Zaks Dining and Lounge; Great Food and Relaxation All in One Place

I have a new favourite place to hang out on my days off. I normally venture out in the afternoon but as I was off one particular weekend I decided to go out later in the day to enjoy the evening’s shenanigans on Soi 11. My destination; Zaks Dining and Lounge.

Zaks Wine Pub, Bangkok
Source: https://www.facebook.com/ZaksBangkok/photos/

I have been there before with my work colleagues, and as I sat there eating my pizza and drinking my wine; creature of habit, me, same food and drink, just a different location, the waitress came over and we started chatting. She told me she recognised me from the time before. How’s that for making your customers feel special? It won me over!

Rose is her name and it’s not just her that is particularly friendly, all the staff at Zaks are the same. They always seem to be so happy as they go about their business. I sat and watched one guy who, on seeing some customers looking at the menu and deciding whether to come in, greeted them enthusiastically with a huge smile. Sure enough a few minutes later they came back and he welcomed them in.

The food is delicious. All of it. There is Thai food on the menu but the western fare is amazing. Pizzas, burgers, tapas and more. I have never had a bad meal there. There is a daily happy hour which starts at 3pm and finishes at 8.00pm so more of a happy few hours. You get discounted drinks and two for one tapas specials so you can’t really go wrong.

Zaks Wine Pub, Bangkok
Source: https://www.facebook.com/ZaksBangkok/photos/

I like dining alone. I usually amuse myself with writing, reading my book, or just plain-old people watching. I find it fascinating; the way people interact with each other. I wasn’t the only one alone that night. I watched a guy contentedly munching on his food, while drinking his happy-hour wine and reading something on his laptop. Not a care in the world. It seems many people like to do the same, whether they are solo travellers or people like me and that guy who like to get out of the confines of our homes, just to have a change of location and do whatever pleases us. I think everyone should try it. Being alone and actually enjoying your own company is very liberating.

After a few wines I took myself off home. It wasn’t late but I had enjoyed my evening. Happy-few-hours are very popular in my world. If you haven’t been before I thoroughly recommend it. You will find me sitting outside with my wine. 🙂

Zaks WIne Pub,

Open: 3.00pm-1.00am

Website: www.zaksbangkok.com

Inside or Outside?

When I am alone I often think of weird things and this is one of them. Do you like to sit inside or outside? 😉 😉Weird

I’ve always been one for sitting outside in restaurants. Even in the blistering heat of Bangkok, you’ll always find me outside. It’s much more interesting; you can see more and it’s great for people watching.

A while ago, I went to a bar with friends, only to find, to my horror, that there were no seats available outside; there are always seats available outside, but not this night. We were offered seats inside the bar, so, along with my bottom lip and annoyed expression who had now joined the party, we took our seats. INSIDE! ARGHHHH!

You may be thinking that it doesn’t really matter where you sit, especially if you are with friends, and you would be right. It’s just that I prefer sitting outside. Each to their own.

Another week, another evening, and I was sitting alone in a restaurant having dinner. I watched as a group of three people came in, followed by another, separate group. The ever attentive staff asked, “Inside or outside?”  Both groups replied “Inside.” A rather more stern reply of “Inside” came from one of the guys before either of his two companions could say otherwise. His reaction was quite amusing; like he didn’t really know why the staff were asking that question, of course they wanted to sit inside, it’s too bloody hot. There you go, sitting outside has its benefits, you get to see all this action however trivial it may seem. It adds to the amusement of the evening.

When someone asks me to sit inside, I have to struggle with myself not to behave like a child but there are a couple of people that will get me to comply and my friend Mark, is one of them. We met for dinner and drinks a couple of months back and he is quite happy sitting outside, like me, but he requested that we go inside for dinner. A reasonable request, I thought, being as it was rather hot. I yielded and am happy to report bottom lip did not join us. Once we had finished we were outside again. Proving to myself I can do it if I am persuaded.

I know it’s hot in Bangkok but for me I shall continue to station myself outside. It’s fun and the people watching is hilarious. You should try it.

