February 4th 2018 – between guests.

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The  post about Lauren’s visit was just ten days ago (see -below this post)

 Mark, Linda and Zoe visit from Australia in a few days time and then Corrinne and Jon a few days after that. We are busy. happy and busy. I won’t be able to write properly while they are here so this post TODAY is a collection of our very recent activities mostly this month around the Guesthouse and villages. The end of today’s post is a collection of photos from Lauren’s visit in early January – taking five people to the Dentist 

so now – today’s post -


    “Fishing for food Cambodian style in our village – once a year and today is the day”.

This our Guesthouse dam 2000 cubic metres of water is pumped onto neighbouring fallow rice fields. I KNOW it is 2000 cubic metres because that is how much soil we excavated four years ago to raise our building area for The Guesthouse. We have never seeded the dam with fish – we don ‘t need to. Every wet season, fish arrive through the rice fields and irrigation channels and grow BIG. The fish, snakes, eels and frogs are groped for by hand as the water level lowers – a man with electric probes powered by batteries walks between fishermen, fisherwomen and children and electrocutes snakes. The following morning, this morning, the dam is again 60% full of water. (indeed now at the time of editing the notes I took a few days ago, it is 90% full).

In June, fish will start arriving into our 6 metre deep dam via the rice fields and the cycle continues. The fish are all salted for consumption over the next few months. All helpers are paid in fish, the rest are sold to non helpers     Look at the above photos and notes from ‘fishing for food Cambodian style’. An extra photo of a few of the hundreds of fish caught by hand and salted for several months of fish to eat.We had a party and roasted a number of the fish, placed inside a fresh banana tree stem (trunk) with lots of river bank herbs – it was delicious.

  We burn our rubbish. For a number of years I was President of a good Conservation Association in Australia. I know we should only purchase sustainably and recycle everything that we can. I understand about toxins that move into the soil and river systems…..

…So … We are in a remote part of Cambodia. There is no waste collection. 30 years ago here most products were either made of wood or plant material and people ate exclusively that which could be grown or caught. Our villages still practice the hunter gatherer model to a certain extent…. This is what we and all the surrounding villages do….. almost everything that is broken is taken apart and parts reused or the fan, radio, umbrella, chair etc is fixed. Glass bottles which are rare things find a permanent life in the village kitchens for storage. Aluminium drink cans are crushed, collected and taken to the city on the next visit for a small monetary reward. Broken and useless plastic and plastic material in anything that cannot find a new life in the villages is added to the monthly bonfire. We could bury our waste but that presents a worse problem locally. Farm animals roam every garden and property and rice, mangoes and coconuts are grown within a few paces of every home. Developed countries have a big problem with old TVs, computers fridges etc etc. We have no computers, fridges (I wish we had the power to power a fridge – they won’t sell us a gas fridge “you are too remote for us to visit for maintenance.” – Plastic in the villages is useless once it is broken beyond re-use and repair. So, for now, once a month when the winds can take the toxic smoke away, we have a bonfire. -The two photos above, are of a gang of girl helpers having turned small heaps into one. pile and then later yesterday the fire at twilight.


Getting specific now – on Febraury 3 – yesterday as I write – we planted a lot of mango trees (khmer word is Svey) and coconut trees (Doh) (yes, Doh). We also bought a selection of flowering shrubs, Maangos and coconuts from a travelling plant sales family in a tuk tuk with trailer. The third photo above is a ‘screenshot’ from Chanthai’s (x- to sart) Facebook wall – ‘Happy Day’ – as you can see.

 … and also yesterday a new bed and mattress arrived – we are sooo ready for the next guests.

  Our Guesthouse pig and her 14 piglets were born 3 days ago. We have moved mother and babies down the road to Chanthou’s mother’s home (early visitors will remember it well) We’ll move them back to the Guesthouse, six weeks from now. All piglets survived and mother and babies appear healthy..I’ve known a few pigs over the years and this one seems incredibly intelligent – she walks calmly close to me, looks directly at me and appears to be trying to communicate verbally.. I think that many pig owners would have similar experiences. (whether you own the pig or the pig owns you I’m not entirely sure)


The paragraphs immediately above are a screenshot from the EducatingCambodia Facebook Page that goes with the photos of clothes and boots.


My wonderful friend Zoe arrives here in just a few more days… and  – believe it not – these baby clthes, or maybe a LOT this time, are coming with her. The screenshot next to the photo of clothes with Zoe hiding behind them is from the equally wonderful Carrie , Zoe’s daughter. ( a lot more about Zoe and Carrie and all there loving friends during and after Zoe’s visit. Zoe is with us for a month.


I am writing this on February 3 and the concert (above) was last night in Avignon, France. (if you agree that I am “irrepressible” see Hilary’s article written in France, then let me tell you – Hilary is equally irrepressible or even more so, …maybe we’re twins…..

Bravo Ludvine et Helene. Merci. “au profit d’Educating Cambodia” (now surely no one needs me to translate that. Hilary – onward (as we say to each other.)


Brave Danni. 32 first time – see the notes.


I have frequently talked about how good my Dentist and her Clinic Pachem are.  I am looking at five receipts for work done yesterday to me, to Chanthou who had treatment last year, to Lauren who who also had treatment last year and to 32 year old Danni, our original Guesthouse keeper for whom this was the first time ever at a Dentist and for 18 year old Soklep (also first time at a Dentist.) The photos are of the ladies on the Clinic steps – meeting Dr Bophal in reception – work done for Danni and work done for Chanthou. (All the photos were taken without a flash with my Lumix Leica TZ80) The planning and organisation of the day was remarkable. We all had different chairs in different rooms and Dr Bopal and her nurses moved through us all. I don’t have photos of either Lauren or Soklep because I was probably being treated myself at the time. I’ll now work through the FIVE receipts to give you an idea of what we got for our money <3 Danni – Top incisor broken away diagonally in an accident. Rebuild perfectly – US$22.50 Chanthou – scaling and polishing US$10.50 two fillings – US$45. Wisdom tooth extraction –US$71.10 Lauren – Check up from last year + scaling and polishing – US$10.50 Soklep -Scaling and polishing US$10.50. Three fillings + repair a broken incisor (again perfect) US$45. John (me) Incisor and caninerepair (perfect) US$45. Scaling and polishing US$10.50 Lauren paid her own US$10 50 and I paid the remaining US$260 As I always say. The World’s best Dentist


and we work out the bill for everyone at reception. Thank you Dr.Bophal Uch and the Pachem Dental Clinic.

Love to everyone from our schools, our villages, our teachers, our families and most of all from all OUR children – John