Thursday, April 29, 2010


It took me a whole lotta hours but it's finally done. 

The slideshow about my latest Cambodian adventures. 

You can view it with my other slideshows at

Click on the slideshow that is labelled "Return to ...". 

You can make it full screen by right clicking on the show and make sure you turn up the volume because the music took a long time to get right (and I'm still not sure it's right).  My apologies that the music is actually not Cambodian, it's Indian.  Oh well.  I couldn't find any appropriate Cambodian music. 


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kids in Cambodia

Kids are one of my favorite subjects to photograph in Cambodia.  They have great smiles and if you show them the LCD display of their picture, they are enthralled. 

Here are some of my favorite kid pics from my last trip. 

This little guy was helping to build one of my pumps. 

We played with this boy almost all afternoon while the pump was being built for his family. 

Showing him his picture.  He was a lot of fun and (almost) made me forget how hot it was that day. 

And this was his sister. 

At every temple, there are kids trying to sell you their goods.  Most of them have cheap bracelets but there are lots of guidebooks and postcards too.  A lot of tourists get VERY frustrated with them because they can be very persistent but I love interacting with them.  They're just kids and even though they are trying to make a buck, they also want to have fun. 

Many of the kids will ask you where you are from.  After you say a country, they will name off the capital, the population and  the President (or Prime Minister).  When I was in Cambodia the last time, the kids were already predictig that Obama was going to be the next President.  After I got tired of being told all the statistics of the United States and Canada, I started telling them that I was from Greenland.  

This really stumped them.   

Let me introduce Toi.  He was one of my favorite kids from my last trip.  I met him after he tried to sell me books at one of the temples (Banteay Srei to be exact). 

He provided me with a great photo and I put it on my iPhone. 

On my most recent trip to Cambodia, I went back to Banteay Srei.  It is an incredibly beautiful temple and has the most intricate carvings of any of the Cambodian temples. 

After I finished the tour, who tried to sell me postcards? 


A year and a half later, I ran into him again.  I said, "Hey, you're name is Toi, isn't it?"  He had a very surprised look on his face which became even more surprised after I showed him his photo on my iPhone.  I guess it isn't every day that a tourist walks up to him and remembers him from a year and a half ago.  

Of course, I had to have a picture with him.  I bought his postcards and he ripped me off!  The going rate for postcards in Cambodia is 10 for a dollar.  He charged me $2.  Oh well.  I'm glad he's learning to be a savvy businessman. 

I really hope to see him the next time I go.  He'll probably be still hawking his wares at the temple. 

I hope he doesn't have a difficult life. 

Another strange coincidence happened that day at this temple.  A year and a half ago, I was walking towards the bathroom facilities which were on at the end of a dusty road.  While I was making the trek, a girl appeared seemingly out of nowhere.  She was hideously disfigured.  I'm not sure what had happened to her but most likely it was the result of a landmine which were (and still are) common in Cambodia.  I was so disturbed by her appearance that even though she held her hand out to beg, I hurried off to my destination.

I never forgot that experience.  I felt really bad that I had avoided her.  In her situation, there probably isn't any other way for her to make money.  Cambodia has NO social welfare system.

On my most recent visit, Eddie and I were walking towards the same bathrooms and ONCE AGAIN, the disfigured girl appeared out of nowhere.  I have NO IDEA how she just appeared.  It was quite eerie.  Of course, I recognized her right away.  Those large vacant eyes and the twisted limbs are entirely unforgettable in a country where there are lots of disfigured people.  Eddie plucked $5 out of his wallet and gave it to her.  Without saying anything (I'm really not sure if she can even talk), she folded up the bill and tucked it away.  There was no emotion there.  Just a silent stoicism.  And then she walked away.

If you ever go to Banteay Srei, you will probably run into Toi and the disfigured girl.  Make sure you say hello to Toi for me and please donate to the girl.  And then tell me all about it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dusty update

Dusty, 17 year old Pekingese, has been a very expensive dog.  In fact, over the past year, I have spent so much money on him, I have become one of the clinic's better clients.  

