Tag Archives: khmer


I lead a very small life. I get up and go about my business and to most I am an unknown. I am a nameless stranger on the streets of a city whose language I cannot read or speak. 
Yet, everyday I feel welcomed. When shopping, the generosity of a smile, when I struggle to communicate, calms me down. The old ladies of the market laugh at me but I can see the kindly twinkle in their eyes as I stumble through buying my vegetables. The toddlers, standing on the footplate of their parents’ scooter even shout hello as they go past. So I may be unknown but I’m not unnoticed. As a foreigner, a barang, I stand out. I am tall, even by British standards, so here in Cambodia I feel as if I’ve come down a bean stalk. I sail around the town on a big old fashioned bike, having eschewed the ubiquitous motorbike, gathering smiles. 
In my small life, these seemingly meaningless interactions are anything but. Each one contributes to a sense of happiness. Here in Cambodia people are shy but they are not wary. Having come from Europe where the single adult male is shunned as potential stranger danger it is lovely to receive happy waves and carefree waves and hear parents encouraging their children to say hello. 
I will never change the world and I have no aspiration to do so. Nor will many of the people I see every day. However, a cheery hello or an open smile can change someone’s day. I know this because the good people of Battambang share their small city and their kind, friendly nature with me, making my small life a happier one. 

Living On The Surface 

I took a moment the other day to look at the pond skaters living on the surface of the water. I should have been concentrating on the sun slowly rising over the ancient Angkorian temple but the Asperger Path often gets diverted. My Syndrome give me an ability to focus but also makes that focal point quite random. 

I am, of course, digressing. 

The pond skaters were there and I was pondering. I watched them whizzing about on the surface and creating magical patterns on the solemnly still waters of the pool. I was captivated and hadn’t even thought to look deeper. The fish were pointed out to me and then I saw them in the shadowy depths. Solid and sturdy, these creatures barely moved while above, their ethereal neighbours performed a showy cabaret. 

Here in Cambodia I feel like a pond skater skimming the surface of a culture that is too deep for me to comprehend. Look at me I want to cry out I’m in the water! I have come to make a difference to the pond. As I skate around, making a big performance, real life carries on beneath me, oblivious and untouched by my presence. I am living on the surface. One day I will fly away from this kingdom but the fish will still be there quietly living and flourishing in the deep wonders of the Khmer culture. 


Happy Khmer New Year. 

Here I am in the Kingdom of Wonder and it’s the New Year celebrations. My sleepy town has been transformed. On street Number 1 there are lights and tinsel and stalls selling everything from spicy, deep fried monosodium glutamate to essential oils that are more synthetic than my nylon sheets. 

The stalls may be trashy but the evening streets are thronged with happy Cambodians, ex pats, and tourists. It’s the height of the hot season here and the combination of holiday and heat has reversed life for a few days. Not that the nights are cool but they are cooler. The streets and markets are deadened by the merciless afternoon but after sunset it becomes more bearable to be out than in. 

By Saturday there will be dancing in the streets and my often shy and reserved fellow citizens will be loud and gregarious. On Saturday I plan to get wet. The road to angkorian temple of Ek Phnom will full of revellers celebrating with a joyous mix of water and talcum powder. I will be heading out as the sun cools with my water gun and baby powder and returning at sunset, wet and white, to freshen up before the bass of the speakers pounds into the river banks of Battambang. I am going to let the techno shake my tail feathers and party like this year has only just begun. I may have celebrated once in Sydney on December 31 and again in January in Phnom Penh for Chinese New Year but I love an excuse to dance. 

One me, two countries, three New Years, four cities and five days off. I’m loving 2017. And new or not it’s been a happy year so far.