Friday, April 04, 2008

Awesome! One bottle of scotch and I'm a landowner.
Hi to all!

We have serious intentions of getting this big ugly machine working again now that Ben is on "sabbatical". Just returned to PP after a month for Ben and 2 weeks for Bec back in Australia and its affiliate (and well ok, superior country) New Zealand (they have the water).

Our return has not been without its challenges, for those who see signs in events you may say that Cambodia does not want us back. These "signs" have included:

- Two 24 hour blackouts inside the first week back (you just sit in the dark and sweat..)
- Ben stepping on a glass and having 12 stitches sewn into the bottom of his foot (there was lots of blood)
- A shortage of gas and doubling of the price (this has the populace very upset)
- Bec being witness to further bag snatching's and a medical crisis with one of her colleagues

Hopefully the worst of this is now over however. On a bright note we have returned to mango season - big huge juicy (and cheap!!) mangoes. mmmm.

Our trip down under was fantastic and we will probably post some photos soon. It was great to see friends and family in Melbourne, Albury, Canberra and Brisbane and also reconnect with 95% of Ben's kiwi family attending his cousin's wedding in NZ. The wedding was really nice, being held in the small town the family comes from. The scenery of South Island NZ is truly amazing and one of the best places you could ever visit. And they have the water. And green grass which I believe may be now extinct in southern Australia.

Now that Ben is bound to crutches we will try and get some pictures and more posts up. I know....don't hold your breath.

Love to all.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Sorry and a Shed (by Ben)

Hi! Owing to an ailing interest in writing blog posts I have not contributed much in the last 6 months. Im sorry. Its hard to maintain a steady flow of posts and now everyone seems hooked on the Facebook (something I steadfastly refuse to join). Anyways Bec is in NZ and i have been a little bored - so here I am back on Blogger.

I have little of interest to write about and and will therefore share the first draft of a Manshed I am designing and plan to one day build. A friend recently alerted me to the concept and I was immediately enthused. My recipe is one part grown up cubby house, two parts fun and the tiniest pinch of functionality. Christmas is also just round so the corner and this looks just a little bit like a wish list for Santa.


1. Vintage Premier Drum Kit - not necessarily Keith Moon's but something similar would be nice.
2. Fender Jazzmaster and a Marshal stack (well of course).
3. Persian rug - cheaper the better and only from the retailer who needs to clear his warehouse by 30 June or face bankruptcy.
4. 24-channel mixing console (for sitting next to when interviewed for music documentaries)
5. A unique and moderately comfortable couch.
6. Picture of Michael Tuck + autograph (i actually have the autograph already).
7. Home Brew Kit

Im sure there is a lot more yet to add. A door would a solid idea. Perhaps some walls and a roof. You get the basic drift anyways. Love to all. More posts to come - I promise!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Welcome to the World - Elia Sara Inglis!!

My dear friend Teesh gave birth to her first child on Friday (I think it was Friday - however the text was sent at 1:31am so she could be an early Saturday baby - I'll have to check with her Mum). Either way...she has entered the world and I am looking forward to meeting her and spending time with her Mum in November.

Congrats Teesh and Bryan on your first child! A momentus and special occasion. We are thinking of you and we send lots of love.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Transplanting Rice (by Bec)

Hey all, just wanted to make a quick entry to say that this weekend, through my work, I got to experience transplanting rice. We have an office in the provinces, just over an hour out of Phnom Penh, which has several rice fields. Every year my work gives staff the opportunity to volunteer their services and help. I, of course, was keen to go along and know what it was like. And let me tell is hard! The actual process is simple - as you follow the guide of a rope that has rubber bands attached to it, all evenly spaced. Where you find the rubber band is where the rice plant goes. So that part is fairly simple - what is hard, is being out in the heat, bending over constantly to plant. Being in the mud though is kind of fun, although it makes walking a little harder and very squishy. All up, I think I lasted less than an I possibly wasn't that much of a help....but it was a great experience and I'm glad I went along. I have uploaded some photos on flickr - a lot I have marked as private because they are of work colleagues and their children, so if you're not a member (or listed as a friend or family member of Ben and I) you won't get to see the whole set but I have left some of them open for public consumption. In the meantime, here are two to have a look at...

The field in which we planted...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I'm flying what airline?

Whilst posting funny photos of Kenny's chicken I realised I had one more to share...

Here's a photo of a FAT (Far Eastern Air Transport - why isn't it called FEAT?) Cargo plane that I took the other week...and of course I have to say the obvious joke: "It's the one airline where you are expected to exceed your weight limit"...

and here's one we took a few years ago before we started blogging...

