Surviving a long haul flight with a 10 month old

Last month the most direct route from our house in Phnom Penh to my parents' doorstep in NYC took 29 hours. We took two flights: Phnom Penh - Hong Kong for three hours, then Hong Kong - JFK for around 16 hours. It's a long time on the road with an infant. Our baby practically lives in a suitcase, and has been on numerous flights since he was born - always as a lap child (at $1520 a seat on this flight, I think we're going to take him as a lap child as long as we can!), so he's used to flying and is generally manageable on flights. Nevertheless, I'm always anxious before the trip and packing "his" carry-on is de-stressing me. We're preparing for our trip back this weekend -- yes, after I'd finally adjusted to the time zone and the cold … [Read more...]

the occasional luxury that’s worth the money

Once in a while you just have to splurge on a multi-sensory dining experience: attentive service, innovative chef, great setting.I've only had excellent culinary and service experiences at Sirocco (euro- fusion) and Breeze (asian fusion). For sunset drinks splash out at SKY bar and Distil. These are just a few of the establishments at Lebua at the State Tower in Bangkok. … [Read more...]

how tourists should NOT treat the natives

D and I were sitting in a restaurant nowhere near the tourist track when some kids were dropped off by a tuk tuk outside. As they wandered a few feet, gawking about with lonely planets and maps in their hands-- very comically lost-- a rude blog post title popped to mind: "You too can look .....". We stepped out to snag some quick shots, when these guys turned the tables on us. They waved and smiled really big, the kind you save for retarded people, probably thinking we were natives taking photos of foreigners. We took off before they could start talking really loud English at us. I have never been looked at by a white person like this. My immersion in Cambodia is complete. . … [Read more...]

Preah Vihear UNESCO World Heritage Site

Since D was here, we thought we'd take that trip to the border temple that Keith and I have wanted to see. Thailand tends to have dispute with UNESCO over the World Heritage status of the temple and award of the grounds to Cambodia (it's a disputed land area on the border) whenever they are having domestic political turmoil. It is pre-Angkorian, so it predates Angkor Wat. Because it's a conflict area restoration has been on hold and there are very few foreigners who come to this mountaintop ruin. You essentially put yourself between the Cambodian troops and the Thais when you visit this place.Preah Vihear is 4hrs from Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), which is 5hrs from Phnom Penh. About an hour out of Siem Reap the paved road ends. If it's raining, … [Read more...]

around the ‘hood with a visiting friend

Here's my street, we live a block off the Royal Palace. It's everyday scenes like this that you never bother to take photos of until a friend comes along and captures everything you don't blink twice over anymore. To the left is a tuk-tuk, riding the line to his left and back is what they call here a cyclo, and practically most people travel by some form of motorbike here.Every day monks walk around the neighborhood collecting alms (this is one of the stores downstairs). Since the Khmer Rouge decimated the elder ranks, the religion's influence has not gained its previous legitimacy and credibility. Respect for monks and the solidarity they fostered before the conflict era have been largely eroded.Time for some tours around the city! This is … [Read more...]

Spirit houses in Asia

Spirits-- can't live with them, can't live without appeasing them. In Asia, nature or 'supernatural' forces are very much a part of one's being and not disconnected as it is in the modern west.When people move into a new home they create a disturbance in the natural world. In a gesture of deference and to re-balance the natural surroundings, it is tradition to appease the displaced spirits. Bribes of various sorts ranging from incense, fruits, vegetables, water and rice etc are regularly placed in these houses, sort of like an eviction compensation. It isn't that the spirits will actually eat them, and in fact some of these houses can be left in such a state as to seem that the spirits are expected to clean their little abodes. They will … [Read more...]

Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong

Only four (five?) groups of freshwater dolphins are left in the world, mainly due to habitat loss and hunting-- two in S. America and three in Asia. Here in Kratie, Cambodia, there are between 20 to less than 100 of the Irrawaddy dolphins. With such low numbers they are functionally extinct. They come to the Kratie area of the Mekong during the dry season (practically the only attraction there) and head up to Myanmar for the rest of the year.. … [Read more...]

Faces

. … [Read more...]