Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Sometimes I Hand in Resumes and Get Called Two Hours Later. I Like Those Days.

Why yes ladies and sirs, I'm off to the cleaners first thing tomorrow morning. Dropped off my best dress trousers to be turned into (hopefully) the least-creased black pants you ever did see, as opposed to the most-creased ones they were previously today.

Why all the rush to iron some silly old pants? Because, my dears, I have a job interview!

I literally dropped off my CV (cover letter, resume, two profresh photos - more on that in another post) at 1pm today, and had an interview request by 3! Shan't take it too personally, yet though... seems like that's just the way it goes here!

So, obviously minus the pantaloons, which I will hopefully/obviously be adding by tomorrow, here's my interview outfit plan:


The Tommy Hilfiger double-cuffed shirt was actually passed to me from one of my besties in Seoul before I left, my earrings are from one Grandma, and my delicate multi-chain necklace is from my other Grandma. Perhaps they'll bring me some good luck?! I'll add a ladylike topknot and pair of black leather wedges and will hopefully come off polished and professional. Unless I'm extremely sweaty, which I will likely be. Because Cambodia.

I do hope you'll excuse my, some might say, slightly unprofessional backdrop... but, you see, time's a ticking! Resumes must be reviewed, intelligent interview answers must be contemplated, and beauty sleep must definitely be had! 
 
xx Lady Expatriate 

Monday, 30 July 2012

"Airport: Fashionable Disco Flights"

Okay, so I had to leave you hanging for one extra day, mostly because I was in denial forgot that my home internet was just as painfully unstable as the hotel's... 

ANYway, shall we refresh the riddle?

What has propellers, lofts, sand, and an elaborate selection of liqueurs?! 

Answer? Airport Bar in Sihanoukville! 

Located at Liberty Beach, about a $5 tuk-tuk ride from the heart of the city, this bar is definitely worth the trip. Don't believe me? Check out these pics!

Yeah, that's an airplane. In the bar. With lofts, and liqueurs, just like the riddle said! Where's the sand, you ask?


Ta-da! G'day view from the bar.

And, as you can so clearly see from my well-chosen vantage point, the bar is shaped like an airport hangar. Cooool.
Answer to the question on everyone's mind: Yes, you CAN go up into the plane! But you must pay. 2000 Riel. So, fifty US cents. Um, actually I never went up into it. Has this ripped a jarring, chasm-ous, and unforgiveable tear in the completeness of my photo essay? Yikes, maybe.

Gorgeous vintage photos and posters covered the walls of the lounge inside. I really dig this gal - reckon she'd be up for a pint and a laugh.
Not many people know this, but if you get a straw in the fresh coconut, and a straw in the wine, the combined flavour of sipping both at the same time is actually terrible.

I broke at least one of these rules. Guess?

Beach shot. Please note lack of everyone. Basically a secluded little gem of a beach.

Gratuitous palm tree + beach shot. 

These boats are not lacking in the character.
 
I must have taken about 50 photos of this water buffalo statue. It's so random and delightful. We actually had my friend convinced it was real for over a minute. And he was certifiably sober.
 
TO SUM UP: Are you looking for a fashionable disco flight? Then Airport is your one-stop-shop! Unless you actually want to fly somewhere. And you actually want to listen to disco. And you count 'fashion' as something other than bathing suit + cover-up. Then, not.
 

Do tell: Have you been to any bars that really floated your boat? Have you, in fact, been to this bar? Supposing you haven't, do you reckon you'd care to? Please let me know in the comments!


xx Lady Expatriate

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Snapshot of Sihanoukville

It's been a delightful couple days in the sun and surf of Sihanoukville... Hit up a casino for the first time in my life (surprise: Black Jack is v. fun!), made my best tan ever even better, and nibbled on a bunch of the local seafood at Khmer grill restaurants - among other adventures!

Even so, I'm a little stoked to get back to the city tomorrow afternoon and get back to sorting out my little expat life. The wifi here is a little on the painful side, so get ready for a full post (finally) coming your way tomorra!

In the meantime, I'll leave you lovelies with a riddle: What has propellers, lofts, sand, and an elaborate selection of liqueurs?! 

Hint: 


Tune in tomorrow to see if you're right! 

xx Lady Expatriate


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Loveliest Links

View from the balcony of my new apartment! Central Phnom Penh

Happy Sunday, lovelies! Been a mighty busy week on my end, finding our new apartment and then setting it all up. Busy but wonderful!

