Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is Rice Planting

Cambodia has two seasons, wet and dry. We are now in the wet season which goes from early June into October. This doesn’t mean it rains every day, in fact, there can be stretches of dry days during the rainy season. The type of rain can vary from a rare day of drizzle to a more common afternoon monsoon down pour. But the streams, lakes and pools fill up this time of year which means plenty of water for the rice fields.

So, yes, that is me out in the rice field, trudging through the water and thick mud, planting rice. Rice is planted with rice plants of about a foot in length. As I worked along side the Cambodians I asked someone about any critters, particularly snakes, that one might encounter in a rice field. He enthusiastically replied that there were and lots of them. Apparently, water snakes are considered a tasty dish. But, he added, not to worry because they are non-poisonous unlike the cobra that was recently spotted lurking in the grass I had just walked through to get into the rice field. (Which also happens to be the  way out, I might add). There’s a new adventure every day around here.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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This is the book trailer for my novel Azaleas Beyond the Prison Walls. Book sales are increasing so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those that have supported me by purchasing my books. Although I’m no longer with Smart Cat Publishing, all my books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Links are on this website. Hope you will take a moment to listen and enjoy.

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Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is Sugar Cane

The first picture that I have posted here is a field of sugar cane. It’s raised all around this region and is a major agricultural commodity in Cambodia. The second picture is of the machine that a person will run a stalk of sugar cane through to squeeze out the juice. Cambodians consume huge amounts of sugar. It’s in soda, energy drinks, coffee loaded with sweetened milk, cake and bread. They will drink pure cane sugar juice from this machine. They even will coat meat with sugar before frying it in oil. This is all done without an understanding of the health consequences that can result from the high consumption of sugar which includes diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Often they might not even realize that they are consuming sugar. For example, I’ve tried to order a fruit smoothie without added sugar only to have them pour sugar cane juice into the smoothie. I don’t believe, however, that it’s unusual for a country that raises sugar as a commodity to consume large amounts. I’ve been to Haiti and Guyana where they also raise sugar cane. But I’m not sure I understand the point of raising sugar cane but not vegetables which seems to be the case here in Cambodia. In Haiti, sugar cane has the added consequence of rum production. Rum is produced from sugar cane and is a contributing cause of alcoholism. But just to be clear, I have nothing against rum, in fact, I’m a big fan of a Mai Tai. I have nothing against sugar either for that matter. I enjoy a sweet treat like anyone else but the health consequences of over consumption can have a significant impact on ones health.

I work in a rural health center that focuses on pre/post-natal care and vaccinations. My effort here is to educate the staff on the assessment and management of these non-communicable diseases by providing the clinic with glucose monitors and triglyceride/cholesterol monitors and educating the staff on how to manage these diseases.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
=============

This is the book trailer for my novel Azaleas Beyond the Prison Walls. Book sales are increasing so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those that have supported me by purchasing my books. Although I’m no longer with Smart Cat Publishing, all my books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Links are on this website. Hope you will take a moment to listen and enjoy.

 

Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is Transportation; Cambodian Style

When tourists come to visit and Americans, Aussies and Europeans who live here often use the standard modes of travel to get around Cambodia being planes, trains and buses. But these standard modes of transportation can be more expensive and will only go to larger towns or tourist sites. Where I live there is no bus service, the airport is in Phnom Penh and the closest train station is 20K. So, I move about the country Cambodian style which means bike, moto, turih and tuk tuk. A moto is a somewhere between a scooter and a motorcycle. It’s small, durable and efficient. It can take the dirt roads with huge potholes and can go where a car can’t. They are also economical. They cost around $1500 new and can go around 40K on a liter of gas. In and around larger cities people will use their moto as a taxi. I don’t recommend this practice. Riding a moto in Phnom Penh without a helmet is just asking for a head trauma. The better option is the tuk tuk. These are carriages that are attached to a moto. I think they are a bit safer and it beats walking. The price for a tuk tuk can vary and the price goes up dramatically if you look like a foreigner or in tourist area. Speaking Khmer, I can negotiate a reasonable price otherwise tuk tuk drivers will take you for a ride in more ways than one. There is new competition for tuk tuks called passap. The price is reasonable and doesn’t need to be negotiated. Now moving between towns, we use turihs. These are minivans that generally go from one town and then back picking whoever or whatever needs to be transported. Again, the price is negotiable. Traveling on turihs is not for the faint of heart. In addition to packing as many people as they can they also act as a delivery service from town to town. Sorta the UPS of Cambodia. The drivers can often drive really fast while answering their cell phone. If you feel unsafe, don’t be afraid to tell the driver to let you out and grab the next one that comes along. But it is a cheap way to go and possibly the only way depending on where you are and where you want to go. So if you come to Cambodia, try traveling Cambodian style- if you dare.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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This is a book review I had received from my one of my young adult novels “The Gift of Phineas Lake”. Kirkus is well known for their high standards in regards to book reviews since the 1930’s. Needless to say, I was very pleased with their review. Please take a moment and read this review. All ordering information is on this website. http://www.jimrizzo.com

