The big adventures of little Charlotte in Cambodia

After our big trip to New Zealand we headed home for a few days to repack our bags before heading off again, this time to Thailand (more about that later) and Cambodia.

We flew to Cambodia via Hong Kong and Bangkok, so I got even more stamps in my passport.

In Cambodia we were met by a very nice immigration officer who smiled, said I was cute, and helped us get our visas sorted out nice and quickly.

Then we got picked up by our tour guide, Wood, and taken to our hotel.

The next day we got all dressed up and went out to see the Temples at Angkor Wat and Angkor Tom.


The Temples were built in the 12th and 13th centuries when there had been a huge city there with something like a million people living there.


There were lots of carvings and statues to see, and lots of opportunities for family photos in picturesque places.

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After finishing at Angkor Wat we went around some of the other temples in Angkor Tom, which was the name of the larger capital city area that Angkor Wat was located within. There was the temple with the big faces, which all seemed to be smiling, just like our guide. He managed to get the first ever chuckle out of me with his silly antics. He seemed quite chuffed with this.


Next was the jungle temple, where instead of clearing away all the trees and weeds that had been overgrowing the temple as the had done at Angkor wat, they left the trees in place to show how they had been, and how the plants deteriorated the temples. It created a very cool atmosphere with the trees and greenery everywhere making the place feel a lot cooler and more ancient than the previous temples.

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On the final day we went on a river cruise to see the traditional boat people in their natural environment. They were all very adept in their boats, even the little kids who were zooming up and down the river to see friends, to get to school, to do some work with mum or dad, or just to cruise around (somewhat like the cambodian equivalent of packs of kids on bicycles roaming the back blocks in Australia).

The range of boats was amazing, with buildings built on top of the hulls so that there were corner store boats, school boats, house boats, church boats, fish and crocodile farm boats, mechanics’ workshop boats and many other types.


After the boats we went to a traditional craft village. Mummy and daddy bought all sorts of stuff, but nothing for me :-(.

From there we went back to the hotel to pack our bags and head back to Bangkok, but that’s another entry for another day, since I’m a tired little girl and it’s past my bed time. Goodnight.

The Big adventures of little Charlotte in NZ

Hello for the first installment of Charlotte’s adventures overseas. To see bigger versions of the pictures, click on them.

It all began very late one night with a trip out to the airport. Our plane left at midnight, and daddy had been working very hard in the days beforehand, so he and I had a little sleep one one of the couches while we waited for the plane to begin boarding. Mummy said that she was going to go to the toilet and look after the bags, but she also also took some photos which look very undignified. I don’t think Daddy has even shaved.


After we got to Auckland we picked up our rental car (which was a luridly bright blue ford XR6) and drove into the city in peak hour traffic. Mummy reminded daddy about the family rule allowing for swearing when driving in big unfamiliar cities, but daddy didn’t have to use it (much).

After we found the hotel, checked in, and had a little nap, we went for a walk around town. We looked in the shops down Queen street, the viaduct basin where all the Americas Cups boats were, and around the area of the sky tower building (which dad kept making derogatory comments that I didn’t understand, something about collective compensation…).


The next day we piled back into the car and drove north to the Bay of Islands. Once there we went for a walk along the waterfront, before heading back to our rented unit (via the bottle shop so dad could pick up some Otago Pinot nior wine). After some wine and cheese and crackers (I didn’t get to have any, despite my very non subtle hints that I’d like to try some too) we went out to a restaurant which had a big aqueruim in it, so that I had to divide my time between watching the fish swim past and watching the food going into mum and dad’s mouths (again, they completely missed my subtle suggestions that I’d like a sample or two).


The next day we got up and caught a ferry across the harbor to a town called Russel, where we had breakfast and looked around. Apparently it had once been the capital of New Zealand, but I don’t know how that could be, because I didn’t see any sheep, and I only saw two pubs. I suppose that there were some nice old buildings, including a really old french catholic missionary house with a printing press for making bibles in Maori, but I soon fell asleep.

In the afternoon we returned across the harbour, got in the car, and went up the road to a place called Kerikeri. There as a big old stone building which had been a store ages ago, but after we saw that I got dragged from art gallery to craft store to yet another art gallery. The only upside was when mum took me into a chocolate factory, and later on when we went into a furniture store and she talked about buying me the play table made from several thousand year old kauri wood.


The next day we went on a big drive right from one side of the island to the other (even if this was only about 200km). I got dressed up in my cutest outfit.


