New school, new gecko

Today we rolled up our sleeves, shifted tables & chairs, swept floors and generally started getting the new school ship-shape. Or school-shape.

During the festivities we found a takoy gecko. They eat mosquitos and cockroaches, so after we explained to him how many of each we could offer at Chez Kershaw, he was more than willing to accompany us home.

He’s nocturnal, so is currently biding his time waiting for night so he can begin hunting…

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The Duerdens are here!

Safe arrivals

Margaret and David arrived from England late on Friday evening.

They’ve been up to see the new school building (site), down to the market and out to the off licence!

Cath's mum looking lovely.
Cath’s mum enjoying the greenery (of our neighbours house – our foliage is decidedly yellow).
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David gets the beers in.


Chamkar Pring Amusements

We visited Chamkar Pring and rode the ‘very exciting’ roller coaster and big yellow spinny-swingy-thingy. Both had safety restraints, neither worked.

Tom and Matt on the dodgems at Chamkar Pring.
Tom and Matt on the dodgems at Chamkar Pring.
David & Margaret's first ride in a Cambodian tuk-tuk.
David & Margaret’s first ride in a Cambodian tuk-tuk.


Feed and clothe the poor

Village church in Baray
Tom with a day-old duckling
Youngsters at play in their ‘living room’.
Tom getting to know the locals.

Today we took buckets of rice, bottles of fish sauce and gifts of clothing to some of the poorest villagers in Baray, about 100km north of PhnomPenh.

In one of the houses our children played with day-old ducklings, alongside Khmer children; boundaries of culture and language melted away as all squealed with delight. Another mother we talked with (through an interpreter) proudly showed us their church, a peeling wooden shack. We chatted with her in a lean-to barn amongst her animals, only to discover that the ‘barn’ was her home, and she was saving up to buy some walls.

Baray Village Stay

Tom and I arrived at the Baray Village Stay at lunchtime on Tuesday. We have a shared house on site and eat meals at the Solar Cafe nearby. The house is lovely and free of mosquitos, the food is hearty and delicious. This morning we will be taking rice and clothes to poor families in the surrounding villages.

Wildlife: last night we found a frog in our bathroom, this morning a cricket joined us on the breakfast table. Fortunately we were too full of baguette, jam, scrambled eggs and hot chocolate to eat him.

Meals without Mums

With Mrs Kershaw off with the elephants in Mondulkiri, and Matt and Lauren safely away with their year groups (Koh Kong and Rabbit Island) Tom is stuck eating ‘Daddy Food’…*

Tonight’s ensemble began with shitaki mushrooms fried with spring onions, followed by cauliflower & cabbage in a cheeseless** cheese sauce, sweet corn daubed with (peanut) butter and poppadums.

Good thing we’re both heading to our village ‘home stay’ camp in Baray tomorrow.

  • Tom’s suggestion was custard with Spam…

** autocorrect suggested cheerless…

Stay Awake!

This morning’s reading, in Rron’s freezing tuk-tuk at 6.40am, was Mark 13:

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.

It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.

And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

The Krama

The humble Krama is a simple piece of material for which the ingenious Khmer have found a myriad uses.

Tom wrote and presented this short talk about the Krama in class. We investigated some of its timeless solutions to everyday needs, as well as exploring some new uses for the 21st century.



The Krama is a bit of cloth. Not at all exciting – just like every other bit of cotton in the world. Sure, it’s got a lovely chequered pattern in either red or blue, but that’s really just decoration.

It’s only good features are:

You can use it as a sling to carry your baby – or carry your pigs/chickens/ducks to market.

You can wear it as a belt, apron or sarong / man-skirt – or keep the baking Cambodian sun off your head.

You can twist it and wrap it around your head to carry heavy loads, or use it as a hammock to soothe a crying baby.

It can be folded into a shopping bag, or act as a pillow case or bed cover.

On cold mornings a tuk tuk ride feels very chilly – but not if you hang your Krama up as a windbreak, or wrap it around your neck as a scarf.

But like I said… it’s just a piece of cloth.

But in many ways this piece of cloth has been the binding of the Kingdom of Wonder for more than thirty years, since the devasting Khmer Rouge ravaged its social fabric and ripped it apart.

The bustling city of Phnom Penh that I have been living in for the past six months is absolutely filled with smiles.

No trace of Pol Pot’s horrific regime scars its face, though below the surface is another story.

This recovery has been, in some small part, due to the humble, unassuming Cambodian Krama: its people’s bandage, protector, and national symbol.


A double-length Krama hammock.


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This old woman’s Krama keeps the sun off her head.


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iPad stand.


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Hands-free coffee and iPad.


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Scottish kilts go back to the 1600s, but the Cambodian krama-skirt was worn by “every man or woman” at least as far back as the 13th century.


Iced Custard

Our first proper home-cooked roast dinner in Phnom Penh was worth waiting for. Cath made jelly to go with the fruit salad, but I fancied some chilled custard on mine…

1 tbsp custard powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk powder
1 cup water
1 cup ice

In saucepan, mix dry ingredients to a paste with 1 tbsp of the water.

Heat gently, gradually add remaining water.

Turn off heat, stir in ice.

Serve with fresh fruit and strawberry jelly.

Ilkley Moorbodia

Tom, Matt and John headed north of the new school on their bikes to explore ‘the unknown country’ – and found a n open, grassy landscape not dissimilar to lots of places in Yorkshire, albeit flatter, hotter, and with more date palms.

Very happy.