#A to Z Challenge: Khmer New Year

AtoZ April2015Challenge

K is for the Khmer New Year!

Thevada
Thevadas (Cambodian angels) ushering the New Year of the Goat.

Yes, you read it correctly – this is the third time we are celebrating the new year! The whole Kingdom of Cambodia, as well as Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and other Buddhist countries are celebrating the new year. It is the third time this year that we are celebrating the new year – first was in January 1 (International New Year), followed by another celebration in February 19 (Chinese New Year). Here, and in other Buddhist countries mentioned above, the new year is based on astrological calculations. When the old year ends and the new year begins, is also based on these calculations.

Khmer New Year celebration cartoon by Chhoy D. Archi on FB
Khmer New Year celebration illustration by Chhoy D. Archi, nicked from a friend’s FB wall.
Buddhist wats (temples) are adorned with colourful flags and banners to celebrate the new year.
Buddhist wats (temples) are adorned with colourful flags and banners to celebrate the new year.

In Cambodia, the three-day celebration begins tomorrow, April 14. The first day of the new year is called the Maha Sangkran and, according to Cambodian beliefs, it is the time when new Thevadas, or angels, come down to earth to replace the old ones in watching over the earth. The second day is called the Vanabot, or the day when Cambodians go to the wats or temples, offer charity and give alms to the poor to gain merit. The third day is called Leung Sakk, when Cambodians wash images of the Lord Buddha with scented water.

Khmer New Year holiday rush 2009
Khmer New Year holiday rush 2009

Almost all of the population in Phnom Penh have already gone home to their provinces, as is the tradition, to be with their loved ones and relatives. As expected, taxi and bus fares hiked up to three times the normal price. Still, this didn’t faze travelers as hundreds of taxis and buses packed with excited passengers left Phnom Penh starting last week. I think Filipinos and Cambodians share the same anticipation and excitement, of going home and being with the family for the holidays.

Cambodian traditions
My landlady prepares her family’s offerings to their ancestors to welcome the New Year (2009).

It is a welcome change here in Phnom Penh where the usually busy streets will be quiet and still. But days before the KNY, it was pure madness as almost, if not all, locals descend upon markets to shop enough food stuff to last the celebration period as well as presents to family and relatives. Markets were teeming with shoppers spilling out to the pavements. Imagine how the traffic was like?

Expats, like us, who opted not to go away for the holiday will enjoy the empty, quiet streets of the city. No traffic! It is going to be a great time, really, to be able to ride my bicycle around the city without having to fear about reckless drivers. On the other hand, in the towns, I can imagine the merrymaking and revelry. The Khmer New Year, after all, it is the biggest and the happiest holidays in the Cambodian calendar. There will be lots of food, drinking, and, of course, dancing, too! So expect loud Khmer karaoke clashing in the airwaves as well as lots of traditional games played from today till Thursday, night and day.Oh, and don’t forget the water fights – banned in the city but still a traditional practiced in the towns 🙂

#A to Z Challenge: Endearing Elephant

AtoZ April2015Challenge

E is for Elephant. Today I’m going to introduce you to one of the lovable and enduring figures for locals as well as visiting tourists in Phnom Penh.

Friends, this is, Sambo. Ermm, just a back-view, lol.

Sambo the Elephant
Photo taken from my Photo blog, 2013.

Sambo’s touching story is known to most Phnom Penhois and one that could be made into a Hollywood movie. Her siblings (yes she is female) were killed by the Khmer Rouge when she was young. A nine-year old boy took care of her but were separated during the civil war. After the end of the war, they were reunited and were inseparable since then.

The Story of Sambo starts all the way back in the 1970’s when he was split up from his owners during the civil war and Khmer Rouge takeover and Sin Son. the boy who had raised Sambo had feared him to have perished along with so many others until after surviving the brutal Pol Pot regime he returned to his old village to find his only remaining neighbor who informed that Sambo had survived the Killing Fields but was now across the other side of Cambodia.

Sambo the Elephant was a legendary figure  in Phnom Penh.
Sambo the Elephant was a legendary figure in Phnom Penh.