On the way we saw some kind of traffic jam. Daddy got all excited and said that this was brilliant, and just like what he remembered was fun about NZ. Mummy didn’t get it.


Along the way we stopped for a coffee and a scone, and there was a sign that mummy found both amusing and terrifying. I thought that if they were having coffee I couldn’t see why I couldn’t have one, and a puppy sould like fun.

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The point of all the driving it turned out was to see a huge kauri tree called Tane Mahuta, who in Maori mythology is apparently the god of the forest. He certainly was big.


On the way home we stopped at a place called Opononi so that I could ride a Dolphin. There had been a friendly dolphin who used to live in the harbour next to the town, and it would let kids play with it in the shallows and occasionally even ride it. Apparently New Zealanders had songs and stories about Opo the friendly doplhin that all the kids used to know. Unfortunately the dolphin eventually got old and died, but there was still a statue of him to ride (which was probably for the best anyway, since the water in the harbour looked pretty cold).


For the afternoon we went to Waitangi, which is the birthplace of New Zealand, and where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. We learned lots of things about the history of early New Zealand. Daddy saw some native wood pigeons, and some Tui birds, and was very happy. I got to ride on some big war canoes called Waka.


And have a nice walk around with mum as we looked through Maori greeting houses, a colonial missionary house, and some nice native bush.


The next day we packed up our stuff and headed north, so a town called Kaitaia, and on to Cape Reinga, which is the northern most point of New Zealand. There was a big light house there, and some very pretty views out to where the Tasman sea and the Pacific ocean met and mixed.


The next day a big storm hit, and so we drove back to Auckland (we had been planning on this anyway, but we we pleased to get back to the big city and out of the worst of the weather). Along the way daddy had to stop and help some people whos campervan had been blown off the side of the road by a strong gust of wind.

The other thing that was waiting for me in Auckland was my Granny and Grandad, who were very pleased to see me because I’d grown lots since they’d seen me two months earlier.


We went to the Auckland Museum and I saw how big a Moa was and all sorts of other interesting stuff. After that we want and saw Daddy’s god mother for afternoon tea, and I got told how much I’d grown and how beautiful I was.

Next day we went shopping around the city and to the art gallery. In the evening we went out to dad’s friends Tim and Leanne’s house, where we had dinner, and we met their new daughter Annabel, who is a bit younger than me and who was sleeping most of the night (which was good, because it meant I could use her rocker which played music and flashed light, which was very entertaining).

On our final day we went out to Kelly Tarlton’s underwater world. I got to drive a (pretend) submarine, go on a snow car ride to see penguins, saw sting rays being fed (they’re very pushy and messy eaters, but quite playful too), and went through the underwater tunnels to see lots and lots of different fish.


That night we all went out to dinner, before going to bed early so we could get up and go on the plane again in the morning.


Living it up too-busy-to-cook style

Well it’s about time for my inconsistent weekly update from Dunedin.

Another week of heavy tutorial schedules, late nights in the libraries and computer labs, and only slowly improving test result scores.

The weather has remained largely gray, with a few days where you could get away with t-shirts, and then has descended into drizzling and raining for the last 3 days. Not that that really impacts all that much on study, except that occasionally it gives some pretty raindrops in puddles scenes to look out the window at.

With the low price of the (student oriented) restaurants here, Ellen and I have been eating out a lot. There are a lot of good places, and at $10-15 for a main it’s hardly worth going shopping, cooking, and then doing the dishes. We’ve already been to my favorite indian restaurant three times I think. Plus Cambodian, italian, and thai (and Japanese is on the cards). And the upside is that after dinner most of the places are just around the corner from the med school computer lab, so you can pop in a do a quick set of self test questions.

Depressing really when you look at it like that, and amusing when you find yourself in there at 8pm on a friday night, with the only other people there also being people doing the BSE course…

Hi, my name is Dave…

…and it’s been 4 days since my last drink.

Actually that’s something of a lie, as it’s been considerably longer than 3 days since I last drank, but the 3 days is notable because that’s how long I’ve been in Dunedin without making it to the pub (or any other kind of drinking establishment for that matter). Our lecture and tutorial schedule is pretty full on (something that Simone tried to explain to me before I left, but why would I listen to my wife??), and so I have seen the road between out motel and the Med school (which happens to take me past the front windows of the two best bookshops in town (which I also haven’t been into)) and the shops in a 1 block radius of the med school (mainly just the supermarket to be honest).

