Things to do with kids in Phnom Penh

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...]

Phnom Penh for kids and families

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...]

stocked fish ponds for a day’s getaway

More photos of Soun Soben at Keith Kelly's Flickr After a simmering hot week cranking out some CFCs in the office, it’s time to shift that carbon footprint to another activity. Why not take the family out of the city for a picnic and some fishing? About 20 minutes outside Phnom Penh (along National Road #1 in Kien Svay district, Kandal) is a stretch of fully stocked ponds, with huts situated along the banks for “picnicking” while you fish. Soun Soben Fishing Lakes is one of these, and it is a popular getaway for Khmers and their families. This 70 hectar property boasts three stocked ponds with 90 fishing huts, several picnic huts and a restaurant. Roaming the grounds freely are peacocks, sambars (a well-fed Sambor deer looking for … [Read more...]

Street stall dining in Battambang

Battambang is a culinary destination. There are varieties of fruits and vegetables native to this region that don't grow as well anywhere else. And the local preparation of many condiments and foods have a distinct character to them. Every night on the riverside, food vendors set up shop. On the far end of (further from the market than the tokalok, or fruit shake, stalls) is a routine stop whenever my colleagues and I are in town. I think two or three vendors cook the same thing but my colleagues prefer the family at the end; the woman in the picture below is the main cook and everyone else helps with other parts of the operation.  Grilled in banana leaves and eaten with rice, sangvaec* is a processed fish product made over the course of … [Read more...]

Silent courage of mothers in rural Cambodia

Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes 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 the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants... Nothing against workdays at the office. There’s something to be said for air-conditioned comfort when the blistering sun and uneven roads await activities that donors have pledged tax dollars for. Besides, all the preparatory, follow-up and administrative work is necessary. But fieldwork is where the action is - where meaningful … [Read more...]

Khmer food: Svay bok Trai cha-aa

(Smashed grilled fish) I'm always discovering new Khmer dishes I haven't tried yet. My colleague brought some of this the other day for her lunch. The photo doesn't capture it well, but it's a very tasty dish (for those not turned off by pungency, that is)! It's made of fish (grilled river catfish was used here), smashed in a mortar and pestle with grated green mango and spices. I asked Sopheap to make it and watched. Into the mortar with the mango went chopped red and white onion, a little garlic, salt, peanuts, some fish sauce and herbs that they call chee (gee?), for which I don't know the English names. (I'll add to this post when I find out.) Similar to it is the more famous green papaya/mango salad. This salad has river crab, … [Read more...]

Phnom Tamao Wildlife Center for a birthday party

We've been to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center several times and I'm always impressed with it. The grounds are large - it's certainly possible to walk from one exhibit to the next, but a vehicle would be useful. They have many exhibits. I still haven't seen all of them. Most animals have a fairly wide area to roam (they aren't confined to small concrete cages as I expected). They're rescued from accidents or illegal wildlife trade, and rehabilitated. Those that can't be released back to the wild stay on the grounds. The center is staffed by dedicated conservationists, and they're routinely visited by experts in specific species. Our little boy and his friend celebrated their birthday together, so we took them to the Rescue Center with … [Read more...]

Santa Claus has come to the Penh

Our son's first word (apart from mama and papa) was elephant - every time we pointed to an elephant in one of his books he'd say "peh-pet". Last year he was still a bit young to appreciate the celebration of Christmas, and was afraid of Santa Claus, even when he arrived with his favorite creature, Sambo the elephant. This year we milked that naughty/nice list idea cuz it works like a charm - it'll be a treat to watch this little boy on Christmas morning now that he knows better. Sambo, happily, is no longer a regular on Phnom Penh's busy riverside. He retired this year to a zoo. … [Read more...]