3 Days in Cambodia (Day 1)

Cambodia is beautiful. Siem Reap is filled with wonderful people, sprawling street markets and lots of options for food.

We stayed at the Angkor Unique Villa. It was close to downtown and there were many amenities right nearby which was really nice. OH! They ALSO KEEP BUNNIES. They have 3 little ones who are still in cages and a big guy who has free roam of the hotel grounds. So basically, we were in heaven.

That’s right. Beer in hand, feet in pool and BUNNY!

One of my favorite things in Cambodia was the cheap laundry service! I told you that we were traveling with only hiking backpacks, so we brought limited clothing. In fact, Rosie brought 2 pairs of pants. PANTS. Did I mention it was like 90 degrees? FUZZY PANTS. Totally my bad for not double checking her, but COME ON CHILD. Anyway, we had them do 2 loads of laundry, totally 9 kegs of laundry (they weighed them) for a total of $11US.

Cambodia has it’s own currency, but mostly operates in USD. For anything over $1 they prefer USD, under that you’ll often pay or receive change in Cambodian. This is all well and good, except the ATMs spit out $100s which can be hard to break when you’re buying a 50Cent beer. That’s right, beer is cheaper than water. We took FULL advantage of this.

Anyway, we arrived in Cambodia and were treated to a lovely Tuk Tuk ride from the airport to our hotel, with all out bags. It was an amazing way to be introduced. You can’t help but feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you see people carrying water from the well to their home in buckets on bamboo. Or watch farmers lead cows across the street with a halter made from rope. Chickens, dogs, cats (and apparently sometimes bunnies!) roam free. Families set up an umbrella and cart in front of their home and sell their wares, from noodles, to cane sugar juice to scarves.

Once we’d dropped our stuff at the hotel, we were off to lunch. We wandered towards an outdoor market (named the Night Market, however mostly open during the day as well!) and found ourselves a vegetarian cafe. We sat outside and ate some amazing food and enjoyed beer! Cambodia doesn’t have a large variety of its own cuisine, but instead is a wide mix of western and Asian foods. We’ve found when traveling in countries where you have to be careful about what you consume that Trip Advisor is a very helpful tool for finding safe dining options. Just a tip!

And after that, we were off to Angkor Wat.

I’m not going to lie. I basically knew NOTHING about Angkor Wat before this trip. What I knew about Cambodia came from the news in 90s. I have images of a war torn country: children carrying machine guns, farmers injured by land mines and Khmer Rouge claiming his innocence until his death. And while all that was true, there is so much more to Cambodia. Angkor Wat does NOT disappoint in showing you a completely different aspect of life in Cambodia.

We didn’t have a guide the first day (guides go through a 6 month certification course!) so Nathaniel bought a guided book from an adult peddler. It’s important to not buy anything or give money to children which encourages them to not go to school. It’s so hard when a preschooler is trying to get you to buy bracelets in her broken English, but we were careful to not give them money.

The guide book came in handy all of the days we were there though and Isaac was particularly interested in what he was reading. He read to us as we explored our first temple, Ta Prohm.

Angkor Wat was built between 730 and 1307 and was later left abandoned for hundreds of years. Over the past decade, efforts have been made by many countries, not just Cambodia, to begin restoration. However, there have been long periods of time in which no work could be completed due to the conflict in the country. It’s neat to see how nature used that time to reclaim the area, but also how well made these structures were! Each Temple was built over a long period of years, however most remained unfinished to one degree or another because the reign would change. Some of the temples were converted from Buddhism to Hinduism and some were then converted back again. Many of the areas have been pillaged, with items stolen or sold off. Areas where the original pieces are missing are reconstructed with new materials, created in the ancient ways.

Cambodians are permitted into Angkor Wat free of charge (though they must pay to use the restrooms) while foreigners must purchase tickets. Tickets are checked periodically on the roads travelled by cars and Tuk Tuks, and must be shown at the gate to every temple. Often there were stray dogs in the same area and we giggled that they were the ticket checkers.

