Joining The Party In Phnom Penh

Author: Jarik

We join a throng of hundreds of thousands of feet slowly moving along the river promenade and adjacent streets in Phnom Penh. It is the annual Boat Race Water Festival, the most celebrated public holiday in Cambodia, marking the reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap river. We are fortunate enough to be in the centre of the action on the final of three nights. The city is alive. Spectators stand shoulder to shoulder lining the banks of the river to get a glimpse of the human powered long boats cutting through the water.

The VIP stand opposite the finish line and across the square from the Royal Palace is elaborately decorated, bathed in light and there are bodyguards everywhere. Every square inch of any horizontal space is occupied by people with a friendly festive disposition. Food and drink sellers and their carts are constantly being urged along by police who are keen to keep the crowd moving. Other curious tourists sit safely on the third and fourth floor terraces peering out over the churning mass. The festival culminates with fireworks and a river parade with massive flotillas decorated with thousands of colourful lights moving from bank to bank down the river, finally stopping in front of the Royal Palace. We relish in the unexpected and unique cultural immersion experience.


To our delightful surprise, Phnom Penh is a culturally rich and tourist friendly city but, it is not overrun by tourists. Although there are clear foreign tourist areas with pubs, hostels and hotels, these are confined to a narrow strip along the river. A short walk deeper into the city will take you through authentic markets, along busy commercial streets and, if you, like us, walk from place to place, residential areas with hundreds of small home businesses. We fall in love with Khmer cuisine – a scrumptious combination of fresh Thai flavours and the full richness of Indian dishes – and the family have enough opportunities to identify their favourite as we sample the local fare everywhere we go.

Ornamental buildings and religious sites on every second corner reflect a proud heritage and make for a visually interesting street experience. We spend a few hours admiring the architecture and artistry of the Royal Palace and by chance wander through a Buddhist enclave filled with decorated temples and golden shrines. Later, a parents-only visit to the S21 Genocide Museum is a sobering reminder of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge four decades ago. It is however good to see that the city is moving forward. There is a lot of new construction going on and after the huge festive event that we witnessed, the streets were swept, litter removed and pavements washed the very next morning.

(Media reports cited a number of four million people that attended the boat races in Phnom Penh this year. In 2010 a tragic stampede occurred at the very same promenade that we were, costing the lives of 350 people hence the police presence to control the movement of the crowds.)

– Jarik –


The Water Festival

Author: Eulain

I pulled on dad’s arm, “I want to see the fireworks.” Dad stood up, “Alright, let’s go.” We walked down the crowded streets towards the river. Soon after we arrived the fireworks stopped. A parade of big boats full of little lights came past and then pulled closer to the bank of the river. Dad lifted me up onto his shoulders, high above the crowd.

Everywhere I looked I could see boats full of lights, trees with fairy lights, little stalls with food and desert and loads of people.  Dad and I could barely move! From my perch up high I could see how streams of people were moving slowly.  It was an amazing scene. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

– Eulain –


Your Next Meal…

Author: Eulain


Everybody knows you can eat,

Vegetables, pastas and meat.

Have you ever stoped to try,

A huge gooey bull’s eye?

How would you like a cat,

Or maybe a big black rat?

Maybe just some dog,

But, not a poisonous frog.

Susu is another story,

Fried with morning-glory.

Maybe snail or slug,

Or some other bug?

A spider or snake,

Really this isn’t fake.

But please, I’d prefer,

Only noodles in my Phó!

– Eulain –

Concluding India

Author: Eulain

It is my duty

To show you her beauty

The food will make you fat

Here all you need is a cricket bat

My heart is more than filled

With the relationships that have been built

When you have been here

There is nothing you will fear

I love this wonderful place

With her dirty but beautiful face


– Eulain –


Reflections On A Faraway Land

Esto and Rodger

Author: Esto

We were riding in a jeep. I sat right at the back. We were on our way to ride on camels. I was a bit scared, but I thought it would be fun. When we arrived, the camels already had their saddles on their backs. They were all standing on their knees, but they were still very tall. I thought that I would have to share a camel, but then the guide said to me: “This camel is yours!”. I was very happy. The guide helped me to get into the saddle, and then he told the camel to get up.


