Monday, March 14, 2011

Forgotten post from Cambodia - boat ride

I was cleaning out the Drafts folder of my inbox and came across this blog entry from a trip to Cambodia that I may or may not have already posted. As I was re-reading this story, I remembered another thing I wanted to share about Cambodia -

At the guesthouse where we stayed there are about 4 or 5 English movie channels on their cable TV. One afternoon I was channel surfing and EVERY English movie channel was playing a different Chuck Norris movie.

Here's the forgotten post:

As Jerry and I were walking toward the Night Market along the river, I said, "I really want to do a boat ride while we are here." Not five minutes later, a man came up to us and asked if we wanted to do a boat ride! $10 each for an hour-long trip. It was 4pm and the Night Market did not open until 5pm, so we agreed. I saw a pretty big boat and wondered how long we would have to wait until departure since I did not see any other people on the boat or even milling around. I asked and he said that we could leave now. So, we get on the boat and realize that we were the only passengers! We had the entire boat to ourselves. It was great. $20 for our own boat? Well, we leave shore and then a few minutes later he comes up and says something about needing to borrow $5... he'll pay us back at the end of the ride... This is not his boat... it belongs to his boss... and that he is a college student. So, I say, "Why don't I just pay you the $20 now?" He replies, "You just pay $5 now and then $15 at the end." Okay. (Dena and Jeremy - this totally reminded me of our ride up to the Getty Museum!!)

Later on, he comes back up to tell us some things about the river and the things we are looking at. And he says he we will be able to see Vietnam. Jerry is surprised because Vietnam is farther than an hour-long boar ride should take us. I have no sense of direction, so I just tell him to make sure to let me know when we can see Vietnam so I can take some pictures. But then he says he has to go because his sister is driving the boat and then something about how she does not know how to drive the boat. (Jenny - doesn't this remind you of our shared experiences in NOLA?) He leaves and Jerry and I start cracking up.

Several minutes pass and up he comes again and Jerry asks, "So, we will be able to see Vietnam?" Again, he says, "Yes," and then starts pointing to a distant shore and telling us what we are looking at is Vietnam. And that we should take pictures of the floating houses where they live. Jerry asks, "That's the country of Vietnam?" The guy starts chuckling and says that Vietnam is really far away. After a couple of clarifying questions, we realize that he uses the term Vietnam for the country AND any place where Vietnamese people live. Apparently, there is a group of Vietnamese people who have come from their country, live in these floating houses (since they cannot afford very much) and work in Phnom Penh.

I love boat rides. I love being on the water. So, regardless if we participated in some sort of under-the-table-operation, I had a great time. It was quiet and peaceful and a great way to fill an hour before our next activity.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

One Towel Family

Yup, it's been a while. In honor or Labor Day, I decided to post something. Jerry and I have become a one-towel family. Yes, we share one towel. Why? Well, it all started in S Asia. In our flat, it would get so humid that if we left damp towels just anywhere, they would mildew pretty quickly. We found a place near the bathroom that had a hole (I think for wiring). It was in a good spot relative to our ceiling fan for faster drying. I put a chopstick in the hole and started putting our towels there. Well, the top towel would dry fine, but the bottom towel would still mildew so we started sharing a towel. We got so used to it that we still share a towel nine months after moving back to the US. It's great because it cuts down on laundry.

Anyone else share a towel with someone?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Forgotten joys

Jerry and I just came back from our first trip to West U Library (since we moved back to Houston), a place we used to frequent quite often before we moved overseas. I had sort of forgotten about what a great place the library is until a friend and I were swapping ways to be frugal and she mentioned getting books, CDs, and DVDs at the library. If there are local libraries in K, we did not run across any. There is a National Library there, but it is mostly for researchers and it looked pretty run-down.

Anyhow, back to our local library. It's great! And here are some reasons why:
  1. It's quiet.
  2. You can borrow up to 10 DVDs at a time per library card.
  3. You can renew books, DVDs, etc online.
  4. There are even CDs to borrow.
  5. Usually, a book sale (to benefit the library) is going on and you can purchase hardbacks for $1 and paperbacks for $2. Today, I picked up a Dorothy Sayers mystery novel and Jerry picked up a book written by AND autographed by Kirk Douglas!
  6. You can go to the online site and browse all kinds of media from all of the libraries in the county, click on what you want and when it's available, you get an email. Then you go to your local branch and all of your items are waiting for you on a shelf in an envelope with your name.
  7. There are computers to browse the web.
  8. They host book clubs. Once my schedule gets settled, I plan to join one hosted by the library.
  9. They provide tables and chairs to sit in while reading through magazines. Not like at the grocery store where you have to stand in the aisle. One time, (I cannot believe I am about to tell this story...) Jerry and I were at Kroger and there was an outdoor furniture display in the middle of one of aisles near the magazines complete with comfy seating options, including a weather-proof love seat. Can you tell where this story is headed? Well, we chose several magazines and sat in the gazebo for about a hour, enjoying our mags and the outdoor furniture. It was kinda fun and no one said a word to us.
Any perks we left out?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

USA living after S ASIA living

Well, we are back in the USA and thus, I have changed one word in the title of our blog. Did you notice it? Well, since this was my forum for sharing about our transition TO S Asia, I decided to keep it as my forum for our life FROM S Asia. Here's my first post on this new topic:

Let's go Krogering!

First, let me say that I love Kroger - especially the one near our house. It was recently renovated to compete with HEB's Buffalo Market and I like all of the additions, particularly the coffee shop on the second floor that looks over the fresh food section. Love it!

