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Hello and welcome to our travel blog and we appreciate you dropping by! Our goal is simple – enjoy and experience life while we still have the health and energy to do so. Do that travel we’ve always wanted but didn’t get round to. Experience what traveling and living in other countries feels like. Revel in and enjoy the journey. Currently based in beachside Hua Hin on Thailand’s Gulf Coast, we are pursuing new passions. For Vivien, that’s learning Thai and helping others with English. For me, it’s writing and photography. For both of us it’s travel and being able to share our experiences with you here, and in publications that accept my writing. Enjoy reading! Michael & Vivien

Pranburi Saturday Night Market has been on our local ‘must do’ list for some time, and just a few weekends back we finally made it there! It’s only a short (25km) drive south from Hua Hin to neighbouring Pranburi and the Market only happens Saturday evenings.  This is definitely a locals market with genuine Thai characteristics. A ‘walking street’ market worth spending a few hours wandering and partaking of its offerings!

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Recently we took advantage of an offer that, as foodies, was particularly appealing and required an out of town overnight stay. We didn’t have to travel far. Pak Nam Pran and Khao Kalok are neighbouring beaches in the Pran Buri region just 30 minutes’ drive south of our home in Hua Hin. And just 500 meters back from Khao Kalok beach is ‘The Boutique Farmers’ and our destination for the weekend. From all we had heard and read this place, it promised to be a foodies delight!

The offer we took advantage of was simple. Book dinner Friday or Saturday night, or their now famous Sunday Brunch at the restaurant on The Farm and overnight accommodation in their homestay was free. As a special bonus, they even included breakfast the following morning.

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Descending through the lush tropical bamboo forest we hear the gravel crunch underfoot. We walk quietly through a twenty-meter-high rock cutting that’s carved out by hand. Bamboo lanterns throw eerie shadows, as people quietly make their way along the dark path. This is how Anzac Day at Hellfire Pass in the Kanchanaburi region of Thailand started for us, this 25 April 2018.

Reaching the ceremonial clearing we joined many hundreds of Aussies, Kiwis and people from all parts to await the Dawn Service. Some speak in hushed tones, others reflecting in silence. A young man proudly wears his grandfather’s medals and we all wait patiently. The uniformed Catafalque party approach, their crisp footsteps distinct, and take up traditional guard positions around the central memorial. Padre Cornelis Bosch leads us in thanks and prayer, followed by a Statement of Remembrance by the Chief of the Australian Army. 

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Large red wine glasses, two rows of five, lined up atop the wine bar. Monsoon Valleys winemaker and their wine consultant on one side of the counter, Vivien and me on the other. A serious wine tasting happening right in front of us. The task for them was to choose the next Shiraz to take the place of the current vintage. The stock of the current vintage was all but sold out. There were four newer batches of Shiraz under consideration – but which one was ready?

Tasting each in comparison to the current vintage. Identifying the characteristics of each, a little too much tannin on one, a nice chocolatey character on another, the fruit a little too vibrant on one more. And we got to play along whilst the experts went through their process. Just Vivien and me – what a privilege! 

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It’s our second year living in Thailand and second Songkran (Thai New Year) so I started wondering what Songkran is all about.  It has become know as The World’s Biggest Water Party and now attracts thousands of people who visit Thailand specifically to take part – but it must be more than this. Having more or less, hidden behind closed doors last year –  heard so many negative stories about the behaviour of people on Songkran. This year I decided to take much more of an interest – and most importantly try to understand what this festival is for Thai people.

Here’s what I found out!

Songkran traditions are a long way from the images shown in the world’s newspapers every year – powder smeared tourists armed with water pistols and wide grins.

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Andaman Islands – our Cultural Insights

India’s the Andaman Islands and more specifically it’s capital, Port Blair provided us with several cultural insights – and isn’t that what travel is all about – seeing new, unexpected, or just real life experiences and events that provide insight to local people’s lives.

There were so many highlights and bonuses that we did not expect. Here is a selection of experiences that stuck with us!

And if you have not read about our Andaman Islands cruising story here.

Weddings

Our first cultural insight was accidental. Wandering the streets adjacent to Aberdeen Market one of our troop noticed stores that looked like they hired out catering equipment – massive pots 3 and 4 feet across and gas burners to sit underneath. On asking our driver he explained these are used in preparing the catering for weddings held at halls just up the street. After some encouragement, he took us to one such hall where, coincidently for us, a wedding was in progress.  Our troop tentatively entered the courtyard of the hall and found ourselves being welcomed and encouraged to enter to see what was happening. The males in our troop were ushered into the male eating area and plates of food thrust forward. People were happy to pose for photos and parents even offered their children, dressed in their finery, as subjects for more photos. What a colourful, happy, friendly and joyous place!

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