Listen to Pilot Light

Friday, June 29, 2012

Turkeys on the porch

I've learned a number of lessons in this current incarnation of living in Asia.

  • Asians are not in the least inscrutable (they yell at you when they are pissed just like everyone else.).
  • Eating fruit for breakfast every morning makes me feel good.
  • I don't like turkeys.
Of course, none of these lessons is in the least profound, and perhaps none are useful, except for the bit about fruit. And the only real surprise is the last one.

So I will explain a bit about how I came to uncover my dislike for turkeys.

At the moment, my writing days are spent in a small cottage a few metres from our house. It looks like this.

This is a wonderful place to work, except for the turkeys. Bear in mind that throughout Asia, poultry are inescapable, even beyond the dinner plate. Chickens and turkeys have the run of the place, despite the risk they run from motorbikes and cows. Mostly it works out.

Chickens are okay. I am not a chicken lover, at least until they are cooked, but we get along. But the turkeys on my porch are vile and nasty and noisy. 

It isn't all their fault. They did not build the coop next to my porch, but in all fairness, neither did I, and we should all have to come to some agreement on how to share space. They run over the entire compound with their shrill chorus (and it is always a chorus... you never hear one turkey) echoing, and I really have less problem with that than with the piles of turkey dung (large) they drop everywhere. 

But I can deal with that. 

The problem is that when I am trying to write, the word gets out and they assemble on my porch and sing to me. Unfortunately I don't care for the song, have heard it before, and actually would prefer a Sousa march as music to work to. I suspect this is all down to my evil neighbor telling them about the US holiday of Thanksgiving, and hanging the responsibility for the role turkeys play in it on me. There doesn't seem to be any other explanation that fits the few paltry facts.

I don't understand their intent (that of the turkey's not that of my evil neighbor) but it has antagonized me and I am in the process of ordering some cook books that focus on turkey dishes to give as presents to the Khmer people who take care of them.

I am sure an equitable situation will evolve over time. Patience is of utmost importance here. After all, I have to send off for the books, and the mail is slow here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Publishing in print

Since I got to Cambodia I've been learning all about ebook publishing, but I always wanted to see one of my older books back in print. The original publisher went belly up, and I got the rights back, but producing paperback books has been expensive.

Learning the ropes more, I found things were changing and life was better on that front. So her is the re release of my humorous novel of the world best Caribbean boat bum.

It is available here Amazon. And it is also available in Kindle (same location) and in other ebook formats from Smashwords

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Songs from the Noir

There is a musical group based in Phnom Penh that is doing some interesting music in both English and Khmer. It is minimalist stuff, almost a coffee house vibe from the 60s, but getting in some sense of Velvet Underground. The band is called Krom and they've just released a CD. I don't know the people, but I liked this video they did.  There is good footage of life in the city and you can hear how they sound..

Their website is

Krom: Songs from the Noir
“Songs from the Noir” is now available for download via CD baby at the following link:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The rains come, the tourists go

The onset of the rainy season is also the onset of slow season in Cambodia. The rains can make travelling about miserable, so it probably isn't the best time to visit. The rains ease up in October, usually, maybe November and the inrush begins again.

Rainy season doesn't just turn on one morning. We kind of ease into it. Today was a beautiful day, and I took the motorbike into town to get needed supplies (cabbage and Irish whiskey if you must know).

This is one of the normally busy streets at about 0830. The khmer start mornings early, and perhaps the backpackers are all still sleeping in, but I don't think so. Along this street you can buy welding gas, bread, cell phones, some packaged junk food, get your hair done, and a bit further down is the main bank, Acleda.
 Behind the stack of tires is one of the many motorcycle repair shops. This one is just around the corner from the Honda dealer. One lovely thing about riding a motorbike here is that if you have a problem in town, you are never far from someone who thinks he knows motorbikes better than you, and certainly knows them better than me, and has tools and parts.
 This is the Eastern end of our main market (psaa). It was more crowded earlier when I went by. I came back to get a shot of one of the pony carts, but they had finished loading and lumbered off to wherever they lumber to. This is at the intersection with the main road that goes to Phnom Penh and the market really starts down where the umbrellas are and is quite extensive. I bought two cabbages and four nam groaech, which are sweet deep-fried rice flour pancakes.  The shops closer are mostly where you can buy cell phones. My Nokia was less than $20 there.

The shop ('Hang' in khmer) on the right is across the street from where we live. This is where I buy 20 litre jugs of drinking water and Anchor (pronounced "an chore" so as not to confuse it with "Ankor" beer).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The attack of the moo frogs

I wrote previously about the onset of the rains. One contingent that is particularly please about the arrival of rainy season can loosely be grouped together as critters. The critters are vocal in their appreciation. The birds sing more loudly in the mornings, the insects chirp happily, the bats and birds joyously hunt down the bugs and, after each drenching, we get a rousing chorus of deep harmonies from the moo frogs. So, you see, actually they sing, not attack, but in our global culture, I thought more people might read about attacking frogs than pleasantly singing frogs.

Now I suppose most of you are not familiar with the Cambodian moo frog, so I will point out that this is just the name that we have give to the frogs who, well say moo. We have encountered two types in Cambodia (and none anywhere else). The Koh Kong moo frog sounds exactly like a cow. Last rainy season, after the first big rain, we were sitting at an outside restaurant wondering where the cows were that we heard. The Kampot moo frog must be its Scottish cousin, because they add a bit of a burr to the sound, something like the last note from a bagpipe.

The picture above shows the kind of place they love. This is basically what passes for our front yard. Counting voices out there, in the evening there are a lot of moo frogs out there. By the way, these fellas are LOUD and enthusiastic. Fortunately, they sing in the same key, use related rhythmic patterns and when there are a lot of them, sound more like monks chanting than actual cows.

Now this is not a moo frog, but I felt morally obligated to include a picture of a frog and we have never actually seen a moo frog. I tried to get a picture last night, wading out through the swampy grass, when I learned that when you get within about fifty feet of them, they go silent.

I haven't a clue what kind of frog this is, other than they live on our porch and think it fun to jump out and land on you when you are sitting in the dark, thinking or having a nightcap. If they land on your bare back it can be spooky, especially the first time. I took this one of one who is hanging on the wall. He likes to live under seat cushions. One kept crawling in my dive boot until I accidentally took a step with both of sharing the boot.

Ah life in the country.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mango Rain

Since I posted that we were waiting for rain, it seems only fair to let you know that we got some. Not the full blown "look at it come down!" kind of rain we will get in the next month or so, but a number of the nice rains that mean good mangos and papaya in the market (psaa, in Khmer).

So after the first rain it looked like this. The soil is a clay that gets very slippery and, well I believe the technical term is "yucky" after a nice rain.

On the other hand, it also is soft, which means Dr. Philippe's minions can pull weeds. They are planting grass in the bare patches and he bought around 100 acacia trees to plant around the property. That is supposed to reduce traffic noise and add privacy. We will see.