Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A date with an old friend

When we say we are off to Singapore for the weekend many expats here express surprise. Why would you go to Siingapore it's so clinical/ too clean/ there is nothing to do there? True it is clean. The clinical part is true in a way too, at least for the casual observer. It is, at the moment, slightly cooler than here, food is cheaper, there are movie theatres, huge airconditioned malls and plazas, great book stores, much faster internet connection than here and a cast of thousands from all over the world who have bought their cultural colour and expressions with them (it's one of the best places to people watch). But the main reason we go to Singapore so often is that it has become a second home.

Having lived, worked (J ) and been at school (both Mac and I) in Singapore means we all have shared and separate lives there, friends and a familiarity that allows us to relax. Having spent some very memorable childhood years in Singapore in the 70's I have a warm affection for this island so small it could fit snuggly into our own lake Taupo. Despite it's incredible metamorphasis since then it still has the ability to transport me back to the days of simple printed sundresses and hot peanuts wrapped in a newspaper cone with a smell or a glimpse of days gone by.

As the parents of a teenager Singapore offers a sense of security that allows him to enjoy a significant amount of freedom that he doesnt get in Phnom Penh and wouldn't get even in the relative safety of New Zealand. Where else in the world can a 15 year old catch a movie, a bite to eat and the last bus or train home just before midnight without the fear of being mugged/ stabbed/shot at etc. The incredible public transport system allows him to, with the tap of a card, and for less than a skinny cappuchino at Coffee Bean, trip the light fantastic from one end of the island to the other.He met friends for frogurt, took a trip to his old school gate, rode the cable car, hung out on the beach, caught a movie or two, ate subway and chicken curry and roti, bought his luggage allowance in books and remembered to check in with us once in a while.

We met friends, bought our luggage allowance in books, met up with friends again, revisited old hawker haunts for roti, pedas sotong, tempeh, chicken curry and obanyaki (a Japanese pancake shaped like a fish) with chocolate or red bean filling and played tourist for a day or two....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


As I mentioned in my Earth Day post there are quite a lot of things you can buy here that have been made out of recycled 'trash'. Mostly small things like bags and accessories, a bit of paper jewelery and sometimes lamp shades and the like. There are some furniture shops that will make bespoke furniture using recycled wood too. I sometimes wonder why noone is making larger items out of trash-but maybe its as simpe as noone has shown them how.

We have some furniture in our storage container in New Zealand made out of recycled rimu (a native New Zealand timber)which we love as well as some opshop ('Opportunity Shop'-Kiwi speak for second hand store) dining table chairs I recovered in faux cow print which was joined by a huge chunky dining table made in India out of recycled wood when we moved here from Singapore. When we moved from Singapore to here we also moved to a company that doesnt allow for much shipping so what furniture we had was sent back to our storage unit in New Zealand to join the old toys that should have been passed down, bits and pieces we couldnt part with 5 years ago but have now grown out of, assorted keep sakes and boxes of memories. Here we live with the landlords old and often disintegrating, mismatched, make do furniture so I often find myself buried head first in some of the beautiful interior design blogs and web pages I have stumbled across or been directed to by other like minded bloggers over the years, dreaming of a lush interior I can call my own. This has led to some memorable finds particularly recycled products.

This bic pen chandelier by en pieza refracts light in a decidedly modern way although at $1000 it's a little out of my price range!

This amazing chandelier, by Katarina Harvey, is made out of plastic bottles.

and this one, by Michelle Brand,is made entirely out of severed bottle bases. So beautiful, I bet its light is amazing!

A beautiful Fredrik Farg chair rescued and recovered, inspired by classic mens wear it just screams class and comfort.

This very comfortable looking, stylish chair is made out of old whiskey barrels. I wonder if it still has a faint wiff of Grandads study about it?

This bed by Neil Sinclair looks like it would last forever. Made out of wood that once housed a factory or held up the roof of a home it has been completely made using 'elbow grease'!

On the smaller side of things these recycled burlap buckets were mayamade an original alternative to baskets.

