Saturday, December 19, 2009

Look who flew into Phnom Penh this morning

Look who flew into Phnom Penh this morning at about 9am.

It is B's first trip to Cambodia and he gets 3 days before we are all back at the airport ready for another 10+ hours squashed into an economy class bench. So we hit the town. We surrounded ourselves with a bit of history...

...had a decidedly one sided conversation with a monkey who was too busy concentrating on his rambutan to even notice we were there.

Climbed the steps of Wat Phnom...

...and watched some sure footed boys do an impossible task at the end of an almost rungless ladder.

And later after the sun had disappeared over the hazy horizon we danced with the evening traffic and the disco fountain at Botum Park...

...before dinner at Fish and an early night.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


(From here)

Its my 40th birthday today so it's fitting, I think, that by tuesday I will be the closest to the place that I was born than I have been yet. As I think I've mentioned in a previous post I was born to a couple of young Kiwis finishing a PhD at Birmingham University in England on the 17th of December 1969. Six weeks later, at the end of January, my brave parents left the fog and drizzle of a brummy winter and moved to the thick 30C humidity of Makassar, Indonesia. Indignant and probably a bit confused I immediately embarked on a nursing strike and loudly refused to sleep. Eventually a Dutch doctor was called in. He sedated both mum and me and we all began again.

The first almost decade of my life was spent in South East Asia, outside of both the country of my birth and the country which passport I carry (although techniquely I could carry both a Kiwi and a British passport) making me an Adult Third Culture Kid (ATCK), a relatively new term used to describe someone who has spent significant amount time outside of their own culture during their developing years. Like many ATCK's, when we ended up 'back' in New Zealand the sense of belonging I had expected didn't happen. I looked the same, talked with a similar accent, spoke the same language but all the unwritten rules, the expectations, the unspoken cultural lingo that becomes a part of our psyche, absorbed by osmosis from the day we are born was, at best, patchy. I often felt exposed, different, slow and confused. I rebelled, self medicated and stopped eating, anything to try and regain control of a situation I didn't really understand. Then I turned 20 and we suddenly had B and I was responsible for more than me. I didn't fit became we didn't fit.

Eventually, after a few years of working on J (an Adult Lived Here All My Life Kid) he took a position in Apia, Samoa and I expatriated, again, 20 years on. It dawned on me sometime during that first year that I was much happier being different, where I wasn't expected to be the same, that I am comfortable boarderless and wear adventure and chaos like a favourite sloppy Tee. Two and a half years later I came back to live in Singapore and discovered despite her metamorphasis, her glamourous new clothes, like an old friend, she and I still fit and we had plenty to talk about! Cambodia too has a familiar feel, probably because she resembles Makassar in the 70's.

It has taken 40 years to begin work out who I am. It'll probably take another 40 to work out how to articulate it and by then I hope to have seen a lot more of the world and lived in a few more countries starting with the little boot shaped bit above the African coastline.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's gonna be cold!

(from here )

I have been googling Wunderground every other day (which I found thanks to Leone) watching the temperatures in the parts of Italy we are a week or so away from visiting with a mixture of fear and amusement. They are dropping like the preverbial stone and while theoretically none of this is unexpected practically the idea of sub ten celcius sends much, much more than a shiver down my tropically half cooked bones.

Today wunderground says this week Venice manages a high of 5C dipping on friday to an inconceivable -6, which I have absolutely no point of reference for at all anymore, minus 10 by saturday!

Sure it was cold in New Zealand in July.

Freezing in fact.

But there was no snow!

Wunderland declared Venice is expecting a coating of the white stuff today and Rome on Saturday.

Thankfully it's Italy and being a huge Christmas fan I may very well be distracted by choirs in churches, rich and beautiful presepi- nativity scenes- some with real people, twinkling duomo's, toy and ornament markets, pannettone and possibly a sprinkling of tiny super cooled droplets of crystaline water.

Our first ever white Christmas!

Bring on the icebreaker, the warm puffy jackets, the hats, the gloves and scarves as big as knee blankets we are ready!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A confession


I hate pasta.

There i said it.

I think I must be one of the only people in the world but I really truly don't like pasta...any pasta; wheat, egg, rice flour, barley, corn flour, noodles, spagetti, gnocchi, lasagna, farfalle, canneloni, fettucini, macaroni, linguini, soba, udon, bean thread, vermicelli, tubed, pillowed, flat, frilled, stuffed, smothered, oiled, green, red, black or white (actually usually really more of an off white) organic, store bought, homemade or made especially for me (in which case I'd probably just eat it and pretend to like it because thats how I was bought up). I just don't understand the fuss.

I'm only saying this because we are about a week away from a 2 and a half week trip to Italy, pasta capital of the world, and while I am aware there is plenty else to eat in Italy it is the worlds largest producer and consumer.


So what is the big deal with pasta anyway?

Like tofu, which I confess to liking in most forms (except perhaps the famed 'stinky tofu' which I have yet to try), pasta is used mainly as a carrier of added flavours, rather than it's own flour and water with an optional hint of egg taste, which combined with its huge range of incarnations makes it one of the most versatile staples available and gives it global appeal.

Pasta's recorded history predates the Romans. It has been found depicted in tomb drawings of the mysterious Etruscan peoples of ancient Italy and was probably being made and eaten in a similar form in China at about the same time.

Pasta is considered a nutritious food; low in fat and sodium(depending on what you add to it) and high in complex carbohydrates, the kind which because it digests slowly gives you an energy release over time as opposed to simple carbs which are converted quickly causing a rapid rise in blood sugar levels leaving you with a 'sugar rush' and then the inevitable crash. Generally speaking whole wheat products with minimal processing are considered better, the more interference a food has had, the smaller the chains of starch become and the easier it is to digest. Pasta, while still being a 'processed' food has molecules packed so tightly that only about half is rapidly digested when the pasta is cooked 'al dente' leaving the other half to be absorbed at a slower rate.

(By Stefania Ferri from

None of this is changing my mind.
I'd still rather eat rice....risotto anyone?

Although eventually it might not matter because according to a report by the British Met Office, last month, scientists predicted that Italy’s durum wheat yields (the best wheat varietal to make pasta semolina from) are at risk of being effected by projected climate change, raised temperatures and decreased rainfall.

I wonder if anyone would notice if I just licked off the sauce?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lets get lost

‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.
`Then it doesn’t matter which way to go,’ said the Cat.
‘—so long as I get somewhere,‘ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’
~ Lewis Carroll, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

One of my favourite things to do on holiday is walk.

It also happens to be, in my opinion, one of the best ways to see a new city or town. Of course some places are just not meant for walking and Phnom Penh is one of them. It’s hot -even the few steps from the relative comfort of an air conditioned car or a moving tuk tuk are enough to induce a sweat moustache- you have to negotiate the lack of a footpath or a footpath cluttered with cars, motos and tuk tuks, tuk tuk drivers and motodops ask if you need a ride every couple of minutes even though they saw you get out of your car not three steps away or heard you say 'mien laan' (have car) to the guy in the previous tuk tuk and finally the stuff you really want to see is spread out over half the city so you'd be walking for ages just to get from riverside to central market.

So when we do go anywhere else I am even more motivated than ever to, as the ad on the Nat Geo Adventure channel says,'get lost'.

We got lost in Shanghai...

for a while anyway...

J seems to have a highly developed inbuilt GPS system.

I am dying to try it out in Venice, a city people say is as easy to get lost in as it is to be found. It will be a much tougher ask when sometimes you can't see more than a sliver of sky let alone a landmark highrise party hat.