Kep beach by Liesl Pfeffer

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Kep Beach, Cambodia
April 2018

We arrived in Kep on the last day of New Year celebrations. People had come from all around to spend the holiday at the beach, and we jumped in the ocean and swam fully and modestly dressed like everyone else, and ate intensely spicy papaya salad dotted with chopped blue crabs.

Kep by Liesl Pfeffer

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Kep, Cambodia
April 2018

After a quiet day reading and staying out of the sun, we rode bikes up to this temple just before dusk. It was still extremely hot, and the roads were steep. I had to stop and crouch on the side of the road and put my head between my knees because I had a wave of lightheadedness from the combination of heat and exertion. We rolled our bikes to this temple and I lay on a park bench watching the leaves in the trees overhead, pouring water from my bottle onto my hair to cool down. Eventually I got up and walked around this amazing place of pinks and greens.

Mekong light by Liesl Pfeffer

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Chau Doc, Vietnam
April 2018

While we were walking along the waterfront in Chau Doc, a mother brought her two young girls over to practice their English with us. They asked us our favourite colour, and our favourite food, and what time we go to bed, and what time we get up. They were very nervous, with wide eyes. We asked them in return their favourite things, but they were too struck with the anxiety of speaking English to be able to answer clearly. It was strange, and sweet. Their grandfather was recording the conversation on his smartphone.

Chau Doc daily market by Liesl Pfeffer

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Daily market, Chau Doc
Vietnam
April 2018

We ate so many delicious things in our 24 hours in Chau Doc. Deep fried rounds of sweet dough. Rice and banana wrapped in banana leaf and roasted over coals. A whole pineapple cut into a sculptural shape. A somewhat scary bowl of noodles that had large chunks of congealed blood floating in (which we avoided picking up with our chopsticks). A spicy bahn mi sandwich on crusty baguette. 

Mekong days by Liesl Pfeffer

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An Binh, Vietnam
April 2018

We arrived on the island of An Binh in the late afternoon. We were met by our hosts who gestured for us to jump on the back of their two motorcycles for the quick ride to their homestay. (Sure, why not, let's hope I don't fall off with my 15 kg backpack strapped to me). We traveled quickly (but safely) along narrow paved paths surrounded by palm trees and fenced houses. Our homestay was a big open plan structure made from dark timber, strewn with hammocks and surrounded by plants, flowers and a pond (from which we ate a delicious elephant ear fish for dinner). In the yard, our hosts' ancestors were buried with small but elegant tombstones.

We borrowed bikes and rode around the island, stopping to watch a soccer game in a dirt field, and later to photograph the beautiful slanting golden light at dusk, when everyone burns their rubbish in their yards.  The next morning we woke up early, met our guide and walked quickly to a longtail boat which our guide deftly directed through narrow canals and out into the Mekong Delta proper. The light was weak but still hot, and we watched the river coming to life. Soon it was scorching. We ate baguettes with cheese and bananas as we very slowly moved across the Mekong, stopping and changing directions now and again to visit a bonsai garden and a candy maker. Mostly we just slowly cruised and let our thoughts drift as we watched the river: big boats transporting huge mountains of rice, young kids playing naked in the water at the shore, a man washing his boat in shorts. 

Ho Chi Minh City by Liesl Pfeffer

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Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
April 2018

Ho Chi Minh City was the first stop on our 12 week trip through South-east Asia and China. It was extremely hot (high 30s in the day, low 30s in the night), loud, thrilling, full of motorcycles, cheap strong iced coffee, home to some of the most consistently delicious street food I have eaten anywhere. 

Gundagai by Liesl Pfeffer

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Gundagai, New South Wales
February 2018

I split the 12 hour drive from Hill End to Melbourne into two days, and stopped pretty much halfway home in the outback town of Gundagai. I arrived at dusk, set up my tent by the river, and walked into town for an eggplant parma and a gin and tonic. After a month of cooking all my own meals, it was rather wonderful. 

Sofala Show by Liesl Pfeffer

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Agricultural Show, Sofala
New South Wales, Australia
February 2018

On my last day at the Hill End Artist Residency I drove half an hour to Sofala to visit their annual agricultural show. I won a chocolate hazelnut cake, a rhubarb chutney and a jar of honey for $10 in the cake auction. The shaky handwriting on the labels just about broke my heart. 

Haefligers Cottage by Liesl Pfeffer

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Hill End Artist Residency, NSW
Australia
February 2018

I spent the month of February living alone in this absolute dream of a worker's cottage built 150 years ago around the time of the gold rush. The whole house and studio were mine to sit, read, make and cook within. It was a magic time for me, listening to the birds eating in the fruit trees, saying hello to the kangaroos on my way to and from the outdoor toilet and going for long walks through the bush at the end of a day in the studio. I worked on cyanotypes on fabric using found native flora, and made ten new abstract collages from photographs. 

The time there was a fire by Liesl Pfeffer

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Hill End, NSW
Australia
February 2018

One Saturday afternoon whilst gazing out my studio window lost in thought, I noticed smoke in the distance, glowing red where it touched the horizon. For the first time in my life I called the fire brigade, knowing this was peak summer, peak fire season in the bush. Turned out the fire was 18 km away, which is little comfort when you live in a town that's at the end of a single lane road through the bush, an hour's drive from anything. But also comforting, because that's still a long way, long enough to be able to have a plan to get out early. So I hiked up to my favourite look out and watched the smoke for a while, and for the rest of the weekend I constantly monitored the NSW Rural Fire Department's Fires Near Me website. Blackened leaves fell down on the town, but nothing worse reached us, and the sunsets were especially beautiful for a few days.

The time it rained by Liesl Pfeffer

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Hill End Artist Residency, NSW
Australia
February 2018

I can almost smell the rain still when I look at these photographs. The rain came suddenly on a very hot day. The kangaroos in my garden were soaked, and the birds disappeared for a little while. 

Cedar Creek Falls by Liesl Pfeffer

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Cedar Creek Falls
Tambourine Mountain, Queensland
December 2017

Mum drove Nico and I out to Tambourine so she could have lunch with a friend there. We walked down to the falls on Cedar Creek and had an ice cold swim. It was so crowded that there was nowhere for me to discretely change into my swimsuit, so I swam in my tee shirt and undies like a kid. 

Border Ranges by Liesl Pfeffer

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Border Ranges National Park, New South Wales
December 2017

On the second last night of the year, Nico and I camped at Sheepstation Creek in the Border Ranges. There was some kind of plague of grasshoppers chirruping loudly at the camp site, in a synchronised racket that crescendoed every fifteen seconds into an earsplitting note. I had to wear ear plugs the whole time.