Which do you prefer? Inside or outside? 😉

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A Forest in the City

I love Bangkok for many reasons and you may be wondering why I would love a city which is a sprawling metropolis made up of modern high rise hotels, offices and apartments. There is so much to see and do in the city, so many places of interest and if you look closely you will find many areas of green hidden among all the concrete. One such place is PTT’s Pa Nai Krung located near to Suvarnabhumi airport. Pa Nai Krung means forest inside the city and it is a beautiful area created to raise awareness of how important the preservation of forest areas is to the environment and to inspire people to grow trees and plants at home.

PTT  is an oil and gas company and in 1999, they established a reforestation project in Honor of His Majesty the King. The project grew and in 2012, the PTT Reforestation Institute was born. In 2015, land was transformed into an urban green space, the goal of which was to create a natural forest area in the city and a place where you can learn about forest ecosystems.

There are some 250 native trees, plants and shrubs which are all in the early stages of growing. There is a sky-walk and observation tower where visitors can get 360 degree views of the surrounding area as well as the diversity of flora in the forest.

Open; Tuesday to Sunday, 9.00am to 4.00pm

Admission; Free

Dialogue Coffee and Gallery

Dialogue Coffee and Gallery is a small, yet chic little Indie cafe on Phra Sumen Road, Phra Nakhon; an absolute favourite area of mine to hang out.

Dialogue Coffee and Gallery
Source: www.bloggang.com
Dialogue Coffee and Gallery
Source: www.facebook.com/Dialogue.bkk/photos/

The 100 year old house has two floors; downstairs is a cafe which sells hot and cold drinks, and a range of food from spaghetti to German sausage and pizza. There are a few tables and chairs where folks can sit and relax and read the small selection of books available for sale.

Dialogue Coffee and Gallery
Source: www.facebook.com/Dialogue.bkk/photos/

Upstairs is an art gallery and exhibition area. Narin, the owner, told me that anyone can display their work there. Anyone, who isn’t well-known that is. He told me that, in the past, people have used his gallery for talks and music nights. If anyone buys the art on display, Dialogue will take a small commission for it rather than charging the artist for the use of the space. Upstairs is simply decorated; green and grey walls with a wooden floor. But the simpleness of it, creates a space that is warm and homely.

There is a lot to do in the Phra Nakhon area of Bangkok, so if you are in the area take a break from whatever you are doing and head to Dialogue. It’s a fabulous place to unwind with a glass of wine or cup of coffee and chill for an hour or two.

 

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Abu Dhabi and Dubai; a quick trip to the UAE

Abu Dhabi ay? I had never been to that part of the world before so when a friend of mine suggested it, naturally, I wanted to go.

As I sat on the flight to Mumbai, I knew this trip was going to be amazing and I couldn’t wait to spend time with my friend. I was full of excitement and anticipation of seeing a new part of the world. After a couple hours layover in Mumbai, I arrived at Beach Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi to find that my friend had already changed rooms because he had wanted a beach view for us. Unfortunately, there was construction going on so a beach view we did not get but the room we had was perfect with a view of the impressive buildings on Al Maryah Island on the other side of the water.

Beach Rotana is a 5 star hotel, luxurious in every way; 11 restaurants, a few bars, swimming pool, private beach and tennis courts. It could be very difficult to leave the place because whatever you want to do, the hotel caters for it. It really was stunning. I congratulated my friend on his impeccable choice. The water by the beach is so calm and clear, except when the odd boat passes causing waves to lap onto the shores of the small, man-made, beach. I sat on a sun lounger feeling like the cat that got the cream, I was going to relish the 4 days I was there.

On the first day, we just relaxed all day. We had breakfast which is buffet style and there is a huge choice of food to start your day with; delicious cheese omelettes, cereals, full English breakfasts, toast, fruit, coffee and juices. The weather was hot. Around 40 degrees but there was a lovely breeze and not much humidity so it didn’t feel so hot. There were quite a few people around but the atmosphere was so calm and peaceful it didn’t feel at all crowded or even as if anyone else was there.

