Cambodian Day Out

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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.

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  • 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.

Bread2015-04-15_1339_0013

  • 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.

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Out and About

I often post about specific events but I thought I would try to take photos every now ans then which are everyday sights for me. often when I an driving I will see interesting thing but may not have my camera with me. Today I was picking up Phoebe who had been  helping her friend in her coffee shop.

flower shop

Today my route was through a busy market street preparing for Khmer New Year so there were loads of fruit and flower sellers, with bananas and little ornamental offerings made of banana leaves and incense. These will be offerings in the home or pagoda tomorrow.

offerings

I then have to drive along an open very stinky black canal. I was struck by the contrast of the beautiful flowers on the tree and then the black murky water below.

beauty and rubbish

All along the canal were houses and washing and food being left out to dry and rubbish.

washing linechillisman by roadstreet

Rubbish and flowers Then I collected Phoebe with her coffee in a bag!

coffee in a bag

Easter 2015 Cambodian Style

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Holidays

We have been enjoying a holiday from school. This year Khmer New Year (celebrated in April) is the weekend after Easter which is nice,

We have been chilling as a family (well metaphoricallly not literally as it is s hot!!), soting out the house, catching up on letter writing and a bit of work from school, language study as well as doing a variety of things with a team from Jubillee Church Coventry. Phew that was our first half of a week!

I was able to visit one of our church members who lives in a slum area. It is always so humbling to see her in the middle of such a tough area. Literally the houses are along a rickety wooden walkway which is about a metre wide over black stinky water. Each house is about 5-6m squared made of a mixture of wood and corrigated metal, with just a doorway onto the walkway…no windows. Each house has a bathroom off the main area. Some houses have a small mezzanine level. Again no windows! There is very little privacy as you can hear what everyone is saying. She lives in this house with her elderly mother, four children, son in law and 2 grandchildren. For this she has to pay $45 (about $30) per month but her monthly salary is only $90. She is alway so pleased to see anyone and I am hoping to be able to meet her more regularly.

This is her front door…everyone knows that she is a Christian….but this often brings alot of hardship and difficulty for her too. Pray for Mrs C and her family.

Christmas Day 2011

Church in OngSit
Normajong (she has known me since I was 6! and Aiheen

I loved our Christmas Day this year because of its simplicity. Each day this week we have had presents, stockings or something special so today we had no presents left to open but rather than it being an anti- climax it was a time to remember what Christmas is really about. In the morning we met with all the Christians here in Ong Sit where my mum and dad live.

After that all the children (ours and my friend Wendy’s children who also live in the same village) got together and acted out the nativity in my parents yard. This was such fun and absolutely hilarious!!

Mary and Joseph (unfortunately baby Jesus was a little blue!)
Do you think my halo looks good?
Shepherds cum kings cum inn keepers

We then had the second Christmas dinner of the week…yum!

The kids chilled out in the afternoon making a model village in the yard and then in the evening we went to a local market which comes occasionally. The treat for the day was having some money to spend at the market. The kids had so much fun choosing what to buy. 

Choosing the topping for a pancake at the market….chocolate and dolly mixture!

yum!

 So wishing you all a Happy Christmas…..I will post the present pictures soon!

Pictures of Christmas 2011

 Some pictures of our Christmas week. We started on Sunday with decorating the tree and each day opened a few presents. It was nice to see the children enjoying the gifts they had been given and appreciating them.

Jamie and Ewan having a “hooter” fight
Granny’s home made mince pies!
Lucia and Grandad

Lets Take a Walk

This morning we walked down to the local market and bought freshly cooked doughnuts, iced milo and delicious ripe mangoes. Andrew, Becci and Simon joined myself  and the “early birds” Lucia and Jamie for a 5min stroll down the road to PC Market. I thought you might like to take the stroll with us…….

 Take a right out of our front gate and walk down the bumpy road past all the rubbish (bin men have not been for ages). All the pot holes are filled in with broken bricks and tiles which make walking a little tricky but it is not far on this road until we get to a paved road.

