Thursday, December 1, 2022

oNe PhOtO a DaY NoVeMbEr 2022:

NOVEMBER 1st A COLLECTION: of glassware from our breakfast table this morning in the very charming Oh Battambang Boutique Hotel 


The full breakfast we were served

NOVEMBER 2nd A BOOK COVER: I spotted this book on a table in the hotel lobby the day we arrived, took a quick look at it and wondered why I had never seen it before. Then yesterday we stumbled across it again in our favourite social enterprise, retail outlet. So far, I have resisted buying it but I know I would love it and it might just find its way into my luggage before we leave Battambang


NOVEMBER 3rd A SHOP FRONT: The traditional shophouses in Cambodia vary slightly from province to province and those in Battambang are well preserved and often beautifully renovated. This shop front is one we have admired every trip here and this time is no exception

NOVEMBER 4th A FOR SALE SIGN: I’m assuming there is a for sale sign amongst these but I really have no idea since I can’t read the Khmer script

NOVEMBER 5th A BRIDGE: in the main downtown area of Battambang


NOVEMBER 6th A FENCE: A one of a kind bamboo fence in the garden courtyard setting of one of my all-time favourite businesses, which has survived and started growing again after the difficult times of recent years. I might just have splurged on a few new clothing items recently right here

NOVEMBER 7th I DIDN’T MAKE THIS: but it’s a veggo platter and looks exactly like something I would and do make. I remembered it fondly from our last visit to this restaurant and that’s exactly why I ordered it


NOVEMBER 8th THROW IT: This is an archive shot of one of the littlest monks we ever taught and the image came straight into my head the moment I read today’s prompt. An was never a keen student but he delighted in the opportunities to play that our classes provided

*It was also selected for the Fab Four on the day I posted it

NOVEMBER 9th AN UNMADE BED: Even in hotels I always make the bed before leaving the room. It’s a habit trained into me in childhood. Last Friday the morning we checked out of our hotel I snapped this photo as it amused me that we are sometimes such opposites. Ian’s bag is completely packed and mine is almost completely empty with the contents strewn all over my side of the bed while I contemplate the best way to get all that stuff in there. And yes, the bed is unmade


NOVEMBER 10th POWER LINES: Many places all over the kingdom have a tangle of power lines at every intersection and Battambang was no exception. Though I must admit to the credit of municipal authorities, we saw teams of workers removing those no longer in use and replacing the old cables, several times during our stay. 

*This one was also chosen in the Fab Four collection on Facebook on the day

It was hard to select just one image so this was a close second. Battambang still has a lot of its traditional architecture and old-world charm intact 

NOVEMBER 11th AN ARROW: leading the way up to one of my favourite shops in Phnom Penh and me reflected in their fabulous new logo. Fabulous Dorsu where I just happened to be shopping for the third time in three weeks. That’s the monthly selfie sorted too


NOVEMBER 12th IN MY POCKET: So very few of my clothes have pockets so when they do the most likely items within will be my keys a mask and tissues!  That's it for today


NOVEMBER 13th A CLOSED SIGN: at one of my favourite eateries in the capital. I love a dosa


NOVEMBER 14th A FLOCK OF BIRDS: Hornbills to be precise. We see them quite often and they seem almost prehistoric and very awkward in flight but I’m totally fascinated by them. They roost very near where we live and fly overhead regularly


NOVEMBER 15th HAND SHADOWS: Yesterday we went to see the “Walking Through a Songline” popup digital experience, which is currently in Phnom Penh. Although very short, it was a wonderful exhibition and we enjoyed it several times over and played around with creating shadows on the projections on the walls and floor as we were the only ones there at the time. I took these shots of my hand shadow with my phone then turned them into a collage for this prompt


NOVEMBER 16th RUNNING WATER: We have been out and about all day today and decided to eat lunch in one of our favourite vegan cafes. I’m always glad to see these ‘refill not landfill’ stations and had to avail of the running water to top up my water bottle. Say no to plastic

NOVEMBER 17th WRINKLES: This postcard depicts a wrinkled but charming, rural, Khmer woman. It is a reproduction of the beautiful watercolour artwork of local artist and photographer Loeum Lorn.  In the past few years I have bought several different images on every trip to Battambang and this trip was no exception


NOVEMBER 18th EMPTY TABLE: At 5pm on a Friday night, it’s not easy to score an empty table with a view of the river but we got lucky today