Do I think he's worth it?  

Of course.  He's sitting on my lap right now and just by being there, he makes me very happy.  I suppose it is possible to buy happiness, at least as far as a pet is concerned.  

Last week, I had to make a difficult decision.  His last dental cleaning was about two years ago and since then his "fragile" health made me worry about what might happen if I put him under anesthesia.  Since it is impossible to brush his teeth and he has difficulty chewing dental treats, his teeth deteriorated to the point where they were in serious trouble.  I was very concerned about his lower canines.  They were getting so bad that I knew they were going to require extraction but these teeth are not easy to extract and there is a possibility of jaw fracture when you try to get them out.  I felt like Dusty's dentistry was a job for someone more skilled than what I am. 

Of course, even with a specialist, there was no guarantee that he would survive the anesthesia.  I went back and forth, debating with myself whether I should take the risk.  He's 17 years old!  He has a heart murmur!  He has chronic kidney disease!  He has seizures and likely a brain tumor!  His back is made of sawdust!!!  Agh!!!!  Finally, I decided that Dusty was possibly in a lot of pain and the risk of anesthesia was worth taking if I could make him feel more comfortable.  

I chose Dr. Niemiec, a dental specialist in San Diego since I had attended one of his lectures at the Western States Veterinary Conference and he had inspired me to look after teeth no matter how old a patient is.  Dusty and I drove down to see him on Tuesday of last week.  

After getting him under anesthesia, Dr. Niemiec's technician presented me with an estimate of $2000 to $3000.  Talk about a doctor getting a taste of his own medicine!  I realized what it was like for my clients to get expensive estimates.  After a deep breath, I told the tech to do what Dr. Niemiec needed to do.  

There is no doubt that veterinary medicine is expensive.  Get a dog or a cat under anesthesia and it's gonna cost ya.  You have to pay for the tech time, the drugs, the monitoring, the equipment and the actual procedure.  You might think a regular veterinarian is expensive but a specialist will really rip into your wallet.  Bills of several thousands dollars are a regular occurrence.   

But don't think that all the vets are getting rich.  Sure there are some vets who have big houses and fancy cars and live the MD lifestyle but I can assure you that most of us are not like that.  It simply costs A LOT of money to run a veterinary clinic and those costs are going to be passed along to the owner.  If you haven't thought about pet insurance for your pet, think again.  Even being a veterinarian, I will get it for my next pet. 

With Dusty, I figured that the money was worth it.  I'm not sure how much time he has left but I wanted his remaining time to be comfortable.  If it's going to cost a couple grand for the best possible care, then I don't mind slapping down the plastic and paying it off bit by bit.

In total, 11 teeth were extracted.  I felt very guilty about how many teeth he lost but at least they would no longer be a problem. 

Dusty recovered from the anesthesia incredibly well.  He slept the whole way from San Diego to LA but he was awake enough that night to eat a small meal. 

Despite all his health issues, he has continued to do well and I'm now a believer that any age of pet can do well under anesthesia as long as the doctor is careful. 

But will I get a dental cleaning for Dusty when he's 18?  Hmmm, okay, well, let me think about that one ...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Memories of Cambodia

Already I'm writing about my memories of Cambodia ... AGAIN! 

Time passes so quickly and I really wish I could control it like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider.  So far, my wishing has gone unfulfilled and I stomp ahead into the future.  I do, however, have LOTS of pictures  so whenever I have the desire to relive those crumbling temples, at least in a 2D way, all I have to do is fire up my computer and pour through the images. 

In total, I took about 2000 pictures over 9 days so it's gonna take some time to get them all organized.  The best ones I photoshop in painful detail but in the end, all my time and effort will be worth it. 

In the meantime, HAPPY KHMER NEW YEAR!!
May this year bring lots of prosperity and stability to my Cambodian friends. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Back to reality

I don't care what kind of fancy pillow you have, there is no comfortable way to sleep on an airplane. I suppose there are exceptions; pay for first class and you have a better chance of getting some nap time but for lesser, ordinary people like myself, getting some REM is a neck bending challenge.

