Monthly Archives: August 2014

Tuk Tuk Monopoly In Phnom Penh

You had to read that title twice, didn’t you? It is almost like trying to speak a different language. Catching a tuk tuk in Phnom Penh, okay, that makes sense. But Monopoly? Let me slow down.

 

First, you must remember that this is a tuk tuk:

Cambodian_tuk_tuk

Second, you must remember that this is Phnom Penh:

map

 

Third, if you have never played Monopoly…

monopoly

 

 

Now, let’s get started. As a staff ice-breaker and introduction to the city for new teachers, our school held a “tuk tuk Monopoly” race throughout Phnom Penh. We were given a game board, and instead of “Park Place” or “Boardwalk”, we had “Wat Phnom” and “Malis Restaurant”. The team who visited the most locations and racked up the highest points was the winner.

Never one to refuse a challenge, I met with my team at the start time, and we worked with our tuk tuk driver to map out a route of the city.

Our driver was amazing. The best driver I have ever had in Cambodia.

I’m not kidding.

When I first moved here, and had no idea where anything was, I would tell a tuk tuk driver, “Bouchon wine bar, please. Do you know where it is?” And he would politely nod, yes, of course. Then, thirty minutes later, I would be outside the number one night club in Phnom Penh, Pontoon.  I quickly learned that the tuk tuks know every single Wat and pagoda, but if you ask them about some swanky, foreign gastropub, obviously they’re gonna draw a blank. So, I learned to speak Khmer, mapped out the pagodas in my head, and have no more problems.

But this tuk tuk driver, he was in another league.

This guy knew every street, every bar, every cafe, every landmark. And he mapped out our route for us, in complete perfection.

I would mention three or four places we needed to go, and he would say, “Well, first let’s go to the riverside, because we can hit three of those places in order. Then, we’ll head over to the place you mentioned, and then down to the final stop. What else is on the gameboard? Oh, Sorya Mall? We can put that second. But if you want to get a picture of Raffles hotel then we need to go there before we go down to Central Market.”

The best part? His name is Bond. Jame Bond.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 5.42.46 PM

 

I took one of his cards before he left. With his photo on the back, he makes sure you never forget his name or his face. This guy, he was legendary. If you are ever in Cambodia, do yourself a favor and call Jame Bond.

So, as I was saying, we—and by we, I mean Jame—mapped out our route, jumped onto the tuk tuk, and sped off down the congested streets in quest of first place.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 4.50.16 PM

We had around three hours to check off as many places as possible.  I mapped our journey for you to get a better picture of where we went. I mean, just look at that route! Absolutely no back-tracking, no unnecessary streets, just seamless travel. If you ask me, Mr. Bond should become an urban planner.

0Our team. Meli, next to me, teaches Language Support in the Primary School. Mark, in the blue, is a grade 6 teacher. John, in the white, is our Secondary school guidance counselor. (And is from Wisconsin!) Jame, in the light blue, is navigating the streets. We had a dream team, let me tell you!

1The rule of the game was that we had to get a picture of ourselves in front of each location, with some sort of sign labeling the place. Our first stop, as you can see, is Russian Market. (Toul Tom Poung market, in Khmer.)

 

2

Then we headed over to the newest place in Phnom Penh, Aeon mall. (You can start to see a theme of the photos… from here on out it’s all shots of us standing in front of something.)

3Then, to Malis, a famous Khmer restaurant.

4Metahouse, a popular place to see foreign films. Jame took all of our photos—pretty soon we got into a fluid routine of jumping out of the tuk tuk, snapping the photo, and racing back in.

5One of the “bonus” activities, to win extra points, was to get a photo with a monk. With the help of Jame, that was no problem.

 

6

 

Then it was off to the National Museum.


7

And one of the most famous expat places in Phnom Penh, the Foreign Correspondents Club. The most legendary bar in Phnom Penh, you can read the scandalous backstory of the place here.

