2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 300 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Traffic

Today I wanna write about the traffic situation in Phnom Penh. First of all the traffic here is special! When I first moved here in 2012 I said I’ll never drive a car in this craziness but I changed my mind and it was really helpful to get more familiar with the road network in town. My first rides I did during the night when there’s literally no traffic but after some time I got more and more confident and even managed to drive during the rush hour. I can say I was used to it.

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But now I was away for almost 4 months. I enjoyed the organized traffic in Germany and I also enjoyed the speed of the traffic there. I love to drive fast on the “Autobahn”. The first car ride back in Phnom Penh was a shock even if I wasn’t driving myself. It took us about 30mins to drive less than 5km to the next grocery store! Few days later I drove the first time on my own plus I had our little daughter with us who didn’t enjoy the car ride really well which means she screamed for the first 10mins. That was stressful – it felt like forever to reach our destination and to be responsible for the crying baby and to manage the car was a big challenge. Anyways we made it and after the first 10mins the little one fell asleep and I could focus more on what’s going on around me.

Rule #1 – drive slowly!!

The good thing with the traffic here compared to Germany it’s really slow motion. We’re talking about a maximum speed (during day times) of 30km/h and I guess the average is more around 15km/h. So first of all take it easy and just go with the flow.

Rule #2 – have your eyes everywhere

A car has mirrors and here in Phnom Penh there’s definitely a need for it. As you’re usually surrounded by thousands of motorbikes you need to have your eyes everywhere. But if you follow Rule #1 there won’t be a problem. Cambodians have a really defense way of driving which is definitely a plus. As long as you’re not too fast the bikes and other cars will drive around you and will always create some space for you. You only need to be careful when you want to turn because even if you indicate doesn’t mean that someone will quickly overtake you. So always have a look to the back and the side before you actually make your turn.

Rule #3 – there are no rules!

Or better no one cares about them. Generally they have a driving school in Cambodia but generally they teach how to move a car forwards and backwards and make a turn with it. Beside of that I guess there’s not much of teaching. You can find signs but the most of the people just ignore them. You wanna make a U-turn you’re just doing it even if it’s not allowed. You just need to be careful that the police is not watching you cause they’re always waiting for some extra income 🙂 Especially as a foreigner they keep an eye on you. Just because the locals can do it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do it as well!

The good or maybe bad thing about the police is the corruption. You always have 2 options…get an ticket with a fine OR tip the officer which is generally way cheaper. It happened actually once that an officer told us we should just give him some money so he can buy food for his family. That made me actually a bit sad. A police officer who is hard working, the whole day outside in the heat trying to organize this playground on the street and in the end he has not enough money to feed his family?! But that’s another story. If the government would pay a proper salary so the officers wouldn’t have a need to ask for a tip and charge the official fine instead I’m sure people would think about ignoring the rules more often.

My personal advice:

If you need to drive on your own just go slow and give yourself a chance to get used to it. The more you drive the more you will learn the Cambodian way of driving. Even if you shake your head all the time about what they are doing while driving you will get used to it for sure.

And if you can’t imagine to drive on your own just take a TukTuk and enjoy the entertainment around you 😀

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How to get married in Denmark

It’s been a while since my last post but it happened a lot during the last months! Yes, I or better we got married but let’s start from the beginning.

Have you ever tried to marry a non-EU-citizen in Germany? Well, you better don’t even think about it. It might be a difference if your spouse comes from Switzerland, Canada or the US but if it’s something else you better think of a plan B.

When we first contacted the registry in Germany and I explained our case we got a looong Email as reply. Generally a long list of documents we have to bring them in order to proof my (future) husbands identity. You literally have to bring them each single document where the name is written on from the time he/she was born till now. Once you gave them all required documents they start to proof each of them to finally make a decision wether you’re allowed to get married or not. It’s a long and expensive process and even the officer told us in the end of his Email “Maybe you should try to get married in Denmark”.

First I thought no way but still I was curious why he recommended Denmark and started a google-research. I learned that Denmark is the Las Vegas in Europe and that it is a big business for wedding agencies in Germany. But the more information I read about it the more interested we got about the idea.

