Tuesday, May 30, 2023

oNe PhOtO a DaY MaY 2023:


MAY 1st I AM: trying to hold it lightly and keep the faith


MAY 2nd I HELD THIS: very old iPad which has just been repaired and I only ever use for reading as I do almost every day being mindful of the fact that it’s a privilege to have time to read for pleasure

MAY 3rd I WALKED HERE: yesterday evening returning home from a stroll along riverside. It is the same small street we use early in the morning after visiting the market but it sure looks different at night

*this one was selected for the fabbers grid on Instagram and I must say I love it too


MAY 4th I FEEL: a little lost at the moment actually but this afternoon we saw from our terrace and then in the street the huge parade honouring Buddha Day or Vesak Bochea Day as it is known here so I can honestly say I feel blessed. Having never seen it before I’m glad we scurried to Wat Phnom and witnessed it


MAY 5th I SAW: these exact images of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha on ox carts in the parade through the streets yesterday and today I saw them in Wat Ounalom as we took the shortcut through the temple grounds trying to avoid the heat walking home


MAY 6th I LOVE: to travel. This was taken on this day in 2013 in Monduli Juu Tanzania


MAY 7th I LIKE TO EAT: a rainbow every day. Homemade, fresh food made from scratch and containing all the colours of the rainbow is the staple in our household

MAY 8th I HAVE: a new drought resistant portulaca plant that I bought from a roving plant cart in the street yesterday so of course it now looks like the monsoon has now begun as we are in the midst of a thunder, lightning and rain storm


MAY 9th I READ THIS: I was so pleased with myself reading this and knowing that it is the name of Buddha’s faithful companion.  The plaque is on the wall of a property I knew to be used as a mediation retreat so it seemed perfect, that was until the Khmer owner explained to me that it means “bliss” in Khmer and that was her intention. Well that’s perfect too really


MAY 10th I STOOD HERE: yesterday afternoon after a long-awaited swim. It’s heaven in the water and my go to meditation and wellbeing routine. Finding my way back to me again


MAY 11th I WORK HERE: in the kitchen most days. This was the beginning of a dish using Greek pilaf and steamed spinach to make dolmades. We can’t get vine leaves here so I improvised


MAY 12th I LIKE TO: try to create a calm and tranquil aesthetic inside our home and delight in purchasing local flowers regularly for the sheer pleasure they bring


MAY 13th ON WEEKENDS I: have no particular agenda and let my mood take me wherever. Today it was to take a walk through a district we usually only ever see from a Tuk Tuk and that’s where I saw this giant wall art

MAY 14th I LOVE THIS VIEW: of Phnom Penh taken from a favourite rooftop bar that we haven’t actually been to for a while so this might just inspire another visit before the monsoon season settles in


MAY 15th I KNOW: from experience that despite it being two and a half years since I shattered my kneecap, if I don’t regularly do the strength and balance training exercises it gets more painful and less flexible. This is the location in the apartment where I always do them as the countertops either side allow me to catch myself and never fall. That’s the remaining real-life fear; falling again. Taken on timer on selfie mode


MAY 16th I CREATE: photographs, tranquil interior decor, exercise routines, lesson plans, memories, blogs, sweet treats, collages, eco wraps, flower displays, travel plans, healthy vegetarian meals, and calming, green outdoor spaces. The latter was the focus of attention for a large part of this morning and gardening like many of the other activities creates a sense of inner peace


MAY 17th I BOUGHT: this Miao minority group, embroidered child’s tunic in a market in Guizhou China over twenty-five years ago and I’m thrilled it now hangs in our apartment

MAY 18th I LOVE THIS TIME OF DAY: when drink o’clock meets sunset and a flash of blue colour in the sky makes you believe the torrential rain, thunder and lightning is a blessing because it clears the air and your mind

MAY 19th I LIKE TO DRINK: iced coffee, but only in a real glass, in a cool, shady outdoor setting and preferably somewhere I’ve not been before and certainly never in plastic or with a plastic straw. That set of criteria is not always easy to meet but today’s prompt inspired me to get out and enjoy a treat


