Tag Archives: Travel

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.

At the end of last year I spent a very fancy weekend at the Four Rivers Floating Lodge in Koh Kong. Very luxurious!

The Lodge can only be accessed by boat similar to these. We were picked up by the Lodge.

I’m happy and relaxed already.

There’s always one.


There are 12 large and luxurious tents, complete with double bed, couches and arm chairs, a very nice bathroom with plenty of hot water, and a small balcony from which you can dive into the river for a swim.

I was too busy swimming and reading to take any photos once we arrived. Sorry.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook this photo of myself and the cute one day old kitten in our office in the village.

This morning we walked into the office to be told that his mother had been hit by a car earlier that morning. The staff were feeding him, but the food wasn’t great and we (I say we, but my colleague’s concern was much greater than my own as she had nursed two abandoned kittens before without success) were very worried about him. It wasn’t possible for either of us to take him back to Phnom Penh. So we left the office with heavy hearts and no kitten.

But upon returning to The Vine we were told that the staff here would be able to look after him. So after lunch I jumped in The Vine’s big army green coloured four-wheel drive and we rushed back to the office at breakneck speed (or so it felt to me, it was probably only 60k/h). I ran inside to rescue the little kitty who was still alive and seemed well. The driver had seemed a little confused and unimpressed when he had been told where he was driving me and why, but as soon as I climbed back in the truck with the itty bitty kitten he crooned ‘oooh, toooic’ which means ‘oooh, small’.

We then drove the very short distance to the market where they had no kitty formula (expected) and no baby formula (unexpected). They also had no eye droppers so we settled for a baby bottle, although it would be too big. I was then advised to go to the pharmacy, but upon arrival we found they couldn’t help us either. We decided in the end to get condensed milk and see how we went from there.

It started pouring rain on the drive back and it was an incredibly jumpy ride. I tried to hold the kitten still, but he insisted on trying to climb all over me, his little face with his closed eyes nudging at my neck, presumably trying to find food. He also covered my beautiful kroma (a Khmer scarf pictured below) with yellow poo.

Upon our return the staff rushed into action, one of the men heated water to add to the milk, then cooled it down checking the temperature regularly. We then started feeding, I had the honours, but I could see how interested the boys were, so I handed the task over to them.

It soon became obvious that this wouldn’t work, it was too big. So they resorted to spoon feeding him.

After feeding him we looked for Nisa, The Vine’s resident cat, in the hope that she would clean him and take care of him. I laid him on the ground wrapped in my kroma and stood back to see what would happen. Nisa stared at him warily for some time. I had to run downstairs to get my computer and when I came back Nisa was smelling him, but she ran away when she saw me and hasn’t come back.

A friend on Facebook suggested a syringe, and I happen to have my medical kit on me. What else could the syringe be for but to feed orphaned kittens? He’s being looked after by the staff now. Hopefully he makes it through the night! I’ll let you know.

I’ve spent a bit of time in the village this week, so there are many photos of The Vine Retreat where I now stay when I’m in the village. The running water and electricity was a little too tempting. The photos of where I used to stay can be found here.

The view from the balcony.


This is Titi. I remember when he was such a cute little puppy. I wish they stayed puppies.


The Vine Retreat from the back.

The swimming pool.


There were a few tips we read about visiting Myanmar that I didn’t take quite as seriously as I should have. I will reiterate them for others considering visiting.  Most of these about about money, as this was the most frustrating part of being in Myanmar.

  • Myanmar uses the Kyat (pronounced chet) as their currency.  US dollars can be exchanged with money changers at the market, or at a bank for a slightly higher rate.
  • There are no ATMs in Myanmar, you need to take all your money with you.
  • I am not aware of anywhere that takes credit or debit card.  Maybe some of the bigger hotels, although I expect they would charge a lot.
  • Take only pristine $100USD notes.  I mean pristine.  They must have no creases, smudges, or marks of any kind.  Anything less than perfect may be accepted if you are lucky, but at a lower value.  Why?  I have no idea.  Everyone tells you that the government will not accept anything less than perfect.  Soiled notes have to be taken out of the country, hence the lower value.  What is/are the government/banks (same thing in Myanmar I presume) doing with all these pretty $100USD notes?  They don’t go back into circulation.
  • Take $100USD rather than smaller denominations.  Smaller denominations are exchanged at a lower rate.  Again, who knows why.  Seems the government particularly likes $100USD notes.
  • The exchange rate changes every day, and sometimes several times per day.  On the day we arrived $1USD was worth 775 Kyat in the market and 780 Kyat at the bank.  About five days later it was worth 760 in the market.  However, due to a slight smudge on our note, it was valued at 750.
  • Shop around if exchanging at the market.  Try to find the going rate rather than accepting the first offer.
  • It’s cold in the north.  I haven’t been cold for over a year, so I forgot what it feels like.
  • The buses are freezing.  Freezing!  Wear socks, shoes, long trousers, long sleeves, a scarf (to wrap around your head and face), and wrap yourself in a blanket.  That may make you warm enough.
I’ll add more if I think of any.