Generally you can get married in Denmark in each commune even if you’re not a danish citizen. You only need to be legal in the EU-Zone which means you have to have a Visa or you need to be a EU citizen. Beside of that each commune has different requirements. So we checked out Copenhagen and Sonderburg but there are way more options. Some communes require that you stay 3 days in advance in Denmark but others don’t. We finally chose Copenhagen as they only need 3 documents: the filled out wedding form you can find on their website (http://subsite.kk.dk/sitecore/content/Subsites/CityOfCopenhagen/SubsiteFrontpage.aspx?element=header) copy of your passport and if needed copy of your visa and certificate of your marital status. In case you have been married before additional a certificate of the divorce. The second plus for us was that we could submit all documents via Email.

Once they proofed everything they’ll send an Email with bank account details to transfer the fee which was 60€ and after that you can book your appointment at the registry. As we wanted to get married in July they were pretty busy and beside of sending everything via mail we had to call them couple of times but generally everything worked out well.

We arrived 2 days before our wedding in beautiful Copenhagen and we really enjoyed our time there. The city hall in Copenhagen is an amazing old building and the absolute perfect wedding location. The ceremony itself was short… it just took us about 5 minutes to say “Yes, I will”…but it was nice the same time.

All in all I can say I would recommend to get married in Denmark. There’s no need to use one of these agencies as everything was easy to do on our own. The only thing which takes a little time is to find the perfect commune for your wedding. For us it was definitely Copenhagen but for someone else another one might be better. But you can find detailed information about almost every commune online this research just takes a little bit of time.

The next good thing was that we got an international wedding certificate which is already issued in 5 different languages. As it is a European certificate it is well accepted in Germany. We just had to go to the local registry to register that we’re married. The only challenging thing was the change of name in Germany because in Denmark it is not possible to change the name if you’re not living there. In our case the registry officer said we have to go through the normal German process if I wanna change my name which was a bit of a  shock in the beginning. At home we started the next google research and everything I found was that it’s possible to change it. So I wrote another Email to the registry and asked for a written comment why he said it’s not possible and few hours later we got the response to come around again so he can change it 🙂

So whatever they’ll tell you at your registry…it is definitely possible to change the name as it is your right to do so if you get married. Only if you want a German wedding certificate to be issued you have to go through the complete German process!

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Pre-Christmas in Cambodia

It is my second year out of Germany during pre-christmas-time. Last year I was travelling though SEA and busy with arranging my trip, sorting pics and trying not te get overwhelmed from all the new impressions every day. But this year it is different…I’m settled in Cambodia and it is still strange to me to have 30°C or more outside while the house looks like Christmas.

I was wondering how it would be like to get ready for Christmas in a mostly buddhist country. But it wasn’t a problem at all…Christmas is EVERYWHERE! No matter where you’re going to…shopping malls, restaurants, Café’s…you can see glitter and glimmer and Santa all around.

It seems to me Christmas is in between a multi-religious or better non-religious celebration all around the world and I don’t know if I like that fact. Everyone is celebrating Jesus’ birth without even knowing that this is the actual reason for it but it made my life way easier this year.

I bought different things to make my own homemade-x-mas-decoration, started to listen to christmas songs and I even found some non-baking-cookies-recipes. I didn’t make them so far but that’s my target for this week. I really miss an oven though to bake “real” cookies but maybe I’m able to do that during our time in Germany. I prepared and Advent-Wreath and an Advent-Calendar for Lawrence.

We had a women’s church service at the 1.Advent-Sunday and therefore we also decorated church for Christmas. Also in school we build up a christmas-tree and hang stars all around > “It’s beginning to look like Christmas”

My absolute highlight so far was the Potluck on our rooftop yesterday night. We gathered with friends together, sang hymns, prayed and sure we ate some yummy food. It was a great evening with a silent and meditative beginning and funny in the end. Now am looking forward to our pre-christmas-dinner with friends next weekend.

In between we need to do the last preperations for our trip tp Germany…only 10 days left and I’m really excited about going home and meet my family and friends.

All-in-all it wasn’t a big deal to get into christmas-mood at all. With nice people around and a little bit of effort it doesn’t matter if it is warm or cold outside. Now am starting to sing “I’m dreaming of a white christmas” which we most likely will have and leave you with some pictures.

Merry Christmas…Fröhliche Weihnachten

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My Advent Wreath

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Mourning for King Norodom Sihanouk

The 15th of October 2012 is a sad day for Cambodia. King Norodom Sihanouk died in the age of 89 in Beijing – a Cambodian hero passed away.