MAY 20th I DON’T LIKE TO: watch as the workers who have been fixing leaks and replacing the guttering clamber over dangerous ledges and the anti-theft security screens and hoist themselves onto the roof from this ladder. I’ve been hiding indoors until they are safely back on the terrace and the work is complete


MAY 21st I WENT TO: The World of Mouy Chorm Fashion exhibition opening last night and I can definitely say as original and interesting as the garments were, I was not tempted to buy any of them and don’t think they suit the lifestyle or climate here at all


MAY 22nd ON MONDAYS I: love to visit the local market early in the morning when everything is fresh and restock the fridge for the coming week. There are stalls with more exotic produce, more colourful displays and a greater volume of goods but this vendor has the best smile and is always cheerful


MAY 23rd I ONCE: walked the catwalk in clothes designed by a friend as a part of her final year of Fashion Design. This prompt called for an archive shot and this is a photo of a photo


MAY 24th I SAT HERE: on a bar stool in our favourite rooftop bar with the Phnom Penh skyline and dramatic monsoon skies as the backdrop

MAY 25th I CAN: now tell the difference between the two different species of hornbills which we regularly see in Phnom Penh. Tonight, we were happy to spot both Greater Hornbills and Wreathed Hornbills in their favourite location at Wat Phnom. The only one I could capture on the wing with my phone was the wreathed variety


MAY 26th I CAN’T: see without my glasses these days and I can’t imagine life without being able to read either. However, I do love my new glasses


MAY 27th I LIVE: here in Phnom Penh. This was taken earlier this week from a sky bar only a couple of blocks from home


MAY 28th I DO THIS ON SUNDAYS: Actually, I have no particular routine on Sunday or any other day for that matter. The one thing I can think of is that I try to remember to swap the indoor snake plant for the one on the terrace so that both get a week in the outdoors and a week indoors. Even then I don’t always remember to do it! The joy of retirement

MAY 29th I WORE THIS: Twenty-six years ago, after fourteen years together, on the day we were married, I wore this traditional Japanese “haori” gifted to me by my closest Japanese friend, with pants and a camellia in my hair. It was a private ceremony with only two witnesses and a photo shoot in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. I still own it and wear it and love it


MAY 30th I FOUND: this tiny, Japanese, ceramic figurine among our possessions in Adelaide earlier this year and now it has pride of place on a shelf in the bedroom. The peacock feather was also a street find when we first arrived in Phnom Penh

MAY 31st I DID THIS GOOD THING: This morning I baked oatmeal cookies with dates, mango, pineapple, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips because tomorrow we will visit a friend at her work place and they have had a very busy week and deserve a treat



Saturday, May 6, 2023


 Mindful mumblings or the monkey mind? 

Maybe just overthinking.

Sustainable Development Fee

I don’t want anyone to pay this on my account and certainly not from an educational budget! 

At least now I have a name to apply to the barrier between Bhutan and us. 

We walked over 45 kilometres in the city in weather conditions that constantly had the ‘feels like’ temperature above 40°C for considerably portions of the day this last week, composted most of our garbage and recycled glass, cans and cardboard without much of a system in place to do so. The amount of physical waste we add to the system is less than the volume of a litre of juice which is the container we carry it down the stairs and into the streets in, quite often, and only every two or three days do we need to do that. I was disappointed to have consumed a delicious drink in a single use plastic cup this week when I always assiduously avoid them. I also avoid cafes that use plastic straws and even donate them alternatives. Exponentially adding to my own ecological footprint, isn’t an option and not a mistake I often make.  Conscious and mindful living is sustainability too!


This morning Ian said that Madam is going to speak to the ED about a waiver on the SDF because after all the YDF is a CSO! 
And that actually made sense to me. Acronyms are endemic in the kingdom and require deciphering. There was some joy in the fact that I actually understood it. 

Has the Bhutan bubble burst? Only time will tell. 

