Wanderlust: Cambodia

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Yet again it has been a crazy long time without a post. What can I say? Computer issues – major computer issues, the upshot of which is I am now sitting here with a new and extremely shiny new laptop (I finally made the switch to mac and I’m very happy to have done so). Anyway along with a new computer comes a certain amount of copying and installing and I’ve been going back through all my old photos as I import them and doing some long-overdue organisation.

I did so much travelling in 2008 that the folder is organised by country instead of month. Looking back at my Cambodia photos now, it strikes me how similar it is to Bali – the scenery, the temples, the people, even the script is all very similar to the Balinese versions. I only had a brief stay in Cambodia but even that was enough for me to see that there’s so much more there worth seeing.

I think when most people think of Cambodia, they either think of Angkor Wat and/or the horrific genocide led by Pol Pot – I know I certainly did. And yes, these things are an important part of what Cambodia is today but they’re far from the only part. For example I had no idea that Cambodia had a beach resort – just look at that first photo! Sihanoukville is stunning and much what I think Thailand (or indeed Bali) must have been like before all the tourists discovered it.

Siem Reap is famous for its temples (and yes obviously they are a must-see) but it’s also a gorgeous little town in its own right – I could have quite happily hung out there for a couple of weeks not doing much. It had the same kind of vibe as Luang Prabang in Laos or maybe the Ubud of 20 years ago. Also the best ice cream shop in the world can be found there – no joke, it’s really worth going to Cambodia just for that ice cream (Blue Pumpkin, – I just googled it and found a post about it from the lovely Kaho of all people)!

I’ve head a lot of people didn’t like Phnom Penh but I really did – it has its problems like all big cities but I found it much more pleasant than say, Jakarta. Also the food there is pretty amazing (this is starting to sound like I just went to Cambodia to eat)…

My travels in Cambodia also included a pretty special overnight experience in a small family home where we were kept up all night by the neighbours having a rice threshing party…

Anyway, I would jump at the chance to go back and explore some more of this beautiful country. I was just checking out the flights at momondo – KL to Siem Reap from 52GBP sounds good to me! My dad and Sue were actually thinking of going over to Cambodia the last time they visited but they ended up just doing Thailand and Laos instead. I think I might have to insist they go and tag along myself next time :)


kiranjpg mayaI was so thrilled to get my lens back! Never thought that was going to happen. Even better, the guy at the lost and found office seemed so happy to give it to me – I guess he doesn’t get to reuinte things with their owners very often when people are just passing through. Made my day! My computer unfortunately is still in for repair – turned out to be a bigger problem than just a dead hard drive and I’ve had to send it to Surabaya to be fixed. Sigh. :(

Maya here is doing an impression of Jean Claude Van Damme. I was amazed when she did this as I only showed her the video once, about 6 months ago. They really are little sponges at this age!

Linking up with Jodi

Home Sweet Home – our house in Bali

house1I was inspired by decided to totally copy Simone and give you a little peek at our home in Bali. You’ve seen bits and pieces in photos since we moved but I never did a house tour – actually I was kind of waiting until the house was ready but as we’ve been here 8 months now, I don’t think that’s going to happen. We still haven’t gotten around to buying any furniture (or rather we prefer to sit on the floor and spend the money on other things) and the only room I’ve managed to repaint is the living room. Oh well, I guess it’s good that I’ll have some “before” pictures incase I suddenly become rich and get the opportunity to redecorate.

As you can see, we’re in the rice fields which is my favourite thing about living here. We’re not as isolated as it looks in this picture though – there are lots of other houses just out of the frame and they’re building another house in the rice field to the left so we’ll have neighbours on both sides soon.

house2This is our bedroom where I basically live, on the computer most of the time. We all sleep in here – the kids have both co-slept from birth and it’s just easier that way. We’ll probably move them into their own room eventually (we have 4 potential bedrooms) but the stairs are kind of dangerous so i prefer to keep them downstairs for now

house4And this is the living room, or more accurately playroom as it’s full of toys and not much else. I really want to buy a sofa but haven’t found one I like yet (ok I haven’t been looking that hard). I never watch TV but the kids watch dvds on it sometimes (though they prefer my computer of course! Here you can see their workbench, baskets of soft toys blocks and play food, doll house, books and wooden train set in the plastic box on the right.

house5More toys under the stairs – more blocks, plastic animals, cars, some stacking toys, dolls and dressing up clothes. This bit gets made into a den with the addition of a sheet quite often. Oh and we have 2 cushions instead of a sofa :p

house3The storage/junk room where we keep our clothes and all the kids art and craft materials. I have dreams about making the spare room upstairs a dedicated art and crafting room one day but for now everything lives in here and gets brought out when they ask for it.