And last but not least this amazing park made entirely from recycled 'rubbish'. It reminds me of New Zealands famous loo, in Kawakawa, designed by Hundertwasser.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


We left the house as the imam began his call to prayer at a nearby mosque. The first vestiges of daylight were still somewhere below the horizon but the streets were already beginning to play host to very early morning joggers trying to beat the dry season heat and street vendors setting up their carts and road side stalls ready for the breakfast influx. The 25th of April is to Australians and New Zealanders, ANZAC Day, which marks the anniversary of the first major military action seen by Australian and New Zealand soldiers during World War 1. The 'action' took place at Gallipoli on the coast of Turkey. An allied force of ANZAC soldiers were sent out under the direction of Winston Churchill to sneak up the Gallipoli peninsula and 'capture' Istanbul. They landed believing they had the upper hand and the element of surprise only to be met by a ferocious ready Turkish Army who opened fire before the boys had even reached the sand. The ensuing carnage was horrific and the entire exercise quickly settled in to a bloody campaign that dragged on for months. News of the over 8000 Australian and 2700 New Zealand soldiers who lost their lives hit those at home hard. The brave and heroic actions of the ANZAC troups soon became the stuff of legend. The characteristics they showed; endurance, ingenuity, good humour, an fierce egalitarian nature and mateship have become a vital part of our then new nations identities.

ANZAC Day has been marked in New Zealand since news of the offensive hit our shores on the 30th of April 1915. The next year an official public holiday was declared and the 25th of April became known as ANZAC Day. The first dawn service was held in Albany Australia, the last piece of land the Aussie ANZACs would have seen as they left for war, by a Reverend White in 1923.
Now a days the tradition is marked in many of the countries around the world that Kiwis and Australians reside as well as at Gallipoli and in the village of Villers-Bretonneux which the ANZACS liberated in 1918.
In Phnom Penh the short dawn service was held at the residence of the Australian Ambassador (there is no New Zealand Embassy here) where wreaths were laid by both Aussie and Kiwi representatives, troups past and present were remembered, National anthems were sung and the ANZAC phrase 'Lest we forget' was repeated before a shotgun breakfast.
Another ANZAC tradition is the humble but very tasty ANZAC biscuit.

Wives and mothers of Aussie and Kiwi soldiers made these golden crunchy oat biscuits (cookies) -because they tended to survive the often long trip on a Merchant Navy ship without going overly stale- to send to their boys on the front line or in the trenches or whereever they may be to remind them of home and to let them know their loved ones were thinking of them. They became known as ANZAC biscuits, not to be confused with ANZAC tiles or wafers which were hard thin bread substitute served by the Army Mess, after the infamous landing at Gallipoli although the first recording of the association between the biscuits in the recipe below and the name ANZAC Biscuits wasn't until 1921 when they appeared in a Dunedin (NZ) church cookbook. There was an ANZAC reference as early as 1915 (again in the St Andrews Parish cookbook) but the recipe was for cake not biscuits.

Anyway Kiwis and Aussies alike know this recipe as ANZAC Biscuits...

ANZAC Biscuits

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

1 Cup Rolled Oats

1 Cup Coconut (optional)

1/2 Cup Melted Butter or Margarine

2 Tbsp. Golden Syrup (for those of us not in NZ or Australia you could use honey)

1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

1/4 Cup Boiling Water

1) Stir together the flour, sugar, oats and coconut in a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the center.
2) Add the melted Butter (Margarine) into the well.
3) Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda into the boiling water and add to the well. Mix.
4) Drop spoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.
5) Heat in a 350F (180C) oven for about 8-10 minutes. Store in an airtight container. For a crunchier biscuit just add a little more golden syrup.

Note the combination of the bicarb of soda and the golden syrup makes 'hokey pokey' another famous New Zealand taste sensation!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tag you're it...

I got tagged recently by Verity to join an experiment begun by Her Bad Mother. The idea is to see if it is possible to 'go around the world in 80 clicks' creating a 'global conversation' between blogging mothers living in different countries. Here’s the plan from its point of origin:

Here's how it's going to work: this post that you're reading? Is the departure lounge. I'm going to link to a couple of other mom bloggers here in Canada, and to a couple of mom bloggers from other countries around the world, and they'll write their posts, sharing 5 things that they love (or maybe what they don't so much love - this playground doesn't force conformity) about being a mom, and then they'll tag a few more bloggers from their own country and from other countries, and so on. And you're more than welcome to join: just write a post of your own (5 things that you love about being a mom) and find someone to link to and tag - someone from your own country, if you like, but definitely someone from another country (Google is a good resource if you don't know any; google any country name and 'mom' in their blog search function) (be sure to let them know that you've tagged them!) - and link back here and leave a comment and we'll add you to the 'itinerary,' which David will compile and post and update as the tour proceeds.

