Tuesday, July 30, 2019

oNe PhOtO a DaY jUlY 2019


MONDAY 1st I AM: Vicky - an Australian, a wife, a traveller, a cook, and organiser, a swimmer, a reader, a teacher, a cyclist, an optimist, and a planner but unfortunately also a worrier. I am also happy to lead a simple life and my guiding principles are gratitude and integrity

TUESDAY 2nd MY FAVE BELONGING: This is going to be a tricky month for me, as we are travelling so of all the things with me right now my camera is my fave belonging. It’s been getting a real work out too. It’s old but it’s done good service and still works perfectly perhaps a little like me

WEDNESDAY 3rd MY FAVE VIEW: is most definitely prayer flags flapping in the wind at the mountain passes in Bhutan. We were fortunate today to drive through three passes and fly our own flags for the benefit of all sentient beings at each. This is Yongtong La at 3411 metres and the vibrant flags in the top of the shot are the ones we strung up today. I love Bhutan

THURSDAY 4th I’M GOOD AT: devising engaging learning activities to suit the abilities and interests of my students. This is an archive shot of our little monks taken not so long ago in Kep

FRIDAY 5th IM NOT SO GOOD AT: travelling these windy mountain roads but this is the ninth crossing of the kingdom. Anyone who knows me knows I do not travel well but our driver is a dear friend with whom we have done this journey several times in the past nine years. We were in the high passes and surrounded by clouds for a large part of the morning today but are now descending into the heat and blue sky of the sub-tropic zones

SATURDAY 6th MY FAVE COLOUR: is orange as anyone who knows me already knows. Another favourite thing is butter lamps, which just happen to burn orange despite appearing white before they are lit. Taken yesterday at Kore La-the final pass on the lateral road before reaching Trashigang

SUNDAY 7th I LOVE EATING THIS FOOD: Momos! Not the same as Chinese dumplings though I love them too. We have been eating as many as possible since arriving. Yesterday was a momo party with Ian’s former class 4/5 students who are all now finishing high school or already studying at a tertiary level. Love those cheese momos!

MONDAY 8th A HIGHLIGHT FROM MY DAY: After heavy rain all night and all morning we scored a dry spell at 2pm and hiked down the farm road and through the scrub on a rough track with lots of leeches to find our driver patiently waiting for us at the road head. Our aim was to reach Trashigang to see the newly restored interior courtyard of the Dzong. Last time we saw it in 2016 there were piles of rubble and it was a sad picture. With 15 minutes before it closed we managed to convince the security guards to allow us in. Finally, we got to wander around the courtyard alone and see it looking resplendent with only a handful of monks sharing the space with us and somewhat mystified about why we would want to be there

TUESDAY 9th I LOVE THIS ABOUT ME: I take a great deal of pleasure in simple things, I try to adapt to the customs and rituals of the places I have lived and in which I travel and I am curious and very interested the culture and daily life of other places. This is me, early this morning lighting a butter lamp at Kore La (the first of the passes we encountered today) photo credit goes to Ian

WEDNESDAY 10th MY FAVE HOBBY: would have to be photography. Recently I’ve mostly been using my phone but here in Bhutan the camera has been getting a real workout. This is my favourite shot from today’s Tshechu (religious ritual combining storytelling, music and dance) in Nimalung. It was hard to choose just one shot

THURSDAY 11th MY HANDWRITING: is not particularly uniform or neat but this is it. I wrote the 100th quote for my 100 days of inspiration, gratitude and calm today - just one day late but I was a bit too overwhelmed by Tshechu yesterday so I gave myself a break

FRIDAY 12th THIS SONG MAKES ME HAPPY: “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell. It was hard to choose just one as there are so many songs that make me happy but this one came to mind. I particularly like the version by Prince on the ”A Tribute to Joni Mitchell” album

SATURDAY 13th I GREW UP IN: Adelaide. spending long summer holidays on the beach and so many times all four of us kids very badly sunburnt (before anyone knew the dangers of skin cancer), jumping off the jetty, cars bogged in the sand, keys and kids lost and fish and chips  wrapped in newspaper for picnic lunches. I have now strayed far from where I was born and raised but I never quite feel I have come home until I visit the beach and usually manage to do so on the day I arrive

SUNDAY 14th I DO THIS MOST DAYS: I write 3 things I am grateful for at the end of the day and add them to my gratitude journal. When I do forget I do it the following morning. Do not take things for granted but take them with gratitude