Speaking of wonderful, here's a few links I've been digging this week: 

<3 This profile of an 8 month pregnant Olympian is a great read. Aren't you curious about what sport she'll be competing in?!

<3 Cheeky Cheeky blog (one of my faves) wrote a great post about maintaining long distance relationships with your BFFs - one of the most important things for expats with a one of a kind pal at home or in another country. 

<3 So, I didn't know ski ballet existed. But it does. (Did?)

<3 This incredible fall collection from designer Ulyana Sergeenko is just devastatingly beautiful. The hats, the hoods, the skirts, the coats... They're half costumes for an incredible play, half things I want to wear everyday. But maybe not in Cambodia. Um, maybe more back in Canada. 
 
<3 Beautylish blog first alerted me to the fantasy world created by Kirsty Mitchell in her photographs. Think haute couture fairy tales, think no expense spared styling. Check out the full set at her divine website here.


Howie's Bar! My dad's name is Howard, so this pic was promptly sent to him. Slightly dingy but delightful late-night hangout in the Penh.

Best wishes for the week ahead! :)


xx Lady Expatriate

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Things we found in the apartment...

So our lovely landlady let it drop that the last tenant was a lone male, which we actually could have guessed after gazing upon the grime that was sitting pretty in a few places. Sorry bachelor boys - the stereotype really has proved true a whole lot more than not, in my experience!
Anyways, I reckon it's always interesting to see what the previous tenants have left in apartments. A little window into a life that you can otherwise imagine solely by the dirt left in their wake. 

Korea was pretty fun in that regard. In Korea, apartments are provided by your employer. Most contracts seemed to include a clause about the basic equipment included in those apartments, meaning they tended to come stocked with things like plates, cutlery, and all the junk that the last employee left behind. Sometimes a pain, sometimes a gold mine, always interesting! 

Not so much, I suppose, in Cambo, since nearly everyone seems to stock the necessities for themselves. About 24 hours in, and all the legacy we've found of those who've come before us can so far be summed up in three photos:

BONUS! Found $4.30 Canadian, and a couple assorted other coins! Just my lucky day, I suppose.

Random keys. Look like none of the keys that are for our apartment. Curiosity abounds.

Biggest mortar and pestle I've ever personally had possession of. You seriously need two hands to pick this sucker up.



And thus concludes our Finding Stuff in the Apartment adventure... at least for now! Nothing too surprising/shocking/scandalous, but, hey - $4.30 off on the rent isn't a bad deal, either. 

Do tell:
Have you ever found anything really creepy/crazy in your new apartment? I'm dying to hear what. Oh please do share in the comments!

xx Lady Expatriate

Friday, 20 July 2012

How to Find an Apartment in Phnom Penh

It's been a bit of a crazy week trying to track down an apartment for the year ahead... Reckon we were pretty spoiled after just showing up and being given apartments in Korea, and then having our friends sort everything out in Oz!

I'm sure I just haven't found the right sites yet, but it seems like Phnom Penh really doesn't have the expat resources that also spoiled us in Seoul. Either way, reckon it wouldn't hurt to add another one into the mix.

 

THUS, a little word on our apartment hunting process.


1. Figured out what we wanted/needed in an apartment.
Our demands really weren't too over-the-top: 
    • A nice balcony to hang out on most everyday 
    • More than one room - I like that Partner In Crime kid, but after three years of one room apartments, I'm excited to have a bit of twirling room! 
    • Not on the open-sewer street (105)
    • jacuzzi bath
2. Found some real estate sites by asking friends and googling obvious keywords. 

3. Got in touch about the apartments we had our eye on/ what we were looking for. 

4. The agents took us around and showed us the different apartments. 

Rundown of 4 Phnom Penh Real Estate Agencies:


Dragon Realty

This one is tops in our book. The agent got back to our initial inquiry quickly and really listened to what we were looking for. It should tell you something that we signed on the first apartment they showed us! I really liked that they seem to have lots of options for lower budgets. Hooray Dragon Realty!

Rooftop Asia 

I'm a big fan of a lot of properties currently listed on this site. They have a nice range of properties and prices, and I got a very quick reply when I emailed them saying I was interested. When our lease is up, I think Partner In Crime and I will be looking at mainly Dragon Realty or Rooftop Asia for our next homebase.

Cambodia Angkor Real Estate Co.

