Phnom Penh: Pottery lesson with my son at The Art Bar

My pre-teen son loves bonding, and I love it! My husband and I try to find unique ways to bond with him to have fun and to create memories that he would remember forever. We found out that the best way to connect with him at this age is to get on what he is interested in doing. For example, he loves bonding with his dad over watching a movie at the theatre or playing Ipad games together or swimming. And he loves bonding with me over cooking a simple dish like meatballs or baking a cookie or walking in the park.

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

Pete loves art. He loves to draw, he loves crafting, and he loves to create something new from scratch. So one weekend afternoon, while my husband was swamped with work, Pete and I indulged ourselves in a pottery lesson at The Art Bar in Phnom Penh.

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

The Art Bar is a tidy, cozy place with experienced staff. Pete and I went there before for a “Sip and Paint” session. For both activities, our instructor was Mr Danny, he was competent and patient and nice.

Pete with our instructor, Mr Danny

When Pete heard about the idea – pottery lesson, he was ecstatic. And I couldn’t forget the enthusiastic look on his face from getting out a bag of clay and getting his hands dirty – preparing the clay, centering the clay on the wheel (pounding, palming, coiling, etc), shaping, and tearing (using a string to cut piece off the hump).

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

It was our first time to use the pottery wheel, and we both had so much fun. It felt kind of relaxing especially when your hand was on the swirling clay and your feet were on the ground. We enjoyed every part of the process, it was so magically creative.

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

Absolutely, our pottery lesson at The Art Bar was a beautiful and exciting experience. And, I believe that shared times like this with my son provides him with marvelous memories, helps him express himself, and helps him develop out-of-the-box thinking.

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Cambodia: Boodle feast with Filipino friends in Phnom Penh

Yesterday was a holiday (King’s Birthday), and we were invited by some of our friends to a boodle feast. A boodle fight is a Filipino dining tradition where everyone eats military style.

Boodle Fight with friends

The fresh dark green banana leaves were laid out on a long table loaded with food – steamed rice in the middle, and the shrimps, grilled pork, vegetable chopsuey are placed on top and on the sides of the rice, served with sauce.

Boodle Fight with friends

Then we washed our hands with clean water, we stood alongside the table and when everyone was ready for the “fight” we started boodle fighting with our bare hands. Everyone marked his/her territory by creating a small tower in front of him/her by grabbing all the food that he/she wanted to eat as fast as he/she could.

Boodle Fight with friends

In a Boodle Feast you can serve the rice with whatever dry food items you want – sausage, seafood, fruits, crackers, cheese, etc – the skies the limit. It’s very creative, colorful, exciting and fun!

Boodle Fight with friends

Boodle Fight with friends

It was my son and I (my husband wasn’t able to join as it was a working holiday for him) first get-together with a Boodle Feast with friends. After the feast, we were as happy as a clam at high tide. It sure was one of the most memorable experiences we’ve ever had and I think the only “fight” that is worth fighting for.

Cambodia: Full moon walk with my son at a park in Phnom Penh

When my siblings and I were still little, our parents number one priority was our education. They did not spend a truckload of money on entertainment in order for us to have fun. They taught us that the most fun things are free. In fact, my childhood best growing-up memories were right in our backyard, in our neighborhood. And one of those I have enjoyed since I was a child was walking or playing at night at the beach with our neighbors, by the moonlight. It was very fun and it offered me a new and different perspective on how the world was mutating from an ordinary landscape during the day into a wilderness at nighttime.

Full moon walk at a park in Phnom Penh

When I learned that the moon was full on the night of 17th April 2019, I took my son for a full moon walk at the park near the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh as we are living in the capital city (far from the beach and the mountain) . We strolled for 6 rounds in the park making it about 7km under the moonshine.

Full moon walk at a park in Phnom Penh

Wandering as slow as a snail pace, we talked about the moon. I explained to Pete that the moon makes no light of its own instead it reflects the sun’s light back to us. The moon is full when the orbit that carries it brings it close to the earth but not behind the earth so that it can very nearly fully lit by the sun. When the moon is behind the earth, it is a dark moon (it means that there is moon but we can’t see it). When the moon is between the sun and the earth, it is a total eclipse. Furthermore, we also talked about nature, about family in the Philippines, and the Lent season. It was marvelous – leisurely and educational.

