The easy post to do would have been an easy share of this (because I’m at that age where my favourite band now reunites). But instead I made this over my lunch break. I had a busy weekend. But a really great one. Even if a big ol’ tropical storm got in the way of one of my four photoshoots. I managed to squeeze in some video of intrepid and amazing Kate (and her tuk tuk!) as well as my friend Adilson and his capoeira partner Ricardo playing their instruments along the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Basically, I had a bunch of curious onlookers for both shoots. Who be this barang lady driving a tuk tuk? And these ridiculously handsome gentlemen and their fancy fighty moves. More photos this week. I’ve been shooting everyone. It’s been a bloody mess.
Don’t worry, the blog hasn’t take a turn for the weird, yet at least.
This CULT stands for “Cambodia’s Ultimate Lifestyle Trade” and was founded by Ludi and Katia, the cool kids behind Bee Vintage and Good Krama. These two chicks wanted to bring together the Phnom Penh community in a fun way, while highlighting the artists and designers in town that are doing awesome, creative, sustainable stuff. And when we met up with these wonderful ladies last week, they had just partnered up with Cleanbodia, who will be supplying the event with biodegradable shopping bags! These little guys take the sustainable part of shopping at this market up a notch and are made with organic matter like cassava and coconut instead of plastic. This makes us beyond happy.
This is going to be a monthly event (YAY!) and we get to look forward to the second Thursday of the month with CULT. The first one is this Thursday, June 9 at Cloud (#32E0, street 9, Phnom Penh). With sponsorship from Cloud, The Pelican Food Company and Cleanbodia.
Some of the super talented creatives and brands who will be at CULT include:
We can’t wait to get our shop on.
One of my favorite people in this city is Laura Mam. She was raised in California, says “hella” a lot. She moved to Cambodia a few years ago, where her family is from, but was forced to flee from the horrible garbage war 30-ish years ago. She is a crazy talented singer, and she is opening for Jessie J in Phnom Penh tomorrow night. She’s kind of a big deal.
Because she is a wonderful friend, she asked me to make her clothes for the show. I have been working on the looks for about a month, and finishing up the details this week. Buy that, of course I mean that a lot of things went wrong. I changed the design twice, I had to get mad and a little bit mean, and the week has been total stress-fest. The final touches for the looks are going on today, and I will be happy to see the back of it. But really, the actual back of it because that is where the cool details are.
I woke up this morning at 3:30 thinking about the neckline of one of the tops, and I have looked at the pieces so many times that I actually don’t know if I even like them anymore. So have been up for a LONG time today, and I’m pretty happy to see the sun come up, and am celebrating with a lot of coffee and 80’s Michael Jackson.
I wanted to post on the looks for the concert, but I don’t want to give too much away. She has some die-hard fans that would storm the gates if I ruined the surprise, so I have included a few photos of the materials that don’g give too much away.
More on the actual looks next week!
This has been a really, really, ridiculously fun week. I am working on a few projects that I can’t wait to share, and everyday has been full of meetings and fittings and fabric shopping. It’s been great, but I am looking forward to sleeping in this weekend, eating pie, and finishing up House of Cards. I can’t believe it’s taken me a whole week to get through season three… jeez, lazy.
We’ve had friends ask if we could show what it’s like in Phnom Penh, day to day. I have pulled a few photos from my iPhone from the past week, to give you a little bit of an idea of what it looks like to live here. Hope you like them.
At the Russian market, haggling for silk.
Catching the tail end of Chinese New Year while cruising through the city.
I’m having so much fun playing with silk dye, and now I have creepy Smurf hands.
Before an interview a few days ago, Tiff snapped photos of the food at Alma, and I snapped up a piece of Margarita cake…
I’m teaching a master class on how to take incredible sexy selfies, and I don’t want to reveal too much, but here’s a sneak peak of the technique.
I can’t believe I just put that on the internet.
It took a little while, but we finally have our “about” page together. It’s a funny thing, defining oneself in a paragraph, and it took both of us a while to do, with lots of edits.
Our wonderful friend, Jen, took these photos a few weeks back and did an amazing job making us comfortable and happy while she snapped away. We are both are pretty awkward in front of the camera, and we are THRILLED that she was able to capture us looking like normal human beings. I assure you, we are not. See photos below.
All photos by Jennifer Hardy. Please request permission for use. If you’re stealing photos of us, that’s really weird.
Five of us went to the tailor on Saturday. I have been working on custom jobs almost non-stop and decided to do the fittings all at once. In my head, this would be a super fun party day where all the girls would drink pretty cocktails and prance around in fabrics. As it turns out, I live in a dream world. It was hot. Rude hot, and the fittings took a lot longer than I had hoped.
