Thai Red Curry Paste Recipe and Tips on How To Use a Mortar and Pestle. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

10 Ways to Know You’re Finally at Home

After obtaining our one-year Cambodia visa, we spent months searching for somewhere to live in Siem Reap before finally finding a place. We’ve signed a lease and have somewhere we can really call home.

It’s been a huge year of travel for us here in Southeast Asia. Most of it was a crazy blur of photo shoots, working in hotel rooms, and having endless restaurant meals and street food, while we looked for a place to rent (not an easy task; for tips, see our post on how to rent apartments in Siem Reap).

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…

10 Ways to Know You’re Finally at Home

1. You 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. You have a street address, not just a post box

It’s 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. You have a server and your 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. You can use your 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.You’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. You 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. You’re 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. You have a collection of cookbooks you 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. I’m about to embark on a project where I spend a year (or two; however it long it takes really) cooking from Asian cookbooks to better understand the connections between the cuisines.

10. You can 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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Terence Carter is an editorial food and travel photographer and infrequent travel writer with a love of photographing people, places and plates of food. After living in the Middle East for a dozen years, he settled in South-East Asia a dozen years ago with his wife, travel and food writer and sometime magazine editor Lara Dunston.

8 thoughts on “10 Ways to Know You’re Finally at Home”

  1. 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. 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. 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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