Friday, November 30, 2007

a tree

This tree was in the Royal Palace/Silver Pagoda area in Phnom Penh. It is such a cool tree! It is a Shorea Robusta Roxb, which is also known as a cannonball tree or Sal tree.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

exploding cell phones?

I'm glad that I haven't heard about things like this before, as it means it is a VERY rare occurrence.

Exploding mobile battery suspected in S Korea fatality
By Lester Haines Published Wednesday 28th November 2007 16:30 GMT
A South Korean man was this morning found dead at work, apparently killed by an exploding mobile phone battery, AP reports.
The victim, identified only by his surname Suh, was discovered at a quarry in Cheongwon, 135 kilometres (85 miles) south of Seoul with "his mobile phone battery... melted in his shirt pocket", according to a police official. The unnamed official added: "We presume that the cell phone battery exploded."
Doctor Kim Hoon, who examined the body, explained: "He sustained an injury that is similar to a burn in the left chest and his ribs and spine were broken. It is presumed that pressure caused by the explosion damaged his heart and lungs, leading to his death."
Police said the mobile in question was made by LG. A company official confirmed this, adding that LG "would not comment directly on the incident because the cause was not confirmed". He did, however, describe such an explosion as "virtually impossible". ®

Apparently computers are burning and exploding, too, though the computer problem seems to be a bit more common.

Dell laptop explodes 'like fireworks'
Another Dell laptop has burst unexpectedly into flames. This one, an Inspiron 9200, spontaneously combusted this week in Columbus, Ohio. The blaze was caught on camera.
According to a report on website, the laptop went up "like fireworks", its owner, Douglas Brown, claimed. Brown called the emergency services then grabbed his camera and took a few snaps of the infernal Inspiron:
What's not yet clear is whether Brown's laptop is one of those covered by the major battery replacement programme Dell put in place a year ago. Certainly, some Inspiron 9200s were included. If Brown's machine was, it doesn't appear from the story that he had returned his original battery to Dell.
If he had - or if his 9200 was not one of those covered by the recall - it raises the possibility that a lot more laptops are going to have to have their batteries checked. Given recent claims made by Japanese boffins that the design of lithium-ion power cells is inherently "flawed", perhaps they should be in any case.
Thanks to Register Hardware reader Emanuel for the tip

Georgia Man's Dell Laptop Bursts into Flames
Latest in a series of laptop fires
By Truman LewisConsumerAffairs.Com August 24, 2007
A computer network administrator at a Columbus, Georgia, hospital is the latest consumer to encounter the flaming laptop syndrome.
Douglas Brown said his Dell 9200 wide-screen laptop's batteries exploded into flames, it "looked like fireworks which would have been cool had it not been in my house."
Brown called 911 and the fire department responded with two pumpers, a ladder truck, the HAZMAT unit, an ambulance and the battalion chief.
"Way too much manpower for one little laptop," he said, but "I guess it sounded like it was more then it really was" to the 911 dispatcher.
It's the latest in a series of fires and meltdowns involving the lithium-ion batteries used in laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices.
Last year, a man in South Venice, Fla. blamed his Dell laptop for burning down his house. Earlier this year, a Macbook was blamed for a house fire in Australia.
In one of the most celebrated cases, a Dell laptop was blamed for setting fire to a pickup truck parked in a remote mountainous area in Nevada last August. The fire not only destroyed the truck but set off a box of ammunition its outdoorsman owner had left in the glove compartment while he went fishing.
Dell and other computer makers have recalled millions of batteries. It could not immediately be determined whether Brown's laptop was among the recalled units.
Brown said he called Dell and spoke with a representative named Cory who was "very nice and professional" but who then transferred him to someone who was not.
Brown said he asked the next service rep "who was going to pay for the damages to my house and the HAZMAT bill and (she) asked me if I had insurance.
"I would have thought Dell would have had a better answer then that," Brown said. "After all the fire was caused by their computer."
Brown said the laptop is now sitting the middle of his driveway.

If you check the link to the last one, it has a huge list of links related to laptop fires and explosions. From houses burning down to cars burning up, all due to laptop fires.

in jail for naming a teddy bear!

This is nuts!

