Without doubt 2015 started as a year of excitement and adventure for us. So many new things were planned and there was so much to organise. So. Much.
Moving overseas is no light matter when you have a house to pack up and ties to sort out. It has been a year of new experiences, new people and new places. A year of learning and of fun. A humbling year, realising how much we really have. So I thought I’d share a wrap-up of 2015, including some highlights.
Let’s start with a trip home to Perth and the chance to catch up with family and friends. No matter how far and wide I travel I still think Perth is one of the most beautiful cities – especially on a hot, sunny autumn day like this. I love this view from King’s Park, which must surely be one of the most lovely city parks you can find.
Our West Australian visit included a trip to the Pinnacles – for the Journo – with family members. I love the unique landscape found within Nambung National Park and it was the first time I had visited when there were clouds instead of clear, blue skies.
We did a mammoth day trip from Perth to Wave Rock and back so I could tick off another bucket list experience and my aunt and uncle, visiting from England could see this unique rock formation. It’s located near Hyden, about 300 kilometres south-east of Perth, so it was a huge day trip, but totally worth it.
And then we farewelled family and friends and the Cambodian adventure began. Cambodia has exceeded our expectations in so many ways. But it has also challenged us and frustrated us. It has made us sad and it has made us laugh. So here are a few highlights.
Okay, let’s be honest – the beers, usually priced between 50c and 75c, have definitely been a highlight for the Joker. Especially on a stinking hot day. He has perhaps embraced this beverage a little too enthusiastically, although he would be quick to disagree.
On a more serious note, this was a memorable moment for the Joker. Handing over the keys to a house he helped build for a family of nine. Their house had blown over in a storm and they were living in the chicken shed on bare dirt. It is so incredibly humbling seeing how people in this country live and realising how much we take for granted. This was also our introduction to Sinn and the VBC team.
And we met this pair. Bruce – AKA Mr Bean – and Sothy. Bruce introduced us to Sothy, who teaches English at Preah Prom Rath pagoda in town. Sothy was happy to have us as part of his classroom, helping with pronunciation and definitions. The Joker struggled a little with the hot classroom, which in the peak hot spell was like a sauna, and in the cool months, is not much better. And once he started building houses he stopped attending class, although the students though he was funny. I have continued going and try and get there at least twice a week to help out. We’ve had fun times with both, been introduced to Sothy’s family and generally made to feel welcome. Anything we can do to help is always appreciated. And like most Cambodians Sothy has a great sense of humour.
There’s Twenty Street, which we’ve called home the entire time we have been here. We love the variety of sights and sounds and the mix of people who use this street. And we especially love the people we call friends and neighbours. It has become our home and we feel a part of this place.
Another highlight has been working with Lidia from Together for Cambodia and the beautiful children she supports. I had the privilege of taking photos of the children for family memories and to update the cookbook, which raises a lot of money for the organisation. It was a wonderful experience and we have so much respect for everything Lidia is doing.
I got to experience Pchum Ben, the most important religious festival in Cambodia.
We’ve been blessed by the monks in a water blessing ceremony, which leaves you drenched.
We’ve watched the landscape change from brown dust to vibrant lime greens and back to the soft beige of harvested rice fields. Getting out into the countryside is one of my favourite things to do. We see the beautiful landscape but also interact with the beautiful people who live out here, often without electricity and running water.
There have, of course, been the amazing temples of Angkor, which are such a huge part of Siem Reap’s identity. We’ve visited with family and friends and shared the adventure with them.
And there have been side trips to Phuket, Vietnam, Koh Chang, Phnom Penh and Battambang.
So yes, 2015 – what a year! It has been eventful, colourful and enriching.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has been a part of our journey in 2015 and all those who have supported us on this crazy adventure.
We’d also like to wish everyone all the best for the New Year and we hope 2016 brings you every happiness. We look forward to sharing your lives and your dreams – in person or online.
From Journo and the Joker – Samnang La’or (good luck to you).