Thank you, Google!

… for this lovely doodle.
And to those who remembered,  thank you.

The whole gang went Mexican tonight. Except for the missing piñata, el mariachi, and sombreros, it was almost like a real Mexican birthday feast. We had quesadillas, tacos, burritos, nachos, and fajitas. There were beers (they cannot be avoided) and, of course, frozen margaritas for the señorita!

Too bad Maymo’s battery, my lovely tablet that was sent to me by my in-laws for my birthday, ran out before the fiesta even began. There were no pictures to remember tonight, but my ever-so-wise husband said it all… that tonight’s celebration is remembered best in our hearts.

Photo Hunt 075: Stuck and Sports

Today our themes for PhotoHunt are “stuck” and “sports”. Luckily, I managed to find photos that fit these themes. These were taken some three years ago when I surprised my husband on his birthday with a half-day ATV-riding adventure in the countryside.

Here is the birthday boy smiling triumphantly after crossing the old rickety bridge behind him.

Oops, a little trouble here. Crossing the small canal proved to be tricky – the wheels got stuck in the sticky mud and my husband needed help to get him out.

So here’s what we saw. The charming village… the friendly faces… the paddy fields… and the palm trees that dominate the landscape.

Notice the holes on the tree trunk? Our guide said those are bullet holes from KR era.
The Pajero of the countryside.
Verdant paddy ricefields as far as the eyes can see.

ATV-riding is one of the outdoor sports I was so keen at trying for the longest time– and when I finally did, I was not disappointed. I loved it! I haven’t driven a motorcycle in my life but the ATV bikes were easy to drive 🙂 Some parts of the terrain were wet and muddy from the previous night’s rain so I ended up dirty – but that’s just part of the F-U-N!

This is just an hour into the adventure and I was already caked in mud. How fun!

It was an exciting adventure. There is no better way to enjoy and discover the charm of rural Cambodia, the other side of the country that not many tourists, or even expat residents, get to see. Highly recommended!

For more photos involving “stuck” and “sports”, please click the logos below 🙂

photohunter7iq

Suosdei choal chhnam thmey!

The Cambodian New Year is upon us again and, starting tomorrow, the year 2556 in the Buddhist calendar will begin.

Spectacular fireworks display over Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

So to all of us here in Cambodia, and to my friends in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and all the way up to Nepal, may we all have  a blessed and prosperous new year.

May this New Year bring us renewed hope for a better future.

1.1.11

Happy New Year 2011

Maligayang Pagdating 2011… Welcome 2011!
I miss celebrating the New Year in the Philippines.
January 1 is the most colourful day in the Philippines. Why, you ask? It’s because everybody is wearing their new and most colourful clothes today. I kid you not. Try driving around your city or locality and you’ll see what I mean =)

But for us in Phnom Penh, it is an ordinary day. New Year’s eve and New Year’s day celebration here aren’t like that in the Philippines or any other western countries for that matter. Both days are not an official public holiday and can actually be uneventful, if not boring. However with the ever-increasing expat-community and tourists and the Khmer’s fascination for anything western, the international new year, and Christmas for that matter, is becoming more and more popular that restaurants, bars and hotels have made it a big deal ensuring endless dining and partying options not only in Phnom Penh but also in other key touristic locales like Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kep, and many other places. NY countdowns and fireworks displays have also been put up recently for expats and locals alike to enjoy.

As for us here… well, it was just a quiet affair. For me, watching 2010 fade away was bittersweet. I’m convinced it is my favourite year, 2010 brought me good times with friends; re-connecting with old friends and meeting new ones; work opportunities came my way, albeit part-time and short-term; exploring, learning and growing as a wife, lover, and partner to my husband; maturing, and beginning to learn and understand the art of living away from home. Mushy, I know, but just let me reflect on and celebrate my accomplishments and successes no matter how small they are. hihihi.

As I watched the end of the first ten years of the millennium close by, I couldn’t help but be sad and happy at the same time. I’m happy to say though that I’m looking forward to the beginning of the second decade. I do not have a particular theme nor goal for 2010 but I have to say I have a positive vibe for 2011. New Years may be different for everyone, in my case, here in Cambodia we celebrate it on three calendars but I’ll make 2011 a year of new beginnings as I enter the first year of my second decade of being an expat in Cambodia.

Anyways, I originally planned to just post this e-card but, as usual, I got carried away. I guess I am such a chatterbox and notoriously bad at self-control and self-policing.  So, let me all great you a HAPPY NEW YEAR, family, friends and blog-friends =) And before I shut up, let me share this New Year’s message that I like. It came along an e-card (different from above) was sent to me by one of my friends in Facebook:

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgages not rise.

Happy birthday, Joshua!

Six years ago, everyone in the household in Roxas City was frantic, rushing around in preparation for your arrival… of course, I had to come home, too, albeit 5months later, just to see you!

manyfacesofjoshua2

At 5months, you were already an epitome of little boy charm and cuteness. You were the first apo (grandchild) in the family, and every one fell in love with you. Grandma would rush to check on you the moment she heard something. Grandpa beamed with pride when you showed him your toothless smile. Tito Bigg and Tito Jeck forgot about their barkadas after work and school to rush home just to play with you or see you before you sleep. I spent my short holiday looking after you so that Mamagirl could have some time for herself. It was a special moment for me having seen you, and held you in my arms, even only for a short time.

Time flew so fast… from being the family’s Superboy…

I remember your Mamagirl telling me how you refused to take off your Superboy costume!
I remember your Mamagirl telling me how you refused to take off your Superboy costume!