A quick, compelling historical novel with a magical touch.

Rizzo uses historical figures and facts as the foundation for this suspenseful story within a story about the Underground Railroad and racial tension in antebellum industrial Pennsylvania. The book begins in 1897, when Jake and Gordy, two boys, get curious about an abandoned house in town—the former home of the titular Phineas Lake, who disappeared 50 years ago under mysterious circumstances. Though most adults discourage the boys from inquiring further, Gordy’s grandfather Cooper reveals that he was Phineas’ childhood best friend, and he’s just the first of many who begin to tell the boys about Phineas as they piece together the true story of what happened. Phineas had been blessed with a miraculous healing touch—able to cure any wound or illness with his hands alone—but he did his best to keep his gift a secret, since Rev. Davis, the village preacher, was quick to condemn such a thing as witchcraft. During the night,

however, Phineas would heal the freed slaves—the closest doctor refused to treat them—who worked at the iron furnace in town. After a nearby Underground Railroad conductor realized how Phineas’ skills could be used to help the exhausted and sick fugitives, Phineas (along with young Cooper) became a fugitive himself, only returning to town after a terrible storm brings on a deadly fever among the locals. The racist, magic-fearing Rev. Davis, however, hardly gives

him a warm homecoming; it isn’t long before he’s calling for Phineas to be killed. Rizzo’s story has plenty of momentum, and the boys’ eagerness to listen to each of Cooper’s tales works well, keeping the reader as enthralled as Jake and Gordy are. Though there’s not much historical nuance here, the book has an unassailable moral message that would be a great choice for YA readers with an interest in the history of American slavery.

A well-paced, engaging reimagining of antebellum Pennsylvania.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is Sea Salt

Have you ever wondered how salt can be garnered from the sea? Well, wonder no more. In the last post, I mentioned the town of Kampot and the Kampot Pepper Farm. But folks in Kampot also harvest- not sure that would be the correct terminology- sea salt. Also mentioned previously, Kampot is near the ocean or more technically the Gulf of Thailand. As you can see in the pictures that there are sections of a field that are partitioned with dirt into rectangles. The sea water is pumped into the field and as the sun evaporates the water it leaves behind crystallized sea salt. The salt is raked into piles with long handled paddles. Once the piles are made the salt is then shoveled into baskets to be carried to a storage barn. So, there you have it. The two most popular spices- salt and pepper. I neglected to mention that the Kampot Pepper Farm also raises and harvests turmeric.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
=============

This is a book review I had received from my one of my young adult novels “The Gift of Phineas Lake”. Kirkus is well known for their high standards in regards to book reviews. Needless to say, I was very pleased with their review. Please take a moment and read this review. All ordering information is on this website. http://www.jimrizzo.com

A quick, compelling historical novel with a magical touch.

Rizzo uses historical figures and facts as the foundation for this suspenseful story within a story about the Underground Railroad and racial tension in antebellum industrial Pennsylvania. The book begins in 1897, when Jake and Gordy, two boys, get curious about an abandoned house in town—the former home of the titular Phineas Lake, who disappeared 50 years ago under mysterious circumstances. Though most adults discourage the boys from inquiring further, Gordy’s grandfather Cooper reveals that he was Phineas’ childhood best friend, and he’s just the first of many who begin to tell the boys about Phineas as they piece together the true story of what happened. Phineas had been blessed with a miraculous healing touch—able to cure any wound or illness with his hands alone—but he did his best to keep his gift a secret, since Rev. Davis, the village preacher, was quick to condemn such a thing as witchcraft. During the night,

