26 March 2012

Getting some exercise

Anyone who has lived in Cambodia, and more specifically, Phnom Penh, for any length of time will tell you that it's not an easy place to exercise, although there are some creative ways to do it.

For me, my preferred forms of exercise would be riding a bicycle, walking or swimming. All are doable here, but the first two are hazardous! The roads were not designed for the volume of motos, cars, SUVs, and trucks that now use them. The footpaths are also the only place to park the above mentioned motos, cars, etc, as well as being places of business. Yes, many businesses extend right across the footpaths to the street. There are now a few parks around, and one popular form of exercise I mentioned is aerobics (I wrote about it here) or Khmer dancing. It is now possible to walk quite a distance along the river front in reasonable comfort, but you've got to get there first. There are also some exercise machines there if you feel like exercising in full view of the passing population (I got caught in the act of testing one out by one of my students).Bikeways are non-existent, and cyclists are not exactly high on the totem pole when it comes to traffic.

Swimming I do a little of, but I'm not consistent with it. The other alternative is to join a gym. I've done that a couple of times, both in Australia and here in Phnom Penh, and it's OK, but you have to be really committed to going, and the decent ones are not cheap either! So what do I do? Almost two years ago I had to pay a 20% loading on my international health insurance because my BMI was over 30. Last year I managed to get it down just below that, and was determined to get it even lower, but didn't really succeed, and alas, my love of chocolate and good food has not been helpful. With just 3 months to go before the said insurance premium has to be calculated again, it was time to get serious about doing some exercise and losing those excess kilos that had crept back on.

A while ago I bought a relatively cheap exercise machine (elliptical/bicycle/stepper/twister), but I hadn't been consistent about using it. Now, with the deadline looming, I put out a plea to my Facebook friends for some help and encouragement, and determined to build a new habit. Last week I managed to average 22 minutes each day, and I did do some every day, so I'm feeling pretty good about that. This week I set a new goal of 25 minutes every day. I'm hopeful that I can do it.

The other thing that's important is that I don't just want to lose the weight for the sake of some dollars. I know the exercise is good for me in many other ways, and exercising and eating well are part of taking care of the amazing body that God has given me. Already I'm feeling some benefits, and hopefully the scales will start to show some benefits as well.

What about you? Do you find exercising a struggle? Please tell me about your exercise challenges. What helps you stay motivated? I'd love to read your comments.

17 March 2012

We're going to the zoo!

There's something about kids and zoos that just seem to go together. This year the 4th grade classes got their much awaited trip to the zoo. We went last Friday, after having Thursday off for International Women's Day. When we have a one-day holiday and then one school day it seems to go without saying that at least one family will take the opportunity of having a long weekend, so it seemed like a good day for a field trip. As it turns out, only five children from the two classes missed the trip. Two from my class were away for a long weekend, two had parents say they couldn't go (sadly there have been several nasty bus crashes recently and they weren't willing to let their precious children go on a bus), and one turned up for school after the bus had left (he got to spend the day in 3rd grade).

That left 35 kids, 2 teachers, 2 teacher assistants, 2 extra Khmer assistants, and one mother to squeeze onto our 35-seater coach! It was a bit squeezy, but complaints were not the order of the day. The trip out was pretty good, and it took us just over an hour.

The other side of this bridge was OK.
The road in, complete with beggars.
Once we arrived, we took care of essential business then divided the children into seven groups of five, each with one adult. From there it was off to visit the birds and animals. While this zoo might seem pretty sad by international standards, it's important to remember that this Cambodia is still very much developing. This is the only government funded zoo in the country, and is also a wildlife rescue centre. Many of the animals in the zoo have been rescued from very sad situations. Whenever possible, rescued wildlife are released back into the wild, but sometimes that is just not possible.

Since I last visited the zoo several years ago, there have been substantial improvements. One of these is an excellent teaching display and improved observation area for the bears. Here's my group along with one of their "friends"! Despite the miserable looks on some of the faces they did have a good time.
And here are some of the bears engaging is some friendly rough and tumble.
 While it was awesome to see these magnificent birds up close, I felt a little bit sad that they didn't have room to really fly much.