There are merchants selling (very PUSHILY!, yes, that’s a word now) their wares, as well as many bands playing music for tips. Many of the band members were injured in the war, or by land mines. It is something to discuss with your children if they might be upset by it.

Our next temple on the first day was Banteay Kdei, followed by a quick stop to peer into the King’s Swimming pool.

Our final stop that evening was Prae Roup, where we went to watch the sunset.

Special shout out to Nathaniel on these amazing photos. Like, seriously we were there and I still can’t believe he was able to capture the feeling.

A quick dip in the freezing pool and we had dinner and passed out. Our next day was our biggest, visiting Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat, the two largest temples in Angkor Wat. I can’t wait to share them with you!

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One Night in Bangkok

Was enough for me! It was much crazier than Pattaya, and Pattaya was crazy!

We did however get our first experience in a Tuk Tuk which is the best way to get around south east Asia it turns out. In Bangkok, the Tuk Tuks were carriages attached on top of a Motor bike.

(Photo courtesy of https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto_rickshaw)

Rickshaws in Siem Reap (our next stop) were carriages pulled behind motor bikes.

(Photo from https://www.google.com.kh/amp/m.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2097978/what-will-become-cambodias-endangered-tuk-tuk-drivers%3Famp%3D1)

We even rode in a hilarious one labeled VIP which I’m pretty sure stood for “very impairing (hearing) pull along”. It was CRAZY LOUD. They weave in and out of traffic but you get places so much faster than you would in a car.

Of course Rosie almost fell asleep and I was worried she was going to fall out.

After a tasty lunch in a little cafe we headed to an amazing, beautiful temple. It was cold, comparatively and rainy. We were pretty soaked but we had an amazing time and saw some pretty cool sights!

The giant reclining Buddha was absolutely breathtaking.

Afterwards we wandered around a bit before Tuk Tuking back to the hotel.

Dinner that night was at the Queen of Curry which was a delicious goodbye to Thai food. It had lovely outdoor seating (that some Deutschlanders got into a fight over!) right across from an outdoor market. The people watching in the rain was lovely. And the food was excellent!

I had a hot stone massage after dinner while the kiddos went to bed. It was amazing. The poor girl was so scared of the hot stones but she overcame her fear and it was delightful!

For the record, Bangkok food and transportation was roughly 1/2 the cost of that in Pattaya.

The following morning we had to leave the hotel at the ass crack of dawn for the airport which was an adventure in itself. It turns out the airport was further away than we thought and also quite busy so we barely made it onto the bus that drove us 1/2 way to Cambodia where we boarded a plane that taxied all the way BACK to Bangkok so we could finally take off. And by the time I finished 2/4 of our forms needed upon landing, we had already started our descent.

Goodbye Thailand, hello Cambodia!

A Thailand Christmas

And more.

Thailand is so colorful, both in culture and actual, vibrant, beautiful colors everywhere you look. It’s beautiful, lush and alive!

We took the bus to the airport on Saturday morning which was amazing. We didn’t have to drive, pay tolls or find parking. It was lovely!

We opted to carry hiking packs instead of suitcases for this trip. So far it’s going . . . Ok. I’ll reserve my final thoughts once we’ve gone through all of our counties.

But the kids do look pretty darn cute in them!

Saturday night we arrived in Pattaya, which is on the coast and known for its adult night life. Nathaniel splurged on this hotel because we were spending Christmas there. I will tell you, the Intercontinental was AMAZING. The staff was wonderful. The whole place was gorgeous, well designed and clean. It has 3 pools, two restaurants and a kids entertainment room. It’s only downfall, for us, is that it’s outside of the city so you have to take a taxi to everything. Pattaya is more expensive than Bangkok, so that is a consideration if you’re planning on traveling to the Intercontinental in the future.

Our first night we had an amazing ocean side dinner. We took a “taxi” home. By which I mean a pickup truck with a weird cage and “seats” along the side.

The good news is that it’s safe. It says it right on it!

And then crashed out. Thankfully in our actual bed, not in the bed of the truck. And the bed of our hotel room was AMAZING you guys! I could have spent the whole trip in it, quite happily.