house9Our teeny tiny kitchen with no cupboards or workspace. To be honest, not much cooking goes on in this kitchen! To the back is the bathroom, which I didn’t take a photo of but it’s pretty boring. It’s a hybrid western/indo bathroom with a bath and shower but also a mandi (to bathe indonesian style you scoop water over yourself from a deep tub and also flush the toilet with this water)

house6jpgUp the stairs which double up as DVD shelves!

house10 house11This is the biggest and best room in the house and we don’t use it! I work up here sometimes and do yoga up here but it’s empty most of the time. I’m thinking this would make an amazing art and craft studio/homeschool room – what do you think? There’s a small shower room and toilet in the corner. Next door is Kadek’s room which is just the same as this but slightly smaller. Kadek started out working for us but is now more like our lodger… she does a little bit of cleaning in exchange for free rent and meals while she’s at high school. She’s out most of the day which suits me as I like having the place to myself!

house13Out the front we have a few trees (including avocado) and a porch area that I’d also like to put some seating and a table on. Sigh – one day!

house12and the garden round the side which used to have a lawn and loads of plants until the stupid ducks ate everything! One weird thing about this house is that it doesn’t have a temple – the owner owns the house next door and the temple is there even though technically they should both have a temple because there’s a wall between them! We still do offerings so haven’t been attacked by any evil spirits yet!

house14And right outside the front gate is the best bit :)


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Yes I did miss out 2 weeks of project 52 and I got way beyond even trying to catch up. Not only did I leave my portrait lens in the hotel when I was away with my mum, as I feared, but my kit lens has so much dust in it, it’s unusable. Everything I’ve read online says this is impossible and even a huge amount of dust makes no different to photos (complete with a demonstration of huge bits of paper stuck over the lens!) but it really does! Photos either look really dirty or like they have giant spiders crawling all over them, depending on the aperture setting :(

So I’m stuck with phone pics and my point and shoot for now. As if that wasn’t enough, my hard drive died and my computer is in for repair so i’m on my old laptop running linux with no battery. Sigh. At least the rice fields are pretty at the moment!

I really have little chance of getting my lens back now so I’m planning on buying a new one. I LOVED my 50mm f/1.8 but I did find it a little boxed in at times so i was thinking about replacing it with something a little more versatile. If any of you talented camera people could weigh in with (canon compatible) lens recommendations, I’d really appreciate it!

A Tribute


The above photo was taken at my leaving party before I left the UK to go travelling. It’s not a perfect photo – my eyes are closed and there are some notable people missing but it still makes me smile to remember that night as it was the last time I got to see all my friends together. People often ask me if I miss the UK and if I’ve thought of going back and my answer is always the same: “I only miss my friends”.

When you travel 8,000 miles away from home it’s inevitable that you’ll miss out on some important occasions – I’ve missed out on weddings, babies being born and countless birthdays, nights out and fun times. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would be faced with the loss of one of my oldest friends so early in our lives.

Today is the funeral of my friend Andy (or Boxit as I and many others knew him best) – he’s the one on the far right. Next to him is his girlfriend Sue.  A couple of weeks ago I’d been ill in bed all day and hadn’t logged onto my computer. When I finally did that afternoon and pulled up Facebook, I had two messages from my friends saying that Boxit had been killed earlier that day in a motorbike accident.

I still think even now my brain hasn’t properly processed this information – it’s easy to almost pretend that nothing has changed when he was so far away and our only contact was online but today is the day all my friends back home will be saying goodbye and I can’t be with them.

So instead I wanted to do a little tribute here for Boxit who was always a wonderful friend to me and is part of many happy memories from my youth. We’ve been friends since we were 16 when we used to hang out at college – Boxit, Neil and Roy (middle of photo) were in a band together and I’d go and watch the practices, often sitting on a windowsill behind Boxit. He was the drummer and my position was precarious as sometimes a drumstick would fly away in his enthusiasm. Usually he’d gradually speed up through the course of a song so that Neil and Roy were sweating trying to keep up by the end.

We all had a lot of fun back in those days, before we’d started jobs and settled down. Digging around my old computer archives I found an old website we made for a “2 week party” that was at my house while my mum was on holiday (you can stop reading now mum!). We had so many laughs during those 2 weeks that I didn’t want it to end. I’m contemplating uploading that website now so anyone who was there can have a laugh (and you can see what websites looked like in 1998!)

Later, Neil and Boxit  were my first flatmates – we lived together in a tiny upper flat in Gosforth. Me and Neil would catch the bus or walk over the town moor to uni and Boxit would go to work and then we’d all meet up again in the evening back at home. So much craziness went on in that flat – I remember getting so drunk on rum that I couldn’t find the door out of my room and was bashing on the wall for someone to let me out. One night Neil and Boxit went out with Roy and Ben and came back with an American rock band (Karma to Burn), who they invited to stay overnight. Our tiny flat was full of sweaty men and Neil was sick on the bass player.

After staying in the flat for a year we moved into a bigger house (that we called Boozle) with more friends and the fun continued.

