Rangitoto Island, Auckland

I travelled around New Zealand in 2008, and ended up in Auckland as part of my trip. One day I took a trip over to the nearby island of Rangitoto.

I took a boat from Auckland and the volcanic cone, which rises up to 850 feet, can be seen for miles around, it’s a sight to see from afar. The name, Rangitoto, is Maori for “Bloody Sky” and the name comes from Tama-te-Kapua, a captain of the Arawa Waka, who was badly wounded there during a battle.

Day Trips from Auckland
Volcanic Cone of Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto island was created over 6,000 years ago by a series of volcanic eruptions and evidence of the eruptions can be seen across the island in the form of fields of black lava stones. And it’s these black lava stones that were quarried between 1898 and 1930 and used as building material for Auckland. It’s a very unique landscape.

On the island, there are paths, that were created between 1898 and 1930 by prisoners, that lead right up to the summit.

It was a fabulous day out, tramping the old dirt tracks up to the summit and seeing the wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and out to sea. I love exploring new places and being reminded of old ones.

 

Photo Walks Around the City; June 2017

Two of my favourite things; walking and photography.

Sathorn Neua Road (2/6/2017)

Walks Around Bangkok

Charoenkrung Road (2/6/2017)

Silom Road (2/6/2017)

Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road (2/6/2017)

Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Soi 7 Alley (2/6/2017)

Sathorn Tai Road (2/6/2017)

Charoenkrung Road (23/6/2017)

Yaowarat Road (23/6/2017)

Art Galleries in Bangkok

There are many places to go in Bangkok to get your fill of art and culture, photographic and painting exhibitions to annual street art festivals, heck there are even boats that exhibit art, so it can be appreciated by people travelling along the Chao Praya River. And next year, the city will play host to its first Art Biennale which will showcase artists from Asia, Europe and the Pacific; an exciting prospect and one that I shall very much look forward to. Visiting art galleries wasn’t something I was into before, but I can’t get enough of it now and I actively seek out exhibitions to go and see. With that in mind, here are a few of my favourite places to go.

Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, Bangkok

My all time favourite place to go for art, just because it’s so big and there are always interesting and diverse exhibitions going on across it’s 9 floors. You’ll need a good couple of hours to wander round the whole place, but that’s all part of the fun. I usually go there with an exhibition in mind, but there are always other works of art that catch my eye. However, not everything makes me stop and look, and some works simply baffle the hell out of me, but, on the whole, I can appreciate the work, effort, time, and love that has gone into creating something. The first five floors circle up and around the main foyer and the main exhibitions are held on the 7th, 8th and 9th floors in huge, hangar-like rooms. Also in the BACC, are art shops, bookshops, art spaces, and cafes, as well as little stalls selling homemade jewellery and handicrafts, and a resident artist who is happy to paint your caricature. If you’re into art, this is the place to go.

Kathmandu Art Gallery

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Kathmandu Art Gallery, Bangkok

A small, unassuming old shophouse, converted into the charming Kathmandu Art Gallery, on Pan Road, Silom. It’s owned by Manit Sriwanichpoom, Thailand’s best known photo-artist, and some of his work, displayed on the walls, is for sale. (in his photos, he’s the one in pink!) Downstairs is a book store, with art and photography books, as well as books on Buddhism and Hinduism, for sale. Upstairs is the tiny art gallery, which showcases photographic images from new and established artists. Although small, the windows are always open creating a light and airy atmosphere. It won’t take much of your time here, but the photography is spectacular and you’ll probably have the place all to yourself.

Soy Sauce Factory

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Soy Sauce Factory, Bangkok

A café/bar and art gallery on Charoen Krung Road is an old Chinatown soy sauce factory, hence the name. Downstairs is the café/bar, simply decorated with tables and chairs and bold, light and dark colours on the walls. There’s a drum kit set up for the evenings when the place transforms into a popular hang out for a mix of people who come to enjoy the cool music, drinks, and atmosphere. (Temporarily closed due to renovation, but hopefully will re-open soon

S Gallery

Art Galleries in Bangkok
S Gallery, Bangkok

Sofitel, Sukhumvit’s own 100 square metre gallery, it’s tiny, but elegantly decorated and it holds exhibitions from Thai and French painters, photographers and other creators every two months. It’s right there to the left of the hotel’s main foyer, you can’t miss it. There’s a sofa in the middle, so you can sit and gaze at the wonderful art pieces on show.

