Author Archives: ssdebussey


Traffic in Phnom Penh is like nothing I’ve ever seen. No exaggeration.  It is something different altogether.  Alive almost, it is like a cross between water moving over rocks and a flock of migrating birds wheeling thru the fall skies.  It adjusts and changes direction just that fast, that effortlessly. Now there are regular looking […]

Just six stories down

History is unfolding just six stories below.  It is an incredibly moving experience.   Today thousands of Cambodians all over the city are again marching to protest of the election.  From Freedom Park they make their way across town to key embassies:  Australia, UK, US, China, Thailand, Japan and more.  It’s a long convoluted path; it’ll […]

Topping Up

Topping up.  To me this always meant gasoline, as in ‘topping up your tank’ before you went on trip. In Cambodia however, topping up is all about technology. Here, unlike the US, you buy phone service via one-inch-square scratch cards – $3, $5 at a time. Wireless works this way too, you buy access in $5 to-up […]

Setting for one

One fork, two spoons, one pan, two cups, a glass, a plate and two bowls.   I live small here, and I like it.   From this place it seems odd that a person could find use for a whole drawer full of silverware.  Course, I don’t entertain or really cook– just the occasional egg or potato- […]

October 07

Good Morning Good Evening

Eleven hours behind, thirteen hours ahead… good nite is good morning, good morning comes at night.   Even now, the whole conversion still throws me off.   I hung a big note on the wall by my sink:   Call home after 6pm–>morning in Chapel Hill.   Call home before 10am –> evening in Chapel Hill.  It helps, but would […]

September 29

One thousand two hundred and four steps

I am early. It looks like rain, spitting a little already – a near nightly event for Phnom Penh. The park is empty still, the walkers won’t start for a bit yet, so I nab a bench under a tree and watch. A beautiful girl goes by, she sits side-saddle on a fluorescent green moto, […]

September 14

Standoff in Phnom Penh

A reminder today that this is a country in transition politically – not a smooth or comfortable thing – though  I suppose it rarely is.  Its been a solid month now since the national elections and nothing has resolved. A stand off, lots of posturing:  the opposition calling for big street protests tomorrow, the government […]

September 14


The terrace is all grey and stone and hammered steel, local wood and rough textured brick that I long to reach out and touch. An oasis of graceful lines, soft music and coffee. Another of the incongruities characteristic of Phnom Penh. In the midst of all that is chaotic, ancient and still strange to my […]

September 04

Water is heavy

Its 6:45 am and I am counting water bottles, something I do every morning, estimating what I’ll need to get through today, tonight and into tomorrow morning.  Am I cooking?   Will I need to wash dishes?   Or just enough to drink and brush my teeth?    Deciding if I will need to stop and buy more […]

August 27

Going to GEMBA

My first few weeks have sometimes felt like an episode of a TV reality show.   One where  you are given  a mission and some training and resources, then suddenly you are just out there with all the newness and the challenge of figuring it out for yourself – the language, the housing, the food, the […]

August 20

Three Privileges

I thought coming into the PULSE program that I understood what it meant to come from a country and life of wealth and privilege. But I was wrong. I am just beginning to appreciate that privilege is so much more than just money or all that stuff we accumulate. There are 3 privileges in particular […]

August 15

Questions from Home

What about bugs? Birds? Are there elephants? What about snakes??? I love getting questions from home. They remind me that despite blogs and photo streams there’s always more to tell. So today I’ll tell you a little about the critters here, big and small. Me being me, this was one of the things I most […]

August 12

It wouldn’t be enough

It wouldn’t be enough. I could write all day every day and it wouldn’t be enough to cover everything I need and want to say about this place, this experience. So I make notes to remind myself – the lists are everywhere – all things I want to capture, to examine, to explain. I keep […]

July 28

The new morning me

I have been transformed into a morning person – which will have those who know me laughing out loud. But seriously, my former zombie-like waking self has disappeared with the change of time zones. Mornings are my favorite time now – even before coffee – hard to imagine, I’m sure. At 5am it is still […]

July 24

3 weeks and a lifetime

It’s been exactly 3 weeks and a lifetime since I arrived in Cambodia. Feeling much more settled at home and work, though this experience is a lot like peeling onions. There are layers and layers and layers to be explored – a good thing I’m thinking! So an opportunity for reflection of sorts – what HAVE I […]