Thursday, December 18, 2008


Yes, I'm very excited.

I finally have a real book published.

It was self-published (which means that I'm the only person who likes it at this point) but I just received a copy and it looks awesome.

If I do say so myself.

All the profits from the book will go to the Cambodian Good Water Fund so you'll feel good about buying it AND you'll get to travel to Cambodia without all the hassles of flying. It's a win-win situation.

Just click on the picture at the top right of this blog. You can preview the book before buying it but you'll only see the first 10 pages or so which are (unfortunately) in black and white and um, a little depressing.

Trust me, it gets better after that.

Thanks for checking it out.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More memories of Cambodia: Ta Prohm

Yes, I know it's approaching Christmas and I should be posting more pictures of Santa.

And yes, I know I went to Cambodia a month ago and should have gotten it out of my system.

But, I still think about that country a lot and I REALLY wanted to post some of my favourite pictures from my favourite temple.

Ta Prohm was built in 1186 and was a Buddhist temple dedicated to good ol' mom; which in this case was the mother of King Jayavarman VII. Unlike some of the other temples, Ta Prohm has been swallowed up by the jungle and is mostly in a state of ruin. If it weren't for some of the enormous spung trees embracing the walls, I'm sure this place would have crumbled even more.

I just finished reading the uplifting book called "First they killed my father" by Loung Ung and in it, she describes how Ta Prohm is where the gods live. I can believe it. Once you step inside this temple, you are transported to another world.

You put your left foot out ...

Here is a little Apsara peeking out from behind the roots. An Apsara is the fabled celestial dancer who is exquisitely beautiful and has alluring charm.

In many carvings, she has very large breasts which probably has a lot to do with her popularity.

If these pictures look somewhat familiar, it may be because of the movies. "Tomb Raider" starring Angelina Jolie was filmed here and the guides are quick to point out the "Tomb Raider tree". Who knew that I could not escape Hollywood after travelling thousands of miles?

Unlike Angelina, I did not adopt an orphan during my stay in Cambodia and because of that, I do not have a cocktail named after me at the Red Piano Restaurant in Siem Reap. Yes you might say I am a little bitter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Holiday Pet Photo

I finally finished off my holiday pet photo.

All these dogs and cats belong to various people at the clinic.

And guess who Santa is?

Yep, I'll do what it takes to get a good photo.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The temples of Northern Cambodia

I have been home for over a month now but the memories of my trip are still very fresh. I still love looking at my pictures (which were thankfully spared from my hard drive disaster) and want to share some of them with you.

Let me give you a little background.

The BIGGEST tourist destination in Cambodia is a town called Siem Reap, located in the northern part of Cambodia. There really isn't anything terribly special about this town except that it is the gateway to the vast complex of Hindu and Buddhist temples dating back to the last millennium. The most famous of these temples is the Angkor Wat, although there are many more in various states of decay dotted around the countryside.

I am far from a Cambodian historian but I learnt a lot while I was there. The Khmer empire was very powerful a thousand years ago and encompassed parts of Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. The capital was located near Siem Reap and the rulers were self-proclaimed god kings. The earlier temples were Hindu but as time passed and Buddhism became more dominant, new temples were built and the old ones were modified.

After the collapse of the empire, the entire area was largely forgotten for many centuries until it was "re-discovered" by a french man at the turn of the 19th century. During the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, all the restoration efforts came to a halt and it has only been during the past five to ten years that the area has once again become a tourist destination.

Although Siem Reap is still extremely cheap when compared to other "hot" international destinations, you can easily spend more if you wanted to. Our hotel cost $25 a night and was right in Siem Reap. The Amansara hotel which offered quite a bit more would have set us back $1000 for one night's stay.

We arrived late in the day on the bus from Phnom Penh. Of course, I couldn't wait to go to the temples so we hoped on a tuk-tuk and took the 1/2 hour ride to the gate. We purchased the $40 three day pass ticket and were even allowed to take in the sunset that night for free.

