Sunday, May 1, 2022

oNe PhOtO a DaY ArPrIl 2022:

APRIL 1st ON MY PLATE: is fresh coconut and date cake I baked. Almost everything else we eat is in a bowl so this prompt was an excuse to have coffee and cake today. PAD making every day better


APRIL 2nd A VEGETABLE: Having just arrived home from the local market I was spoilt for choice but this smaller than my hand, sweet, local pumpkin was today’s bargain and at about 35 cents, it is definitely the best choice. It will be roasted with other veggies for a salad to accompany zucchini fritters tomorrow

APRIL 3rd A FRUIT: Mango is one of my favourites and right now they are in season here. Yesterday the lovely Khmer family, from whom we rent our house, gifted us these five mangoes from the trees on their property. They are always very generous with the prolific crops they produce and we feel grateful for their kindness and generosity


APRIL 4th BREAKFAST: almost always includes baguettes these days but this was actually yesterday’s breakfast, because on weekends we try to up the ante- eggs, rocket, Malabar spinach, Thai basil, tomatoes, chili jam, vegemite and lashings of Kampot pepper

APRIL 5th LUNCH: At the pagoda the main meal of the day is lunch as monks don’t eat after noon. This is Din and he has the haircut but not the robes as he is yet to be ordained but he was helping deliver the food for lunch to the tables today. Many of their meals are donated by families on the alms walk in the morning and then the helpers serve them up at around 11am.


These are the alms bowls the monks carry through the streets and return to the pagoda with almost every morning


APRIL 6th DINNER: Dukkah spiced, zucchini and cheese fritters I made for dinner a few nights ago. I’m beginning to think Dukkah is my favourite spice mix and I keep finding more dishes it adds zing to


APRIL 7th RAW: My favourite kind of salad is a combination of raw and roasted so here are the raw ingredients for tonight’s version. Perfect for a vegetarian, eat a rainbow kind of meal


The final dish once the steamed broccoli, roasted potatoes, onions, garlic, pumpkin seeds and almonds were added with omelette strips.

APRIL 8th COOKED: We had lunch in our favourite vegetarian eatery in Kampot today and the Falafel Plate is Ian’s go to order. Both the bread and falafels were cooked and thoroughly delicious

APRIL 9th IN MY PANTRY: Our galley kitchen doesn’t stretch to a pantry but four wheelie boxes under the kitchen shelf unit serve the same purpose and make more efficient use of the small space


APRIL 10th DESSERT: Fresh mango and pineapple with yoghurt and oats. It was actually breakfast but that’s about as close as it gets to dessert in our house. I do bake cakes and cookies for coffee time but I almost never make dessert these days


APRIL 11th A GREEN FOOD: Snow-peas are one of my favourite salad ingredients and one that is not easy to find here but Kampot market had a supply and I availed this week

*this shot was surprisingly selected for the Fab Four in PAD 

APRIL 12th SNACK: Homemade chocolate chip shortbread and oatmeal cookies with coffee is the snack of choice in our household

APRIL 13th A FAVE RECIPE: of mine is Beijing Salad. I named it for the street food it was adapted from and I’ve been making it for three decades. The recipe is stored in the digital file I keep in my phone so that I can share it with friends and that is exactly what I did today as we had friends for dinner last night and they requested it. Even when I write the recipe I still adapt it every time and the ingredients change a little each time I prepare it

APRIL 14th INGREDIENT: Freshly ground black pepper makes its way into most dishes at our house. How could anyone resist when world famous Kampot pepper is grown just a few kilometres down the road

APRIL 15th KITCHEN: We are having a staycation and house sitting in Kep so I will showcase the main indoor kitchen in this magnificent home. We actually use and prefer the outdoor kitchen and it’s cooler and more practical to cook outside in the tropics too

APRIL 16th 2 THINGS: Lime and chili make their way into many dishes and even some drinks in our house


APRIL 17th A DRINK: It’s a rare treat for me to indulge in this kind of drink - mocha frappe. Ian stuck to his regular order of black coffee but I decided to take a trip down memory lane when this was the kind of reward I would allow myself for submitting assignments on time in my college days. Must have been more than a decade since I’d had anything like it and I savoured every indulgent mouthful


APRIL 18th A WHITE FOOD: Last night’s deconstructed salad was absolutely what the doctor ordered but it was the feta - a white food, that was my favourite ingredient. Also featuring the last of the rocket since the chooks decimated the garden and destroyed it all yesterday while we were house sitting elsewhere!