Full moon walk at a park in Phnom Penh

The moon is indeed mysterious and alluring. This winsome white and shapeless mass gleams with radiance, bringing light on the darkest of nights. It dances through the twilight sky, and hides in daytime. Even though the huge pale ball seemed to be quite dull to other people, it always beamed a smile at me.

Certainly, it was a special night and great opportunity for me and my son to bond. Plus, the moon that was wandering companionless followed us home as we sauntered through the night and kept watching us from the distance.

Cambodia: Staycation at Plantation Urban Resort in Phnom Penh

We had nine days off during this year’s Khmer New Year holiday (April 2019), and for this time off our main purpose was to get a well-deserved rest. So, we spent a weekend at the Plantation Urban Resort, and it could not have been more a perfect staycation.

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

Actually, our first plan was go to for a week vacation trip in Taiwan, but since we hadn’t got back our passports yet for our Cambodian visa extension (due to the new rule which is 10-14 days processing) we stayed in. Our 2nd plan was to go to Kirirom for a few days mountain escape; however, due to the daily power interruptions across the country plus the fact that the resort that we were supposed to stay in didn’t have a generator, so we ended up settling just staying home.

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

We chose Plantation Urban Resort for several reasons:

  • It’s perfectly located right into the heart of the city – within walking distance or short tuktuk ride from the restaurants, Riverside, supermarkets, book shops, and from the capital’s cultural sites.
  • It has lush green gardens, two gorgeous pools, a relaxing spa, delicious food at two restaurants on site, beautiful rooms, and polite and efficient staff.
  • It’s quiet, tidy and eco-friendly.

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

We spent the afternoons enjoying the bliss that doing nothing can bring. We relaxed in the pool when the heat and humidity climbed. We read a book. Took a siesta by the poolside. And we stuffed ourselves full of delicious food.

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

We were completely smitten. Staycation gave us almost one-hundred percent of restful time. It restored and revitalized our mind, body and spirit. Plus, the Plantation Urban Resort is just a posh, tranquil and verdant environment to retreat to and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Absolutely, a great weekend getaway sans all the fuss.

Cambodia: Explore Mondulkiri for its romance in rolling hills

Mondulkiri is a special destination to visit in Cambodia. It is a very different place from the flat, steaming-hot capital city, Phnom Penh. The chock full of natural beauty, the thickly forested mountains, the powerful waterfalls, the lush green rolling hills, the Cambodian aboriginal community, the mild temperatures, the off-the-beaten-tourist trail, the variety of languages used – Khmer, hill tribe languages, Vietnamese, Laos and the tranquility of the place offer such a contrast when compared to Phnom Penh. I love it!

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

While traveling from the Penh to Mondulkiri, I couldn’t help but exclaimed, “Wow, it feels like we are traveling to the French countryside!” because of the manicured landscape and the quality of the road.

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Once there, we walked through the forest, ambled hills after hills and did a lot of sightseeing. While hiking, I imagined several scenes from the movie “The Hobbit” especially when Gandalf entered Hobbiton and when Bilbo jumped over the fence and said, “I’m going on an adventure!” Mondulkiri is very picturesque. Certainly, our adventure there was nothing less than spectacular and it was one of the most wonderful experience in Cambodia for us.

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • The town of Sen Monorom is the best base camp for travelers who want to explore the surrounding areas.

Cambodia: Waterfall hopping in Ratanakiri

We fell in love with the natural beauty of the hidden treasures of Ratanakiri, which are off-the-beaten-track and unbeknownst to the tourist crowds. So, since Ratanakiri is home to stunning waterfalls we decided to do waterfall hopping.

Cha Ong Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Cha Ong Waterfall

We went there during the rainy season and we could only visit 4 waterfalls as some roads were not accessible – very slippery, very muddy. On our way to the falls, I felt like I was traveling back to the earliest beginning of the world when the big trees were kings. We saw a lot of plantations and some impenetrable forest. The air was cold, thick and sluggish, and there was no joy in the brilliance of the sun.

Ratanakiri

The water level of each waterfall was huge and strong, and the sound was impressive. The waterfalls were all gorgeous, refreshing, cool and each one is picture perfect.

If walking through dense jungle and lush green canopies is your idea of fun, then waterfall hopping in Ratanakiri should be on your Cambodia’s bucket list. So to help you on your next adventure, here’s our top 4 best and more accessible waterfalls in Ratanakiri for you to discover.

Ratanakiri

Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall

It has 7 steps and it is located in a deep jungle surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The water flows throughout the year. On the way to the waterfall, you will see villages and mines. You can also visit the zircon gemstones mining company.