Our first real day in Pattaya was Christmas Eve. We visited an amazing shrine! Unfortunately most of the written information was not in English so I have no idea what we were actually seeing, except that it was amazing.

We did some shopping.

We ate an amazing vegetarian place!

We found Starbucks!

And the kids and I got pedicures! It was Isaac’s first time, and now he’s hooked.

Christmas Eve night we walked down “walking street” which is known for its night life! It was a blast in the early evening, full of life.

We had a wonderful dinner (Thai food is so good!) and were greeted by Santa as well carolers from a charity!

And a stray cat we named “socks”

Walking back down walking street much later in the evening was an experience. I’m not sure who is more scarred, Isaac or me.

Santa brought our stockings that night!!! My new favorite Christmas morning tradition is having the kids bring my stocking to me in bed!

The Intercontinental has an AMAZING breakfast buffet every morning, so after we enjoyed that again we headed off for the day.

Our first order of business was an “ice town”.

At first, it was cute, but. . . Odd.

But then we entered the -10 Celsius room. Which was pretty. . . Cool.

Ahahahahahahaha. I just actually laughed out loud. You’re welcome.

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We even had sodas in ice glasses!

We could see a sign for the Pattaya sheep farm, and we thought “why not?” So we wandered over.

It was. . . Something. For basically the same price as just the bird exhibit (which we had no idea even existed) you get could into all 3 attractions: storybook village, sheep farm and the bird show. So we did!

It was very odd, but definitely fun. The bird show was pretty spectacular actually!

After another ocean side (sea side?) meal

we went to the sanctuary of truth.

This. Was. Spectacular. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

It was really breathtaking.

Our last stop of the day was the Teddy Bear museum. Much like the sheep farm, this was an exhibit that clearly made a lot of sense to someone. It was fun, but again, odd.

So that takes us to Tuesday. It was a bit rainy, but being from Japan we weren’t deterred by that. We headed to a 600 acre garden exhibit.

Exhibit is the right word you guys. If you thought the sheep farm and teddy bear museum were wild, hold onto your hats!

When we got our tickets they booked us into the next “show”. We watched an AMAZING half hour of Thai culture and history presented through dance. It was truly beautiful.

They ushered us out and BAMN. We were in an elephant show.

Not just an elephant show. A truly hands on, interactive elephant show. It was amazing.

The elephants played darts, soccer, basketball and bowled. They also gave massages, did the hula hoop and said very quite “thank you!’ To patrons who handed them money! Some opened and closed gates, others gave mama milk to baby elephants!

And this baby scratched his hairy baby elephant oozy on the gate.

After that we toured some

Of the 600 acres. It was. Bizarre. Again, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Why yes. There is a car garden. And inside the car gardens, there is a little space with cats.

And, ya know, dinosaurs.

OH! And an actual garden.

I wanted to head to the Pattaya floating market so away we went. I’m gonna get real here folks: it was disappointing. It was crowded and dirty and one of the main attractions was a monkey show. I’ll spare you the details and the pictures but these were not happy or well cared for monkeys. We left right after the show because I could not get it together.

So for your viewing pleasure, here is all of our food pictures.

That night the kids had their leftover pizza and played video games while Nathaniel and I went for massages and dinner. We enjoyed side by side Thai Massages. Traditional Thai massage is done over funny pajamas so that was a hoot. And the woman who was in charge of Nathaniel basically did a dance on top of him. It was wonderful.

Afterwards I had a facial and Nathaniel had a “contrary heel” scrub. His feet look awesome! AND when we got home, Rosie had tucked herself in and fallen asleep!

Our next stop was Bangkok. I’ll get to that next time!

UPDATE

I have a great post about Pattaya waiting for media uploads so I can get it out to you, but alas our internet connection is too slow to get the pictures up. I promise it’s coming and I haven’t forgotten about you! We spend today in Bangkok and tomorrow we fly to Cambodia so there is a LOT more to come your way!

I hope you’re all enjoying whatever you’re up to, too!

Merry Christmas!