MONDAY 15th THIS FLAVOUR MAKES ME HAPPY: It’s called thingay here in Bhutan and it’s almost onomatopoeic as it leaves a tingling feeling on your tongue. Combined with chilli in thukpa it’s the quintessential Bhutanese flavour. I just went out and bought it because of this prompt and now I will have to try to make that delicious rice porridge with paneer when we get home

TUESDAY 16th I LOVE THIS FILM: We happened to be living in Bhutan when it was released in 2016 and one of the animators is a dear friend. But what I love most about it is that the visuals are so strikingly Bhutanese and it’s so important for young children to see their own culture displayed, surviving and thriving in a modern medium

WEDNESDAY 17th I’M GRATEFUL FOR: blue skies and sunshine in sleepy little Haa. This view onto the main street from our hotel window is also pretty spectacular. Actually, I’m also very grateful for the opportunity to be in Bhutan right now

THURSDAY 18th MY FAVE BOOK: long story follows.....  It’s a bit of a stretch because we are travelling but I’ve been trying to make these prompts about me and our trip. I can honestly say this my favourite Bhutanese writer and I have read every book she has written (except the recipes in her book about Bhutanese food) many of them several times. I taught one several years in a row and love it so much I tried to buy another copy this trip but had no luck.  We went to 5 out of the 6 bookstores I know in Thimphu to find a single copy of any of her books and then miraculously found a new children’s book to add to my collection just an hour before the book store closed on our last day in Thimphu on Tuesday. I went straight back to our hotel room and read it so it’s my new almost fave book

FRIDAY 19th MY FAVE PLACE IN THE WORLD: It’s a tough one. There are lots of places I love. Somehow Bhutan is the one I talk about most when we are not here and now that we are the love is rekindled. I always say I left a piece of my heart here when we left and now I think an even bigger piece will stay behind when we depart in two-days’ time! It’s the everyday sights, the people the culture and the sheer majesty of the kingdom that brings a sense of inner calm. I love Bhutan

SATURDAY 20th MY FAVE PEOPLE: Of course, my family and the wonderful friends, who have stuck with me through thick and thin are up there on this list, but if I’m honest with myself right now the little monks of Kep win hands down. After a month of travelling I miss them. I have loved every reunion in the kingdom and the many friends and former students we have spent time with but these guys (and their other classmates not in this archive shot) make my heart sing

SUNDAY 21st TODAY WAS GREAT BECAUSE: after deciding to pay our final hotel bill in the country with a credit card we had some spare cash. I found a great book in the airport and then worked out a way to get the extra cash to Lama Shenphen for his work with recovering addicts in the kingdom. We are sad to go but grateful for the memories. “Palden Drukpa Gyalo”

MONDAY 22nd A SCENT THAT MAKES ME HAPPY: Nothing beats the smell of coffee in the morning - well perhaps drinking it! I always have to buy freshly ground coffee first when we do our marketing and then sniff it until the shopping is done and we can relax with a brew before heading home. This routine ensures any forgotten items are remembered when my brain wakes up. Oh yeah .... my go to perfume is also “Happy” and I haven’t had any for over two years- this was a duty-free purchase on our return to Thailand yesterday. Blissful start to our Bangkok sojourn

TUESDAY 23rd I ACHIEVED THIS! Despite almost always cycling or swimming these days on our final day in Bhutan I achieved a personal best for 2019 with the hike up to Taktshang - almost 18kms and 158 floors for the day.

WEDNESDAY 24th MADE ME SMILE TODAY: We made it to the Kingdom of Wonder today. Our luggage has grown at every destination and we left the airport in the smallest vehicle of the whole trip. I wanted to take a shot of Ian in the Cambodian Rickshaw with all our bags and the driver photo bombed it so only half the bags are visible

THURSDAY 25th THREE THINGS I’D TAKE ON A DESERTED ISLAND: Hope, calm and inspiration. Then everything else would fall into place

FRIDAY 26th A MEMORY OF MINE: That time in 2012 when to celebrate education in Bhutan, representatives from every school walked to the capital of Trashigang district from their schools and joined each other on the road. It was a 16-kilometre hike from my school and a wonderful experience. With hundreds of children and teachers converging at the main intersection and staying overnight to participate in a full day of entertainment and celebration. Of course, every foreign teacher in the district was included and along with principals I led the charge out of Rangjung Higher Secondary School. Some primary children walked for 3 days! What a feat of coordination and harmony

SATURDAY 27th A FAVE OUTFIT: I wore yesterday. I love it because it’s simple, casual, comfortable, my favourite colour combination (orange and black) and everything except the shoes and necklace are more than a decade old. It still fits and I still love it. Photo credit to Ian who took a zillion shots in this art filled laneway in Phnom Penh before I was happy with one of them - as I’m fond of saying, “That’s as good as it gets!”

