Kampot and Kep – The ‘Salt and Pepper’ Twins of Southern Cambodia

The majority of visitors to Cambodia’s southern coast should not visit Kampot without visiting its twin sister, Kep. I have dubbed them as sisters because to me they are like ‘salt and pepper’ where the one can’t do without the other. Although I might think of them as twins, they certainly are not identical because they are quite different.

Kampot

Kampot, with a population of about 50,000, is the capital of Kampot Province. It lies on the Preaek Tuek Chhu River, better known as simply the Kampot River. It’s got a laid back vibe which has led to a noticeable growth in ex-pats. There are those who have chosen to live there for humanitarian reasons offering services  for disadvantaged Cambodian youngsters by providing education and training in the arts, hospitality, and entrepreneurship. Then, there are others wanting to escape from the high cost of living in their own countries, such as France and Australia, to this town where they can lead a more leisurely life fulfilling a dream they could never afford to do in their country. By taking advantage of the opportunities offered here, many of the younger couples are starting their own families which indicates they are here for the long haul.

Continue reading

Good News Stories From Battambang, Cambodia

In a country beset with problems past and present, I made it my quest to find some good news to write about while visiting Battambang, Cambodia’s third largest city to the northwest. This was my second visit…the first was in 2015. On my fourth day, I was beginning to despair that I would find anything uplifting to write about. To me it appeared that the city hadn’t changed much except for looking a bit dirtier and dustier. Of course, I couldn’t help noticing far too much garbage everywhere.  I would have to look beyond it and dig a little deeper to find what I was looking for.

Continue reading

Saving Dolphins and Eradicating Poverty in Kratie, Cambodia

Kratie is a small town of about 7,000 people in northeastern Cambodia situated on the mighty Mekong River. It’s a sleepy little place sporting a green, tree-lined boulevard  which stretches almost the entire length of the town from north to south. It’s main claim to fame is its proximity to the dolphins which inhabit the Mekong’s waters just a little north of the town.

A Kratie sunset on the Mekong River

When I recently mentioned to someone I was going to take a trip up to Kratie, I got the following response: “What is there to do other than visit some dolphins with no guarantee of seeing any?”

Despite this warning, one of the first things I did was to go visit the dolphins, and I beg to differ that there is more to see and learn than just hope to get a glimpse  and take a photo of them. For me, it was about how I got there and what I learned about the projects that Kratie is involved in to make their community more sustainable.  What started with a small group of like-minded and concerned people just over ten years ago is slowly growing. They want to preserve what is left of their resources and natural habitat to improve the quality of the lives of those living there.

Continue reading

Experiencing a Thai Christmas and New Year.

After a whirlwind of activity beginning with a special dinner with friends on Christmas Eve up to New Year’s Day which accounted for a total of nine days, I am now ready to face the reality of the other purpose I have for being here in Chiang Mai.

The reality I am referring to is to focus my attention on shopping the markets and my past suppliers to seek new and exciting merchandise for the clothing and accessories I will be shipping overseas to Canada for the Farmer’s Market beginning in May in Annapolis Royal. I have just three weeks to get this momentous task done because that’s what my single entry Visa demands.

JJ Market in Chiang Mai

JJ Market in Chiang Mai.

Let me explain how Thailand’s present day Visa system for Canadian citizens works. I had three options to consider. My first was to enter the country for 30 days with no Visa at no cost….great for travellers just passing through on their way elsewhere. My second was to buy a single entry Visa which would allow me to stay for 60 days and then re-enter for up to 30 more days before leaving the country. This one costs $50. My third was to get a multiple entry Visa good for six months which would allow me to go in and out of the country as many times as I wanted. However, this luxury came at a hefty price of $250. Option number one was not nearly enough time for me, three was way too expensive, so I chose the second one. Continue reading

Back to the “Land of Smiles”

Here I am back in Thailand for the tenth time. Is this becoming repetitive to the point that I might have to call it my second home? Seriously though it’s a perfectly sane thought for me or anyone for that matter who is finding it more and more difficult to live in Canada or the US these days. There are definitely many advantages to living in a foreign country such as Thailand.

Why do I write this, you might wonder? Isn’t Canada one of the countries so many people from around the world aspire to come to  make their home? Aren’t we on the list of the top ten most desirable countries to live in according to one of the latest polls taken? My research revealed that in 2018 the US News and World Report put us in second place after Switzerland.

Float from the annual Flower Festival in Chiang Mai

Float from the annual Flower Festival in Chiang Mai

With this honour I should be grateful for having been born on Canadian soil and be content to live there. However, with an insatiable desire tor travel most of my life, I have been fulfilling that dream ever since I retired from full-time work. My travels have definitely opened up other possibilities causing me to question whether I want to continue living in Canada at this stage of my life. Is it a good match for me? Does it satisfy my needs? What do I like or dislike about it? These are the questions that I must consider and Thailand is one of the countries that has perked my interest. Continue reading

It’s Called Resilience

Over the years I have kept a collection of quotations by famous people down through the centuries. Their words of wisdom have been my inspiration for many of my actions and my writing. 

The following quote by Cecil DeMille* was my inspiration for this post which is long overdue:

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what is next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”

This past year I have had to make some tough choices which have disrupted my comfort zone. I have discovered that it’s not easy to not know where you will be living or what you will be doing a year from now. However, what I have learned is that the ‘not knowing’ what the future holds has helped me to know what resilience truly means and how necessary it is in times of great change such as we are facing today. It requires great strength and creativity which in itself is good because I will have lived instead of dying even a little bit. Continue reading

Living a Sustainable Life in Nova Scotia

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word sustainable as –  a state of holding up, maintaining, enduring, or suffering a defeat or injury.

Thanks to the effects we are experiencing from our changing climate these days, the subject of how we can become more sustainable is taking over our conversations and news headlines…especially here in Nova Scotia. Just what does living a sustainable life mean to most people who are stretched to the limit with the demands of our modern-day society? Most of us have been taught by parents, teachers and society in general to follow the customs handed down to us by the generations before us. We were put here on this earth to get a good education… if we were lucky enough… find a good job, marry, have children, go to church, and be kind to our neighbours. If the word, sustainable ever entered our minds or our vocabularies, it was probably used to explain how to keep things steady like holding on to a job to pay off the mortgage or have a bigger car. It might also have meant meeting an endurance test where we faced the reality of keeping a job which we hated, to maintain all the things we thought we needed.

One of his baby lambs waiting to be fed

One of his baby lambs waiting to be fed

Today the word sustainability or to be sustainable is used more and more. Using the word in a broader sense has given it a whole new meaning for us. Now we are being asked to look at how being sustainable is an action that needs to encompass our whole way of living. It means we must learn and understand how the choices we make can be carried out with consideration on how they will affect the world we live in. Continue reading