Adorable temple cat

This cat is the size of two hands put together. So cutes!

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The $4 feast

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I have a million posts, pictures and videos to post from the past few weeks alone. I’ll do my best to catch up on these stories and adventures around Cambodia.

Here is a glimpse of all you can eat BBQ for $4 U.S. a person. I have not been a good pescotarian (people who eat fish, but no chicken or beef) the last month. I have been a pescotarian for 7 years in Vancouver, Canada before I got to Cambodia. Because I was traveling I did want to try some of the local food, including meat then starting eating more meat again.

Once I can successfully donate blood to Angkor Children’s Hospital this weekend, I will go back to a pescotarian diet for awhile at least.

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It’s all about the sauces baby!

 

“Outmanning” men for sport

I don’t know why, but ever since I was a kid, I remember always playing sports and competing with the guys. During our free time in elementary school, the girls would talk with each other on the sidelines and the boys would play sports. I thought, “Sitting around and talking is so boring. Why do they do that?”

Now I’m 28 years old and I still have the same habits. I feel good when I beat a guy at pool, at basketball or seeing how long we can stay in really cold water the longest. Especially when they think I’m an easy win because, I’m “a chick” (another name for a girl in North American culture). After a win, I’d hear them whisper, “Dude, you got schooled by a girl” or “Wow, she took did it like a man.”

Or did I do it like a woman? Even better.

They burned their bras for us

In high school, I remember a friend saying, “I hate feminists.” We probably wouldn’t be in school if it weren’t for the many people who fought for our rights. That doesn’t mean that I agree with some extreme feminist views. But it’s easy to take our history for granted when we were born with many rights and freedoms.

Men need to be part of the solution

Just like ethnic equality, gay rights, women’s rights, men do need to be part of the solution on this journey towards equal rights. One of my very wise friends said, “Gay rights is not just a fight for gay people. I’m straight but it is a human right and it is everyone’s responsibility. Black rights is not a fight just for black people, it affects everyone.”

Challenging cultural traditions

It’s tricky when you’re a visitor in a new country and finding the balance between respecting cultural tradition and sharing your perspective from an upbringing where women have more rights and freedoms. I actually visited an NGO and it was an amazing program.

The guide brought me to the volleyball field and said that the students play every week to keep themselves active and they host a party after a tournament regularly. That all sounded great until he told me that girls were not allowed to play even thought students asked if girls could play. What surprised me even more is he said, “In Cambodian culture, people think that women should be doing ‘gentle’ work.” I tried to hold my tongue as much as I could and just said, “Hopefully that changes over time.”

Below are inspiring videos of women from two totally different cultures who are working to empower women to challenge cultural traditions and to believe in themselves to get what they deserve.

My dream for women all around the world

  • To be able to make any choice in their life freely whether it be to get a Masters degree, be single at 40, own her own home without anyone’s permission or have a family
  • To be able to be confident in themselves, know themselves and love themselves so they can demand what they deserve and demand respect

Girls, it’s time girls stop being in the sidelines and jump in and play.

“Why are Cambodians so generous?”

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The following experiences are just a few of the near daily examples that have prompted me to ask two of my Cambodian friends, “Why are Cambodians so generous?” The fact that I’m even asking says a lot about how much less we share with each other in North America compared to other cultures around the world.

1. I’ve heard stories from my friends now about how hard it was growing up with little money. Young people have so much responsibility by financially supporting their families if they have job. I can think of at least a few times in the four months I’ve been here where they will tell me their story, including low salaries, and pay for my meal within the same conversation.

2. I’ve kept in touch with my friends who work at my favourite guesthouse. When I wanted to bring friends there for my birthday, within two hours some of the staff rushed to get me gifts and nice notes. One of them apologized that they couldn’t get me something on time because they had little time to find something. Every time I go there, even though I’m no longer a guest, they always offer me a cold towel when it’s hot outside, tea, coffee, bananas and peanuts. When I thank my friends for it, she said, “You’re welcome we are good friends me and all my team we must care you when you’re with us far away from your mum:-)”

3. I left a $1 fan at a very small local BBQ place. You couldn’t even tell it was a restaurant if you were passing by, but if you know the place then you know it’s a small restaurant. We left the place for at least 15 minutes and it was pitch dark. All of a sudden a man pulls up on his scooter after circling around the river to find me and hands me my fan.

After I asked two of my friends, “Why are Cambodians so generous?” One of them looked at me confused because it is normal to her she said, “We just like to share, especially with friends.” My other friend said, “It is in our culture. We like to give from our hearts.”
Delicious home-cooked lunch

Pretty damn good Cambodian Circus breakdancing

I went to another fantastic Cambodian circus show and this is the first time I’ve seen breakdancing in Cambodia. I’ll write another detailed post about the circus and the incredible stories of the performers.

Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS Association)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ is the organization that trains the artists and they perform in Siem Reap every night. The organization’s name means “brightness of the arts” in English is an Artistic and Social Center.

The artists were former kids, trafficked children, and orphans, and PPS Association provided them with a free education and artistic practice. The performers now travel in different parts of the world including Singapore and France.