First of all a little bit of history…born in 1922, lived abroad and studied in Vietnam and France and became King in September 1941 after his maternal grandfather King Sisowath Monivong died. He proclaimed Cambodia’s independence from French Indochina in 1945.

Norodom Sihanouk was the King of Cambodia from 1941 – 1955 and 1993 – 2004 and the effectice ruler of the country from 1953 till 1970. At March,18th 1970 the Khmer Rouge Regime deposed him and put him under arrest in his own palace.

Sihanouk held so many positions since 1941 that the Guiness Book of World Records identifies him as the politician who has served the world’s greatest variety of political offices. These included two terms as king, two as sovereign prince, one as president, two as prime minister, as well as numerous positions as leader of various governments-in-exile.

After his second abdication in 2004 he was know as the “King-Father of Cambodia” and he truly is a hero for the Cambodians.

His son, the actual King Norodom Sihamoni, brought him back to Cambodia on Wednesday,17th which was a huge procession from the airport to the palace and thousands of people showed their honor and went to watch him. Flags were flying at half mast, no clubbing and alcohol for one week and the whole period of mourning the king will last for three month.

Thousands of monks and cambodian citizens went to the kings palace last week to pray for the king and meditated hours in front of the palace.

Even if I didn’t take the pictures on my own this time … here are some improssions what happened in Phnom Penh the last week.
Rest in Peace King Norodom Sihanouk

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Emergency Cases

It’s a kinda serious post this time, but few days ago something happened and I can’t stop thinking about it.

But first a little flashback – couple of month ago I had a conversation with another german woman and we talked generally about life in Cambodia or better life in Phnom Penh. She told me that one of her friends was involved in a moto-accident and had a lot of trouble afterwards (short-version 🙂 ) The main advise she gave me was:

“Whenever you see an accident on the street, no matter if you’re involved or not, as long as you can walk/run/drive just do it as fast as you can cause otherwise you’ll definitely be the one who will pay for everything in the end. Maybe not because it was your fault just because you might be the only person who is able to pay!”

Well it was always in my mind and sure I saw a couple of accidents in between but it was never really serious…broken eggs, scratches on arms or legs, but never a serious injured person.

The whole thing changed three days ago, I was on my way with the TukTuk to meet a friend late in the evening.  While driving I saw a huge crowed of people on the road and there are just two reasons for that:

1. a fight between some people

2. an accident

First I saw just a motobike laying on the street but the atmosphere was strange – quiet, some of the women were crying. My driver slowed down to see what’s going on and then I saw what happend. In the mid of this crowd was a young cambodian guy laying, unconscious and heavy bleeding. Just one guy out of the whole group tried to help him.

I first thought about what this german woman told me on the other hand I know how hard it is to be alone in such a situation and it’s way easier to handle it with 4 or 6 hands.  It might have been to late for this guy anyways but otherwise maybe he had a chance – who knows?!

My driver passed the accident and we went further on but I felt really bad cause I didn’t do anything. It’s my profession to help, I’m used to emergency cases but I just passed by cause that’s the way it is here in Cambodia. In Germany I had to go to the court, maybe pay a fine if I would fail to assist a person in danger.

When I heard the story couple of month ago and got the advice just to leave whatever happens it sounded strange but it didn’t effect me that much. Now after I was in that situation myself it felt so wrong to act the way I acted. It’s really hard to accept such a rule when you grew up in a social society where it is a must for everybody to help in emergency cases!

Happy New Year

As a European for me New Year was always January, 1st and honestly I’m a bit confused about all the different New Years here in Asia. But it’s also interesting to see these tradition – the only thing I’m wondering…why do the cambodians celebrate the chinese new year right now if their khmer new year is actually in april?!

I was interested in how many new years you can find around the world and so I asked google/Wikipedia and was really surprised that all around the world existing nearly 40 different New Years … the most of them from january till late spring but also a couple of them in autumn. Did you know that?

So a bit more about the Chinese New Year or also Luna New Year and btw it’s similar to the Vietnamese New Year. It is every year on the new moon of the first lunar month and can actually be between january,21st and february,21st. of the gregorian calendar. Every year is marked by one of twelve earthly branches, represented by an animal and one of ten heavenly stems which corrospondent to the five elements. It is the most important chinese celebration of the year.

And yesterday the year of the dragon has started … so Happy New Year to everybody