These are just a few of the art galleries I have visited so far, but I plan to get around quite a few more. The next one on my list is called “Hopeland” at Jam Factory; a selection of photographs taken from the artist’s condo window, so watch this space. 🙂

Best Beaches on Koh Chang

I visited Koh Chang earlier this year and I have to say it’s my favourite island in Thailand to date. The island is big and covers just over 420 sq km, and around 70% of it is unspoiled rainforest, steep hills and cliffs, waterfalls and long sandy beaches. I went to stay with my friend Mark and he was my tour guide for the few days I was there. We drove all over the island and spent time on a few of Koh Chang’s best beaches.

Klong Prao Beach
On the west coast, Klong Prao Beach is a long sweeping stretch of soft, golden sand lined with tall trees and gorgeous mountain views surrounding the bay. It wasn’t that busy when I visited, but it’s long enough to be able to find a private spot all to yourself. The water is warm, calm and shallow, so it’s perfect for swimming, and the blue colour is irresistible in the heat of the day. It’s a fabulous place to spend the day before you grab a beer and watch the stunning sunset disappear below the horizon; we did just that, and more than once!

Koh Chang Beaches/Klong Prao
Klong Prao Beach, Koh Chang

Kai Bae Beach
The next beach to the south on the west coast is Kai Bae, another long sandy beach, but smaller than Klong Prao and even less crowded. We parked the bike at one end and walked through a forested area, with charming wooden huts, before hitting the beach. The tide was out, so it was a few extra steps into the warm, blue water. But that didn’t matter we were there to relax under the swaying palms. In the distance, we spotted elephants wallowing in the water, so we went to investigate and sure enough, there were a few adorable little baby elephants splashing around in the water, but they were being burdened with humans on their backs. After one of the babies said hello with its trunk and wandered off into the waves with its load, I could only feel sorry for the poor things.

Koh Chang Beaches/Kai Bae
Kai Bae Beach, Koh Chang

Long Beach
On the locally named “dark side” of Koh Chang, because it is less developed than the west coast, is Long Beach. Right at the bottom of the southeastern tip of the island the beach doesn’t really live up to it’s name. It’s not very long at all, in fact, this beach should be called Lonely Beach because there are no crowds here. The road there turns from tarmac to dirt and there are some very steep hills and hairpin bends to contend with, and, once there, there is just one beach bar serving food and drinks. Apart from that, all you’ve got is a beautiful tree-lined sandy beach, calm blue water lapping its shores and a secluded bay with views of the mountains around. Totally unspoiled and wild, it’s worth the effort of getting there.

Koh Chang Beaches, Long Beach
Long Beach, Koh Chang

Chang Noi Beach
We didn’t go to Chang Noi Beach for the beach, we went to have a few drinks at Shambala Beach Resort, but that didn’t stop us admiring the views of Koh Chang’s widest beach with not a soul on it. The sandy expanse is protected from winds by a large horseshoe-shaped bay, tree-covered mountains and slopes on either side, and the water is calm and mesmerising. It’s a fabulous spot for sunset gazing and the beer is refreshing as well!

Koh Chang Beaches, Chang Noi
Chang Noi Beach, Koh Chang

Bang Bao Beach
On the southwest coast is Bang Bao Bay; two beaches with the same name and we visited both. One crowded, with people swimming in the warm water, relaxing on the sand with drinks in hand or asleep under the creaking palms. The other, a deserted strip of white sand that sits at the far end of a disused resort in the shadow of a 7-deck cruise liner called The Galaxy. We sat and gazed out to sea for a while contemplating the fate of this abandoned ghost liner.

Koh Chang Beaches, Bang Bao
Bang Bao Beach, Koh Chang

Lonely Beach
On the west coast, a little further than Kai Bae, is Lonely Beach, a golden sandy beach with a young crowd. This is Koh Chang’s equivalent to Ibiza’s sunset strip, just a little sleepier. Gorgeous guys and gals enjoying themselves on the beach, sunning themselves or drinking cocktails as they listen to funky tunes coming from the beach bars. This place is so cool, international DJs, like, my all time favourite, Danny Rampling, come here to play their sets every year. When we sat down to enjoy the atmosphere we were most put out when a young guy, who was handing out party flyers, bypassed us and didn’t give us one. He obviously thought we wouldn’t be interested in partying the night away, but, as my friend pointed out, we’ve done our fair share of partying in the past and could probably party that young whippersnapper into the ground! 😉 Ah, the joys of getting older! 😉

Koh Chang Beaches, Lonely Beach
Lonely Beach, Koh Chang

Have you been to Koh Chang before? What’s your favourite beach on the island? 🙂

For more photos of Thailand’s beaches click here

 

 

 

 

M.R Kukrit’s Heritage Home

Bangkok is full of wonderful surprises and, if you know where to look, you can find them all over the city. Take Sathorn for instance, some say the centre of the city, with it’s high rise office blocks, glitzy hotels and European style bars and restaurants, but it’s also home to M.R Kukrit’s Heritage Home. If you’re interested in history, this beautiful teak house won’t disappoint.

