Sunday, 23 October 2011

Queenie on a night out....

Over the weekend Queenie went on a trip out to the Lazy's - she came with me on my bike....

to ....

and met some of my friends...

Ali tried to take her off on her moto...

Klaus became very fond of her...

Even Frank the french owner took a fancy to her...

Xenia tried to copy her wave....

Basti provided her with a stage...
And I think Ali is asking the question that everyone does .... WHY!!


Yesterday Klaus,

took us (Basti, Xenia and myself)

Xenia in the pepper plantation

out to visit the Pepper farms that he works with. They are about an hour east of Kampong Cham in a place called Dar in Mamot Province - I just looked at the map and it is right on the border to Vietnam.
Klaus works with the Pepper Co-orperative that has been set up over there - the farmers have joined together so that they can get better value for their pepper.

I don't think I had ever seen a pepper plant before and had always presumed it was a bush but they grow like vines - they plant 3 around a post which stands 4.5m tall. For the first 2 years they have to be covered and so they make a cage of palm leaves around and above the plants to protect them.

You can start harvesting after 2 years and the plant will provide 60% of it's yield but after 3 years you can get 100% yield - the plants have a lifespan of about 20 years.

Apparently Cambodia produces 2% of the worlds pepper - most people only know Kampot pepper which is a southern province here in Cambodia however in Mamot they have a higher yield of pepper than Kampot and of course it is better quality - well Klaus would say that!!

These are 5 year old plants


You can see here the poles they grow up around

This is showing the cage they create around young pepper plants to protect them - made from palm leaves

Inside the cage with plants that were planted this year

The plants in the background are 2 years old

One of the pickers work stations

The cage also doubles up as a growing frame for other veggies

Here is some pepper the farmer was drying for his own use

In the front is Cassava growing but behind is all pepper - you can see the shelters protecting the young crops

Cassava plants - you can see the soil here is very red, so very fertile for growing crops

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Staff meeting BSDA style

Here at BSDA we have staff and management meetings every month. The staff meetings last all morning as anyone who has had some capacity building training has to present to the staff what they have learnt and also we have a lot of other topics to cover.
This month was a smaller turn out then usual(due to the rains that morning) however I thought you might like to see some of my colleagues - excuse the fact I have Sunnies on my head - I forget they are there most of the time as they have proved to be a very useful hair band especially when your hair is bedraggled after being caught in a rain storm on the way to work - as it was this day!

A Happy Monk

We had some Japanese friends of BSDA visit this week who are selling the Kramas(scarves), that the students at Smile Kids Village weave, in Japan.
Naoki who organises this came and visited with some friends, as he does every year, and he came with his Eukele - he takes it everywhere on his travels apparently. The Venerable Vandong Thorn, my boss - the Director of BSDA, had some lessons from Naoki and here he is - I love this photo:

 I also showed Ven. Vandong some youtube videos of George Formby which made him laugh - Ven. Vandong has such a great smile and an extremely infectious laugh.
Sokheoun, me, Shi, Naoki, Ven. Vandong, Sha, Panha & Xenia

Monday, 10 October 2011

Birthday Cambodian style

Well another year has gone and I am another year older but I don't think any wiser!

It was a day in the office as usual until 5pm when the staff surprised me with cake, party hat(just for me not for anyone else), spray foam string, sparklers (the last 2 not a wise mix together!!) and a rendition of Happy Birthday - so lovely of them

Now I had planned to meet a few friends down at Lazy Mekong - local bar/cafe run by a French guy called Frank and his girlfriend Dari - was looking forward to some western food as a yummy b'day treat however my work colleagues wanted to take me out so I went with them for an early supper before meeting everyone else down at Lazy Mekong. So instead of having a western food for my b'day treat I ended up having a lovely meal - a Cambodian specialty - Pro-hok - which was really nice until I realised what it was made out of - this sauce that you had to dip your veggies in was made out of fermented fish - yep fermented - as far as i could gather they slice fish up and put it in a bucket and leave it to ferment for a week or so and then grind it up and make a sauce!! This is why I always try before finding out what exactly I am eating otherwise I would never try things! Anyway it was really lovely and very kind of them to treat me - made me feel part of the BSDA gang.

After that I went down to Lazys and met up with the expat crew - really lovely turn out - Klaus, Ali, Zenia, Basti, Cookie, Paola, Beate, William, Leo and Pedro
They surprised me with some birthday chocolate brownies with candles in which Ali had kindly supplied - she had to get the local cafe/bakery to open up their doors as they had already closed by the evening and she went and raided them of their stock of brownies - so thks to Ali & the girls at Destiny cafe who will of had to get up early the next day to bake some more to replenish their stocks!

Ali, Jane & Klaus

Me and my b'day flowers from Klaus

Sparklers are the thing out here!
So a lovely birthday was had and thank you to all of you who sent me birthday skype calls, emails and e-cards - really made me feel loved!