Breaking out of the blogging doldrums

I feel like this from time to time; perhaps several times a year. It can be difficult to get out of this funk when all I want to do is just laze around the house.

I  was excited when Postcrossing published an interview featuring the creator of Lali cards. I was compelled out of my doldrums to blog about it because — Lali cards.

You see, I never owned any Lali card but I’m such a big fan! Which is a shame, to be honest. I want them but couldn’t get them anywhere here in Phnom Penh or other Asian countries.  Apparently, Lali cards are only available in certain European countries. *insert a sad face here*

Don’t know what a Lali card is? Well, you must have been living under a rock! Lali card designs are like normal cards only that it has riddles on them. The designs are playful, vibrant, whimsical and appeal to people of all ages. As I’ve said, every card  has a riddle written in front that needs to be solved. They’re in French but they’re a lot of fun even for non-French speakers like me. Every card design has fantastic details – I can only hope to draw like this!

Postcrossing has done a wonderful feature about Lali.It was nice getting to know the person behind these most-desired cards in their Postcrossing profiles. Hers is a story of heart, passion, and of course, hard work. How wonderful it was to read about her beginnings,  an affirmation that dreams do come true. That is, through hard work, perseverance, a burning passion, and a little dash of luck, too. Such an inspiration to girls and boys out there who are nurturing similar dreams.

To mark this occasion, Lali and Postcrossing joined together to give a chance to Postcrossing members to win – not one – but a whole set of Lali cards! How great was that? Of course, I had to join. I felt that lady luck was whispering in my ear so I dropped my name and comment there. I felt so giddy at the little voice in my head telling me that it would be awesome to win the Lali cards of my dreams.

And here’s an update:

Two weeks or so passed after that,  I opened an email from Postcrossing and — lo and behold! I read the most pleasant news evah! Ana told me that I was among the three Postcrossing members who have won the Lali cards giveaway. I was so happy I almost did cartwheels if not for my pet dogs blocking  my way, lol.

So just to humble-brag a bit, let me show you my  precious Lali cards.

My precious Lali cards! Some of them are going to be sent to dear family and friends :)
My precious Lali cards! Some of them are going to be sent to dear family and friends :)

I also have to mention the lovely handwritten note from the Postcrossing team :) Thank you, Postcrossing! Thank you, Lali!

#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.

#A to Z Challenge: Dogs

AtoZ April2015Challenge

D is for Dogs.

In my years of living here in Cambodia, one of the things that keep homesickness away are my dogs. I have three – Maxx, Joe, and Red. Aren’t they cute?

Maxx, 9 yrs. old.
Maxx, 9 yrs. old.
Joe, 5 yrs old.
Joe, 5 yrs old.
red and his bike
Red, nearly 1 yr. old.

 

Since my husband and I do not have kids yet, our pet dogs keep us on our toes. The first two, Maxx and Joe, were bought at a local pet shop here. Red, on the other hand, is an offspring of Joe from a summer fling last year. All three dogs were properly vaccinated and trained. They are well-behaved dogs, not picky eaters and they keep us company – and a great one at that – whenever I or my husband is away on a trip. The love their morning walks, ball chases, belly-rubs, and always get excited with their treats.

One dilemma we face every holiday is that, for the past three years, we have avoided going away as we do not have anyone to mind the dogs. Good thing there are now kennel facilities, or pet-sitting services, in the city.

#A to Z Challenge: Creating Calligraphy

AtoZ April2015Challenge

C is for the beautiful art of Calligraphy.

Last year, I was contemplating on sending handmade cards to family and friends. I was browsing through the Internet to find some inspiration when I suddenly came across a simple yet beautiful design. It only had a drawing of a Christmas tree in watercolour accompanied by an elegant calligraphy. Oh, I fell in love with the swirls and flourishes that just scream beautiful! The lettering geek in me got envious and prompted me to teach myself how to write like that.

I bought stuff (online) to begin writing practices. To my utter horror, I feared somebody would throw rocks at me once they see my first attempts! I think the use of computer has changed my handwriting into its deteriorated state now. So I practiced more and more. I was delighted to discover a treasure trove of tutorials and free downloadable practice sheets over the Internet. Thank you, generous people! That – and a good friend who’s learning calligraphy on her own – inspired me to go on. I practice writing an hour in the morning and another in the afternoon, and one more hour before I go to bed, for weeks. If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what that is.

After so many wasted paper and spilled ink, I think my hard work is paying off – I am seeing improvements!

Creating calligraphy
Ready to practice. These are the basic tools - dip pen, ink and dotted pad.
Creating calligraphy
Daily drills.
Creating calligraphy
Getting bolder every day. Here I used mixed gouache paints as ink for the henna-ish effect.
Creating calligraphy
Getting bolder every day. Writing spiral text with mixed gouache paints.
Creating calligraphy
Getting bolder every day. Silver poster colour as ink and written on a black card stock.
Creating calligraphy
Getting bolder every day. Silver poster colour as ink and written on a black card stock.
Creating calligraphy
Getting bolder every day. A birthday card I made for a friend, with a simple calligraphy and flowers.

I am still far from being an expert, I know that, but practicing calligraphy is very therapeutic and relaxing. I’m going to hone further my skills, and think of other ways where I can incorporate calligraphy into my snail mail hobby. While I do not expect to have any wedding commissions to deal with or make money out of this, I think calligraphy is a lovely, personal touch to handmade cards for any occasion. And boy, oh boy, it feels really good when you create something by hand. What was the last thing you made by hand?

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.

 

Wednesday Around the World: Kep, Cambodia

I heard a lot about this photo meme from a friend that I got very interested to join. So yeah, in order to take a break from posting stamps and postcards, I’m jumping into the Wednesday Around the World bandwagon to show my part of the world:

wednesday-around-the-world-low-tide
Low tide. Kep Beach, near the Crab Market in Kep, Cambodia.

It has been three years since I last visited Kep. Back then, Kep used to be our favourite weekend getaway. My husband and I cherish the simple, laid-back and slow-paced lifestyle of Kep. Not to mention the fresh seafoods – shrimps, squids and crabs – these fishermen catch that are served on our table the next day.

Nowadays, the quiet days are gone, I am told, with the arrival of investors and the droves of wide-eyed tourists. It is becoming like the Sihanoukville these days. So many new hotels, restaurants and bars have mushroomed to cash in on this new tourist destination. Instead of hippies toting guitars, they are now outnumbered by rowdy over-staying backpackers who prefer electronica and those fancy sounding floyd rose tremolo at guitar center. So you can just imagine how the changes are. I long for the olden days of Kep.

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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.