NOVEMBER 19th ROCKS: In a secluded little corner of the garden a bed of rocks frames a wilting, yellowing leaf. Nature taking its course aesthetically

*surprisingly this one was selected for the Fab Four on Facebook


NOVEMBER 20th AFTERNOON LIGHT: The street scene from our terrace bathed in that warm, late afternoon light

NOVEMBER 21st HALF FULL: The annual traditional Xmas cake bake has already commenced. Batch one is baked and now deliciously scenting the kitchen is a half full pot of dried fruit: cranberries, raisins, sultanas, apricots, melon, mango, pineapple, dates, kiwi fruit, ginger and peel all boiled in butter, juice and stout, with spices added and now set aside for three days to brew up nicely. ………. It has to remain in the pot as I don’t have a bowl big enough to contain it and the eggs and flour that are yet to be stirred into it


NOVEMBER 22 GRAFFITI: The Khmer graffiti wall in a cool, new, creative space I have recently discovered in Phnom Penh. I love the handwritten messages in several languages jumbled up with stencilled Khmer images and names


NOVEMBER 23rd UGLY FOOD: For the longest time the appearance of dragon fruit put me off trying them. Now however I’m a complete convert and buy two or three a week. Chilled with yoghurt they make the best breakfast but I only ever buy the red ones and have only just recently learned to tell which is which without seeing one cut


NOVEMBER 24th A TALL BUILDING: still under construction and like so much of the development here over-shadowing and juxtaposing with the more traditional structures around it. The evolving face of modern Phnom Penh


NOVEMBER 25th A SPIDER WEB: indigenous art illustration from a gorgeous a collection of children’s books I still have. This is a Dreamtime story about the power of magic and the dot art is the reason I can’t part with them. The drawings are beautiful and much to my delight after thoroughly cleaning in preparation for the arrival of our house guest this afternoon there is not a spider web to be seen in our place


NOVEMBER 26th A FUNNY SHAPE: An interesting, ceramic sculpture in the beautiful house in Kep we just arrived at and where we will take couple of days break. I’ve always thought it was a funny shape and it reminds me of origami but I really like it and the decor of the entire place in fact


NOVEMBER 27th A SPLASH: Swimming laps is like meditation to me. I can feel my mind calm and my body relax as we do laps together. I could barely contain myself long enough to take this shot of Ian creating a splash before I created one of my own yesterday just after arriving in Kep

NOVEMBER 28th SOMETHING HIDDEN: Through the statues dedicated to donors at the pagoda there is a glimpse of Rabbit Island, which is almost hidden from view but constantly on the minds of the little monks of Kep. We have taken them there on day trips twice and the requests to repeat this experience are constantly being made. Today we visited and proposed to the Abbot that we do it again with them next month but the boys do not know that yet


NOVEMBER 29th A LIST: I came across today when I was reading a little booklet put out by the Australian Embassy containing many varied facts and figures about Australia. As an expat I’ve always had one as it is so embarrassing to be living in another country and not be able to supply answers to locals on the many topics that one is invariably asked about. This habit started in my first overseas posting in China, where information was scarce in 1989, well before Google could easily solve such an issue and I still always pick one up in the embassy whenever we need to go there. Now that we have booked our tickets we are turning our thoughts towards Australia and with a bit of luck and a fair wind we may even receive an invite to Friday night drinks at the embassy this week for the first time ever


NOVEMBER 30th A FAMILY MEMBER: Not so much a family member as THE family member that my world revolves around. In fact, the only family member I have seen or spent any time with in the last four and a half years. Ian is never happier than when he has a serve of rice and a curry in front of him. I went with the most recent shot I have of him and it was this one taken three days ago



Saturday, November 12, 2022

PHNOM PENDING and well we did go to Battambang too



I LOVE the area we live in. Tonight, after having had a great day wandering mostly, we were sitting on the terrace and suddenly there were fireworks. Of course, we both then remembered that it’s the Anniversary of King Norodom Sihamoni’s coronation day tomorrow. Thanks for that insight Dale.


Because the streets are lively, and the fireworks added further excitement, we were gazing into the street scenes. An elderly very drunk man was staggering along and stumbling in the middle of traffic. Cars slowed, motos veered he wove and wobbled and almost fell but remained upright due to his stick. He still clutched his empty bottle and proceeded tentatively. At a much busier intersection I feared he would be injured and in my western way wished someone would just offer to assist him safely across the street, but no, he made it and continued along his way unharmed.