It currently takes more optimism than I can actually muster to continue to keep the faith. I mourn and regret the neglect of the slow, simple, sustainable and safe lifestyle we worked hard to establish and once relished here and how we have allowed the sheer joy of it to lapse lured by optimism and hope. 

The black hole beckons. I need to rethink the physical, emotional and mental cost of living in limbo. 

I talk too much and write to rein in the monkey mind that threatens to overwhelm me. 

“Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering, 
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.“
Music helps. 

Only now, it occurs to me returning to living more mindfully in the present, is the best way forward.  


I’m grateful so many former students sent Teachers’ Day messages today. There is truly nothing more gratifying that knowing you actually made a difference. If I never get the opportunity to be in a Bhutanese classroom again I will be forever grateful for the time I had there and the things I learned about myself in the process. There were frustrations, conflicts, failures, joys, achievements and life lessons that will always stay with me in those years. Blinkers off real life learning. 

I also unexpectedly realised today that of all the places we have lived, Cambodia is now the record holder of the country we have lived in and loved for the longest consecutive time span. Almost six years currently but ‘it ain’t over yet’ as the saying goes. 


"The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”
David W. Orr - Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World.

I have read this several times before but it truly resonated today.


Saturday, April 29, 2023

oNe PhOtO a DaY ApRiL 2023:

APRIL FACELESS SELF PORTRAIT: Playing with the shadows and light on the terrace and enjoying the early morning cool breezes

*This one was selected for the Facebook Fab grid


APRIL 2nd OUTSIDE: I’m always happy to spot gum trees on the trail running parallel to the train line and this morning was no exception. Not complaining about the aircon carriage, which is actually a bonus as its been extremely hot lately but it does mean taking pics through grimy windows

APRIL 3rd SOMETHING PURPLE: A beautiful purple flower in my favourite secluded garden in Kep

APRIL 4th ABOVE YOUR HEAD: Our second trip to the pagoda today for special memorial services and the decorations for Khmer New Year are already up and its looking great. There are hundreds of umbrellas and traditional scarves above my head. Second selfie this month too  

*The decorations that have been made as preparation for Khmer New Year


APRIL 5th SOLO: vendors plying their trade with hand carts, on moto food trucks or from shoulder poles still abound all over Cambodia. Phnom Penh is no exception and I often wonder how many kilometres they clock up on a daily basis


APRIL 6th ARTIFICIAL: The Royal Palace under artificial light as we strolled by today


APRIL 7th SOMETHING GOOD: Ian’s homemade bread making the apartment smell delicious


APRIL 8th A FAVOURITE SPACE: The terrace of our apartment is where we eat almost all our meals, cool off and entertain. It is certainly a favourite and ever evolving space which I love even more now we have finally installed a spirit house


APRIL 9th EGG: Yay! This prompt inspired a delicious soft-boiled egg breakfast


APRIL 10th ENTRANCE: to Street 5, which is closed off to traffic but not pedestrians this morning looked like this. The whole block is full of monks, devotees and ceremonial paraphernalia and decorations as the ceremonies and celebrations for Khmer New Year begin in earnest. We awoke to squealing and water fight shenanigans from the nightclub district at 3am and are now being soothed by the sound of dozens of monks chanting

APRIL 11th DELICATE: Lotus blooms rarely last more than a single day and yet they are always locally available. Folding in the petals for display is also a very delicate process. I can’t resist them and always think of the quote, “Like the lotus we can rise from the murky mud, bloom from the darkness and trust in our unfolding.” No wonder I cannot resist them


APRIL 12th A NUMBER: It’s not often that we are number one at anything but we were happy to claim the prime river view and street scenes seats in the local last night when we spontaneously decided to slip out to enjoy the revelry of dancing, water fights, drinking, overbearingly loud music, street side BBQ’s and general frivolity as the whole city turns up the dial on celebrations preceding Khmer New Year


APRIL 13th A PATTERN: The exquisite dragonfly and leaf pattern rendered in lacquer on a coconut bowl I recently purchased