Kenny Roger's Roasters in KL

Ben and I have been meaning to post these photos over the last few weeks...they were something we were entertained by whilst in KL at the end of June. We had no idea that Kenny Rogers had a fast food outlet, let alone a thriving chain of them in KL. Not even the reference to Kenny's chicken in a Seinfeld episode made us aware of the fact that this golden nugget existed.
So please enjoy our photographic tour of Kenny Roger's Roaster outlets...we did everything but stop and eat the chicken....or as Kenny would put it "we just dropped in to see what condition his chicken was in"...

and the Kenny Roger's sponsored chicken run...

and his Mexican fiesta...

and his boxing chicken...oh, that's not a Kenny's chicken!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Flat tyres and emotional roller coasters...

Ben and I have been feeling rather homesick recently. Attempting to share in friends joy as they become parents or become pregnant has made us acutely aware of just how much we are missing out on over here. It's times like this you have to step back and assess whether the benefits of living over here outweigh those of living at home. We're not sure.

We know that we currently have work opportunities that we would never be afforded back home and we both enjoy our jobs despite the various frustrations that crop up. But there are many challenges to living over here that you grapple with each day and today I'm afraid posed many...

It started with the guy who delivers our newspapers knocking on our door at 6:30am to collect the money due for the next three months of delivery. Early wake up calls are not something I have adjusted too in this country and despite being up and already dressed, he scared the bejesus out of me knocking on the door at that time. With a brief exchange I sent him on his way empty handed (I didn't have enough money). But the surprise of him turning up left me with a slightly unsettled feeling as I set off for work.

So with my mind ticking over, I was driving down our narrow street aware of the fact that another motorbike was coming towards me with three guys on it. The driver didn't have great control, so he was coming towards me at fairly close range. At the same time as this, an older woman, who I presume is a neighbour, stepped out onto the street without looking. I was metres from her and had no time to brake and no room to swerve to the otherside, so I tooted my horn (as I so often do) and narrowly missed hitting her by millimetres. She of course yelled at me, as though it were my fault she stepped out and didn't look and I drove on with my heart thumping and my stomach churning.

I had not got more than a few streets away when my bike started to wobble. I had only been at the mechanics yesterday fixing my foot-stand that had become loose, making it hard to change gears and balance the bike. Now here I was wondering why my bike was off balance yet again. As I pulled over, I took one look to the rear of the bike and discovered my first flat tyre. I let out a groan and promptly went about searching for a roadside mechanic to do the repairs.

After wheeling my bike 100m in crazy morning traffic; and stopping off at 4 different places that had brand new tyres on display out front, only to be told no...I was feeling rather frazzled. Thankfully an elderly Cambodian man appeared from out of his small shop, which had chips and other fast food snacks on display and he offered to fix my tyre. I then noticed the old tyre inserts and tools he had for doing just that. It was quite a fascinating process to watch as he filled the inner tube of my rear tyre with water to find the holes and then cut out new rubber to melt down and patch over these trouble spots. Within 10 minutes my bike was fixed and it only cost 1,500Riel (approx 40 cents) for the trouble.

But it was not a good start to the day, especially when I was heading to work for an all day program meeting, at which I had to do a two hour presentation I was not fully prepared for. I called Ben to inform him of my adventures whilst my bike was being fixed and surprised myself as my frustration bubbled to the surface and my voice began to waver, just as it does before you cry. My logical side was muttering, "what are you gonna cry for??...the bike is getting fixed and you'll be at work on's no big deal"....but there bubbled the emotions all the same. Thankfully, as I stood there on the street, I held it together and did not cry but I have to admit, today has been a roller coaster of emotions. When I got home this evening, Ben's day had not been much better. So we ordered in some comfort food...and decided...friends, family, we miss you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Family Visit (by Bec)
Friday 8th June 2007, marked the first time my immediate family has all been together in the one space, at the one time, in 3 years (??). The last time being (if I remember correctly) at Tullamarine airport in Melbourne, farewelling my brother as he headed across to the UK for work. Now three years later, he is still there.... as is my sister, who made the journey across about two years ago and now lives with her English boyfriend, Mark. So my parents know in very real terms what being "empty nesters" is all about, with all three children living OS.