I first met Sambo in 2009. That was the time when she and her mahout works in the city with Sambo carrying tourists and locals on her back for a short walk around Wat Phnom, to the detriment of her health. And, between 4-5pm everyday, Sambo and her mahout are seen walking along Sisowath Quay as they head home. While I wasn’t really keen on getting a ride on poor Sambo, I had the opportunity to see him up close one afternoon. I was waiting for a tuk-tuk when I spotted her ambling along the riverside. She stopped at La Croisette, just a few meters across me, and patiently waited for treats from the restaurant employees, customers and bystanders. She returned the kind gesture by entertaining them.

After years of carrying tourisnts on her back, Sambo, with the support of several wildlife conservation organisations and government departments, finally retired in November last year and resettled in the Elephant Valley in Mondulkiri province. An elaborate Buddhist ceremony was held in celebration of her retirement and locals and tourists joined to send Sambo off.

Hello world!

I’m baaaaaacccckkk.

Welcome to Postcards Crossing!
I have successfully transferred my domain to another registrar and left Blogger and GoogleApps altogether and now, I am using WordPress as my platform.

So goodbye, Blogger and GoogleApps. I have moved to the other side.

I’m happier here now that I’m hosted by WordPress (my other sites are also here!) where I have full control of every aspect.  Regular blogging will resume shortly. I have tons of postcards waiting to be posted and stories to be told.

The blog is up and running and will be active while I’m doing some more tweaks in my chosen theme. So if you happen to see missing photos and/or broken links, kindly bear with me. I will need time to tackle all these theme issues.

Thank you and please come back again.

Swapping days are here again!

Ohhhkaaaay, now that the big events are done and over with, I can safely say that I’m back to my swapping activities again. I know many of my readers (ahem) are waiting for this announcement. So sorry to keep you all waiting.

I'm back in business, swapping-postcards, that is.  Photo from Google Images.
I’m back in business, swapping-postcards, that is. Photo from Google Images.

At work, we have already done two major activities and with these all over, my life is returning to normal. That means I can turn my attention to my house – we’ve moved in this house three months ago and yet unpacking and decorating is never completed due to previous pressing responsibilities at work.

Apart from swapping postcards, I will catch up with my craft activities. Before 2013 ended, I purchased some fabric for some easy DIY sewing. I can’t wait to use my sewing machine again. And of course, my dogs. I feel bad that I haven’t played with them in a while. Yesterday, my husband and I went to a pet shop close to Olympic market to get some treats and we spotted a pack of dog training treats. Hah, I had the brilliant idea of trying them so we got a pack. Not sure how different it is from the ordinary dog treats, hehehehe. So, dear swap-friends. I’m now open for business. Leave a comment or send me a message via my blog’s message system. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Sorry, no swaps at the moment

I sort of taken a leave of absence with swapping postcards due to a very demanding job. However, I still managed to swap a few to persistent – and I say this in a good way – individuals. I am just amused at them because I really see myself in them, too.

I recently have resorted to envelope printing. I am so embarrassed now that I have a really lousy handwriting. Back in high school and uni, I used to have a really nice handwriting that my teachers praised. THis is which is why I love writing on envelopes. But since long years of computer-use has made my handwriting ugly.

Anyways, moving on, I would like to thank my friends from Germany, Anastasia, for the whimsical planner, and also to my two friends from Operation Smile Singapore, Lifen and Lai, for the lovely postcard from Nepal.

 

Home, sweet home

Quick post – a picture of our new house.

new-house

It’s a lovely, traditional Khmer wooden house that was just vacated by its previous tenants. My husband and I found it fortuitously while we were at the end of our rope in search for a new place. The house is located in Boeung Tumpun area, south of the city, tucked in a leafy neighbourhood with small roads and a mix of apartments and dainty wooden houses. It is very old and basic but just oozing with character. We know right away that this will be a nice home.

There were some furniture left by the previous tenants which the landlord and his wife offered to us to use. I was amazed at how much was left – dining table and chairs, washing machine, wooden beds, fans, a fancy electric guitar with 8 string cobalt (which is now in the possession of the landlord’s teenaged son) and many more.

We moved in on New Year’s eve and, although we have not moved in completely, we love the fact that the we are getting enough sleep and rest and relaxation in this place.