The evening was spent with a quick wander around Abu Dhabi mall, which has a private entrance from the hotel, followed by dinner at Prego’s, a lovely Italian restaurant and one of Beach Rotana’s 11 places to eat. The pizza and pasta was delicious and afterwards we had a couple of cocktails in Trader Vic’s, a French Polynesian bar, where we listened to a band playing salsa music. Food, cocktails and music; simple pleasures in life. I could get used to this 5 star living.

Abu Dhabi is the playground of the rich. Just an hour and a half away from its more touristy neighbour, Dubai. There were construction sites all over the place so I imagine in a few years there will be even more hotels and tourist attractions but for now it has a real laid back feel to it.  From where I sat on the beach that day there is a bridge over to Al Maryah Island but there was hardly any traffic on it and what traffic there was you can hardly hear it. In fact, when I arrived and took a taxi from the airport, I was surprised by the lack of traffic. A less congested and smog-filled destination. It’s a refreshing change coming from Thailand.

Abu Dhabi

The following day, we took a trip to Dubai. We went to Dubai Mall and I was amazed at how plush it was. Probably, the most extravagant mall I have ever been in. The souk area had Greek-like columns and huge extravagant lighting, there were carpets on the floor and there was even a huge aquarium which was home to some beautiful fish. Flash eh?

We had planned to take a trip up the Burj Khalifa; Dubai’s iconic tower, but we were told that the tickets were more expensive if we bought them on the day. If you book a day ahead you can get the tickets for around 125 AED (21 GBP) but on the day they were 400AED (67 GBP.) So we went to see how much a bus tour of the city would cost. The bus tour takes four hours and you can get on and off where you want and much cheaper than the ticket for the Burj Khalifa. However, after a little conversation about the fact that it was too hot to be sitting on a bus for four hours and we probably wouldn’t be in Dubai again for the foreseeable future, we went back to get tickets to go up the Burj Khalifa.

It really was worth the expense though and I am very glad we decided to; the views are phenomenal. In the lift, the guy gave us a little speech about the history of the tower and told us that it takes around 1 minute to get up to the 124th floor.

Dubai

Since it was completed in 2010, the Burj Khalifa is ranked as the tallest building in the world, and on the observation deck you can enjoy 360 degree views of the surrounding area of Dubai.

It was busy with everyone having the same idea as us trying to get the best spot to take pictures of the sunset. We stayed up there for a couple of hours, and we were glad we did because the views became even more spectacular when the sun went down and the neon lights of the city came on. We took so many photographs; it was an amazing experience.

In the distance you can see the Burj Al Arab Hotel, the world’s only 7 star hotel, and Palm Jumeirah and the World; only in Dubai will you find a group of islands shaped into a palm tree and the world both of which house a range of  luxury hotels, residential beach villas and apartments, marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, malls, sports facilities and spas.

When we decided to go back down we queued for about twenty minutes, and we were nearly at the lift before we remembered we had fast track tickets. Having paid 400 AED each, one would expect a little reward. We laughed when we realised that we could have got down much sooner.

The next thing we saw at Dubai Mall was the Dubai Fountain and, I have to say, it is one of the most spectacular things I have ever witnessed. It gave me goosebumps. The Dubai Fountain sprays 22,000 gallons of water into the air in many different combinations and patterns and, accompanied by music, the water appears to dance as it is projected upwards.

Outside the mall, we amused ourselves by taking photographs of the very expensive but very beautiful cars. I am not one for cars but even I had to admire them. Money talks in that part of the world and people were pulling up in there Maseratis, Roll Royces and Audis, getting out and leaving them for the valet service to park.

We watched as one guy was parking his car at the same time as another guy, in a range rover, drove into the same space. They proceeded to argue with the range rover guy saying that it was over an hour to get parked and how much money did the valet guy want so he could park there. I don’t think he got away with it; if everyone did that there would be total chaos.

The next day, we slept through breakfast until the early afternoon and relaxed on the beach for a couple of hours. Then, in the evening, we got dressed up and went to Indigo; a lovely Indian restaurant and another of the hotel’s many restaurants. Afterwards, we laid by the beach under the cool night sky chatting about what we had done there. A perfect end to a perfect few days.

On the journey home, at Mumbai airport, all I could hear was “flight to Abu Dhabi departing…..” and I was on my way home. Time goes far too quickly sometimes but I enjoyed every second and it’s a trip I will always remember.