And now I'm back in my L.A. apartment.After 24 hours of travelling, I am EXHAUSTED.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll post more stories and pictures about my trip to Cambodia. I also hope to put together a much more detailed and descriptive book as well as a slideshow.

But for now, I just have a lot of great memories that will keep me happy. It's back to work tomorrow.

Yep, it's time to pay the bills.

**insert hysterical crying here**

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In South Korea!

I left Cambodia late last night.  It was a sad time saying goodbye to everyone but I promised them that I would be back and I'm sure I will keep my word. It's hard to say when the next visit will be.  It's going to take a while to build up my bank account again but when the time is right, I'll be back.  I love this country and just like an awkward teenager, I'd like to see how it turns out.

I felt that I accomplished a lot on this trip.  We really didn't stop.  Even sleep was a luxury and most of the nights, we got 6 hours of sleep, sometimes less.  So, besides the touristy stuff, here is what we did: 

  • Built three water pumps with personalized signs indicating the donors
  • Fixed one water pump
  • Started construction on a nursing station for the orphanage
  • Started construction on a fish farm for the orphanage
  • Bought thirty pairs of flip-flops for the orphanage
  • Bought fuel for the orphanage generator
  • Bought laundry soap and mosquito nets for the orphanage
  • Bought toys for the orphanage
  • Donated twenty-five (approx.) skipping ropes to the orphanage
  • Made a photo collage of all the orphanage children and put in a large frame
I think that's it! 

All these things were made possible with the very generous donations from friends and family.  I am so thankful for what this money was able to accomplish and I know the children are too.  In total, over $2800 was raised and this is enough money to complete the construction of the nursing station as well as the fish farm. 

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who helped out.  You are very special people and after you see the pictures, you will know that the money was put to very good use.  

So, more about the orphanage later.  I'm sitting here in South Korea waiting for my flight. I am getting very frustrated with this keyboard because I keep on hitting the Korean key and suddenly everything turns into Korean. 

This is my name in Korean:  ㅖㅗㅑㅣ

The computer also occasionally shuts down because it gives me warnings in Korean and I have no idea what to click on.  Obviously I keep on choosing the wrong button.

This is how you write I hate this damn computer and wish it would die in a fiery hell

ㅑ ㅗㅁㅅㄷ 소ㅑㄴ ㅇ므ㅜ 채ㅡㅔㅕㅅㄷㄱ 뭉 쟈노 ㅑㅅ 재ㅕㅣㅇ 얃 ㅑㅜ ㅁ 랻교 ㅗ디ㅣ. 

That actually looks pretty cool.  I feel like I'm half-Korean or something.  Wow. 

This is how you write "wow".  쨎

I'm very sleep deprived.  I didn't get any sleep last night and I have a 14 hour flight ahead of me.  Ugh. 

By the way, Korean flight attendants are really hot.  They look like models with their 2% body fat and their tight short skirts.  The only thing I don't like are their weird stiff scarves around their necks.  They remind me of New Year's eve crackers and I want to pull one of them just to see if something goes pop.  Korean flight attendants are also very nice and polite.  I want to ask them to give me a foot massage and I'm pretty sure that if they had the time, they would do it.

Ahhhhhh, foot massages. 

Okay, I gotta go eat.  And then get ready for my flight.  Will be back in Los Angeles tomorrow morning.  Actually, it will be this morning, which is a weird mind f%*ck.  I have already arrived before I left.  Obviously, I will be doing some time travelling. 

ㄴㄷㄷ ㄷㅍㄷ교ㅐㅜㄷ ㅍㄷ교 내ㅐㅜ!!!!!

Fish massage

One thing I did not indulge in when I was here was the fish massage. A year and a half ago when I was here, I only saw one business doing it. Now it seems like they are everywhere.


Can you figure out that last sentence?  I have no idea what they are trying to say. 


The fish "massage" your feet by eating the dead skin. If that doesn't sound appealing then you are probably not a little fish starving for some toe jam.

