The Human Gallery: Finding a life’s passion in Battambang

It’s impossible not to fall in love with the resilient, beautiful humans of Cambodia. They are thriving, often through intensely creative outlets. Whether in spite of, or inspired by, their horrid modern history, and their rich and vibrant long term history, the result is is a profound statement of humanity. Angkor boasted more 1 million people when London was still a settlement of 50,000 on a moody river. They’ve been here a long time, fighting for their turf and their way of life. It shows in their eyes and on their faces. And we met one man who is capturing it […]

“I do” in Cambodia: Cultural lessons on the edge of sanity

The music started sometime around sundown in the little space between buildings. A marquee, brightly decorated with fairy lights, billowy silks, and an abundance of flowers was the scene for the nuptials and the raucous celebration that surrounded it. A massive set of mega-amplifiers generously shared the happy couple’s joy through music to all within at least a 1km radius. They partied until midnight on the first night, and started up again at dawn the next day. The Cambodian wedding was in full swing by 6:30 am, with more music, chanting, perhaps a sermon and more music. Then the auction […]

Going Local in Rural Cambodia

There are few places that give you a sense of a people and their culture than a local market. The sights and smells may be familiar or foreign, but from a market, you know what a community eats, how they flavour their food, the resources that are in abundance, the things they need for daily life, and the things they covet. Sellers attractively display their produce, vying to catch the eye of their next buyer. We visited the local market in Chameroun village early in the morning to get a glimpse into the heartbeat of this bustling community. The market […]

Volunteering in Cambodia: A mind-opening experience with JB School

We were privileged to be able to volunteer at JB School, an English language school in a farming village in Cambodia. We wanted to understand more about what life is like for the “regular” Cambodian away from the tourist trail, and felt that giving something that was within our gift to give – our time and our language – would be an opportunity to give back to the communities we visit. We found JB School on AirBnB. It offered a homestay and guided experience of village life, and the opportunity to volunteer at their school. It was an interesting find for […]

Anzac Day: From Gallipoli to Pearl Harbour

Growing up in Australia in the 70s, we learned the story of the Anzacs, like Simpson and the Donkey. As a young boy, Anzac day was a public holiday much like any other – a day off school. The holiday didn’t always fall on the 25th April back then, Instead, the Anzacs were memorialised with a long weekend, and the holiday was on the nearest Monday to the 25th. History was not a big deal in our schools or family, it was just the way I grew up. Fast forward some 40 years and | felt it was time to […]

Angkor Wat: The mother of all wats

They say that Angkor Wat is the mother of all wats – not because she came first (and apparently it’s a “she”), but because she’s so vast, that she gave birth to all the other wats. Angkor Wat is so important to Cambodia that it’s on the flag, and even the Khmer Rouge left her standing during their rampage of destruction across this landlocked nation. Cambodia is one of only four countries in the world to feature a building on their flag (bonus points for guessing the other three). Angkor Wat is located just outside Siem Reap, a busy town, […]

Into Cambodia: Siem Reap

We landed in Cambodian city of Siem Reap, the gateway for Angkor Wat and the temples surrounding it that together make up the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site.  Airport transport came in the form of a tuk tuk, and we were dubious as to whether our excessive amounts of luggage would fit on the little bike with a carriage.  Our driver had clearly done this before, and expertly piled on all of our bags, with room to spare for the passengers.  We felt a bit conspicuous driving into town on our overladen chariot, but we quickly realised this is the […]

Bali: A rubbish filled tropical shocker

We landed in Bali with curiosity bubbling over. I had only ever seen photos of Bali enticing would-be tourists to come to these far away sand swept shores. As an American, Bali has always been an unreachable exotic luxury island on the other side of the globe. Far too expensive and too far away for American tourists, it has always held an air of exclusivity. After marrying an Australian, I had come to realise that it’s a popular beach holiday destination for Australians – a sort of Cancun for antipodeans. This beach resort/ party town clashed with the images I […]

Exploring Bangkok with a family

Our time in Thailand was coming to an end. Christmas was coming, and we had a few days in Bangkok for shopping, catching up with old friends, exploring, and templing. From there we would head to Bali to share some vacation time with Mark’s brother and his family before going to Australia for the holidays. Sometimes it’s the people rather than the place From Chiang Mai we headed to the South Coast to Siracha to meet up with a London friend before heading back to Bangkok. Sadly, Siracha is not where they make the sauce – it’s made in NEW […]

The Elephant Tourism Conundrum

There are a whole lot of Elephant sanctuaries in Northern Thailand, and their keeping is somewhat controversial. Elephants have long been an integral part of Thailand’s culture and history.  The animals have been rescued from lives of service either in circus, tourist trade or as beasts of burden. They now live a bucolic life, taking walks in the jungle alongside mesmerised tourists, and getting a daily bath in a river from people who have paid for the privilege. When we first arrived in Thailand, visiting an Elephant rescue centre was high on our list of things to do. Of course […]