Monday, February 28, 2005


So here I am, at work. I am the sole person responsible for my client's care, who is currently bed bound. She has no voluntary movement, apart from one arm and above her neck. It's a little scary!

Once I know her routine, it will be fine - but it's just learning it, and remembering all the little things that you do for yourself without thinking.

Oh! And I had my first poo experience this morning for this stint of care work. Lucky me.

I am in a small town called Horsham, in West Sussex...about an hour train ride from central London. I get set times off, and so a short wandered into the main street - and LOTS of reading! Otherwise, I am doing little tasks, or just needing to be around. LOTS of reading!

I burnt the first big meal tonight. Oh dear!

Here for a week or 2. We will see who gets sick of who first!!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Off to assignment after all!

We finished up our 5 day training course for work today. Learnt all the final bits and signed our life away, and some of us finished up with Sevenoaks, too. I am back in London tonight, after saying goodbye to a really good group.

I so hope we will all keep in touch. We may get to work together on different assignments, although it sounds rare. Maybe see each other for handovers, but we will definately have to coordinate to meet when we have time off in common.

Despite the idea that I would have to wait ages for my police check to clear before being placed out to work, the agency have a mini-screen cleared (so I haven't messed up too much in the UK after arriving a week ago!)...and I am off to my first assignment tomorrow!

A bit nervous and apprehensive about it all. I guess it will be good to just jump straight in. They have placed me this fast because of my past experience, so hopefully it all comes flooding back fast!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Snowing in Sevenoaks

I am currently in Sevenoaks, attendind the fairly comprehensive training for my Personal Care Assistant (PA) position I have started with Active Assistance. I am training in a group of ten of us, which is really cool. Girls from all over, including New Zealand, South Africa, Zim, Slovakia, Poland and Czech.

We have been doing all sorts of weird things to prepare us for work - for the last hour I have been pushed around the streets in the snow in a wheelchair, we have been giving dummy's plastic kisses with our First Aide training (Lucie's term!), and poking around where noone would normally on anatomically correct models. Hmmmm.

Actually learning quite a bit, and it is also a bit of a refresher from previous work. It's interesting learning about how things are set up here in the UK for people with disabilities, and especially things specific to people with Spinal Cord Injuries, which is an area I haven't really focussed on before.

The group is fun, and I think we have managed to terrorise all the poor male bar staff in each of the pubs here in Sevenoaks! And have come pitifully last in a couple of quiz nights while out and about.

The village - well, that's what it feels like to me - is so cute. Old, cute little buildings. And everything is covered in a layer of snow, more so today than the others days. Those of our group from warmer climates have been very excited about it all - much to the amusement of the others.

Hopefully the snow will allow me to get back to London tomorrow afternoon, after the training has finished. I will then have to wait for some paperwork to be cleared so I can be sent out on my first work assignment - which could be anywhere in England and Wales. Assignments are from 1-3 weeks, and are full-time live-in.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Monopoly in London

Yesterday, after a big jet lag fighting sleep, I ventured into the big city of London to see some sights, and get aquainted with the Tube. Looking at the map, and arriving at street level feels like I am playing a mega game of Monopoly, with all the familiar place names. The Strand, Trafalgar Square...I am just waiting to collect my $200!!

Getting off the tube at Oxford Circus for a bit of lunch and a peek at the shops. I can see that once I am earning pound over here, I am going to have a serious shopaholic addiction on my hands! Just wandering in to a few stores, I can already see that I am going to be in trouble!! I have never seen this type of range in Australia.

Fighting the shopping urge, I jumped back on the tube to gaze around Piccadilly Circus. Surrounding by the wonderful old, old buildings, I walked down to Trafalgar Square.

Amoung all the pigeons, apparently encouraged to return to this area by all the tourists who feed them, wre loads of people milling to have a look at the huge Square and it's fountains, but also to get involved with the London Back The Bid 2012 Olympic campaign. It's everywhere! This weekend is when the IOC delegation is in town to be impressed - so the city is a-flutter.

