Category Archives: Bangkok

Happy Anniversary, says WordPress…


Netheravon, August 2013

The message took me by surprise.  My second anniversary on WordPress.  Two years of writing blog posts, almost weekly…  I know I have slacked a little lately.  Too busy having experiences, not enough time to keep a record of it all.

I have no idea how many words it amounts to or how many pages it would fill in a book; how much of it is interesting and how often visitors actually read the text or just scan through the photographs.  But it gives me some idea of how I spent those 24 months, where I went and whom I met; the places I grew to love or hate; the people who stole a small piece of my heart..

How many stamps did I collect in my passport? So far I have visited 11 countries. Not all for the first time, but I stayed for longer periods, immersing myself in different cultures, customs and traditions.  Definitely often challenging, but nevertheless the experiences of a life time and I feel I have not even scratched the surface..  Much more to explore on this ever expanding journey, no end yet in sight!

And trawling through the wealth of accumulated photographs I struggle to condense my exploits to just a few highlights.  There have been too many really…  Maybe my adventures had already started in August 2013 when I took the plunge with a skydive, ‘chaperoned’ by my son; or when we as a family hiked Mount Snowdon in Wales (March 2014)…


Snowden (Wales), March 2014

But my travels really started, way back in May 2014, with a short trip to Florence, accompanied by one of my dearest friends… It is strange how when life turns upside down you get to know your real friends: the ones who support you when things are tough, those whose ears do not grow tired of hearing the same old lament; the ones who do not point out the flaws in your plan but are ready to help you pick up the pieces.  However until I left for India in October 2014, England was my home, the place I returned to after travelling.

So if I look back over the last two years to catalogue my ‘travel around the world’ adventures, I have to start with that journey to Florence.  No better way to put a smile on my face than a close encounter with David, although we only met in a coffee shop being too stingy to fork out for a visit to the real one.


Florence (Italy), May 2014

In September 2014 my daughter dropped me off at Heathrow  airport,  the starting point of my African adventure and beyond.  ‘Don’t do anything silly or stupid.  Make sure you stay safe.  And keep in touch!!!’, the sage advice of my daughter.  I was the one setting out on the gap year!!! Talking about role reversal…

In Cape Town (South Africa) I scaled the Lion’s Head and tackled Table Mountain.  I watched the sun rise over Dune 45 in Namibia and spied some of the Big Five on the plains of Etosha.  My flight over the Okavanga Delta in Botswana was easily eclipsed by fulfilling a lifetime’s ambition of Grade 5 white water rafting on the mighty Zambezi River, with the roar of the magnificent Victoria Waterfalls in my ears.  I stood eye to eye with fierce black rhinos in Zimbabwe.


Table Mountain (Cape Town, south Africa), September 2014


The Lion’s Head (Cape Town, South Africa), September 2014


Sossusvlei (Namibia), September 2014


Sossusvlei, Dune 45 (Nambia), September 2014


Ethosia (Namibia), September 2014


Exploring the Okavanga Delta by Mokoro (Botswana), September 2014


Bird’s Eye view of the Okavanga Delta (Botswana), September 2014



Flying over the mighty Victoria Waterfalls (Zimbabwe), September 2014




Awesome white water rafting on the Zambesi River (Zimbabwe), September 2014




Facing the rhinos in Zimbabwe, September 2014

In October 2014, Southern India beckoned… I learnt to navigate the Indian traffic chaos, and became adept at opening a coconut without proper tools.  I spent months swaddled in churidars, only to expose my legs near the more tolerant beach towns of Kovalam and Varkala. I kayaked the backwaters of Alleppey and bathed elephants in Periyar.   I have fond memories of exploring the hidden treasures of  Munnar, Kumarakom and Ponmudy with Dr Anne…  I watched the sun rise in Kanyakumari, at the southernmost point of the Indian subcontinent and felt my stomach lurch at the sight of men hanging from flesh hooks to appease the gods and earn more desirable opportunities in the future.  No more idyllic end to my Indian adventure than spending four days luxuriating on the uninhabited islands of Lakshadweep, definitely one of the best kept secrets of Indian tourism.


Periyar, Kerala (India), December 2014


Kerala (India) , February 2015


Kanyakumari, July 2015


Ponmudi (Kerala, India), October 2015


Travels with Dr. Anne, (Munnar) , October 2015


The unspoiled islands of Lakshadweep (India), November 2015


Exploring the underwater world around Lakshadweep (India), November 2015

My travels in India were briefly interrupted by a little sojourn to the UK and Amsterdam (March 2015).  No adult gap year would be complete without tasting the elsewhere forbidden pleasures of space cakes and smoking a joint.  And yes, sampling cheeses, lots of exotic, colourful cheeses…



Amsterdam, March 2015

Entitled to a two week break in August and September 2015 I made it to Kathmandu, Nepal, where I  witnessed the devastation wreaked by the April earthquake. I made acquaintance with Sadhus in the sacred Pashupatinath  Temple where Hindus come to cremate relatives who have passed away.   In Pokhara and Poon Hill I had my first (so far…) encounter with the impressive Himalayas and in Chitwan I had the privilege of glimpsing the elusive tiger in the wild…


Pokhara, Nepal.  September 2015



Sunrise at Poon Hill, Nepal.  September 2015


Sunset over the river in Chitwan, September 2015

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The elusive tiger, September 2015


