For a number of reasons I have decided to discontinue this blog. The main reason is that I have become aware that WordPress has been placing advertising on my blog. I never wanted the forum where I share my experiences and ideas to be used to promote products and services, particularly those I do not support. I have contacted WordPress about this, but the only way to stop this is to pay not to have adverting. I actually have no problem paying, as I understand services like this have to make money some how, and people need to be paid. However, I disagree with the way this was done, and for me it’s the principle of the matter (that part is supposed to be read in a poncy voice).

Despite this, it also seems like a good time to end this blog. I started it to share my experiences in Cambodia, and that time is coming to an end. I leave Cambodia in three sleeps and will be returning to Sydney. Who knows where to from there.

My year in Cambodia has been a very difficult and a very wonderful one. I have learnt a lot about myself. This has been both quite terrifying and empowering and believe I am a better person for it. It seems every ten years I rediscover myself. It may say something about me to note that the last time I did this I was also in Cambodia. Cambodia has always held a special place in my heart, and I anticipate returning here regularly for many years to come. I hope that my tales have encouraged some of my readers to think differently and maybe even venture out a little bit, whether it be to Cambodia or somewhere closer.

The end of this blog by no means signals the end of my opinions and photos being forced upon the world. Please follow me on twitter at twitter.com/chubekkah or on Tumblr at chubekkah.tumblr.com

Thank you so much for sharing this time with me and I wish you all the best.

xxxxx
Bek

As you know, I recently spent a week in Melbourne, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the little things that I didn’t even realised I’d been missing.  Here’s a list (some were mentioned in my last post).

  • Pubs – there are plenty of bars in Cambodia, but nothing compares to a nice cosy pub.
  • Pies – a big warm pot pie with a massive serving of mashed potato on the side.
  • Pints – We don’t actually get pints in Sydney so nothing to miss there.  But I enjoyed them in Melbourne, and when combined with the first two points it was just perfect.
  • Drinking water from the tap.
  • Being cold – or rather, becoming warm when you’re cold.  Especially when you step from the cold tiled bathroom into the hot shower.  Ohhhhh, soooo nice.
  • Walking on an unobstructed footpath – I didn’t stub my toe once!
  • Solid poo! – I know, too much information.
  • Clean dogs that I can pat and cuddle without fear of catching a disease.
I’m sure there were plenty of other things, but these are what stood out.

To my cherished readers,

I apologise for being absent for some time.  Last week I started a Juris Doctor program (a post graduate law degree, no I won’t be able to call myself doctor) at RMIT.  I’m doing the course through Open Universities Australia, so it is all by distance.  Except for the first subject, which is done over three intensive weekends at RMIT in Melbourne.

I had planned to fly out early on the Wednesday morning, which would get me to Melbourne a day before the class started, allowing me time to buy my textbooks and do my readings.  I had friends visiting at the time, so one of them joined me in the tuk tuk with my good friend and tuk tuk driver Mr Riem, and we headed to the airport bright and early.

Once we had arrived at the airport I made a quick stop at the bathroom before checking in, where I wondered if it would be a problem that I hadn’t printed off my itinerary.  My thought process was ‘It’s only ever been a problem once and that was with Qantas, it shouldn’t matter and it hasn’t mattered all year.  Won’t be a problem this time, I just need to give them my passport… Shit, I forgot my passport.’  The toilet stall spun briefly around me as I registered what I’d just done and I walked out to my friend feeling distinctly nauseated (nothing to do with the previous night’s martinis).

My flight was in an hour, a normal trip home would take 40 minutes, but in this traffic even longer.  I called my other friend who was still at home, but of course, the tiny part of me that is occasionally security conscious had locked it in a drawer and the key was on my keyring in my handbag. Grrrrrr!!!!!!  My friend and Mr Riem both took the entire responsibility for my stupid mistake upon themselves and apologised frequently on the way back home.