You get a free coke or beer while the little fishies are feasting on your extremities. I suppose that makes it somewhat worthwhile because the whole thing only costs $2.50. Any water borne illness is also included.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Last night in Cambodia

I love beginnings but when things come to an end it makes me very sad.

We had a great night tonight. Had dinner at the FCC and then off to the night market for some souvenirs and finished off the evening with some Cambodian beer.

Tomorrow we should have time to relax before a very long flight home.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Wat Bo Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Just in case you thought I was lying.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Fancy restaurant


Looks like a couple greeting us at a fancy restaurant, doesn't it?


These are the greeters at the local KFC. We broke down and had to get some fast food.

But it wasn't very good. The chicken was dry and greasy which is hard to accomplish.

Omg it's hot! I have to go back inside.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Wat Bo Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

iPhone back to life!!!

My iPhone has come back to life!!

Thanks to everyone who sent good vibes to it.  I am very thankful!

Okay, it's off to bed.  I thought I would have a day to rest tomorrow but no such luck.  Temples in the morning and off to the orphanage in the afternoon.  Tomorrow night, who knows?  I hope there is Cambodian beer in there somewhere.

Sleep well everyone.  It's 10:30 at night here.

Cambodia killed the iPhone

It's all fun and games until Dr. Phil's expensive iPhone goes kaput.

And it did.  Today.  Because I'm an idiot and I took it to the orphanage where the temperatures were probably in the 37+ degree celsius range with 90% humidity.  And there was no airconditioning.

But let me tell you, the kids LOVED the phone.  We played games on it, changed our voices on it, took pictures with it and even learned Khmer on it.  I had about ten little sweaty bodies pushed up against mine just to get a look at the little piece of magic.

When I got home, I tried to send an email to a friend and then the phone started to get really funky.  It played songs that weren't requested, tried to dial American phone numbers and spelled out weird words that didn't even look like Khmer.  Then it locked up.

I really hope that it comes back to life.  Please pray for it.  This trip has been expensive enough without the additional cost of another phone.

On a brighter note, it looks like the signs are finished for the fish pond and the pumps.  We should be taking one last tour tomorrow to make sure everything looks good and record everything with photos.  I'm going to try to get up early and go to my favorite temple tomorrow.  It should be fairly easy because I'll go to bed early and try to forget about my expensive mistake.

Did I say it was hot?  I'm sitting outside on the guesthouse computer and the sweat is literally running down my front.  This is CRAZY.  I've been to places all over the world and can't remember being this drenched in sweat.  Perhaps my iPhone just commited suicide to get away from it.

Our last full day tomorrow.  Time goes sooooo fast.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Breakfast at the Star Rise

Our breakfast nook is called the Star Rise restaurant and we get served western style breakfasts by a brother and sister who are about twelve and forteen years respectively.

As you can see we have left our mark.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Wat Bo Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

Another sweaty day

Today we had a travelling day. First stop was the stilted village of Kompuk Kleang (spelling is my own) which is literally built on stilts to stay above the rising waters of the Tonle Sap lake during the rainy season. We drove through the village while the children shouted out their hellos and then we took a boat ride. Amazing place and of course I took about 284000 pictures (rough estimate).

Then it was over to the destroyed temple of Beng Mealea. They have put up a lot of wooden walkways which has made the area much safer but has taken away a lot of its charm. Too bad. I prefer my Cambodian temples ruined and trecherous.

A great meal tonight at Nest which had very Western prices. $17 for a steak? Ridiculous!!

However the 75 cent beers at the Angkor What bar made me feel like we were back in Cambodia.

And now it's midnight and I'm sweating to death! There is no getting away from the slime that coats your skin in these temperatures. I have no Internet inside so I suffer for my blog.

Tomorrow it's back to the orphanage and the kids. And hopefully some relaxing time. This "vacation" has been crazy busy.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Wat Bo Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

Dead Fish Tower

This was the restaurant where we ate last night.

