even if i loved to shop

Going to try to break down the million things I want to write into manageable themed chunks.

(Ha ha ha ha ha! When have I ever written in small chunks or stuck with a theme? Gonna give it a shot.)

Today’s theme: SHOPPING.

I am not a girl who likes to shop. I do it when I have to, but I don’t ever do it for fun (okay, maybe at our thrift store back in Columbus). And I certainly don’t do it for therapy (I usually need therapy after it’s over).

I have never shopped so much in my life as I have this week. And shopping in a new city in Cambodia for your new home when you live on a dirt road in a village with only one moto is not anything remotely like one-stop shopping at Easton back in Cbus.

Oh my goodness.

To make this “manageable,” I will break up our shopping adventures by day and use short sentences (and will forget a lot, but I did take notes).


We arrived in Siem Reap at 4pm, waited to meet up with the moving truck, and headed to our new home. After it was all unloaded, Gabe tried to start his moto, and the battery was dead. He walked it down to the end of the street and found a place to get a new battery for $10. Then he and Nina and I headed out on the moto to find some dinner. We stopped at 3 different street carts (because cheap, and we don’t really worry about safe anymore–what’s a little diarrhea?). I didn’t recognize any of the food (and it was all the same). Tater tot-looking things, pan of cornbread-looking thing, pan of green goo. We ended up at a “real” restaurant and got some fried rice. Bought drinks from a lady selling them on the side of the road on the way home.

Gabe and Nina took a moto ride to an open air market in the city. Bought Nina 2 pairs of shorts for $1.50 each because all of hers have holes in the crotch (because we buy $1.50 shorts that are basically worthless–we will find some quality shorts soon). They also bought 2 brooms, 2 dustpans, and tree clippers. For lunch, our sweet friend Rosa (we met her in October, and she lives on our road) went with Livi to buy food on a street corner. Rice, vegetables, and some small whole fish (I think). They just grill their fish whole here, and you pick off the meat. Sunday night we went back to that same restaurant, because it was familiar.

We started work with our two staff members. Every day for lunch, Channorm rode her moto (with either Livi or Ava) to get lunch for all of us. We can feed all 7 of us with street food for anywhere from $4.50 to $7. BEAUTIFUL. We bought a washing machine (glory!). And a 2-burner stovetop. (yay!) Both items were sponsored by sweet friends. SO THANKFUL. Both were delivered (glory!) for free. We drove back into the city and found a lovely pizza place for dinner (we were all craving it for some reason). I felt like a delivery girl, carrying 2 pizzas in a bag on the back of Gabe’s moto for 8 kilometers.

Gabe and I took a trip into the city on his moto to look for a shirt for him. OH MY GOSH. He needed a button-down shirt to wear at our government meetings on Wednesday. He does not own any button-down shirts. We tried four different shops. None had shirts even close to big enough (he wears a 2X, most Cambodian men probably wear a Small or Medium). We tried two tailors (you can get shirts made cheaply here), but power was out in most of the city, so they couldn’t do it. Two more stores. Nope. Gabe was getting really frustrated. One more store. They had 2X!! Which was no more 2X than I am. “We have 3X!” the girl said. Same as the 2X. “We have 4X!” NOT ANY BIGGER. Then we found a stack of very Hawaaian-looking shirts. 2X! And they fit! We bought two. One denim-y looking one with flowers. One beach scene. The girls were mortified BUT WHO CARES? We also drove to the open-air market for baskets to hold art supplies and a mosquito zapper. That night I made pasta on my new stovetop. It was kind of gross but whatever (everybody else ate it). So I made some popcorn on the stove and ate that instead. After that, Gabe, Nina, and I took the moto to meet my sister’s in-laws who were in Siem Reap for just a day and brought us some goodies (bras, underwear, Lipton Noodle Soup packets, etc). Google maps took us on some “roads” that were basically three-foot wide paths through people’s tin houses. OH MY BACK.