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ka Chanh Waterfall

The waterfall is 12 meters high. One of the main attractions there is the suspension bridge right before the waterfall – great photo on the hanging bridge. There were also traditional houses in the area for you to explore. Once there, we got some amazing pictures and truly enjoyed the experience. For us it is the most charming waterfall.

Ka Chanh Waterfall

Ka Chanh Waterfall

Ka Chanh Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

It is about 10 meters high and it’s in an interesting geological formation which has resulted in a cave forming into the cliff that faces both sides of the water. The highlight there is the elephant ride on the top of the waterfall, and feeding and bathing the elephants.

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha ong waterfall is amazing and our favorite because you can go behind and explore a bit – there’s like a huge cave behind the waterfall. It is surrounded by such splendid nature and it is very jungle like.

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cambodia: Sightseeing Tour in Mondulkiri

The morning had arrived for the start of another countryside adventure in Mondulkiri, an eastern province and most pristine province in Cambodia. It is known as the “Wild East of the country” with its high hills, deep valleys, wild jungles, amazing waterfalls, off-roading and elephant’s adventure.

Amazing Mondulkiri

Dreamy

After enjoying a leisurely tasty breakfast, we hopped into our tuktuk to begin our whole day sightseeing tour. Our first stop was at the Bunong (Pnong) Village – the Bunong people is the largest aboriginal Cambodian ethnic group, who are believed to have been living in Mondulkiri area for about 2,000 years. Once there, we learned their culture, custom, tradition and way of life. I have learned that Bunong people have a strong link with their environment and they follow animism – they believe that everything (animals, plants, hills, mountains, stones, jars, etc) has a spirit.

Behind me is a house of the Bunong people where 7 families live.

Wooden jars made by Bunong people

We drove further for about 45 minutes to visit Bou Sra Waterfall, the largest waterfall in Mondulkiri. It is surrounded by beautiful, dense tropical forests, rich with diverse wildlife. It has 3 layers: The first layer is 12 meters high and 15 meters wide. The second layer is 20 meters high and 20 meters wide, and the third stage couldn’t be reached because it is surrounded by dense thicket. We spent about 20 minutes wandering around the 1st layer of waterfall. Standing nearby for the photograph, we could feel the fresh spray coming from the water crashing down. While meandering around, we spotted a kaleidoscope of charming butterflies swopping by. However, at that time the bridge leading to the 2nd layer of the waterfall was broken, hence we weren’t able to see it. Then, we hiked up to the mountain to see the main source of the waterfall then we descended back to our tuktuk. It seems that it’s the grandest waterfall we’ve seen throughout the area.

The first layer of Bou Sra Waterfall.

The second layer of Bou Sra Waterfall.

From the top of Bou Sra Waterfall

From the top of Bou Sra Waterfall

Beautiful butterflies around the waterfall area

The forest surrounding the waterfall.

The Eco-park surrounding the waterfall

Overlooking the main source of the waterfall

Next, we went to the “Sea Forest”. We reached the area at around 11.10 and spent about 30 minutes there. We enjoyed the splendid view and fresh air. We saw many hills and more hills carpeted with green as far as our eyes could see. I like the place, it’s wonderful and it’s good for the soul!

The “Sea Forest”

pristine and peaceful

Life is beautiful!

From there, our guide drove us to the coffee plantation, one of the places we were looking forward to visit in this trip since we both love coffee, like Angkor coffee which is locally produced. Before roaming around, we had coffee and coca-cola for Pete while resting for a while as it was noon-time. The plantation is huge, though and it seems it is adapting polyculture or mixed cropping as different crops such as coffee, avocado, durian, rambutan, etc. were growing in the same field. We tried a fresh coffee bean – it tasted good and juicy.

Coffee plant

Have you seen a Durian tree before?

It was already 1.30pm, then we proceeded to the “Sunset Hill” and Phnom Doh Krokom Pagoda. This place is popular for its great sunsets and for its incredible view of the town and the surrounding hills covered with thick trees. The atmosphere was nice and we surely enjoyed the views!

at The “Sunset Hill”

at The “Sunset Hill”

Before heading back to our hotel, we stopped in a shop near a gas station for some quick shopping. It was around 3PM and we were famished so we quickly grabbed some potatoes and shrimp crisps. We got back to our hotel just before a mighty tropical storm hit the town, so lucky!

Reading our favorite book on a chilly rainy night, was a perfect end to a great day in Mondulkiri.