 

 

 

8

Wat Ounalom.

 

 

 

9The token Irish pub of Cambodia, Paddy Rice. (Where we ran into a teacher from another team who had long given up hope at winning tuk tuk Monopoly. He should have joined Jame Bond.)

 

 

10

A brief stop over at Artisan’s Angkor, a social business where local artists sell their work.

 

 

11Wat Phnom! My favorite wat (temple) in the city.

 

12Doors, known for their live music and great brunch. (Doesn’t this photo look like an album cover?!)
13Funny story about this photo. This is the Elephant Bar at the Raffles Hotel. We were terrified to go inside because there was a rumored “policeman” somewhere in the city for the Monopoly game. (Remember when you played the game and got sent to jail?) If we were caught by the policeman, we had to head straight back to Northbridge, a thirty minute ride, get a signed form, and then head back into the city. So we snapped a quick picture and left as fast as possible!

14

Central Market.

15

Sorya shopping center, near Central Market. They’ve got a nice food court on their top level, most memorable for me when I dumped a 16 ounce avocado smoothie down the front of my shirt.

 

16The French cultural center.
17Deco, which has fantastic microbrew beer on tap from Cervisia brewery, an up-and-coming brewery here in Phnom Penh.

18Tabitha foundation. One of the more famous NGO’s, which has built Nokor Tep hospital, a free hospital for women in Cambodia.

And then, the finish line! We rolled in with five minutes to spare. And guess what? Thanks to our diverse team knowledge and Jame Bond’s skills, we actually came in first place!  We earned the most points by means of visiting the most places, getting the most bonus shots, and all showing up in a fancy dress. (I left that photo out though, for the integrity of my lovely coworkers.)

The bottom line? Next time you’re in Cambodia, use this map as a guide for all things local, and call Jame Bond.

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Sweet Tooth

A quick post on a busy Saturday morning. Sean and I are moving into another apartment and settling into the routine at school, so we’ve got lessons to plan and boxes to pack. Did I mention how much I love being back in Cambodia? I love it. It feels so good! So much like home. 

I saw this advertisement online for a dessert at a popular restaurant here, and I had to share it with you. I am good at photographing a lot of what I eat, but I have never really talked about Cambodian desserts. 

Take a look at your typical Cambodian sweet snack:

Artease DessertEven if I did photograph that myself, I could never have identified all the gelatinous bubbles that exist in one bowl. In the year that we’ve been here, I have decided that I do like coconut jelly, and I certainly like fresh mango. The chewy pearl, grass jelly, aloe vera, and earl grey tea jelly, though, I have yet to form an opinion on. 

Categories: Cambodia | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

A True American Summer

Hello, August. The month of humidity. Of lazy summer days. Of making summer memories and planning fall plans. Ever since I was young, August has signaled a few landmark events for myself and all Wisconsinites:

 

  1. The Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee
  2. The Legendary August 15th Relocation: Madison’s whole-city moving day
  3. School supply commercials
  4. The Sturgis migration
  5. Finally turning the air-conditioning on!
  6. Numerous festivals involving brats and/or beer
  7. Fruit-pickin’ season
  8. The sausage races at Miller park
  9. Getting to the American Players Theater before it’s too late
  10. Losing frisbees in cornfields (Or is that just my family?)
  11. Fireflies, fireflies, fireflies!

 

This summer, Sean and I spent ample time in Wisconsin. We visited friends and family, and played tourists as often as we could. We seized every opportunity to create a true “American Summer”.

 

As I sit on the airplane, traveling back to Cambodia, I reflect on how rockin’ of a summer it was. Let me share it with you.

1-disc

Disc golf. Invented by a Californian in the late 70’s, it doesn’t get any better than this. You spend the afternoon walking through a manicured park, throwing frisbees into metal baskets.

 

1.2-disc

More disc golf. You can really get lost in the woods.