'Muhammad' teddy teacher arrested
A British school teacher has been arrested in Sudan accused of insulting Islam's Prophet, after she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.
Colleagues of Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, said she made an "innocent mistake" by letting the six and seven-year-olds choose the name.
Ms Gibbons was arrested after several parents made complaints.
The BBC has learned the charge could lead to six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine.
Officials from the British embassy in Khartoum are expected to visit Ms Gibbons in custody.
"We are in contact with the authorities here and they have visited the teacher and she is in a good condition," an embassy spokesman said.
The spokesman said the naming of the teddy happened months ago and was chosen by the children because it is a common name in the country.
"This happened in September and the parents did not have a problem with it," he said.
'Very sensitive'
The school has been closed until January for fear of reprisals.
Fellow teachers at Khartoum's Unity High School told Reuters news agency they feared for Ms Gibbons' safety after receiving reports that men had started gathering outside the police station where she was being held.
The school's director, Robert Boulos, said: "This is a very sensitive issue. We are very worried about her safety.
"This was a completely innocent mistake. Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam."
Mr Boulos said Ms Gibbons was following a British national curriculum course designed to teach young pupils about animals and this year's topic was the bear.
Ms Gibbons, who joined the school in August, asked a seven-year-old girl to bring in her teddy bear and asked the class to pick names for it, he said.
"They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad," Mr Boulos said, adding that she then had the children vote on a name.
Twenty out of the 23 children chose Muhammad as their favourite name.
Mr Boulos said each child was then allowed to take the bear home at weekends and told to write a diary about what they did with it.
He said the children's entries were collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover and a message which read, "My name is Muhammad."
Book seized
The bear itself was not marked or labelled with the name in any way, he added.
It is seen as an insult to Islam to attempt to make an image of the Prophet Muhammad.
Mr Boulos said Ms Gibbons was arrested on Sunday at her home inside the school premises after a number of parents complained to Sudan's Ministry of Education.
He said police had seized the book and asked to interview the girl who owned the bear.
The country's state-controlled Sudanese Media Centre reported that charges were being prepared "under article 125 of the criminal law" which covers insults against faith and religion.
No-one at the ministries of education or justice was available for comment.
Mr Boulos told the BBC he was confident she would not face a jail sentence.
One Muslim teacher at the independent school for Christian and Muslim children, who has a child in Ms Gibbons' class, said she had not found the project offensive.
"I know Gillian and she would never have meant it as an insult. I was just impressed that she got them to vote," the teacher said.
In Liverpool, a family spokeswoman said Ms Gibbons' grown children, John and Jessica - both believed to be in their 20s - were not commenting on her arrest.
"I have spoken with her children and they do not want to say anything and aggravate the situation over there," she said.
Rick Widdowson the headteacher of Garston Church of England Primary School, where Gillian worked for ten years, added: "We are an Anglican school and I know for a fact that Gillian would not do anything to offend followers of any faith.
"Certainly she is also very worldly wise and she is obviously aware of the sensitivities around Islam."
Cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad printed in several European newspapers sparked violent protests around the world in 2006.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Surgents

Check it out. It is definitely worth a listen. The Surgents were Band of the Month for October on Edmonton's Sonic Radio.

One of the members, Dr. Octavo (a.k.a. Tomas - best friend's brother-in-law) is also the producer. Octavo Productions is an independent music studio based in Edmonton, Canada.
It is more than likely that you have heard some Dr. Octavo's work, as some of it has been on the charts, on the radio, in the movies and so on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

new home, new job

Saturday was such a long day. As my flight was delayed, I didn't arrive in Korea until 9 AM after only about 2 hours of sleep (I don't sleep well on planes). As soon as I got to my friends home a couple of hours later, I had to rush to get my stuff together, as the mover arrived at 12. The mover that my school usually uses is a 73 year old man. He was carrying 3 boxes at a time on his back. He was so tired by the time the truck was loaded (yes, I did help as much as he would let me). Then once at my new place the assistant manager of my school was there with my key and helped unload the truck. It is surprising how much stuff one can acquire over a couple of years. When it is all put away, it doesn't look like much, but when it is all in boxes and bags in the open, it looks like a ridiculous amount of stuff.
My new home is basically 2 rooms. Going in the door, you enter the front hall and kitchen area (kitchen sink and stove to the right). A sliding door is on the same wall as the entry door and goes into a little closet-ish area where the gas heater and washing machine are. Straight ahead from the entry door is another door which leads to the main room with the bed, dresser and standing clothes rack (no closet, unfortunately). The bathroom door is to the far left. It isn't the smallest home I've had here but it definitely isn't the largest. It is SO dirty! I think who ever lived there last wasn't so clean, and no one has lived there in a month or so. Dust has built up everywhere and there is sort of a layer of scum on a lot of things (especially in the kitchen). From the time I arrived at my new home, I've been scrubbing and cleaning. My hands are so sore from all of the scrubbing! I'm no where near being finished, either. :S
I haven't started unpacking anything. I don't want to put my things away in dirty drawers and cupboards!
My home is less than 10 minutes walk from my school. The area is great. Coffee shops and such EVERYWHERE!! There is a huge Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf right beside my school. Dangerous, actually! ;)
Yesterday was my first day of work, but this whole week is just observation. Not so fun. Sitting watching other people teach is not all that entertaining after the first hour or so. I'd rather just teach.
My work day is 9 to 4:30. Not bad.
The kindergarten runs 9:30 to 2:30. My kindy class is the Rose class, with around 18 students, all 5/6 years old (Korean 7 years old). So far it seems very easy. There are 2 English teachers for each class; one native speaker (foreigner) and one Korean English speaker; as well as one Korean teacher/helper. While one teaches, the other has prep time/ break time. Sweet! The entire day is set up in 30 minute blocks.
9:30 - 10: snack/play time. The Korean helper sets everything up for snack and lunch.
10 - 10:30: Circle Time, which seems to be a combination of reading and phonics (there is a book for it). (2 English teachers alternate every other day)
After that the order and content of the blocks changes around a bit. For Monday it was:
10:30 - 11: Art (Break time for me)
11 - 11:30: Phonics
11:30 - 12: Lunch time. We take the kids down to the cafeteria and each class has one long table. Korean food is served to the kids in trays. We help ourselves to what we want of the Korean food. They also have salad for the teachers (I am told that it was a huge ordeal to get this).
12 - 12:30: Theme English. To do with what ever the theme is that week/month. Could be anything from catching up with other book work or learning songs. My kids are learning the song, "All I want for Christmas". Yes, the full song, not a short children's version.
12:30 - 1: Language Practice. (Break time for me)
1 - 1:30: Math. (Break time for me)
1:30 - 2: Phonics. (Break time for me)
2 - 2:30: Reading
Then the kids get ready to go and we take them down to catch the bus.
From 3 until 4:25 I then teach their Super Elite Power Class, which is a group of 8 students, all 6/7 years old, who have been coming to this school since they were 3/4 years old. Their English is excellent. I teach them reading, writing, grammar, etc. Earlier this month they finished reading a short novel (something like Elmer and the Dragon) and wrote a 2 page book report on it. It is very organized, as the program is standardized - all of the schools have the same programs. Makes things fairly easy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