It’s Water Festival but for the third consecutive year there is no dragon boat racing. It didn’t change the fact that some crews continued training and we were lucky enough to see them.

However right now the streets, markets, river and even households are slowed down, more relaxed and light-hearted than is usual. It is still a public holiday and the ASEAN Summits are happening.


It’s more than ever lovely to wander the streets to walk to most of the places we need to go to. The sound and sight of helicopters is not unheard of on any day but I’m guessing it will become more prevalent over the coming days.


The local kids are running, scootering, rollerblading and playing with balls on the flat surfaces of the less crowded streets. They are also screaming and they like the howling dogs seem to set each other off. Mostly it’s pure pleasure with the kids at least. The dogs I see less often than I hear, so I’m not so sure.



9 /11

ASEAN got fireworks tonight and we had the same vantage point as last time. This view of the fireworks displays was certainly not anything I expected or even considered when we chose the Aerie. Living in the moment and counting the blessings!

Ian's fabulous shot with the iconic Central market in the foreground 

As suspected the helicopters flying above have increased in number significantly in the past few days as PMs, presidents, foreign ministers and military commanders start pouring in from across the region and well beyond. While we actually enjoy the visuals, I can’t help but wonder if it is triggering for many of the locals for whom that sound and sight bears the trauma of a not so distant history.



Since returning from beautiful Battambang we have delighted in cooking together and availing of the fresh produce which abounds in the market.


Battambang was just exactly the recovery break we so needed. It always impresses me that the character of the old town has been preserved and that the governance seems to display a forward-thinking attitude. Billboards and giant electronic screens for advertising have been banned so that the riverside can maintain that old world, colonial charm that I find so aesthetically appealing.

We selected it with the intention to swim and walk the quaint, traditional streets in the old quarter daily and did exactly that. We thoroughly enjoyed the museum’s well documented collection despite having seen it before and even discovered a photographic gallery and found the studio gallery of a local artist who I have long admired.


Every visit in the past I have purchased postcards of Loeum Lorn's work and finally after reading reviews that his gallery was temporarily closed and the Google maps pin being wrongly located, we stumbled upon it quite by accident and found the artist himself happy to discuss his work.

The Tep Kao Sol gallery is a collection of watercolours of smiling Cambodian children, wrinkled, elderly, rural women, monks in saffron robes strolling past the yellow facades of French colonial buildings, landscapes and Apsara dancers with mysterious expressions. These images are not only enormously appealing to travellers but that very reality is disappearing fast in this era of development. Of course, we could not resist purchasing but also not an original just a reproduction of it on canvas.


Since returning we have vowed that regular trips to Battambang will quite definitely be a part of our policy of continuing to enjoy a simple, slow, secure and sustainable life and being able to take the train there through beautiful rural landscapes and enjoy the subtle changes of the season and environment as we wend our way west, is a big part of the reason why.


Holding not just casual gatherings but also actual sit-down dinner parties is another thing we both love to do and today’s reflection was supposed to be about exactly that but somehow, I got waylaid. What’s new eh?


So, to return to the topic after a fun few hours zipping around Phnom Penh by tuk tuk and still managing to clock up almost seven kilometres on foot with incredible shopper Amyssie, we had dinner on the terrace.


Another fireworks display timed itself absolutely perfectly with the moment. No sooner had the meal been placed on the table than the first huge boom rang out and light filled the sky. Perfect.

It was great to relax, catch up and philosophise with dear friends, whose ideas and plans give me hope for more justice and equality in our current world.


I also need to add that the helicopters continue to fly overhead and the night scenes are significantly better lit and reflect the festivities. I’m grateful I didn’t flee to the provinces as some residents have and miss the atmosphere and energy of this special period in Phnom Penh.


Therefore, I shall end as I began:


“I LOVE living where we do.”



Sunday, October 30, 2022

oNe PhOtO a DaY OcToBeR 2022:I thought I’d make this whole colour month about creativity.