Their website also seems to feature lots of options for lower-budget apartments. I'm heavily not impressed, though, that the only descriptor for location is "In Town". Districts are clearly divided in the Penh, and it shouldn't be too much to ask to know where all your apartments of interest are without having to email about each one. Also not stoked that they never called us back.

Independent Property Services

This company seems to specialize more in apartments for people with a much higher budget than we've got rocking. If you've got the funds to spare, though, you could definitely find a beautiful apartment through this company. Unfortunately, we felt like the agent really didn't even listen to our few standards, seeing as how she showed us an apartment with the most rubbish balcony in the entire world (attached to an apartment someone must have designed while drunk, i.e. stairways to nowhere), and then followed that up with a studio apartment just off street 105. Aka poo street. BAH. I got the feeling that we just weren't such a high priority, given our meagre budget.


In addition to these sites and others, you can definitely also root around in classifieds (like Bong Thom), or on forums (like on Expat Blog).


So finally, the fruit of all this labour...

Welcome to our home for the next year!!


Home, oh-oh-oh ho-o-ome... Home is wherever I'm with you...

Not un-excited about the massive balcony!
And remember, kids: say no to street 105*!

*open-sewer ahoy - gah.

xx Lady Expatriate


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Do you want 25 free dollars?!

               ...to give to someone else, that is!


I used my free $25 Kiva loan to help Keum Aun, a garment worker in Cambodia, purchase a motorbike to save on transportation fees to and from work.


Ever since I first read about microfinance in some of my undergrad political science classes, I've been intrigued and excited. Why has it taken me this long for me to actually get actively involved? Yikes, maybe limited cashflow?

But now that I'm here in Cambodia, my cashflow obviously isn't as limited as some of the people I meet everyday. Perhaps the part that finally made me sign up post haste, though, was because Kiva offered me a deal I couldn't refuse...

               ... But first, a little word on how Kiva works!


Instead of giving big loans to big corporations, Kiva gives smaller loans to individuals. The fact that Kiva puts 100% of the funds that you loan into the hands of the loan applicant that you choose makes me deliciously happy.  Read more on their About Page.

One of the coolest things about Kiva is that it's not a charity - it really is a loan. When the borrowers repay their loans, you get repaid for your loan. Easy as! 


BUT THAT'S NOT EVEN THE BEST PART!


Holy schmokies, lovelies! Right now an anonymous friend of Kiva is bankrolling an introductory $25 loan! 

You pick the loan applicant, they provide the funds! 

Obviously you don't get the repayment funds, but you can definitely get someone $25 closer to their loan goal and you can give Kiva a go for yourself!

So the magic button you're looking for is HERE!! 

Click click clickaroo and help someone start a business, fund their personal transportation to school or work, or complete much-needed repairs to their homes (among other worthy requests!). 

CAUTION: Kiva loans are addicting! 


After I loaned that initial free $25 to Keum Aun, I definitely wanted to make another loan. Why?
Honestly, I know I've only been in Phnom Penh for a few weeks altogether, but I've already had so many people act neighbourly towards me. It might sound a little sappy, but I'm pretty excited to get to give some of that kindness back. And, I suppose, to make up for lost time, considering how long ago that poli sci class was! 

So I brought up the Cambodia pages again and read some more profiles. It's really rough trying to pick who to loan to - one of those "I wish I was rich!!" moments so I could give a bit to everybody.

Finally I decided to make a loan to Nary - a 31 year old farmer, factory-worker, and Mom to two kids. I sincerely hope this loan helps her achieve her goals! 

I'm rootin' for you, Nary! 

Do Tell: 

 

Have you made a loan through Kiva before? Did you take me up on my invite link? Let me know in the comments! 

xx Lady Expatriate



Tuesday, 17 July 2012

New Beginnings = Self Improvement = The Transitory Expat Way?

Lovelies, it has been an INTENSE almost-week so far!
 

Been delightfully busy with meeting new friends, figuring how how to direct tuk-tuks through the streets, purchasing some basic appliances and food, and now we're onto apartment hunting.  Oh ya - AND I've already got a one week gig tutoring the housekeeper of a new friend as she crams for a test! 

Cambo is HOPPING!

Between that delightful list of recent pursuits and the extreme effort of getting used to the heavy and unrelenting heat here, I'm actually shocked to have had time for introspection. And yet...