fighting Net addiction in Korea

I think I've mentioned the Korean obsession with the Internet before time and again.Learning curve ... the Jump Up Internet Rescue School.
Photo: Seokyong Lee

In Korea, a boot camp cure for web obsession
Martin Fackler November 26, 2007
MOKCHEON, South Korea - the compound, part boot camp, part rehab centre - resembles programs around the world for troubled youths. Drill instructors drive young men through military-style obstacle courses, counsellors lead group sessions and there are even therapeutic workshops on pottery and drumming.
But these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly affliction: cyberspace addiction.
They come here, to the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, the first camp of its kind in South Korea, to be cured.
South Korea is one of the most wired nations on earth. Perhaps no other country has so fully embraced the internet. Ninety per cent of homes connect to cheap, high-speed broadband, online gaming is a professional sport and social life for the young revolves around the "PC bang", dim internet parlours that sit on almost every street corner.
But such ready access comes at a price as legions of obsessed users find that they cannot tear themselves away from their computer screens.
Compulsive internet use has been identified as a mental health issue in other countries, including the United States.
It is a national issue in South Korea where, in recent years, some users have died from exhaustion after playing online games for days on end. Increasingly, students are skipping school to stay online, behaviour that is considered shocking in this intensely competitive society.
Up to 30 per cent of South Koreans under 18, or about 2.4 million people, are at risk of internet addiction, says Ahn Dong-hyun, a child psychiatrist at Hanyang University in Seoul, who has just completed a three-year government-funded survey of the problem.
They spend at least two hours a day online, usually playing games or chatting. Of those, up to 250,000 probably show signs of actual addiction, such as an inability to stop themselves from using computers, rising levels of tolerance that drive them to seek ever longer sessions online and withdrawal symptoms such as anger and craving when prevented from logging on.
To address the problem the government has built a network of 140 internet-addiction counselling centres, in addition to treatment programs at almost 100 hospitals and, most recently, the Internet Rescue camp.
Researchers have developed a checklist for diagnosing the addiction and determining its severity, the K-Scale (the K is for Korea).

In September, South Korea held the first international symposium on internet addiction.
"Korea has been most aggressive in embracing the internet," says Koh Young-sam, head of the government-run Internet Addiction Counselling Centre. "Now we have to lead in dealing with its consequences."
Some health experts question whether internet or computer overuse is an addiction in the strict medical sense but many agree such obsessions are a growing problem in many countries.
Doctors in China and Taiwan report similar disorders among their youth. Dr Jerald J. Block, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health and Science University, estimates up to 9 million Americans may be at risk of a disorder which he calls pathological computer use. However, in the US only a handful of clinics specialises in treating it.
"Korea is on the leading edge," Block says. "They are ahead in defining and researching the problem and recognise as a society that they have a major issue."
The rescue camp, in a forested area about an hour south of Seoul, treats the most severe cases. The camp held its first two 12-day sessions this earlier year, each with 16 to 18 male participants. (South Korean researchers say an overwhelming majority of compulsive computer users are male.)
The camp is government funded and attendance is free. It is too early to determine how effective it will be but demand is high with up to five applications for each spot. Administrators plan to double the number of sessions next year.
The participants, who live at the camp, are denied computer use and allowed only an hour of mobile phone calls a day, to prevent them from playing online games via the phone. They follow a rigorous regimen of physical exercise and group activities, such as horseback riding, aimed at building emotional connections to the real world and weakening those with the virtual one.
"It is most important to provide them experience of a lifestyle without the internet," says Lee Yun-hee, a counsellor. "Young Koreans don't know what this is like."
Initially, campers were found sneaking off to go online but are now under constant surveillance - even while asleep - and are kept busy with chores, such as washing their clothes and cleaning their rooms.
One participant, Lee Chang-hoon, 15, began using the computer to pass the time while his parents were working and he was home alone. He says he quickly came to prefer the virtual world, where he seemed to enjoy more success and popularity than in the real one.
He spent 17 hours a day online, mostly looking at Japanese comics and playing a combat role-playing game called Sudden Attack. He played all night and skipped school two or three times a week to catch up on sleep.
When his parents told him he had to go to school, he reacted violently.
"He didn't seem to be able to control himself," says his mother, Kim Soon-yeol, a hairdresser. "He used to be so passionate about his favourite subjects [at school]. Now, he gives up easily and gets even more absorbed in his games."
Her son was at first reluctant to give up his pastime.
"I don't have a problem," Chang-hoon says three days after starting the camp. "Seventeen hours a day online is fine." But later that day, he seems to start changing his mind, if only slightly.
As a drill instructor barks orders, Chang-hoon and 17 other boys march through a cold autumn rain to the obstacle course. Wet and shivering, Chang-hoon climbs the first obstacle, a telephone pole with small metal rungs. At the top, he slowly stands up, legs quaking, arms outstretched for balance. Below, the other boys hold a safety rope attached to a harness on his chest.
"Do you have anything to tell your mother?" the drill instructor shouts from below.
"No!" he yells.
"Tell your mother you love her!" orders the instructor.
"I love you, my parents!" he says.
"Then jump!" orders the instructor. Chang-hoon squats and leaps to a nearby trapeze, catching it in his hands.
After Chang-hoon descends , he says, "That was better than games!"
Was it thrilling enough to wean him from the internet?
"I'm not thinking about games now, so maybe this will help," he says. "From now on, maybe I'll just spend five hours a day online."
The New York Times