I super duper meant to write a post tonight. But then there were buy one get one free drinks. . .

So. I’ll catch you tomorrow.

Also. Santa brought me 8 Chins for Xmas. I have no idea how I managed this picture, but I sort of love how terrible it is.

Yurts, Cats and Bunny Rabbits

It’s been a pretty typical weekend/Monday in Japan. The kiddos finished school for the semester on Friday. They got GREAT report cards, except that Rosie apparently does not understand the concepts presented in Physical Education. I’m not sure what concepts are presented in PE. When I was PE the only concept we had to grasp was “run”. I’m pretty sure the teacher means “she’s not coordinated” but I’ll double check on that when we’re back from break.

Saturday night Nathaniel and I went on a date to a yurt. Yes, a yurt. Before our group made reservations I made sure there was indoor plumbing. It was a Mongolian yurt and they brought us 8 different things of food, which I neglected to take photos of. I’m still not 100% sure what some of it was. . . There was definitely some mystery meat that I passed on since the video feed on the wall showed them manually castrating a bull. On repeat. Anyway, the highlight was clearly that we got to dress up!

Some of the “hosts” helped some of our party find their outfits and they were HITS in the Yurt, and all the ladies wanted to get their picture with them!

It was a HUGE blast. We tried some questionable alcohol and Yak’s milk.

Neither was particularly appealing.

Sunday we went to a tiny, adorable German Christmas Market where I had hot Mulled Wine and we found some fun little Christmas gifts. That night we decorated our tree!! Our tree this year is 1/2 sized and artificial but it’s special to us because it came from another Ann Arbor expat family when they left. We chose to just put the ornaments that we got in Japan and a few special ones up with the lights. Baxter is trying really hard to open all of the presents when we’re not looking, but so far we’ve caught her.

Today the kids and I went to a different cat cafe and had a blast. The cats were friendly and clearly well fed!

One of the cats would shake your hand for food! One would roll over (with some assistance. . . WELL FED) and they were all big sweethearts.

After a quick lunch we *finally* made it to the Rabbit Cafe!!!!!! It was a total blast. REALLY expensive, but so worth it. I will definitely go again! I didn’t get as many phots here because I was just too excited.

It was so much fun! And they, of course, have a pretty sizable gift shop. Baxter is going to be a happy bunny when she gets her Christmas presents!

When we got home I made everyone take of their clothes, wash their hands and give Baxter lots of loving. The bun buns at the cafe were clearly well taken care of, but they don’t get to live in a loving home with a fake tree that you can look at but you’re not allowed to eat, so Baxter is lucky!

She offered to help with this blog post too.

Feelings Friday (24)

THIS IS GOING TO BE A LOT OF FEELINGS

Here we are, coming to the end of a whole year in Japan. This time is marked by a number of people who came over “with us” going home. There are quite a few families who signed on for one year and NO MORE so they are getting ready to head home in the next week or so. It’s weird to think that could be us leaving (although Nathaniel says that was never really an option).

Part of me thinks I could be done here. I’m ready to see my family and friends, get back to work, read labels, see my dog, drive on the other side of the road, etc. Being sick, and having sick kids (and sick Nathaniel. . . .) has made it hard to be away from my Mommy. I’ll admit when I’m sick, I want someone to feel sorry for me and take care of me. Also, I have to rely on the internet and the kindness of strangers when I’m trying to find OTC drugs to treat illnesses. TRUST ME. NO ONE wants to mime “UTI” to the male pharmacist in ANY country, but in Japan I’m not sure who was more mortified. Also, let’s all take a moment to remember that I had to sit in THE CHAIR while people yammered at my hoo-hah in a foreign language. (Sorry Dad for that word picture!)

The kids have recently been expressing their feelings about missing home. Isaac is missing out on all the Fifth Grade experiences he’s been looking forward to since he started Kindergarten at Allen. Rosie is missing her friends and cooking with her Papa. (Our kitchen here is so small only one person can cook at a time!). Both kids have talked about what our traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations look like and how they have been different here. The holidays have definitely brought a lot of those feelings out for them. And me.

