Sreisaat, you are hired!

Dear blog,

Yes. I heard the magic words through a phone call from the director of an international NGO in Phnom Penh, just a few days before Jonathan Yabut did and became the first winner of The Apprentice Asia. Go, go Pinoy!

The last few days have been really busy and I have several blog posts that I want to get done (a few were on auto-post mode) but I haven’t had the time.

It’s not because I was procrastinating again. No, not that. I wonder how many of my friends thought of that — raise your hands!  Feeling sheepish now, tee-hee-hee. I know you know me for being a procrastinator but I’m happy to say “you’re all wrong!” this time! Lol.

So, after 100 years, I’m back to the working world. The past week – my first week at work – was an eye-opener. I was obviously trying to make a good impression while feeling jittery at the same time.  I thought that the hard part was over after I’ve bagged the job that I’ve been waiting for. I was wrong.  I was excited – yes – but I was a bundle of nerves during the first day, especially. I could only surmise the nervousness came from the long years of idleness that washed away my confidence and left me in self-doubt about my capabilities. I was afraid that I would be self-conscious and alone (having no friends yet), and incapable and confused (don’t know the system yet).

The first day went by and, as the week went on, I found myself getting to the ropes eventually. It also helped that the other staff were helpful and patient with me. My boss, a plastic surgeon, is a nice, cheery fellow who doesn’t breathe on my neck while the “new girl” was working. He was busy with his patients, anyway. Soon after, I was on my own proud at myself for catching up quickly.

I’m part of the worldwide workforce again. It feels good.

And so begins another chapter…

Here’s a slide that should give you a glimpse of my first week at work.

tuktuk ride in Phnom Penh
My daily ride to work.
tuktuk ride in Phnom Penh
Moderate morning traffic.
Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital grounds
That day I went to work very early...
This is what I see from my work desk.
Bento lunch box
Working lunch: breaded pork, steamed carrots and broccoli, and rice. My attempt at bento-lunch making.
Korean spicy pork
Working lunch: Korean spicy pork, tomatoes, and rice. My attempt at bento-lunch making.
election mob CNRP
That day I got trapped on the road for more than two hours on the last day of the election campaign period.

Signs, signs: Operation Smile Cambodia

I haven’t been posting a lot lately. This is one of the reasons why:

signs operation smile cambodia
This is what I see from my work desk.

I haven’t been here long enough but reading the past reports have been an eye-opener for me.
Children who are born with a cleft are often unable to eat, speak, socialise and even smile. Others are ridiculed, isolated, and rejected.

Did you know that in as little as 45minutes, and for approximately US$250, one cleft lip surgery can change a child’s life forever?

Operation Smile Cambodia started its activities in 2002 and has, since then, provided thousands of free reconstructive surgeries for children born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.

This is going to make me busy from now on. We have a scheduled medical mission in September in Poipet, Banteay Meanchey province. If you know anyone who has chaeyp moat (cleft lip) or chaeyp kraom moat (cleft palate), from Banteay Meanchey or neighbouring provinces (Battambang, Siem Reap), kindly get in touch with us (please click the highlighted text above).  Or leave a comment or message in the comment section of this post. I’m more than happy to assist you with your inquiries.


Signs, signs: Push

From Phuket, Thailand, my Signs, signs entry this week came all the way from Kathmandu, Nepal.
As you can see I am still in an arm-chair travel mode, unearthing old photos and reminiscing wonderful memories of my travel adventures, as a solo traveller or otherwise. But I digress.

When I was in Kathmandu for a conference a few years ago, the hosts treated the conference participants to a fancy dinner at the fancy Krishnarpan restaurant inside a fancy hotel. The hotel is called Dwarika Restaurant and, although my colleagues and I entered via a non-descript doorway, we were astounded by what we saw inside. Stepping inside it felt like I was in old world Nepal!

Dwarika Hotel is an amazing piece of property that was a product of a restoration effort spanning some three decades. The details in the hotel – the buildings and in every piece of furniture, pottery and other items there – were gorgeous pieces showcasing exquisite Nepali traditional architecture and arts. An example is this unique door handle of the restaurant – just a small detail yet it charms you right away!

Everything inside the Dwarika property feels luxuriously old-world. I especially love this door handle. I wish brought one back home for souvenir.