We live in Cambodia, and are heading full steam into sweltering jungle season. Luckily, this group happens to be especially awesome and not a single one complained about wait times or my sweaty self getting all up in their business for measuring.
Before the distinct pangs of hanger kicked in, we got a lot done. I get pretty bossy at the tailor, because I really care a lot about how things turn out, so my friends got to see me in business/scary mode, which I am sure was fun for them. A lot of furrowed brow at the tailor for me.
I am SO ridiculously excited about the clothes that are coming out of this group. Each one of the ladies has been endlessly patient and kind with the process and I am very lucky to be able to work with them.
All of these gorgeous photos were taken by the gorgeous Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.
Kettlebell Café is now open for business (well sort of, they’re still in their soft opening phase)! Located just next to the Crossfit Amatak gym on the corner of 454/123, Kettlebell Café offers coffee, a juice bar, and healthy breakfast and lunch options. We spoke with Corbett and Olivier last week about the café and how small businesses like this are changing the landscape of Phnom Penh.
Corbett worked as a barista for about 8 years. He calls these “the lost years,” but we think of it as “coffee-snob legitimacy training.” Having worked in the food service, he didn’t come to Cambodia to cook. Corbett landed here because of a podcast, obviously. After teaching English in Korea and living in Japan for a few years, he listened to an episode of This American Life that focused on Cambodia. He decided he would go to graduate school and get a job in Phnom Penh, and that is exactly what he did. (Side note: Corbett was Cait’s first new friend in Cambodia, they landed on the same day.)
After three years working at 17Triggers (a local company that does marketing for good causes), and working on his side businesses in his free time, he has decided to put all of his effort into Amatak and Kettlebell Café.
His interest in health and fitness is nothing new, but he has never been “one of those super fitness people.” Phnom Penh does not lack for restaurants, but it has been missing a healthy, balanced lunch spot. Most options are either filling and fatty or stingy and skinny. “One cannot live on salad alone, or one may chew one’s arm off.” Plato said that, or maybe it was Cait one time when she was hangry…In any case, the goal for the café is balance. The paleo-inspired menu is both healthy and delicious, while keeping reasonable prices and fast service.
Their coffee is equally delicious. Although a skilled former barista himself, Corbett sought the help of regional coffee consultant, Jen Green to help source equipment, beans and train staff to produce some fine liquid heaven. As a result, some are known to get their required dose here every morning in the form of a cortado (eg. Tiff). To make things healthy, though Corbett prefers real dairy himself, almond milk is also offered for the lactose-deterring.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve been to (local coffee shop) and have been the only person in line just to get an espresso and its taken 5 minutes and they give you your water and everything before hand and it’s like “just give me my coffee so I can go.” So we wanted to fill that gap by providing high quality coffee. At a good speed and fair price. No flash.”
Corbett met Olivier, Kettlebell’s chef, when Olivier joined Crossfit in September. He had already been following a Paleo diet, so he was familiar with the ingredients and restrictions. (Though his weakness lies in French pastry, especially the mille feuille. He is, after all, human.) Olivier is from Paris, and he was trained as a chef and worked in some top restaurants serving very French cuisine. He has worked with some of the best restaurants in France, but his family is Cambodian, and he moved here two years ago to be with them.
While in Paris, he also worked for Air France Catering, so he has serious portioning skills. Most of his flavours come from his French influence, and he works with local products to create healthy, delicious, French-ish food, just without the bread and butter. The daily rotating menu keeps things interesting.
“The idea is that we don’t want people to come just once a week, but because the menu is constantly changing, they feel fine coming two or three times a week and enjoy the ‘what do we have today?’ atmosphere; which is also quite different, there aren’t too many places that do that.”
Cambodia is an easy place to set up a business. It’s possible to take risks and be more creative here because there is less to lose and it’s easier to recover. Amatak is the first Crossfit gym in Cambodia, and Kettlebell is the first healthy café of its kind.
“You can afford to fail here.”
The neighborhood is ripe for change and after these guys moved in, it now really is where the cool kids hang out. For a few years there has been a growing expat community in the neighborhood, but a serious lack of coffee and lunch options. With the opening of new places in the area, “People are keeping their money in the neighborhood for their weekday activities rather than going to BKK or riverside.”
This change has also prompted a pedestrian culture in the area. For those of you that do not live in Phnom Penh, sidewalks here are mostly used to store large vehicles, small vehicles, napping tuk tuk drives, piles of trash, stray dogs, and the occasional family taking a nap. This is to say, people don’t walk around much. But with this neighborhood renewal, you see more and more people walking, meaning less traffic and congestion in the area.
“So I’m not the model of fitness, obviously, but we can help encourage a more balanced lifestyle.”