M.R. Kukrit's House, Bangkok

Mom Rajawongse Kukrit was born in 1911, educated in England, and was Thailand’s 13th prime minister between 1974-1975. He was a very talented artist and writer and he has over 40 novels to his name. His home represents the man he was, and it’s been left just the way it was when he lived there. There are many of his personal souvenirs and you can really see the passion he had for traditional art and literature through paintings and books that are displayed.

The house is of traditional Thai design and it took over 20 years to be completed. There are 5 beautiful teak buildings, all of which came from different parts of Thailand; the owner had them transported and reassembled. As well as the buildings, there is walled garden, a lily pond, a bird pavilion, and a European style garden with a lawn surrounded by colourful flowers, trees and shrubs.

M.R Kukrit’s home was registered by the Department of Fine Arts as “the home of an important person” and they point out that it’s not for exhibition purposes like your usual museum, rather it’s the home of a person who lived there, which, in my opinion, makes it more interesting. The other thing I liked about it was its location; tucked down a leafy lane, smack bang in the middle of one of Bangkok’s most affluent districts, but a world away from all the noise of the busy road, just one street away. 🙂

 

Break-dancing in NYC

It was the Christmas of 1999, and my boyfriend gave me a wonderful surprise, but when I opened the present, I found an apple and the look on my face said “I hope that’s not all he’s got me!” The clue didn’t register until I was given a hint from his parents; the Big Apple?!  “Oh, wow!” I was off to New York for 6 days. I was one happy girl.

A few days into the new year, we found ourselves in Manhattan. We had a fabulous time there, but one story sticks in my mind. A night we went clubbing.

We got all dressed up and went out for dinner and then made our merry way to a club, called Liquid. It was quite a big club, from what I remember, and the pink and purple colours dazzled as the lights flashed around us. It was early when we got there, so there weren’t very many people there. We made our way to the bar and asked for two red bull and vodkas. We nearly fell over in shock with the reply we received! There was no liquor license! That was the year 2000, and only 10 years after the internet started, so it wasn’t really the norm to check out places before going there. Had we been able to do that, I don’t even know if the club had a website back then, but we would probably have found out that Liquid didn’t serve booze.

We were slightly taken aback, seeing as we were in the city that never sleeps, it seemed that was true, but we would just have to experience a night without our vodkas, after all we had paid money to get into the club, so we weren’t going to leave just because of a minor (in our case, major) detail. So, we ordered red bulls, minus the vodka, and moved away from the bar and found a place to people watch.

What happened next really made our night. As we sipped our non-alcoholic beverages, both of us thinking, “once we’ve finished these, we are outta here and gonna get drunk,” when a circle of people formed in front of us. We wondered what was going on, a fight maybe? But the atmosphere didn’t feel like that, there was no-one sizing each other up or shoving going on.

All of a sudden, music blared and, in the middle of the circle of people, a guy began break-dancing, moving this way and that, head spinning, body popping and getting into seemingly impossible positions. It was thrilling to watch. Another guy, who had been on the other side of the circle, took over and it was his turn to display a variety of gymnastic movements; one-handed handstands, leaping so high in the air and almost defying gravity. The determination and skill these guys had was phenomenal. It’s very difficult to balance you’re body on one hand, while trying to spin (believe me, I’ve tried, I didn’t even get to the spinning part!) yet, these very talented men were doing it with ease. We were blown away and couldn’t tear ourselves away from the action, our eyes not daring to look away in case we missed anything. It was the longest time I’ve ever taken to drink a vodkaless red bull in my life. All too soon, the break-dancing stopped and the crowd dispersed, and we were left to our drinks. It was like it never happened.

What a night though. How fantastic that we were there when they decided to have a break-dancing battle. We left not long after, excitedly chattering about what we had just witnessed, found another bar and got drunk!

 

 

 

 

Bangkok Folk Museum

The Bangkok Folk Museum is tucked down Charoenkrung Road, Soi 43, and it’s a great place to spend an hour or so. It was built in 1937 and was the home of the Suravadee family during World War II. There are three buildings to explore; the first one is where the family lived and you can see the living area, the dining room, library and bedrooms. The beauty is that they have been kept just as they were when the family lived there all those years ago. There is a dressing table and a washing bowl, old photographs and dining sets, all of which give a fabulous understanding of how they lived their lives.