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Got It!

Finally got my VISA sorted out and picked my passport up this afternoon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

frustrated... again.

The Korean embassy here in Cambodia really sucks. When you phone them, they will answer your questions. But when you actually go there, the answers that they gave you on the phone were not true. They will say it is easy to get the VISA and all you need it the VISA issuance number. But no. They actually want the official blue document from the Immigration Office in Korea. They will then say that it only takes a couple of days to process the VISA. But no. Then they say it will take more than a week. WHAT?
My school sent the document with FedEx. It was supposed to arrive at my hotel here in Phnom Penh on the 16th, and I would be here on the 19th to pick it up and go to the embassy. I arrived here and the hotel said the document didn't come. Several people there said it didn't come (it's a very small hotel with not many people... I think almost all from one family). I talked to my school, they contacted FedEx, who said that the document was delivered to my hotel on the 15th! So back to the hotel to ask again. It turns out it was delivered, but the woman that signed for it locked it under the counter and forgot who it was for and then forgot about it. She also didn't tell anyone else that it had arrived. SHE is the first one that told me that it had not arrived! So one more day wasted.
Then, document in hand, I went to the embassy and applied. Fine. No problem. BUT, the date that the woman wrote on the receipt as to when I could pick it up was the 28th! More than a week! I told her I have to fly out on Friday. I have to phone today to see if they can rush it. ARGH!
This weekend is a huge All of the hotels are booked for the weekend, and everyone is busy getting ready for the boat races and other such festivities.
So this week is a write off. I should have just come here for the 15 day flight sale that the airline was offering and then gone to Japan for the over night VISA run. It would have cost the same, I would have been able to see more here, and wouldn't have all of this crap to deal with. Who knew?

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Yesterday morning I went to a silk factory. Very interesting.
They show the entire process from the eggs of the silk worms all the way through to the end product.At first, the worms are white. They eat mulberry leaves.Once they get big enough, they stop eating and turn a yellow color.They are then placed on either dried branches (traditional method) or a basket (modern method), where they spin their cocoons. Both the branches and baskets are still used, only the basket makes collecting the cocoons much easier. Cambodian silk worm silk is naturally yellow.
Once the cocoons are fully made, they are collected and then processed. Two kinds of silk come from each cocoon. The outer silk threads are thicker and rougher.The cocoons are placed in boiling water and unwound (I forget how many are used for each thread).Then the inner silk threads are unwound. You can see the difference in the silk texture if you look at the spindles. The silk is then bleached and colored using either natural or chemical dyes. The natural dyes are made using a variety of things such as leaves, bark, rusty nails, etc.The combinations are interesting, and looking at the raw materials for the dyes, the resulting colors are sometimes surprising.
Some silk is dyed using the tie dye method, dying the threads with the pattern before weaving. It is a quite complicated and time consuming process.The threads are laid out and tied in spots, dyed, re-tied, dyed, etc. according to the colors of the pattern. Once dyed, the threads have to be woven in the correct order.
The weaving is mostly done manually.The threads are threaded by hand into slots in the loom. As the threads are so fine, good eyesight is a must, so only younger adults (18-25?) do this job.Once threaded, the weaving can begin. The time taken for each item depends on the complexity of the pattern. Some are done fairly quickly, some take up to a day or more for just 1' of material. The more complex the pattern, the more poles/bars (?) are needed in the loom.Newer looms are very basic and plain. Traditionally, they were very ornate.

time flies!

