Friday, January 19, 2007

Poor Planning. Bad Timing.
For the last 10 days or so, our street has had drainage added and has been in the preparation stages for being paved. Ben and I have been quite excited at the idea of a paved street. Less dust. Easier to ride our bikes down. No more flooding during wet season (fingers crossed). We have also been intrigued by the fact that the government only contributed 15% to the total cost of this infrastructure. The rest was paid for by the families that live along this street (I have a new-found appreciation for Vic Roads).

Despite our enthusiasm for this improvement to our street, we have not been as taken with how it's been executed. I mean, you expect a bit of inconvenience with these things...and we have taken in our stride having to dirt-bike down our street, as the workers created mounds of dirt and rocky hills installing the drainage (I'm amazed at what I can do with my little Honda and her 50cc's of grunt). We even coped just fine with all this happening at the same time our bathroom was being repaired. Which by the way, was done by some of the roadworkers installing this drainage and paving the roads...and as it turns out, was not done very well. Call me naive but I assumed that repairing plumbing would mean that it would work better - not halve our water pressure and leave our brand new spanking bath with broken seals within days of installation. Stupid me.

Anyhoo, today the workers decided it was high time this road got paved. Ben came home at lunchtime and managed to get out just before being trapped in, as they started the cementing process around midday-ish. He gave me a call and gave me the heads up. So I was not surprised when I returned home close to 6pm to find our entire road blocked off.

Now here is where the poor planning kicks in. Although I'm no builder of roads, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about? But I would have thought that logic would dictate that you paved one half of the street and left the other side unpaved so people could travel down it...and then once that side was paved the other half. Apparently not. On our street, they decided to do it all in one go and progressively work their way down. So, that when all us little workers trudged home on this Friday evening, we were trapped at the end of our street, staring longingly at our homes.

I parked my beloved bike at the end and locked it up as best as I could...and then made my way down through wet cement to our house, where I had to wash my feet and my thongs. I then called Ben and said that his parents, who were arriving in PP this fine evening...might have some trouble making it down our street with their luggage. Oh dear!

Uncomfortable with the idea of my bike being at the end of the street I rang a friend and organised to park it at their place. So back I trudged down the street only to get to the end and discover I had forgotten my moto key. Idiot! So back through the cement I went again...until the key was in my hands and I could make my way once more (I think the neighbours thought I liked walking in the cement) to my bike and drive it around the corner, where it shall be bike-sat tonight. Thanks Cam and Chanel!

Not long after this, Tim, Pauline and Ben arrived all in good spirits (and they weren't on the scotch and dry's like me). They had soldiered on down the street, in the dark and in their bare feet with all their luggage. Impressive! And whilst I am sure they won't be forgetting this arrival in PP very soon, it would also seem an indelible mark of all our footprints has been left in the cement. Hey, maybe I should go downstairs now and write "Bec & Ben woz ere 2007"???

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wowsers! What a week!
So I made it through week one of work at SSC. My head is swimming with information but it's the kinda stuff I like to ponder - such as cultural differences and the value judgments we make. Interesting stuff. When it stops floating around my head and I make heads and tails of some of it I'll let you know...but I think my job is going to be very enjoyable and challenging.

So moving on to the weekend...for people who have few friends we sure had a busy weekend!

Friday night saw us having dinner with a friend of Ben's aunt and her sister. Two lovely women we had never met before. We took them to one of our favourite restaurants in PP that serves provincial Cambodian food...and as we chatted and got to know each other we discovered just how small the world can be. Anne (from Perth) is friends of Ben's Aunt Pam and her sister Lynne (from Tassie), I discovered through conversation is friends with my Aunt Liz, who also lives in Tassie and her daughter was friends with my cousin Lucy. What are the odds that two random people could be friends with our Aunts, when there are 20 million people in Oz? Trippy!

Saturday was wedding fever! My dear friend Chenda always said she would get married in 2007 and sure enough she did. So Ben and I experienced our first proper Cambodian wedding. It was out in the provinces so we hired a car to drive there. Took about an hour. We went with two other woman from Hagar, as that's how I knew Chenda - through my work at Hagar. She was the finance person there.

Cambodian weddings are interesting. Chenda had 10 different outfits for the day, although we only saw two...but they were beautiful with lots of bling. It's amazing though - Cambodian women cake on the make-up when they get married and they hairspray their hair to an extent that it would stay still even amidst a tornado...they are so made up they are almost unrecognisable. Chenda on any given day is stunning but I hate to say, I think Western notions of beauty differ when it comes to Cambodian weddings.

Like Aussie weddings though...a Cambodian wedding consists of guests having quite the feast and then partying on down to some bad music. Whilst there was no Bon Jovi "You're love is like bad medicine"...or Billy Idol's, "It's a nice day for a white wedding"...we had fun.

The thing I was most taken with was their cans of coke...allow me to introduce what i call Commitment's pure, gassy love in a can. A toast to the happy couple!

Saturday night was out on the town with my good friend Michelle (aka Wookelle). Wookie used to live here in the Penh but is now based in it was lovely catching up. I met her and a large group of people for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant in the French district of PP. If that makes sense? A cultural fusion some might say.

Then this morning, Ben and I met Wookie and her friend Claire that she was travelling with at Java for brunch, where again there was another fair crowd of people...popular is our Wookie! So I think Ben and I have eaten and socialised our way through the weekend quite successfully.

Now I must prepare myself to move on to week two of work and come Friday Ben's parents will be in town and we are off to Laos! Yay!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Congratulations Nic and Meliss!!!

There are times when living overseas really does suck. Today is one of them.

Right now our dear friends, Nic and Meliss are getting married. Their ceremony would be happening at this very moment and I sit here at the computer writing this blog whilst Ben is at work, trying to imagine how the ceremony is going.

We would have loved to have been at the wedding and shared in such a special day but since we cannot we want to express our happiness for them both and our most heartfelt wishes for their future together.

Nic and Meliss - we will be toasting your union with Cameron and Chanel today at Tamarind. Know you are very much in our thoughts xx.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Bathroom Remodelling

We have been the grateful recipients of further home improvements - this time its to the no. 2 bathroom. We have 3 bathrooms in our place. I believe this breaches the majority of building codes for this part of the world as they require at least 2 bathrooms for every other room contained within a house.
This addition follows the giant fridge received last year - it is the largest fridge I have ever had the privilege to know and provides a wonderful habitat for the things we like to eat and drink. See below the fridge standing with Andrew.

Bec and I have taken the lead on design concepts for Bathroom No. 2. The first conceptualisation involved relocation of our new bath (it has handles and no black stains) to the foot of the bed. You have to admit the two items sit well together and the morning wash would only be one roll away.

Alas an absence of plumbing in the room made the whole idea impractical.
We have therefore settled on the following concept. The aim was to improve ablusion efficiency by 30%. By placing the toilet, bath and sink in a direct line across the space this can be achieved. Now I can sit on the toilet, wash my feet and shave all at once. My morning routine has never been this streamlined.

We also had a dirty sinkhole added to the rear corner of the room. Its purpose: to contrast the cleanliness that a bathing room and all activities there represent. Good design is all about balance. I think it was Seinfeld who once said "There's nothing dirtier than a big ol' ball of oil". Well in fact there is, and right now it resides in the rear third of Bathroom 2.