And here I go....

I am not one of those people who was born to be a mother. I didn't even have a lot of time to contemplate the idea before I found myself rushing headlong into being mum, being responsible for a not so little, very fast moving, head strong, profoundly deaf son with a wickedly quirky sense of humour and a not so innocent looking smile. A few years later his brother was born after the same 30 odd long hours of labour on the lounge room floor, watchful and alert, which is how he stayed for most of the first 16 months of his life, not unhappy, not fussy, just awake....very nearly all the time. I learned I could cope without a lot of sleep...just. I learned how to do the dishes, vacuum the floors, play listening games, pee, cook, fold nappies, change nappies, make the beds...ok I lied about that one.... supervise the sandpit and the scone table at playcentre and jump into a great pit full of giant foam cubes at preschool gym all while carrying the wakeful one in a front pack, facing out so he could see the world. In those early days it was hard to find reasons to love being a mum between dirty nappies, sleepless nights, plates of rejected food, tantrums and scowls and the occasional projectile vomit and or explosive poo (theirs not mine). And then it would happen. Little fingers on my cheek from a milky breast connected sucker, ‘I love you mummy’ whispered from beneath the covers, a hug from a nude, warm, baby soap scented body fresh from the bath, the squirm of anticipation as he settles in my lap armed with a favourite book ready for a story, catching them playing together peacefully, or big brother ‘helping’ little brother with his shoes/blocks/biscuit, little feet and delicious little toes, seeing the penny drop in those clear blue eyes as he makes a connection, the bubble of giggles formed from a tickle, little arms flung above the head in silent triumph at a new achievement, long dark eyelashes resting on fat baby cheeks, a face in midst crumple as he looks around for his
I love that motherhood has taught me patience, that being a young mother means I played too, got messy, danced at the same dance studio, we still listen to the same music, enjoy the same movies, read the same books and speak the same language.
I love being mum to teenagers. I love that we travel together, explore new cities together, huddle under camel blankets in a 10 dollar backpackers waiting for the heat to come on... together, nearly freeze to death on the top of Mt Sinai while waiting for an early January sunrise ...together, sit on an airport floor consoling ourselves with wonkers chewy gobstoppers while waiting for a delayed flight...together.
What I love the most about being a mother is that it has taught me so many things about myself and the world that I could not have possibly learned any other way. I learned that I am powerful and strong when I need to be, that I remember what to do when my 1 year old gets a mint imperial stuck squarely in his windpipe and begins to quietly resemble Augustus Gloop, that I am the calm one when the same child splits his top lip completely in half lengthwise like a burst over ripe tomato getting into the back seat of the mini. I learned that I am an articulate and knowledgeable force to be reckoned with when faced with needless bureaucratic often demeaning red tape and the inadequacies of the public education and health system for deaf kids with ADHD and that this usually surprises people because apparently I look like I am far too young to have children/teenagers/a 19year old and that makes me stupid too. I love that they have taught me to forgive myself and to not be too hard on myself because it’s ok to make mistakes and that it is important and acceptable to say you are sorry. I learned that despite often being made to feel powerless and lost as 'just a mum' I am actually empowered, empowered by birth, empowered by homebirth, empowered by breastfeeding, empowered by teaching and by learning from two beautiful, affectionate, open minded, confident, caring young men who I am proud to call my sons.
And I love that as a mum I both give and receive complete and utter unconditional love and acceptance ....every day.
I’m pretty sure that’s five things-;)
How about you?
So in the spirit of the experiment I’m supposed to nominate 3 blogging mothers to do the same (but of course it’s completely up to you!) but I’d love to hear what Connie at Whale Ears and Other Wanderings,Amanda at The Milk Bar and (I'm sorry I don't know your name!) Paradise Lost in Translation three of the many great blogs I read on a regular basis. And anyone else who reads this is also very welcome to put their five cents in too.

Face to face with KLs sharks

While we were waiting for our appointment with Petronas's skybridge we headed to Kuala Lumpur's aquarium in the convention centre convienently located for the very tired (we slept through our alarm remember) between the hotel and Petronas. Tickets cost 28 RM (about 7-70USD or 13-80NZD) which is considerably cheaper than Kelly Tarltons (Aucklands aquarium) and as we were soon to discover almost as good. The only thing missing was Kellys colony of penguins, instead we were treated to small aquaria of spiders...

scorpions, geckos, huge millipedes and centipedes and lizards...

and a huge tank of some of the Amazons and the Mekong Deltas giant fish including the Arapaima and the giant Mekong Catfish both fast becoming a rarity in the wild. Sadly over fishing of their young fish mean not many reach the gigantic sizes they are capable of.

