Year of the Rat


Year of the RatGong Xi Fa Cai–Happy Chinese New Year. I’m happy to say since my last blog entry I’ve been feeling much better. In fact, later that very day I felt ‘myself’ again for the first time since arriving in Cambodia. I can’t say what made the difference, though I suspect giving voice to my anxiety helped put it into perspective. It’s timely, given the advent yesterday of the Year of the Rat. It’s typically a tricky year for Horses like me, even more so when those Horses suffer from rat phobia. Not such a debilitating phobia in Australia, here in Cambodia it can keep me awake at night. Or rather, it did keep me awake at night. I’ve been sleeping much better since we settled into our new house.

Our new house–it’s a gem! We moved in last Saturday. Being the Capricorn that he is, Roo was worried it had all been too easy and something was bound to go wrong. But some last-minute plumbing repairs and a dying cat notwithstanding, the move went smoothly and we are enjoying having room to move again. Tash is loving the garden and the resident white ‘meow-meow’ who, so far, is tolerating her affections. She’s also roped the pretty young guard, Mr Chan, into playing catch-ball with her, and likes to help him sweep the concrete yard. The place is free standing with some old, established trees–coconut, mango, rose apple, banana palms–and dozens of beautiful plans in pots outside the front door and all along one side of the house. These include palms, peace lilies, hibiscus and–my favourite–frangipani. There’s also a large terracotta tub with water plants and fish (photos to follow in the next few days).

The front door opens on to a large room with a TV/DVD and couches in one corner (watched American Gangster last weekend; this weekend it’s The Kite Runner or maybe Death at a Funeral), and a large dining table in another where Roo and I work. There’s an alcove off to one side–optimistically slated as Tash’s sleeping area but more likely to end up as storage space. The three of us currently share the one large bedroom in the place. The kitchen is large, too, with a bench running along two walls, fridge, small gas stove and sink; there’s also a washing machine and tub in the corner by the back door. The bathroom is off the main room by the dining table: hot water (not that we use it), pedestal toilet and room for toiletries. The whole place is tiled and every room apart from the bathroom has air-con and fans. All the windows and doors have screens so can be flung open to let breezes through, and so far we haven’t needed to use the air-con at all. Admittedly it’s not that hot yet, temperature hovering around the low-30s.

Our street 282 is relatively quiet, except when kids are being dropped off and picked up from the Home of English/Home of Khmer schools opposite and next door. And there are not only some great restaurants and bars nearby but also groovy, affordable clothes shops. We’re two blocks from Sihanouk Boulevard and an ANZ ATM. Truly we feel like we’ve landed on our feet. I put it down to Roo’s Year of the Snake karma. Snakes are very good at turning the Rat thing to their advantage.

We’ve rented the place furnished and added the bare essentials, procured from the Russian Market and Pencil Supermarket last weekend. I’m reluctant to cook at home much beyond making breakfast and occasionally pasta or rice for Tash–partly because I can’t be bothered with restaurants nearby where the three of us can eat our fill of delicious Khmer food for around US$12; and partly because I don’t want to have food in the house that might attract rats. That said, I’m confident we can keep rats out of the house–the previous tenant said she’d never had one inside though they’re occasionally in the yard–and it’s part of my ‘peace of mind’ agreement with Roo that we do everything possible to avoid having to deal with rats. That meant having Chan get rid of the dying cat, which the rats had already had a go at (ew! I so did not need to know that, thanks Roo), and arranging for wire mesh to be put over the drains in the yard.

All that said, I have not actually seen a rat in Phnom Penh yet. In fact, I’ve only seen one rat since arriving in Southeast Asia and that was outside one of Pattaya’s most expensive hotels when the minibus I was in swung past to pick up some Russians on route to the floorshow at Tiffany’s. And I wager that if managing my fear of rats is the biggest challenge I face this Year of the Rat, I’ll be doing really well.


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4 Responses to “Year of the Rat”

  1. khim Says:

    i have a rat phobia too – and i’m a tiger !

    would you believe it if i told you that rats are considered “flowers of romance”? that’s according to a Chinese astrologer who appeared on CNN…it seems that rabbits and pigs will find amour this year….

    Gong Xi Fa Cai !

  2. sooz Says:

    Hmm – does this mean I should brace myself for Amy to crash and burn sometime soon?? And do please tell me that monkeys, like snakes, can work some kind of rodent magic…
    Glad to hear the house is working well – it sounds idyllic! Looking forward to the happy snaps 🙂

  3. angelasavage Says:

    Funny you should mention ‘crash and burn’ Sooz as I checked out my fortune for the Year of the Rat yesterday and it said I should beware of accidents if/when travelling by air or water. I’m still trying to figure out how we can get from Cambodia to Laos with a two-year-old without taking a boat or plane when the only land border crossing open between the two countries incorporates a stretch of the Mekong River!
    That said, it is supposed to be a good year to travel. The oracle said I could deflect rat energy by wearing an ox pendant, so no prizes for guessing what I’m in the market for (Khim, you might want to take note of this, too!).
    As for you, you’re in luck: Year of the Rat is an “extremely good” one for Monkeys. Enjoy!

  4. Year of the Tiger « Oh, the places you’ll go! Says:

    […] an agnostic, I’m quite superstitious about Chinese New Year. In 2008, the Year of the Rat, I wore an ox pendant in my earring for the entire year as I read this helped deflect negative Rat […]

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