These cute fellows were all patiently waiting for a feed.
For 500Riel (about 12 cents) you could feed one otter a fish, so some of the students enjoyed doing just that.

And after the feed, a cooling swim.
You can find out more about these special creatures here.
I love this photo. This fellow was one of the wild monkeys who also live at the zoo. He was sitting atop a fence post ever alert for a free feed.
One of the most amazing things I saw and heard at the zoo were these monkeys. As you can see, their enclosure has a variety of rings and branches etc to keep them busy, but as they before they started a series of acrobatics they signalled their intention with their voices. Have a look at listen. It's not the best video, but it will give you an idea of just how intriguing it was. You could hear them all over the zoo.

Well, that's all folks! We finished up with some time to play in the adventure playground, followed by gathering under the shaded area, free of monkeys, to eat lunch. After lunch it was back on the bus, and back to school, arriving just in time for going home. A good day for everyone I think! I slept well that night!

14 March 2012

Cambodian What Is It? 2 - The answer

Sorry, Wendy, but it is not a cup holder! It would be a very big cup. Thanks for commenting, and I think you may have a better idea of what it is than that.

There were plenty of folk who did get it though, and lots of "hands up".

Meet Chhouk. Rescued by Wildlife Alliance staff some years ago, he was missing part of his leg. The photo was his prosthesis (I suspect his old one, because he was wearing one at the same time as I took the original photo.). They suspect he was caught in a poachers trap at some point, and the loss of part of his leg was the consequence.

Students and staff at the Cambodiann School of Orthotics and Prosthetics were responsible for building his prosthesis. To find out more about this amazing example of the care provided for animals at Phnom Tamoa Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Centre, check out this link.
Just don't look at the comments below the article and video.

12 March 2012

Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble

Does an unwanted and arranged marriage sound good to you? What about a greedy, controlling father-in-law? Join Lucy Marsh as she embarks seeks to follow God's will for her life, while protecting and providing her 12 year old brother Jed and 3 year old sister Eileen. Who is following them? What are they looking for? How will it all end?

From the first page to the last, I thoroughly enjoyed this story of mystery and romance. The plot moves along at a good pace, with some great sub-plots along the way. The characters are realistic, as are the problems they face. As the story develops, the reader grows to understand the individual characters, and what makes them tick. The author’s ability to mix description with dialogue and action is excellent, and make it possible to visualise many of the scenes in the book. The underlying message, of relinquishing control to the Heavenly Father, is very subtly treated, but does come through. I have no hesitation in recommending this book to those who enjoy a good mystery with a touch of romance.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

11 March 2012

Cambodian What Is It? Number 2

I wonder if anyone can work out what this is? I look forward to your guesses.

If you are still wondering, you can find the answer here.

08 March 2012

Does bad grammar annoy you?

I came across this today courtesy of a blogger that I follow on Facebook. Since the original site provided the html code for sharing, I'm fairly confident that is was OK to share this with you all. Enjoy.

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more copywriting tips from Copyblogger.

07 March 2012

Celebrating 48 years and 5 years

Way back on 29th January 2012 I had a fun evening with friends celebrating my 48th birthday and 5 years in Cambodia. The venue for the evening was a boat cruise on the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. We met at 4.30pm, loaded up the boat and off we went. While the weather wasn't that great, especially for taking sunset photos, it was still a lovely evening. Here are just a few snaps of the special people who shared the evening with me. I was blessed to have representatives of most of the different aspects of my life here in Cambodia, as well as one special friend from Toowoomba! It was definitely a multi-racial outing with Australians, Canadians, Americans, South Africans, Cambodians, and a Brit! A good time was had by all. Enjoy!

Happy snapping

Enjoying the food and fellowship

Two great people

Two more great people

Enjoying the view and the food

Looks like some serious conversation here

Two lovely ladies

One of the great families from EWIS
Representatives of the Logos family

Colouring fun for the younger guests.

Trying to light the birthday candles

Well the candles were a failure but we eventually got the sparklers sparkling!
Praise God for His goodness. He has blessed me in so many ways. Life isn't always easy, but I do know that He will always be with me. As the years continue to fly by, may I continue to serve Him in all I say and do.