Not really knowing where I was, I happened upon the Queen's Horse Guard, which lead me through the Horse Guard arch to St James's Park, and the walk up to Buckingham Palace.

Everything is all so very familar, and famous, and old, and beautiful! The Palace where old Lizzie resides is quite spectacular. Whilst wandering and gaping at the Palace, and taking it all in, it started to snow! I am not kidding! Just little drops of powdery white ice from the sky, and nothing that settled. But was very cool.

I must confess, my favourite sight so far here in London is Big Ben. I have seen a million of picture of it, but have never really appreciated it before. The pictures have always looked so drab - but all the beautiful gold etching!! Wow! (More photos.)

Still snowing, and thus, very very cold, I decided to head back to Charles' for a quiet night (not like us at all - will have to get back into form!), to stave off that jet lag.

I am mobile again now, and I have also taken the time today to fix up all my photos here. Am off to Kent tomorrow for an interview, and hopefully a week's training to get me started with some work - and some £!!

Sunday, February 20, 2005


Big travel day yesterday - about 12 and a half hours flight time, plus transfers, train time, waiting in airports. But I am finally in London!

The end of my time in Japan, and it's cute, precise and efficient ways - the heated toilet seats, clean and safe streets, inforced recycling (the provisions for every possible type of waste, you can't not recycle), and picking out what you'll have to eat by pointing to the wax replica of the dish in the front window. I was quite surprised at the prevalence of smoking, and especially smoking in restaurants in Tokyo - bit of a shock compared to Aus, although here in London and through the airport in Germany, smoking was everywhere too, so perhaps I just need to get used to it.

I flew with Lutfhansa, and it was strange being around mainly caucasians again, and still not understanding what was going on! Lots of things and people seems "so European" - I guess I'll have to get over that too! Hee hee!

Met at the airport by Charles, which was great to see him. He also saved me from the luggage nightmare that I have managed to bring on for myself, which was very lucky. I think I am developing a complex about my damsel-in-distress propensity around Charles, especially after arriving into Bangkok sober this time and realising what he managed to organise when I was otherwise incapacitated...hmmmm. I am staying with Chucky for the weekend, so thanks heaps Charles! Looks like he will get to show me the ropes in London.

So, here I am. In old London town. I have no idea what I am doing, what I am going to do, and even have little clues about London itself - I don't even have a guide book. Talk about jumping without a parachute. Bring it on!

Friday, February 18, 2005

I heart Japan!

I was greeted with a "Hai! Natasha-sun!" when I arrived back at my ryokan last night. How sweet. Granted, I did leave kilos of luggage here while I was away for a couple of days, but still!

A visit to the sushi place across the road was also meet with friendly familiar greetings. My dinnertime conversation involved pointed out in the atlas where I was from, and where I am headed next. Much chatter and laughter in Japanese...who knows what they were saying!

Today I have taken it a bit easy - a full-blown cold has hit. I guess I should have been less silently mocking toward the germaphobes on the trains, and joined them in their surgical-mask wearing...none of them are sneezing!!

Visiting the Imperial Palace, or what you can see of it, today. It is only actually open 2 days throughout the year, and today wasn`t one of them. However, you can see the palace, and view it with the famous Nijubashi Bridge in front of it. It is also set in a huge parkland, which is a welcome escape from the city madness.

A train ride away, I walked through Takeshita Dori, the place to shop for the hip teenaged Japanese. Dazzling lights and busy shops - and people in all sorts of gear walking past.

Another escape for the city hustle and bustle was found with a walk through to Meiji Shrine, and it`s amazing gardens. Walking along the paths, you could have been in the middle of a vast forested area - seemingly miles away from the train tracks and clogged streets just metres away. (More photos.)

Coffee and a tiny bit of retail therapy along the "place to people-watch" Omote Sando. Brand names and huge stores make up this treelined street, where the rich and wanting-to-be-spotted strut and have coffee.

The task tonight before hitting my rolled out futon is to consolidate my luggage into a managable situation for the trip out to the airport. This time tomorrow (well, plus a few hours cos of the time difference!), I will be in London!