I've been in Siem Reap for more than a week now. I was so busy that I lost track of which temples I went to which days and such. I will have to try to figure out which pictures were from which temple! That will take a while. I'll have to go on the net, I think to find better descriptions of the temples to help. And I'll ask my driver, of course, as he has a better idea of where we went, I think.
Yesterday I went to a silk farm, the War Museum and then had lunch. After lunch, I went to the Killing Field (just a memorial full of bones), but started to feel sick. Back to the hotel I was then VERY sick the rest of the day. sleeping, throwing up, sleeping, throwing up. I went out around 9:30pm as I was starting to feel slightly better. I needed something more than just water. I had a coffee cream ice shake (sort of a coffee flavored cream slush) at Bubble T and then sat at a Net Cafe for a while. I was going to head back to Phnom Penh today but as I was sick all day yesterday, hadn't arranged anything. So tonight I will go to another wedding party with my Cambodian friends and I'll go to Phnom Penh tomorrow.
Unfortunately I don't have time now to go to Battambang as I had originally planned (my original plan was to only spend about 1 week here and then a couple of days there before going back to Phnom Penh). Oh well. I'm getting to see more than just the tourist side of life in Cambodia, which, to me, is more than a fair trade off.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cambodian Soup

One evening I went out for dinner with Be (my driver) to a Cambodian soup restaurant.The broth is boiled and then you add all of the stuff to itvegetables, meat (beef and egg, misc. beef parts - stomach, tongue, etc), garlic and something else, pork rind, mushrooms, noodles.
It was very good (although I couldn't make myself try the misc meat bits in it).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Just so you know, all is well. busy busy busy.
Not in any order:
temples, ruins, sugar palm candies, sweet bamboo rice, rice and banana cooked in banana leaves, eel soup, misc beef parts soup, other Cambodian food, dancing Cambodian style, beer, zipping around everywhere on the back of a motorcycle, monkey bites, fish bites, swimming fully clothed, waterfalls, throwing bones and garbage on the floor, more temples, free food and alcohol, non-stop comments about my skin (including gasps, shouts, hoots, etc), spiders, Cambodian karaoke, more beer, making Cambodian friends, making other friends, ANNOYING children, ANNOYING people, beggars, old Buddhist fortune tellers, etc.

Monday, November 12, 2007

busy busy

Well, you'll have to wait for any bit updates. I'm a bit busy doing sightseeing and such.
My driver has been showing me a little bit more of the Cambodian side of some things. :)
Tomorrow's destination - a mountain with a waterfall.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cambodia Day 3 2007-11-08

The VISA issues had me so stressed out but I didn't want to just sit there waiting doing nothing. So I decided to start seeing what I came to see.
I kept waking up and going back to sleep from quite early. With no window in the room, I had no way to judge, so I kept having to turn the tv on for some light with which to see my watch. I eventually just got up once it got closer to 8. I wanted to leave Phnom Penh that day but thought it would be best to stick around until I had things figured out. I made a few phone calls from one of the little Internet Cafe's along the street. That eased my worries a bit. It was still a bit up in the air though. Had to wait.
I decided I would check out the museum. On the way, I felt the need for some breakfast so I stopped at Bojangles Bar & Restaurant. It is a fairly small establishment, but quite nice. It seemed to be busy almost every time I had walked past it. They serve breakfast dishes all day, among other things. I had a Vietnamese Coffee (basically just drip coffee; the other option was Traditional Coffee - Nescafe instant coffee) the veggie breakfast - scrambled eggs, vegetables, a hashbrown (sort of a patty/pancake type thingy) and beans. It cost me $4. At some places you can get fairly cheap meals, but some charge a bit more. I find it a bit odd that a meal can cost the same as a night in a decent but cheap guesthouse or hotel.
Walking anywhere gets very annoying very quickly. I love walking, but I hate being hassled ever two steps. "Hey Lady, you need tuktuk?" "Hey Lady, you need moto?" "Hey lady, wanna buy a book?" "Hey lady, wanna buy a post card?"
If they only asked once, it wouldn't be such a big deal. The fact that they keep asking makes it unbearable. The same person asks the same thing about 5 times (or more). Sometimes they will follow you, asking you. ARGH!!!
The National Museum of Cambodia is made of terracotta and looks so cool. It was interesting but definitely not the best or most interesting museum I've been to. Mostly it contains statue heads, headless statues, and well preserved pieces from Ankor Wat and other temples. There are also a few other things such a some jewelery, bowls and textiles. You are not allowed to take photos in the museum, but if you pay $1 at the gift shop, you get a receipt that allows you to take photos in the little central garden that the museum is built around. The garden is beautiful. I think I might have enjoyed the building and the garden more than the things in the museum. But it is still worth going (it costs around $3? - I forget).
When I had had enough of wandering about the garden taking pictures, I headed for the Royal Palace. I was a bit early, though. And I didn't know where the entrance was. As I was walking along, a young girl ran up to me and said, ''Over there! Open two o'clock." Then she tried to sell me water. I didn't want water as I had a drink in my bag from the museum garden. As I had about 15 minutes before it opened, I just walked along the walls. She followed me and was just talking. She asked about my family, my home, my life. She told me about herself, too. She is 12 years old and has 7 brothers and sisters. The eldest, her 20 year old sister, is the only one that is married. She goes to school in the afternoons. She wishes she was prettier. She has been learning English since she was 5 years old (and was also selling things at that age, too).
Every once in a while, she would run off as foreigners started arriving, hoping that they might buy some cold water from her. Nope. So she'd be back again talking to me. Cute.
Most of the palace compound is closed to the public. Too bad. What I was allowed to see was very nice. The thrown room is so beautiful. You have to remove your shoes before you enter, and you are only allowed in a small area in the back and along the sides up to a certain point. The ceiling is all painted in beautiful pictures. Unfortunately, cameras are not allowed in that building.
Next to the palace compound, but connected, is the Silver Pagoda/Wat Preah Koh/Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha. It is called the Silver Pagoda because the floor is made of silver. It is covered in over 6000 silver tiles, weighing about 1kg each. Most of the floor is covered with carpets so that the visitors don't ruin it, but some is left uncovered to see. Even walking on the carpets on top of the silver tiles was interesting. It was easy to tell that metal tiles were underneath the carpet, as they weren't completely stuck to the floor, and shifted slightly with each step. Inside, there is an emerald buddha, said to be Baccarat crystal, and a life-sized pure gold Buddha covered in diamonds (9584 diamonds, up to 25 carats!) There are all sorts of other interesting, and probably very valuable things within the building. Around the building are numerous plants and trees and some more beautiful structures and buildings.
Walking around the palace and pagoda, I met Nadia. I recognized her. She and her boyfriend were sitting a couple of tables over the previous night at the restaurant I went to. She was also at the museum when I was wandering around there. As we were both walking alone, we ended up talking a bit. She is from Belgium. Her tour group (including her boyfriend) went to the killing fields and other places that day. As she didn't want to see the killing fields, she stayed behind to do some sightseeing on her own (the were also going to see the museum and palace that day). After we finished with the palace etc, I walked with her back to her hotel. She had a little book/magazine for Siem Reap in English, that had a lot of good things in it. Wim, her boyfriend, was back from the trip and was taking a bit of a nap. We sat around for a while talking, and found that we had the same plan for the evening - checking out the sunset from Boeng-kak, the lake. We took a tuktuk and ended up at the restaurant (and hotel) called No Problem. Not bad. The hotels and restaurants along the lake side of the street, are mostly built over the water (you could see the water through the spaces between the boards). The menu looked fairly good. Some interesting things, that seem to be fairly common here were present on the menu. The "Happy Pizza"for one. Well, close to that. They have a fair number of pizzas to choose from. If you want to make it a "Happy Happy Pizza"you have to add $1. For those of you that don't know what I am talking about, it is marijuana. From what I have heard, they actually use it in some traditional Khmer foods.
The sunset wasn't as great as we had all heard it was supposed to be. Well, blame it on the clouds, I suppose. There were some low clouds along the horizon, so the sun sort of disappeared before it set. So not much color, and nothing spectacular to report.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cambodia Day 1 and 2