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My Own Goan Experience

I arrived in Goa to find that it is green and beautiful but on the flip side, dirty, rubbish everywhere, potholes in the road AND it was the monsoon season. Hang on, why was I there again? Oh, yes, to see my friend, Nishant.

I stayed in Calangute, a seaside town on the southwest coast of India. It has a definite island feel, much like one of the many islands in Thailand. Palm trees swaying in the wind, shacks selling swimwear and souvenirs and golden beaches right by the Arabian Sea.

Goa was conquered by the Portuguese in the 16th century and they ruled for 450 years. Reminders of this long history are everywhere from the brightly coloured villas and houses with their covered porches and verandas, to the Baroque style churches and palaces.

In fact, I was in awe of the houses and other buildings I saw; painted in every colour of the rainbow, contrasted with the lush green vegetation surrounding them. Goa was definitely growing on me.

Bearing in mind it was the monsoon season, there weren’t that many people about. I mean foreigners. There were plenty of Goan folks just going about their business; woman walking their children to and from school, peddlers on the beach, groups of men hanging out. As I walked passed, a couple of the men who were with their friends said “Alright darling” (Ha, they wouldn’t be brave enough if they had been alone); another was video recording me as I walked passed them on the beach. I wonder if they saw me scowling when they played it back?

As a single female, walking around alone (my friend was at work), even in the middle of the day, it’s quite disconcerting to get so much attention although, in fact, it’s nice when people say hello. I didn’t feel unsafe, not at all, but I definitely wouldn’t walk around alone after dark. Mind you, I wouldn’t do that in my hometown, it wasn’t just Goa.

Having spent the first evening having dinner and drinks with Nishant, I had the next day to myself. I had been reading up on single women travelling around India and, quite frankly, it got me nervous. There have been so many stories about bad things happening to women, I was really apprehensive about going out on my own.

As it happened, it was raining and I almost used that as an excuse not to go anywhere but, after a while, the rain stopped and I took the bull by the horns and ventured out on my own. And I am so glad I did.

I went for breakfast, had a wander around the town and went to the beach. On the way back, I had lunch and I befriended a waiter and the owner of the bar, Amit and Sunita. They were such lovely people. Sunita told me that during the high season the bar would be packed out all day, every day with tourists but in the monsoon season it’s a different story; everywhere I went there were hardly any people around.

Having been in Goa for a couple of days, I wondered whether I would still go travelling around India on my own. I think if I had landed in Delhi, which I imagine would have been more busy and hectic, I probably would have got on a plane straight back to Thailand. Thankfully, I have since changed my mind about this. I think it was a case of not having been there before and not knowing what I was doing; how to dress or behave, that sort of thing. Even though I had been reassured by Nishant who told me I would be absolutely fine. And I was.

The following day, Nishant had the day off so we went to Goa’s capital, Panjim. We had a full English breakfast to prepare us for our day out. Honestly, who goes to India for a full English? But I have never been one to eat the local delicacies for breakfast. I certainly don’t in Thailand, it’s cereal and toast for me!

We stopped at Miramar beach to take a few photos, went to visit some churches and temples that I wanted to see and drove around Fontainhas, the old Latin Quarter in the city. It’s really beautiful with quaint little lanes and beautifully coloured buildings. The ones that have been restored are stunning, and I saw many villas that I imagined myself living in. Even the ones that hadn’t been restored still had a certain charm about them.

From Panjim, we drove to Old Goa. There isn’t much to see there but the drive along the Mandovi River is fabulous. What we did see is the Basilica de Bom Jesus, a beautiful Baroque style church which is over 400 years old, making it one of the oldest churches in India. Inside, the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier lie. There is a public viewing of his body every ten years and a huge number of tourists come from all over the world to pay respect.

Across the road is Se Cathedral. This cathedral was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese in 1619. It originally had two towers, but one collapsed when it was struck by lightning and was never rebuilt. The architectural style of the Se Cathedral is Portuguese-Manueline. The exterior is Tuscan and the the interior is Corinthian. It has a beautiful, white facade and it’s surrounded by green gardens. Inside, the gold reredos is stunning; carved with scenes from the life of St Catherine.