Malaysias aquaria is especially involved in turtle and terapin conservation programs including the rehabilitation and subsequent release programs. These turtles are tagged and tracked to help build data on their migratory patterns. Collating data on individual turtles also helps establish exactly how many of this ancient species we have left.

Turtles walked the earth 96 million years before humans yet studies have shown that turtles may have as little as 10 years left before extinction if something is not done about their continued collection for illegal trade, use for food and habitat destruction.

Sea turtles get caught on swordfish lines 10 times more often than on hooks baited for tuna. So simply choosing to consume less swordfish could reduce the market demand and thus reduce the impact on the critically endangered leatherback.

Aquariums like this give those of us, who have not yet managed to graduate from snorkler to scuba diver, a chance to get up close and personal with some of the seas more intriguing creatures.

The extra long, 90 meter, fibreglass tunnel (the largest in South East Asia) that takes you through a huge pool, home to over 3000 marine animals including some huge cownosed stingrays, rare sand tiger sharks, grey nurse sharks, an endangered fresh water tortoise saved from a cooking pot, a monkey eating (apparently-I'm glad we didnt see that!) catfish, a morea eel or two, a blow fish and assorted other colourful swimmers.

The whole complex is quite big with several large and many small tanks to meander around. Near the end is a viewing mat where people could sit in respectful quiet (which they did kids in pushchairs included) and watch the inhabitants of the biggest tank duck and dive in their own personal patterns in a kind of underwater highway system.

It was so peaceful just sitting watching the watery ballet unfold in front of us that we sat for quite a while before the call of a New Zealand Natural ice cream got the better of us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The many faces of Petronas Towers

As I mentioned in a previous post, we left town for Khmer New Year. First we flew to Singapore where we changed our SIM cards, had Starbucks, used clean public toilets (without the fear of dipping hems in puddles on the floor), checked our emails on an internet connection that wasn't slow enough to boil an egg between page loads, bought chewy gobstoppers from 7-11, bought a magazine without having to spend the equivalent of the USA's defense budget and sat quietly in airconditioning with our spoils at the gate waiting for our flight to Kuala Lumpur (yes, you can fly direct Phnom Penh to KL, it was just a couple of hundred USD cheaper to do the roundtrip during Khmer New Year). We finally arrived at KL international airport early saturday afternoon, cleared immigration, bought express train tickets into town and found the correct baggage conveyor belt. Twenty minutes later it became obvious one of our bags hadn't made it. We lodged our loss with very helpful and appologetic Malaysian Airlines staff (although I was very doubtful it was actually their fault), dodged a couple of taxi touts, found the express train platform and sat in deep thought waiting for the train. I didn't have anything especially expensive in that bag (typically it was my bag!) but it was full of stuff I would miss and couldn't readily replace- bendon underwear, bras without padding (that didn't cost the price of a private lear jet), adidas response running shoes (real ones-that again didn't cost Singapore prices) and the 20% of my current wardrobe I wear 99% of the time all of which was bought in either New Zealand or Australia where girls have hips and bums even if they are a size NZ8-10. The prospect of having to make do till July was almost too much.

Half an hour later we emerged from KL Sentral station taxi chit in hand. Ten minutes after that we opened the door of our luxurious room at Traders having been very kindly and sweetly relieved of our missing bag dilema by the girl at the front desk who rang an hour later to say our little battered orphan had been found and should be delivered to the hotel by midnight. It had been way-laid, it seemed, by someone at Phnom Penh airport who, after a generous rummage, relieved it of a near new voluptuous bottle of John Paul Gautier

I can only hope she (he) smelt nice for New Year!

After hunting down some food and a Coffee Bean cappuchino (for J and me) and hot chocolate (for M) in the mall at Petronas Towers we retired back to our room to wait for our (my) bag.

To get one of the 1400 free tickets, handed out daily, that give you access to a 10 minute 'guided tour' of the highest footbridge in the world that sits suspended between Petronas' two 88 storey towers all you have to do is ....queue.

The advice is to get there early (before the ticket office opens at 8-30am) as tickets go pretty quick. Despite good intentions we all slept through the alarm and at 7-30 made a mad scramble for the shower and then across the park to the towers just making it by 8 and as it turned out by about 40 or so people.