I arrived here on the 6th very late, so all I did then was find a hotel. I just picked somewhat randomly out of my guide book. Well, not that randomly. I chose one that was near others that were listed, just incase it was full.
I've been staying at the Indochine Hotel. It is okay. The first night, my room was quite small, up a back staircase to the first floor rooms (room 103). It had air-conditioning, a fan, hot water, etc. Okay for $10. But NO window. I ended up sleeping until 9 (which was fine as I didn't get to sleep until around12). I probably would have woken up much earlier if I had a window!
Then next day I changed rooms, to one of the bigger ones upstairs on the 2nd floor. As there was someone still in the room with the window, I still have a no window room. Still $10, but bigger than the last one (there is more furniture and the ceiling is about twice as high). A room with a window costs twice as much, and there are only 2 in the hotel, I think. I will stay there tonight again. I had planned on changing hotels today, but last minute decided to stay where I was. I will go up to Siem Reap (or, at least, that is the plan) tomorrow. When I do return to Phnom Penh, I'll find another hotel.
The VISA problem is getting sorted out, sort of. My school will send the document to me. They already talked to FedEx and figured out how long it would take to get here - about 3 working days. Fine. They also talked to the embassy in Cambodia and were told that it takes only 2 days for the VISA processing here. Good. So I can get it all done in my last week here (they will have to send it next week).
Almost my entire day yesterday was spent trying to figure out the VISA situation. Ugh. What a waste of a day. I did manage to check out Wat Phnom around sunset. It was okay, but not as good as I had expected. The most interesting parts were the cats that were everywhere and the monkeys down the back side of the hill. As it was getting later in the day, there weren't as many people there, and the children that I have heard are usually there following people were not there. Only a few legless/handless/what ever mine victims sitting along the stairs up, asking for handouts.
Every where I go there are guys calling out asking if I need a moto or a tuktuk. A moto is just a motorbike with an extended seat meant for passengers. Generally, men sit normally, women sit sideways. No one wears helmets. They don't go all that fast, as it isn't really possible, with the number of vehicles on the streets and the fact that every intersection is unmarked, cars, tuktuks, motos, bicycles and pedestrians all going at will. Kinda fun, actually. A tuktuk is a little motorized carriage (like a motorbike with a trailer almost). There are also cyclos, which are bicycles with big seats on the front where the passenger(s) sits.
Yesterday I saw a little moto with a family of 5, all of the children looking under 5 years old. Kinda scary.
I had dinner at a fairly large restaurant along the river, about a block down from my hotel. I think it is called the Riverside Bistro. They have seating both inside and out. I sat outside near a little stage where a woman was playing a xylophone type instrument. My mango juice was quite nice, although not as nice as in Eygpt. The Khmer fried rice with chicken was very good. I sat there for a while. I was startled a couple of times, both by a rat. I jumped when it first ran under my table to the next table, and then back again (no one else seemed to notice, especially the girl whose feet it stopped at). Then a while later, I really jumped as it ran in again OVER MY FEET. And then back out again under my chair. I suppose it was nothing unusual there.
There was also a fairly large frog/toad that crawled out from under the wicker chair at the next table. Kinda cute, actually. It crawled out and then back under again. A while later, it crawled out again, across the ground, under my chair and then into the plants that were next to me (between me and the street).
When I got tired of sitting in the restaurant looking at my guide book, after stopping in at a net cafe to check my email and make a couple of phone calls, I decided to check out a little cafe/bar that was on the corner of my block. The Metro looks fairly posh. My Raspberry Mojito was nice, but a bit chunky. It had crushed raspberries, chopped lime, shredded mint leaves, some sort of raspberry liquor (I think), and white rum.
I had never sat in a bar alone before. Can't say I like it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