But with the arrival of June, across the continents they came and with that the "Griswald" Family Holiday in Cambodia began (we watched Lampoon's Vacation way too much growing up). Alas, there was no Wally World to be had but there was fine dining and markets...and for Gaz and Mark - Temples, land mines and rifles. The time seemed to fly by...and all too quickly everyone departed...but not before Phnom Penh put on an impressive heatwave; a monsoonal storm; a trip to the provinces with Ming Yim's family; and a birthday party for yours truly. It's official - I am

Now my brother is back in the UK, most likely at work; my parents, sister and Mark are in Kota Kinabalu soaking up the sun; and come Thursday, Ben and I will be in KL awaiting the arrival of my parents, sister and Mark, to spend some last few days together (shopping and eating) before saying our final farewells for now. Who knows when the next family tour will be? And where it will be.... London? I do know that after months and months of planning this visit, it went all too quickly....but I want to say thanks to my family (Mark included) for all travelling so far to celebrate my birthday - you made it special.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Stay Gold...
The other night we had a sunset that reminded me of one of my favourite movies as a teenager, studied in English class at school: The Outsiders. If you've not been fortunate enough to hear of or see this movie, go to the following links: and/or

In the movie, one of the characters, Ponyboy reads a poem by Robert Frost. Here's the poem:

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day,
Nothing gold can stay.

And the famous last lines said later on in the movie by his friend Johnny...

Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.

Anyway, whenever I see a really golden sunset this poem always seems to enter into my head...or at least the lines from Johnny of: "Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay Gold".

So I thought I'd share with you all just how beautiful and gold the sky was the other night (23rd May. Here are some photos from our roof top...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Celebrating King Sihamoni's Birthday

Hmmm...well we started this post some weeks ago but seemed to only get as far as the heading. Must have been our celebrating the Royal birthday that tired us out, as we did have 5 days to party on down.

Anyhoo, since we had this time up our sleeve, we decided to leave the country and do some travelling thanks to the cheap airfares of AirAsia. So to Krabi, Thailand we went....

Where we relaxed with scenery like this...

And this...

And this...

So if these photos are at all enticing and you'd like to see others of our travels (perhaps Ben and I pretending to be clown fish) then head to the following link:

If you'd like to hear anecdotes of our time in Krabi then I'm afraid you'll have to wait until you are in the presence of our company, as we feel far too lazy to write (blogger shame). In the meantime, here's a brief synopsis:

"We did the usual touristy things: swam at the beach; rode on a long tail boat; rented a motor bike for the day to go sightseeing (mainly aquariums and beaches) and ate seafood. We had fun".

Monday, April 16, 2007

Greener Pastures
Some of you might have noticed the changing colours of our blog. Green has always been my favourite colour (except for perhaps a pink period in '85) so I find the new hue rather pleasing to the eye.

But I am wondering...have Ben and I taken it too far in our hallway?

I assure you this is not trick photography, we actually have a fluorescent green light bulb(purchased unintentionally of course).

I half expect slime to run down the walls.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Happy Khmer New Year!!!

"Junpoh chnam thmei"....(wishing you a happy new year)

It's that time of year again...a time to get out your water bombs and talcom powder and wish your fellow neighbour a happy new year. Although if you are not in Cambodia (or Thailand & Myanmar, as it's their new year also) then it may seem a bit strange to cover your neighbour's face in talcom powder and throw a water bomb at them when they're not looking. Could be fun if you're bored though.

As for Ben and I, we are enjoying a very long weekend and a deserted Phnom Penh. We have stocked our fridge with an abundance of food so that there is very little reason to leave the house...and we have settled in to celebrate our anniversary...not of our relationship but of having arrived in Cambodia. I'm not sure if it feels like two years... or more...or less...but two years ago it was that Ben and I arrived in this fine country...and two years ago it was that Steph took us to Wat Phnom and I got caked in talcom powder, as I watched Khmer youth play games and "court" one another. What an initiation!!!

So with two years having passed one might expect Ben and I to reflect on such times and note what has changed and what hasn't...perhaps even what we have learnt from being here...

What has changed?....Shopping malls are quickly emerging across the city...
What hasn't changed?....It's freakin hot in April!
What have we learnt?....(well not Khmer that's for sure)...perhaps that it's always freakin hot in April.
Congratulations Leigh and Kara!!!
A week ago, in eager anticipation we posted a congratulations to Leigh and Kara on their wedding day. This was before realising how premature we were in this. Now we are a day late (we clearly are not good with time)...but that's not to say we didn't think of you both yesterday and make a toast in your honour, because we did.

So Leigh and Kara, congratulations on your special day...may you have a lifetime of happiness together. We wish we could have been there to share and celebrate the day with you.