… to your current favourite, the flamboyant adventurer/explorer Junior Indiana Jones…

Junior Indiana Jones2
You look so much like a young Indiana Jones, perhaps even better! All you need is a hat and a whip 🙂

The whole world is yours and the possibilities are endless. Whatever you want to be when you grow up, we will support you. My heart breaks a little every time I see you on the webcam, waving at me, and when I hear you reciting your favourite Bible verses. I miss you and, hopefully, Tito Crab and I will see you all soon! *hugs and kisses*

Happy birthday! May you grow up to be healthy, happy, and full of love.

 

 

A taste of Lebanese for our third!

Last Tuesday (August 31), Rob and I celebrated our third year of marriage! Unlike in the past anniversaries where we went out of town for some whiff of sea breeze and  seafood fiesta, we stayed in the Penh and went to our favourite Lebanese restaurant.  It’s been more than a year since we last visited Le Cedre, so it was a great choice for the night.

We were hoping for a quiet dinner celebration and we got it alright. One thing I like about dining out in Phnom Penh is that  there are lots of restaurants offering authentic international cuisines – French, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Russian, Malaysian, Filipino, etc… – and almost all of these restaurants do not require reservations. When we arrived at Le Cedre, only three tables were occupied and were already done with their meals. By 9pm, we already had the whole place to ourselves. Nice, wasn’t it? The lights were soft and there was a faint Lebanese music playing on the background and the hookah looked inviting. In my mind, I was half-expecting a belly dancer or two would make its way in front of us to provide entertainment while we wait for our food… alas, no one ever came out.

For our family and friends who were not with us to share this joyous celebration and asked how was our meal, I am posting these and let the photos do the explanation:

For starters:

Appetizer 1
Mankoucheh sojouk and cheese – small Lebanese pizza topped with cheese and sausages.
Sojouk - spiced Lebanese sausage. It comes with giant Lebanese bread.
Sojouk – spiced Lebanese sausage. It comes with giant Lebanese bread.

The Mains:

 Ouzi samak - Spicy baked fish served with salad.
Ouzi samak – Spicy baked fish served with salad.
Mixed shawarma - mixed plate of chicken and beef shawarma grilled on an upright spit.
Mixed shawarma – mixed plate of chicken and beef shawarma grilled on an upright spit.

Dessert:

Mixed sweets of the day: the oh-so-sinful baklava and another one but forgot the name.
Mixed sweets of the day: the oh-so-sinful baklava and another one but forgot the name.

The ouzi samak, fish flakes with spiced rice and wrapped in pastry, tasted exotic and was very filling. We were stuffed that night! I wish we had finished everything up but I think the food was a shock to our system since we have been on a diet for more than two months now. Just only half-through our meal, we could already feel our bulging tummies!

Now, my only complaint is that the waitress was merely a table across us, staring,  while we ate. The waitress was quite attentive and all but it was a bit uncomfortable to have an audience while we are chewing (eating). I certainly don’t like people watching me masticate my food. This doesn’t normally happen to us in our previous experience there. Rob didn’t mind it at all, instead, he just found humour in the situation.

But anyhow, it was fun to be able to go out on a date again and reminisce even for a little bit about the past 6 years of our relationship and our three years of marriage.

Thanks to our friends and especially to our families, for the greetings and well-wishes.

Update: Duch guilty of crimes against humanity

… and is sentenced to 35 years in jail.

It was the first verdict (Case Number One) in the Khmer Rouge trials and, according to the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor who was providing a live blogging update, emotions were running high inside the jam-packed ECCC courtroom when the verdict was announced. Many people were crying. Out in the capital’s streets, particularly in our area, the road was noticeably quiet with less vehicles; most Cambodians were probably indoors watching the whole proceedings with much anticipation.

Duch looked impassive as judges find him guilty of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Convention. According to the verdict summary blogged live by the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor:

Duch is not personally criminally responsible for the crimes at S-21… that is, the evidence is insufficient to conclude that he murdered or tortured anyone himself…

But he is guilty by Joint Criminal Enterprise on a systematic level.

Duch was “deeply enmeshed” at the criminal system at S-21 and S-24…

The court has rejected the defense argument that Duch committed the crimes under duress.

Duch has been found guilty of violations of the crimes against humanity of persecution on political grounds, extermination, enslavement, torture, and one instance of rape, and other inhuman acts…

Also guilty of grave breaches of the geneva conventions, including wilful [sic] killing, torture, willfully causing great suffering and injury, depriving civilians and prisoners of war of the right to a fair trial, and unlawful confinement of civilians…

You can find the complete notes from the proceedings via live blogging at the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor. Photo used here is also from the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor.

The KR Tribunal will now move on to Case Number Two where four high-ranking KR leaders in custody are awaiting trial next year.

Happy Mother’s Day!

I just want to greet everyone a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

bestmothersdaycard

I wish my husband had said these words today, but alas, he is English and they celebrate it on the fourth Sunday of the Lent…  which means, it already passed.

Seriously now…

I want to paraphrase the words of my friend regarding the act of mothering in the current context.

Mothering is not exclusive to mothers anymore in today’s context. These days it extends broadly to women and men, gays and lesbians, who have taken on the challenge of  rearing children in whatever circumstances. It is no easy feat mothering children so today is their day on the pedestal, but everyday their contribution to nurturing human life will always be in our hearts.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mama and Papa. I salute you both for sharing this role all through these years, down to your grandchildren. Thank you for being our giving tree and I pray that the Lord up there that He will not take away His eyes off the two of you. I love you and miss you both terribly.

To my Mum and Dad-in-Law, we may have not met yet but I am thankful for the wonderful son you have brought up. I hope some day I might be able to thank you personally and give you both a loving hug.

To my sister who is in far, far away Kenya… I know how difficult it is for you to be away from your son and husband but just keep on keeping on.

Happy Mother’s Day, again, everyone.