The queue is in the basement of one of the towers, a room barely big enough for the tightly woven line of bleary eyed curious that snaked up and down the length of the room and then down each exit door corridor.

We joined it halfway down the last stretch. A few minutes later as the office opened staff made a couple of passes, experienced eyes swiftly guestimating numbers and a small manned (or womaned in this case) sign joined the queue stating 'no more tickets today'. An hour and a half later grumbling tums and precious tickets in hand we emerged victorious. Little did we know by 5pm the skies would open up and by 6-15, our alotted time, the view from the 170 meter high bridge would look like this......

Never mind we'll get up earlier next time so we can chose an earlier tour time!

The tour was preceeded by a 10 minute 3D piece of propoganda about the highly successful, publically (government) owned largely oil and gas conglomerate, Petronas (Petroliam Nasional Bhd ), and its state of the art, architecturally designed 'icon of Malaysia', The Petronas Towers.

The 'skybridge', which was hoisted into place by crane, symbolises 'a gateway to the future and physically, into the Kuala Lumpur City Centre', the public mall and huge park area beneath.The complex cleverly (I thought ) and subtly incorporates elements of Islamic art and design to reflect Malaysia's spirituality.

The lift to the two storey skybridge whips silently up 41 floors in 41 seconds just enough time for our guide to slip in that little gem of information. At the 41st floor you are given just 10 minutes on the bridge before the next tour group emerges in an immaculately timed exercise in control and obedience.

Despite the rain we enjoyed the experience and will probably try again next time.

Here are some of the pics we took of the towers in the short time we were there.

I always thought pictures I saw of the towers at night were photoshopped to get the silvery effect....not so these are all straight off M's little digital, snap and go camera.

Earth Day 2009

April 22nd is Earth Day. This is not a new 'day', in fact, it's older than me. In 1963 US Senator, Gaylord Nelson, decided he wasn't happy with the pollution and environmental conditions of our planet. As a senator he had a certain amount of power and the ear of the then president, John F. Kennedy, who he discussed his concerns with. The President agreed that the planet's environment was a serious issue so much so he went around the country on a five day tour to promote the idea of cleaning up the planet. People began making small changes.

In September 1969 at a conference in Washington, Nelson announced that in 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment specifically focusing on the over population of the planet, a particular concern at the time. The idea of a global holiday to mark Earth Day was proposed at a UNESCO conference in 1969. An estimated 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day, April 22nd 1970, which was effectively the beginning of the modern environmental movement. The penny dropped, too, for different environmental groups who realised they had common values and a common goal. By 1990 Earth Day was celebrated in 141 countries around the world and by 2007, the largest Earth Day to date, a billion people were actively involved.

It's hard to see how things are changing from behind the dusty, smelly, rubbish filled fog in Cambodia. Public urination is common. Even a Wat (temple) wall on a very main road is not safe. People throw their rubbish away whereever they are or pile it up in over flowing plastic bags for hours or even days waiting for the tiny tonka-toy rubbish trucks to take it to the stinking, smokey, seeping mountain that is Steung Meanchey on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

The ubiquitous plastic bag; used in various sizes here for everything from drink containers to market carry bags, to waste containers for those with no plumbing, liberally litters roads, gutters, empty lots, building sites and water ways. It's tell tale pastel colouring like confetti in the dump. Invented in the US in 1957 their cheap, light weight construction and relative strength ensured their quick proliferation and by 2002 factories around the world were churning out a whopping 4-5 trillion of them.

Compared with paper bags, producing plastic ones uses less energy and water and generates less air pollution and solid waste. They also take up less space in a landfill. But many of these bags never make it to landfills and even if they did even 'biodegradable' plastic bags never completely biodegrade. The best they do is break down into tiny plastic glitter made, like the bags, of polymer resin using crude oil, natural gas, or other petrochemical derivatives.

Despite first impressions there are some good things happening in Cambodia. My friend Fleur and her artist friend Leang Seckon created The Rubbish Project to highlight environmental issues using art...

...this beautiful naga was created in 8 days out of thousands of handcut plastic squares for International Water Day last year.

It was lit from the inside ....

CSARO (Community sanitation and recycling organisation) is another organisation trying to solve problems rising from a polluted waste filled environment and improve the living conditions of the urban poor, including the hundreds of people who work in Phnom Penh's own version of hell. When it began in 1997 CSARO sent a group of Cambodian 'waste pickers' to the Phillippines to learn how to weave plastic bags into bags, belts, purses and other things and then come back and teach others how to do the same. CSARO helped them find markets for their products.