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan, where many important and protected temples and shrines are. And the mythical geisha, apparently!

Yesterday I walked over to the Toji Temple, which is the landmark of Kyoto. The tallest pagoda in Japan, this is actually the fourth construction of it, after previous pagodas have been reduced to ash after lightening strikes. Unfortunately, this photo does not do the detail justice - but I am reduced to just the digi, after my big she-bang camera has gone on strike.

I then bussed my way up to Kinkakuji Temple, or the Golden Pagoda. After having lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall, sitting up at the little bar, and chatting to the lady behind the counter (who was aghast that I was travelling on my own), I walked up the street and then through the gardens. You round the corner, and there it is!

Quite spectacular, actually. Gold foil makes the temple in the middle of the beautifully kept Japanese gardens look quite magical. Here, after walking through the path, I lit a candle to the God of Marriage for Jess and Andrew next month (one of the less cheesy prayers!).

Upon darkness, I ventured to Gion to go a-geisha spotting. I pictured, and even read, that you could see them bustling about, hurrying off to their evening appointments. I now thing this is one of those myths fed to tourists. I did see one girl, all done up in kimono and little geisha shoes - but no face make-up. I am claiming here as a sighting, but still... Unsuccessfully, I wandered down the lantern-lit Gion area, where shopping and dining seemed to be the main thing to do. The little back streets felt like more of a red-light district to me, and perhaps that`s where they all were!

Today I have visited the Ginkakuji Temple, which is also known as the Silver temple. Not as breathtaking as the Gold version on the other side of the city, but was surrounded in beautifully kept gardens. (More Kyoto photos.)

It started raining last night, and hasn`t stopped yet. Have had to buy a Japanese Girl umbrella (oh, alright, the boys have them too - but ALL the girls have them!). Kyoto is surrounded with mountains, and all day there have been wisps of clouds all around. I have actually worn thermals everyday, despite being reluctant to getting them (thanks Mum!), it`s so chilly!

In Kyoto the day the Protocol comes into effect - another reminder of the embarrassing state of Australia, and the "change will cost us all more money" propaganda of the Little Johnny government. I guess the "look after ourselves now" line won them the election last year, and they are sticking to it. Shame. I may start to do as the few intelligent American travellers do, and plaster the NZ flag to my pack....

I have missed the earthquake in Tokyo! There is so much around about what to do in case of an scared of them, the Tokyoites. Well, I am off to catch a Shinkasen back to Toyko - maybe there will be some after shocks!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Shinkansen! Shinkansen! And Hiroshima.

I boarded the Shinkansen - the very fast train, or bullet train - from Tokyo station this morning. Everything is mind-blowingly efficient and convenient here - there are trains about every 15 minutes, to just about anywhere. Once you make you reservation and have your assigned seat, all covered by my Japan Rail Pass, you simply locate the right platform, and stand at the designated gate for your car. And the train stops exactly where it is marked - amazing! The gates for each car line up perfectly when the train stops. Inside it`s like an aeroplane, and there is even a food cart that comes down regularly for your purchases. At 300 km/hr, the train is very fast! But you can`t really tell unless you walk around.

Passed by the magical snow-capped Mt Fuji, not that long out of Tokyo. Came as a bit of a surprise, being much sooner than I had expected, it`s peak was shrouded in wisps of cloud...was quite a beautiful site after the harsh rush hour of Monday morning Tokyo.

After a couple of Shinkansen (can you tell I love saying the name!!??) changes, I arrived at Hiroshima Station, about 5 hours after leaving Tokyo. Which is amazing when you look at the distance on a map... I followed the signs, and was lead to the bus system. I braved it, and figured the bus travel out - you get on at the back door, where you take a ticket from the machine. The ticket has a number on it, and as the bus moved, there is a table near the driver`s head listing the current cost of the ride for each passanger on the bus! How super efficient!! I was impressed!!