But there is also a part of me that is so glad we have more time here. I want another Sakura Season. I have friends here who are staying. There is so much good food here. I haven’t pet the capybaras in Osaka. We haven’t seen Hokkaido. We are also given a lot of opportunities here that are *likely* once in a lifetime for us. We’ve been to Bali and Maui and we’re about to head to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. I mean, WHO DOES THAT?!?!?!

It’s a mixed bag of emotions over here. I’ll say it again, some days are awesome and some days are hard. Today was a good day! I met with friends and had tasty treats. But other days, I get paralyzed with anxiety at the grocery store and forget to buy the chicken I went in to get. Is that really any different than it would be in the US? Maybe, maybe not. But stateside I have a much larger, more easily accessible support system. And they all speak my language.

So that’s how we’re feeling today. Pretty soon I’ll be feeling my bathtub.

Update from The Madura Infirmary

So I’m definitely on the mend. It turns out that it will take a full week to feel better and 2 weeks to be completely healed. And I have to go back for another check up (DEAR GOD, not THE CHAIR!) in a week.

We all have colds. Our immune systems have no idea what to do with the totally different strains of funk in this hemisphere. So other people get a little sniffle, and we’re over here going through boxes of tissue. Luckily all of the organizations that hand out fliers etc. all give you a little pack of tissues, so we’re never going to have to buy tissues again. EVER.

Isaac’s thumb infection got worse. Last night, it exploded and something gross came out. IT WAS REVOLTING. I tried to convince Isaac to say “fairy sparkles” came out, instead of using the nasty “p” word, but he decided to just say “dead white blood cells” for me. He’s something else that kiddo. Anyway, I mastered the online appointment system by myself (GO ME!) and then was able to get him in this morning. They gave him some topical antibiotics and some oral antibiotics. So now the two of us can take our pills and tea together. Lucky us!

It’s the last week of school here, so as you parents know, it’s insane. There are parties, and parties, and concerts.

And we’re trying, slowly but surely, to get the house decorated.

We have a 1/2 size, expat-hand-me-down, fake tree that I love. Nathaniel is not really a fake tree person so he’s not thrilled, but so far, Baxter hasn’t eaten it yet. SO far. Of course, we haven’t even decorated it all the way yet and I’ve already broken an ornament. I’m that talented you guys. I had to rearrange the whole living room for it, which meant the furniture got closer together. . .

Baxter approved.

Tomorrow I’ll have a Feelings Friday for you, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a doozy.

And here are some fun pictures from the past week for you.

💙

Another Week Gone By. . .

Sorry for being so absent. I’m still pretty sick, but as life is still busy, I’ve still had to go on with life.

Last Saturday we went to an Antique Fair which was really interesting, but it was a lot of walking and still feeling under the weather it really wore me out. I did manage to find myself a Kokeshi doll which has been on my list for a while! There were TONS of beautiful items, but a lot of them were also VERY expensive. Nathaniel was particularly interested in swords and the kids were having a good time looking for Christmas gifts for others.

Sunday we drove 40 minutes or so to Inuyama and visited the Japanese Monkey park which does a lot of Monkey conservation work. It was a blast!

Check out that guy’s No-Shave November beard!!! ^^^

There was an area where you could be in near the sloths with no fences between you and them!!! That was really neat too!

And a place where kids got to experience what living in a zoo was like.

A giant Chimpanzee had a dance off with Nathaniel and Nathaniel lost! We were laughing so hard. The chimp clearly wanted to make sure Nathaniel understood who was the alpha.

I fell in love with his beauty who was born in 1973. I love me some silver haired men.

There was also a children’s petting zoo (Who are we kidding, *I* wanted to go!) with lots of different animals.

But this guy was our favorite.

💙

Afterwards we stopped by a German Wine festival and did some shopping along a fun little street. Inuyama literally translates to “dog mountain” so there were lots of dogs out too! (Funny, there was a dog in a down coat, while Isaac was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt)

We also all got to throw some Ninja stars.

https://homeiswherethecoffeeis.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/img_0840.mov

And Rosie stole my Cabi jacket and made it look REALLY good.

