Mobile blood collection at Coca Cola Cambodia
It sounds a bit rude, but really it’s not. No, really! Masterchef Tash, who in my opinion is far more talented than Jamie Oliver & uses far less swear words, has been busy. Oh yes she has; having embraced cloud computing in a way that puts me to shame, Tash has set up her own blog at www.clickclicktash.blogspot.com. Mostly it’s full of ladies things like lingerie, knitting and potpourri (which I thought was 2 words until about a minute ago). However, it also has, for the many culinary (yes, sounds rude, but it’s not) afficionados among you, the beginnings of a SE Asian recipe book, linked in a very fancy way to google drive. If you didn’t like the internet before, you will now. As the total hottie, whose name escapes me, says in that great Aussie flick “Burning Man” (2011) : “F*****g YUM!”. We watched it last night; picked it up for $1.50 down the road. Very good value I thought. Must’ve been discounted coz it’s 2 years old.
In my world, well it’s been flat out…a bit too much so to be honest. I’ve had the luxury of working part time for the last 8 months & working full time has been a bit of a shock to the system (and a shock to Felix too : “why are you working so many days?!!”). Mind you, I shouldn’t complain, as Cambodia has 28 public holidays per year, tomorrow being one of them. I also get a 2 hour lunch break, which has been awesome. Yesterday, we indulged ourselves at lunch & went to the very fancy Himawari. Here’s a pic of myself and Felix playing “bombs away” (throwing things at each other), which he is becoming disturbingly good at.
In other news, there’s a ‘photos’ page, which I started as it seems I’m not updating this very often & I can update that page with the click of a button. I gave blood last week (see photos) which left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling I couldn’t have achieved in Australia, as they’re a bit picky about who gives blood. Having lived in England for 12 months in the mid nineties, I’m perceived as a high risk mad cow nutter, so I’m branded “never to give blood” back in Oz.
Went for my 1st bike ride over here on Sunday; those bike nuts who are on Strava can check out the ride, but suffice to say, it was HOT. There’s a lot to be said for a rehydrating coconut though as I only went through 1 coconut & 1 water bottle in a 2 hour 36 degree ride. Coconuts aren’t that convenient to carry though, so I’ll have to pick my routes carefully. Fortunately, just past the killing fields (not joking), there’s somewhere to pick one up. I don’t think that coconut stand was there for light refreshment during the Khmer Rouge.
Oh, only 2 hours ago I went for my 1st massage. 1 block from our place is a “Seeing Hands Massage” place – picture being sat on & massaged by Stevie Wonder for an hour. Not as arousing as you might think.
Life is good. We’re healthy for now (touch wood), which is making the start all that much easier. Oh, if you want to find out what HOT BOX really means, check out Tasha’s blog.
Almost 2 weeks already; thus far, touch wood, all healthy, apart from some disturbing swelling immediately around a mosquito bite on Felix. Fingers crossed it’s nothing. Had dinner on Tues night this week with my immediate boss Dr Hok Kim Cheng, Dr Mardy Sek from the World Health Organisation & the rest of my 5 person IT team at a fantastic Khmer restaurant. I managed to negotiate the opening pleasantries well enough (including the sampeah), largely as a result of the commencement of our language and culture lessons, given by Mr Dara. Everyone shuffled about in order that I could sit next to Dr Kim Cheng, which was just as well, as he’s an incredibly softly spoken man. What proceeded next was almost comical, as whenever anything arrived, it was shuffled around to Dr Kim Cheng & Dr Sek, being the most senior, however they then shuffled things around to Sonida, because she’s pregnant. She then shuffled things around to me as I’m the new person on the team.
The food was awesome; fish, prawns, crab, duck, a surprisingly tasty pumpkin dessert & I’ve been forced to revise my opinion on Tofu. The food was a much needed change from the Western options thus far given to us at the lunches organised by the Red Cross…all part of helping us acclimatise slowly I guess, but it’s nice to be eating more local fare.
Coincidentally, Tash found an article in Friday’s Cambodia Daily, quoting Dr Kim Cheng and Dr Mardy Sek; the article was centred around the fact that the Blood Bank currently only has 10 units of blood (a unit being roughly a pint), where 3000 would be needed to meet demand. Family replacement donors are currently being required in order to fulfil demands. “Thanks for donating your blood, but your brother needs a lot more…got any more family members you can hit up?”.
After a week’s morning lessons my Khmer is sufficient to negotiate travel in a Tuk Tuk, giving directions on the frequent occasions they don’t actually have any idea where you’re going. Tash and Felix have been having morning lessons from one of Dara’s assistants Tiida, a very sweet 23 year old Khmer student. Hopefully she’ll be able to continue giving them lessons, as Tiida, much like most Cambodians it seems, adores Felix.
We finally found an apartment right opposite the international SOS clinic, which is reassuring, though of course we hope not to have to traipse across the road too often. 4th floor pretty big 2 bedroom apartment; no pool or gym but should fit the bill…hopefully no noisy neighbours.
Felix and I got trapped in the rain the other day; I took him to an awesome kids’ playground in Wat Bottom Park when the rain started to fall. We were only about 50 metres from shelter, but we only just made it, as the rain turns from a light patter to a torrential downpour in under 30 seconds. I thought we’d be safe under a large table umbrella, but as the rain got heavier…and heavier, I soon realised we needed to find somewhere a bit more protected. I could see half a dozen people sheltering under a much larger canvas roof only about 10 metres away, but the rain was absolutely hammering down. I think the thing that convinced me to make a run for it was a dozen local kids still playing despite the rain. Perhaps the cumulative effect of all that torrential rain on the top of your head is why people are generally quite short here.
First blog post draft 1 (scrapped) : All the things we’ll miss about Australia. Turned into highly emotional post about all the wonderful people we’re leaving
This blog is, of course, about my time with Tash and Felix in Cambodia, from where I write this first post on night 1. With my little family sound asleep in the “Blue Room” (oh yes, it’s blue…walls, curtains, bedspreads with purple orchids, bed frames; even the glass doors on the cupboard in our room are blue), I sit happily writing this after an exhausting, but incredibly successful day 1. Why so successful?
Felix. He was, as he always has been, a fantastic traveller (i.e. he slept for the entire flight so Singapore), but the ease with which he has embraced being dropped into a completely new environment is astounding. I see now that a wonderful part of this experience for both myself and Tash, will be seeing it through Felix’s eyes. He has already made a couple of little Khmer friends who live at the guest house. They speak no English, but as we’ve seen before, that doesn’t bother little kids. But in addition to his willingness to accept new people (adults included), the observations he made today & the questions he asked were incredibly reassuring; we’ve made the right choice in bringing him here.
“Why don’t we have any seatbelts? Will the police stop us?”
“There are lots of people on motorbikes without helmets; I want to ride a motorbike; I see lots of kids riding motorbikes” (great).
“Why do some people have masks over their mouths?”
His questions were of course insightful; my explanations were met with polite nodding from Felix & barely concealed mirth from the travelling companions sitting in front of us. We can only hope that after 18 months here, he’s worked out the answers to some of the big questions himself; then he can tell me.