The actual salad as it was served

APRIL 19th HEALTHY: I’m not sure how healthy this breakfast really is but we certainly had healthy appetites after our early morning walk this morning and we enjoyed every last mouthful

APRIL 20th INDULGENT: This is about as indulgent as it gets in our house. At today’s gathering brownies with coconut ice-cream and dragon fruit was dessert

APRIL 21st A RED FOOD: Not one of Ian’s chilli concoctions but a local product that was gifted to us. A little goes a long way and my lips are now tingling with the after effect of this in my lunch


APRIL 22nd SAVOURY: A platter of salad filled lettuce and cabbage cups. It was a bit of a messy savoury for finger food but I still loved the taste

APRIL 23rd SWEET: chilled and artistically carved watermelon. It was almost too pretty to eat


APRIL 25th IN MY CUP:  I love latte and often order it in cafés but rarely have milk at home. I was recently gifted this sachet and keep forgetting to buy milk to make it. I was also not so recently gifted this gorgeous Japanese tea cup with flashes of orange. As of now, this is as close as the turmeric latte has come to being in my cup


APRIL 25th ON MY FORK: is linguine with roasted cherry tomatoes, red capsicum, red onions, giant oyster mushrooms and garlic sauce garnished with Thai basil and Parmesan- going with Eurasian fusion cooking and though I did use a fork for this shot, I ate it with chopsticks as I do almost every meal


APRIL 26th YUK: When you have been vegetarian for about 35 years this is really the definition of yuk. Many those who do eat beef are somewhat confronted by the way it is stored and presented in the markets here and also think yuk. As a Cham person I think she is Muslim and the only beef vendor and among the pork sellers, who usually display the whole pig’s head. I guess it’s halal

 *this shot was my second selection for the Fab Four in PAD in this month! 

APRIL 27th I EAT HERE: every time we go to PP and usually several times. Backyard Cafe simply the best. Archive shot today as it’s really been a total overwhelm


APRIL 28th THIS IS DELICIOUS: A tempeh open sandwich at Simple Things for lunch today. Kampot’s vegetarian haven serving up health and nutrition with style


APRIL 29th UTENSIL: The Cambodian, lacquer chopsticks I use daily and absolutely love. I eat almost everything with chopsticks and have for more than three decades

APRIL 30th IN MY BOWL: Two of my favourite rattan bangles in my lacquered, coconut nut shell bowl. After a full month of food and drinks I just had to break the pattern. This beautiful bowl has always been used for bangles and bracelets and it will never be used for food





Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Departure Diaries - the black dog!


Filophising our future- We need to really retire!

Looking at the last few months, six months, one year and pondering the medical and travel expenses …….

Now is the time to reassess.

Looking at the monks classes and thinking we can’t stop now even though there are ever increasing student numbers, ever widening age ranges and abilities and ever more erratic attendance. The need is even greater but so is the cost in time, energy and money. 

We need to stop! 

Looking at the slow, simple sustainable and secure existence we we aimed to achieve living here in Kep and realising the traffic is increasing in volume, size and speed, mountains are being carved up and new coastlines created while poverty expands and eco-systems collapse. 

We need to move on! We can’t change this and most folks we know don’t see the need or even don’t want to. 

Looking at the strong connection to community we have always prioritised and comprehending we have very few friends and most mates are often too busy, too broke, too self absorbed or simply too disinterested to even realise we too need to belong. 

We need to focus on us. 

Looking at the first half decade of not working and acknowledging that ‘pretirement’ may be coming to an end and rather than let it all unravel we better start making a plan! “When your memories outnumber your dreams. You have ceased to live.”

We need to relocate.

We need to RETIRE! 


Jan was cremated today at the exact same time that Brian was summoned, incarcerated, interrogated and intimidated by the police. 

It seems the only way to fit in at the moment in Kep, is to be miserable and when everyone around you is, well, soon enough you find yourself sliding down that slippery slope until every little of joy has been leached out of you. 

Once you have decided to move on and made a plan and begun to implement it, the connections start evaporating behind you as you move forward. All the pleasures, exhilaration, achievement and gratitude fade to uncomfortable final episodes and yet we are so far from reaching any end point except in our imaginations and fully intend to return and maintain the relationships. 

Just another day in paradise. 


I sometimes think that we are not so much lonely as actually isolated. 

I note that we are happiest when left to our own devices and are doing something together without having to include others most of the time. I know that and find it reassuring. 

I know that …….    but I feel that it is not right that we always have to initiate social contact. No one organises anything that we are invited to unless it’s at their own premises and they hope to make a profit. It wears thin. 

I feel that unless we invite people over or go to the bar ourselves, no one would actually care very much if they saw us or not. 

For some, it’s enough to just message to find out what we are doing or that we are OK, but most don’t even respond to messages, if you attempt to connect in that way. Of course, unless they need or want something. 

Usually we can only get any kind of conversation happening if we don’t ask too many questions, as no one is keen to divulge very much detail about themselves on any platform or even face to face individually. Most often once a critical mass of questions have been asked then silence is the only reply! 

Maybe that’s why we can only gather in public places and the greater the numbers the better. That way no one reveals too much and everyone feels…..  or actually doesn’t at all! 