Anyway, my first trip there after moving back was a little harrowing. I'd been to Kroger during previous visits back to Houston, but this was the first time shopping for groceries other than snacks and drinks. I was all discombobulated while trying to figure out what a good price was for things like produce and fruit. It was really bothering me. (My sister sagely opined that maybe it was because in S Asia we were always having to worry about paying exorbitant prices because we were foreigners. And I was carrying this over to the fresh food section at Kroger.)

Plus, there are SO MANY choices for everything! From different brands to sizes to convenience packaging to caloric/fat content. Too many choices and the store is huge. We were at Kroger for over two hours, I think, and we did not even fill a basket.

Then, it was time to pay. We went to the self-scan machine and I got unreasonably upset again. Jerry and I used to have a rhythm and we'd forgotten it. Well, we were getting in each others' way and getting on each others' nerves. Needless to say, we have decided to use the live cashier until we get our act together.

That was our first visit. Subsequent visits have gone better, although I am trying to remaster the art of using coupons. That has been a little crazy - trying to match the coupons with what the stores have on sale and remembering that the stores come out with new ads on Wednesdays and the coupons come with the Sunday paper. And I had completely forgot about double and triple coupons. There is so much to relearn.

There's much more we're readjusting to and I hope to post something at least once a week.

P.S. If you have couponing tips, I am very open to your suggestions. Gotta be frugal!

Friday, October 16, 2009


I went with a group of friends to eat street food snacks tonight. One expat friend ate a few and then said that he wanted his next one to be super spicy.

Our local friend warned, "No, don't take it like that. It will offend you in the night."

Friday, October 9, 2009


Another movie-related post...

Remember this point?

The movies are censored for extreme violence or sexual content. A violent scene from Angels and Demons was cut and lots of scenes from The Reader were cut. Sometimes when we are deciding whether or not to go see a movie, Jerry asks himself, "Do I just want to wait to watch it on DVD so I can see the entire movie?"

Well, Inglourious Basterds is playing here and I asked Jerry if he wanted to go see it. His reply,

"It will probably be censored. I want to see ALL the violence."

Whereas my thought was, "It will probably be censored. Good. I would rather see it here." Well, we ended up going and sure enough, we could tell when scenes were cut out. But we were both surprised at how much we enjoyed the film, especially me, although I did close my eyes during all of the killing scenes.

My husband... His quote deserves to be on here twice.

"It will probably be censored. I want to see ALL the violence."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Let's Go to the Movies!

Let's go see the stars! Fred and Ginger - spinning madly! - who knows where these lyrics are from? :)

The movie experience here is a little different than in the US. Here are some of my observations:

  1. Movie schedules change on Fridays, just like back home, but unlike the US, you cannot find out what is playing until Friday morning. Sometimes, you can find out on Thursday - but only from the website of one of the theaters, and the site is usually not working.
  2. Ticket prices are based on day of the week, time of day, projected popularity of the movie and where you sit in the theater. For instance, a seat in the back row of popular Bollywood film showing late Sunday afternoon or evening will cost the most - maybe $5. But a seat on the front row of a not so popular Hollywood film on weekday morning could cost as little as $1.40.
  3. Yes, the back row is the most expensive since people here think those seats are the best. The front row is the cheapest and there is no difference in cost between the 2nd highest row or the 2nd lowest row and those in between We always go for the middle and rarely is anyone in front of us unless the theater is packed.
  4. So, yes, there are assigned seats and you get to pick from a diagram exactly where you want to sit. I like this alot! So, the early bird can buy his tickets and choose his seats and then roam around the mall for a little while without worrying about making a mad dash for seats when the theater doors open. (See #8)
  5. Before each film showing, everyone has to stand for a film clip of famous vocalists singing the national anthem. It's quite pretty, but it is in Sanskrit, so only those who learn the meaning in school understand the lyrics.
  6. There is an intermission at exactly the half-way mark of every movie. They call this the "interval". At one theater, during the break, on the screen was what looked like a filmed piece of scratch paper that had "INTER VEEL" on it. It was also in that particular theater that Jerry had to keep one eye on the screen and his other eye on the rat that was running around. (We have not been back to that theater.) Bollywood films tend to be 3+ hours, so I understand the need for the break, but there is even a break in a 1.5 hour film. During the interval, the theater staff come filing in with snacks and beverages to purchase - shouting their wares - just like at a sports game in the US. It's kinda funny, but nice, too. No need to go to the snack bar!
  7. The movies are censored for extreme violence or sexual content. A violent scene from Angels and Demons was cut and lots of scenes from The Reader were cut. Sometimes when we are deciding whether or not to go see a movie, Jerry asks himself, "Do I just want to wait to watch it on DVD so I can see the entire movie?"
  8. Theaters make more money the more showings they have. But here, it is sometimes at the cost of the credits. We have been to several movies where the movie ends, the credits start to roll and then it fades to black so they can get started with the next showing earlier. Is that even legal? And so because there is very little time between film showings, you are not allowed to enter the theater until the film is supposed to start. And sometimes not even until after the start time.
  9. A popular movie snack is steamed corn. It comes in a small paper cup and you can add salt, butter or masala (Indian spices). It's quite tasty!
And now for an amusing movie story...
One Saturday morning we went the theater for the 10:45am showing of Horton Hears a Who. We got there at 10:30am to get tickets - plenty of time to get seats, snacks, etc since it was a Saturday morning - an unpopular movie-going time. We had double-checked the theater website to make sure the time was right, but when we got to the theater, we found out that the showing had been preponed to 10:15am. So, we were late instead of early! Yup, you read correctly - PREponed. It's a real word here. It's used when something is changed to an earlier time. Makes sense right? If things can be postponed, surely they can be preponed!