There is talk of a bike shop (more on that soon), a possible second location of the Crossfit gym is in the works. But for now, the guys are working to fine-tune the current menu, work with portions and pricing, and reach a wider market beyond the expat community. As of now, about 90% of patrons and members are expats, but the vision is to take it further. They want to the area accessible and attractive to locals, and want to create a different kind of community in Russian Market. They are on their way.
Crossfit Amatak and the Kettlebell Café can be found at #45, street 454 (near corner of street 123) in Tuol Tom Puong, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Kettlebell is still in it’s soft opening phase and are serving a limited number of plates Monday to Friday and only breakfast on Saturdays. If you would like to book one of their boxed lunches or reserve a plate, check out the Crossfit Amatak Facebook page everyday!
All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.
We’re back!!! After a week off, Cait is currently at cruising altitude somewhere around the Arctic on her way back to Asia, and Tiff is nursing a cold she caught in 24°C Cambodia…but who cares, we are so excited for all those new ideas we’ve been brewing through the holidays to get real. But first, some resolutions!
It was going to happen eventually. I was going to have to write about it. That thing that I do five out of seven mornings in a week. (Except today of all days, when I woke up the sniffles and a very inflated head.) The conversation topic that eventually builds when two like-fitted individuals get together at just about any venue or event to discuss the morning’s WOD. And hey, 2015 has just started. Peeps are making resolutions. So why not a better time to write about that it. Yeah that thing.
I got roped into it around 2013. My friend Corbett thought I could be doing better. Well, exercising better. I was also at the height of frustration with my body. My late twenties had hit and all of a sudden I couldn’t have a bacon blue cheese burger one night and chicken tikka masala a couple of days later and have my body not give a darn. The body changes happened seemingly overnight. My usual work out on the elliptical or tread mill paired with a daily commute on my bicycle wasn’t doing it either. So Corbett roped me into his bootcamp: a little crossfit-almost activity that we did in the parking lot of a gym in the middle of a residential street in Phnom Penh.
One year later, Corbett got his licenses and certifications together, designed a snazzy little space, recruited the most awesome of coaches and Crossfit Amatak (that’s infinite in Khmer for the rest of you) opened up shop this past summer. I’ve officially been Crossfitting, with about 70 other Phnom Penhers, since August this year. And I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
Now what is Crossfit? It’s commonly misunderstood and frequently derided. Women fear getting “too muscly.” Men picture pre-barbarian Arnold Schwarzeneggar. But this globally loved sport and approach to fitness is probably the least scary exercise (just ignore those grunts). The risks are just as high in any other sport when you don’t have the right coach.
It is all about high intensity and functional movements. It’s also about friends, fun and support, all in the spirit of fitness through the gymnastic, cardiovascular and endurance activities one grows to love. The constant striving to reach that personal best. (I’ve still got my eye on you, strict pull-up.) At one point (it usually hits after a couple of weeks), you wonder what the heck life was without it. I don’t think I’ve felt this good in years since getting acclimated to adulthood (ie. turning 30). We’ve made such good friends and it’s really established a new community in the city. And the best part – it’s pushed us all to live much healthier lives.
So I thought I’d share this heartwarming little doco on the topic today. Not just about crossfit, but the wonderful mood and psychosocial impact that exercise can have on anyone. And remember, it’s not about what you do, it’s that you do it. Whether it’s yoga, zumba, P90x, marathoning or whatever gets your heart pumping, we can all agree that some form of exercise is more than good for you. So with the start of 2015, go and give Crossfit a free trial class at your local box (if you’re in Phnom Penh, sign up for a free trial, every Saturday at 10am!).
All photos by J. Corbett Hix. Please request permission for use.
Not only was a reigning women’s Crossfit champion featured in Vogue, her family name mean’s “daughter of Thor.”
Dr. James Hamblin at The Atlantic conducts a hilarious discourse on picking your fitness cult: crossfit x yoga.
A great little treatise on looking good, feeling good and balancing everything society may expect of you.
Just get up and do something. Sitting is the new smoking.
It started trending among friends on Facebook on Thursday last week. And one by one, over dinner, over drinks, friends started gushing about it. It made us really proud. And then Mr. Kong’s Karaoke tuk tuk picked us up and it made the day even better.
I wanted to post it immediately and tell the world: “we live in this city, bitches!” But in the name of order and blog. I waited for Monday. So some of you may have already seen this already, but I’m still incredibly happy to share it anyways. The city has changed so much since Erika wrote the first 36 Hours in Phnom Penh back in 2008. And Naomi captures pretty darn tooting well what makes this city so special for us expats in this updated edition of the Phnom Penh guide. Soon, we’ll come out with our own little edition of what makes for one great day here in our eyes. But in the meantime, check out this perfect little video about this tiny complex little city that Cait and I live.
Photo by Tiffany Tsang for Cait+Tiff. Please request permission for use.