Cambodian Day Out


On Sunday we had a day out with our church to the waterfalls in
Kirirom up in the mountains. This was the first time that everything was organized entirely by the Cambodian leadership team and I can say they did such an amazing job from beginning to end.
We had to be there at 7am and were aiming to leave by 7.30 which we did, which those of you who live in Cambodia will say very rarely happens! It was a long journey as it took a while for the bus to get up the mountain, especially in the last part which was a dirt road.IMG_0279IMG_0282 IMG_0389When we got there we had so much fun hanging out by the lake in these little bamboo and wooden huts with hammocks for the lucky few. On the way there were people selling flower wreaths for 3,000 riel and I asked one Of my Khmer friends what they were for, was it to put on the temple or lay at a shrine. No, she told me they were to wear in your hair to make you look beautiful at the waterfall.IMG_0336IMG_0229IMG_0245IMG_0235First we had a time of worship and then baptized Lyhong and prayed for her. After this was lunch which everyone had been patiently been waiting for which was chicken and rice and a few sneaky bacon butties in the Saunders camp.IMG_0332After this we had free time. Now the day before I had asked my children do you wan to take a change of clothes to go swimming and they all said o we will not want to go swimming. Ha! Famous last words, within 30 mins of Phally declaring free time all the Saunders children were completely soak and having a lot of fun.IMG_0337IMG_0381 IMG_0382 IMG_0383
Usually when we go somewhere like this there are people hawking food and souvenirs and our kids get mobbed for photos. I am not sure if it was because we were with Khmer people but we were treated as if we were the same and this made it so relaxing and a really positive experience.
There is something about running water in a the middle of beautiful trees that makes you just want to get at least your feet wet!
We arrived back home about 9 very tired but happy.
My favourite parts of the day were seeing some people in our group who would never have a chance to do this having so much fun, hanging out with all my friends at Liberty, seeing my kids enjoy themselves, seeing Gods beautiful creation all around and getting out of the city for one day. One of my friends when I asked them if they were enjoying it said, “It is so nice to get out of the city to see trees and breathe nice air”
So well done to Sawat, Phally, Narith and Sdom for organising such a great day out.


Not So Healthy Lunch!

2015-04-15_1357_0019  Sometimes I just want comfort food, something simple and yummy. I love warm bread with fresh lemon curd BUT lemons are not easy to get here so my Cambodian twist on it is orange, passion fruit and lime curd. Also the bread really has to be freshly made and not this nasty bought stuff, it is the anticipation when you smell the bread cooking! I had to make do with my gluten free bread but it still tasted nice.


Orange Passion Curd2015-04-15_1328_0010

  • 3/4 c juice
  • 1cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c cooled melted butter
  • 1 TBS zest from oranges or limes
  1. Juice of 1 orange, 2 passion fruit and about 10 limes to make up 3/4 cup juice (make sure you sieve it to remove pulp and seeds)
  2. Whisk the eggs in the juice until they are mixed throughrally
  3. Add sugar, butter and zest and mix
  4. Cook at 1 min intervals on high, stir each time with a metal spoon until the mixture turns thicker and coats the back of a spoon
  5. Put in sterilized jars and put the lids on and allow to cool before eating.


  • 1/2 tsp yeast mixed with 1TBS sugar and 140mls warm water. Mix and leave to begin to bubble
  • Mix in 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 TBS oil
  • 200 mls water
  1. mix all the ingredients together and knead for about 15 mins until smooth and silky.
  2. Put in a bowl and cover and allow to rise for 45-50mins until double the size
  3. Shape into a loaf and put in a greased pan. Cover and leave about 30-40 mins until double the size.
  4. Cook for 35 mins at 180-200. You will know it is finished if it has a nice golden crust and has a hollow sound when you tap it. Allow to cool for about 20 mins before eating.
  5. Alternatively you can put it in a bread maker and follow the makers instructions.