OCTOBER 1st WHITE: the last of the flowers on the Cuban Ginger we brought with us from our garden in Kep.  It is now flourishing on our sunny terrace in Phnom Penh. I thought I’d make this colour month all about creativity, so let’s kick it off with gardening

OCTOBER 2nd BLACK: A quirky take on the guardian lions that usually adorn entranceways here in Cambodia. Street art is definitely a form of creativity I admire


OCTOBER 3rd GREEN: Fresh green coriander with an organic, earth-friendly, creative wrapping displayed on all the other greens including knife blade coriander and fresh green pepper corns. I love seeing the traditional ecological packaging returning to the markets now that people are beginning to say no to plastic. Ecological packaging is the creativity connection in this one

OCTOBER 4th RED: The promotion pamphlet for the Asian Documentary film festival I have attended all the screenings of so far. This startling, red sari-dressed bride was from the Indian film “A Night of Knowing Nothing” which was an exceptional insight into both political activism and gender roles in India. The creativity connection is both film making and more especially curating an entire festival. I was saddened to hear last week that the Ikigai Arts Centre will be closing down at the end of the festival 

OCTOBER 5th ORANGE: We are at a hospital getting the second X-ray after Ian’s fall today. Weirdly enough the logo, decor and even folders for notes here are all orange, right down to the original art work on the walls!  For today the creativity connection is oil paintings


OCTOBER 6th BLUE: The brilliant blue of the pool and sky contrast and highlight the magnificent architectural design of this  stunning traditional meets contemporary Cambodian home. Design is the creativity connection for today’s shot


OCTOBER 7th YELLOW: One of the flowers that always sings “you’re in the tropics” to me, is hibiscus.  They are such sunny happy flowers especially in bright yellow. Truth be told no matter how hard we try none of us matches mother nature’s creativity and diversity

OCTOBER 8th PURPLE: Handmade soap came in this pretty purple container made locally from sustainable local resources. My purchasing decisions are often based on not just the product but also the amount of garbage created, so I cannot bear to waste these eco-friendly wrappings. It along with many others of different sizes, shapes and designs has a second use in our home. My repurposing of the packaging of products is the creativity connection for this one


OCTOBER 9th AQUA: This aqua Chinese style hall table was the big splurge in furniture terms when we moved into our apartment. Though I worried that the colour didn’t fit the rest of the decor I fell in with love it instantly and just decided that it would be an accent piece. In my mind, it certainly is creative to make reproductions of traditional furniture and give it a contemporary twist 


OCTOBER 10th PINK: A display of pink Lotuses arranged for a Buddhist altar. There are always both pink and white ones available at the flower vendor stalls in Cambodia. I make a point of always walking through that section of the market. I love to arrange flowers myself, even though I have no particular talent for it. I think florists make creative and inspiring displays and I’ve always thought it would be such calming and satisfying work


OCTOBER 11th GREY: The grey Ganesh statue blessing believers is a common icon seen here. This elephant headed god is widely revered as the remover of obstacles and is thought to bring good luck as the patron of arts and sciences; and the deva of intellect, purity, innocence, valour and wisdom. The creative art of stone masonry is alive and well in Cambodia, with whole streets set aside for stone masons to create in a community

OCTOBER 12th BROWN: The exterior walls of the wonderful memorial structure in the garden of the house we are currently staying in. Each panel is individually carved with this repeating motif. Wood carving is a creative artisan skill which is alive and well in Cambodia


OCTOBER 13th POP OF COLOUR: This is our dear friend Yary at the iconic Angkor Wat site. Her love of roses is legendary and this is a gorgeous, red, climbing rose from her own garden in Phnom Penh so that’s the perfect pop of colour for a black and white shot in my mind. Photography is the creative pursuit with which I am most enamoured 



OCTOBER 14th STRIPES: The raised stripe design of the ceramic planter pots in the garden is both simple and aesthetic. Pottery is yet another creative skill for which I have no talent but a keen appreciation


OCTOBER 15th FLORAL: This simple hand-sewn, running stitch addition to the floral fabric of a throw rug reminded me of Sashiko, which is a form of Japanese folk embroidery using a variation of running stitch to create a patterned background. It’s actually adding texture as a foreground in this case but it definitely adds a personalised touch. I’m not sure if this qualifies as quilting or embroidery but either way it’s indisputably creative

OCTOBER 16th ONE COLOUR: I’ll make it beige with these beautiful handwoven rattan bangles on bamboo. I’ve long been a big fan of basket weaving and have a huge collection of actual baskets but these asymmetrical elliptical bangles take it to a whole new level.There is so much creativity in weaving rattan 