Definitely not to speak for all expats, but for me, one of the biggest thrills of moving countries each year or so is the blank sheet of paper in front of you. Packing my suitcase feels the same way as packing my backpack for new year of school used to feel. I like it! 

Each time, I get excited thinking about all the things I could adjust to make life even more rockin. I guess I'm a little self-improvement obsessed? This time I've been thinking: 

"Hey - I'm 25, and I'm still making the same mistakes again and again - and 
really obvious ones at that. Shall we get on that, Lady E?'


Thus, I bring you my current self-improvement list for the new locale. AKA...

THINGS I KNOW I SHOULD DO DIFFERENTLY
SO WHY DON'T I DO THEM, gd it!


1. Drink an effing load more water!

This one takes on a new kind of importance here. Forget to hydrate and you are left feeling less than garbage, or, y'know - dead. Water, agua, dtouk - however one says it, it's got to constantly be going in.  


2. Stop picking at my skin! 

UGH I am the WORST about this. Why, oh lovelies, is it so entertaining and accomplishment-rush-inducing to poke around in the ol' epidermis!? Self-restraint is SO much less fun than getting gunk out of pores... though perhaps more fun than scars?

3. Quit rubbing my poor eyes!

So this one I started rocking when I was at my parents' home with their sweetie baby kittens... who I just so happen to be mostly allergic to. It's become a bit of a reflex now, which I'm pretty sure is a beyond horrible thing considering how little I'm stoked for wrinkles. Yikes.

4. Keep my dirty oily germy hands away from my face!

So, my lovely Mom is a nurse and she firmly maintains that one should never ever touch one's visage. Which makes sense! That's the thing that makes me most grumpy - these things all check both the 'logical' and 'obvious' box! Oh dear. 

5. Rock the abs upon awakening! 

How much better would my life get if I actually did the 20 crunches I always mean to do in the morning? Maybe not, like, a million times better, but I'd get a lovely feeling of accomplishment, a touch of endorphins, and maybe even a toned tummy out of the deal. And it's so eeeeeeeasy! 

Well, onwards and upwards: let's get started!

Lovelies - please share! Do you do any of these? Any others?! Tell me below! 


xx Lady Expatriate 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Loveliest Links

So, a good chunk of my week was spent on or around airplanes, and thus I've been a little bit behind on what's rockin on the internet lately. But then I woke up at 3am last night (jetlag-az!) and happened to come across a few delightful links worthy of checking out!

This roundup of tattoo inspired artwork from Danielle at Sometimes Sweet features so many stunning creations... It's tricky to travel with too much art, but I think this one needs to be in my life! 

By Ray Caesar
Happy to hear they've solved the mystery illness that's been taking the lives of so many little ones here in Cambodia. 

Definitely keen to try this beer hair rinse! It's fun to find DIY recipes that I can try no matter where in the world I am, and definitely love it when they require ingredients that are already sitting in my apartment!

The new video for the first single off Amanda Palmer's new album is, but of course, amazing. And oh so NSFW. 

A great list of the top 5 beauty essentials for long haul flights. I wouldn't argue with any of these! Bonus points for you if you check out my one suggestion in the comments! ;)

xx Lady Expatriate 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Rainy Season Arrivals: The Return to Phnom Penh!

After literally 45 hours of travel (Toronto --> LAX --> Guangzhou --> Phnom Penh), 1 very lost bag, and 3 of those packaged buns that come with airplane food that I always eat despite knowing they're garbage... 

We're back in Phnom Penh! 

A few years ago, Partner In Crime and I had a solid run of seemingly chasing winter around the world, hitting up Canada for a visit home, then Australia, then Korea - all during our least favourite season. Bah! This time we landed just as rainy season is starting to drop some serious precipitation on the city. Should make delivering resumes and showing up for interviews a breeze, right?! I actually didn't know my hair could get this curly! 

These kids look pretty happy to be back on a tuk tuk!
So far, we're settled into a one-room apartment for July, we've got a phone, and we've had a wicked good two days with our buddies who've lived here for awhile. 