To be fair, A mostly responds and comes for coffee and yet she has no less than three “jobs” that she undertakes and free time is not in abundance. 

I hear myself making Michael Evan’s age old decree, “Not enough birthdays!” But, it is more than that and not everyone we call a friend, is in fact a Millennial.  People simply can’t connect and commit. Maybe I’m just too sensitive. 

Yet we are constantly told we will be missed! 

No wonder I feel discombobulated. 


Back to 

silence, secrets and subterfuge. 

No one wants to

communicate, connect or commit. That’s a given now. 

I feel 

frustrated, forgotten and friendless. Not new. 

Is it that they are all so self absorbed or selfish? 

or that I am so sensitive and sad? Both and more! 

Today’s final fling was fundamentally flawed, fancifully fictitious and forlornly fatal.  

I once thought I had three friends in Kep. Where are they now? 

Licking their wounds, lying and laying low! 

We are NOT quite as naïve, gullible or stupid as you might think or are we? Well manipulated. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

oNe PhOtO a DaY MaRcH 2022:

MARCH 1st THE WEATHER: early this morning was overcast with a dreamy ambience. We stopped on route to the monks’ class at the end of the dense old growth mangrove forest to snap this shot of the young mangroves. We have seen so much destruction of this zone that we are thrilled that the saplings planted several years ago are finally looking like they will establish themselves


MARCH 2nd SOMETHING IN YOUR KITCHEN: actually, everything in my kitchen. We have a tiny galley kitchen here in Kep and we had this shelf unit made to accommodate the crockery, cookware, food supplies and glasses as well as make bench space for our oven and well yes bar supplies! Its compact, accessible and functional and now that we are considering moving we don’t want to part with it


MARCH 3rd SKYLINE: at the pagoda and standing on the platform of the giant Buddha. It’s hard to believe that just over four and a half years ago when we started teaching the little monks here there was nothing but a small bungalow for the Abbot, an outdoor kitchen and huge tin shed with two walls that functioned as the main hall, classroom and bedroom for at least some of the boys


MARCH 4th MAKES YOU FEEL NOSTALGIC: Looking through old travel photos always makes me feel nostalgic for the days when travel was cheap, easy and fun. I’m also grateful for the many varied experiences I’ve had in different times and places and people I’ve met along the way. This was taken around 1990 on film when we had our first ever teaching overseas stint and travelled to Yunnan Province during the spring festival break. It was digitalised years later and I still love it. The Yi minority women of China are horse riders extraordinaire and strong resilient women

MARCH 5th BOOKS: that I use to study Chinese. I’ve had that elementary reader and dictionary for decades but I mostly study online and record new words or expressions in my exercise book these days. I still don’t seem to be able to part with the books, mostly because I get a real kick out of being able to look up a new character in the dictionary instead of googling it or using google translation. It’s an old fashioned study technique that has served me well. No, I’m not making much progress but for at least five minutes a day I persist

MARCH 6th A CORNER: I hope to become much more familiar with in the coming months and personalise as a reading nook. There are actually lots of corners in this shot I took recently…….. big changes are coming soon


MARCH 7th BUS STOP: In a country where almost every bus company picks up and drops off at any point along the route this bus ticket office at Kep Beach is as close as it comes to an actual bus stop


MARCH 8th SUNSET: An archive shot today as things are a bit of a roller coaster ride at the moment. The first sunset we saw in Kep this year after returning from our Xmas / New Year domestic trip. Looking out across the neighbours yard from our home


MARCH 9th FROM INSIDE THE CAR: I already picked an archive shot for this as I don’t own a car and almost never travel in one but my little swimming buddy invited me to be his passenger in a game of pretend today. So, here’s the driver taken by me the passenger from inside the car


MARCH 10th A MEAL YOU MADE: earlier in the week I flung this meal together from what was in the fridge and didn’t need to be cooked. I’m fond of finger food anyway and for the tropics it’s a great option.  Life sometimes gets so complicated that simple fare is the best


MARCH 11th SOMEWHERE WITH A GOOD VIEW: Looking out over the river from the deck of a lovely little bar and restaurant with a cocktail in hand in Kampot. Day or night this is somewhere with a good view


MARCH 12th AN INSECT: I actually had to Google to make sure that butterflies really are insects but now that I know they are, here is my favourite insect. I captured it in a recent hike in Kep National Park and now that a huge road is being carved through the park to ensure everyone can drive through to appreciate nature from the comfort and convenience of their massive 4-wheel drives, I don’t think we’ll hike there again and I fear for these Lepidoptera. Will they survive the habitat loss I wonder?

MARCH 13th A CLOSE-UP: of the end of a lotus root which just happened to land like that when I was peeling and slicing them to make a salad earlier this morning

MARCH 14th SOMETHING YOU’VE NEVER PHOTOGRAPHED: until now was this! It is a recent gift from a dear friend and it has been used regularly since I acquired it. Want to guess what it is?

