505-227-5328 (New Mexico),
66-85-191-4745 (Thailand),
855-85-530-902 (Cambodia)

web site:
web site:

Karen Coates

Writer/Journalist/Media Trainer

I’m a journalist and author. I write about food, environment, wildlife, health and social issues—really, anything that interests me, which is a lot. Ever since I spent a semester of grad school in Hanoi a dozen years ago, I’ve been hooked on Asia, its people and cultures.

Somehow I managed to goad my husband, photojournalist Jerry Redfern, along this path as well when I persuaded him to move to Phnom Penh with me in 1998, about four months after we married. Since then, we’ve tromped through the backwoods of Asia to cover everything from unexploded bombs in Laos to human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka and jungle food in Borneo.

My first book, Cambodia Now: Life in the Wake of War (McFarland, 2005), winner of the August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award, took seven years to write. The book examines everyday life in Cambodia since the end of civil war, a project spurred by my year of working at The Cambodia Daily in 1998. Since then, Jerry and I have returned to Cambodia more times than I’ve counted.

My second book, Pacific Lady: The First Woman to Sail Solo Across the World’s Largest Ocean (Nebraska, 2008), is a joint effort with Sharon Sites Adams, a remarkable woman who set five world sailing records. I’m an Asia correspondent for Gourmet and a contributor to the magazine’s website. I also keep a website,, named one of the world’s top 50 food blogs by the "Times of London." My work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and journals around the world, including "Wildlife Conservation," "Archaeology," "National Wildlife," "The Christian Science Monitor," "BBC," "Orion," "The Boston Globe," "Fodor’s Travel Guides," "DAYS Japan," "Geo Spain," "Kyoto Journal," "GlobalPost" and "National Geographic Books".

My first full-time journalism job took me to a small paper in a cold, windy boomtown in Wyoming, which pretty much nudged me toward the tropics. I’m a graduate of the University of Oregon (an independent master’s program in journalism, anthropology and international studies) and The University of Montana (journalism and anthropology).

After living in Thailand for four years, Cambodia (twice), and traveling on extensive stints through Asia, Jerry and I bought a fixer-upper house on half an acre in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. When we’re not riding the subway through Singapore or meeting yak herders on a Himalayan trail, we’re planting grapes and installing cabinets in our little hacienda, which we share with a lot of birds and a booming population of fat toads.