I booked another flight for the next day and made it to Melbourne without any hassles (I’d prefer not to talk about the profound waste of money that I don’t have).  Unfortunately I arrived in Melbourne at 9am on Friday, my class started at 2.

I stayed awake and thoroughly enjoyed the three days of classes.  I indulged in pubs and pints and pies.  I stayed with an aunt and uncle, fell in love with their house and their dog and never wanted to leave.

But here I am, safely back in the Penh.  But not for long!  My time here is nearly at an end and I return to Sydney on 26 March.  Am I sad?  Yes, but I am also ready for the next challenge, whatever that may be.  I’ll let you know when I do.

For those of you following the story of the kitten, he is still alive and well. The staff at The Vine named him Samnang, which is Khmer for lucky, and it seems he has lived up to his name. I did not make it to the village earlier in the week as planned, so I did not get to see him.

When I arrived at The Vine yesterday afternoon one of the staff approached me tentatively and told me that the kitten had died. Before I could react with more than open mouthed, silent shock, another staff member quickly intervened and told me this was not actually the case. A cat in the village had recently given birth and Samnang was taken to her for some much needed mothering. It seems the first staff member, upon not seeing him, had concluded that the worst had happened.

So, on the plus side, he is being cared for. On the negative side, I don’t get to see him, and I’m told he was starting to open his eyes. Oh well, I have to care about what is best for the kitty, not for me.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Another week, another collection of articles I have found interesting enough to pass on.

The articles

  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, says Australians need to get over their obsession with boat people.  I’m a little annoyed about the human trafficking reference though, that’s quite different to people smuggling and confuses the conversation.
  • A fascinating article in The New Yorker about a plagiarist.
  • So apparently women are guilty of sexually harassing men when they look good in their clothes.  Say what?!  Make sure you read the comments, they’re even better than the article.

Blog of the week

  • Brain Pickings is like an online museum of super cool and artsy stuff.

Not too long ago Elysse and I visited the Silk Farm just outside of Siem Reap. Students live and study here for one year, and upon completion return to their home towns (or to wherever they want, I suppose) to work and train others. They only train in one small part of the very lengthy process, which shall be outlined below.

First, the worms are fed mulberry leaves, which I’m told is the same in Australia. They are kept in cupboards in a wooden building on stilts. The stilts are in water to prevent ants getting in and eating the worms.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

The worms are then left to make cocoons, which is where the silk comes from.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

In nature it looks more like this.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Some of the cocoons are kept for breeding purposes, the others are put in the sun. The drying process kills the growing worms inside.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

They are then placed in boiling water. The outside of the cocoon starts to unravel and this is caught up and fed onto a large reel. The thread from the outside of the cocoon becomes raw silk.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

The process is repeated with the inner part of the cocoon, making finer silk.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

The thread is then cleaned and stripped of any lumps.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

It is dyed using natural dyes.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

For some reason I didn’t photograph the design part. Some women are trained in marking the threads for the patterns. They tie plastic at various points before dying to create the colourful patterns which are then woven very precisely using a loom.

And then pretty things are made! Check out this awesome cocoon dress!

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

My purchases included a silk pillow case (it had an elephant on it, I couldn’t resist), a silk head scarf, and yes, I’m the person who bought two cotton scarves at a silk farm.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Tabby.  She keeps me company during the storms.

It’s a short and late collection this week as I’ve been busy and have friends visiting!

The Articles

  • For those of you who, like me, love journals and empty books but are never sure how to fill them, maybe try a Lifebook.
  • An amusing draft speech in The Monthly for the Prime Minister should President Obama visit Australia again.
  • I don’t listen to the music of Chris Brown or Rihanna, they’re just not my thing, and so I would have no interest in the history of their relationship.  But even I have followed this story and am a bit horrified by the the things I’ve read on twitter, many of which are along the lines of ‘I would let Chris Brown beat me’.  Hello Giggles (a website I’ve just discovered) is just as concerned.
Blog of the week
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