Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Eve 2015

Strawberries at a French marketplace!

Happy New Year to my blogging friends around the world!

 May 2016 bring you joy and happiness, experiences that leave you with special memories, and may you be happy.

At this time of year, I am reflective - someone who likes to look back on the achievements, struggles, challenges, and hopes of the past, and then use the lessons learnt to think about what's next for me. I like to set  my goals, and work towards them. I love that sense of completing something I want to do. I love ticking the list. I haven't done too bad this past year.
One of my goals this past year was to improve the productivity of my garden. With help from a blogging friend, I changed a few gardening habits this year, and I can proudly say I've made some success. I now have at least 7 productive rhubarb plants, well on their way to supplying this happy householder with regular yummy desserts. I also have some pretty awesome eggplant bushes, producing almost all year round. Among other successes, these two were on my wish list and are signs that the garden is producing things we like.
Another of 2015's great successes was the Paris in July event, hosted here at Thyme-for-Tea. It was a big year with some fabulous participants and some great variety of contributions. Thank you all for playing with us this year. Lets see what 2016 brings? 
One of my major disappointments from 2015 was not getting to India to visit the school and girls hostel I love. I made the most of the difficult situation with a wonderful trip to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and enjoyed spending time with a close friend, and meeting new friends.

Now I'm about to embark on some major study, so I'm conscious not to set too may high and lofty goals for 2016 - but one I'm sure I have support for - is to keep Thyme-for-Tea alive as a spot for me to return to when the going gets tough. This is a space for me to remember those elements of life that sustain - connection to community, reflection on simplicity and generosity, and a reminder that reading opens the mind to other worlds and other experiences. Now with that in mind, I will be trying to post some more book and movie reviews in the new year. Coming soon - some Japanese Lit Challenge reviews.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Markets in Vietnam & Cambodia

Water Markets 
There's something really fresh and delightful about food markets. 
Visiting the supermarket just isn't the same experience. 
Delighting in the smells, sounds and sights,
I loved visiting the different markets 
and bargaining
and trying new foods
and maing the locals laugh as I did.

The market stall holders were fun and gentle on strangers.

Dragon Fruit - became one of my favourite foods - had to have it every day!
This is Lucky! He was my cooking school teacher in Phnom Penh.

Market lady keeping fish alive 

All sorts of dried fish
and more dried fish
While Farmers Markets are growing in popularity in my part of the world, they aren't quite as exciting as the markets in South East Asia. I think the key differences are that the food available is different, the way  people use food (lots of dried fish) is different, and the community only has one place to get their food - while we have multiple choices, some of which are available 24hrs a day.

I appreciated the market experiences I had on my recent holiday - but on reflection - I think I appreciate them just as much as I appreciate the French markets - perhaps the French learnt their market skills from Vietnam or visa versa?

Where are your favourite markets?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


This isn't really a holiday blog, it's more about me contemplating and ponder important things in life. However, visiting temples makes one stop and reflect, meditate on the important, and rest in the moment. So when some of you asked for holiday snaps, I was torn.

Anyway, here's a few snaps of different temples I visited. I am a christian women, in my own kind of way, but I feel it's important to walk with my fellow life travellers and understand and respect the different ways we express our spirituality. This most recent trip (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos), as with my trips to India in the past, has given me more of an opportunity to visit and understand others in my world. I'll do what I can to recall where these temples were - but I cant promise to recall their names. I apologise this is a long post.

Mekong Delta (somewhere?), Vietnam

We stumbled across this on a walk through a village. 
I admire dragons and noticed this interesting motive on top
This poster was hung around this temple commune - with an important message for us.
 All of us,
Children of God
Shall pray
Together so that
God may grant 
Peace of 
Mind for everyone. 

Chau Doc, Vietnam

With a local guide, I enjoyed the peace and tranquility of this working temple.
Monks quietly gardening and working in the background.

 Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This temple site was created by a wealthy widow. It's called Wat Phnom.
The flag at Wat Phnom
Wat Phnom, Buddhist Temple

 Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Silver Pagoda at the Royal Palace

The intricate details are amazing beautiful and stunning.

 Battambung, Cambodia

Dont know the name, but this was an active temple with many monks, in the town area.
My Favourite Temple stops. Our TukTuk driver said this was called "Chicken Hill".

Also at Chicken Hill near Battambung. Beautifully peaceful setting.

 Luang Probang, Laos

Somewhere in Luang Borbang! This town is full of beautful temples.

Found the Sleeping Buddha on Mount Phousi (Centre of town).
Also on Mount Phousi - this scene reminds be  of devotion and learning
Top of Mount Phousi
An ancient gate to temple in Luang Probang

 Hanoi, Vietnam

The Red Bridge leading to the Green Turtle Temple in lake Hoan Kiem, Hanoi City
Gate to the Turtle Temple
Turtle Temple.
Chua Tran Quoc, Hanoi City

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Small temple I found when Kayaking in Halong Bay. I didn't get out of the Kayak.
Just posting these photo's I am reminded of how I felt visiting these places, who I met there and what I reflected on. I am impressed by others dedication to their faith, and their commitment to learning more. I am overwhelmed by others generosity and their humbleness. I seek to reflect some of those characteristics in my life from time to time.