 At the end of this road turn sharp left and then the road turns sharp right and we are on a paved road seen below. At the end of this road we will need to turn left.

We walk down to the end of this road with the Wat on our right (you can see the decorative wall)

This picture is taken from the market entrance

We get to the entrance of PC Market shown by this big archway inside is a little bustling local market. I have yet to see a foreigner there (they do go but not often) I have also found prices significantly cheaper than my previous market.

Our aim was to get freshly cooked doughnuts which have been cooked over a fire like the one above. They are simple ring doughnuts with sugar but so delicious!!! We then go to a lady who sell ice coffee and milo for a large sugar rush!
We went back home and had doughnuts, mangoes and coffee some from the market and others opted for freshly ground Cambodian coffee by Three Corner Coffee. We have all decided it is a good once a month Saturday morning tradition!

Christmas in Phnom Penh 2010

Ewan listening to some carol singers outside Sovanna

This is our first Christmas in Phnom Penh! So what is it like? What is the same what is different and what is the same? It is strange having Christmas when it is 32 degrees outside in a country where christmas is not really celebrated…there are the obligitary tacky tinsel up in some shops and a few santas but it is essentially an imported holiday.

Sovanna Shopping Centre

It is amazing what we take for granted in the UK…being able to do Tescos delivery order to avoid shopping, getting nearly all your presents in one shop, family and friends nearby, carol services and treats on special offer.
This year Christmas crept up on me as there was not the constant reminder from shop displays, adverts and music. When you don’t have all the trappings around you get to choose what you want your Christmas to look like….  it was nice to be able to make Christams what we wanted it to be.

So what was Christmas to us? A time to share, give and spend time with family and remember Jesus who came to the world. It needed imagination and perseverance to do this and sometimes was frustrating. ithink when you don’t have things and have to work hard to get them it makes you appreciate everything so much more. There was great excitement when we found something like a nice cheese or the cranberry sauce. Having family and friends to share it with makes it so much more fun.

Here are some of our unique Phnom Penh Christmas experiences….

Lucia waiting at moto park at Russian Market

*Searching high and low in shops to find the turkey, cranberry sauce, cheese, ham, sausages and yummy things to eat. This involved going to about five different shops all around the city not knowing if you would get something even though you saw it last week.
* Shopping with my mum in the market and seeing who can get the best deal…she is a very good bargainer!
*Trailing round the hot busy Olympic market with Colin (he was not so pleased) to find the presents…took nearly 2 hours to find a Liverpool football kit for Jamie..everywhere else had Chelsea or Arsenal.
*Taking a break from Christmas shopping at Brown at a new Cambodian run coffee shop.

Colin in Browns

*Making christmas crackers from coloured tissue from the market and cereal boxes.
*Coffee cake and coffee for Christmas breakfast…my familys Christmas tradition
*Cooking an entire Christmas dinner for 12 in an oven the size of a microwave.
*Having to call out a locksmith on Christmas day because the door handle came off the door of the bedroom my parents were staying in..my dad was trapped inside!
*Making homemade Gingerbread lattes

Santa had a Korean influence this year
Christmas morning

*Having Mike and Jo (my brother and his wife) for Christmas (the first time ever)

Mike and Jo

*The church next door having a big Christmas party next door (including loudspeakers!!) just as we were serving up Christmas dinner…fortunately they stopped and ate a little bit later
*Having a Christmas service in Khmer…no carols or candles! but great food afterwards.

Jubille Family Church

*Being given curry on Christmas day by our Christian neighbours (just after we had finished Christmas dinner!!!)
*Singing Christmas carols with family and friends with the warm tropical breeze blowing through the doors.

Boys with boys toys!

My brother did a reading at the end of Christmas day about how we as people come in packaging. Some have nice pretty ribbons and paper but others sometimes have torn paper or are damaged or broken. WE should not look at the outside but inside and see the true gift of the person inside. The person who Jesus sees and the reason why there is a Christmas to celebrate.