APRIL 14th THIS SEASON: in Cambodia is celebratory as today is the first day of Khmer New Year, called Maha Sangkranta. On this day people wear new clothes, and decorate their spirit houses or front porches with flowers, fruit and incense to welcome the new angel who will come and take nourishment then bless the household for the whole of the coming year

APRIL15th SOMETHING WHITE: These white, feather-like seeds are from the spectacular Flamboyant tree which are all over the Kingdom of Wonder. I have loved them since I saw them used in garlands in Bhutan. These are from my seed pod display in the living room


APRIL 16th WHAT INSPIRES ME: most of all is travelling to somewhere new. Even though we lived in Kep for almost five years we never visited Angkol Beach until this morning


APRIL 17th STARTS WITH B: The blessing of burning Bhutanese butter lamps is my choice for today because although it is an archive shot today we got news that makes us believe we will be blessed enough to be in Bhutan again


APRIL 18th MIX: This feature wall is a mix of old shutters and in a mix of bright colours in a new resto-bar in Kep

APRIL 19th CARD: I have something of an obsession with cards and postcards and buy, collect and send them regularly. This is one of only two reclining Buddhas we have and both came from Lao


APRIL 20th ALLEY: The indoor-outdoor zone of the local market is maze of alleys and half covered areas, which can be very difficult to navigate. It has evolved over time with an old wooden house functioning as the administration office buried in the heart of it and every conceivable item is available. It’s just a matter of finding what you need

*This one was selected on the day as a fabber on Facebook


APRIL 21st LEAFY: Since moving in we have been trying to cultivate a wall of leafy greenery on the terrace of the Aerie as a privacy screen as we would rather not view the neighbour’s washing or antics from our terrace. I think it’s coming along nicely and the soon to arrive rainy season may just keep it alive in our absence

*This one was chosen as a fabber on Facebook too


APRIL 22nd SOMETHING PRETTY: a pink cannonball tree flower I spotted in front of the National Museum returning from a breakfast out with a friend this morning, fits the bill for me. I was actually looking for an alternative to flowers but once I realized that today is Earth Day I decided this was just perfect


APRIL 23rd OPEN: Whenever I see Khmer grown lotus roots I always buy them. The key is to ensure that the ends are all completely closed and they have not been exposed to the air. It’s only when you cut them open that you can see if they are clean and fresh like these that I purchased in the market this morning and have since turned into my favourite salad


APRIL 24th PEACEFUL: In my mind there is nothing more peaceful or calming than the sound of the ocean. This was taken a week ago, on our last day in Kep when we were out walking in the early morning and there was not another soul in sight. The inner city in a heat wave is not so peaceful actually


APRIL 25th FOUND: I finally found the courage to trust another hairdresser in Phnom Penh and maybe I’ve found my regular now. In a heat wave a number zero with the clippers is just perfect! Another selfie done for this month too


APRIL 26th BOWL: We had just decided that we were going to have Buddha Bowls for dinner when I looked up today’s prompt so I decided that was the shot to take. The bowl I almost always eat dinner from at home with a favourite dinner we haven’t had in a while in it, is it for today


APRIL 27th FOUR-LEGGED: Geckos are the most frequent four-legged friends visiting our home but these Tokay Geckos are usually heard but not seen. They can be quite aggressive and are always very loud. Khmer believe it’s a blessing to have one in your house. The markings are very striking and they give you the impression that they are always watching you


APRIL 28th SIMPLE JOY: Creating a wall collage of photographs of us and family and friends that spans a forty-year timeframe. I added three more this morning. It brings me joy every time I pass by and I often stop and look for an image of someone I’m thinking about


APRIL 29th FAMILY: Three generations of one family on one motor scooter. This is the norm here. The most I have seen are six members of the same family on one Moto but today this was the best I could get


APRIL 30th POP OF COLOUR: When we hung the art, we returned from Australia with, it seemed a bit too gloomy against the stark white expanse of wall. After long deliberation we purchased this incredible pop of colour by a local artist to add to the mix