Hey, hey, hey!

Hello, blog. It’s been a long while.
It’s been — what — nearly two months. Gosh.

banlung-marker

Welcome to Banlung, Ratanakiri!

For those not in the know, I got a job in August and since then, I’ve been busy with the surgical missions – two times already – pre and post-mission preparations as well as the mission itself that lasts at least 5 days, not including the travel time. What an international volunteer remarked the other day is so true – mission coordinators do not have a life at all. We don’t have enough sleep, we don’t eat when not everyone hasn’t eaten yet, and we do not have a night life. Good luck to me next year then.

Now that we just wrapped up our most recent surgical mission in Banlung, Ratanakiri province, I am swamped with paper works. My back aches from too much slouching in front of the computer, typing out reports and letters and other stuff. My eyes and head hurt from too much staring at the computer monitor. Gah.

One time I allowed lazy self to take over and wandered over the Internet. I got hooked in the online buy and sell group of expats here in the Penh. There’s so much going on – from selling (and buying) home and office items, to musical instruments. I didn’t know a lot that there’s a lot of music enthusiasts in the expat community as there are lots of electric guitars, drum sets, sound systems – what is a budda amp, by the way?

Anyways, going back. My postcard-swapping activities will resume shortly. Just allow me to wallow in idleness for a while just because… I think I deserve to, considering the stressful mission that I just been to.

Broken scanner

As mentioned in my previous post, I have been away for so long that the mails on my email accounts need sorting out. From the email I use for my swapping activities, I receive more than a thousand emails already. Emails from people who want to swap, and yes, junk mails, too.

I was going through it one by one because if I didn’t, I might erase unintentionally some emails that are rather important. Like the case of my coursera application – I almost forgot that I used this particular email to contact coursera. There is also one email from the reid supply homepage which I bookmarked simply because it has some tools that my husband needs in his mini-workshop.  My husband likes to create things and then let his students do the same and develop their English communication skills through this.

Anyhoo, I digress.
I just found out that our scanner doesn’t work anymore 🙁 I have lots of postcards that needed scanning for publishing them here. So it has to wait till we get a technician to check out what’s wrong with it. So please come back next time for new postcards – lots of them.

Computer Security alert

Hi. It’s been awhile, isn’t it?

If you’re disappointed about the lack of updates here, well, you are not alone. My friends are, too. I myself is very disappointed because I could not seem to push myself and finish my drafts.

Work is really getting more hectic, and from the way I see it now, looks like I’m going to stay longer. Hurrah for me! Anyways, I was not totally offline as I’ve been browsing through a lot of sites lately. Just reading, mostly, and I have to congratulate myself for successfully keeping myself from commenting. Yay.

In one of the sites I surfed, I found this online article about Internet spying by Cyberexpert Nate Anderson, Meet the Men who Spy on Women through their Webcams. It is scary! I recommend this to everyone, most especially young and vulnerable females, to read this as it exposes how hackers can infiltrate your computers remotely and use your camera to spy on you, or worse, blackmail you. This is a great article on Computer Security, or the lack thereof.

Howdy, friends!

Girl power!
Girl power!

I had a long period of absence from blogging on this site due to some personal matters. If truth be told, I actually have lots of scanned postcards and stamps as well as several blog posts waiting to get published but haven’t had the time. Apart from that, I have several swap requests that are put on hold. I hope you understand my situation.

And so, besides the new apartment, I also got myself a new job after — what – some 100 years? Just kidding about the number of years but you get the picture. During the years I was out of work, I tried hard to be a Home Biz Mama or simply a home-based wife but it’s really not my forte. So when this job reached my attention, I had to grab that opportunity right away. And I thought that was the hard part. I was wrong.

Snagging the job is just the beginning. Making it out alive and whole on the first day of work is another story. Being the “new girl” on my first day of work, I was just a bundle of nerves! Imagine, after many years of idleness, I’m thrown into the lion’s pit again, hahaha. But yeah, I was nervous, but I made it out alive, hahaha. Now I’m on my second week and I think I’m slowling getting into the groove. Besides, being the “new girl” is fun!

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