Boxit was a guy of few words – I can’t say I ever had any deep and meaningful conversations with him – but he had a huge heart and was generous with hugs. When I was upset over some drama in my life and literally crying on his shoulder, he’d tell me there was no point in being sad so “just be happy!” – he really loved life and made the most of it.

While I hadn’t spent much time with him in recent years due to us all growing up and settling down (and me moving to Bali obviously), we still stayed in touch and he continued to be a positive influence on my life. Only a year or so ago he saved my crashed hard disk full of important files and photos by telling me to put it in the freezer over night.

So Boxit will be missed – deeply, sadly and forever by everyone close to him but especially his partner Sue who is expecting his baby girl in December. It’s a tragedy that he’ll never get to meet his daughter but his little girl, Eliza will get to know her daddy through the happy memories of others.

When I was looking through photos after I got the news that he died, I realise in every photo he looks just the same – wild hair, wide eyes and crazy smile and this is how I see him when I close my eyes, in boots and black jeans, just the same as when we were 16. I’ll be saying a prayer and raising a glass today to my old friend – goodbye, wherever you are x


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And if you thought i couldn’t get any lazier, I didn’t manage to get any photos except crappy phone pics last week! So here is Maya showing off her drawing and Kiran eating a cake.

If you’d like to see some examples of more talented photography (not difficult) I suggest you have a look at this gorgeous sunset beach portrait, this cutie with sparkler (braver than me!) and all of these beautiful shots.

Linking up, as always, with Jodi

I seem to have lost my prime lens after I went on mini holiday with my mum so fingers crossed I find it or there will be no half-decent photos on this blog for the rest of the year….


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Ok so as I’m over 2 weeks late with this, I think we’ve given up all pretense that I’m making any effort with this project anymore, but I will continue nonetheless!

Here we have a little impromptu outside bath time tea party just before I went away without my babies for the first time for two whole nights! Meep! (more on that later)


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Maya – rowing a boat down a river infested with crocodiles. Apparently.

Kiran – face lit up by the glow from the tablet. I have to hide it from him – he’s too addicted. What do you want to do Kiran? “Playing game!”

We grew a chicken! (sad ending)


Made has always had a thing for having lots of animals around. In fact I think it’s a Balinese thing – most family compounds  will be home to a few dogs, a family of chickens and various other creatures. New visitors to Bali are often woken by the many cockerels that seem to have no concept of when it’s night or day – in fact it’s important for families to own at least one fighting cock as ceremonial cock fights are an important part of temple ceremonies and the male representative from every family is required to bring one – if they don’t have one they borrow one!

Anyway, in the time I’ve known Made we’ve gone through many many chickens, ducks, puppies, even a squirrel. None of them last very long and eventually either die, wander off or are stolen. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll have seen the two ducks that we had as pets for the last 6 months or so – raised from babies they ended up being the bane of my life, eating every single green thing in the garden (including all the grass so now we have a big patch of soil instead of a lawn) and pooing everywhere. When the girl duck started laying eggs I was happy they were at last being useful but then they ran away and decided to join the herd (flock?) of ducks that were being farmed in the rice fields. The farmer kept bringing them back but then the girl duck died suddenly (the farmer brought her back, said she was sick and she was dead within 1o minutes. The boy duck was supposed to be sacrificed for a ceremony but made couldn’t bring himself to do it so he ended up living back at the inlaws for another few months… I think he’s still there now.

So I’m not a big fan of chickens, especially the stupid loud cockerels but they make Made happy so whatever. We’ve gone through several since we’ve been at the new house, all boys that eventually lose in a cock fight and meet their demise. He came home one day with a white chicken not intended for fighting but because it “looked pretty”. It surprised us both when it started laying eggs (Made thought it was a boy). Being a small chicken, it lay rather small eggs so instead of eating them, Made decided to try raising chickens. See our ghetto nesting box:


Yes that is a wastepaper bin lined with newspaper.

So the dutiful chicken sat on her eggs, barely coming out to eat or stretch her legs for around 21 days. If felt much longer and I was  convinced that all the eggs were duds and we were going to end up with a depressed chicken. But to my surprise I came home one morning after a night over at the inlaws and found a tiny black and white chick running around the yard!

None of the other eggs hatched so the mother hen only had one little one to look after and she took to motherhood well, sheltering her baby under her wing and shooing us off if we got too close. The little chick seemed to be happy and healthy but then I found him dead on the ground when he was about 2 weeks old :( He was still in the place where they slept and had been running around fine the night before so I’m inclined to think that the mother smothered him by accident :(

I knew nothing about chicken rearing before this but after doing a little research, the death rate for baby chicks seems to be fairly high so it’s not too surprising, although a bit of a shame as we only had one and he was so cute! I guess we will just wait for the mama hen to get broody again and try again – it’s nice that it’s so easy and we just provide somewhere safe and dry to nest and let her get on with it! I always thought you needed a load of expensive equipment for raising chickens…

Here are a few more photos. RIP baby chick!

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