Friday, January 5, 2018

2017 the year of FIRSTS:

Back in January 2017 in Sri in Lanka I wrote this in my travel Diary. “As Lisa pointed out this should be the year of firsts according to numerology and literally for us!! 2016 was a 9 for endings and completions while 2017 is a 1 and a year of new beginnings. Positive new outlooks and beginnings and doing it our way will keep us happy and focused. "The year of firsts" is the new mantra for me.”

Not being one for doing things in half measures I also kept a record of the FIRSTS as the year progressed. So here they are – all 48 of them. Posting this almost a year to the day since the first ‘first’ was entered.

First time to fly with excess luggage and pay but only a minimum

First trip to Sri Lanka

15-1-17 First swim in the Indian Ocean's warm and clear water instead of freezing water from Antarctica.

First sighting of these beautiful flowers and the tree they grow in on the beach in Mirissa

Barringtonia Asiaitica

First time to try to sell possessions on the Internet and conduct a garage sale

My first Airbnb booking albeit with a couple of errors.  I will get better at this

First time since I qualified that a year has started without me thinking about the school I'm going to teach in and I only just realized it today

First time someone has thrown a surprise birthday party for me (in Melbourne and attended by people I hardly know and in some cases don't know)

First time to fly over the Arctic ice cap and see the huge cracks in the ice, the pale pink glow of sunrise and an orange rising moon from the plane

8-3 -2017
First time to go out hiking in America

 First time since I've known about International Women's Day NOT to celebrate with women friends and colleagues, just Ian and Anthony

 First time to view Manhattan from the New Trade Centre Towers

First time for Ian and I to go out to a cocktail bar alone and not just any cocktail bar at that - Flatiron Lounge

 First time to get a Seniors Priced ticket at the American Museum of Natural History. Thanks guys saved five dollars and love the dioramas

 First time to complete a self guided walking tour with an app

 First time to ride a Greyhound bus

8-4 -2017
First time in Toronto and Canada

8-4 -2017
First time to stay in Air BnB (Hosted)

 First time to see both the American and Canadian Niagara Falls

 First time to enter the US by land

21-4 -2017
First time to pay for a professional shoeshine in a street stall.

 First visit to Machu Picchu

 First sighting of Lake Titicaca the world's highest navigable lake at 3,8000 meters

 First trip to Bolivia

 First time to see Flamingoes in the wild wading at alpine lakes

 First sightings of condors in the wild at Colca Canyon

 First time to stay at someone's home when they weren't there. Thanks McKenny!

 First time to fly Qatar Airlines

 First visit to Kep

 First time to get a long-term Visa (retirement/ volunteers/ business) issued

 First time swimming in Masion de Yaya's private pool in opulent garden surroundings

 First supply-run to Kampot from Kep on the local bus

 First one year renewal of our E-Business visa via an agent in Kep

 First purchase of jaggery

First parcel delivery to us from Australia. Nice

First time to move house by bicycle

First time to celebrate Pchum Ben (like festival of the hungry ghosts) in Cambodia. We visited a monastery and agreed to volunteer teach the monks and village children there starting in Nov

 First time to enter Cambodia as a resident

 First time to have a dentist appointment in a foreign country

First time to return to Kep thinking we were coming home

First time to make eda mame from fresh green soy beans since leaving Japan

31-10 -2017
First time to ride pillion on a motor cycle with anyone except Ian riding and it was at night

 First time teaching monks and with no common language

 First time to eat Khmer crepes - egg crepes filled with bean sprouts and served with lettuce, herbs and cucumber and a vinegar sauce

 First visit to a Cambodian hospital - Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital is a quality place and the diagnosis wasn’t even as bad as I feared. Unfortunate name for a hospital however

 First visitor from abroad to come and stay with us in Kep. Welcome Becky Story

 First visit to a pepper plantation in Cambodia.  La Plantation was fabulous with an informative introduction and excellent walk through the fruit trees and pepper vines

22-12-17. First Hike through Kep National Park

 Maybe 2018 is not the year of firsts but I hope the adventures and challenges continue to enrich our lives 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

oNe PhOtO a DaY DeCeMbEr 2017


FRIDAY 1st I LOVE DOING THIS: There is nothing I love more at the moment than teaching basic literary skills to the little monks twice a week. This was taken at yesterday’s class and is my favourite of the smallest class member making himself right at home while practising his letters

SATURDAY 2nd FREE CHOICE: I choose today’s sunset over the iconic symbol of Kep

SUNDAY 3rd FAMILY: I feel fortunate to have close connections to both family and a supportive group of friends, who are the family we choose. Unfortunately I couldn’t get more that 9 photos in the collage so not all of those scattered across several continents are included but they all hold a place in my heart

MONDAY 4th PARTIAL: This mandala of vegetables is the partially complete salad I have now packed into our lunchboxes. I am very partial to a mixed raw and roasted vegetable salad..... bring on lunchtime I say

TUESDAY 5th IN MY BAG: are all the teaching materials for the class with the monks today. After a few rides in the rain we bought this recycled packaging bag to protect our resources on the journey to the monastery. I love that it is locally made of what would otherwise be waste. We leave it packed and ready to go for the next session

WEDNESDAY 6th ART: The playground art at Kep Gardens Association where we volunteer twice a week. Not sure if this fun blackboard assists or distracts the kids when they’re shooting