This was my big pre-trip buy.I needed a new bag and decided to get a good one, one that would last. The last one I had was just a cheap on I got in China. It did last a couple of trips but Egypt wore it out. It is a Vaude Cimone 55+8. It is made for women in that the hip straps are angled to fit a woman's hips. The whole bag is adjustable for different body sizes, as well.
Opening for drinking system
Floor compartment
Chest belt with whistle
Equipment fixation
Mesh side pockets
Organizer in the front outer pocket
Removable lid can be used as a washbag
Side compression belts
Separate waterproof document comparment
Anatomically designed, soft padded shoulder straps
Soft padded removable hipbelt
Raincover included
Volume: 3350 + 488 cu. in.
Measurements: 22" x 13" x 8"
Weight: 4lbs. 15oz.
Fabric: 210 D Dobby Polyamid PU coated, 600 D Polyester PU coated, 500 D Cordura Polyamid PU coated

VISA problems

Vacation should NOT be this stressful!!!!! I am in Cambodia now. I had decided to take a vacation from Korea while waiting for my new job to start. I decided to get my new work VISA here rather than doing a VISA run to Japan. I know people who have done VISA runs in Thailand and other such countries. The process seems to be the same everywhere. BUT, in Cambodia, unlike almost every other Korean Embassy, they require the actual VISA issuance document and not just the number. I found this out TODAY when I went to the embassy to apply for my passport, all set with my application form, photo, money, and VISA issuance NUMBER written on a little piece of paper that my school gave to me on Monday. So now what???
The embassy says I should get the school to send the document to me at my hotel. WHAT hotel? When? I'm here on vacation. I don't want to sit around waiting for a stupid piece of paper. I checked the various couriers on the net. I think the EARLIEST it would come, IF the school sends it tomorrow, is next week Monday. Not that bad, I suppose. I think the easiest/best way is for the school to send it as a pick-up rather than having it delivered to a hotel. That way I can pick it up and take it to the embassy in the same day (when I am in the city). I think that is the only way that I can actually still do some traveling while waiting. Also, I am still waiting to hear back from my school. I sent them an email this afternoon after I found out, and then again after I checked out the couriers on the net and such. Waiting sucks.
No matter what, I have to re-think my planning on when I am doing things here. I want to spend more than a week in the Siem Reap area, but now I'm not sure how, unless I do it in two halves. That kind a sucks. I can't put it off to the end, as I'm not sure how long I'll be waiting here. And I can't just go up there now and stay and then leave the VISA stuff to the end, as I'm not sure how long it will take for them to actually PROCESS the VISA. As they the website for the Korean Embassy here isn't very informative, I have NO information.
What to do.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

to improve your memory....