I would love to have a piece of Nepal in my own house! Don’t you?
I know I have the “Pull” photo as well but I could not find it as of this writing. I’ll post it if I find it just in time for next week’s Signs, signs meme.

Here’s a post I wrote about Experiencing Old World Nepal and more pictures of the hotel. Hope you enjoy it.


Photo Hunt: ZOOM

Some years ago, I participated in an advocacy training by a well-known international advocacy group. In the first ice-breaker session of the training, we were asked to describe ourselves in one word using our first name initials. It was an easy task for most, but for me, it was challenging. Having a name that starts with letter “Z” didn’t give me a lot of choices. I settled for Zooming Z and argued I could be forgiven for I could not find any adjectives describing me in this letter. I was forgiven, needless to day, lol.

This week though I’m using it here as it perfectly suits the theme. So here, I’m Zooming home!

photo hunt zoom
Here comes Zooming Z!

Home is – for more than a decade now – Phnom Penh.

From the plane, I was struck by the chocolate-coloured landscape. It looked like a giant puzzle from above. It was beautiful! And if you’d look closer, to the lower left-hand side of the picture, you will see the shadow of the airplane I was on. Awesome! I’m just amazed at how my trusty old point-and-shoot digicam could capture 🙂

This was previously posted here.


Signs, signs: HK-China border crossing

I was organising my stuff at home over the holidays and was surprised to find a lot of photos that have accumulated in my collection. Yes, they did bring back a lot of memories of my travels (mostly work-related) when I was still single. I decided to post them one by one. Having said that, this is my first entry for the weekly Signs, signs meme.

HK-China border sign

Taken in November, 2004 on my first trip to China via Hongkong for an international conference on environment in Shenzhen. At that time, applying for a Chinese visa was not as difficult as it is (for Filipinos) today. Armed with an invitation letter from the Chinese NGO and other required documents, I received my visa at the Chinese Embassy here in Phnom Penh in just three days. No hassle.

My airfare and accommodation were sponsored by my host, the Chinese NGO, and I could’ve chosen a better travel route. However, being the adventurous me, I chose one that was not usually taken by most foreign travellers – a land trip to China. From Phnom Penh, I flew to Hongkong and rode a bus that took me to the border. Arriving late at night and fearing the border closing at midnight, I was surprised to see that there was a sea of people and  (public and private) vehicles there, coming in and out of the border. It was chaotic and noisy, always moving and in a feverish hurry, something I didn’t expect considering it was already close to midnight. I found out that the border crossing, located between Lok Ma Chau in Hongkong and Shenzhen, Guangdong, operates on a 24-hour basis daily.

Going through the Hongkong and then the Chinese border controls was a breeze although I have to admit I was nervous as the border officials, especially on the Chinese side, didn’t smile and were looking rather stern. Some English are spoken there and there are signages in English but on the HK side. I wonder, after nearly a decade after, what changes have occurred there?



Photo Hunt 081: Footprints

Now back to Photo-hunting this week…
I’m afraid I’m stretching the theme a bit to fit my entry. Friends… ta-da!

The photo above was taken in one of the rural villages in Cambodia, on our way to validate research results.

That’s my favourite pair of shoes… red Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. This pair of shoes have been with me for nearly eight years now. They look a tad dirty because I’ve worn them practically everywhere inside Cambodia and other countries I’ve been to. The photo above was taken in one of the rural villages in Cambodia, on our way to validate research results.

I’ve been wearing Converse shoes since I set foot in the university. I wore them everyday and night that I was in uni – no washing needed – till they’ve worn out and basically falling apart. And people, please don’t look down on people who wear their Chucks dirty. THEY’RE MEANT TO GET DIRTY.

Currently, I own two pairs. One, that red pair pictured above and, another, an off-white, hi-cut version with double tongue. Both shoes are made of sturdy canvass with rubber toe caps and vulcanised rubber soles. Besides, no matter what attire you wear, they look good on them 🙂 I used the red Chucks the most as, not only it is very comfortable even if it doesn’t have much foot support, it is durable and it looks cool! Not many sneakers can endure travels to six countries, walking in remote local villages and cities. Imagine how many footprints (erm, “shoeprints”?) have I left in those countries I visited?

After a dozen or so pairs over the years, in different colours but same style, I can say that my love for this shoes/brand has endured over time. Whenever I see the chevron and star logo, I am reminded of my good ole Converse shoes and the fond memories that go with them.