Right after that Eulain shouted: “No, no! I do not want to go on a camel by myself any more!”. Then Mom said: “Get on the camel, it will be fine”. She got on the camel,  but when the camel got up, she was a little afraid. It was not for long.

The boy that lead Ruzow’s, Eulain’s and my camels hooked the ropes to one another. I thought I would be right at the back, but it tuned out that I was right in front! After we started moving, I asked the boy what the camel’s name was. “The camel’s name is Rodger,” he said. I liked Rodger because he was very gentle.

When we arrived at the place where we would stay for the night, there was already a fire burning and men were making chai tea. We had the delicious hot chai after we put our bags at our camp beds. We were going to sleep in the open under the stars. While the others were waiting for the sunset, Eulain and I played with a ball between the sand dunes. After a while the guide joined us. This was so much fun.


Later, the guide announced that everyone needed to sit down because they were going to serve the dinner that the men made on the fire. I enjoyed it because it was not too spicy. There were no lights, so we had to eat in the dark. I could only see the outline of the plate.

After dinner, we laid down on our back and looked at the stars. This was very, very beautiful. We went to bed, all six of us sleeping next to each other. Some of us saw shooting stars.

The next morning, the chai was ready when we woke up and the men were making breakfast. While we had breakfast, they saddled the camels. I looked for Rodger. He had a green rope around his neck. When it was time to go back, I got onto Rodger and we all rode back to where we would meet the jeep. I had to say goodbye to Rodger. I was sad and I asked my dad if I could have a camel. The guide then said I can take Rodger home. He just joked, but I actually wished that I could take him home with me.


Climb the Camel!


Author: Kali

The open jeep came to a sudden halt in a small clearing where camels were laying on the sand with colourful saddle blankets on their pale brown, humpy backs. It was so exciting to see the animals for the first time from up close. Eulain and I resembled the camels, being covered in dust and sand from riding in the back of the Jeep.

Camels are strange animals. They have long necks that stretch out from their massive, lumpy bodies. Their legs are long and thin, with large knots for knees and funny flat feet that are round with two sharp toes. They have short tails that look like fish back bones with hair and they love to swing them from side to side. Ears that are peculiarly small for such a large animal, sit perched on their heads. Huge teeth and a large mouth that is always chewing, completes the picture. A rod is put through their nostrils. This, as I had once read in The Swiss Family Robinson, is used to control them. Reigns are attached to these rods.

Ruzow climbed his camel like a hay stack. I couldn’t blame him though, it is really hard to get yourself into the saddle without feeling like you are pushing the camel over.  A sharp ‘J’ sound from the 10 year old boy who would lead some of our camels, was the command for them to get up. Slowly, one of the brutes lifted his backside into the air with a loud groaning noise. It was now standing on it’s knees, looking absolutely absurd! With another groan, the animal stood up straight, towering above the rest of the beasts that were now all with their backsides in the air.


Riding was the strangest sensation. It was what I imagined riding a dinosaur would feel like and it was really scary looking down, being much higher than I expected. The camel’s motion is unlike a horse’s. Rocking forward then backward, the strange motion slides the inexperienced rider from the front to the back of his saddle. Even though I had to pay for it with chafe marks on my legs, I was thrilled about riding a camel.



At one stage, Mum’s camel was close enough to mine so that I could pat its hard, dented head. To my surprise, it made a sound somewhere between a growl and a loud burp. Our camels’ guide, Arsheesh, told us that Mum’s camel’s name was Lalu, and mine was Kalu. It was such a coincidence that mine had that name, because Mum and Dad would have called me Kalu if I was a boy. I would’ve had a camel twin! For some reason I’m glad I’m a girl 😜. However, I wouldn’t mind a pair of those long eyelashes.