The town itself has actually changed relatively little in the 6 years I’ve been gone. Sure there are a few new buildings around, and some of the old shops have been replaced with new ones (which is sometimes an improvement, and sometimes not) but there are still students everywhere being pretty studentish (which is now actually quite funny to watch from the standpoint of my additional “maturity”), the weather is still quite pleasantly brisk during the day, but gets cold at night or if you sit still in a lecture theatre for too long (like, say, 5 hours of anatomy lectures back to back…). I also had forgotten about the singular joy of getting up in the middle of the night and having to sit down on a glacial toilet seat.

I have also made it back to my favorite Indian restaurant, which still does my favorite dish (and which I suspect will be seeing a fair bit more of me in the coming weeks – especially at $15 for a main with rice), and have scouted out a few of my other favorite haunts of old for visits at some point in the indeterminate future but for the time being I should continue rea-reading about the ankle joint, whose flexor retinaculum seems to be a personal favorite of the examination board. Really if I wasn’t having to work I could be having a lot of fun.


Right. I’m off to NZ (Dunedin to be exact) on sunday for the next 6 weeks.

I’m going in order to attend an exam preparation course for the Surgical Part 1 exam, and then to sit the exam in October.

It’s going to be great to be back in my old undergrad stomping ground, but I don’t think I’m going to get to have as much fun as I would really like to.

It will also be interesting how cold it really seems, after my 6 years in Queensland.

More news will follow once I get there.

If only I wasn’t working

Last year, when our Italy trip was still in the ideas stage, my friend Phil put forward an idea to go to the Caribbean to watch the Cricket World Cup, and now that it’s here I’m quietly wishing that I had more holiday leave up my sleeve so that I could go and do it (after my Italy holiday). It’d be great to go to the Caribbean, and the cricket so far seems to have been pretty good to :-).

Apparently Phil has a favorite island where one of his favorite authors lived, and he thought that this would have been an excellent excuse to entertain both his fascination with the island and his enjoyment of cricket. I think we could even convince the girls to come along too, with promises of tropical beaches and exotic cocktails (although I’m not sure how many matches we’d get them along to).

Ah well. Dreams are free.

We’re back (and driving on the left again)

We’re back from Italy! (and trying to get back in sync with the australian time zone).

After spending two weeks getting used to driving on the right hand side of the road (it’s very weird seeing cars drive past and noticing that the right hand front seat (where you expect to see a driver) contains someone reading a book, or a large dog, or no-one at all) I’m now having to adjust back to the “normal” way of doing things. In spite of the weirdness however I’m glad we did get a car, because we wouldn’t have been able to do half the things we did without the car to get us around. That said, if I never have to drive in Rome ever again it would be too soon. The Roman drivers and their chaotic version of city driving I could largely handle, but trying to navigate Romes seemingly random one way system and unexpectedly branching roads was the cause of some new and spectacular forms of stress for me.

There will be some photos of our adventures going up on the website at some stage, although I need to sort them a little first (we took something like 500 photos over 3 weeks) and try to not spend too much time using them as an excuse for procrastinating when I need to be getting back into properly studying for the exam.

Veni, vedi, vino

We came, we saw, we drank a lot of wine.

We have now been in Italy for almost a week and I’m getting into the holiday swing of things.

We spent two and a bit days in Rome seeing the major attractions and adding to our list of things we will go back and see when we return in a weeks time. We have now been in Tuscany for two days and everyone loves the atmosphere and the food (although the weather is a bit variable (raining when we arrived wednesday, sunny and warm yesterday, sunny and cold today)). Day trips to Pisa, Sienna, and Florence are all on the cards, although we’re pretty much operating on a no alarm clocks and figure out what we want to do today over the breakfast table type itinery.

Enough for now. More in a week or so when I next make time to find an internet connection (a concept that makes me realise how in holiday mode I am, given that usually I would be politely described as being umbilically attached to my computer and the internet).


Blasé flying

I have spent so much time on planes recently that I am beginning to get a bit sick of it.

I still remember the days (not all that long ago in the grand scheme of things really) that flying on a plane was a significant thing, which you only did for important trips or when you were feeling extravagant. These days you seem to get on a plane for everything more than going across town to aunty Maureen’s for tea and scones.

I now almost go “oh no, not another trip on a plane” whenever I have to fly, because it means another cramped trip with too-dry air and limited entertainment options.