Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - places to visit

ACE spent four days, three nights in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the first week of the school holidays. It was an adventurous experience having to go everywhere in a tuk tuk as that was the cheapest, fastest and most convenient mode of transport in the busy, traffic-choked city. The traffic on Phnom Penh (PP) streets is rather haphazard compared to KL roads. Vehicles are driven on the right-side of the road and there's hardly any traffic light junctions so one has to be very brave driving there considering the number of cars, motorbikes and tuk tuks moving around very closely to each other.
It is best to wear a face mask, especially if you have nasal allergies like C, when on the roads of PP as the air is rather polluted with dust and vehicle fumes.
If your hotel is within the city centre, a tuk tuk ride to almost anywhere you wish to go would cost you USD2. The drivers would usually ask for more but it is not too hard to negotiate it down to USD2. Agree on the price first before you board the tuk tuk.
We visited the Silver Pagoda, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, National Museum, Sisowath Quay, Russian Market and Central Market. You may Google or read other travel websites for more details of each place as there's too much to write if I were to provide all the information. Here are some pictures and info of the places.
 Statue of Buddha under a Bodhi tree at the entrance to the Silver Pagoda
 A stupa inside the compound of Silver Pagoda
 The Silver Pagoda is a temple within the Royal Palace grounds. It is called 'Silver' because the entire floor inside is laid with silver tiles. The silver was mined in Cambodia but sent to France to be made. Each tile weighs more than 1 kg.

 There is a scaled-down replica of the Angkor Wat in the Silver Pagoda grounds. Angkor Wat is in Siem Reap, outside of Phnom Penh. It takes a six-hour bus journey to get there from Phnom Penh.

 The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is also known as the S21 Prison. This was where Cambodians captured by the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot were detained, interrogated and tortured for confessions. The victims were then taken to the Killing Fields (15 km away) to be killed and buried in mass graves.
 A room where a victim was detained and shackled to the bed frame, fed only with about 3 tablespoons of poridge daily.
 small detention cells measuring 1 metre in width
 Graves of the last 14 victims found dead at S21 after the Khmer Rouge was toppled.
 A structure within the Royal Palace grounds facing the Mekong river, currently mourning the late Prince Norodom Sihanouk who is lying in state in the palace until his cremation in Feb 2013. Until then, the Royal Palace is closed to visitors.
 Wat Ounalom, a temple at the quayside, said to be the centre of Cambodian Buddhism. We did not enter this temple.
 Sisowath Quay by the Mekong river.
A sculpture at the quayside.
 The National Museum is located near the Silver Pagoda/Royal Palace. It takes about 10 minutes to walk there. It showcases artifacts from ancient Khmer and also gives a detailed look at research done of Angkor Wat.
 Central Market is located near Sorya Shopping Centre, one of the more modern malls in PP. It is more organised than Russian Market. Sells lots of semi-precious stone jewellery, accessories, bags, clothes, household wares, souvenirs and also has a wet market section selling fresh produce.
A stall selling local crafts such as scarves, bags, silk...

 A flower stall on the outer periphery of the Russian Market
 A fruit stall outside the Russian Market.
 Inside the Russian Market, a maze of narrow alleys flanked by small stalls crowded with loads of 'antique' ware, clothes, souvenirs, bags, silk, handicraft, household wares, hardware, machinery, wet market, food stalls....
Other places you could visit in Cambodia:
Choueng Ek Killing Fields
Independence Monument
Historical sites like the Angkor Archaeological Park (Angkor Wat)
Bokor National Park
Siem Reap
Kompong Chom
Koh Kong


Thursday, November 22, 2012

School holidays are here!

We are in the second week of the school holidays. As I'm writing this, I'm recovering from a mild flu which I caught upon returning last week from a four-day visit to Cambodia. We had chosen to visit Phnom Penh after rather intensive deliberations within a week, from the aspects of airfare and accommodation cost, weather, travel time, and of course, suitable sights and food to suit both young and old. Lately, our short holidays have been rather last-minute in terms of actually deciding to take a holiday to deciding on where to go and what to do. Somehow, we always hardly have the pleasure of planning way ahead for holidays....