however, Phineas would heal the freed slaves—the closest doctor refused to treat them—who worked at the iron furnace in town. After a nearby Underground Railroad conductor realized how Phineas’ skills could be used to help the exhausted and sick fugitives, Phineas (along with young Cooper) became a fugitive himself, only returning to town after a terrible storm brings on a deadly fever among the locals. The racist, magic-fearing Rev. Davis, however, hardly gives

him a warm homecoming; it isn’t long before he’s calling for Phineas to be killed. Rizzo’s story has plenty of momentum, and the boys’ eagerness to listen to each of Cooper’s tales works well, keeping the reader as enthralled as Jake and Gordy are. Though there’s not much historical nuance here, the book has an unassailable moral message that would be a great choice for YA readers with an interest in the history of American slavery.

A well-paced, engaging reimagining of antebellum Pennsylvania.

=============
Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
=============

 

Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is pepper farming

Kampot is coastal town that is a mix of Cambodians, Europeans, Americans and Australians. It’s not a large town but has everything you could want. It has a very picturesque riverside with shops and restaurants with many different types of food that is mostly divided between Khmer and Western. Due to the number of foreigners living here, English is widely spoken. There are things to do in and around Kampot such as hiking in the mountains to the waterfalls, exploring caves containing ancient Buddhist shrines, and the ocean resort of Kep is 25k from Kampot. I spent the day learning about the harvesting of the famous Kampot pepper and the sea salt. In this post we’ll cover pepper from the Kampot pepper farm. As you can see in the pictures the pepper is grown as vines that wind around poles. The vines take three years to reach maturity. I’m holding a some of the green pepper corns to see how these are picked by hand and placed in these large woven baskets. The red pepper is separated from the green by hand. There is no difference between the red and the green except maturity and flavor. White pepper is simply the red pepper with the skin removed. The green pepper corns turn to black pepper after they have been boiled. The guides at the farm recommend white pepper for fish, red pepper for meats and black pepper for cooking for you connoisseurs of pepper. Cambodians make a dip for fresh vegetables of pepper, sea salt and lime juice that can really go with meat, fish, chicken and vegetables. A super tasty treat is dried banana chips that is sprinkled with the dip.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
=============

This is a book review I had received from KirKus Review for one of my young adult novels “The Gift of Phineas Lake”. Kirkus is well known for their high standards in regards to book reviews since they began in 1933. Needless to say, I was very pleased with their review. Please take a moment and read through it. All ordering information is on this website. http://www.jimrizzo.com

A quick, compelling historical novel with a magical touch.

Rizzo uses historical figures and facts as the foundation for this suspenseful story within a story about the Underground Railroad and racial tension in antebellum industrial Pennsylvania. The book begins in 1897, when Jake and Gordy, two boys, get curious about an abandoned house in town—the former home of the titular Phineas Lake, who disappeared 50 years ago under mysterious circumstances. Though most adults discourage the boys from inquiring further, Gordy’s grandfather Cooper reveals that he was Phineas’ childhood best friend, and he’s just the first of many who begin to tell the boys about Phineas as they piece together the true story of what happened. Phineas had been blessed with a miraculous healing touch—able to cure any wound or illness with his hands alone—but he did his best to keep his gift a secret, since Rev. Davis, the village preacher, was quick to condemn such a thing as witchcraft. During the night,

however, Phineas would heal the freed slaves—the closest doctor refused to treat them—who worked at the iron furnace in town. After a nearby Underground Railroad conductor realized how Phineas’ skills could be used to help the exhausted and sick fugitives, Phineas (along with young Cooper) became a fugitive himself, only returning to town after a terrible storm brings on a deadly fever among the locals. The racist, magic-fearing Rev. Davis, however, hardly gives

him a warm homecoming; it isn’t long before he’s calling for Phineas to be killed. Rizzo’s story has plenty of momentum, and the boys’ eagerness to listen to each of Cooper’s tales works well, keeping the reader as enthralled as Jake and Gordy are. Though there’s not much historical nuance here, the book has an unassailable moral message that would be a great choice for YA readers with an interest in the history of American slavery.

A well-paced, engaging reimagining of antebellum Pennsylvania.

