Where apsaras dance .. updated

Maxence & Dimanche's wedding

The origins and symbolism of Khmer weddings, according to the Khmer Institute: Khmer weddings enact Cambodia's greatest legend. The first Khmer prince, Preah Thong, fell in love with the Naga Princess, Neang Neak, while exiled from his homeland. As a marriage gift to the couple, the father of the Naga Princess swallowed part of the ocean, and out of this was formed the land of Cambodia. … [Read more...]

Escaping Phnom Penh for the relative peace and quiet of Kampot

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It was a long-overdue trip to escape the ambient noise of Phnom Penh rapidly industrializing. Check out this house! Our friends moved back to Kampot from the US and built this house. It's a modernized version of the traditional house, complete with the stilts and architectural elements that make this country so unique (even to the very closely related Thai constructions). … [Read more...]

Sunset on the Mekong

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Lazy days are ahead.. Floating down the river in a converted old rice boat at sunset is one of the best things about these Mekong capitals. … [Read more...]

Touring Cambodia: Assessment of process quality in health facilities

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After 3 years, our quality assessment system was finally endorsed by the Ministry of Health [yey]! Then came the task to collect baseline data in all USAID-supported areas by year's end [gulp]! That's 33 questionnaires to administer, 80 enumerators fresh out of medical, midwifery and nursing schools to train, and over 601(!) public health facilities across 9 provinces to assess. It's an enormous logistical feat, and my team made it happen just in time for tonight's countdown at Angkor Wat! Having a proud professional moment :-) Happy new year indeed! … [Read more...]

Tagalog book: Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut)

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This folk song is a catchy tune (in tagalog), and my son picked up the lyrics in a very short time. He was 2 years old then and spoke no Tagalog. It's a good introduction to the language and culture of the Philippines. Anak Books has a great description of the book, so I copy it below in its entirety from their website. Please visit them because it also features a lot of great books in both Tagalog and bilingual Tagalog/English. The classic Tagalog folktale 'Bahay Kubo' is lovingly told and beautifully illustrated through classic Filipino vignettes. This book includes lyrics and score. "Bahay Kubo" is perhaps the best-known and best-loved folk song in the Philipines. Its composer is unknown. Its Tagalog lyrics have been passed down … [Read more...]

is “Where are you from?” a relevant question?

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"Where are you from?" Seems innocuous enough of a question. For me, and for many who look "different" in the US, inquiring minds don't typically accept the answer. The questions continue: "No really, what country are you from?", followed by "You speak such good English". The intent isn't usually malicious and while simple curiosity is friendly enough, the basis for that curiosity isn't. It denotes the perpetual foreigner syndrome or the "you are an outsider" problem that people of color face, no matter we're first or third generation native-born. (I've never been asked this question by other people of color.) It isn't an issue I lose sleep over these days. If anything, it presents an easy IQ test or some mild amusement. (If I say … [Read more...]

At preschool age, how do you explain when crime touches close to home?

photo courtesy of @ramonesENG

Welcome to the May 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Ages and Stages This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about their children’s most rewarding and most challenging developmental periods. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. *** Recently a child who attended our son's playgroup was the victim of a terrible crime. It shook the expatriate community for its brutality. Cambodia’s charms draw us all in, and we foreigners choose to be hopeful about the inherent good in people. We forget that it remains a country where impunity reigns, violence lurks beneath the … [Read more...]

Phnom Penh for kids and families

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It seems like most cultures outside the West are kid-friendly. It's easy to go out or travel with kids in Asia. You won't be met with glares and attitude as soon as you enter an establishment with a toddler in tow, or signs banning kids from restaurants. When ours were babies, restaurant staff would even take and entertain them so we can enjoy our meal together, then give the baby back with the bill! Same with getting a massage, manicure or pedicure. So on top of other things that make Cambodia attractive for an expatriate post, in the past eight years the options for families with young kids have improved significantly. My favorite things to do where I can take the kids with me: For a great manicure/pedicure with a glass of wine, … [Read more...]