Do: Outdoor Cinema at Gasolina

I love outdoor cinemas.  They are right up there with toasted marshmallows, rainbows and sleep-ins.  When we were in Australia, every summer we would head to the outdoor cinema at least once.  We would collect a bunch of friends, pack a picnic, blanket and a bottle of wine, head down to the gardens to watch a classic film.  Those evenings were some of my favourites.  

To be honest, outdoor cinemas are a terrible way to watch movies.  Sitting still (or at least trying to) on the ground for 2 hours is uncomfortable; your view will almost inevitably be obscured by one or more heads; and the sound quality is generally rubbish.  Really, a cinema is a much better place to see the latest blockbuster.  But even so, there's something about sitting on the grass watching a movie outside that makes me extremely happy.

So, of course, it was only natural that I wanted to check out the Flicks 3 Open Air Cinema at Gasolina. Unfortunately we couldn't make it for their first event a few weeks ago, but on Friday we decided to have a date night and check it out. 

There are a few rules for choosing a film to watch in the outdoors:

1.  Don't go to a film with subtitles.  This is because, as mentioned above, there will almost inevitably be someone's head smack bang in the middle of where you are trying to read.  I learnt this the hard way watching The Beuna Vista Social Club.  Other than the subtitles, it's the perfect film to watch outdoors, but I spent the whole moving craning my neck to peer around the people sitting in front of me to figure out what was being said.

2.  Don't choose a movie with a complex plot.  The outdoors are distracting.  Plus people do not feel the same responsibility to be quiet when watching a movie outside.  So don't watch anything that requires concentration.

3.  Do see something you've seen before and loved.  Then it won't matter that you can only see half the screen, that you can't hear half the dialogue and that the people in front of you keep moving about every 5 minutes to refill their wine glasses (okay, so they probably don't actually get up every 5 minutes... but trust me, it feels like it).

4.  Do see a classic film.  They just work, I could watch Breakfast at Tiffany's at the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne a million times over.

So, as you can imagine, I was pretty happy that the first movie on Friday was Top Gun.  We rocked up reasonably early and grabbed one of the lovely daybeds.

As you know, I'm a fan of Gasolina.  Unfortunately, the menu has changed and the BBQ is not as good as it used to be.  On the movie night they offered a limited menu of salads and pastas, all of which were $5.  We demolished a linguine carbonara and a Ceaser salad before the movie began.  We then sat back with a Mojito and enjoyed the film (Mojitos make up for just about all the failings of outdoor cinemas listed above).

The Flicks 3 has all the shortcomings of any other outdoor cinema (especially the poor sounds quality), plus the centre of BKK isn't really dark enough and the were plenty of mosquitos.  So, you know, they're not exactly the perfect conditions for watching a movie.  But being curled up on a daybed, sipping mojitos in the cool evening air made it worthwhile.

More people turned up for the second movie.  A lot more.  It became quite cosy and  there was a distinct shortage of comfy spots.  The Flicks 3 could do with a bit of tweaking (more cushions, better sound and a non-smoking area), but it's certainly a nice way to while away a warm evening.

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Eat: Big Bazooka Burger at La Patate

The Boy eats a lot.  He's big and he needs his food.  Lots of it.  For that reason, I was impressed to find a place in Phnom Penh where we could share a meal and both end up full.  The only meal that can do that is the Bazooka Burger at La Patate.  It's huge!

Beneath that mountain of Belgian Fries lurks the burger...

It's not pretty, but it is tasty.  And very filling.

This was my third of the burger... the Boy polished off the other two thirds.
But, the best part is the sauces....

There's about 8 to choose from.  Not being chilli fans, we opted for aioli and andalouse.

One Bazooka Burger will set you back $5.50 (add an extra $1 if you want cheese), and will feed two big eaters.

Even though we were stuffed, we couldn't resist the rich Belgian Chocolate Mousse before rolling home.

While admiring the vintage Tin Tin posters.

You can find La Patate one block behind the Riverfront on Street 5 near the Old Market.

Honestly, what with Belgian Fries and Belgian chocolate, what more could you want.

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End of year list junkie

December is upon us, and it brings with it the annual abundance of "year in review" lists.  I'm not sure why, but I love these lists. Maybe it's because I'm fond of lists in general.  Maybe it's because I tend to spend most of the year in a little bubble detached from world news, and these reviews are a great way to find out what I missed!

When I was teaching (yes, I was an English teacher), this was my favourite time of year for lesson plans.  There is so much great stuff floating around the Internet at this time of year.  I no longer teach, and so all these resources are no good to me, but I thought I'd pop them on here for any anyone who shares my love of end of year lists.

Google Zeitgeist
I know this probably makes me a geek, but I wait for the Google Zeitgeist to be released every year.  The video was posted yesterday. 

Yahoo Year in Review
This year, I think Yahoo did a better job than Google.  I may have even shed a tear when I watched this one.

Twitter 2012
Twitter's year in review video isn't great, but the website's pretty good.

Merriam Webster's Year in Words
Okay, so this will probably only appeal to linguists, list junkies and teachers, but Merriam Webster's year in words lists words that saw a spike in the number of searches along with the reasons why.  

