My Photographs: Top 5 Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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Water Festival, November 2015. Siem Reap is a very comfortable city for visitors, whether you find yourself passing through to see Angkor Wat, or even thinking about starting a new life in South East Asia. The weather is great, there’s a vibrant expat community, nearly everyone speaks English and the place is awash with cafes, bars and restaurants offering a wide variety of international cuisine. Better still, life there is as cheap as chips, from accommodation and fine dining to scuttling around town by tuk-tuk. One of the best times to visit is in November for the annual Water Festival (Bon Om Touk). There are festive markets to explore, an abundance of street food and of course the main spectacle itself: a series of colorful, hotly contested boat races.  

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My Photographs: Top 5 Doha.

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1 Iranian Souq, July 2001Iranian Souq, July 2001. I arrived in Doha during the summer of 2001, without a clue as to what I would do there. Those first weeks were spent wandering about the city, with regular visits to the corniche, City Center Mall and the Iranian Souq. The locals were quietly friendly and largely unobtrusive in their attempts to attract my business. Many shop owners were happy to be photographed, like this old spice merchant and his Indian assistant. To read more about my experiences, check out my short story Ashraf.

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Baptism of Fire – a short story from Qatar.

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In the summer of 2001 I boarded a near-empty Qatar Airways flight to Doha. Reuniting with my family who’d recently moved there for my father’s new job, it was my first time living abroad.

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‘‘This is your classroom’’ said Jamla, switching on the lights. They flickered dubiously for a bit before finally illuminating the room, revealing merely the latest in a long string of anticlimaxes.

About to head off for my first day of teaching.

About to head off for my first day of teaching.

Like everything else during my tour of The Language Institute, the room was less than inspiring. Dingy, run down and with a dank smell I couldn’t quite identify, I tried to picture it as a place my students could one day be excited about coming to. But it was a tough sell.

Faded posters advertising French coastal towns adorned the peeling walls. Three rows of elephantine wooden desks and chairs looked like they’d been transposed from a Dickensian orphanage. My own table, set in front of Planet Earth’s oldest blackboard, resembled a dusty old grand piano. I set my books down on it and the whole thing slid to one side with a dull thud.

‘‘Someone will fix’’ said Jamla sternly from behind her veil. ‘’I will be in my office Mr. Lie-ton. Enjoy your first day at T.L.I’’. Turning on her heels, she swished out of the room, her black abayha trailing behind her.

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Pulp Friction – a short story from Qatar.

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In the summer of 2001 I boarded a near-empty Qatar Airways flight to Doha. Reuniting with my family who’d recently moved there for my father’s new job, it was my first time living abroad.

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I’d been kicking around Doha for a good six to seven weeks by the time I finally decided my life needed some purpose. Not that lounging around the pool or making my umpteenth visit to the markets wasn’t pleasant. But I was starting to get fidgety and funds had begun to run low.

Taking inspiration from an old school friend who’d recently come to Doha to teach, I decided to enroll in a TEFL course (Teaching English as a foreign Language) at The British Council. This, I’d been told, would be my key to the world! A chance to make Qatar the first of many international adventures.

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