We know we have been in Cambodia a long time when…

Some of us wear jeans in the hot season

Some of our children choose pork and rice for breakfast over croissants and donuts

28 degrees is a nice cool day for the hot season

We eat more rice than pasta and potatoes

Forget how to drive a car and prefer a motorbike

Can’t sleep properly if there is no fan sound

Will equally choose sweet iced coffee or iced tea over the hot variety (I also like bubbles/tapioca pearls added)


I think it creeps up on you. When you first arrive in Cambodia, everything is new and interesting or difficult to adjust to.Your senses are assaulted with noise, smells, sights and people everywhere. It is difficult to say when you feel you have settled in as it is different for everyone. 5f8ef0c2032493f6ba1a268ffa65a5d4

I think that having a positive attitude and giving things a try balanced with remembering traditions and special things from your home country helps to live well in Cambodia. Learning from Cambodians and asking for help when you need it and using local knowledge for things we have no clue about. When I first came to Cambodia God gave me a picture about walking like Cambodians. The Cambodians say foreigners are known for walking loudly and quickly where as Cambodians will take a much slower and quieter pace, pausing to look around as they go.

In a new culture I think it is a good approach to take a slower pace, to pause and look around before making judgements about how things are done and appreciate the great things about the culture and people. I know there are loads of things I have learnt in my time so far in Cambodia from my Cambodian friends and more I will still have to learn. So if you are new to a country or have been around awhile then take time to pause and look around at the good and amazing things, but also be prepare to work alongside indigenous people to make good changes which will have long lasting benefits.


Easter 2015 Cambodian Style


When I think of Easter I dream of blue skies, daffodils, hot cross buns, roast lamb dinner with friends and family, Easter day services at church, walk in the spring sunshine where you are not quite sure if you need to take a coat and of course Easter egg hunt in the garden. In Cambodia, it is important to do things that are significant in our home culture but  this version of Easter is quite difficult to replicate.

First of all the temperature at the moment is about 37 degrees and sometimes 75% humidity, so we have blue skies but no fresh Spring weather or daffodils.When you move you sweat, so definitely no desire to go for a walk.

Then no one here celebrates Easter so there is nothing in the shops unless you know where to go! Easter Eggs are nearly impossible to find however after trawling Phnom Penh I found some very yummy Easter eggs at The Shop on St 240. I managed to smuggle them in and hide them in the fridge for three days and none of my children found them! We did a chocolate coin hunt round the house and ended with the chocolate eggs which had quickly been removed from the fridge!

At school I did an activity where the students found 12 different items which told the Easter story from Good Friday to Easter Sunday based on the idea of Resurrection Eggs activity. We then repeated this on Sunday with our guests. I like it as it is a very visual way of thinking about different parts of Easter.

Hot cross buns have to be hand made and this year Colin and Lucia got to make them and did a great job. I did not make any gluten free ones yet so maybe I will have a go soon.

I bought some duck eggs and we blew them until all the egg white and yolk was outside then we dyed them with food colouring and vinegar. These were put on the table as decoration with sharpie pens so that our guests could decorate them.

On Easter Sunday while the lamb was roasting I went out for a high tea with some friends from church at Sugar and Spice.

As for family they are too far away so this year we decided to invite anyone from church who would appreciate a roast lamb dinner. There ended up being 23 of us from UK, US, France, Scotland/Korea and Cambodia. We managed to find a NZ leg of Lamb which was delicious from Smokey Dah Boar, mint jelly from Thai Huot. It was a lovely meal with lots of fun people who we love doing life with, so Easter Cambodian style was not much different, except with the very hot weather and minus immediate family.

Pchum Ben

We have just had a week off school as Cambodia celebrates Pchum Ben. I have written about it in a previous post so if you want to know more then read here
The celebrations for Pchum Ben start 16 days before the actual holiday with very early chanting from the monks at the nearby wat (sometimes as early as 4.30 depending on who has arrived at the wat and requires the monk to chant) So this month has been somewhat sleep deprived!
As people are leaving offerings at each wat for their deceased relatives inside and outside the wat will be these piles of food with a cut out of a person or skeleton. Normally I don’t see them but this year I noticed them outside a nearby wat.




As this is one of the holidays where shops could be closed for up to a week, many Cambodians return to their family in the provinces. It is a time where Phnom Penh is super quiet especially on the roads and the roads going out of Phnom Penh can be busy, so we have always stayed at home and just had a quiet week. This year was no exception! After the actual Pchum Ben day on Wednesday the wat fell blissfully silent and a lie in was actually possible!
I finally finished a project I started 6 weeks ago before school started to make a giant family planner for the wall. Giant it is… and also very bright!




We were also able to get away to a local hotel with a nice quiet pool where they let you swim as a day visitor…well it was quiet until we arrived! We were the only people using it and it was a nice break from the house. We then finished off the day out with a meal at Divine Pizza.


