Indoctrination begins at school


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The boy’s school is participating in a 1-on-1 laptop program with Macbook Airs so Apple indoctrination has begun early for this one. Since it has come into the house it has been loved, constantly. I worry now about how to balance its use with some down time… There has to be balance, right?

In fact, this happened on one of those “break time, tea time” balance attempts.

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His hair is long, pretty much too long for school. There is an attempt to grow it long enough so that he can tuck his fringe behind his ear. In the meantime, there is this delicious wave of awesome fringe going across his forehead. How he managed to get hair that simply falls into position is beyond me!!!

Life has resumed a more regular rhythm. Things here are good x

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Taking a break from holiday photos to go back in time

Remember how aaaaaages ago I bought a film camera?

I’ve been hoarding my film to be able to get 5+ processing discounts. Well, it happened! The other day I had 6 films processed! It would appear that digital and I may have had a falling out.

 

These were taken with a Nikon F5, on Fuji Portra 400H. 

They were colour, some I preferred in b+w, though. 

 

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These are all off one film… I’m going to keep sharing the ones I loved from other films, including one shot only a week ago – woot! 

Phnom Penh

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Phnom Penh, almost as expected, was the city that I struggled the most with.

Transported from Singapore, we arrived to the city in the early evening. Our passports were taken away, I paid $10 for the boy’s visa, then his passport was given back. I was waved on to another line. My name was called, my passport handed back. $20 for me. Confusing, aye. The boy, normally impeccably behaved, had decided that this was the time where he would spin on the tiles… and spin he did, followed by running around and not listening when I called him over for the customary wave at the camera/fingerprinting/passport part of the trip.

We grabbed our luggage and emerged into the warmth. It was lovely. I love the way that the heat envelopes you after you leave the plane and you begin to wake up and realise that you are somewhere new, different and the adventure has truly begun.

I grabbed a taxi and made a rookie error that I didn’t make again on our trip – I didn’t ask how much the fare would be or negotiate. It was an airport taxi, it should have been a flat $9. I am rubbish at negotiating fares, so thought that going for one of the airport ones I would avoid the trouble… well.

We got stuck in peak hour traffic, the 7km trip took 40 minutes.

It was at one of the first intersections where the most gorgeous little girl knocked on our window and asked for money. I’d prepped the little man that we were not going to give money to children begging… Further up the road, a little boy who couldn’t even see over the door of the car knocked on my window.

Then my taxi driver started taking me on a “tour”, past the independence monument, past the poorest streets, complete with small children urinating onto the “road” on and on, until we got to our hotel and the doubled taxi fare.

*sigh* It was not pretty, dear readers. I quibbled and wavered. I ended up negotiating down, slightly. In retrospect, I should have given him 9 and stormed off to our hotel and let the reception staff deal with him if he’d followed. One word: Sucker. If that had happened at the end of our trip, well, things would have been different.

We carried our bags up the 5 flights of stairs to our top floor room, surveyed the beautiful sunset past Wat Botum and Botum Park and then contemplated dinner. We spotted a playground and made our way there, crossing the roads bravely (no organised crossings, remember!). We meandered, then got hungrier and hit up Suki Soup… It was disastrous as we realised that we had major communication issues, had drunk drinks without establishing if they had filtered water in them, then had no idea how to cook the food.

We ordered off the easy part of the menu and found a bottle of water.

And called it a night. I was questioning why Cambodia, why by myself and with the responsibility of getting the boy to enjoy South East Asia.

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Our first full day we went to Phnom Tamao, which will be getting its own picture heavy post. Things really turned around when we went to dinner that night, to be greeted with the royal palace and surrounds to be all lit up with fairy lights. It was extraordinarily beautiful and felt like being in an Eastern Paris. I fell in love with Phnom Penh in that moment.

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We hit up the Russian Market, as seen above, purchasing the boy a digital watch with a calculator, a few factory seconds from Osh Kosh, Zara, H+M and Adidas. We toured the silver pagoda, but not the royal palace as the King Father’s body was still lying in State. We went to the Riverside and had dinner and a drink at the Foreign Correspondant’s club.

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There is a lot I purposely left out of Phnom Penh and more that I want to explore next time. We avoided the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng, people told me that I would regret it, that I was missing the soul of the country… Next trip, perhaps. We didn’t go to Angkor Wat on this trip, either. Certainly, next time.

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We left 3 sleeps after arriving. An early morning trip with a pair of lovely travelling American ladies to the Island. I was sad about leaving the thriving, teeming, changing beautiful mess of Phnom Penh. A complete 360 degree turn around in 2 and a half days. I can’t wait to explore more of the crumbling buildings and see the new surprises when next we return. The city isn’t one of those light ones, you can feel a menace in the shadows. It’s a two faced city – a proud, smiling face for the foreigners and you just know that there is darkness happening in and around you.

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I was scared of things going wrong in Phnom Penh – of my passport being stolen, my big camera being taken (hence why so few photos were taken, I didn’t feel comfortable), being separated from my beautiful boy… yet, circumstances didn’t really prompt that. It was all the talk leading up to the trip – people saying how scary Cambodia was, even the guy next to me… and I bought into it, again. Things on our final full day were much more relaxed, until we caught a tuk tuk home after dinner and the driver turned around and said “be careful, Miss” and pointed at my bag on the floor…

The thing is though, I was alert, but never really scared. I keep saying “next time” over and over, I cannot wait to share this city with my partner and see what he thinks of it. I want to explore so much more, but I am so glad that I’ve started the explorations!

 

 

Koh Rong

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Koh Rong is currently one of THE hotspots of South East Asia.

