Personal

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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Home in photos

collage

April 22 – May 15. Back home after two years away. Reconnections, family and friendship, encounters with nature, nostalgic revisits, and lots of updates. Thank you for the memories.

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Detox fasting in Thailand

kohI have arrived on the island of Koh Phangan in southern Thailand for the opposite reason that most people come. No full moon party for me, I’ve come to cleanse my body and fast on a detox programme.

I have wanted to do this for over a year but wasn’t able to find the time until now. I feel it’s the perfect time to purge myself of the old and prepare for the new. So I’ve decided to share my daily journal just in case anyone is considering to do the same. I’ll share this journey with you which is certain to be challenging, but hopefully rewarding. Continue reading

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Living the dream

It has been a considerable gap since I’ve blogged. I did in fact suspect I’d take a while before posting something. My senses have been awoken by new experiences almost on a daily level over the last four months. Moving to a new city, starting a new job, beginning a whole new journey in this trip since I arrived in Cambodia.

AWLast August I got into a van with all my belonging and headed north from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, the home of the infamous Angkor Wat – centre of the Khmer Empire. It’s a real privilege to live at the base of an empire that was one of the world’s most powerful. Angkor Wat is literally a bike ride away from my house and is at the core of nearly everything that revolves around Siem Reap. I quickly settled down – or better stated, geared up – into my new job at a peace and conflict centre working regionally from Siem Reap. Continue reading

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Two parallel journeys – winding down and ramping up!

On the road again. Moving my furniture and myself from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on a somewhat new journey.

On the road again. Moving my furniture and myself from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on a shifting new journey.

And so ends the final week of my volunteer placement. After a bit over 14 months, I’m finishing up the final details of a year that has whizzed by. A year that has drastically altered my life and taken me in a new direction.

I’m in a van with all my belongings en route to Siem Reap, the land of Angkor Wat and the heart of the Kingdom of Wonder. I have about 5 more hours on a bumpy road that I think will be the end of my wine glasses.

Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say ‘We have done this ourselves’.
– Lao Tzu Continue reading

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Eating my way through Malaysia

Eating banana leaf curry with my boss has always been a highlight of living and visiting Malaysia!

Eating banana leaf curry with my boss has always been a highlight of living and visiting Malaysia!

*WARNING – this blog posting contains images that may produce severe hunger on an empty stomach…

A bit over six years ago I moved to Malaysia for a three month internship. Lucky to have a boss who was an avid foodie, I got to experience the culinary delights of a country that often falls under the food radar. It’s a real wonder why Malaysian food doesn’t compete up there with Thai or Vietnamese in the Western world. Last week I went on a one week trip to Malaysia with a theme – food. Perhaps for me, Malaysia is my Italy of Eat, Pray, Love. I certainly could feel the trousers get tighter and see my face get fuller over such a short timespan. But every bite was full of pleasure and discovery as I ate my way through Malaysia once again. Continue reading

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Ode to the granny bike

grannyDutch blood runs through my veins. My legs are genetically supposed to begin making cycling movements before I even start to walk…

In my volunteer programme, we are generally expected to ride bicycles if our workplaces are within 5km or so from our homes. Living in Phnom Penh, most of us reside close to work. When I arrived and had a look at the chaotic city traffic and chronically potholed roads, I thought there was no way I was getting on a bicycle. Not even to mention the fact I had arrived in Cambodia under that stifling heat at the beginning of the rainy season and daily flooding. Other volunteers encouraged me to get on a bicycle and give it a try – which I did once – and subsequently made a decision to never try again. Alternatively, I decided to focus my Dutch genes on spinning classes at the gym with machine bikes, cute instructors, and pounding dance music! 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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One year to the day – looking back at my Cambodian journey

hot

My first month in Cambodia can be summed up simply as “feeling hot”!

Today is special day for me. It is one year since I got on a flight from Vancouver to Seoul, en route to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I remember so clearly the morning of June 3, 2013. I woke up with a knot in my stomach.  I had big plans, but I couldn’t shake the profound sadness I felt to leave the life I had built up for myself over the last five years since I had returned to Canada in 2008. I knew that this journey would be taking me on a new path. 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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