Joy in Cambodia: Postcard #2 What does a Canadian do?

Gung Haggis dragon boat paddler Joy Singbeil (Celtic name) is in Cambodia for 2 years:

This is Postcard #2

HPIM2336 by bunnybears.Joy Singbeil (far right) back in June at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival with team mates Joe Easton (left) and Marion Hoy (centre).  But now she is in Cambodia… teaching drama?!?!? photo courtesy of Marion Hoy.

Postcard #2
by Joy Singbeil
special to

Aug 28th
Hey Everybody,
Well I got my first paycheque so I feel I am really a  bonafide
Ëxpat”,  And as always here geting things done is not so simple.  It
took 3 weeks to get a bankcard (they have our photos on) but getting a
chequing account is so difficult and requires stamping each and every
cheque so I didn't bother.  There is no limit on what cash you can draw
out in either US dollars or Cambodian Riels.  Each US dollar is worth
4000 riels and you use riels for small transactions.  As a result you
pockets are full of thousands of riels and really it's only worth about
$4.00 bu the locals flip back and forth from one currency to another.
A good description of traffic in Cambodia…..a bit like that opening
scene of Starwars with all the meteorites coming towards you……..I
don't think I will ever stop wincing as the tuktuk driver turns directly
into the oncoming traffic.    So what did I see on  moto this
week……well there are always the balloon merchants who sell down by
the river and pump up all these amazing animals and tie them to poles
and gently waft down the street.  There are the two huge leather
sofas.  There is the framework strapped on to the bike extending all
around the rider and festooned with bananas.  There was one that was
breathtaking………wickerwork shelves piled high and tied one to
another and all around the driver so you could barely see him.  The
winner this week so far has to be the slaughtered pig.  A pretty big
one hanging down on either side of the driver.  I must be getting used
to this dead pig thing as I didn't hear or ignored the pigs being
delivered to the butcher all week.  I tell a lie I saw one thing that
took my breath away.  Little lad on the front then dad driving then Mum
holding the baby and casually nursing it as they whizzed along beside
our tuktuk………very few people have helmets. 
Last weekend I joined my compatriot and went out into the country while
some of the young guys went rock climbing.  Pretty difficult to find a
rock big enough to climb here as it is so flat.  But we did!!” I have
no head for heights so I just watched and we were entertained by all
the local children who came to visit us and helped us cook on our BBQ. 
This was an old part of a bumper, charcoal, and a lovely set
of kebabs(squid,huge shrimp and meat and Veggie) prepared by the girls
who look after our apartment.  They all run out and welcome us home and
try out their English on us.   Sometimes they give us Khmer food which
I can't eat but for the most part food here is great and very cheap.
So what is a usual day.  This morning I woke up to the sounds of the
city waking up and looked over at the breakfast being cooked below me. 
One day I'm going to try that.  A big wok full of boiling oil cooking
on the sidewalk filled with a pastry puffing up golden brown.  A man
has thrown a table top on two saw horses and is busy rolling out the
dough beside it.  When I come home he is the tailor and is measuring
pants.   The driver picks me  and the other 4 from the same building
and drives us to school, thank goodness.  I get to look at all the
sights from relative safety.  At school I like to go over to the
poolside club and get a coffee for a 20 minutes.  Then it is
Homeroom(Gr 9) for 10 minutes and then classes.  One  day I teach 3
classes and one day 1 class(I should each 2 but they forgot to schedule
me in).  I have a Gr 12  AP Lit class of 9 students, a Gr 9 Lit class of
22, a Gr 9/10 Language class of 23 and a Gr 12 Drama Class of 15.  The
students are very ESL but very bright and willing for the most part. 
At the end of the day I try to get a swim and this week I am trying to
jog……I'll see how it goes as it is up in the 30's most of the
time.  It does pour most days and the power goes out more often than
not.  The evening is taken up with errands/sightseeing/food and hanging
out.  Tonight I'm off to see John Mayall playing (on DVD) at a place
called the Meta House which is an Art Galley and a rooftop bar with a
big screen.  It is right beside a Wat(temple)  Happy Hour is incredibly
cheap and you get used to the cascading rain pouring over electrical
Found a great restaurant by accident last night.  I went to phone my mum
from an internet cafe as the skype drops so often.  Across the street
was a Korean restaurant.  Jo, the Australian girl I am sharing with
had been enticed over by being given free treats(again from the bbq on
the sidewalk )and by the time I had finished my phome call she had
ordered dinner.  No one spoke any English but the place was spotless and
they had pictures of the food around the walls.  We had a dish of deep
fried pork bits covered with fresh veggies in a delicious sauce and
then dumplings with chicken and onion.  there were sauces on the side
to dip.  All this and a beer came to $6.00 which was expensive for here
but it was so good.
This weekend I'm off to the beach.  We are all going together(well some
are) and we have a 3 day weekend so I'm looking forward to that.  Did I
mention I have lilac nails with silver sprinkles.  You can get your
nails and toes done here for $8.  So far the reaction I've got is “Oh
lovely” or………..”Well I suppose you are the drama teacher.”  I intend
to get all the colours of the rainbow done before I leave.
If anyone wants to visit us come soon as we may not be in our Penthouse
forever.  As rents go here it is expensive and we may just be forced to
look for another lovely(cheaper) place.
Love to all……….please pass this along to any other interested soul.
Love Joy

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