Thank you to the monks, the locals and the guides, who shared these impressive little secrets with me.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Singapore Writers Festival 2015

While travelling recently I took the opportunity to participate in the Singapore Writers Festival. My friend and reading mentor has been a lover of the Sydney Writers Festival and the Newcastle Writers Festival and has been encouraging me. While I’ve been to random sessions at the Newcastle events, I’ve never really had the time to surrender to a suite of events. 

In Singapore I attended sessions on Feminism, Japanese Literature, and sessions defining Singapore and Singaporean Stories. I really enjoyed the whole event, which was really well organised, and many of the sessions were held in the historical parliament house, giving the event a real connection with the history of Singapore. Singapore is celebrating its 50th birthday since independence and is marking the occasion with events like this, reflecting on the past, and visioning the future. In some of the sessions I felt like I was part of a turning point for this young nation. 

Sessions on Singapore:

Singapore is proud of its multicultural community, and respects the four main ethnic groups (and therefore languages) – Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English. So in the session I went to on ‘what is Singapore’sUltimate Dish?’ it was not surprising that the panel couldn’t decide! One member said he could not decide on one dish, but he thought Singaporean food was best represented in their love of the ‘buffet’. Another panel member argued that the definition of the ‘ultimate dish’ was the critical part of the question. He finally decided that the ultimate dish was one that international guests must try when they visit – Chicken Rice. The final Panellist agreed it was a matter of definition, because for him, the ultimate dish was one that is ‘internationally renowned’ – therefore it was Singapore noodles and a Singapore sling. At the end of the session, I had to ask – what about sweets? Well, the panel remained divided – but apparently they love their Chinese pastries.  Panellists included: 

In celebration of their 50th birthday, grants were made available for works that help celebrate Singapore. In this session, What makes Singapore Singapore? Authors of anthologies about Singapore presented their different works.One was editing a compilation of 50 stories about Singapore. His collection ended up in two large volumes. One of the other anthologies looked more like a photo collection but included interview with ordinary Singaporeans. This interested me, but was quite a large publication. One collections was titled '50 things to love about Singapore' - and includes commentary on things like Highway Slang, cultural tit bits, and other odd things. This book was produced with the traveller in mind. So at the end of the session when I commented in the question time on the size of the collections, I ended up receiving my own copy of this little collection. Of which I am enjoying reading a bit from now and then.

I'll  post something soon on the Japanese Literature Sessions I went to and what I learned but as a teaser, I must say that I loved the discussion on Murakami, and especially enjoyed the Japanese Women Writers who both read and sang in Japanese!

The Chamber, Singapore's Old Parliament House
The event was held at the Art House in Singapore, which was the Old Parliament House. It felt like a fitting venue to be gathering with authors and readers of current day Singaporean thoughts. It was also great for tourists like me (and I don't think there were many there) to enjoy the movement around this building and to consider what sorts of decisions were made in this building. I attended a few sessions in the Chamber, a regal and historic place, making me feel a very special guest.
Singapore Art House, formerly the Parliament House.
 I promise to post more from my holiday experiences soon. This photo was taken at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. I'm choosing to post it today as an image of Love. Imagine floating through a river of flowers. Imagine that for all those people who are suffering in the world right now. Imagine flowers are the future, not the one-off.
Floral display inside the Dome at Gardens by the Bay

Thursday, November 12, 2015


We all love them
We capture them in our holiday photos
They are faultless

As I am sorting out my holiday photo's (and I have thousands), I am reminded of just how many sunsets I sat back and enjoyed when I was on holidays, travelling along the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. 

What is it about sunsets? They happen every single day! Rain, hail or shine, the sun will set. But do we notice? Yet on holidays, it's the highlight of a day (maybe because there's a cocktail involved). 

I met with a colleague today who commented on just how relaxed and peaceful I appear this week. We talked for sometime about what happened on my holiday to impact me so much. I think it was a combination of factors (and I'll post more about this later, maybe), but a key factor was that this holiday was not over planned. Each day unravelled in it's own unplanned way - but routines developed (based on weather and energy levels) that meant we made time for watching sunsets. 

Watching sunsets for me, mean
  • resting, reflecting on the days activities
  • drinking in the colours
  • feeling the calm of dusk
  • closing one day 
  • hoping for the next
What are your thoughts on sunsets? I love them and I wish I could sit and watch more.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Returning Home


Returning home. (6 weeks away)
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore. 
Delightfully enerizing.
Time for reflection.
Time for learning.
Time for discovery. 
New people.
New food.
New cultures.
I'll share more soon.