Until next time,


Snippets Of Precious Memories


Author: Mariza

Camels – what incredible creatures! And so perfectly designed for the desert. Strange too! Especially the way they get up or go down with a person on board. The “walk like an Egyptian” sway, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, making you giggle. To watch the wonder on the faces of our four beautiful gifts and to know the sight or reference to these animals will forever take them back to this very moment we all shared – priceless!

Nothing beats the atmosphere created by food being cooked over an open fire. And to then sit down on top of a sand dune to be served with a small group of lovely people – an unforgettable experience. Still better it gets when, after filling up on Indian cuisine, you simply topple over to look at the stars, while continuing the conversation. Special, special memories never to be forgotten.


Six desert beds in a row, all covered with the same colourful fabric. My heart overflows as we lie side by side as a family, looking up at the stars, talking. Our four precious children, thanking us again and again for this most wonderful experience.


Paradise is sleeping under the stars in the desert with nothing but sand dunes in sight. And billions of stars. And then you wake up to see the yellow moon rising from behind the dune you face while lying on your back. And still the sky is adorned with bright, beautiful stars. All through the night you force your eyes open in the perfect stillness just to peer at that magical sky for one more minute. And off again to dreamland, or is this it? And then, on one occasion, you catch the first sign of daylight. The light creeps up from behind that same dune and touches all in its reach with colour. Further and further it stretches and paints ever brighter, ever changing the colour on a growing canvas. And then after a long time and many colour changes, the sun rises in all its splendour, the artwork completed. My heart is saturated with the colour of every treasured moment.


Caution Captine

Author: Eulain

The jeep stopped. I was so excited. We were going to get onto our camels here. A man pointed to a very large camel called Captine. When he sat,  he was bigger than me. I had to climb on it’s back.  When I was on, the man pulled on the rope that linked Esto’s and my camel. Captine stood on his knees. I thought it was not that high because, it was about the size of a horse. Then he stood up on all fours with a jerk. I was so far from the ground. At this height, I am sure you too would be quite afraid. It felt like I was a mile up in the air.



The next morning after breakfast, we set off for Jaisalmer. The twelve year old boy who was walking in front of our camels started running. The camels all followed his example. I never imagined that camels could run. It was heaps of fun, but the bumping around was quite extreme. I clasped my hand over my open drink bottle. It was a bad choice to drink while riding on the camel. I was terrified when I saw that the rope that I was supposed to hold to guide dad’s camel with, had fallen. I made a grab for it, but nearly fell off. In the bump and grab process, I accidentally showered myself and poor Captine in sticky Sprite.


The Thar Desert

Author: Ruzow

On our camels in the sun,

Oh it’s amazing so much fun.

Over the dunes we will tramp,

Until we arrive in our desert camp.

Watching sunset from a dune,

The moment is gone all too soon.

A thali is cooked over an open fire,

What more could my heart desire.

The camels lying in the sand,

There’s so much beauty in this faraway land.

In my bed back at the camp,

With only the stars for a lamp.

Underneath this starry sky,

I watch the comets shooting by.

I’m in the desert oh so dry.

I am gazing at this in awe,

What a sight I long for more.

As I sleep the moon keeps a watchful eye,

From her perch way up high.

Up again at first light,

Watching the sunrise what a sight.

But now it’s time for a wonderful meal,

Excited I’m now beginning to feel.

Back on our camels we’re now on our way,

How I wish we had a longer stay.

So even though we’ve left it behind,

The Thar Desert will be forever in my mind.




Three Poems from India

Author: Eulain

Henna hands

DSC00615 (2)Sit down in a chair,
make your price fair.
As the brown paste touch,
it doesn’t feel like much.
A beautiful curl,
followed by a whirl.
It fills my heart,
such beautiful art.
A design so very grand,
this is my henna hand.