Making friends in Kathmandu, September 2015

In February 2016, I landed in Hangzhou, a stone’s throw away from Shanghai. The end of the winter, still bitter, when only the colour of clothes and bicycles brightened the grey, dull atmosphere.  In March I joined a group of Chinese students taking selfies in the yellow expanse of rapeseed flowers.  April found me blowing giant bubbles in a massive park.  The rains of May turned Huangshan’s Yellow Mountain into a sea of mist and mystique.  In June I looked down on Shanghai from its Pearl Tower.  In July I cruised the Li River, admiring the mysterious hills and mountains lining its banks.  In September I conquered the Great Wall and in October I explored the wonders of Yunan and Shangri-La…


Rapeseed flowers in Wuyuan, March 2016


Giant bubble fun in Hangzhou, April 2016


Mountains in the mist, Huangzhan, May 2016


First visit to Shanghai, June 2016


Mysterious mountains in Yuangsho, July 2016


The Great Wall of China, September 2016


Sunrise over Mount Meli, Yunnan, October 2016

In August 2016, I escaped the oppressive heat of the Shanghai summer to briefly visit the UK and have a break in Thailand touching the very beaches made famous by James Bond and Leonardo Di Caprio..


Bangkok, Thailand.  August 2016


James Bond Island, Phuket, Thailand.  August 2016

Not a bad list of achievements for two years of travelling ‘Round The World’…  I wonder what will be in store for the next two years..  Where to next???




I love Bangkok….

I love Bangkok.  It comes as a surprise really.  I am not a city person, but as always thinking about the shape my next venture might take, I cannot dismiss Bangkok as a possibility…

It was certainly not ‘love at first sight’.  My initial reaction was fuelled by visiting all the tourist attractions, inevitably overrun by foreigners, and staying in the Bangkok plush area of Sukhumvit, with its abundance of 5* skyscraper hotels for the cash-rich jet-setters.  Modern, state-of-the-art shopping centres such as Terminal 21 and EmQuartier may well catch the eye of those with deep pockets, but as I tend to  shop out of necessity rather than enjoyment, shopping malls generally hold very little appeal.  At least Terminal 21 had a few surprises in store that kept me amused and intrigued…  You don’t often bump into London landmarks and sights whilst on holiday.   And the food and restaurant floor of the EmQuartier offered a varied cuisine to tantalise even the fussiest of palates as well as a beautiful view of the sparkle and shine of night time Bangkok.




On my return from Phuket, I chose a different hotel, a few sois (or roads) away, just in the Ekkamai area.  A quieter, pleasant and more homely atmosphere with lots of restaurants, bars and coffee shops offering breezy outdoor seating as well as indoor air-conditioned spaces,  a place exploding with social life vibes.   A nearby shop sold a vast array of Western food essentials, suggesting I had hit ex-pat territory.   Wide, clean roads were lined with aged, gnarly trees and the uneven, pushed up pavement slabs told the story of a city with a history.  There was no impatient honking of horns, only the normal, expected humdrum of busy traffic at peak times.  Motorcycle taxi drivers found respite in the shade of tree canopies or other shelters.  At lunch and dinner time, the air was bursting with the tempting, fragrant aromas of street food.  Exotic fruits in vibrant colours, sometimes sprinkled with a Thailand-spicy concoction of chillies, salt and lime, begged to be eaten. Definitely a place where I could rest my suitcase for some time before the inescapable itch to move on will once again bubble to the surface.

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Of course, I fitted in trips to the Wats, Wat Arun and Wat Pho to be precise.  Ancient temples nestled in the old part of town, which attract tourists from all over the world to revel in the architectural accomplishments.  As luck (or bad luck) had it, the imposing spire of Wat Arun was shielded from view with extensive scaffolding  covering the intricate patterns of Chinese porcelain and coloured  glass in the stonework, but I could climb the smaller, surrounding spires and stand in awe of the achievements of craftsmen of  long ago eras.  The Buddhist temples are still used as places of worship, so a waft of sweet smelling incense lingers around the countless statues of the Buddha.

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On an early morning bicycle trip, I weaved through an unusually quiet Chinatown, as the Buddhist festival of Ullambana, or the Festival of Ancestors, literally turned the normally bustling area into a ghost town. For a short period only – it is believed – the doors of Hell are opened to allow loved ones to return to earth as ghosts and devotees place offerings of food, drink and other worldly comforts in front of their houses to ensure that their deceased relatives may have an easier ride and be given forgiveness.  Paper is burnt… not just any paper, but paper bank notes, paper mobile phones, paper televisions, paper cars or paper aeroplanes..  Just about anything a modern ghost might need to smoothe the journey in the hereafter.

We cycled through the flower market, and the vegetable market, explored yet another Wat, crossed the river and took photographs and selfies with the skyline of modern and new Bangkok in the background.

In those three days, I barely scratched the surface of what Bangkok has to offer..  I avoided the seedy places, the ladyboys’ exploits, the tourist-orientated markets and missed out on the floating market – which only operates at weekends.  So I certainly feel there is some unfinished business, a reason to go back… maybe just for a long weekend, or maybe to join the ex-pat community for a little while.  Time will tell, there is no rush… I have not yet finished with China.