=============
Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
=============

 

 

Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic Koh Rong Island

Imagine long stretches of white sandy beaches with clear green and turquoise blue water. A place where there are no cars because there are no roads just walking paths. The only thing that separates the beach from the jungle is a quaint but rustic village. This is Touch Village on Koh Rong Island, Cambodia. As I write this post , I’m sipping a margarita and looking out over the ocean as a tropical breeze wafts through the open café. Reggae is playing from somewhere in the background. There isn’t much to do here but unwind. Not long ago I posted about Otress Beach. I was there last night before taking the ferry to the island. In that short a period of time the developers had moved into Otress. A massive resort complex had sprung up. There are sure to be boutiques, high end shops and pricey restaurants when it opens. With their boat loads of money there is nothing to stop the developers from taking over whatever they choose. I suspect it might not be long before this sweet slice of paradise succumbs to greed, power and money but for now I’m going to bask in the meaning of life.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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This is a short description of one of my books called Azaleas Beyond the Prison Walls. This is my favorite book filled with twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. All ordering information is on this website. http://www.jimrizzo.com

It’s 1930 and Carson Jones is a prison guard at the notorious Eastern States Penitentiary in Philadelphia where some of America’s most violent inmates and gangsters are serving time. Amidst the desperation of the Depression and a crowd of hostile convicts, Carson finds solace in an azalea garden behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in helping an inmate he believes has been wrongfully accused of murder and sentenced to death. Carson’s life begins to take a turn when he meets a beautiful young woman through a coworker. Her father is a judge and agrees to help him, but at a price. Carson is forced to choose between a life of meaning and purpose and leaving his friend at the mercy of a threatening warden who is becoming increasingly more unhinged. Though the life he has always dreamed of is finally within reach, is it worth it? In a novel chock-full of history and suspense, James Rizzo crafts a suspenseful narrative full of real-life history and page-turning intrigue.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is cricket farming. Cambodians eat a lot of insects as snacks- more on this in a future post- but one of the favorite snacks are crickets. They’re deep fried and really quite tasty if you can get past the legs that get caught between your teeth.  My friend, Jose, raises them in these boxes that are pictured.  The bowls that you see are filled with charcoal that is derived from rice hulls and placed in the box with the adult crickets. The adult crickets lay their eggs in the charcoal bowls which are then placed in a new box till those crickets are mature enough to harvest. And then the bowls from that box are placed in the next box and so on and so on. He feeds the crickets with greens harvested from his organic farm along with duck feed which is also pictured. The adults have to be fed morning and night otherwise they will begin to cannibalize themselves which means that they have to be harvested at the right time as well before they begin to eat each other. Each one of these boxes can produce between 10 to 20 kg of crickets which are then sold. Each of the legs of the boxes sits in a bowl of water on the ground. This prevents ants, particularly red fire ants- more on these nasty critters later as well- from climbing up the legs and into the boxes. I had the unfortunate experience of stepping on a nest of fire ants with nothing but flipflops on my feet. But if the ants are able to get into one of these boxes they will devour the immature crickets. Ants are supposedly another tasty treat that I have yet to partake. Just deserts, one might say, for chewing on my feet. Once the crickets are harvested the manure is collected which has a high nutrient value and used as fertilizer on his organic gardens. The only cost to this entire operation is the duck feed. The rest is all profit and free fertilizer. The last picture is a bag of the fertilizer he gets from a box of crickets.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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This is a short description of one of my books called Azaleas Beyond the Prison Walls. This is my favorite book filled with twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. All ordering information is on this website. http://www.jimrizzo.com

It’s 1930 and Carson Jones is a prison guard at the notorious Eastern States Penitentiary in Philadelphia where some of America’s most violent inmates and gangsters are serving time. Amidst the desperation of the Depression and a crowd of hostile convicts, Carson finds solace in an azalea garden behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in helping an inmate he believes has been wrongfully accused of murder and sentenced to death. Carson’s life begins to take a turn when he meets a beautiful young woman through a coworker. Her father is a judge and agrees to help him, but at a price. Carson is forced to choose between a life of meaning and purpose and leaving his friend at the mercy of a threatening warden who is becoming increasingly more unhinged. Though the life he has always dreamed of is finally within reach, is it worth it? In a novel chock-full of history and suspense, James Rizzo crafts a suspenseful narrative full of real-life history and page-turning intrigue.