Great British Bake Off


We have finally managed to get BBC iplayer here in Cambodia and to my delight have been able to watch the Great British Bake Off each week. We have been watching it with our lovely friend Ha-na, who was a runner up contestant on last years GBBO, which has been really fun.The only trouble is while you are watching it you just have to eat something and afterwards you just want to bake something yummy!! So this week in honour of GBBO I made a gluten free orange and lime drizzle cake. I thought I would share with all my coeliac friends out there or anyone who fancies a slightly different recipe. As you can see from my picture there was not much left!

Gluten Free Orange and Lime Drizzle Cake

  • 6 oz margarine
  • 6 oz white sugar
  • 2 oz rice flour
  • 2 oz buckwheat flour
  • 2 oz potato starch flour
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tsp gf baking powder
  • 1 tsp xantham gum or honey
  • zest of 1 orange and 3 limes
  • juice of 1 orange and 4 limes
  1. Beat the margarine and sugar until fluffy
  2. Add the eggs and beat until smooth
  3. Add all the remaining dry ingredients and fold in until smooth
  4. Pour in 2-3 tsp of orange and lime juice and half of the zest and mix well
  5. Divide evenly between two round cake tins and bake at 180 for about 20-25 mins.
  6. When the cake springs back to the touch, take it out of the oven and prick all over with a fork. Carefully pour nearly all the remaining citrus juice slowly over the cake allowing it to soak in around the middle and edges of the cake. Put back in the oven for about 2-3 minutes to let the glaze set.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining zest over the cake and pour the a tiny bit more citrus juice over the cake. Allow to cool.
  8. Between the cakes you can either put a citrus butter icing, marmalade or lime curd.

We had run out of icing and had no lime curd so ate 1 layer at a time straight out of the oven still warm. Very yummy!!! I know if a gluten free cake is successful….there is never much left over for me to eat later!

Birthdays, AEON Mall and Ice-cream

One thing we decided when we arrived in Cambodia to help us adjust to life here was to set up some new traditions or family events. One of our favourite traditions is on someones birthday they get to choose somewhere to go to eat ice-cream. Over the last five years we have alternated between Swenson’s, Blue Pumpkin and Snow Yogurt.
This weekend it was my birthday and I chose to go to the new AEON Mall which has a nice ice-cream shop called TOTO. Very chilled out and girly!



Blue Sky Signature Smoothie

Blue Sky Signature Smoothie



The new mall is the first one in Cambodia that has outside brand names as well as well known quality brands in Cambodia. It was strange walking around a mall that made you feel like you were in Bangkok or even England. It is new, shiny and clean! There are brands like Costa Coffee, Burger King, Mango, Toni&Guy which I know from England. There are also lots of well known Korean, Thai and Japanese brands. It also has a Cinema, Bowling, and Ice Park as well as a nice World Food restaurant section.
It is nice to see opportunities opening up in Cambodia but the reality is at the moment many of the Cambodians I know could only window shop. (Looking at the prices in some shops think I will also be window shopping most of the time!) However it is lovely to have a sparkling, clean air-con mall to wander round in and remind me of home!
I’m not sure if Colin enjoyed the nearly 3 hours of shopping to explore the new mall but he said the ice-cream was good!

Outside AEON Mall

Outside AEON Mall

Lucia in front of Papa Beard

Lucia in front of Papa Beard

At home I got to eat a lovely gluten free carrot cake which Lucia had made for me!

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Accidents and Emergencies

Recently I asked people what they wanted to read on our blog. Daily life was one of the things which came up most. So I am going to try to blog about the everyday mundane and sometimes exciting things which happen to us.
So this week we had two A&E situations. What do you do when your youngest daughter is escorted to you with blood dripping from her head after falling off her scooter? On inspection it is a nasty deep cut on her head about 1.5-2 cm long, do you…

A. Ring 999 for an ambulance?
B. Wash the blood off and use her hair to “tie up” the cut?
C. Jump on a tuk tuk and head to a clinic?

