Escaping a Mekong cityscape for a slice of rural life

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Welcome to the March 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Day in the Life 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 given us a special glimpse into their everyday. *** Escaping the heady concrete jungle of Phnom Penh every once in a while is a necessity for sanity's sake. Most people take off for the coast on a day or weekend trip, or relax for a few hours in any one of the resorts that now dot the outer sprawl of the city. Last weekend, we visited a friend across the river. Our oldest has settled into a reasonable sleep cycle (yey!), but our younger one still wakes up at the crack of dawn (groan). Naturally that … [Read more...]

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...]

Desperately seeking peace and quiet in 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...]

Things to do with kids in Phnom Penh

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On this last stretch of our time here in Cambodia, we've met a lot of new families with questions on what to do with their kids in the city. "Good luck" pops initially to mind. Activity generally means access to some space and fresh air for a bit of exercise. But to be fair, there are plenty of day trip options: Cambodia Country Club - They have a pool, play tennis and other sports, ride horses etc. Soun Soben Resort, where they have stocked fish ponds, a pool for the kids, caged animals and lots of running space Phnom Tahmao Wildlife Rescue Center - This place is fantastic and I can't recommend a day trip here enough. In the time I've been here the guys there have done incredible work rehabilitating trafficked or injured animals … [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...]