My Cambodian family

familyIt’s wonderful to go to a new place and find yourself with an adopted family. Long-time expats and global wanderers will understand how a local family deciding to take you on as one of their own can do wonders for adaptation, understanding, and overall happiness.

I can say that apart from my biological family in Canada, I also have adopted Mexican, Ecuadorian, and Japanese families. I consider them my first go-to people and those that allowed me to join them and feel like I’m at home. After over two years in Cambodia, I now have a Cambodian family. Continue reading

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Sampeah – The Cambodian way to greet


At my office a poster reinforces to staff how to properly greet in Cambodia.

Every place has its own way to greet somebody. In many Western countries a shake of the hands or a kiss might do the trick. In Japan, a bow can determine levels of respect and formality. In Taiwan they usually start with “have you eaten?” while in Benin they snap their fingers as they shake hands. Many people know that in this region of the world, many Southeast Asians put their hands together in prayer gesture and greet each other. In Cambodia, although it seems simple enough to carry out, there are traditional complexities that say much more than words could express while performing “the sampeah”, Cambodia’s local greeting. Continue reading

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R.I.P. Dara – a skilled teacher, inspirational storyteller and undying romantic

daraToday I received the sad news that my Khmer teacher, Dara Than, passed away this morning in Phnom Penh. Dara is very well known among the VSO and Cuso community here and introduced many and most of us to the Khmer language during our first weeks upon arrival. Dara had an extremely unique sense of humour. He would often intertwine a romantic twist into his lessons and belt out a few lines from country songs like “Don’t Cry, Joni”. He has a life story of both unimaginable tragedy and uplifting inspiration. He kept our intensive classes full of laughter even during moments of regular frustration that foreign language-learning can induce. He also let us into his past at times and shared moments of unthinkable human acts during the Khmer Rouge . Continue reading

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Blind massage – social inclusion and a source of relief!

blindmassageWith renewed physical strength and relief from ongoing throbbing pain, I feel like this is something I must share with you immediately. Blind massage is common in Cambodia and it’s not hard to find a place to visit when your joints are sore. I’ll be honest, I love massage, I love spas, and I love all the environments that a bit of imagination can conjure in constructing a place of zen. I get frequent massage to relax and to make sure that life in an office doesn’t get too deep into my posture. Continue reading

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