I then arrived at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. I took in the information in the Museum first, although I still can`t fathom how the order was made to drop that bomb. The pictures of the city before and after, the personal accounts, the collected reminents... Very full on, and emotional place. I then wandered the park, where the Cenotaph and the peace flame are (the flame will keep burning till the world is free of nuclear weapons - when will that be?). The shell of one of the few buildings left standing in the city of Hiroshima after the bomb was detonated, the Hiroshima Prefectural Commerical Exhibition Hall, is on the edge of the park, and is labelled the A-Bomb Dome. There is also The Children`s Monument, remembering the children killed and effected by the bombing - with the memory of Sadako in particular. I remember reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes in primary school - this visit has made it all so real. (More photos.)

Hiroshima definately has a different feel to it than most cities, and with the knowledge that it is a place that has been completely rebuilt after August 6th, 1945, it`s quite amazing. Very new feel to it, very planned and worked out. But also has a blanket of reflection over it.

Tonight, after another Shinkansen trip, I am in Kyoto! Seems colder than Tokyo...

Monday, February 14, 2005

Temples and giant Buddha, a mini Meet Up, and cool Shibuya

Late this morning I set off from my ryokan for a little place out of the way, recommended to me by Rob - fellow travel addict! Kamakura was about 30 minutes away from the area I was staying, and so after a few train changes, I was on my way to see the big buddha "you can walk into", as Rob had said. This little town out of the city was quite cute, and yet still bustling. After deciding to ditch the scary bus experience, given that I had no idea where I was going, and noone spoke English, I jumped into a taxi. Automatic doors on the taxi, if you don`t mind!! How funny!

I found the Great Buddha sitting with his legs crossed in the middle of nowhere, and yes, you can walk inside - although I really don`t know why!! There was nothing inside! 13.35 meters tall, he was once housed in a temple, but a tsunami had washed that away. He now sits out in the elements, surrounded by the mountains.

The town before Kamakura is Kita-Kamakura, and it is dotted with beautiful temples. Here I wondered around, and finally got a glimpes of the cherry blossoms I picture when I think of Japan (pic). Most of the temples have amazing gardens surrounding them, and these in the mountain are no exception. Tokei-ji also has a cemetary within the grounds, which was facinating. I managed to spot the burial site of Japan`s first gold medalist - in "hop step jump", would you believe!?

An hour back into Tokyo itself, I meet up with a couple of BookCrossers for coffee. It was great to meet some fellow addicts, and also to have a conversation!! I feel like I have been a mute for the last couple of days, merely pointing at things as my main form of communication! Lil and Deb live in Kyoto (from New Zealand and Canada originally), and we got chatting about BookCrossing and releasing, Japan, world travel, etc. They are both teaching English here...earning good money...hmmm...

Upon darkness, I headed for the funky Shibuya, where the fashionable woman come to assemble their outfits! Amazing! The neon and the busy fast-moving pace. And the girls look incredible!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Tokyo! Wow!

I have some very tired feet tonight, but my head is buzzing with all the sites of the day. I have spent the whole day on and off trains, and getting around to some of the many sights here in Tokyo.

In many ways, it reminds me of walking around New York City...studying the subways and must-see spots, and deciding on a direction and train to get on. Then emerging on the street, and wandering in the general direction of the intended location, although with many interesting and eye-catching stops and detours along the way. It`s actually a lot easier that I had thought it would be. Although I am prepared to get very lost!

Headed off for the Tsukiji Fish Market this morning, and actually made it around the lunchtime rush, with the locals lining up at the various food places. The fish market was actually a lot like those you see in Phnom Penh actually, without the flies!!

Wandered around and about Ginza, down the main streets with the hustle and bustle.

After another train configuration, I walked over to the Zojoji Temple, which is towered over by the Tokyo Tower. Does that Tower remind anyone else of somewhere else??!! The Temple was the first I have visited here, and I was fascinated. I watched as a group were lead by a green robed monk into prayer in the side temple, and viewed a family put up their paper prayer messages. Also saw the amazing stone statues of Jizo, which are all around the temple walls. (More photos.)