Tuk tuk riding

Find a tuk-tuk and negotiate,
Indian roads are something I hate.
Bam, boom, ouch! I have bruises!
This is not a car that cruises.
Surely it’s not worth the rate.

My Andean Cross

My beautiful necklace pretty and blue,
it all started in Cusco, Peru.
Such a treasure was my Andean cross,
this is why it is a terrible loss.
If you only knew how much I miss you.

Andean Cross

(Written after I lost my favourite necklace)

– Eulain –


Pula and Kalmanjak

Author: Eulain

One morning, while we were staying in Motovun, we decided to do a road trip to Pula. We packed a picnic lunch and our togs (swimmers). After about half an hour in the car, Ruzow yelled out “Dad turn left! We are at the parking lot.”

Ruzow guided us on a self-guided walking tour that he downloaded on the ipad. Our guide lead us straight to the colosseum. It is magnificent, although not as big as the one in Rome. We also saw a few historic stone arches, temples and other things.

After our tour, we walked back to the car and drove to a place that was highly recommended by our host in Motovun. We followed a narrow dirt road to the ocean. The blue sea was just what you would have wanted on a hot day like that.

For the next few hours we were in and out of the water. At lunch time we had a picnic on the rocks. It was now very hot and we started to search for shady spots to put all our things.

After a while, the sea started to get quite rough. But for me this was the most enjoyable time. I would jump into the water from the rocks, then wait for the big waves to pass and then try to get back out. It is in the moments like these that you build the best memories.


[Unfortunately we did not have a camera with us to capture the fantastic time at Kalmanjak]


Limericks by the Sea

Author: Eulain

Limericks by the Sea

Little islands dot the sea,

People are swimming happily.

They throw their nets out,

The boats are swaying all about.

The sunset as pink as could be.


A stone house village ever so small,

Clear blue water around it all.

Drinking beers the old men play,

Boules near the end of the day.

I’m jumping off the harbour wall.


Pinecone cricket is loads of fun,

It makes a person really run.

Hit the pinecone with all your might,

Make it fly  out of sight.

Now the pinecone cricket is done.



A little village called…

Author: Eulain

After the “Stroll on the invisible path” we found ourselves on a narrow paved road. We walked on it for about fifteen minutes before we entered a small village called Račišće . It had about thirty houses. We immediately looked for our place. It was not hard to find because there were only twelve homes on the water, and one of them was ours.

We were at number 107. There were no streets, it was that small that each house just had a number. We dropped our bags, slipped into our togs and jumped into the clear blue sea. It was quite hard to get to the water because the whole beach was made out of rocks.

The next day Ruzow and I went to the mini market to go get some breakfast. I noticed a funny car. It had red squares painted all over and it had a doll stuck to the front! After breakfast we went to the beach and for the rest of our stay that is where we spent the most of our time.

– Eulain –

Endless steps!

Author: Eulain

We were so excited!! We were going to climb Machu Picchu today. We got up nice and early at about 3:00am and grabbed our day bags and rushed down to eat our porridge. This was oatmeal and boiling water mixed to together.

We needed our head torches for the walk, as it was still dark. We hurried along the small streets and got to the long line to enter the gates of Machu Picchu. After a very long wait we got into the gates leading us up to Machu Picchu. It was time to start our journey….

The steps were extremely steep. Because it was still so cold we didn’t sweat much. We were some of the first people to get to the top. We even beat the bus! It took us 36 minutes in total. We were so tired already. To get up to Machu Picchu we clambered over nearly 700 stone steps!!!

When we got to the top I was so disappointed. There was a road, toilet and what looked like a service desk. By the desk there was another line. We joined it to see what was going to happen. Then when we finally reached the desk, we saw that you had to swipe your passport against a screen of some sort.

When you enter, you nearly explode with the beautiful sight. There were beautiful mountains on each side of the huge stone city made by the Inkas.

WP_20170512_07_37_01_Rich (Small)

– Eulain –


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