Outside is a gorgeous little garden full of leafy green trees and plants, and a pond with a fountain in the middle.

The second building is just as beautiful. It was intended to be the clinic and living quarters of a Dr Francis Christian, who was the stepfather of the owner, but he died before moving in. His medical equipment is displayed in cabinets and his four poster bed is upstairs.

The third building is full of old artefacts; old brushes, sewing kits, cigar boxes, cooking utensils, magazines, and money. It’s a real treasure trove.

Finally, a fabulous collection of photographs of Bangkok, and some of the notable people who have lived in the city.

For more photographs of Bangkok Folk Museum go to morrisophotography 🙂

 

Thirty Questions

A found this idea on my friend’s blog. Check out Clare’s Cosmos

Here are just a few facts about me 🙂

What did you want to be when you were a kid? A vet and a soldier in no particular order. I couldn’t be a vet because I hate needles. God knows where the solider idea came from, but glad I didn’t pursue that career option

Which Friends character do you relate to most? Why? Phoebe; she’s creative, impulsive, curious, and open minded

Do you like your name? Why? Yes, because it’s the one I was given. But my mum told me years ago, she wished she’d called me Alex, after my granddad. I would have liked that. She was going to call me Sharon, but her family said “you can’t call her Sharon” (?), so I got Gillian

Are you messy or neat? Both, I’m messy when I work, but I generally like things to be in their place, although it doesn’t bother me if they aren’t

How tall are you? 5 foot 6 ½ inches

How tall were you when you were ten? I can’t remember

What is your guilty pleasure? Wine, but I never feel guilty when I’m drinking it

What are you saving money for now? To pay my credit card off, which is a never ending task (I must stop spending on it!) Then I will be saving to go travelling at the end of 2018

How many Pringles can you eat at once? I always stuff about 4-6 into my mouth

Tea or coffee? Black coffee, one teaspoon of sugar, once a day

Are you an introvert or extrovert? I’m both, it depends on the situation. When I was younger I loved being in the thick of things, but nowadays I like keeping myself to myself. I still have my moments though

What will be your Halloween costume this year? It won’t be anything, I hate fancy dress

Sweet or salty? Generally salty, but I have chocolate once in a blue moon, when I fancy it

Favorite social media? WordPress and Twitter

Who is the last person you kissed? That would be telling!

What is your favorite breakfast? At the moment, corn flakes and banana, but I love a good old English breakfast

When is your birthday? April 28

When did you start your blog? August 2013 and March 2015 (I have two blogs). I started my first blog because I wanted a place to document all the things I have done while travelling. The second is my photography blog, because I love taking photos and want to share them with everyone

What is your opinion on the Kardashians? I’m not interested in them

How would you describe your style? I would say I’m fairly stylish, but I don’t really follow fashion trends, if I do it’s a year or two after it’s been in fashion. I used to be a jeans and top kind of girl, but now I have extended my look to wear other clothes, like skirts and dresses. Overall, I’d say my style is simple, I know what I look good in and what I don’t

What color is your hair? Black

What color socks are you wearing? I hardly ever wear socks, it’s too hot where I live, but I love wearing furry socks when I go home to the UK in December, they’re so cosy

What is your dream job? Writer

Dogs or cats? Cats, they’re more independent

What makes you weird? I am weird

Celebrity crush? Robbie Williams, always have, always will. Idris Elba, Sean Connery

Opinion on cigarettes? I smoke, but know I shouldn’t for health reasons

Do you want/have any children? No and No

Three favorite boy’s names. Alexander, Leon, Aiden

Three favorite girl’s names. Alex, India, Grace

It’s your turn… copy and paste the questions and post in the comments section. Would love to get to know you a little more 🙂

Parents

Poem about mum and dad
Mum & Dad

Mum and Dad are such fabulous folks
I love them very much
It’s not just me, everyone who knows them, loves them
and says just how much fun

They always are

They love their holidays in the sun
And they live their lives being happy together
They like to play
And on most days
They’re up for a laugh
Keeps them young at heart

I miss them every second of every day
But weekly chats, to see their faces
To hear their news
To laugh with each other
Makes it all okay

Parents are the best
They love you until their dying breath
As a child you get unconditional love
And that love is returned to you
For all the things you do
And for all the things you say
This love is for you
Until the end of days