And this last one's just for teachers, if you're looking for a good end of year activity, each year releases the Year in Rap.  2012 hasn't been released yet, but you can find the 2011 Year in Rap here.  Getting students to create their own year in rap is a great end of year activity. 

Hope you enjoy the last few weeks of 2012.
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Snapshot: Rubbish River

It's funny how as you live in a place some things start to make more sense.  There are other things that, although they don't make sense exactly, somehow stop being as different.  But, there are other things that actually seem to become more difficult to understand.

For me, this is one of the things that I find harder and harder to understand the longer I'm here:

We refer to this as Rubbish River, I suspect the reason is evident.  Basically it's this, as far as you can see (in case you are wondering, it smells as bad as it looks).

When we first moved to Phnom Penh we lived in a small street in the "suburbs" (not sure that that's the right word for it but anyhoo).  When we asked our landlord where to put our rubbish he explained that we should take it and dump it at the side of the road behind the local pagoda as there was no rubbish collection in our street.  We were bemused, but it was clear that many of our neighbours were in the habit of doing just that.  I try very hard not to judge the ways of people in my adopted home, so, although not feeling particularly comfortable about it, we followed the practice of our new neighbours.  To be fair, there were many people using the same spot for their rubbish and the garbage truck would clear it all away every evening.

It was some months later that the local officials started cracking down on rubbish dumping all over Phnom Penh.  While I applauded the move, it did leave us in somewhat of a conundrum as there still was no rubbish collection in our street.  The rubbish truck did go down a nearby main road, but, understandably, our neighbours on that road didn't want us to leave our rubbish outside their house. The only solution was to "wait" for the garbage truck like our neighbours.  This solution works fine if there is someone at home at your house during the day, as the truck came on Tuesdays sometimes, other times on Mondays.  However, it proved quite challenging for us as we are generally out during the day.  I would quite often wait home a little longer and leave the door open in the hopes I would hear the garbage truck horn or the excited chatter as the whole street came out to dispose of their rubbish.  Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't.  But most upsetting were the times I heard the truck, raced out and had started dragging my garbage down the street, only to see the truck take off down the road, and I would have to take my garbage back home.

Fortunately, we now live in an area where the truck comes every couple of days.  We can leave our rubbish out the front of our gates, confident that it will shortly disappear.  We happily contribute to this service via our electricity bill each month.  As do our neighbours, which is the part I don't understand.  Despite the fact that the garbage truck comes regularly, and that our neighbours, like us, are obligated to pay for this luxury, every day our neighbours hurl bags of rubbish into a pond behind their house, from which it will never be collected.  Another neighbour hurls their empty cans into the middle of the street each morning, even though if she just left it on the side of the road with the other rubbish it would be collected and taken away.  I think this is something that I won't ever really understand.

Update: I took these snapshots and started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, but took a while to get around to finishing it.  Then, on Tuesday, I saw the very same rubbish river on page 4 of the Phnom Penh post, it would seem I'm not the only one who is disturbed by it.

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I have a terrible case of PHD.  What is PHD, you ask.  Post Holiday Depression.  I get it after every holiday.  Up until now I thought it was something I made up.  But it's not!  Okay, so it goes by a number of different abbreviations (PVDS - Post Vacation Depreciation Syndrome and PTD - Post Travel Depression, being a couple of examples), but it's a real thing.  Ask Google.

Anyway, this bout has been particularly bad.  Normally it kicks in when I get home, when I'm putting on my third load of washing and I realise that I'm going to have to be up at 6 the next morning for work.  This time, it began on the morning we were due to come back to Phnom Penh.  This nasty voice in the back of my head reminding me that at this time tomorrow I'd be at work.  I was lethargic and had no appetite.

I know I sound ungrateful, because, really, I should just be happy that I had a holiday in order to get PHD.  And, seriously, the holiday was awesome (you'll hear all about it once I've got through my 3,826 photos - well, not quite that many, but almost!), but right now you'll have to excuse me while I wallow in my PHD for just a bit longer while I do my 15 loads of laundry and refuse to wash the chlorine out of my hair.

The silver lining to coming back to real life was watching this amazing sunset over the clouds on our way home.  It may not look amazing with the poor picture quality here, but it was pretty spectacular.

If you went away over the holidays, I hope you had a great time and that you haven't been suffering from PHD since coming back.

By the way, reading this article today didn't make me feel any happier about being back in Phnom Penh!  Rolling blackouts from now until June next year...grrrr.
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Ducks and Rice Paddies, wandering the countryside

A few weeks ago we were invited on a little jaunt out in the countryside to with some friends.  We headed about 80kms south of Phnom Penh to Takao to have lunch with some more friends.  Just at the end of their lane are rice paddies as far as the eye can see.  It's beautiful.

Despite living here for almost three years, I had actually never seen rice on the plants before.

Not until we got right up close did we notice an unfamiliar sound emanating from the rice fields.  We got up close and found the source...

Ducklings!  And not just a few of them... our friends started calling them (for those of you who don't know how to call a duckling, you call out "keke keke keke").  And out they came...