The best place for sunset viewing was apparently the temple called Phnom Bakheng. It was POURING out but this wasn't going to stop my desire to be a real life Indiana Jones.

At the top of the hill, I got my first glimpse of Angkor Wat. It was very far away but my camera captured it nicely.

Sadly, my first sunset in Siem Reap wasn't that impressive. The weather wasn't cooperating. The rainy season wasn't quite over.

Amazingly, everyone is allowed to climb and grope their way to the top of these ancient temples despite being VERY hazardous. In fact, the trip down from this temple was downright lethal in the rain. I fully expected to find a pile of tourist corpses at the bottom.

And to add to the general chaos, this temple is on top of a hill (Phnom is Khmer for hill) and after the sunset, everyone has to make it to the bottom in the complete darkness. For a more exotic trip (and probably safer one), you can also make the journey by elephant.

There is NO WAY people would be allowed to climb up these temples if they were located in the United States. Just too many hazards. I suppose if you killed yourself on one of them, you could always try suing the Cambodian government.

(Insert big laugh here)

The next day, our first stop was the Bayon. This is a large temple located within the even larger Angkor Thom. This was one of my favorite temples because of all the gargantuan faces staring out into the jungle. For me, these carvings symbolize the exotic beauty of Cambodia.

Our tourist guide (who charged a very decent $25 per day) gave us plenty of photo-ops. If you have a good guide, he'll make you sit on a ledge and take a picture of you touching noses with one of the statues. Kinda like getting your picture taken with Mickey Mouse in Disneyland.

It was still raining out the next day. We bought garbage bags (I mean, um, rain coats) for $2 a piece. The price doubled because it was raining when we bought them. Damn those Cambodian entrepreneurs!

I loved the Bayon so much that I was determined to go back when the weather was better and soak it all in.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Book Proposal!

During my sabbatical, I wrote a book about my adventures in veterinary medicine.

Now don't get all excited: I've lost about a third of it due to my hard drive crash and what I have needs a lot of edting. Let's just say that you ain't gonna see it in Barnes and Noble this Christmas.

But I have to come up with a really rocking title. Something that someone is going to read and say, "I have to buy this book!". I've spent the last hour trying to come up with something good but for some reason, I just haven't nailed it yet.

Here are some that didn't meet my high standards:

How veterinary medicine has made me want to work at Starbucks

Sometimes I want to bite back: Revenge tactics of a punctured veterinarian

Anal glands and abscesses: how to live your life in the animal fastlane

Doc, can I pay later? No, you can't: The tough economics of veterinary medicine

I went to college for eight years so how come I make as much as a plumber? and other questions you should ask yourself before you rack up $200000 in school loans.

Staff members that have driven me nuts

Cute kittens and pampered puppies: why can't all my patients be like them?

Buy this book so I can retire

Is it just me or did you pay way too much for your dog? questions I would like to ask owners but haven't

Keep Poofie alive until Christmas and other strange requests

If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to email me.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Update on the crash

My hard drive went to the hospital and so far the prognosis is grim ...

It probably won't be a simple recovery.

They tell me that the mouth-to-mouth didn't work. They're going to have to bring Jesus by to resurrect the dead and apparently, Jesus is VERY expensive!!

Forget Cambodia. Donate to my Save the Computer Fund!

(That's a joke. I'm still taking donations for the Cambodian Good Water Fund and every little bit helps).

I may have lost all my pics from this summer and about a third of my articles I wrote for a book. This is very bad news.

Don't forget to back up your computer or else you may eventually be seriously depressed like I am.

And if you sent me an email recently and didn't get an answer, now you know why.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

HARD DRIVE CRASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, it happened.

I think this is worse than death. At least death is final. A computer crash is something like living hell.

My backup didn't work. At least not all of it.

Don't know how much writing and photos I have lost. Have sent my hard drive in for data recovery.