Smateria , like Bloom, is not an NGO but a commercial/social enterprise set up by individuals who wanted to create something sustainable and profitable employing fair trade practices such as paying fair wages workers can actually live off using recycled materials. Diana, from Bloom writes a blog I read regularly called Cambodia Calling which you can read here.

When we were living in Samoa, like a few other countries have, it began the process of banning plastic bags which not only littered its beautiful land but also it's seas, killing turtles, seals, sea birds and fish often slowly and painfully. I would love to see this happen in Cambodia!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Choul Chnam Khmer

Next week is Khmer New Year.

In ancient times Khmer New Year was celebrated in January but later on this was changed to April to coincide with a seasonal lull for farmers and so while New Zealand is preparing to shut up shop for Easter weekend the streets of the Cambodian capital clog up with urbanites trying to get home to the provinces to help pray for their dead ancestors and honour their elders.

Khmer New Year is, like New Year celebrations the world over, a party, when, as one website aptly puts it, 'We can see that merriments related to culture are almost uncountable'. But there is a more serious side to festivities too.

Split into three consecutive days. The first day, the 13th of April, Maha Sangkran or 'Great Almanac Day', proclaims the arrival of a new year. Representatives of each family go to their temples to offer thanks before the Buddha. For luck they wash their wash their face with holy water in the morning, their chests at noon and their feet in the evening before they go to bed.

The second day, Veara Vanabath or 'Worshipping Day', is when donations are made to charity and families attend a dedication ceremony for their ancestors at their local monastery.

The third day is known as Veara Leung Sak or 'Rank and Promotion Day'. Of the three days Veara Leung Sak is considered the most auspicious. In the evening, to complete the New Year festival, Cambodians perform the last ceremony, called 'Pithi Srang Preah'. It is the day to cleanse the countries many Buddha statues, monks, elders, parents and grandparents to apologise for any mistakes over the past year.
Bathing the Buddha images is symbolic. Water is essential for life. As a 'kind deed' it is also thought to bring longevity, good luck, happiness and prosperity.

This translates in practice to a lot of water (or sometimes plaster as in the photo below) being thrown. Not to be confused with the Water Festival, where there is no water thrown, Khmer New Year is Cambodia's chance for a big water fight. The area around Wat Phnom, in the central part of Phnom Penh (better known for its late night dark and seedy side) is transformed into a battle ground of sorts littered with burst plastic bags and quickly drying puddles of water and wet laughing people.


As the cooler temperatures of the hot seasons evenings hit, street corners, parks and yards become games arenas where the skills and rules of traditional games are re-learnt and practiced. Traditional Khmer games are often an exercise in the dexterity of both mind and body. Tres, for example, is a ball game where, using only one hand a ball is thrown and caught while simultaneously trying to catch an increasing number of 'sticks'- pens or chop sticks- with the 'resting' hand. I'm knackered just thinking about it!

Bos Chhoung, another game involving the tossing of a 'ball', pits boys against girls. The 'chhoung' is a krama or Cambodian scarf twisted into a tight ball with the end left tail-like to give a handle. Once the players have lined up facing inward a member of the boys team lobs the chhoung at the girls line. The girl who manages to catch it is then able to throw the 'ball' at a particular boy of her chosing and often the object of her crushing, in the boys line. If it hits him he must sing and dance. If it misses, it is the boys turn to try and make the of HIS choice girl dance. You can imagine the laughter this particular game causes!


Khleng Chab Koun Moun which means 'Hawk Catches Baby Chickens' is a game for the kids. To begin the game one child is designated Hawke and another (usually the biggest) the rooster. The rest of the group become the chickens. The rooster and the chickens sit in a circle around a pretend fire. The hawke approaches to ask for some fire but is denied and further infuriated by an insulting song that the chickens and rooster sing demands a chicken. The protective rooster again refuses and then the real action begins. The chickens line up behind the rooster in a 'train' holding eachothers waists and try and evade the evil clutches of the much less encumbered hawke. The game ends when the hawke has managed to catch all the chickens.

There are other traditional games played during Khmer New Year here and here.

(from ariffin's photostream on flickr)

We are in need of a break after a few months of busy-ness and heat so we have booked the weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the following week in our Asian home away from home, Singapore.