Phatry Derek Pan

Serving Khmer America since 1998™

Read this first

Four Healthy Habits of Monk Hood to Maintain as a Layman


1. Meditate daily for 5 minutes

Scientists have confirmed the health benefits of meditation. For me, practicing meditation helps me stay focus with my life goals and alleviates the everyday stress of work and play. I tend to meditate every morning after I shower and before I have my first meal of the day.

2. Observe Buddhist ‘holy days’

Tgai Seul (ថ្ងៃសីល) to me means a day to “reboot” my body, mind, and soul. I would visit a local pagoda in the morning, make offerings, and fast all afternoon. I would abstain from alcohol, sex, or going out that night. Instead I would either visit a spa, hot steam, and/or a body massage center. It’s a day of self care and reflection.

3. Drink more liquids

Because monks cannot consume solids in the afternoon, I drank more liquids than I ever had in any period of my life. And in the process, I’ve noticed how my body has reacted. In Cambodia

Continue reading →

5 Things I Miss Most About Being a Layman

Today mark day 28 of 129 in my spiritual journey as a monk at Watt Kampong Perl in rural Battambang, Cambodia. In this period I’ve done my best to uphold these centuries old rules of Buddhism and live a life of simplicity. But the transformation has been challenging for someone like me–an American raised tech geek–who eats and drinks lavishly. The new me has to abide 105 set of rules everyday. Here are 5 things I miss most about the old PDP.

1. Dinners

For those who know me well, I eat like a king (refer to my Instagram). But as a monk, you cannot make food preferences. What we consume daily is based on the offerings of the public. And after 12 PM until the next morning sunrise, we are prohibited from consuming solids; even certain beverages are not permitted. This does not work to my preference since my favorite meal of the day are dinners. In Cambodia, I love Khmer style BBQ dishes

Continue reading →

I Just Shed My First Tears as a Monk

វត្តកំពង់ពេីល បាតដំបង កម្ពុជា - The sun is about to set in the sleepy village of Kampong Perl, just 10 kilometers south along the Sangke River of Battambang. I am about to wrap up my evening with sweeps across the porch and water my plants before I lock the doors. As I looked out in the distance to my head monk’s living quarter (about a football field length), a figure about 250 feet away slowly walks towards my direction. I couldn’t make out who it was, and calmly I walk to the door.


“Please help me, preah ong (venerable),” the person desperately calls out. I was a foot away before entering my house.

I turn around and walk into its direction without fear or hesitation. My father and relatives always warned me to be cautious with strangers, especially when you’re alone and when it’s night time. You would think that pagodas are one of the safest places to be in Cambodia, but its not

Continue reading →

How I Became Addicted to Interviews Part 1

I have interviewed at least 500 people in my lifetime. They were students, activists, politicians, artists, business folks, the homeless, elders, children, and friends. The majority of these conversations took place under my affiliations with various news and media companies throughout the past 15 years like KhmerConnection, Rajana Society, Phnom Penh Post, and Khmerican. There is a certain excitement that fills me when I get into the process–this unexplainable curiosity to immerse myself into my subject and their words.

It began circa June 2000 through Vibol Hou. Hou is the founder of the popular online community start up called, KhmerConnection. Known by followers as KC, the website was the premiere destination for Cambodian Americans. Its user base was predominantly college students from SoCal and the rest of the West Coast. The community forums was where most members consumed their

Continue reading →

Welcome to PDP Version 5.0!

A new month is here and in 31 days, a new permanent home: Cambodia. In marking these new changes, I have decided to migrate from WordPress to the minimalist, more intuitive design of Svbtle.

Since 2003, I have blogged intermittently in multiple platforms. I started with the now defunct Text America, then experimented with Xanga, LiveJournal,, Blogger, Blogspot, Tumblr, Cargo and WordPress. I played around with Medium and Ghost for about a week before finalizing on Svbtle.

PDP Version 5.0 will be my modest attempt in reviving my love for writing. I had written regularly for 3 years starting in August 2005 when I made my first move to Cambodia. These pieces varied from trivial food related musings to more content rich analysis of Cambodian society. On the side, I wrote articles on arts and culture for the Phnom Penh Post, the country’s oldest English language newspaper. And in

Continue reading →

Subscribe to Phatry Derek Pan

Don’t worry; we hate spam with a passion.
You can unsubscribe with one click.