The last day I spent wandering around, I had lunch and a few drinks. In the evening me and Nishant shared a lovely meal together. One of the things I was looking forward to was the Indian food. I love it. I eat it as much as I can even in Bangkok. So I wasn’t disappointed to find that it was, obviously, more delicious than any I had tried anywhere else. The thalis were amazing.

All too soon it was time for me to leave Goa. It’s always the same, you look forward to something so much and then, in a flash, it’s over. But, having had doubts about India and thinking I wouldn’t go back there, I am definitely going back for more adventures at some point. As for Goa, that trip was unquestionably one for the memory banks.

An Airport Challenge

Airport Challenge, talkingthailand.co.uk

I have wanted to go to India for such a long time and I got the opportunity to visit a friend in Goa and when opportunity knocks you should jump at the chance, right? Well I did. I didn’t quite jump mind you, I deliberated-a lot. In the space of a few days, I was going, then I wasn’t going, then I was going again and it was only after approval from my dear mum (I still need her approval at my tender age!) that I decided life is too short for this much deliberation.

The journey was far from uneventful. I have never flown on an international flight followed by a domestic flight in one day before and it was confusing to say the least. When I checked in at Bangkok I asked the lady if my bag went straight through to Goa because I was to get a connecting flight in Mumbai. She told me it would but I needed to clear customs in Mumbai.

I didn’t really understand that but nevertheless I got to Mumbai with no problems. It wasn’t so plain sailing after that. I got to the arrival hall where there were signs for domestic transfer, so far so good. I followed them and it took me passed an office for diplomatic passports and, as it turned out, E-tourist visas, which is what I had arranged before my trip. The office was exactly the place I needed to be to clear customs but at the time I didn’t realise that. There were no signs for that!

Airport Challenge, talkingthailand.co.uk

Now slightly baffled, I asked someone which way I needed for domestic transfer and she directed me to the immigration queue. Now I realised what the lady in Bangkok meant by having to clear customs.

After about 10 minutes, I walked up to the desk only to be told that I needed desk numbers 4-6. Yep, you guessed it, the office where I had passed earlier. So, back I went and now I saw the sign for E-tourist visa, not a sign with an arrow but on the window. Honestly, who looks at those! Not me, apparently!

There weren’t many people in the queue, so I waited in line to be stamped into the country. I waited and waited. Each person had to have biometric tests done; fingers scanned and picture taken. But the scanner wasn’t working properly, so it was taking up to 15 minutes to get one person done and there were about ten people in front of me.

By this time I was starting to panic; what if I missed my connecting flight? I had a good two hours between flights but with all this delay the time was ticking on. Eventually, after an hour and a half I cleared customs and I had to race to the domestic terminal. It wasn’t over yet!

If you remember, the lady in Bangkok told me I wouldn’t see my bag until I reached Goa, so I by-passed the luggage carousel and queued at the bag-drop counter. B-A-G D-R-O-P! Still the penny hadn’t dropped. I stood there wondering why I had to wait as I had my boarding pass already, so I asked the lady if I needed to check my bags in. She told me I did.

At this point, I began to lose the power of speech. I babbled what I had been told in Bangkok. The lovely lady replied, “Yes, they do go through, but you need to drop them here. Go back and get your bag and come back here.” Time still ticking!

So, I ran back to the luggage carousel only to met by a large security man who asked, “What happened, ma’am?”

I could hardly get my words out. But he let me pass, only to find that my bag wasn’t on the belt. I felt like crying by this point. I am not going to Goa today I thought. I ran up to the desk and tried to explain, I am going to Goa, the delay, my bag, blah blah blah……….He replied, “Is that your bag?” I turned around and, lo and behold, my bag was sitting on the, now stationary, carousel looking as lost as I felt.

I could have kissed that guy. I rescued my bag and made my way back to the bag-drop counter. Before I got there though, I had to get my bag scanned but the security guard must have seen my face, nearly in tears, because he told me just to go through. As I approached the bag-drop counter for the second time that day, a guy came racing along shouting “Goa! Goa!” Now I knew I was on borrowed time. The lady quickly checked my boarding pass, I said goodbye to my bag once more and I walked, half-ran actually, to the domestic terminal. I got there still with ten minutes to spare.