Navigating the different Metro Lines again, I managed to locate the Nakameguro River and Aobadai area, as described in the Qantas mag I read earlier this year (all things had pointed to Tokyo!!). Very funky and hip, wondering in and around the little one-way streets along the river, there were lots of cute and very cool hole-in-the-wall shops - like Jumping Jap Flash shown here. After walking into many too cool, and expensive, boutiques, I sat for coffee in a very funky Giggle Cafe (that`s what it was called) with all the cool Tokyoites! Awesome!

Now dark, I decided to take in some neon in the Shinjuku area. I wandered along the Shinjuku Southern Terrace, which was alight with fairy lights, and then found myself in the dazzling Takashimaya Times Square. Prada and Fendi for drooling, Digital World, and the bustling department stores.

Weary and hungry, I decided to head back to the area of my ryokan and choose one of the traditional Japanese places on the way from the station for dinner. Thick noodles and veggie soup, mmmmm!

Will brave the Lady`s Public Bath for a soak, and then rest up for another day!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Early morning flight, Japan and my ryokan.

I am in Tokyo - how exciting!! *g*

Left my Bangkok hotel at an obscenely early hour this morning, to get to the airport. Now, my flight was with NorthWest, and was continuing on to the US after Japan, so I encountered the over-the-top security measures. Both my bags were searched by a guy with gloves in a tented off section. Undies pulled out, tampon boxed examined... And then there was the twenty questions by the Thai girl at the mini desk before the actual check in counter. I don`t know what they are really looking for, and I think neither did she!

Despite sitting behind a guy who started snoring the moment he sat down, and continued to do so for the whole 5 and a half hour flight, the trip wasn`t too bad. Murderous thoughts aside (do you think those little pillows could have shut that noise up?), and yucky American `plane food, the flight was OK, and I managed to watch Ladder 49 (mmmm, Joaquin!) and play the cool games in my individual console. Cool! I think all planes should have those!

A long and ordered line up for Customs, and some interesting health questions (I lied - couldn`t risk being quarantined on the off change of a free medical check. The Japanese are really careful!), I found the train station, and off I was!

The Narita Express to Tokyo Station, and then a train line change, and then another, and then I was at my station for my accommodation reservation. Luggage nightmare all the way, carting all the stuff. People were so helpful whenever I didn`t know which train platform I should have been standing on, and most things are actually underwritten in English as well.

Tired and achy from the bag haul,I have checked into Ryokan Kangetsu - and it`s so cute! There are sensors all the way up the entrance, so you are greeted when you first step in, and then the path lights up all the way as you go. I was shown to my room by a woman who only speaks Japanese, so I have no idea what I am doing!! You need to leave you shoes at the door to the section of rooms you are in, and use the slippers provided. My futon is laid out ready, and the room is set up with green tea and other assorted, and unidentified goodies! My room actually looks very much like the bottom pic in this guy`s notes.

I have wandered across the road after settling in for dinner. Now, truth be told、I haven`t actually had sashami before. But ducking into the restaurant that was listed as sushi in the ryokan`s guide, I went across and managed to order `Set Menu`! My Japanese is hopeless - I really paid absolutely no attention in high school! Will be studying up tonight. The restauranteurs were delighted to show the me proper way to eat the sushi and sashami spread, and it was so yummy!!

Whilst stumbling around in Japanese tradition blind, I decided to venture the Public Bath as well - why not!? I read up in the trusty Lonely Planet, and made sure that I put my yukata (robe) on the right way - left over right, with the opposite being for the dead!! - I wondered over to the Lady`s Bath. I don`t know if I managed to bathe correctly (!!), and there was actually just me in there, which was a relief. Don`t know if it would have been quite as lovely and relaxing if there had have been others bathing in there too!

Phew! Feeling clean and relaxed now, and will finish the evening in the massage chair in the room here, while I read up on where in the room here, while I read up on where to go tomorrow! Tokyo awaits!

Oh! And I need to learn some basic Japanese!!! Mrs...Knowles? (was it?) should be ashamed at kicking me out of so many classes!

