that balloon skirt madness is spreading more quickly than bird flu ever could. Please tell me this hasn't happened in Australia or other parts of the world???? If you get an inkling it's on its way...alert border security and commence locking down the country.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Farewells are no fun...

This week saw us farewell Andrew and Anthea from Cambodia...while we console ourselves with the fact that it's not farewell is the end of an era of living together in the 'bodge'...things just won't be the same here anymore. There will be no more seeing Andrew wander through the house in his "special house uniform" or become hypnotised by the sight of F1 on tele, no opportunity to catch a bit of Magnum PI together before going to work (although it not being on tv anymore doesn't help that either) or competing to see who can get the Cambodian Daily or Bangkok Post crossword finished first.

Andrew and Anth have been exceptional friends to have had in Cambodia - and there is a huge gaping hole here guys, now that you have gone...although I must admit...we didn't even give your bedroom a night to miss you Andrew before Ben and I relocated all of our things in there and "zhussshed" the house as we said we true "togetherness project" style.

But back to the farewell...

Yim came to the airport to say goodbye to Andrew and Anth and it was an incredibly touching goodbye...not to mention a tear-jerker. The fondness and love she showed to both Andrew and Anth was really touching. I had quite a few more tears in the tuk tuk on the way back home just thinking about it and letting the fact that you both were actually leaving sink in. Yim was incredibly sombre but she said something that I thought was quite beautiful (although slightly cheesy)...but allow me to explain... While we were at the airport there was a huge downpour of rain...which was somewhat unusual, as right now it is not the rainy season...and the rain that fell seemed to be centralised over the airport, as when we travelled back home we noticed that none of the surrounding roads were wet. So Yim concluded that it was Cambodia's way of farewelling you both (the country shed its tears) and in Cambodian culture, it is apparently good luck if it rains when you are embarking on a journey. So there you go.

Andrew and Anth - we miss you! Hope you're having fun back in Australia!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fruit Salad
Due to umpteenth technical difficulties our blog site has not been updated as regularly as we would have liked so I’m going to post together a series of recent news and events in our parts of the universe…

Embracing technology and the Super Information Highway
It’s official…we have upped the ante in terms of communication and sold our souls to afford having internet at home. There is nothing like the sheer bliss of sitting on your own couch and surfing the net. We have embraced all manners of websites…

We have this here blog…which we will attempt to update as often as possible in our own topsy-turvy fashion.

We now have a flickr site…the address of which will be revealed in good time when we have gotten around to uploading more photos.

We are signed up for skype…so all of you out there keen to chat with us online…get on board! In the meantime we'll work on getting it to last more than 5 minutes before it drops out....

and we've....

Switched to the new blogger for the power of pictures...
For some mysterious reason unbeknownst to us, blogger would not post our photos no matter how diligently we tried. Sometimes it said that it had posted them but there was nothing there...other times the computer said "no". I can't begin to tell you the level of frustration felt but now having signed up for the new version...we are back in business. So here are some photos of our trip to Siem Reap with dear Yim that I had intended to post.

‘Allo Stranger!
Now, despite learning as a child that you should never talk to strangers, lately Ben and I have discovered that unless we do, we’ll have no friends and besides, someone can be a complete stranger one minute and the dearest of friends the next. This leads me to introduce Clare Mulvany.

Clare, up until a few Tuesday nights ago was a complete stranger to us but through the grapevine of our multitude of friends (we’re so popular - although seemingly not in Cambodia), she got in contact with Ben and I and asked if she could stay a wee while at our place. Being the hospitable people that we are we were more than willing to oblige and it is to our great fortune that we did.

Clare was a delightful and entertaining house guest, who we instantly warmed too upon meeting (No honestly Clare, we really did!). She has been travelling the world interviewing “social entrepreneurs” or people who are affecting innovative social change. Naturally Ben and I said; “Look no further than us” but with an impressive list of previous interviews, even we can see how we don’t quite make the grade...well Ben Clare did go to the Soy factory with Ben and get a guided tour.

Anyhoo, if you are interested in the book that Clare is writing and are keen to follow her on her travels, go to:

The 49th Annual Conference of Canines

Keynote Speaker: Gow

Last night Ben and I were awoken by the less than dulcet sounds of the annual conference of canines on our street. We are hoping that this conference was a one night only affair because another night of disrupted sleep will not be tolerated.

“Gow”, our landlord’s dog howled on and on and on last night. Clearly he was on his soap box and had a lot to say to the other neighbourhood dogs. I imagined him discussing the following agenda items:

1) Why do our owners never take us for a walk?
2) How come Western dogs get designer beds and doggy couture and we’re excited when we get a meal from the bin?
3) How to avoid becoming a BBQ meal at the Chinese restaurant - open discussion (I'm not intending to be racist here - this is actually an issue in Cambodia – dogs are stolen and sold for reasonable money to restaurants in Phnom Penh).
4) Should amendments be made to the rules of dog fighting in streets?

Clearly these agenda items required lengthy discussion as Gow did not stop ranting for hours and every now and again you would hear the dog across the street pipe in with the odd comment. Then if the symphony of howls was not enough, the whiney cats that live next door started to chime in…it was at this point that Ben and I could cope no more and Ben decided to put an end to this chaotic orchestra. Unfortunately, Ben’s efforts at diplomacy and reasoning went unheeded by Gow, and the conference continued for some time. Mind you Ben going downstairs mid-conference freaked Gow out enough that he lost control of his bladder...Gow that is...not Ben.

Needless to say Ben and I are both sleep deprived and what we would call Cut Pants Magoo.