Meetings all day with the government so we didn’t have to shop very much! Woohoo!! The girls got to come with us to lunch, but they weren’t invited to dinner, so Gabe and I stopped at a supermarket on the way home and bought a rotisserie chicken for $6. It was yummy! And already-cut-up mango and pineapple with chili salt. We also bought as much food as I could “comfortably” carry on the moto.

Today was a BIG shopping day. We had a huge list and HALLELUJAH we found a store that had sooooo much of what we needed that we could buy it all at once and have it delivered. No balancing a bunch of trash cans and plastic chairs on the moto. We spent almost $600 (gulp) and bought 2 bunk beds, 4 mattresses, a big mattress for me and Gabe (we’re not going to buy a bed), 6 baskets for clothes (the girls have shelves, no closet), 6 little trashcans, 7 plastic chairs for outside/staff meetings, and a fan. Then we drove to a bookstore and bought 6 binders (one for each staff member minus Gabe who “does not use paper”) and a box of plastic sleeves. And 2 drawing pads. And a plunger (that didn’t work). No one was hungry for dinner (we bought red beans and sticky rice that afternoon) so yay! Gabe stopped at KFC on his way home from shooting sunset.

TGIFRIDAY! More BIG shopping. Back to that same store for 3 metal tables (one for us to eat at, one for the staff office, one for Livi’s English class), 2 laundry baskets, 4 more baskets for socks and underwear, 1 huge plastic basin to wash dishes in (we have no water pressure in our kitchen sink), 10 plastic mugs for kids to drink water out of, 1 fitted sheet for the girls (the only other one was Hello Kitty), 2 “lockers” (one for center for staff to put valuables in, one for our house). We looked at safes, but they’re super expensive. Sometime maybe. THEN WE BOUGHT A REFRIGERATOR. I’m 40 years old, and I believe this is the first time I’ve ever bought a refrigerator. They followed us home with it. (It’s very hard to explain to people where we live). The other stuff was delivered later in the afternoon. While we were shopping, the girls and the staff bought a metal rake for $2.75 and a jasmine plant for $2.50 (OH MY WORD, it smells like HEAVEN). We have biiiiig plans for lots and lots of flowers–and a vegetable garden!! Then Gabe and Sitha took the moto to buy a drill (we knew we’d get a better price if a Cambodian bought it instead of us) to hang stuff (whiteboards, etc) in the center. For dinner, we had green beans and Stovetop stuffing (one of the things Bethany’s in-laws brought us). Yum.

It’s 10:46am, and we’re at a coffee shop. After this, we’ll head to the supermarket and stock up on some canned goods, snacks, and ridiculously-priced cereal and granola bars for breakfast. Gabe is flying to Phnom Penh from Monday to Thursday for a big photography project (he’ll tell you about it soon), and I haven’t even tried to drive his moto yet, so we need food. Thankfully we have a fridge! (and I’m not worried about telling people we girls will be alone for 3 nights–nobody who knows where we live has internet to read this!) Then we’ll pick up lunch and maybe a few other things (but probably not because I can only hold so much on the moto–and Gabe puts bags on the handlebars).

What I Left Out:
All the things I couldn’t remember and all the stops at stores where we DIDN’T find what we needed.


–water cooler/dispenser for the center
–mosquito nets
–many many more plastic chairs
–1 more fitted sheet
–air freshener (our bathrooms smell pretty bad)
–rat traps (or something–they’re eating our papayas!)
–food (always)
–comfortable seating inside
–place for girls to hang their clothes
–lots of hooks
–vegetable seeds
–garden tools
–Khmer books
–canvasses to paint


Please let me know if you have any questions! Will do a post where I (try to) answer them all. No question is too silly! (I promise.)

Remember–all the pics are on Instagram and Facebook if you want to see what this all looks like.

One thought on “even if i loved to shop

  1. Sharon

    Great post. Really gives insight into what life is like for you in your new digs. Also, had to laugh at your eating popcorn for dinner Tuesday night. Because I’m eating it for dinner, right now!

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