MARCH 15th A PLAYGROUND: an adult one actually and it has been a privilege and a joy to be able to play here for almost five years. Today more than ever I need it and my ‘swimming for sanity’ routine


MARCH 16th A LOCAL CAFÉ: This is Epic Arts in Kampot. It has changed very little in the ten years since we first went there. It serves simple, fresh and tasty breakfasts, lunches and snacks made from mostly locally sourced produce and is a local social enterprise supporting young people with disabilities and encouraging artistic pursuits. I get a big kick out of knowing the money I spend contributes to greater opportunities and a better future for marginalised and vulnerable young people

MARCH 17th SOMETHING YOU THINK IS BORING: Some people call it football others call it soccer but I call it boring. In fact, so boring that this is an archive shot of the Bhutan National team warming up before their game in 2015 and the very last time I attended a match. This prompt has had me stumped all day. I honestly just don’t get bored and have no trouble amusing myself

MARCH 18th FLOWERS: Nothing quite says summer at the beach like Frangipanis in my option. I snapped these beautiful flowers in the garden late yesterday afternoon and just looking at them brings a smile to my lips


MARCH 19th A GROCERY STORE: Not our local as we are once again in the big smoke, but a very typical one in Cambodia

MARCH 20th SOMETHING WEIRD: We always travel with the makings for real coffee since I should not be allowed in the public domain unless I’ve been caffeinated, but this morning we discovered we had no paper filters. Despite being a complete non-morning person, I improvised this paper coffee filter from kitchen towels, which absurdly we did have, so we could have a cuppa before heading out to buy some. Looks a bit weird to me but it worked a treat. Not one grain of coffee in the cup

MARCH 21st A COLOURFUL PLACE: On Saturday night we went to the Hard Rock Café Phnom Penh. The stage on which the live music was presented was certainly extremely colourful and the band and singers, doing covers, were top notch. A great night out and a lot more colourful than today, as I had a root canal treatment and spent most of the morning in a very sterile, clean and white dental clinic

MARCH 22nd A GARDEN: setting as the entrance to an urban resort in the capital. We went to see an art exhibition there and thought the ambience was delightful


MARCH 23rd A LEAF: on the cactus on the balcony of our hotel room. I’m not fond of these plants as each of those tips on the leaf has the potential to be another adult plant but they are certainly very interesting

MARCH 24th A SUNBEAM: I took this about a week ago when the light diffused by the mangroves caught my attention riding home from our little monks’ class. The single sunbeam captured doesn’t seem real but I took two near identical shots so it was - certainly a magical moment


MARCH 25th GRAFFITI: I’m never quite sure if graffiti includes street art or tagging as I would consider them all art so this one on a wall in Phnom Penh covers all three options. It’s rather striking and a new discovery for me at least


MARCH 26th AN EMPTY ROAD: snapped as we pottered by in a tuk tuk this morning. It was a red-letter day for one little Cambodian boy, who we and a couple of Aussie mates sponsored to get his first bicycle today. His father is a dear friend and our favourite tuk tuk driver so we puttered along behind as the proud Tan Nouk cycled the five kilometres home from the bicycle shop. Those smiles were gorgeous and I actually think dad was happier than the son. Moments to remember

26a the bike he was instantly drawn to


 26b cycling home, grinning and chatting to dad in the tuk tuk – no way was that new bike going in the tuk tuk, he took off moments after the money was paid and rode 5 kilometres home

26c waving goodbye to us before the turnoff to the dirt road home


MARCH 27th A TREE: that provides the shade over the pool when we swim in the late afternoon. I also just remembered I hadn’t done a selfie this month so me availing of the shade before swimming yesterday too


MARCH 28th A SHOP WINDOW: Not just any shop but our favourite shop in Phnom Penh, with a wonderful collection of original clothing, homewares, art, jewellery, ceramics and eclectic salvaged pieces from another era - TRUNKH. It also just happens to have a stunning and unusual shop window and a front courtyard that draws you in to browse


MARCH 29th OLD BUILDING: As an antipodean I customarily think that colonial buildings are old. This magnificent example of a fully restored, old, colonial building is in Phnom Pehn and currently functioning as the Centre for Distance and Digital Education. As is frequently the case, those that are beautifully returned to their former glory are government offices and far too many others are decaying ruins. I find both thoroughly fascinating

MARCH 30th A STRANGER: pulled into the driveway when we were visiting a friend today and simply smiled up at me when I went to see who it was


MARCH 31st UNDER A TREE: In their break time, in this hot dry season the little monks gravitate to the shade under the Banyan tree at the pagoda to eat their snacks and drink their milk. This week they were thrilled to have cold slices of watermelon, which is also a new vocab item