Adventures in Asia: Water Festival in Cambodia

Happy November, everyone! While Western cultures celebrated Halloween last week, people all over Cambodia traveled to Phnom Penh for Bom Om Touk, also known as the Water Festival. This is a national holiday celebrated across Cambodia to commemorate the end of the rainy season (which fun fact: causes the Tonle Sap river to flow in the opposite direction!)

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I absolutely loved the floating lights! My friend told me that each of these boats’ lights resembled the Ministries in Cambodia

This was my very first time living in SE Asia, and luckily I was placed to work in Cambodia, so I knew I had to be present to witness this ginormous gathering in Phnom Penh*, which easily has a few million attendees over the course of three days! Cambodians from different provinces all travel into Phnom Penh to witness the boat races.

I decided to attend the Water Festival festivities on Saturday in Phnom Penh, and I’m glad I did because that’s one of the best days to go (the first and third days, according to what my friend told me). As you can see from the photos below, so many crowded both sides of the waterfront of the river to watch the boat races. These boats can have up to 100 rowers which is INSANE–just imagine how long these boats must be to be able to support that many men!

If you’re going to visit Cambodia in the fall, attending the Water Festival should be one of the top things to do if you want to experience an event the locals so proudly celebrate! Bear in mind that the festival dates change every year, so check before you book your tickets!!

 

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Can Cities Become Zero Waste?

I want to hear your thoughts on if you think our cities can become zero waste? Does your city or country have zero waste initiatives? Let’s open a dialogue and talk about it! Check out my post on my thoughts about this opportunity 🙂

Zero Waste: The Compost Bins Have Arrived!

HAPPY TUESDAY, Y’ALL! I’m gonna write a quick post just to share my joy about this morning. We finally received our compost bins and we’re so excited to move forward with the #zerowaste movement at home 🙂

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So what is “zero waste“? Zero waste is a lifestyle where you will produce little to no waste, so none of your trash ends up in landfills or incinerators. People who embrace the zero waste lifestyle usually commit to a plastic-free life, since most plastics never just disappear from earth; they only break down into tiny little microparticles that can be ingested by our sea animals and pollute our lands.

Here are some of my favorite zero waste blogs:

There are some companies that have embraced recycling and repurposing plastic items into other items, such as:

  • Rothy’s: recycling plastic to create durable, stylish, and most importantly sustainable flats. I once saw them in person on a woman at a food fair in Brooklyn, and it looked stunning in person, as well! (Hey Rothy’s, I’d love to test your shoes out and write a review on my blog ^_^)
  • Playback Clothing: uses plastic waste with clothing scraps to make sustainable clothing items
  • Preserve: collects recycled goods and makes toothbrushes and kitchenware

And what about “composting”? Composting is “nature’s process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost”.

cSome quick stats about waste in America:

  • the average American produces approximately 4.5 pounds of trash PER DAY. I did the math: that’s 1,642.5 pounds PER YEAR! (Source: EPA)
  • Americans only recycle about 34% of their waste (source: Planet Aid)
  • More fun, but alarming trash facts can be found here!

I would love to hear about your zero waste lifestyles wherever you are in the world 🙂

Thanks so much for reading! If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe and comment below so I know to post more on this topic.

Migraines: Seeking Advice or Tips!

Hello everyone! In the US, more than 39 million individuals are afflicted with migraines that partially or completely impede their daily responsibilities. I, unfortunately, am a victim to migraines and have yet to find a solution or ways to alleviate the pain.

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I’m hoping that you can share the steps you take to prevent or treat your migraines. My symptoms typically include seeing auras, dizziness, throbbing headaches, eye pressure, nausea and vomiting, and an insatiable desire to knock myself out with something until the pain passes.

Looking for any and all kinds of tips I can try!! I’ve seen a neurologist before and have been given medications such as Sumatriptan and Topiramate, but if there are other medications that worked for prevention or immediate relief, I’d really like your recommendations.Thank you in advance 🙂

Living Like a Local: The Importance of Family

8 weeks have flown by here in Agua Caliente Nueva. It’s been an incredible experience living with such a wonderful family. They’ve welcomed me with open arms and took care of me through thick and thin, especially when I had food poisoning twice during my time here lol… Extrañaré a mi familia Mexicana 😥 Mexicanos son muy buenas personas y me encanta la gente en Agua Caliente mucho. ¡Conocerlos antes de hacer juicios! (I will miss my Mexican family. Mexicans are really good people and I love the people in Agua Caliente. Get to know them before you make any judgments!)