Hundreds and hundreds of them, in fact there were about 500 of them.  They had a bit of a feed and a bit of a rest before their owner came to take them home.  I didn't realise you can herd ducks.  But apparently, this is how it's done:

It's not as easy as it looks.  Against the advice of an old woman looking on, the ducks' master decided to take them home a different way.  "They don't know the way, it'll take too long, they don't know which way to go" the woman warned.  However, the duck herder continued on his way.  The old woman got up,  uttering her final words of warning: "Fine, well I'll see you in nine days then", and started down the lane.  A few moments later the ducks had disappeared into all directions into the rice paddies, leaving their master looking wistfully at his dispersed flock, as the old woman headed home. 

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Snapshot: Cow & Calf

We spotted this calf and its momma just outside of Phnom Penh.  Aw!

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Cambodia Travel Bucket List

Lately I've been throwing around ideas for holidays around Cambodia.  Although we've been here for a few years we've only done minimal travel around Cambodia.  I thought this blog would be the perfect place to maintain a bucket list and (hopefully) update my progress.  

So here goes:

1. See the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins at Kratie
(image from here)
2. Check out Beong Lak Yeom in Ratanakiri
(image from here)
3.  Bamboo bridge at Kampong Cham
(image from here)
4.  Kampot
(image from here)

5. Bokor
(image from here)

6. Rabbit Island, near Kep
(image from here)
7. Teuk Chhou Zoo
(image from here)
8. Koh Rong
(image from here)

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Eat: Keep Calm & Drink Coffee at Brown Cafe

I live by this advice!  

There are a few places in Phnom Penh where you walk inside and you feel like you could be anywhere, perhaps even your hometown.  Brown Cafe is one of them.

It's strange the way the exact thing you don't like about something in one place can be the thing you love about it in another!  In Australia, I hated chain store cafes, they were predictable and boring - you could be anywhere.  I always was on the look out for funky, unique places.  But living so far away, I now love places where I can shut my eyes and imagine I'm back home.  I love the consistency of them.  Brown Cafe is a chain cafe with just enough personality.  

I love finding a nook like this in their slightly rambling store, to curl up with a book or a laptop, and a steaming cup of coffee.

The food's not bad either.

But coffee and cake is where it's at.  Or perhaps a frappe, if you're so inclined.

Mmmm.....we indulged in a three layered chocolate mousse cake, and an earl grey mousse (which was surprisingly good).
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Eat: Sunday Roast at Paddy Rice Irish Pub

Roast dinners are one of my favourite things in the whole world.  Only problem is making one in a tropical country is not exactly pleasant.  That's why ever since I heard they had Sunday Roast I've been wanting to get to Paddy Rice on a Sunday.  Well, it took us a while, but we finally made it!

The menu promises a choice of pork, chicken, beef or lamb with all the trimmings.  I love lamb roast and was very excited at this prospect.  Unfortunately, when we got there we were told they now only offer stuffed chicken breast or pork.  We were a little disappointed, but undeterred.  

The Roast Dinner was huge!

Have you ever seen a yorkshire pudding that big before?  I hadn't.  The food at Paddy Rice is homestyle more than gourmet.  It kind of feels like going home to mum's for dinner (if your mum lived in a pub on the riverfront).

I thought it was a pretty good deal at $9 with a complimentary beer or soft drink.  If you're not a beer lover, I recommend the homemade lemonade or homemade ginger ale.  Both really good, but the lemonade is my preference.

We followed up dinner with homemade apple pie and ice-cream.

Again, it tastes just like mum might have made it.

We were sat infront of the sports schedule which meant that passing tourists spent a lot of time standing in front of our table looking over our heads.

 Our evening was capped off by fireworks over the river, for which we had the perfect viewing spot.

Paddy Rice, apart from having the best name for a Cambodian Irish pub, has a good happy hour and the breakfast menu includes a proper English Breakfast... looks like I'll be heading back one morning!
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Friday Faves #3

Friday finally made it.  Here's a few highlights (and lowlights) from this week.

On my recent trip to Takeo, this coconut palm made an attempt on my life, dropping its last remaining coconut right near my head.  A word from the wise, never stand under a laden coconut palm.

We partied, on a boat on the Mekong (well, actually the Tonle Sap).  If you want to throw a party, hire a boat for something different.

The only downside was negotiating the river bed.  (I thought the river was meant to be at full flow this month... what's with the weather?!  Plus I noticed it's already heading south and water festival is not for another couple of weeks!)

We had a quiet break at Les Lacs Resort (off National Road 1, Sangkat Veal Sbov, Kean Svay).  This is a lovely quiet spot.  The pool is not big but you can take a dip for $3 ($2 for kids) and the drinks and food aren't bad.

The sunsets this week have been just stunning.  Normally I get to admire them as I ride home, which is lovely, but means I can't take photos.  I finally was home for one this week and took a snapshot.  The skyline's not the most photogenic, and the photo doesn't really do the sunset justice, but it still looks pretty good.

I'm hoping next week isn't quite as busy as this one was so I actually have some time to blog!  Have a great weekend.

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