=============
Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
=============

 

Hello All, and thanks for following me. Otres Beach, Cambodia. It is vacation time and I had heard of this small seaside village of Otres. Quiet and slow paced sounded like the place for me. It wasn’t easy to get to but maybe that is why it is quiet and peaceful. The picture of the town looking down the main street, actually the only street, is lined mostly with buildings of wood/bamboo with thatched roofs. The street looks longer in the picture than it is in reality. It might be the length of 2 city blocks. Not much to do here but lie on a cushioned lounge and stare at the ocean, have a massage on the beach in a grass hut, or sip a margarita at the bar. There are boats that can take you out the islands for snorkeling but maybe another time for me. I’m comfortable right where I am. End the day with and amazing grilled seafood dinner on the beach- yes the tables and chairs are brought out onto the beach- while watching the sunset over the ocean.  The price is right also. The dinner costs about $5 and $7 for an hour massage. I’m going to include another shameless plug for one of my novels. I enjoy writing all my books but this is the one I’m most proud. Filled with twists and turns that will keep you guessing. This is a short description and all ordering info is on this website. http://www.jimrizzo.com

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
=============

It’s 1930 and Carson Jones is a prison guard at the notorious Eastern States Penitentiary in Philadelphia where some of America’s most violent inmates and gangsters are serving time. Amidst the desperation of the Depression and a crowd of hostile convicts, Carson finds solace in an azalea garden behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in helping an inmate he believes has been wrongfully accused of murder and sentenced to death. Carson’s life begins to take a turn when he meets a beautiful young woman through a coworker. Her father is a judge and agrees to help him, but at a price. Carson is forced to choose between a life of meaning and purpose and leaving his friend at the mercy of a threatening warden who is becoming increasingly more unhinged. Though the life he has always dreamed of is finally within reach, is it worth it? In a novel chock-full of history and suspense, James Rizzo crafts a suspenseful narrative full of real-life history and page-turning intrigue.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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IMG_20180310_085405Hello All, and thanks for following me. Mango Season! Yes, it’s mango season here in Cambodia. The fruit is everywhere. As you can see by the pictures from a local farm, the trees are loaded. It reminds me of apple season in Vermont. The mangoes are so tasty I’m getting a daily dose of them. Interestingly though, the Cambodians don’t eat them when they are ripe, sweet and juicy. They prefer them unripe and sour. So that means…more for me! However, along with mango season comes the heat. We are coming into the hottest time of the year with April being the hottest month. I’ve seen the Facebook pictures of all the snow back home while I dare to venture too far from the fan. I’m going to include a shameless plug for my latest novel that was recently released. Sunset Over East. This is a short description and all ordering info is on this website. http://www.jimrizzo.com

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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It’s 1880, Denis and Hope McConnell are on a train traveling through Indian Territory on their way to Tombstone, Arizona. Denis has been hired as copyeditor of The Epitaph, the Tombstone newspaper owned by John Clum whose friends include the Earp brothers and Doc Holiday. Denis will be reporting on the events of the rapidly growing wild boom town. But after their arrival, he realizes that because of his association with Clum and the Earps he has many dangerous enemies.

After the loss of her husband, 19-year old Hope is on her own and forced to protect her infant daughter, a 15-year-old Chinese girl from the Chinese mining camp and a 15-year-old girl that had been forced into prostitution. She finds solace and friendship among the Chinese miners but they are under constant threat from brutal marauders who will stop at nothing, including torture and murder, to get what they want- silver. But the law will do nothing to protect the Chinese miners.

Now Hope must now learn to defend herself and protect the others from the constant threat of danger with little resources and fewer options

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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Hello All, and thanks for following me. This weeks blog post is about the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. This is a 6000 acre reserve with around 1000 animals from more than 100 species, many of which are categorized as endangered or threatened. The primary function of the facility is to save, rehabilitate, and breed endangered, indigenous wildlife. The park is about 20 K from where I live and as I ride my bike through the reserve I can view elephants, bears, tigers, lions, monkeys, leopards, snakes and more. All these animals were rescued from private zoos and markets. My personal favorite are the elephants and for some reason they were the only pictures that came out. The monkeys are also really good for the entertainment value. One in particular found me fascinating to stare at while hanging upside down. I have no idea why he was so curious about me but we had a stare off and needless to say, the monkey won. The reserve is about 40 K south of Phnom Penh. It’s off of highway 2 which is an easy stop if you are headed to the ocean resorts from Phnom Penh and well worth the time.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.
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