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There and Back Again: Travel Notes

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Archive for the ‘Day to Day’ Category

Sep '11

More September Floods

I spoke much too soon about water levels dropping. Cambodia is suffering from floods, for the second time in a month. The river has overflowed its banks. Near the Old Market and Wat Bo the water ranges from calf- to hip-deep. Several dozen people have drowned across the country. Customers can’t get to restaurants or […]

Jun '11

Language Lessons

There are the phrases you rehearse in your textbooks.    Then there’s the stuff you don’t expect. Saturday morning, at the breakfast table:  the six year old tells me, through giggles, that I have selected the dog’s dish for my breakfast cereal.  Hey, how was I supposed to know?  It was next to all the […]

Apr '11

Seasons Turn

We’ve been sneaking up on rainy season. Over the last month the river has crept above the mud line, and the grass has turned from parched to green. We suddenly switched from occasional sprinkles to real rain. There were two large storms last week. The second was so loud that it woke me up at […]

Feb '11

Giant Puppet Parade 2011

Here’s a storm demon from the annual Giant Puppet Parade. There were about ten of them this year, built and carried by swarms of schoolchildren. At sunset the parade circled around the Old Market and along the river, where the parade segued into music. We were able to look at the puppets up close. They […]

Feb '11

Mango Rains

The seasons are turning. We’re leaving the cool and dry season, and heading into the hot and dry season. It’s been noticeably hotter for the last couple of weeks, and sometimes uncomfortable. Comfort is all relative. It was coolest around New Years. Residents were putting on layers and complaining about the cold. At that point, […]

Dec '10

Baby On Board

Most folks get around on motorbikes here. Motos can fit two or three adults. Kids get sandwiched between adults, or held in an arm. Once I saw a yap dog nonchalantly perched on the running board. Yesterday I passed a couple with a sleeping baby tucked against a hip. He was floppy-armed and oblivious, as […]

Dec '10

Cool Weather, Saturday Groceries

We’re officially in the cold season now. It’s gotten down into the teens at night – between 16C/60F – 18C/64F . Last night I closed the window for the first time. I’ve thought about the sweater under my bed, but am not yet motivated to find it. I’m told this is typical for the annual […]

Dec '10

Morning Soundtrack

This is what my neighborhood sounds like as it wakes up: Two roosters, cis and trans, around 5. Monks chanting around 5:45. Not every day, but regularly. There’s a pagoda a couple streets over in the direction it comes from. A backyard neighbor cooking. Metal bowls knocked into each other. Chopchopchopchopchopchopchop. The crackle of frying […]

Nov '10

Ant Forecast Calls for Rain

When we were at Angkor Wat this weekend, our guide noticed a stream of ants climbing up a ruined wall. “It’s going to rain,” he said. “They always come in when it rains.” There was a smattering of rain while we were there, and a shower that night. Last night a parade of ants trailed […]

Nov '10


Last night the streets were lit by candle light. The houses and stores in my neighborhood put a few candles and incense at the curb near their door. Most had rice, water, and fruit as well. I wonder if it was for the stampede victims.