It’s a little island off the Coast of Sihanoukville in Cambodia and is developing quickly… so quickly in fact that in the time since I’d booked accommodation and arrived (less than 3 months), there were already two new accommodation spots on the island, with another one being built.

The thing that is drawing people there in droves is that it is being touted as what Thailand’s Southern beaches were like 30 years ago, before the touts, the resorts, the rampant sex industry. I know that’s what got me there along with the fact that I could stay in a treehouse, lounge in a hammock and do little else for the duration of our trip.

The Island has been sold to a developer who is going to turn it into an eco resort… before I went I had strong feelings that this simply shouldn’t be allowed to happen, but after our visit, well, things have changed.

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The island has beautiful resources – pure white sandy beaches that are 28 degrees celcius warm during the day, undisturbed jungles in the middle of the island and dive sites in the warm waters. It is a haven from this mad and busy world.

With the level of building currently going on, though, how can this be preserved? The island is growing in popularity and the number of guests growing… as is the amount of sewage, food required, number of boats… on and on. This is not being managed to preserve the natural beauty of the island at the moment, or so it would seem, so having a managed plan might actually be the best way of preserving the unique elements of the island… but then, apparently there is a golf course planned, so perhaps not.

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We stayed for two nights in a treehouse bungalow (US$30 a night), which was magical, even if our bathroom made us squeamish. It’s not the Ritz, for sure!

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On our full day, I paid $75 for two refresher dives from a boat (group of 3 with one dive master and a DM in training) and for the boy to snorkel. The boy didn’t enjoy the snorkelling so much, so I skipped my second dive to hang out with him and do flips off the back of the boat… still major fun and super inclusive. We were stung by jellyfish spores, which sounds a bigger deal than it was, but stayed in the water anyway. I have a video of the boy jumping in and rising to the surface in a pile of bubbles, but no need to bore anyone!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn our second full day we lounged in the water, hammocks, beachside cafes and more. We swam so much in that turquoise water and caught up with people we’d met on the boat. There is a smug kind of smile that every guest shares on the island, like we’re the ones that have discovered a secret paradise and know how lucky we really are.

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It was also the only place on our trip that I really felt comfortable enough releasing the boy off his big Western leash. The man assisting me with our booking gently chided me for babying him too much, a sweet reminder that I’m attempting to grow a person, not a child.

Ohhh, a few more things about the island:

There are dogs everywhere.

There are two Khmer island communities… These are townships made up with corrugated tin homes, boilers, single room houses and the trappings of poverty. This is a community that is currently reaping the benefits of cashed up tourists who are too lazy to do their own laundry (like me. I paid US$1.75 for all of the boy and I’s clothes to be washed by someone else). It’s not for the faint hearted, though, as the smell is intense. It offers bonuses, though, like the wedding we got to witness!

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I guess the big thing is, ultimately, whether we enjoyed it or not. That is an absolute no-brainer. We loved it and cannot wait to return with my beloved spouse as soon as possible. I don’t know if we’ll stay on Koh Rong on the busy side, again… I think we’d either stay on the other side of the island or on Koh Rong Samloen. For this trip, though, being close to people was important as it was just the boy and I.

I seriously miss this Island way of life so much and the idea of it being years before we return makes me immeasurably sad. Sooner, rather than later is the order of the day for Koh Rong.

How to get to Koh Rong:

Catch a 2.5 hour ferry from Sihanoukville. You can liase directly with Koh Rong Dive (who operate Treehouse Bungalows and Coco’s) or book through one of the Sihanoukville travel agents. 

Just Today, y’know

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It’s hot.

The boy is complaining that everything is boring as I am being a “mean” mother by not allowing him 24/7 access to screens. For several hours a day he is banned from interacting with any sort of screen and forced into interaction with the greater world. This has meant that the phrases “Mum, can you….” “Mum, I need…” “Mum, when are we…” have increased so much… I tried to get the house weekend ready today, normally I have most of the living areas vacuumed,  bathroom done, bedrooms a little more orderly, you know, basic stuff (that most people do daily…). Today I vacuumed our bedroom. Changed the sheets… There is a chorus of needs being vocally pronounced…

Yet, I am grateful to hear his little voice, see the cheekiness in action and to have him near.

Wanderings

For a week of December, my partner’s family and I retreated (advanced?) to the beach at Peregian. We stayed in my Godson’s mother’s Aunt’s apartment for a delicious week of beautiful weather, barbecues on the deck and the beach… the beach.

I have a nephew, well technically the spouse does, who lives in Germany for 17 months out of 18 and getting to know him a little bit better was high on our list of priorities. I’m waving a big hello to my German sister in law as I write this, too, as I know she’ll be peeking in and remembering sunshine as they’re celebrating a cold German Christmas!!!!

 

 

 

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Pretty much the only photo I got of my mother in law’s two baby boys together!

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We also left our beach to, you guessed, go to another beach:

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And eat icecream. This is the boy after devouring a take home pack of ice cream with his parents… The take home pack is so much more financially responsible for the 3 of us!!!! The boy picked this hat, by the way. It was $5 from K-Mart and it has been in the water and changed shape considerably, yet he still loves it. He bought his favourite type of sunglasses this week, aviators (duh), and looks absolutely dashing in the combination of hat + glasses. Little Man is growing up ridiculously quickly.

 

Zombie Walk

Only however much Late!

The Zombie Walk held in Brisbane is one of the largest in the world and a tremendous fundraiser for the Brain Foundation. Our Derby league was able to participate on skates and we had a jolly decent time!

 

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Zom Baby was born in time for our Grand final, too 🙂 She’s beautiful!

The bride looked so sweet amongst our beautiful jacaranda trees. Jacaranda season is such a beautiful time in Brisbane, I look forward to it every year.

Catching up on, you know, everything!