 

1.5-discs

Our collection of discs. My motto is, “Buy two, lose one.” Most courses have a gnarly rough, where we have lost multiple discs. This summer I made a personal record and lost two: one at the bottom of a pond and another down a ravine.

2-lakeducks

Freshwater lakes! Lots and lots of them. They say that Michigan is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, but Wisconsin surely has them beat. (Sorry, Viking folk.)

3-lakeboat

Lake Geneva. A Wisconsin postcard town. Sean snapped this photo as the mail boat drove by—this is how the residents of Lake Geneva receive their mail. Founded in the 1800’s as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Chicago, affluent residents took the train up from Chicago and built decadent homes. The only way to receive mail was by boat. To this day, you can hop aboard and take part of an old tradition of delivering the mail, rain or shine.

 

4-turtle

Wisconsin’s storybook turtles. I am lucky enough to average one sighting every summer.

5-dc

The White House! A tour of America is not complete without a trip to the country’s capital. We visited Sean’s brother, Kevin, who was awesome take the day off and show us all the sites. He was a fount of knowledge and energy! (Kevin, if you’re reading this, you’re the best!)

 

6-dcsmith

Just as a trip to America is not complete without a stop in DC, one does not simply venture to DC without visiting the Smithsonian.

7-dczoo

As much as I loved the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, we absolutely adored the Smithsonian Zoo. And, if you’re debating a trip to DC yourself, keep in mind that all Smithsonians are completely free to the public!

8-dccap

 If you’re sick of cliches, then I recommend you stop reading now, because we actually went to DC over the Fourth of July weekend. Watching the fireworks over the National Mall was unrivaled, challenged only by the mouthwatering Ethiopian food cart I found minutes before the big booms.

9-dcshake

 Nothing beats the heat like a milkshake. And milkshakes we had. If you find yourself in DC, slake your thirst from museum touring with a visit to Bullfeathers for the best shakes this side of Appalachia.

10-emilyhorse

Horseback riding! My sister shows horses, so Sean and I went to one of her competitions this summer. She completely cleaned up, and wrangled first place in all of her events.

11-mullens

Mullens ice cream. Founded in 1932, Mullens is a Watertown, Wisconsin staple. They handmade their ice cream, and you dine over formica tables and checkered wallpaper.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 6.09.21 AM Photo compliments of http://mullensdairy.com/history_photos.html 

12-tubing

Boating. If you’ve been keeping up with Angkor’s Away, then you know Sean is the proud owner of a GoPro Hero 3+. To my chagrin, he took it on the tube this summer and snapped this awesome photo as he flew off the side into the abyss of Eagle Springs lake.

13-lake

Swimming. Our friends have a cabin on Eagle Springs lake, and initiate new visitors to the “hot springs”. Telling her it was a hot springs, we smirked from the comfort of our dry swimsuits as my sister dove the bottom of a frigid cold spring spouting out of the mud.

14-chicagoOnly a two-hour drive from my parent’s house, Chicago is a must-visit. We met up with our friend Eric Walker, whom we taught with in Kuwait.
15-chicagWe had great weather for a long walk throughout the city!

 

10513413_10203511480379816_5423679962905393463_nAn afternoon on the Memorial Union terrace. Sean wanted to catch a few of the World Cup games, so we settled in for an afternoon of sunshine and beautiful views.

 

16-merrika Amusement parks. I relived my childhood memories at Little Amerricka, a traditional amusement park. Many of their rides are from the 1950’s—including this coaster!

 

17-merrikaMini golf. Need I say more?

 

18-merrikaAnd of course, a ride on the carousel. You are never too old for a whirl on the merry-go-round!

There you have it. Our very American summer. But it wouldn’t be complete without…

10350640_10203466261449371_5228002970130524419_n…a game of cribbage, Miller High Life, a bloody mary topped with a burger and bacon, and a Sprecher root beer. I think I gained a few pounds just looking at this photo.

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