Friday, February 11, 2005

FCC, back to Bangas, and my Red Leather Jacket!!

After abandoning lunch with Evie and Sharee and Luke just after my last post, I managed to recover from my hangover poolside at the very lovely The Billabong. Perfect! Was just what I needed (seeing that I have been so flat out for the week? Yeah, right!).

So, of course, the only thing to do after that was to head to the FCC, for my farewell drinks during Happy Hour. The FCC has always been a favourite of mine, and many a happy hour has been spent watching the world speed past on the streets below, throughout my visits to Cambodia. (Another photo.)

Goodbyes to Luke (who I may just have to go to see in Toronto in the future!), and Sharee and Cal over a couple of Angkor beers. Has been so great to see them again.

Dinner with Evie and Magid, and a viewing of Amelie on DVD, before packing up all my bits and pieces followed. Was still worried about my baggage allowance, especially with my shopping tendencies and after having to pay excess the first time I left Cambodia - but again, worried for nothing!

A BIG thank you to the lovely Yvette for letting me stay with her, and hang out, and veg out while she had to work. Was lovely to see you, as always!

Taxi to the airport, and then the flight to Bangas. A cold sweat landing for me - you would think I would be over my dislike of flying by now!! - and a taxi return to my hotel on the Silom area of Bangkok.

Amid a slight gut upset, with the ever pressing thought of "where is the nearest bathroom??!!", I had set myself two tasks to do this afternoon while in Bangas - have have managed both!! I have sought out one of the two travel agents here in Bagkok who can supply you with a Japan Rail Pass, and made the purchase which will cover me for most of my train travel in Japan for the next 7 days - how cool is that! It has cost me as much as a return trip would to Kyoto, but will cover me for most of the Toyko travel, and also out further if I want to (which I am now intending too).

The other tasks was to pick up my tailor-made Red Leather Jacket! I am very excited about this! The place was called D3, and is probably more known to the tuk tuk drives as a jewellers. But let them also be known for my jacket! Very happy with this purchase - I will have to go back to my A/C room and wear it around a bit! Hee hee.

With an early, early flight tomorrow morning (whose idea was that??!), I will probably need to have a nanna night tonight. I will also need to finally open my second suitcase and try and convince myself that I WILL need those winter clothes now - and with the next couple of days in Toyko forecast for a top of 8C, I will have to get those thermals out! From 34C here today (feels like 41C according to Yahoo weather - no kidding!), will be an interesting change to say the least!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

As Heart as it gets!

Am feeling quite dodgy this morning, after a late night at the Heart of Darkness last night. This crusty little nightclub hasn't changed since I was last here, and Curtis and I were amazed at how many people were there last night. They played all the same bad music, and Curtis kept saying "ohhh, this is as Heart as it gets!!".

I ran into Curtis early on in the day at Psar Toul Tom Poung (Russian Market), where I managed to add to my luggage excess situation, just a little. It's just too hard not to go shopping crazy there!

For lunch I meet Charmaine, Magid, and Curtis at Mith Samlanh/Friends, and also got to catch up with Borin. Borin is working and studying hard, but is still his loveable, smiling self. Although he doesn't have as much chance for sleeping on the job nowadays. (When he was our guard at my big house here, I think infected him with our lack of work ethic). Was great to see him, and catch up.

After picking up my beautiful Beautiful Shoes (very exciting!!), I popped in to see Nina again. Once she had finished work her husband, and my former day moto driver, Mr Thon, took me out to see Phanny, and her family, and her new house. Phanny is still working at Sok Sabay, but luckily is not as scared of Marie as most of the staff, and manages to stick up for herself. Good for her. She and her family are living in a much better and bigger place than the one room I visited last night, although it is still quite far out of the city.

On the way out there, the traffic was madness, and I saw a pretty bad accident. It looked like a driver on a moto had come off, and he was not in a good way. Always a troubling sight, especially when you see that noone does anything. The police were just standing around taking notes. That poor man's family.

