Sunday, December 25, 2016

Driving the ute in Phnom Penh

RAW Impact's ute after I drove it through the mud. Not the same ute as the story.
I'm not sure if I told you I have my Cambodian drivers license. I got it just in case I ever needed to drive the ute (that's Aussie for Utilitarian Vehicle, that's what they call anything that has a bed behind a cab.) and for driving my motor bike, if anyone asked me for it I'd be all clear.

The time came in the first week of December for me to put it to good use. Being the only RAW Impact staff to actually know how to drive on the right hand side of the road I think I'm most qualified to drive. . . but that's not really my point because honestly, HAVE YOU SEEN PHNOM PENH TRAFFIC?! No thanks. No way José.

Last week while I was working with a team at one of our partnering projects in Kampong Speu they needed someone to go get another bag or two of cement. Blake was leading the build and Brett was working on office work so I got chosen to go. I accepted the challange and drove on "Hwy"/big road 4. I drove with big trucks, small moto bikes and other utes. I survived! More importantly my passengers survived AND we found the cement place!

Then on Friday, after a long week of team stuff and building, Jared, one of our staff went for a nice dirt bike ride around the village and injured his knee by banging it onto a bolt protruding out of the handlebars, or somewhere on it. Don't ask me how that happened I still don't understand, what I do know is it took a small chunk out of his knee. Brett, also our first aid guy decided Jared should go back into Phnom Penh and get it taken care of that night because it would need stitches and antibiotics. As Brett was the team leader, he couldn't go and Blake was sharing his story that night with the team of students. It was up to me, I needed to drive into Phnom Penh to the hospital we use. I didn't want to drive back on my own so I asked Jay, a gap year volunteer, to join me as copilot. It was just before supper when we left. I grabbed some sweet bread to eat on the way and Jay grabbed a plate of fried rice that he ended up sharing with Jared.

This was quite possibly the drive of a lifetime. Jared is clearly the son of Stew our "dad" volunteer from New Zealand who is just one of those guys who can do everything. Jared rode copilot and coached me on when to push forward, who to not let in and when to honk. He was in pain but still able to coach, what a legend. We ended up stuck in traffic way outside the airport, again nearer the airport and then as we passed the airport. It took us a very long time, what is normally a 40 min drive was THREE hours or something around that, we listened to some music, talked and enjoyed ourselves despite the reason for driving. It didn't seem like that long because we were enjoying ourselves.

We dropped Jared off after circling the block a couple times to find SOS International Hospital and then there were two left in the ute. Jay was a lifesaver with the map skills. I would have pulled over and cried repeatedly without him. He navigated the horrors that are the roads of Phnom Penh with calmness and finesse. He even made some good jokes while we were on the beginning of our voyage. Then the next round of traffic hit. At first we were still in jovial spirits at just having conquered what is Phnom Penh roads but that quickly died after the first hour of sitting still in the ute surrounded by big fatty trucks. Our courage started to drain away and we imagined the rest of our lives lived out stuck in the ute. It was bleak. After two hours of sitting in a span of 4 or 5 car spaces all hope was gone. We were in need of a Christmas miracle. It was getting late, certainly after 10 pm. We had been in the ute since before 6 pm and had not eaten much. Bless us both we were going to go crazy. Finally whatever it was that had been holding us up was cleared. We were able to shift into second gear and clear out of there. THANK YOU JESUS!!

We arrived back at Jumpah with Brett opening up the gate for us at 11:30. We had been in that little ute for almost 6 1/2 hours. Jared was safe and sound with his stitches and Jay and I have an epic adventure to share. Luckily both he and I are owesom (that's awesome in Aussie) story tellers and will be more than willing to share the story with again you in person if you would like.

And that is the story of my first drive in Phnom Penh.

I'd like to thank Jay and Jared for sharing the adventure with me.