We're taking this week slowly as we recuperate from our travel and sickness (C's cough has been a prolonged one and she also had a fever for two days a few days ago). There's still the music classes and BM tuition for her to get back into momentum again, while my writing has been on the backburner for a bit too long...

And there's the Christmas shopping to start on too, although I still don't get it as to why we need to spend so much effort and money on getting presents and on feasting. Yes, Christmas is a time of celebration but I much prefer a quieter reflective one once awhile, and maybe give presents to the less fortunate instead of ourselves. C is involved in a church musical on Christmas eve so there's the additional practice sessions to attend starting December, which is just over a week away (!)

Although this year-end school holiday is seven weeks long, I foresee it whizzing past pretty quickly. While there's a lot one can do and be productive in seven weeks, especially for those super-achiever moms who somehow manage to get their kids into a myriad of activities indoors and outdoors, I'm resigned to the fact that I can't be, and don't want to be one of those. I'm sapped of energy just coping with the daily demands of life. As long as C covers the minimum requirements in terms of playing and learning, I shall try not to allow myself to get caught up with getting her to be a 'high-achiever' in every field.

I will certainly write a pictorial account about Phnom Penh soon, so you just have to wait if you're curious about what we did, saw, experienced and ate! Meanwhile I shall leave you with a picture of an eye-opening experience we had at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum which detailed the atrocities inflicted upon Cambodians by the dictator Pol Pot.

A sombre display of skulls of victims of the Khmer Rouge

Friday, November 2, 2012

A day in the life of Me

Today, like every weekday, I woke up at 6:00am, and the following is a list of my activities:

Made and packed breakfast for E and C to eat in the car on the way to school.

After waving goodbye to them, I washed the floor of the car porch and watered the plants. Changed the water in the big jar for the water lily.

Then I combed Rusty's fur and tried my best to untangle some parts while he tried to run away from me after awhile.

Had my breakfast while reading the day's news online, checked e-mail and Facebook. Paid some bills online too.

Handwashed some clothes which couldn't be washed in the machine.

E returned from school as he had used my car. His car was left at the workshop yesterday. So we went to the workshop for him to collect his car and he went to work from there while I drove myself home.

When I got home, the autogate did not shut properly somehow. Rusty ran out. I had to go looking for him under the hot morning sun. After walking around for about 10 minutes in the neighbourhood, I found him. He didn't want to come to me and kept running away. I had to chase him and finally caught and brought him home on a leash.

I was hot and bothered so I sat down for a drink and continued poking my nose around Facebook.

Had an early lunch in order to fetch C as she dismissed earlier than usual today due to Speech Day rehearsal.

Got home, took foodstuff out of fridge to thaw and prepare for dinner. Told C to take a shower. She decide to read while sitting on the throne instead. Nagged at her to stop reading and start showering. She continued reading. Reminded her to shower. She continued reading. Yelled at her to shower. She finally did.

Cleaned the living, dining and dry kitchen floor.

Ironed some clothes.

Had a cup of coffee and watched some YouTube videos while it rained heavily outside.

Fed Rusty.

Started stir frying vegetables when the doorbell rang. Attended to the technician who came to fix our faulty water heater. Turns out it is not faulty. It is the electrical plug point that is faulty. Called electrician who can come only next Monday.

Continued cooking the half-cooked vegetables and other dishes for dinner.

Rested for an hour upstairs while C was having her tuition downstairs.

Ate dinner. Nagged at C to eat faster and not read while eating. She continued to eat slowly. Told her to stop reading, she continued reading. E returned from work and had dinner. Cleared the dining table after dinner was over.

Called C's drum teacher to discuss replacement classes and future arrangements due to certain changes.

Made a mental note to call the boarding facility to reserve a place for Rusty when we go on holiday soon. Need to get a dental appointment for C too.

Told C to stop reading again and start her homework.

Blogging here as C is doing her homework. Got irritated because C was not focused on her homework. She did not check her work and continued reading her book. She did not make the corrections carefully because she was preoccupied with her reading. (Reading is a good habit only if you know when to put the book down to do other important stuff!)

C is done with homework and has gone to get ready for bed.

I'm done with this blog post and wonder what I should do next.....