Thai red curry paste, made using a mortar and pestle, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

10 ways to know you’re finally at home

It’s been a huge year of travel for us here in Southeast Asia. The second half of it was just a crazy blur of photo shoots, working in hotel rooms, and having endless restaurant and street food meals. After obtaining our one-year Cambodian visa, we literally spent months searching for somewhere to live in Siem Reap and just recently found a place. We have a signed lease for the next six months and finally have somewhere we can really call home.

While we have a long list of destinations we’re going to next year on assignment, for now we’re wrapping up the last of this year’s work and enjoying settling into our new home. But I can hear you say, “Don’t you guys often rent apartments and houses? What’s so different about this place?” Well, here are some of the things that make it ‘home’ for me after almost eight years out of our suitcases…

1. I have a set of keys – not a collection of hotel credit card-type keys, but a real set of keys I have to mark to identify which door in our abode they will open.

2. I have a street address, not just a post box – an address I can give to people with confidence, so parcels don’t have to be couriered to the front desk or a hotel concierge.

3. I have a server and my own Wi-Fi network – an old MacBook Pro now sits in the corner of our living room so Lara and I can send files and photographs to a central server. No more emailing images! And it’s also home to all of our music so we can play whatever we want when we want, especially when we’re cooking. And…

4. I can use my Apple TV properly – and it has a permanent home, so I won’t have to keep hunting around the back of hotel TVs looking for the slot for my HDMI cable.

5. The TV channels don’t change every day – I no longer have to search for the Australia Channel when we’re craving a little Australian ‘culture’, Al Jazeera so we can catch up on the Middle Eastern news, or the trashy American drama channels that Lara likes to unwind to.

6. I’ve gone from “I’d love to cook that” to “I’m cooking that” – the markets here in Siem Reap are brilliant, as is the beautiful fresh local produce. I almost feel guilty buying such inexpensive seafood, chicken and pork. The beef? Not so much…

7. I have a freezer full of homemade stock – even when we’ve rented apartments for a month or two and I have been able to cook, there has never been room in the freezer or a pot big enough to make stock. Some people say that store bought stock is just as good. Just like fresh verses dried pasta, each has its place, it’s just that store bought stock has no place in my kitchen.

8. I’m buying in bulk – four litre tin of olive oil, I’m looking at you! Those chef-sized rolls of plastic wrap? I’m taking you home.

9. I have a collection of cookbooks I can use every day – they’re not weighing down Lara’s carry-on anymore. They’re no longer just salivated over. They’re finally getting sauce stained. Pictured (above) is a Thai red curry paste, made to a recipe from Ian Kittichai’s Issaya Cookbook that’s been in our bags for months…

10. I’m making a big batch of ragu Bolognese – that means homemade tagliatelle pasta, made with my own hand-cranked pasta machine, and then lasagne the next day. For me this is a great signifier of home. You have time and room to make brodo (stock). You have a stove and a pot big enough to make a batch of ragu. And you have the time at home to stir it. The aromas while making it? That’s home.




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  1. Annie Bennett

    Reading this really made me smile! Hope you both have a great year mixing travelling with enjoying homelife and splattering your cookbooks with more telltale signs of fabulous meals!

  2. Deborah Harmes

    So happy for you! And we can truly relate. Returned to Australia from our beloved France 7 months ago, settled temporarily in Melbourne, headed to Ballarat shortly because we bought a house. Living out of suitcases wears you out after several years — don’t know how you two keep ON doing it. Have fun.

  3. Lara Dunston

    Thanks, Deborah – so sorry, I’ve just seen this! Yes, we hear you alright. Ballarat is lovely. Keep Cambodia in mind for a holiday! Hugs, Lara x


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