-We have a small office to work from home, but we haven't invested in a paper shredder. Instead we do the next best thing, we shred it ourselves. Or rather, we burn it ourselves. Zoning laws are non-existent here; we live next door to a sign-making factory and across the street from a workshop that produces steel poles. Both of these places leave a lot of rubble in our path. Needless to say, the industry on our street helps us to feel comfortable when we take our stack for shredding to the curb and light it on fire.
-We have a dog. The short version of the story is that we inherited her from our landlady. We love her and she provides much entertainment in our lives. We get nervous though when we walk her around our neighborhood because most people keep dogs not as pets, but as guards for their houses and compounds. While they are locked up at night, these dogs wander around the streets during the day. Our dog is in the toy dog category; we haven't weighed her, but we think she tops the scales at a whopping 10 pounds/4.5kg. Needless to say the big guard dogs could eat her for lunch! Therefore, we have learned that the best way to protect her (and ourselves, as a friend was recently bitten) from the vicious dogs is to carry a walking stick. It's kinda like we are hiking through the mountains, except we are on the streets of urban Phnom Penh. We know it looks silly, but all we have to do is threaten to hit the guard dogs with the stick and they run away.
-Another consequence of living in a tropical climate--there's no need for insulation. And there's no central heat or AC. Our house has open vents to the outside for air circulation in every room. On a similar note: We only have sheets with light blankets on our beds. We haven't worn sweatshirts (or really long sleeves for that matter) since we arrived in January. As a result, we have really awesome farmer's tans. While we try to put sunscreen on regularly (some of us are better about that than others), it is unmistakable that our skin is darker.
-The police are known to be unbelievably corrupt. They make $40 a month so they rely on bribes to supplement their income. Even though we are as legal as possible (very few people have driver's licenses, but we went through the hoops to attain them anyway), we know that we will be stopped by the police, if only because we are foreigners. On a friend's recommendation, we have created a wallet system to best navigate with the police. When we travel by moto, we make sure that our moto/police wallet is ready with lots of small riel (with no dollars) if we need to pay a 'fine'. It has to be easily accessible and organized and not have any dollars visible, just in case. So far we haven't had any serious run-ins with the police!
Until next time,
Rachel (and Becki & Kimberly)