Photo Hunt

Paint job

Happy new year of the dragon!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Today is the first day of the new year in the Chinese calendar… so how are things at your end? How many ampaos (red envelopes) did you receive this year?

paint brush

It may  be Chinese New Year but my my husband and I had some serious painting done on our garage over the weekend. It was not what I had in mind but with nothing else to do to spend the holidays… So it’s painting we did. We probably put in about 8 hours worth of our “holiday time” spread over three days – scraping old paint off the walls and off the metal garage door and applying two coats of paint on the wall.

Painting the garage is done and over with and we are happy about the improvement there. Although still cluttered – it should be gone over the weekend –  the newly-painted walls look brighter and more spacious. It was a surprisingly relaxing chore and it felt good to get something productive done, honestly 🙂 I could do this… but not everyday, lol.

Photo Hunt #64: This is so WRONG

Dogs can be pretty stubborn sometimes.
Here’s Joe caught red-handed with a piece of our dinner in his mouth. A standoff ensued between him and my husband, naturally. For about 15minutes, they stared at each other like that. Joe simply wouldn’t let go of that pork chop.

Love the obstinate look on Joe’s face while R is giving him a “lecture”.
Love the obstinate look on Joe’s face while R is giving him a “lecture”.

Joe eventually gave in. After a tiny pool of drool formed on the floor, he finally gave up and dropped the slab of meat on R’s waiting hand. Ahhh,  all part of growing up, I guess. Hope he learned his lesson though and won’t turn his attention to that shoe in front of him.

N.B: Originally posted in Max and Joe’s blog, My Dogspot.


2011 IAWRT International Awards for Excellence in Documentary Making

I have an exciting news for all the female directors and journalists all over the world, especially here in Cambodia.

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) – of which I am a member of – is extending invitations to the 2011 IAWRT International Awards for Excellence in Documentary Making.

The IAWRT Awards celebrate outstanding documentaries made by women and are open to all female producers, directors and journalists working with radio, television and film documentaries anywhere in the world.Documentaries must be about women who are making a difference to their own lives or to the lives of other women. Entries must be between 20 – 90 minutes long for Film and 15 – 60 minutes for Radio and have been broadcast, or shown at a competitive festival from October 2009 – September 2011. 

This competition is open to all female directors and journalists worldwide. I’m helping spread this information, so if you know someone, or someone you know knows someone, please pass on this information through your social media platforms or emails. Deadline of submission of entry is on Saturday, 15 October 2011 – that’s two less than three months away, so hurry up.Please check the IAWRT Website. Or use my contact form to email me and I’ll be happy to help you 🙂

Photo Hunt 061: Raising public Awareness, khmer-style

I was in Kratie province long ago, stopping there to spend the night, on my way to Laos. The bus stopped at the provincial centre, also called Kratie, and the sign below caught my attention as it stands out prominently in the town’s main street.

Khmer-style billboard-8x6

I learned from the bus conductor that it was put up by the local commune office in Kratie town to call the entire community’s attention and action to clean their surroundings, especially the river.

Overall, the billboard is very informative and the design looks vintage from yesteryears – like the 1950s bright colours and graphics where everyone looks spic and span. Don’t you think so? The main illustration in the signboard shows people cleaning up. On the upper right side  box, it shows a person throwing a (plastic) bagful of garbage into the river. Underneath that is another person throwing plastic from the window of a moving bus. Such is the practice here and the government, beginning at the lower level, is making efforts to curb this behaviour and practice nationwide.

Billboards like this might look old-fashioned for those who are living in the developed countries but it is a pleasant and welcome sign that begins the awareness raising and behaviour transformation process of the public in many Asian countries like Cambodia. I’m sorry about the blurry picture. On top of the sign, there is an English translation that says:

Clean environment. Good health. Family has happiness.

And at the bottom, there’s another line and it goes like this:

Together we clean our village.

Kratie town has a small, charming centre with a very pleasant riverside scenery. Most tourists, especially backpackers, arrive here after a grueling 8-9hours of bus ride, as the last leg of their Cambodia tour and see the Irrawaddy dolphins, or the Mekong River dolphins,  before crossing the border to Laos the following day.  Behind the sign is the mighty Mekong River that provides a stunning view of the sunset. No wonder this town wanted to protect its beautiful river.

This was originally posted in my photo blog, Inside Cambodia. For more Photo Hunters around the world, check out the main site by clicking the logo above.