I love this guy. One of the guys just hanging out, having some wine. (Whine?)

This week went by in a blur, but here are some of the highlights.

Look, someone stole her feet! ^^^^

This is the part where if you are: My Dad. My brother-in-law. Easily grossed out by female parts. Or want to think of me as a delicate flower in the future,

STOP READING.

Last Monday I came down with a UTI. I’ve only had one as an adult before but once you’ve had one, YOU KNOW. Luckily in Japan our doctors are open for a few hours in the morning, close for a few hours in the middle of the day and 4 nights a week open in the evening after working hours. Most then offer Saturday morning hours as well. So off to the old man OB/GYN I went, where I peed in a cup on the squat potty. THIS IS SKILLS. Anyway, he gave antibiotics and sent me on my way. Here, we don’t have AZO or the stuff they give you to make the pain go away (and your pee orange) so I had to hunt down some Chinese meds. We also don’t have cranberry juice.

I felt a bit better after a couple of days but was still really worn out. Finally, this past Wednesday (10 days later!) I felt almost human.

UNTIL TODAY WHEN IT CAME BACK YOU GUYS.

I had to go to my regular doctor anyway for my anxiety meds so I asked him. NO GO. They will do NOTHING below the belt.

By the time I managed to get to the doctor tonight, I was miserable. And it turns out, for good reason. It’s in my kidneys. So another shot (OW MY HIP) of antibiotics and 7 days of another oral med.

BUT THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO TELL YOU.

I had to have a real exam. Not just like “you feel pain?” Exam. So he sent me into another room.

And there it was. “THE CHAIR”. I’ve heard tell of ladies who have sat in “THE CHAIR” during their time in Japan, and I had hoped to escape. BUT THAR SHE BLOWED.

No one was in the room with me, but they told me to remove my pants and sit down. OK. I can handle that. The moment my pale, bare ass hit the cold THE CHAIR, it talked to me. In Japanese. I caught “Be careful please.” And then. THE CHAIR MOVED.

It raised me up. Then it pivoted. And it took my nether regions and put them through a curtain.

So there I was, in THE CHAIR, me on one side of the curtain and everything south of the equator on the other side. Then.

THE CHAIR SPREAD. Yes, Ladies (and Gentlemen if you’re brave) It magically opened all the bits. And on the other side of the curtain, the doctor (I assume. It could have been Nathaniel’s Chimpanzee friend for all I could see) did the exam.

And then I got a print out of the picture of my ovaries.

Which are perfect. THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

Anyway, the infection is now in my kidneys, and I’m miserable. But alas, life goes on.

YOU CAN READ AGAIN.

On top of that, Isaac has an infected thumb.

And I got a call today from the school saying “Rosie was dancing and suddenly stopped breathing”

I HAVE NEVER DRIVEN SO FAST IN MY LIFE.

Turns out, Rosie had a nose bleed. And in a Japanese accent, over the phone “suddenly STARTED BLEEDING”. And “suddenly stopped breathing” sound AWFULLY similar.

So that’s this week. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Sake Tasting

I skipped yesterday’s Feelings Friday, because I’m pretty sure no one wanted to hear my wallowing. So onward to Friday evening.

Last night, Nathaniel and I attended a Sake tasting at a new friend’s home (within walking distance! BOOM!) complete with a Sake Sommelier! We tasted 5 different types of Sake and enjoyed some tasty snacks and good company.

We learned how Sake is made and rated. We also found out that they capped the number of Sake breweries in 1600 so there are no “new” breweries and you are absolutely forbidden from making Sake at home. Japan has a lot of rules, and this made us giggle a little bit.

We also learned what all the funny pots are that we see everywhere!

It’s a sake decanter!! Who knew????

It was exciting because we were 5 minutes from home by foot, so we left our adorable children at home and told them to go to bed at 10. AND IT WORKED. So now a whole new world of fun has opened for us!

We are planning another sake tasting too, so I’ll keep you posted on how that one goes too. Also, I don’t really like Sake. . . .