THURSDAY 7th MONEY: In Cambodia ATMs dispense both American dollars and Cambodian Riel and you can chose, which you want. When there is no choice American dollars are the default. Small change is always in riel as there are no coins. I always prefer to get American dollars because the Math is easier when one dollar equals 4,000 riel. Inevitably you have a combination of both in your change whenever you purchase anything. We foreigners stand at the counter counting and converting but I marvel at the locals who think in units of 4,000 and do the sums quick as a flash and in their heads most often. The number system also works in units of 5 not 10. No wonder they are all so much better at Math than me

FRIDAY 8th OPPOSITES: The Chinese philosophy of balance and harmony created by matching opposites. I have worn this tiny earring since I first visited Nepal in the 1980’s. It is a rare occasion on which it is removed but I did today just to take this photo

SATURDAY 9th SILLY: These hats are about the silliest thing Cambodia produces but since they are such good sun protection we see hundreds of people wearing them. Ian was not only silly enough to buy one but he also managed to buy one that was too small for him to wear. Having seen this photo he has now decided to leave it in a place where a local will find it and make good use of it. Silly possum

SUNDAY 10th THE SKY: in Kep Bay at dusk as we returned from swimming

MONDAY 11th SPLASH: just a little splash in the water to cool off.

TUESDAY 12th BIG: The big Buddha at the monastery where we teach the little monks

WEDNESDAY 13th TINY: From this small sector of the world map hanging in the classroom it’s obvious that Cambodia is a tiny nation even in South East Asia let alone in the world

THURSDAY 14th PEACE: My go to place for peace and tranquillity is the ocean. Nothing beats listening to the gentle lapping of the waves

FRIDAY 15th ON THE FLOOR: These little monks sit or squat on the floor to pray, to eat and to study and they are often asleep on the floor when we arrive to teach them. Taken in yesterday’s class when we were trying to master numbers 11 to 20 or as one of them would have it “oneteen” to “tenteen”

SATURDAY 16th OUTDOORS: Although it looks like a perfect summer’s day outdoors, it is in fact mid-winter. Like most of South East Asia, Cambodia doesn’t experience much variation in weather or climate across the seasons except for the wet season

SUNDAY 17th JOY IS...: giving and sharing. As the year ends we have been baking and preparing small gifts for those we truly appreciate. This was the first hamper to be delivered to Janine and Andrew at Kep Gardens Association on our final day before the break

MONDAY 18th LIGHTS: Fairy Lights

TUESDAY 19th TREE: This is the huge Banyan tree right on the shore in Kep Bay. Beautiful trees with sacred significance. This one has a spirit house at the base

WEDNESDAY 20th ‘TIS THE SEASON TO: play hosts with our first guests visiting from the US. Five people have arrived in the last two days and we are getting out and doing all the local tourist things in Kep and Kampot at long last

THURSDAY 21st ORNAMENT: The one and only Xmas card of ornaments in front of the origami Xmas trees which were hand delivered to us in Kep a couple of days ago. Thanks to McKenny for the thoughtful gesture and Barry for being the courier

FRIDAY 22nd WRAPPED: This is a beautiful “furushiki”
-or Japanese wrapping cloth. I received it as a gift from McKenny a few days ago and it is now wrapped around the gifts we bought to give our guests. The cloth is already a favourite and will be used constantly. Anyone who has spent time in Japan knows and loves the tradition of wrapping cloths

SATURDAY 23rd SPARKLY: The sunlight makes the water in Kep Bay sparkly in the early morning

SUNDAY 24th ON THE DOOR: This lovely Japanese New Year ornament was given to me by Barry, when he visited. He purchased it on a recent trip to Kanazawa. A perfect gift as my feeble attempt at a Xmas wreath failed miserably

MONDAY 25th MY DAY: culminated with this meal. After visiting our little monks to deliver bananas, cake and milk this morning, we took a tour to a local pepper plantation and came home to prepare our Xmas feast for friends. A simple day with simple pleasures and the perfect celebration

TUESDAY 26th WHERE I SLEPT: in my bed at home in Kep as usual

WEDNESDAY 27th GOOD TIMES: To me good times involve playing hosts to old friends from Bhutan days, who departed this morning, cooking up a storm with fresh ingredients from the local market, monkeying around with our little monks after class and care packages from home arriving. All in a day’s excitement in Kep

THURSDAY 28th SNACK: No lunch today so the afternoon snack was homemade Xmas cake and chocolate chip shortbreads

FRIDAY 29th MAKES ME HAPPY: After playing host to guests for the last 10 days we went back to the pool today and resumed our regular swimming routine

SATURDAY 30th BEST PHOTO OF 2017:  Having spent time in eight different countries this year, this has been a really difficult choice. However I can’t say I haven't enjoyed the last couple of hours looking at every one of the thousands of photos I have taken. Finally out of a selected five, three of which were taken in Peru, I chose the shores of Lake Titicaca from Puno. So many memories were made this year and recollected today

The other four choices just for the record

SUNDAY 31st CHEERS: We made a Japanese inspired meal to accompany the champagne, to finish 2017 with a bang. Many thanks to Barry, Allan and Andy for such a lovely treat.  The final memorable moments of a truly awesome year of travel and new adventures