Thankfully as I have done first aid and after having four children I have dealt with a few injuries over the years. We took her into the bathroom which is completely tiled and after working out where the cut was applied pressure and carefully rinsed off all the blood from her hair. When the bleeding had stopped we cleaned the wound and realized that is was very deep and long and would need stitches. So as it was a head wound this ruled out traveling by motorbike so we rang a tuk tuk driver to come to our house.
There are a few choices in Phnom Penh for what to do next. Most expats use International SOS or Royal Rattanak Hospital and also the main hospital, Calmette Hospital, who have A&E departments. However serious illness or injury may still require medical evacuation, probably to Bangkok or Singapore.
If you needed an ambulance you can ring this emergency number 119 (from 023 phones), 023-724891 but usually you would be better to ring the number for the specific hospital you want to go to, and they will send their ambulance. In each case you would need to have cash available to pay in case you need to pay in advance before the ambulance will take you. Also many hospitals or clinics require either insurance information or a credit card before any treatment is started, even if it is an emergency!

For us, this time thankfully we did not need an A&E but instead a walk in clinic. After a quick discussion with some friends and we set off for the Clinic Sokhapheap Thmey
They are open 24 hours, are efficient, clean and speak English and for this type of injury are very good. Lucia was very brave and ended up having 3 stitches in her head.
Lucia sm

Our second emergency this week was when Sting one of our cats decided to venture outside and was attacked by our landladies dogs. Thankfully she tied the dogs up and we found him cowering under the woodpile at the side of her house. Phoebe very quickly checked on the internet to see how to deal with a cat who has been traumatized. We waited about 30 mins then got a pillowcase and talked gently with him to try to coax him out. When he got up and moved a little we gently picked him up using the pillowcase in case he tried to claw us and put him in a cardboard box. After ringing a vet we use called PPAWS we hopped on the motorbike and took him to be checked over. He had to stay in overnight but when we picked him up in the morning although he still had a sore back and had 3 bites on his leg nothing seemed to be broken. PPAWS are so lovely and caring and thankfully only a 5min drive from our house.
colin sm
Sting sm
Rachel Saunders
***NOTE** I realised I did not put where we normally go for everyday treatment….we use Dr Marissa who was recomended to us and is also on a list of approved clinic from the US embassy just in case anyone who reads this blog lives in or is visiting Cambodia and needs medical information you can find it at

Looking ahead (part 1)

In just four weeks time we will leave Cambodia for a 6 month ‘furlough’ (sabbatical) back in England. Having been here for (almost) four years it does, in some ways, feel strange to be going back to England for half a year.

It’s hard to explain what this feels like. A word that is used a lot these days to help describe it all is ‘transition’. We’re going to transition from one culture here in Phnom Penh back to a different culture in England.

To help to understand what we’re thinking about it all here are the answers to some simple questions we asked ourselves:

#1 What will you miss from Cambodia?

Lucia: Ginger (the dog next door), the little boy from next door (he’s VERY cute), Milo guy in the market, the markets, the heavy rain, and 1 & 1 (our favourite shop).

Ewan: Ginger, Milo, friends in school, 1 & 1, lots of rain, tuk tuks, and my teachers.

Jamie: Ginger, the little boy next door, 1 & 1, friends at school, tuk tuks, and motos.

Phoebe: School (friends), market, and coffee shops.

Rachel: Warm barmy evenings, my moto, coffee shops, sour mangoes, and people.

Colin: Friends, driving my moto around Phnom Penh, my job (yes, I really enjoy it), Sambadt (our househelper) and Sron (our tuk tuk driver), fresh mangoes and cheap cinema tickets.

Next week: What we won’t miss while we’re in England.

Countdown- Summer Holidays Part 1

Then end of term in mid June was the usual crazy madness of too much to do. However for us there was something to look forward to. Granny and Granddad were coming….and lots of goodies. Phoebe the organiser she is drew on the wall (tiles with whiteboard marker) a countdown chart.

ImageFinally the day arrived and we went to meet them from their 10pm flight at the airport …..there was much excitement. The next day we had a catch up on several birthdays and a large pile of goodies. We can get chocolate here but it id quite expensive and has something added o make it melt slower which changes the taste. Each of the children had a small budget and had ordered from Tesco’s online from Cambodia…delivered to Grandparents in Liverpool then brought to Cambodia via Dubai and Thailand in their luggage!!! The things you can do on the internet.


Ewan with granddad Saunders


Lucia with Granny Saunders


Kids with goodies



It was so nice to see Granny and Granddad Saunders again after a year. We had lots of things planned to do but before that we all needed a  few days to chill out…except the temperature was 30 and humidity was 89%!!! Lucky we have one Air-con room for them to stay in.