SUNDAY 28th MY FAVE SEASON: Here as in most of Cambodia, there are really only two seasons- the wet and the dry. It’s always hot. It’s is officially the wet season but there was no rain today so we had the best of both seasons dry and a little cooler without the bright sunshine

MONDAY 29th MY FAVE ANIMAL: I haven’t had a pet since I was a child as my lifestyle is too nomadic, so I get a big kick out of seeing and spending time with wild animals in their native environment. Birds especially but the pedantic in me won’t allow myself to call them animals, so an elephant it is. This is an archive shot taken in Mondulkiri last year

TUESDAY 30th SOMETHING I WANT YOU TO KNOW: I’m a total foodie. I love cooking and baking and sharing original vegetarian food with family and friends. I delight in trying new dishes in restaurants. I also love to alter and experiment with recipes and in fact rarely make anything but adaptations or fusion dishes. This is a snapshot of a few recently homemade meals

WEDNESDAY 31st MY FAVE THING TO TAKE PHOTOS OF: would have to be the little monks of Kep. After a six-week break, we will start classes again tomorrow so this is an archive shot. I’m so excited to see them and also very curious about the changes that may have occurred at the monastery and among the boys themselves

Sunday, June 30, 2019

oNe PhOtO a DaY jUnE 2019


SATURDAY 1st THIS IS GOOD: Homemade iced coffee with chocolate brownie, vanilla ice cream

SUNDAY 2nd I CARE ABOUT THIS: - preparing the materials and resources we will use with the little monks to optimise their learning and enjoyment.  Planning this week’s classes and ordering flashcards was how I spent my morning

MONDAY 3rd REPEAT: Chocolate chip shortbread- mix, roll, bake and repeat. Half baked and half about to go in the oven. This is the most popular treat I make and there is never any shortage of takers, when I follow through with the vow to give away at least half of everything I bake. This time it will go to the bar run by a dear friend, who is the most frequent repeat receiver

TUESDAY 4th HERB: The local basil we grow and the peanut pesto made from it

WEDNESDAY 5th OBJECT: Now that we have visas to visit Bhutan we have begun the process of laundering our traditional clothes to take and wear on formal occasions. This object is my ‘rachu’- traditional handwoven ceremonial scarf for women. It brings back happy memories and I’m joyous about the prospect of creating more

THURSDAY 6th A DRINK: Cheers it’s now officially drink o’clock and after a day of near constant rain, I can say with certainty that the monsoon is here and I need a cheer me up. For the first time this year we needed to take a Tuk Tuk to the monks’ class this morning and we still optimistically did the washing and cycled to the bakery when we got home. Bad decisions ....

FRIDAY 7th PERFECT: The perfect gift for two café owners we know in Thimphu. Locally sourced bamboo and stainless-steel straws. Also the perfect way to put your money where your mouth is - these will be the 4th and 5th café, restaurant or bars we have given eco-friendly straws to - changing the world one small step at a time

SATURDAY 8th IMPERFECT: My favourite hiking pants very visibly and imperfectly mended by me. Proud to repair rather than replace whenever possible, even if it is imperfectly

SUNDAY 9th SOCK: I just love these compression socks given to me by a friend. This is an archive shot from when I first received them last year in winter in Oz. Here in Cambodia I think I have worn socks just four times this year. I also love that only after this shot was taken did I realise that they are labelled left and right and of course I have them on the wrong feet

MONDAY 10th A ROOM: in our little house in Kep. This small room doubles as a living room and dining room and it is where we spend a great deal of time reading, relaxing, eating and chatting with friends. I love the prayer flags flying and all the photos of our travels on the walls and the geckos love hiding behind them too

TUESDAY 11th I LIKE TO EAT THIS: It’s my twist on street food we used to eat in Beijing decades ago, so it’s dubbed Beijing Salad. A combination of tofu skins, mushrooms and sliced lotus root simmered in soya sauce and black vinegar and chilled.  It’s served with cashews and raw veggies after marinating for 24 hours. I really like to make and eat this but it’s not always possible to get all the ingredients. Tonight, it will be part of our dumpling feast for friends in Kep.