This is very interesting. I think I can handle all that. ;)
You Must Remember This: Tips for Improving Memory
Why do we tend to forget things so easily as we get old? The answer lies with the hippocampus on either side of our brains. Everything we see, hear, and feel is stored in these two cucumber-shaped areas that measure just one cm in diameter and 10 cm in length.
The moment we are born the neuro-cells in the hippocampus start to die off, and around the age of 20 the rate of destruction starts to pick up speed. Some say about 3,600 memory cells disappear in about an hour. But there's no need to worry. While one memory cell generates a few axons, people can create enough axons, through deliberate efforts, to replace dying memory cells. Let's examine a few proven methods to keep our brains young.
1. Walking
By making 210 people with average-sized brains walk briskly three times a week for one hour each session, a research team at Illinois University found that after just three months of walking, the walkers' memory cell activities were on par with those who were three years younger. The team also found that walking stimulates the cervical vertebra which in turn doubles the amount of blood circulated to the brain. Active blood circulation facilitates the release of neurotransmitters, enabling much faster and simultaneous information exchange, said Prof. Lee Dong-yeong of Seoul National Hospital’s neuro department. "This helps to improve long term memory.”
2. Wine
A research team in Auckland, New Zealand, reported that one to two glasses of wine a day can significantly improve people's memory. They say a neuroreceptor called NMDA reacts to the alcohol. "A small amount of alcohol not only stimulates NMDA but also expands blood vessels, thereby facilitating blood circulation," said Prof. Han Seol-heui of Konkuk University Hospital’s neurology department. The antioxidants in red wine also prevent the destruction of brain cells, improving our memories. Still, too much alcohol -- more than five to six glasses a day -- may well destroy the brain cells, deteriorating our ability to remember things.
3. Coffee
Dr. Karen Ritchie of the National Health and Medical Research Center of France conducted research on 7,000 adults over the age of 65 for four years. She found that those who drank more than three cups of coffee a day had a memory deterioration rate 45 percent slower than those who drank one cup or less per day. A research team from Ottawa University in Canada studied 6,000 people living in four different cities from 1991 to 1995, and found out that those who had a consistent intake of caffeine performed better in tests -- by about 31 percent on average -- compared to those without the intake. "Caffeine in coffee and tea stimulates the central nervous system and enhances memory capacity by facilitating the brain's reticular system,” said Prof. Koh Jae-young of Seoul Asan Medical Center’s neurology department.
4. Sleeping
Robert Stickgold, an American psychologist, argued in a paper published in a cognitive neuroscience magazine in 2000 that a minimum of six hours of sleep is needed to fully retain knowledge learned the previous day. "Knowledge acquired during the day gets stored in the temporal lobe while one sleeps," said Dr. Park Dong-seon of Yesong Sleep Center. "It is strongly recommended to sleep after midnight in particular, as the stress hormone that destroys neuro-cells is secreted significantly more after midnight.”
5. Writing notes
The long term memory capacity of our brains has no limit. But there is limited space for short term memories -- such as recently memorized phone numbers, lists of daily tasks, and names of stores passing by the car window. Thus, elderly people with fewer memory cells are better off writing down miscellaneous information like phone numbers and daily tasks the moment they pop up. When useless short-term memories clog our brains, our forgetfulness only worsens.
6. Reading
Reading is a much better way of improving memory than conventionally known methods such as playing cards or chess. After studying the relationship between dementia and recreational activities such as playing chess, cards, watching TV, and reading, a research team at Kyung Hee University Medical Center found that people who read often have a lesser chance of developing dementia. "Reading helps to stimulate the transition between short term memory to long term memory by exercising the ability to understand events that happened earlier and later in a book,” said Dr. Won Jang-won of Kyung Hee University Hospital.
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Mental Aerobics for a Sharp Old Age
People who do a lot of work with their brains, and indeed those who don’t, may benefit from mental aerobics. The exercises, quiz games and the like, aim to improve memory for anyone from elderly people at risk of Alzheimer’s to students. They have been shown to boost the dendrites in brain cells that help the brain process information more effectively and prevent it from getting slow. Dr. Michael Valenzuela, a clinical neuroscience research fellow at the University of New South Wales’ School of Psychiatry who won the Australian Computer Society's Eureka Award this year, says games like wordplay are effective in preventing Alzheimer's disease. His three-year research of 29,000 people over 60 found that those who do plenty of brain work saw the risk of Alzheimer's disease halved while their hippocampus, the area in the brain related to memory, shrank less than normal.
Mental aerobics has been known to the public in advanced countries like the U.S. for 10 years. The UCLA Brain Research Institute and division of Neurophysiology of Duke University took the lead in conducting research on the exercise and produced plenty of programs and books on mental aerobics. Here, the exercise is being introduced in the neurological clinics of university hospitals and private clinics that help students perform better, including Inje University’s Paik Hospital and the Dementia Prevention Center at Hallym University Medical Center in Kangdong, Seoul.
The most effective way to do mental aerobics is to participate in programs offered by brain clinics and receive training in a systematic way, but there are simpler methods. For example, keeping a diary is one good method. To improve memory and practice abstract thinking, bring back what you did in the past and reflect on what you did. In addition, you can become more positive-thinking by planning for a better future. Another good method to practice at home is to write down what you remember after watching news or TV dramas: you may recall what articles you read or what clothes or what hairstyle a character wore in the drama you saw. You can also write down what you ate and how it tasted after each meal.
Korean checkers, chess, card games or computer games that are not too stimulating are also not bad, provided you do it no more than 30 minutes at a time. Staying sedentary for too long can cause abdominal obesity, and that is a cause of other metabolic diseases such as hyperlipidemia that are also bad for the brain. Yeon Byeong-kil, a professor with Hallym University’s College of Medicine, says six out of every 10 patients who come to him because of memory loss or dementia are also suffering chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases related to lifestyle and obesity. "I often see that their MRI pictures show fats accumulated in their brain blood vessels, which kills their brain cells,” he adds.
To maximize the effect of mental aerobics, you may need to change your diet and do light exercise. Getting together with people you know often and complimenting others is also good for your brain. When you skip breakfast, it slows down your brain activity in the morning. You need to have fresh fish more than twice a week and fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Tuna, mackerel, white fish, nuts and brightly colored vegetables are also good for your brain. Processed instant food like fried potatoes, donuts and bacon are not. You should have at least 10 glasses of water a day and choose tea over sodas or coffee. In addition, do stretches to straighten your muscles for more than 5 seconds frequently and walk for between 30 minutes and an hour.
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Train the Brain to Fight Disorders