Our love and best wishes,

Bec and Ben xx

PS. Any chance we can see some photos?
Malaysia, Truly Asia?
Last weekend Bec and I went to Kuala Lumpur to watch "the pinnacle of motorsport that is formula one." We stayed in a hotel that was very near two very tall and very identical buildings. These cloned structures looked especially amazing at night when viewed from a taxi with your head tilted at a 45 degree angle.
The hotel was full of the english and assorted northern europeans who we guessed had also come for the race. The hotel also offered a very nice buffet breakfast that i made more than appropriate use of.

The Sepang racing circuit is located (you guessed it) in Sepang. Sepang is also where the airport is located. The airport is 70km's from the city. Therefore (once again you guessed it) the Grand Prix actually billed to be hosted in KL is found well beyond the defined city limit. Now in Asia, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, this would probably make you expect some challenges and a deal of planning, time and cost to reach the desired destination.

And there was, but we are happy to say not as much as we had expected...

There is a very fast train that runs between KL and the airport. I dont know if it is as fast as the very very fast bullet trains you see on documentaries in europe or Japan but it sure was quick. This made the whole journey quite pleasant, the only additional hassle being 2 buses we were required to catch to actually get near the entry gate to the grand prix.

Owing to work commitments and the like we could only attend the race day itself and none of the days preceeding. We made the most of it however and secured some fine seats at the end of the main straight. Our granstand afforded a very close view of corners one and two that would promise some hot racing action.

Hot was the word of the day, in our grandstand we sweated a lot whilst eagerly awaiting the race. After the cultural spectacle, sorry after the planned cultural spectacle (there were plenty of unplanned cultural spectacles to see on the day), cars finally came around to line up on the grid. I have seen F1 cars a few times before but you still get that tingle up the spine when you hear the sound they make, well at least I do.

From then on everything happened very quickly - suddenly they had started and well if you want to know the details of the race click here - details of the race.

Here are some photos Bec took...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Welcome to planet earth Atticus Patterson!
Yesterday morning at 10:05am (Australian EST), Sean and Cheryl welcomed the long awaited Atticus into this world. At 8 pounds 13oz, we are told he is every bit as beautiful as his Mum (and you too Sean).

To his parents, Ben and I would like to say a huge congratulations and how delighted we are. We send you all our love and hope to see photos of little Atti soon.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The real reason they invented the internet (By Ben)

The world beard & moustache championships (WBMC) have updated their website.

Beard Team USA really is something to behold and I find it hard to see how traditional world-bearders Germany will overcome this all star line up. The perfect mix of youth, experience and facial hair.

Best address on the net bar none.

Join my campaign to have soul patches granted competition status.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Vespa Rally (by Benna)

I attended my first ever Vespa rally today. It was really fun. I met a lot of people and most of them owned Vespas. Neat. We stood around initially and offered rather obvious compliments "oh, I really love those mirrors" "Yeah Ive seen this bike around, really cool". None of us had the appearance of seasoned rally goers and Im pretty sure we did not know what we were supposed to do.

After a while we hit the streets. It also happened to be an election day in Cambodia so most things were shut and the streets were even quieter than they normally are on a Sunday. I have never ridden in a pack of anything before but i found the whole thing refreshing. We rode all around town honking our horns and causing general confusion. At one stage we did three circuits of the Independence Monument, lacking a strong leader none of us wanted to turn Alpha and demand we press on.

All in all it was fun. The coolest moment came when an old couple just happened to be passing on their Vespa and decided to cruise with us until the turn off for the market they were headed. Some khmer do like Vespas despite what people may say.

Heres some photos. I was riding Bob, he is the one in the foreground on the first photo.

Some guy decided to trump us all by bringing this really cool BMW bike.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Back in the Bodge
You might notice that our last post ended quite abruptly - reason being that Ben and I started it in Australia but never got the chance to finish it. Now that we are back in Cambodia it seems a bit weird to blog in back-dated fashion but pretend its current. So instead - perhaps you should stay tuned for another blog posting where we reminisce about our time in Oz??

Hmmm having said that, I can't promise that this blog entry will be posted anytime soon or at all given the fact that Ben and I have been consumed by work since arriving back... and I speak for myself here, when I say that the energy levels for blogging are not high (ironic really when I am blogging right now)...but I'm sure you all know what I mean. If not, just pretend you do.

Anyhoo, Ben and I would like to say briefly, to all those dear friends and family members we caught up with that it was great seeing you all and we hope we see you again in the not too distant future.