After dinner at home thanks to Evie's cleaning girl, Ty (and Evie uses the word "cleaning" here loosely!! Hee hee!), we headed out to Ruby's for a couple of drinks with Charmaine. Curtis came along later, and while the working girls called it a night, Curtis and I headed off for his last night in town.

We went to the Ginger Monkey, which is a new bar around the corner from my old place, and met up with Heather, who is now doing Curtis' old job at the uni. Another Canadian. After a few more Ankgor's, we headed off for the Heart....

Anyway, still S.T.Ruggling here. I am meeting the girls for lunch now, and then I think I will recover for the rest of the day by the pool at The Billabong.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Sa-rah, motorides, and Nina!

I feel like I have had a productive day today! Unusual for me! I have finally booked my accommodation for the first couple of nights in Tokyo for next week, and if I manage to find the place, with all the complex train changes, it's going to be so cute! I also picked up my fake prescription glasses (so cheap, I got two this time!), and had a yummy lunch at Boat Noodle - another favourite place to eat. The Khmer Curry Chicken is one I dream about! Mmmmm!

I have caught up with my lovely night moto driver, or rather he has found me. As usual. Always nice to walk out of somewhere at night and see the ever smiling Sa-rah waiting for me. As well as Jim and Samnang. I was quite shocked to learn that he had 2 children though! 6 and a 3 year old, at that! I don't think I had ever asked about children before, just about being married or having girlfriend (just for converstion, you understand!). I guess I have always thought he was way to young for the babies question. He assures me he is not married though!

I always feel totally safe when using one of our moto posse to get home from anywhere. Each of them know where we live, or where we are staying, so there is never need to give directions after a few too many. And these lads also know our patterns, and thus, always manage to find us most nights. It's very reassuring. I always find that I rarely hang on with one of these boys, whereas normally I am still alert and have one hand keeping me on the bike at all times with any other moto driver. Of course, we pay these boys well, so they look out for us too!

It seems many of the roads here in PP have been done up, cos there are not as many potholes. Not as many instances when you feel yourself leaving the seat of the moto! I so love the moto ride home at night, when it's cool and there is not such much traffic. I guess the next best thing to this would be to learn to ride myself (although I will need to re-learn how to ride a normal bike first!!).

I have found Nina today, one of the women I worked with at Sok Sabay 2 years ago. (Still run by the evil French woman). She is now working at I & You Cafe, which the Khmer's call the Condom Cafe. It is an affiliate of Mith Samlanh/FRIENDS, and provides HIV/AIDS education and health care to the street children, and women from the factories.

They have a doctor upstairs for the women to see, and they also have English and cooking classes for the children. Nina was so very excited to see me! She tells me her boys are doing well at school, and that work is better for her now. Was so good to see her. Now that I know where she is, I will pop in a few more times before I go.

Beautiful Nina
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Monday, February 07, 2005

Beers and being an expat in PP

Am having so much fun catching up with everyone here in Phnom Penh, and eating and drinking at all the old haunts. And some of the new ones! There have been a few surprises actually, like Curtis being in town - had no idea he was popping in from Canada at the same time.

Watching the cricket on Friday at the Gym Bar (which was actually called something else when I lived here - a typical recycling) with Magid and Cal, and later Sharee, Evie and Curtis. The Gym Bar seems to be Aussie run, but is a typical male expat bar - sports on the big screen, beer and whiskey (or whatever), and taxi-girls a-plenty. Luckily the cricket is one too early for it's full glory.

After watching the Aussie's win, I had a cocktail with Sharee and a bit of a catch-up, Japanese for dinner, and then later that night we all went off to Elsewhere for a party they had on.

Elsewhere is also a new place to me - it is actually a beautiful white french style house on amazing gardens, set up as a bar/cafe/shop/pool place to be. Friday night there seemed to be every young expat in town wandering around the gardens, and tiny dancefloor - where are all those people everyday??!!

There never seemed to be that many people floating around town when I lived here!! Unfortunately, Evie was wondering that same... (More photos.)