OCTOBER 17th TWO COLOURS: This aerial view of Angkor Wat is printed in silver on a blue linen tea towel and sold by TRUNKH. It’s a graphic almost everyone in Cambodia recognises immediately. (Yes, I know it looks white in this shot and that white is not a colour but it is in fact silver.) Silk screen printing is a creative skill I’ve tried my hand at a few times but not with this degree of success


OCTOBER 18th PATTERN: This double-sided, handwoven, woollen table runner from Peru, is our one and only souvenir from the month we spent travelling there. It is now treasured and used regularly as nothing is for special occasions anymore. Today and everyday are the special occasions. Thanks to PAD and this photo I noticed where the tassels were coming unraveled and spent the last half hour re-twisting and re-tying them and have a greater appreciation for the skill that went into making this. Weaving especially an identical double sided pattern is incredibly creative as is the finishing process creating the tassels


OCTOBER 19th BLACK AND WHITE: This drawing offset printed on textured paper is of “The White Building”. It has a truly fascinating history and has been the subject of a documentary, photographs, paintings and sketches. I love the details of a hammock, the washing, the mobile food cart, tuk tuks, motos and everyday life. It no longer exists but is fondly remembered. Drawing is a creative pursuit that is well beyond me but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating the skill of others. 

OCTOBER 20th RAINBOW: macramé charm I bought in Bhutan and love. In fact, I bought two as I know myself well enough to know that when the one I immediately hung on my bag breaks, and it will, I will want to replace it. I’m not sure if all knotting is macramé but it definitely handmade and very creative


OCTOBER 21st MY FAVE COLOUR: is orange and most of my jewellery is that colour. These Murano glass charms are my absolute favourite pieces and each was bought to commemorate a special event in my life. Designing and creating individual pieces of jewellery is a complex creative process


OCTOBER 22nd MATCHING: reversible, placemats and coasters from the incredibly creative TRUNKH collection. These were a most unexpected gift and I love them. Sewing is a skill I simply do not possess, even my Needlework teacher back in high school, in the days when such subjects were considered essential for girls, advised me to stick to knitting and hand sewing and please choose art next year. I took her advice


OCTOBER 23rd NATURAL: handmade soap, essential oil and room spray all produced from organic lemongrass in my favourite kingdom. These are my go to souvenirs from Bhutan and I was thrilled when dear friends gifted them to me after returning from Bhutan. Soap making and oil extraction are not only technically challenging skills but also highly creative processes


OCTOBER 26th DARK: Hawaiian gourmet, chocolate each with a unique individual taste. Tonight, we will share these with friends and chocolate aficionados and have a chocolate tasting to vote on which island produces the winning dark chocolate. Anyone who doesn’t think chocolate making is creative is just plain crazy


OCTOBER 25th LIGHT: sun bleached, drift wood washed ashore by the tide and bearing a sentiment that rings true for me. Seeing such a message when I was thinking exactly that is a testament to someone’s message hitting the mark exactly


OCTOBER 26th PASTEL: lotus leaf design made from terrazzo in Wat Ounalom. Terrazzo is flooring I have long admired but I have never seen such creative designs as those in this pagoda


OCTOBER 27th BRIGHT: orange hair now that I have put henna in it again. I even got my monthly selfie taken too. Dyeing one’s own hair with a completely natural product qualifies as creative in my book


OCTOBER 28th GOLD: stencilled design on the pillars of the main prayer hall at Wat Phnom Poon. I noticed it and many other changes when we visited the little monks of Kep earlier this week. Hand cut and applied stencil designs certainly qualify as creative, especially when they are applied hundreds of times consistently enough for me to have to get very close to know that’s how it was done

OCTOBER 30th MELLOW: Sinn Sisamouth album covers create a mellow vibe in this newly opened coffee shop. The sweet voice of the king of Khmer music also adds ambiance and the owner is a big fan as his tattoo proves. Bringing a nostalgic atmosphere with complimentary decor and music and combining your passions counts as creative


OCTOBER 31st DOTS: Those little dots of colour when fireworks explode in the sky. Completely unexpectedly, we saw the fireworks display for the Anniversary of King Norodom Sihamoni’s Coronation Day, from our terrace on Saturday night. There is no doubt about the creativity involved in staging a pyrotechnics display and this one was spectacular. The perfect ending to a colour month all about creativity