The step by step process is also included in the shots above

WEDNESDAY 12th SPOTTY: This illustration from a series of Dreamtime children’s books is more accurately described as dot painting but there is no denying its spotty. Of course, of the 35 drawings I could have selected I gravitated toward orange but settled on a crab - for crabby ole Kep

THURSDAY 13th OPEN UP: We headed off to teach the little monks today with sun protection, only to discover that due to a misunderstanding they thought we had already begun our break. We weren’t expecting the skies to open up but they did and we got drenched cycling home. However, by the time we returned the sun was out in force again and dripping wet we had to rush to open up to avoid being sun burnt - thanks to Ian for the shot of me cycling

FRIDAY 14th PURPLE: A purple possum, drawn by Adam Oehlers and found in the book “Celeste, Nick and the Magical Tea Party”. Since I don’t like purple I had to search the house to find this. I’m now even more grateful to the lovely French woman, who gave me this exquisitely illustrated, Australian, children’s book before departing from Kep. It also prompted me to read the story again

SATURDAY 15th CHOCOLATE: I’m not really a big fan of chocolate but I have often admired the chocolate tarts at the French Patisserie here in Kep. This prompt was the excuse I needed to finally purchase one and a lemon one which is more my style

SUNDAY 16th IN A BOWL: Homemade trail mix in an orange lacquered bamboo bowl from Vietnam. Once we are in cooler climes I will add chocolate to it for the perfect travel and hiking snack

MONDAY 17th CIRCLE: These woven baskets are all perfect circles and they lock together making a perfect, flexible, storage container. Made in Bhutan and known as “Bungchu” they are very both artistic and utilitarian. I love and use them regularly

TUESDAY 18th PEACE: Nothing quite says calm, compassion and peace like the image of Buddha for me. An ancient carved Buddha from the wall of our favourite eatery in PP and taken before I sat down to order dinner tonight

WEDNESDAY 19th I WATCHED THIS... : Daily life - ordinary people doing what they do in the Central Market and Streets of Phnom Penh

THURSDAY 20th MONEY: We are flying to Bangkok this morning. With five different currencies in my passport wallet I decided the Vietnamese Dong and Sri Lankan Rupees belonged in the Red Cross Charity box. The Thai Baht will be spent by the end of the day, Cambodian Reil will come in handy when we return and well American dollars are good security wherever you find yourself. Can’t wait to see those Bhutanese Ngultrum again

PS: I’m flattered that this one was chosen for the Fab Four on Instagram

FRIDAY 21st ON MY MIND: Right now, my home class from 2011 and 2012 are on my mind as we plan to see as many of them as possible in the next week. This is one of many shots I took of them in our final year together. I love that I can still put a name to every face and had to go searching to find some of them in the photo and found a couple were missing - oh yeah ... left school that year.  They changed me more than I influenced them, I’m sure

SATURDAY 22nd MUSICAL: My bag and wallet or purse have had bells on them ever since a bell on my rucksack woke me up and prevented it from being stolen on a train in Italy. The musical security which accompanies me daily is this version

SUNDAY 23rd A STORY: We arrived back in Thimphu today and this is the main intersection in the centre of town. I don’t know if it’s true or not but there is a story that traffic lights were installed at this intersection and the local people found it too impersonal so it was returned to its original state and a team of elite traffic police man the traffic circle during the day, directing and controlling ever greater numbers of vehicles. Not that it was busy early on this Sunday morning

MONDAY 24th UNEXPECTED: We have had a bit of an evolving Bhutanese shopping list for a while but today we received an unexpected request for an item I would never have purchased otherwise. Very fortuitously we were out shopping at the time and so I purchased my first ever football jersey in the Bhutan national colours

TUESDAY 25th THIS SEASON: For students in Bhutan this is the end of the exam season, it’s also the beginning of the rainy season and the summer season but for us and our former students and colleagues it is certainly the reunion season

WEDNESDAY 26th I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT THIS: Education! A small sample of the many educational settings I have found myself in over the 40 years I have had this passion

THURSDAY 27th SUN: The sun flare and bokek on the Buddha Dordenma in Thimphu. We have visited this exact spot today and been privileged to hear part of the prayer service delivered by the Je Khempo but this is an archive shot as today is overcast and there are throngs of devotees and monks at this auspicious time

FRIDAY 28th ORANGE: A monk in orange robes painted on the interior wall of a huge prayer wheel enclosure in Zongdok Peleri Lhakhang Thimphu

SATURDAY 29th ON MY FRIDGE: This is the bar fridge in our hotel room in Thimphu, so in reality it’s not actually my fridge. However, I did manage to decorate it with the slips of paper containing the pre-written quotes I prepared so I could continue to post for my 100-day project while we are travelling

SUNDAY 30th HOLE: The rails on the covered bridge in Thimphu have holes that are painted in exactly the same patterns as traditional window frames