Stay classy Melbourne...and Albury...and Rutherglen...and Alexandra...and Canberra...and Bonnie Doon...and of course San Diego.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hello Aussie!
What is it they say..."There is no place like home"... It's so true.

Our trip back home to Australia is very quickly winding up yet it feels like we just arrived. Ben and I have settled in to life here so much that neither of us wants to leave just yet. Although I'm sure we'll be fine once we get back to Cambodia and work will see us settling back into life there very quickly. Although we'll probably be homesick for the first few days.

Since being back in Oz we have caught up with friends and family; shopped like consumerism is going out of fashion; and eaten enough steak to keep our iron levels up for the rest of the year.

However, our main purpose for returning home was to attend our dear friends; Tim and Sal's wedding. Held in Northern Victoria in the Rutherglen wine region at a place called the Wicked Virgin Olive Grove/Layback Manor....

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Lazing about in Luang Prabang...
It all seems like a distant blur now but not that long ago we were lazing about in Luang Prabang for five days with Tim and Pauline. We soaked up the night market, checked out some waterfalls, tried some different places offering massage and ate in as many different restaurants as we could.

Our accommodation was perfectly positioned on the main street with a balcony over-looking the night market. Perfect for sitting with a gin and tonic, eyeing of things to buy and watching the numerous people as they wandered through the stalls.

Like last time, I was overcome with excitement at the number of beautiful, hand-woven silk hangings and antique Hmong patches of clothing. It took several days of looking at every stall/shop imaginable before selecting what to purchase...not easy when you pretty much want to buy it all.

I was also very excited to stumble across a gallery exhibiting work of an artist I have fallen in love with (his work that is...not him...although I'm sure he's a lovely fellow). I came across him and his work in an inflight magazine on a previous trip to Bangkok...and taking the copy with me (it said it was free) I was aware that a gallery had opened in Luang Prabang...but it was situated off the main road down a side it took me a chance encounter to find it. I excitedly walked through looking at the works and dreaming that I could afford the $18,000 price tags...there were some drawings for $1,200 but even still...I don't think Ben and I are quite in the income bracket yet to be affording such purchases. Besides which, my favourite painting of his...worth about $60,000 is owned by the Glenbowen Musuem. It's stunning...and since I can't buy it...I have copied it instead on canvas. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery is it not? Highly annoying for the person being copied though...but I artist that I am writing about but for some reason not mentioning his Thep Thavounsouk. If you're keen to check out his work...or buy me an artwork of his online...then go to:

Also, I have finally got round to posting some photos of our trip to Northern Thailand last year, as well as this recent trip to Luang Prabang. Head to

Next weekend see us head home to Oz...we both can't wait.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It doesn't get better than this!!
Last night was a special one here in the Bodge. As you know, we have Khmer family - Ming Yim, her niece Gim Lee and co. Add to this - Hagar (the NGO that Ben works for), which now has a restaurant...and in the last few months - a raffle competition to help promote their opening. Add to this the major prize draw - a brand new Honda Dream motorbike...and you have yourself a winning combination.

And the winner is??????

Gim Lee!!!!!!!

Ben called me excitedly last night from work to tell me that Gim Lee had won the draw. I couldn't believe it. He then went on to say that Hagar management were wanting Gim Lee to go around and have photos taken with the bike but Gim Lee said she couldn't go. Caught up in the excitement of it all I drove my moto around to the house and in the meantime Ben called her employer to convince him to let Gim Lee to go. I then bombarded their house and perhaps overwhelmed them with my excitement because I somehow managed to get the whole family to pile into their car and follow me to the restaurant, where Gim Lee was presented with her brand new motorcycle. Amazing!!

The happiness and excitement was contagious. There were many hugs, many photos and many smiles. There was also an obligatory dinner. Ben and I were trying to get home, as Tim and Pauline had cooked us a yummy green chicken curry but Ming would not have a bar of it. So we stayed for another hour for dinner...and I have to say it was truly special to sit there with Ming and Gim Lee and see the joy as they called their family in the provinces and informed them of their good luck.

This good luck came about with the help of some thoughtful foreigners. Christine, who Gim Lee cleans for, who had entered Gim Lee and Tim and Pauline, who had entered Ming and our tuk tuk driver Gogo, even though they didn't win it was a lovely gesture all the same.

Anyway, I wanted to blog about this special moment quickly...but as it is Tim and Pauline's last night with us...I must head to dinner.

Stay tuned for a post on our recent trip to Laos...

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.

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.