Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary

Desperately seeking green spaces in Phnom Penh? Just 40 km outside Phnom Penh is a rescue center for injured or trafficked animals. There are over 80 species including macaques, lions, tigers, bears, gibbons and crocodiles - most are endangered, rescued from the wildlife trade. The sanctuary sprawls across 2500 hectares of protected forest. It wasn't as terrible as I expected (small concrete cages with animals pacing in the heat, going mad) and the handlers are quite knowledgeable. Tristan got to see many animals he has only ever seen in pictures. To boot, there are a lot of trees with shaded areas. They're working on putting the crocodiles on a feeding schedule so that they can put shows on during the weekends like the elephants … [Read more...]

Toys for tots

      We always have a ready list of items to look for on our travels, that we can't find or don't have a wide selection of in Cambodia. Toys were on that list this year. While home we looked for toys that'll engage the little boy's imagination longer than the immediate learning phase. And I'm not a fan of the plastic battery-operated trinkets with obnoxious bright lights and noise. I remember the toys from when I was a kid which had a lot to do with being creative - like blocks, tinker toys or legos. So one of our great finds is this Zany Zoo wooden activity cube. It's sturdy and bottom-heavy (at 9kg/19lb this little boy can pull himself up on it without tipping it over), thoughtfully designed (rounded corners, … [Read more...]

My favorite iced coffee in Phnom Penh

I've tweeted this iced coffee before, and I still love it today. It's dark, strong and rich, perfect for a Monday morning start to the week after a tiring weekend with a sick little 11 month old :-( She's one of the vendors outside on the street, just outside a small food shop, on St 67 south of Russian Blvd / St 110 / Preah Angduong. This area, especially on St 114 / Kramuonsar between St 67 and St 51, is densely packed with food shops serving a gamut of Khmer and Vietnamese foods. Psar Thmei (New Market) is a block away, where buses leave for destinations all over the Kingdom, so it caters to the masses of travelers passing through. See a map of Phnom Penh here. The coffee grounds are steeped in boiling water using a … [Read more...]

Christmas in the Penh

I love Christmas! But Cambodia is not a Christian country, so it's up to the expat community to organize our own holiday affairs. Some events, like the ones below, have grown over the years and are a fun family outing. The best part of this year is that we have a baby boy to celebrate the holidays with :-) This Apsara pic makes the annual email rounds. WIG Christmas Fair 2011 Location: Hotel Intercontinental Time: Sunday, 27 Nov 2011 10:00am - 5:00pm Cost: Admission is $3, children under 12 free. Proceeds go to projects that support vulnerable women and children in Cambodia. Christmas Village 2011   Location: Le Duo Restaurant #17 St 228, between St 51 and 57 Time: Friday - Sunday Dec 2-4 10am-10pm Christmas Craft Celebration … [Read more...]

Living in Phnom Penh, Having a baby in Bangkok

Photo by Keith A Kelly CHOOSING THE HOSPITAL We work and live in Phnom Penh, and wouldn't feel comfortable with the specialists / facilities here in case of complications during delivery. The nearest city with internationally accredited care is Bangkok, so there we went at 35 weeks 6 days gestation, the latest we’re allowed to board a Thai Airways flight (with a fit-to-fly certificate from the doc). Most of Bangkok's well-known private facilities have high quality patient-oriented care and great customer service. They have translators, can take care of extending  visas, take the baby's passport photo (this isn't easy so do get this done at the hospital!), get the birth certificate officially translated and documented at the Ministry of … [Read more...]

Turning the consultancy leaf

I just concluded my employment with the GTZ Health Programme, who I've been with since 2006, on a team collaborating with the Ministry of Health and partners on social health protection strategy and policies for Cambodia. Concurrent with health financing initiatives, the programme is active in developing quality accreditation processes at the provincial, district and facility levels. I was responsible for monitoring, evaluation and reporting, the Safe Motherhood programme and patient rights advocacy. Vastly challenging and rewarding though working on this programme was, after much thought about my role on the team, I finally came to the conclusion that it was too limited on the community mobilisation side, a personal interest … [Read more...]

Guinness surger unit hits Phnom Penh on St Patrick’s Day

This year's Guinness quest took us to Pacharan for happy hour. Celebrating St Patrick's Day at a spanish tapas bar might sound a bit odd, but they were temporarily hosting the Guinness Surger Unit. This nifty contraption uses ultrasonic pulses to stimulate the molecules and release the nitrogen, transforming your sad can of Guinness into a cream-brimmed glass of velvet, just like a draught pour. Funky eh? The unit isn't expensive; I'm amazed these Irish bars around town haven't caught on to it as it's been around nearly 4(?) years. And for $3.50 a pint, it sure beats the other bars selling the widget cans for $6.50! Great piece from Good, on getting to know your Éire-inspired words, from Irish apricots to Irish wolfhounds: Get … [Read more...]

late night soup messenger clak-clak-claking down the street

So Keith and I were the other night having a few drinks at Rising Sun by the river when the Soup Messenger came by. Here's what it sounded like: [audio:|titles=Sound clip clak clak|righticon=0x0000ff] It's a relic of the olden days, when food carts roamed the city streets and a little boy was sent ahead to let people know the food is coming. The kid taps a stick against a piece of bamboo, the sound of which the dead of night really carries-- especially back when houses were mostly wooden. (The concrete shophouses along the river also bounce a healthy bit of noise). The sequence and rhythm of the clak-clak-clak is code for what kind of food they sold - bohboh (rice … [Read more...]