Random update

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This week’s blog is a random update on our life in the Cambodian capital as it’s been a slow news week.

I am happy to report that we are all well. Tash’s face has only the faintest scars (you can see what it was like in the photo below), my stomach seems to be back to normal, and I’m hopeful that when Roo sees the lovely Dr Bounvath this week, he’ll get the go ahead to return to swimming. And not a moment too soon: it’s hotting up around here.

Two things worth celebrating happened for me on Wednesday: I finished the first draft of my second novel; and I got offered a consultancy here in Cambodia.

The novel still needs a lot of work. I’ve changed my mind about some of the characters halfway through, there are still some plot gaps I need to go back and plug, and I’ll probably change some characters’ names. (This happened with the first book: too many Thai names beginning with ‘P’ for the non-Thai reader; in this case, there are too many ‘C’ names). I still need to scope out some settings in Thailand. Plus I have no idea if it’s any good as no one else has read it yet. But it feels good to have reached this milestone.

As for the consultancy, I’ve been employed by two Catholic international NGOs, Irish-based Trocaire and CAFOD in the UK to conduct a strategic review of their HIV/AIDS programs. Having worked on HIV/AIDS programs in Cambodia more than 10 years ago, it’s a great opportunity to reconnect with a topic that remains a passion for me, and the timing is perfect. It will be good to step back from the novel and work for a while. I expect to be busy, at this stage contracted for 15 days over about 4-5 weeks. I’ll start next week and do a few days’ work before we head off for Buddhist New Year holidays.

Tash’s school Seametrey had an end of year concert on Friday night, which solved a few mysteries for me, like why Tash was wandering around the house singing songs about jungles, crocodiles and clothes-washing. This turned out to be a number the kids were practising for the concert. There was also a funny song that went ‘If you were a mini-beast, what would you be?’ with the kids acting out butterflies, snakes, spiders and – Tash’s favourite – scorpions.

Tini Tinou parade Tash & AngLast weekend the Tini Tinou international circus festival was in town. Though most of their shows were in Battambang, they had a street parade and opening night in Phnom Penh. Always on the look-out for new and fun things to do on the weekend, we took Tash to the parade, which was a hit.

Today’s outing was to visit friends Erik and Cristine and their kids John and Agnes. We met Erik and Cristine in Laos in 1993, and they’ve spent a lot of time back in the region with Erik’s work for the Swedish International Development Agency (I caught up with them in Laos in 2002). We didn’t actually know we were all living in Phnom Penh until we crossed paths by chance at The Living Room, a groovy cafe near our home. They come from Uppsala in Sweden, we come from Brunswick in Melbourne, we met in Laos and we’ve reconnected in Cambodia – a good small world story.

Finally, it’s been raining off and on in Phnom Penh – there’s actually a term in Khmer for ‘rain that falls once a month during the dry season’, only it’s been falling more like once a week. Last night Roo and I found ourselves in a floating bar called Pontoon on the Tonle Sap River in the midst of a power failure. We got to lounge on couches, sip cocktails by candlelight and watch a fantastic lightening storm over the river. I suspect the bar isn’t normally so atmospheric nor romantic.

Stay tuned for more links to Roo’s articles, and to posts on our holiday in Laos and Kanchanaburi in Thailand’s west…

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2 Responses to “Random update”

  1. GadgetMan Says:

    Wow that’s so cool, well done. The novel I mean. the job too, but especially the novel.

    We’ve had our own blackouts here, following 150kph winds which Brumby called the worst ever experienced in Australia, unfortunately overlooking 1975. Some houses in the Dandenongs were off supply for 5 days. As Gavin said, that’s one way to cut emissions.

    I have finally started reading The Year of Living Dangerously, which you foisted on me an eternity ago. Belated thanks to you, it’s phenomenal.

    And it looks like you’ll miss my 40th : ( Poor timing. I’ll send you an invite anyway.

    Keep safe, have fun: if you can’t do both, choose a different one each time

    D x

  2. Two nights in Stung Treng… « Oh, the places you’ll go! Says:

    […] getting increasingly anxious to go home, she was also feverish and breaking out in facial sores again. So we ditched plans to overnight in Kratie and headed back to Phnom […]

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