Oh and I only stalled the ute a few times. Mainly when we were in traffic and I kept getting anxious and then embarrassingly enough right outside the Jumpah gate because I forgot I was driving a stick and frankly quite tired by then.

The end.

Me, Jay and Brett at the build site at Jumpah.

Friday, December 23, 2016


Here's some pictures from the last month in Cambo. I need to work harder at posting updates! 


Chma (cat) at the hotel in Siem Reap

Me and Brett on the last build day with our team from Brisbane State High School.

The dirt road leading out to Koki, a village we work in. This village is in the red zone for the UN. It's the edge of survival.

The house we built with BSHS. The grandma has lived through a lot and we were honored to help her get her first house and out of living under a tarp since her old one blew over. 

A pretty lady just after getting her hair and makeup done at a local beauty spot in Kratié

I see this billboard all the time and I'm not a big fan.

A sweet girl in Koki who helped me move lunch to the community center.

Pidow and I at the home she helps run called Jumpah. She's a gem and helped me a lot with my Khmer. 

A little cafe near Jumpah where I went in the middle of the day to take a break and have a pick me up coffee.

Me with said coffee. See it was working already.

Hope you enjoyed. Hopefully more to come.

100 things to be thankful for

Okay, so this is a bit late but better late than never, right?

For my Thanksgiving tradition I have composed a list of 100 things I am thankful for. Here it is in no particular order:

  1. Cambodia
  2. Australian slang
  3. Adventure
  4. Purpose
  5. Family who support my life choices even if they think I'm crazy
  6. Mom 
  7. Dad and Deli
  8. Fifer, my kaka
  9. Andrea
  10. Rachel
  11. BurlyKim
  12. Xelxi
  13. messages from friends and family
  14. Gertie the Green Slug
  15. Khmer
  16. Donuts
  17. Khunara/Ra
  18. RAW Impact
  19. Cold weather
  20. Warm weather
  21. Rain
  22. Free Wifi and cheap data plans
  23. Tuk tuks
  24. Hope
  25. God
  26. Love
  27. Travel
  28. Music
  29. My flatmates
  30. Joma coffee in the morning with Brett and Jay (and whoever else comes)
  31. Khmer iced coffee
  32. Team trips 
  33. Outdoors
  34. Church
  35. Community
  36. Curly hair
  37. Sunrise
  38. Quite mornings
  39. English
  40. The corner restaurant
  41. Hanging out with the Family
  42. Kitten's
  43. Puppies!!
  44. Good office days
  45. Air con
  46. Fun bed sheets
  47. Line drying my clothes
  48. My porch garden
  49. Growing and learning
  50. Mexican food
  51. Trees
  52. Angkor Wat
  53. Running
  54. My $1 gym
  55. Rice
  56. Coconut everything
  57. Doctors
  58. Stick shift driving
  59. Laughter
  60. Happiness
  61. Innocence
  62. Kids around the world
  63. Good conversations
  64. Vulnerability, even if it is hard and scary
  65. New friends
  66. Riding with a friend on a motorbike
  67. Holidays
  68. Challenges
  69. Ice with a hole in the middle I can put my straw in
  70. The burrito place on St 155
  71. Kips (Aussie for naps)
  72. Color
  73. Dry Erase markers
  74. Tile all over the walls in my apt
  75. My teaching heritage
  76. The Andersons
  77. Brett
  78. Pete
  79. Abbie
  80. My mentors
  81. Thanksgiving Feasts
  82. Kindness
  83. Baseball
  84. Lazy Sunday afternoons
  85. Spontaneous Adventures in Phnom Penh
  86. The GUZMANS
  87. Kendra
  88. The Wiegs
  89. Diana Pleitez, who took over OACS as principal
  90. Beauty
  91. Simplicity
  92. Sleep overs in the village
  93. Hammocks
  94. Stars
  95. Curiosity
  96. Hope of Heaven
  97. Living a life for others
  98. God's calling on my life
  99. Smiles
  100. Courage