I learned that Mexicans are very family-oriented and everyone knows each other in a small pueblo like Agua Caliente Nueva (less than 1,000 inhabitants).  The families here are large and from my understanding, there are generations of families that remain in this little town.

I was talking with my host father the other day and he brought up the fact that there are some people who have grown up in their town or in other cities in Mexico, only to leave to the United States. He mentioned that this was understandable, but it was sad to find how some family members wouldn’t want to return to “su casa“, or their home in Mexico. These individuals would leave Mexico in order to pursue the “American Dream”, as I tried to rationalize with him. He acknowledged that and said that it made sense, but that it was disappointing when these people didn’t return home, and seemed to forget their families here. It was disheartening to hear, especially coming from the US and understanding why people would want to try to pursue prosperity in the States. He mentioned that some men who had moved to the US continued to send money home to their wives and children who are here, meanwhile having another family in the US.

My host family is extremely close. My host father runs a carpentry business from his shed and hires his own family members to work for him, keeping things in the family. When I’m invited to family gatherings, there are toooons of people who show up, all of whom are family. I admire the close-knit ties they have to each other :’)

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Mi familia Mexicana ❤ 

Living Like a Local: The Not-So Itsy Bitsy Spider…

If you’re living anywhere outside of an industrialized, large city, you’re bound to find insects and other bugs that you haven’t encountered before. This is the story of my experience with a spider the size of my HAND.

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Not drawn to scale 😛

This spider seemed to live in my bathroom, and every so often I would see its shadow scurry away into hiding when I’d enter the bathroom. We shared a space together, and I left it alone for my 6+ weeks here since I figured it’s a mutually beneficial relationship: I leave it alone, and it will eat the insects in the bathroom…

UNTIL one day, I was taking a shower in the middle of the day because, you know, 90-degree weather, and I saw the shadow of this spider with what looked like a Mentos disc under its belly. Normally, this spider scurries away super quickly, but this time it was moving ever so slowly… I had a feeling it was carrying an egg sac or something out of the ordinary. I even considered the possibility that this spider had cancer and this was its tumor. So I rush to shower before this disc possibly bursts into a million baby spiders and quickly dress and leave the bathroom…

Later that evening, I go to take my second shower because you can literally sit in front of a fan and still perspire. So I’m in the shower, drawing the shower curtains to prevent water splashing, and I see this big spider again, no longer carrying that disc, and it’s walking really quickly. I’m thinking, Oh, -expletive-. I’m still wearing my contacts and I see these tiny little white things moving along the brown plastic curtains and again I curse to myself and start to panic. THERE WERE SO MANY BABY SPIDERS EVERYWHERE. So I’m panicking and splashing water onto the curtains to try to get rid of some (and before animal and bug supporters say I’m being cruel, spiders can lay between 50-200 eggs so relax, there’s no way I was going to get all of them anyway).

 

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Feeling unsuccessful and completely uncomfortable in my own skin, I quickly shut off the shower, shake off my towel and clothes and get dressed and bring in my trusty Raid spray and start spraying the shower curtains and floors like I’m trying to put out a forest fire. I found Mama Spider and we dueled for quite a bit but I eventually cornered her and I won the fight.

Living Like a Local: Fantasmas!

I’ve heard SO many stories about fantasmas (ghosts) or almas (spirits). My host father is full of these anecdotes and it’s just so interesting and quite spooky since I never wanted to believe they existed. Sure, there are a bunch of TV shows about ghosts and all things haunted, but me being the scaredy cat that I am, I’ve never indulged. I’m not sure if people in the US share these ghost stories so openly, but I was intrigued by how many of these stories existed in the little pueblo of Agua Caliente Nueva.