Sometimes, when you eat out in Cambodia, you just hope that you haven't been poisoned.

But at least the entertainment was good!

-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Street 20,Siem Reap,Cambodia

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day at the shelter

Just like my co-worker Brandi likes to say, today was an incredible day.

We went out to the orphanage (better described as a shelter since some of the children have one parent) and played with the kids almost ALL day. They ranged in age from about 3 right up to 23 and had endless enthusiasm and smiles (unless an occasional fight broke out). I took photos of all of them and printed them out on my most excellent portable canon printer. We made thank you notes to Anneke who has generously donated to the orphanage and finally we played with skipping ropes which were generously donated by Pfizer. These were digital skipping ropes which counted the number of skips and the kids loved them. I thought a couple of them were going to get heatstroke skipping in the 100 degree heat but thankfully no one died for the sake of fun.

But geezes it is sooooooo HOT here!!!! I'm sitting out on the patio at 7 pm and I'm sweating my um, arms off. I'm on shower number 2 and will likely need another before bed.

While we were at the orphanage they started construction on the new room which will eventually be a nurse's office. It is very exciting to see the projects take shape. I would love to share more photos but yer all gonna have to wait till I get home.

Ok. Time to go eat and especially drink. I think I'm at least 10% dehydrated.

Tomorrow it's off to see the final temple on my list (the "Indiana Jones temple") and a floating village. Too much fun.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Wat Bo Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Life in the third world

-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Wat Bo Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

Temples and tourists

There are some things u just have to do when you're in Northern Cambodia and seeing Angkor Wat at dawn is at the top of the list.

Of course it means getting up at 4:15 and stumbling through a dark temple with other tourists but the final spectacle is well worth it.

I have some great pics but all you're getting right now are the ones taken with my iPhone.

After Angkor Wat it was on to Ta Prohm temple and a couple of other smaller ones before the searing heat forced us home.

Now it's Saturday night. Time for dinner, drinking and maybe even a lady boy, don't ask.

Tomorrow I continue with my projects. At the orphanage we are starting to build another bedroom and a fish pond so that they can have a source of fresh food.

I have LOTS more to tell but I gotta get ready for dinner.


I feel like Indiana Jones when I'm here. No wonder why I love it so much.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 3: humanitarian day

This was an incredible day!

We travelled to the countryside and built three water pumps and fixed a fourth which had been broken for over a year. The heat was sweltering but we still managed to play with the kids, eat local fruit, drink coconut milk and take LOTS of pictures.

The Cambodians were so much fun and very thankful.

This is going to be a short post because I'm getting up at 4:30 so that I can see Angkor Wat at sunrise.

Gotta get to bed and after that hour massage that cost me $20 it shouldn't be too hard.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Wat Bo Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Made it!

I have only been here two days and all I can say is


I don't think I have taken a piss in two days because I am urinating through my skin.

Right now I am sitting on the porch overlooking the busy street below and getting heatstroke in the process. It is so dang steamy the Cambodians are complaining.

But it really feels great to be back. Yesterday we met with my friend Savong and visited the orphanage. The kids were great and a few brave ones tried to practice their English. After that we ventured up into the hill temple of Phnom Bakheng to witness the sunset. We didn't actually see it because they have put an end to the stampede of tourists descending the hill in pitch black darkness. Hmmmm, is the Cambodian government actually thinking about safety??? They ushered us down from the hill while the sun was still descending.

We spent the evening in a bar while the bartender entertained us with pretty cool card tricks. Drinking cold Angkor beer never tasted so good.

Today we took our lives into our hands and braved the unholy heat. I'm sure Dante's ninth circle of hell was cool in comparison. We saw Angkor Wat, Ta Prom (with the trees destroying the temples) and the Bayon (famous for it's huge faces). At each temple it was a challenge to avoid the hordes of Asian tourists and the Cambodian children selling books and Buddhas.

and so far I've taken about 500 photos. Not so bad.

Tomorrow we're gonna build do some humanitarian work and go build some pumps.

Signing off from Siem Reap...

-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Wat Bo Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia