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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Planning travel in a worldwide web

Metung, Australia

I remember planning my first big trip.  I was 20 and I was heading off to "do Europe" for six weeks.  Planning the trip was almost as much fun as the trip itself.  I had been dreaming of going to Europe, especially France, since I was a child.  I decided to go more than a year before I got on the plane and I spent all my spare time in that year on the project.  I invested in my Europe on a Budget Lonely Planet guide and spent hours reading it, I borrowed countless other books from the library, quizzed everyone I knew that had been anywhere in Europe, watched films and documentaries, and, of course, perused the internet.  I never got bored of planning that trip.   The trip itself was amazing, exceeding my every expectation, and ensuring that I would spend the rest of my life saving for my "next trip".

I still love travel, but somehow the shine of planning has somehow worn off.  I enjoy daydreaming about and researching trips, but the actual nuts and bolts of planning I don't enjoy like I used to.  I'm sure there are many factors, but one of the big reasons is the Internet.  Don't get me wrong, the Internet is an amazing resource for travellers, with endless information.  But somehow the sheer abundance of information at your fingertips is part of the problem.  It's so easy to become overwhelmed, so difficult to establish what's useful and what's useless, and just so many options.  (Plus, its just not the same as a good ole LP and a highlighter!)

I have recently been researching a couple of trip ideas and while becoming confused and overwhelmed, I've narrowed down the online sources that I use.  For those of you who may, like me, find the internet just a little bit overwhelming when it comes to travel information, here are what I think are some of the more useful sites.

Advice & Answers
If you're looking for advice from other travellers then try Lonely Planet's Thorntree forum ( and Tripadvisor's forum (  More often than not, I find that a quick search shows that the questions I have have already been asked and I often find the answers to a number of other questions that I hadn't thought to ask. Thorntree does seem to have more information and more contributors, but TripAdvisor seems to be a little bit friendlier.  Personally, I like to use both.

Although I have a bookshelf that proves my love for Lonely Planet guides, if I'm online I'll usually go for Frommers.  I find there's more helpful information on  One of my favourite things about Frommers are the walking tours.  For just about any major city they will have one, if not more, walking tours complete with map.  A great find for the independent/budget traveller.

Reviews - as has been reported many times Trip Advisor is definitely flawed.  But that doesn't change the fact that it's one of the best sources of reviews by other travellers   You need to take the reviews with a grain of salt and be aware of the limitations of this site, but its definitely helpful.  I also really like that you can find "real" (rather than professional) and recent photos here. - apart from the booking facility, Agoda includes reviews from its customers.  The advantage Agoda has over TripAdvisor is that you must have booked accommodation at that hotel through Agoda to be able to post a review, thus the authenticity is better on Agoda.  Also Agoda generally has lots of photos which are helpful for decision making

Flights and transport - this website is AWESOME.  So simple, so useful.  You simply enter your origin and your destination and Rome2Rio gives you all your transport options (flights, trains, buses, cars), along with timings, you can then enter your travel dates to get the airfares on major carriers. - you've got to love a search engine which will let you search from flights to "everywhere", seriously!  It's also great for figuring out which airlines fly from/to your destination. - has some great functionality to help you check for possible flight itineraries.  One of my favourites is the "Nearby" function which allows you to select flights to airports within so many miles of your chosen destination.  A great tool if you've got some flexibility and want to figure out which itinerary is going to be most cost effective.

Trains - If you are even thinking about getting on a train overseas you should check out this site.  Best train resource by far.

There are numerous sites for booking flights and hotels, but my personal favourites are and   Both relatively easy to use and tend to have reasonable offers.  Of course, if you really want to find the best deal you need to check the individual airlines' sites as well.

Hotel Bookings
My two favourites are and  These are both easy to use, and, in my experience, tend to have the best prices.  If comparing these two sites, be aware that Wotif includes taxes and service chargeswhereas Agoda adds them when you book.

These are just some of my favourites, and this list is by no means exhaustive.  What are you favourites, and why?  Have I missed any gems?

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Snapshot: Overgrown

One of the things I love about Cambodia is how quickly nature reclaims things.  This overgrown walkway and house on National Road 1 is a perfect example. 

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Eat: Let them eat (cup)cake at Bloom

Last Tuesday was rubbish.  Everything that could go wrong had decided to.  And I was grumpy.  There was only one thing for it... cupcakes.  And if you want cupcakes in Phnom Penh there's only one place to go, at least in my opinion, and that's Bloom Cafe on Street 222.

I respect places that do just one thing and do it well.  Bloom is one of those places, you come here for one of three things: tea, coffee or cupcakes (or perhaps two of three things!).

The cupcakes are beautiful.

I settled on a Lemon Curd Cupcake, for two reasons: lemon cheese cake icing (yum!) and the gorgeous frangiapani on top, and a pot of spice chai flavoured tea.  Given my mood, I thought it was apt that the tea was called sereniTEA.  

My little pick-me-up cost a total of 3 bucks and it did the trick, I walked out of there feeling positively cheerful!
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Friday Faves #2

Its the end of another week.  It's been a busy couple of weeks.  I hope to have some time to blog a bit more next week, but in the meantime here's a few odds and ends from the last couple of weeks.

As you know, I'm a big fan of good breakfasts.  Last weekend the Boy got up and made a great cooked breakfast.  Who needs to go out?

By the way, for those of you that are interested, the bacon and Cumberland sausages are from Smokey Dah Boar.  I thoroughly recommend this butcher.  They sell a variety of meats, sausages etc. Their sausages are very tasty, reasonably priced, and, best of all, they deliver to your home, for free!!  You can find their details and pricelist in the Phnom Penh Door2Door guide.

A uniquely Cambodian road safety sign.

These were some bad-tempered geese that we encountered in the countryside.  Shortly after posing for this photo they started to hiss violently at us.

Our last lunch at L'Atelier before they closed last week, croque monsieur.  

Followed by a nutella crepe with vanilla bean naughty but so nice!

Currently on the search for a new haunt that does great omelettes, croque monsieur and crepes... suggestions, anyone?

The hibiscus in our garden is finally flowering, gives me a reason to smile every morning!

Got these from Thai Hout... so yummy.  The same concept as a Jaffa Cake, only white chocolate and cherry flavoured - what a great idea!  (Be warned, the cherry flavour may take you back to childhood cough medicine).

Hope you this week treated you well and have a great weekend!

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Chilling Out: Villa Paradiso

I think the pool at the Villa Paradiso is one of the nicest in Phnom Penh.

The Boy and I recently spent a lovely afternoon relaxing here.  The pool is large and deep and surrounded by a lush garden, one end is sheltered from the sun by a large sail. There's a jacuzzi, the perfect place to relax tired muscles.  Of course the pool is primarily for hotel guests, but you can get complimentary access to the pool and jacuzzi with any spa treatment.  Honestly, I could spend the whole day here.

We grabbed lunch at the bar overlooking the pool. We feasted on spring rolls, satay and fries (but there are healthier options on the menu) and followed it up with creme brulee.

After lunch we chilled out with cocktails by the pool.

We finally left mid afternoon feeling totally relaxed.  

The Villa Paradiso is located on Street 222, you can check it out here, the spa menu is also available online here.  
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