Story time! Dun, dun, duuuuuunnnnnnnn……

The Guardian Angel: When my host father was an infant, there was a neighbor who would always look after him and give him candy and other sweets. He had been killed and my host father continued to grow up in that neighborhood. His house was still being built, and there wasn’t a door to the entrance of the house; it was only an entryway. When my host father was 8 years old, he was sleeping and suddenly woke up and found there was a very tall, tan-skinned man standing in the entryway, who ducked his head to enter the house and approached the bed and stood there for a good while, not doing anything, and would leave. This apparently happened until my host father turned 14. He told his mother about it, and she suspected it was the same neighbor who was watching over him to make sure he was okay while growing up o.o

The Murder Suicide: There is a vacant house in Colima that has remained empty for many years. Why? In the past, there was a man who had shot and killed his wife, and then later killed himself. There would be people who attempted to rent the house, but would leave within a few days because they would hear sounds and voices during the night when no one was there.

Have We Struck Gold?: A man offered one of his friends a house to stay in up on a hill since he owned it and it was not currently occupied. My host father explained to me that this friend could not stay more than a few days because it was just so noisy, with people knocking on the door and other noises. At first, I thought it was because maybe there were hooligans knocking on doors and running off, but he explained that no one was there and these knocking sounds and other noises happened late at night. This spooked me out. But another one of this man’s friends stayed in the house and didn’t have problems. He had some kind of intuition to mess with the large stone-like structure at the corner of the bedroom, to find that there was an olla (jar) of gold buried under the floor directly under the stone!

White Figure Walking: When my host father was younger, he used to stay up really late and just look outside of his house. Back then, there weren’t street lights so it was pretty dark outside, but there was a time when he looked outside and saw a bright white figure coming down the street. He wasn’t sure what he was seeing, but the white figure had literally passed through a fence. He couldn’t believe his eyes!

Mystery Horse Carriages: This story kind of confused me, but way back in the days, there were no paved roads, and the highways were all just dirt roads. To get around, people either had to walk or use horse-drawn carriages. My host father said that some older people in town have claimed to hear the sound of horses trotting outside of their homes in the dead of night, but there were no horses or carriages to be seen or heard.

Knock Knock, Who’s There?: Many years ago, my host father would hang out for long periods of time outside, and then come home to sleep. There was a time when he came back late, and made sure to close the door when he came into the house. BUT… the sound of the door would open, and his father heard someone calling my host father’s name, but when he checked, there was no one there…

The DJ Request: An 8-year old boy had an accident and I think he fell off the roof of his house, close to the time of his older sister’s birthday. A year later, the sister turned 15, which is a huge celebration in Mexico. She didn’t want to celebrate her birthday because she missed her brother, but her parents wanted to throw her one because it was an important year. They had hired a DJ to play music for the event, and at one point in the celebration, the DJ came down from his booth, locked it, and announced to the party that there was someone who wanted to make a speech. Everyone got quiet, and then a young boy started speaking, wishing the sister a happy birthday. The boy apologized to the sister for not being there, and that he was watching over the family. The mother recognized her deceased son’s voice, and fainted, while the father got angry and asked the DJ what kind of cruel joke he was trying to play. However, the DJ had no idea that their son had passed a year ago, and said that a boy who looked about 8 years old had approached him with a request to speak during the party, and he brought him to the DJ booth and then left him there to speak. When they went to the DJ booth, the door was still closed, but there was no one there.

Phantom Chauffeur: I saved the best one for last. There was a couple who was expecting a baby, and the expectant mother was in labor. The expectant father yelled for help, but no one was around to help. The only logical thing to do at the time was to leave the house and just start walking and looking for people, since they didn’t have a car and didn’t want to deliver at home where complications could arise. They walked, and walked, and walked, until they came upon a house that was celebrating what appeared to be a newly married couple. They went in looking for someone to help, so the newlyweds offered them a ride. They got into their car, and drove to the hospital, where the baby was delivered safely. They bought flowers and wanted to thank the newlyweds properly, so they found their house, but when they arrived, it was completely vacant, as if no one had lived there in years. They asked a neighbor if they remember the party that happened the other day, and who the newlyweds were. The neighbor told them that there was a couple that had gotten married a year ago, and were on their honeymoon but had died in an accident, and no one lived in that house since. I’m still in disbelief that a phantom couple could physically drive a car and help a couple get to the hospital, but hollllly bananas, right????