I knew I had a better story for the World Nomads travel writing competition.

Last year I went to Koh Rong island. Ageing Korean buses through the Cambodian countryside. Sugar palm trees and paddy fields, thin cows and sleeping dogs on the road. Karaoke blasting over the air conditioning. Shared pineapple from a plastic bag. A moto ride winding through Sihanoukville hills. 3 hours on a rusty ferry. Tree houses swaying gently in the wind, sand like icing sugar. The great mass of a buffalo swimming towards me, in the encroaching dusk, the bulge of its eye as it strains against the rope, how quietly it moves through the warm, clear waters.

I’ll write it another day. But in the meantime I’ve made a little video – all filmed on 35mm on my Lomo Kino. Hope you like it.

I’m a city girl at heart. I have lived in apartments for the past sixteen years, nestled safely on the upper floors, no elevators necessary. On the rare occasion I had access to a (carpet sized) garden, I looked at it with suspicion, half heartedly pulling out what I hoped were weeds and watering what looked most forlorn and desiccated. The closest I get to camping is a picnic in the park, and only then with a proper picnic blanket and metal cutlery. I find nature a little bit creepy and forbidding, particularly here in Cambodia where it is full of giant insects, fat snakes and fire breathing ants. FIRE BREATHING ANTS, I tell you. Do not argue with me.

Unsurprisingly I have been resisting my mother’s attempts to get me to “engage” with her garden. It is her oasis, her refuge, a tropical impressionist’s explosion of bougainvillea, birds and palm trees. I’ve walked tentatively around the edges, risking an occasional toe on the grass, before retreating, much to her despair, to warm myself by the ┬árosy light of my laptop in a dark, airconditioned room.

Pathetic, I know.

There is no denying the beauty and tranquility of her garden though, filled as it is with fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, tiny chicks and sleeping dogs. Here are a few snapshots pour me faire pardonner. Enjoy.

 

PS: No, the dog is not dead. It is just fat. And not very good at being a guard dog.