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Lady Mariam, the Road Gypsy
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Saturday, 16 August 2008
Around Town

I couldn't help myself but to laugh when I saw an amazing site in Phnom Penh the other day. I was on a motobike stopped at a red light and on the corner was a gas station. And what was at the gas station filling up? An ambulance. Okay, ambulances need gas, too, but this one had a patient on a gurney! The door was open for some fresh air (I guess) so I could see her. Only in Cambodia!


Last night I had a short adventure. I was scheduled to meet some friends at a restaurant called Metro on the Riverside. At the appointed time, I walked downstairs and discovered that the entire street was flooded. I don't mean inches - I mean feet!


I went back upstairs and put on my dairy boots that I brought from California, carrying my dress shoes in my hands. I went along the curb in one direction, but it was too deep and the water would have started filling up my knee-high rubber boots, so I went the other direction with the same result.


Not one to give up, I stood there trying to think of a solution (no - I didn't have a boat), as cyclos and dead motos were pushed through the hip-high water down the street. My neighborhood tuk-tuk driver decided to drag his tuk-tuk from the opposite side of the street where it was engulfed to the alley on my side of the street. Bingo! I offered him $5 to drag his moto with me in it to the end of the street (or how ever many necessary to get to a water level where I could walk. He thought about it for a minute then decided the money was worth the effort. So, I climbed in with water higher than the floor-boards and sat on the dry seat  as he huffed and puffed along the river/street. He made it to the next alley, which had access to dry land unlike my alley which is a dead end. This was a very short distance so I negotiated a $3 fee.


I made it to the restaurant to meet my friends and we had a fun (and dry) evening!

Posted by Lady Mariam at 12:13 PM
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Friday, 25 July 2008
Preah Vihear in the World News
You may hear in the news about the Preah Vihear temple. The UN just granted World Heritage Site status to Cambodia. This raised a stink with Thailand because they want to claim it as theirs (and the surrounding land). The same thing happened with Angkor Wat five years ago.
The border area around the temple is still not "demarcated." In other words, the border lines have not been officially decided between the two countries. However, in 1962 a treaty was signed that clearly designated the TEMPLE as in Cambodia, which led to the UN designation.
So, two years ago, right after I left Thailand, they had a "bloodless coup." This means when the Prime Minister (very corrupt), was outside the country, the military claimed he was ousted and installed a temporary prime minister. Later, they had elections, and the person who won was closely connected with the old prime minister. As you can guess, there are people who are not happy about this - like their coup was wasted.
These people are using Preah Vihear to rouse the Thai population to have another turnover in goverment. They tell the Thais that Cambodia is stealing land and that we are getting ready to fight a war.
On this side, the government has sent troops to the border to protect it from Thais who want to start a fight. Purely defensive. Both sides want to claim that they haven't added new troops in a "military build up" AT THE TEMPLE so they keep pouring more troops into the surrounding areas along the border.
Today's newspaper in Cambodia had a photo of Thai villagers holding shotguns as they are being trained to protect themselves. So, there is a little propaganda on this side, too.
Anyway, everyone remembers 5 years ago after the similar situation regarding Angkor Wat, which resulted in riots in Phnom Penh, burning the Thai Embassy and destroying Thai owned businesses. Hence, the "vacation" of some foreigners. But most Khmers DON'T want to see the same thing happen. The new Thai Embassy has Cambodian police and military stationed outside to prevent a reoccurance.

Posted by Lady Mariam at 9:19 AM
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Monday, 30 June 2008
I'm a Grandma!

Hello Everyone!


I know it's been forever since I've written, I was getting wi-fi in my apartment for a while, but the signal isn't strong, so I haven't been getting it regularly.


But the real news... my son, Danny had a baby! His name is Sephiroth Deacon Frost Duncan Arthur. He was born at 9:07pm on June 27. He weighs 7 lb 8 oz, is 20 inches long and has lots of hair! See for yourself:


Daniel, Sakura and Sephiroth

Posted by Lady Mariam at 8:39 AM
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Sunday, 16 December 2007
Finally a Lazy Day!
Yesterday I did a little shopping since my classes weren't until 5:00 at night.
     I found a furniture maker and gave him my details for a bed, headboard and 3-piece wardrobe. I have been struggling over which to do first - bedroom or technology. I decided that even with the technology, I would be unable to use it with the room as it is. The king size bed takes up all the room and it is difficult to eat, work and sleep in the same place. If I have to get a pen or something, I have to remove the tray, get up out of the bed, etc. There is no way to  have EVERYTHING you need at your fingertips on the bed. Therefore, the room being FUNCTIONAL became the priority.
     The bed base (2 feet high with "captian's doors" for storage) is custom size to fit the space in a corner of the room. I will get a foam mattress, unless I happen to find a place in Cambodia that makes mattresses and it is cheap to have them make one. Maybe a single mattress will fit? I haven't measured a single/twin mattress. the bed base is $100.
     The headboard will run the length of the bed, giving the bed a kind of "futon" look. It will have two cubby holes in each end and the middle section will be enclosed with a piece of glass funning the length in the front. This section will have hinged doors inside the cubby hole. The doors will have a hole in it large enough for the cat to use. Ahh, you say. Yes, the glass is so I can see if the cat is in there sleeping, and the doors are hinged in case I need to get him out. I love Cambodia. If crazy barang has a crazy idea - no problem. Just give me the measurements and draw me a picture. This piece is $150.
     I currently have a wardrobe, but it is not wide enough. Also, my dresses won't hang straight, so they get wrinkled. Now, my apartment has a little zig-zag way to get to it which is narrow, so I can't bring something overly large into the apartment. Thinking of the IKEA model of sections you can put together, I designed three seperate wardrobes to fit together. The bottom has a drawer, with a cubby hole above it. Then there is a large compartment with one rod to hang clothes. The bottom is the same on all three, but only two have one rod, and the last one has two rods for shorter items. Two of the three sections will have glass in the door, and one will have a mirror. This is $350.
     Grand total for a functional apartment: $600. I gave them $200 down and will pay $400 on Jan 2 when I get them delivered. Did I mention they will all be painted lavender?
     Now you can see why I had to choose between the "technology" (read the new Mac Mini for $600-650) or functionality. At least these are expenses that do not recur often.
     Looking forward to my official day off today.No appointments, no school!

Posted by Lady Mariam at 10:18 AM
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Sunday, 29 July 2007
Interesting Morning

Today is the first-ever City of Ghosts location tour. It starts in about 3 hours. We have sold 14 advance tickets. I know this will be a very busy day. I was up at 7am to start running errands. I picked up t-shirts, ordered a few more programs (I originally only ordered 10), and ate some breakfast. Then I walked to the Internet Cafe to check email.    

 On the way,  I encountered a few people standingaround a very small kitten lying on the edge of the street. It had just been run over across the belly by a motorbike. It was clearly alive but unable to function it's bottom half. There was no blood or open wounds.     

I bent down to look at the kitten and tried to communicate (me with limited Khmer and the others with limited English). I tried to ask what is done in Cambodia - kill the cat or take to doctor. I know that people wouldn't normally take a stray (assuming that is why it was in the street to get run over), to a vet, but putting it out of it's misery is certainly the humane thing to do. A few more people came over since the barang (me) had stopped.    

One of the new people could speak more English and this time I asked HOW does one kill the cat in Cambodia. He said it can be taken to a vet and asked if I would pay. I then asked how much would that cost and he said not much which is most likely true. I'll try to find out but I guess only a dollar or two. By this time I was cradling the kitten in one hand and gently petting it with the other. As the man was on the phone. It started to go limp, and then have a few jerks and limp again. I interrupted him (as well as the other people who could also figure out what was happening), and told him I thought the cat was dying in that very moment and there was no need to go to the vet.

I continued to pet the kitten through a few "limps" and "jerks" until it was limp for the final time. I put my hand over it's chest and in front of it's nose - nothing. Then a flea jumped on my hand. This is a sure sign of death because a parasite will not stay on a dead host. I gave the dead kitten to a Khmer man to take to the garbage heap, and asked the restaurant we were in front of if I could wash my hands.     

As I handed the kitten to the Khmer man, I said to those who could understand, "I am happy to show love to the kitten as it died instead of letting it die in the street." "chma subai" - "cat happy."    

Compassion. Love. What is life without these?


Posted by Lady Mariam at 10:01 AM
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Friday, 13 July 2007
How Could a Month Have Gone By?

Wow! I apologize for not writing on this blog more! I have written for the Cambodia Pocket Guide and In fact, the first story on Khmer440 has been #1 for two weeks, "I thought Cambodia Would Be Dangerous." They just published my second story "What we have here, is a failure to communicate" and it's already #5.

I have also been writing my own newsletter. I orginally planned for it to be a single page so it could be used like a poster, but there was so much information it filled four pages! The first one was June and it is available online at I'll be adding July this weekend.

I got a cat for my birthday and finally named it Tigger. He is very well. My assistant thinks I treat him too well, "He's only a cat?!"  Pets in Cambodia are pretty much left to fend for themselves. The exception is those little"yappy" dogs. They always seem to be on a leash and groomed.

I'm helping a low-budget film production scheduled to start shooting between August and October. We should nail it down by next week. I'm helping a different production company choose the best film festivals they should submit to for the best results.

I guess that's it for now. Did you see the new Photo Gallery link? It's at the BOTTOM of all the links and is called Cambodia 2007.

Posted by Lady Mariam at 6:40 PM
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Thursday, 14 June 2007
Happy Birthday To Me!

I came to the Internet cafe with flash drive in hand so I could add lots of photos and text I have written, but go figure...the flash drive was not recognized by this computer.


So rather than leave you waiting to anything at all, I am writing this post from scratch...just for you!