Spent yesterday, after a reimenicent PP hangover, poolside at Le Royal- very nice! Slipping into the expat style of looking for the newest and most "you could be anywhere", "it doesn't even feel like you are in Phnom Penh" places is all a bit too easy - although not necessarily what I want to do as a visitor. Luckily as a lady of leisure during the work week, I can visit the usual Khmer-ish places!

Off now to watch the second innings of the cricket back at the Gym Bar....

Friday, February 04, 2005


I am back in Phnom Penh again. My third visit, and I am sure just one of many more after living here for 6 months in 2002/03. I love this city, it's people (of course, the corruption and poverty make me mad, don't get me wrong!). I feel at home here, and can navigate my way around so easily. And I love getting around on a moto!!

Upon arriving yesterday morning, I went along to Evie's work, and then she showed me her new place - very nice! She always has such luck with places, although she does say she is hoping to find better! Always! We organised to meet for lunch at Java (one of my favourite places), where Evie was also meeting Charmaine. So great to catch up with the girls! Both working very hard as usual.

An afternoon stop at the infamous Beautiful Shoes, for a measurement of my feet and leather selection for shoes to be made (more excess baggage!!).

Dinner with Evie, Luke and Cal at Your Thai Friend, and then off for cocktails at the 'gay-friendly' Salt Lounge - a very funky new bar.

Riding around the city, there are many familar places, and some very new ones too. It's still funny to walk into somewhere like Java where the main staff still recognise me!

Lunch today with Evie and Magid at Khmer Kitchen, for my much craved Fish Amok (mmmmmm!) - I think this will turn out to be an eating and drinking tour of PP!!

Magid has talked up Pakistan's chances for tomorrow's first ODI Final, and thus, he and I will be watching with much interest from a new (to me) sports bar he has talked about. Talk of a beer wager may see trouble, with Magid's elevated idea of the Paki's form....silly boy!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Marat, Flying, and Bangas

I have made it to Bangas, after goodbyes at the airport, and the 9 hour flight. After much panic about the weight on my luggage, I sailed through check-in, and enjoyed a quick beer with Mum, and Melissa and Katie, and Clinton, before heading off inside those silver doors of the airport.

Not long after moving along, it came to my attention that Marat Safin, fresh from his Australian Open Championship win, was also on the flight! Very distracting, know someone that hot is near by!! (How good was he this year!) Now surely a big lad like that needs to stretch his legs and walk a few laps of the plane, right? Apparently not. However, I saw a lot of Peter Lundgren (coach), as he popped back to chat to a group in front of me quite often.

Just a couple of musings about flying, which I still dislike immensely...why do they taxi you past random sights that you don't need to see just before taking off? The shells of aircraft in various states of disrepair were along the longest taxiing I have ever been on - ones without their noses, ones with wings missing. Can't they hide those!!?? And why, oh WHY, do you need to be woke up for a meal just moments after they settle you in for sleep after the last movie?? Who can be excited about veal lasagne at 1am?? Would have like to see them try that on the firey Russian in First Class!!

After the first flight of many in the coming weeks, the shock of the heat of Bangkok never ceases to shock! Wow! I always forget what it really feels like. Thailand is still a place where I feel completely out of my confort zone - on ever high rip off and danger alert - which it not usual for me. Just need more practice, I guess. And being flung outside of that zone is oh, so good for you! (really!) I love it, and yet and frightened of it, all at the same time. Hee hee.

Today I have been wondering around Bangas, with the weird and wonderful shopping malls, and out-of-the-blue markets everywhere. Am still walking around in awe. Have added to my luggage, I am afraid - but have stopped myself. There are so many great bags, shoes, jackets...I could go crazy here!

Over breakfast this morning there were snow pictures of Japan - now that's going to be an interesting adjustment in a week's time!!

Oh! I see Vanders has been named captain. Awesome! Since when have Hawthorn done things that I thought would be good. All signs are showing that Clarkson may just be the man!! Will have to keep that return flight handy for September now...just in case!! Good for you Richie, bring on the biff! - although he will always be cheezel-boy to me!!
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