Next up? 
  1. We've got to get our return airfare refunded. SUCH a PANIC when we showed up at the Toronto Airport and the AmAirlines lady was all "we cannot allow you to get on this flight without an exit ticket from the country" - which, as you can imagine, is definitely not enforced in Cambo. Thank goodness Mummy was there with her magic sky-high-limit plastic card! Now to make sure those tickets come off it real fast. HATE dealing with airlines!
  2. To continue the last theme.... still have to sort out my poor Partner In Crime's bag situation. He's not sure to be relieved or bummed that the bag that made it here is filled with all of his business wear and none of his casual stuff. I'm so bummed on his behalf, but I guess the upside is that he might wear a tie more often?
  3. Um, that whole resumes and job interviews and job gettings bit I mentioned above. Turns out the process can be incredibly quick here. Like, dropping a resume off and then starting the job one week later quick.Thus we might wait a bit on this one and just enjoy the city from our funemployed point of view.
  4. Set up our little apartment. We're talking spoons, towels, blender, cleaning supplies, hand soap... should be a bit of an adventure to track down everything on our list!
  5. Look for our longterm home. My requirements? Big windows to let the air blow through and limit use of  both AC and lights (energy is muy expensivo here!) and a balcony. And lots of geckos.


All in all, I'm back to the land of sink showers and I'm loving it!
 
Too jet-lagged to eat, but still excited out of our skulls!
Have you ever moved to a different country? How did it go for you? Did you enjoy the process? Please do tell me in the comments! 

xx Lady Expatriate

P.S. SEE!? Really an expatriate!! 


Friday, 6 July 2012

Countdown to Cambo: 5 Big Sleeps!

So, remember that last countdown post  when I listed all the cutesie things on my To Do Before Takeoff list? Like eating my Mom's cooking and stuff? Um, well now it's down to *gulp* less than a week... 29% less than a week... and the list has only grown.

Let's see. Start with the positive? Things that are done and dusted: 

  • Passports photocopied - Partner In Crime and I carry one of each of us, then my parents keep an extra copy somewhere safe: better safe than ____
  • Flight itinerary printed - kind of brutal to read duration = over 40 hours.... 
  • Have sorted through bags of business clothes that I brought home from Korea (SO not ready to ditch summer skirts for dress pants!)
  • Have closed down my accounts with one of the two Canadian banks I was dealing with - dealing with one bank is rubbish enough, amirite?!

I want to go to there.


Sitting pretty on the 'To Be Done POST HASTE' list:

  • Get international driver's permit - need it for a goal coming up for the year ahead :)
  • Pick up a few more toiletry items - doesn't seem like a bad idea to stock up on fave deoderent
  • Return my library books (important!!)
  • Host my buddy from Australia for the weekend ...am I crazy to be hosting right before I leave?! Maybe! 
  • Re-write cover letter - by which I mean, uh, write a cover letter. Yup. 
  • Birthday prezzies! Need to leave some pretty things behind for Grandma and Daddio

So, it's stressful, but I kind of have to say I love it. The stress, the rapidly approaching deadlines, running around and getting stuff done... it all adds up to a ridiculous sense of anticipation of the adventure ahead! Not to mention it's all kind of necessary... y'know when you're moving away for an indeterminate amount of time... to a developing world... in Asia...

This time next week, I'll be kicking it in Phnom Penh!


xx Lady Expatriate


Sunday, 1 July 2012

Juicy July Goals

Bet you didn't know this, but I am a compulsive list-maker and goal-setter. Bit of a easy joke around these parts to tease the kid with the notepad in her pocket.

Easy as to shake them off though, and leaves me more time alone with my precious precious list of goals...
My new apartment?!

JULY! Kind of a big month: countdown is set at 10 days til airport buh-byes to my family, who I won't be seeing for over a year. Moving to Cambodia is going to be full-on at first with running around to find an apartment and a job, in addition to all the other crazy admin stuff. Yikes!

Now I'm just making myself anxious... shall we get to the goals?!

  1. Get a job in Cambo
  2. Find a beauty apartment in Cambo
  3. Finish up all Canadian banking stuff
  4. Sort out my Dad's and my Grandma's birthday presents and homemade cards before I leave
  5. Finish 5 more sessions of Elsie's Blog Love E-Course 
  6. Read The Great Gatsby and 3 other books

Of COURSE I have a million more small things I aim to achieve this month, but these are my Big Picture goals. The important fellas. 

Wish me luck! I'll letcha know how I've done in approx 31 short days... 

Do you make lists? About what? Please leave me a comment and let me know I'm not alone!  :)

xx Lady Expatriate 

P.S. HAPPY CANADA DAY! Pretty excited to be celebrating in Canada for the first time in four years... off to a concert in a field with Rural Alberta Advantage, Death Cab for Cutie, and The New Pornographers!