I'll tell you about the last day. June 13th is my birthday, so I celebrated by going to Fanny Ice Cream for a treat with a couple of friends. I also gave myself a gift - I adopted a cat! I haven't named him yet, but I'll let you know as soon as I do. I came to the cafe with the express purpose of putting up his photo for you to see. I can try a different one later this afternoon.


Things are well. Feel free to post a comment and let me know how you are doing!


Posted by Lady Mariam at 1:05 PM
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Sunday, 20 May 2007
More Photos!

I've tried a couple of times to add new posts, but there were technical difficulties. Therefore, I'm keeping this one short to increase the chances of it getting to you!    

So, to get the scoop, go to the Photo Gallery on the right and click on "Cambodia 2006" This is where I am posting photos with captions (even though it is 2007). The new stuff is currently on page 5 and 6,  but if you haven't seen it in a while, you may want to start on an earlier page.

Posted by Lady Mariam at 12:04 PM
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Monday, 14 May 2007
Ronan Keating Concert

When I arrived in Phnom Penh, I saw concert posters everywhere for "Ronan Keating." I had no idea who this was, but I discovered he is like the "Justin Timberlake" of Europe (he's from Ireland). Back whenever, there was a boy-band and now he is outon his own, singing mostly covers. The two songs attributed to him are both songs I know in the US by other artists.    

 But this was the first big "International" concert in Cambodia, so I wanted it to go well.     


I went to the concert to observe how the event management was handled and see for myself who attended. I paid the cheapest admission, which was $15.    

They had about 3-4 checlpoints where official looking people checked my color-coded plastic "credit card" type ticket. Food vendors were past the first checkpoint and I bought some popcorn for $1. Just outside the doors they had catered sandwiches, water and coke. I bought a sandwich for $1.    

Once inside, I was impressed to see fans with water reserves creating a cool mist. Every kind of uniform was present. As people trickled in, I saw 60-70% Khmer and 30-40% Westerners (expat/NGO/tourists). I was surprised how many families with teens and young children were there. I never see barang children around town. I suspect people even came from Siem Reap if they were fans - but I have no knowledge of such.     

The floor seating filled up and at least of half the second level on all three sides was full. An interesting note was the chirping sound which I finally identified as bats. They could occasionally be seen flying through the light. I felt sorry for the bats for little did they know, their feast would be interupted by decibels unheard of before. (I couldn't help but think it would be funny if the only spotlight being on Ronan would lead a bat or two to do a flyby - but alas, the noise would keep them at bay, for sure).     

The opening act was the "Khmer Idol" winner, a girl who sang three Khmer songs and whose stage presence was bland. When she was done, I was dismayed to see the lights come back up while the crew spent another 15 - 20 minutes setting equipment and doing sound checks. These were not the Khmer roadies, they were the pros who are part of the regular team. Surely they know this should have been done before the doors opened. I arrived at 6pm. They had the time to do whatever they needed earlier - I'm sure nothing was stuck in customs. It's not like they had to set up the drum set. What I saw during those 15-20 minutes was extremely unprofessional. But the rest of event management was handled fine.     

Everyone had red glow sticks given to them, so when Ronan finally came on stage and the lights went out, a sea of waving red allowed the band to see the fans. Cameras were everywhere. I took out my camera and took photos of other people using their cameras. This is Cambodia where licensing and copyright don't exist even though the required "No Camera" signs were posted and bag checks were done at two checkpoints.     

After three songs I left. The concert was a smash success and everyone was having fun. I've worked too many concerts in my day to just hang around and watch a guy perform who I had never even heard of before arriving in Phnom Penh almost 4 weeks ago. It was loud and flashy like a real concert should be.     

Of course, no one could understand why I was leaving. I didn't bother trying to explain. I got the info I had paid for. And didn't feel the need to get stuck in the traffic jam when the concert was finished. Especially if the rain picked up agian. It was still drizzling when I walked to my friend and his moto waiting for me outside the stadium grounds.

Posted by Lady Mariam at 11:30 AM
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Monday, 7 May 2007
A Week has Gone By Already?!
My meeting with Kulikar and Nick Ray was nice. I have also met several other people involved with film, documentaries and local TV.     I had a few friends over for the plowing ceremony. The cows only ate corn, nothing else. This is supposed to mean a good year for corn, but bad for water, rice, peas & beans, and other crops. The royal astrologer gave his prediction of a hard year ahead at the New Year's  celebration last month. Let's hope they're wrong. Maybe they should add oil to the list of items for the cows to eat?     I've been frequenting Broken Bricks and Rory's Pub. They each have a different style, but good folks to hang out with. I'm looking forward to meeting a few other posters tonight at the Jungle Bar. "Starving Pelican" has announced drinks are on him as he is in Phnom Penh for a few days and wants to meet folks. Should be interesting.     I got my 6 month visa extension today. It cost $145, which I suspect includes a little padding for the person processing it.     Adding a few more photos (check the photo gallery on the right).

Posted by Lady Mariam at 1:09 PM
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