Finally, I arrived in Goa in one piece, although I had to fight back the tears a few times. I actually consider myself well travelled and know what I am doing at airports but that day I was certainly put to the test. Thankfully I passed! Just!

 

10 things not to miss in Australia

Quite simply, I love Australia!

I love Australia!

 

I have been there four times to date, each time doing different things and staying in different parts of the country. There is so much more that I need to see but, in the meantime here is my list of ten things not to miss in Australia.

 

 

Adelaide to Alice in 7 days
Embark on a wonderful adventure and see some of Australia at its best with a trip from South Australia’s capital to Australia’s red centre. Walk the paths of Kings Canyon and sleep under the stars near Uluru. Drive through the opal capital of the world, see huge salt lakes, hike in Wilpena Pound and much, much more. Make some more memories with this fantastic tour.

Website: www.adventuretours.com.au for further information of this tour and many more.

Uluru, Australia

Australia Zoo, Queensland
Australia Zoo is located about an hour north of Brisbane, in Beerwah near the Glasshouse mountains. The zoo is 100 acres and there are opportunities to see some fabulous animals, take guided tours, have animal encounters and a lot more. Australia Zoo is a team of passionate people who want to educate others about animal conservation. A vision that Steve and Terri Irwin have made a reality. A fabulous day out.

Address: 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, Queensland 4519
Open: Daily, 9.00am-5.00pm
Admission: Adult $59.00; Child (3-14 years old) $35.00; Family 4 (2 adult + 2 child) $172.00; Family 5 (2 adult + 3 child) $189.00; Pension $47.00; Student; $47.00
Website: www.australiazoo.com.au

Australia Zoo, New South Wales

Barossa Valley, Adelaide
The whole of Australia is famous for its wine but the Barossa Valley is a must see in Adelaide. Barossa is home to more than 550 grape growing families, many with the sixth generation still working the same plot of land, supplying quality grapes to more than 170 wine companies.
There are many tour companies offering a variety of Barossa Valley tours; most include three of four tastings at different wineries, lunch and a drive through the beautiful Adelaide Hills with a stop or two at local attractions, such as the Whispering wall and Menglers lookout point.

Website: www.adelaidetours.travel/tours/barossa-valley to get an idea of what’s on offer.

Barossa Valley, SA
Source: www.ytravelblog.com/barossa-valley-food-wine/

Being a Jillaroo, New South Wales
If, like me, you love horses, an Australian Jillaroo or Jackaroo School is a perfect way to spend a few day in the Australian outback. Learn skills such as horse whispering, sheep shearing and cattle mustering. Look after your own horse for the eleven days and get involved with jobs around the farm. Leconfield is a working farm and you are there to help, so if you are willing to put the effort in then this is definitely an adventure worth doing. Rest assured there will be plenty of laughs along the way and you will come away with some fabulous memories.

Address: Leconfield Jackaroo, Jillaroo School ‘Bimboola’ Kootingal, NSW. Australia 2352
Website: www.leconfield.com

Jillaroo, New South Wales

Blue Mountains, New South Wales
If you are in Sydney a trip to the Blue Mountains is a must-do. The mountain range is truly spectacular and covers an area of some 10,000 square kilometres. It was declared a World Heritage Area by UNESCO in 2000.

Get to Echo Point lookout, in Katoomba, for fabulous views over the mountains and, in particular, the “Three Sisters,” a natural rock formation that stands proud over the Jamison Valley. Another highlight in the area is to travel down to the valley on the scenic railway. This is no ordinary railway. It is the steepest funicular railway in the world. Originally part of the Katoomba mining tramways, constructed between 1878 and 1900, it plunges deep into the valley floor. Once on the valley floor, there are many trails that are popular with hikers and nature lovers.

Website: www.bluemts.com.au for visitor information, how to get there and much more.

Blue Mountains, New South Wales
Source: www.australia.com

Circular Quay, Sydney
Circular Quay is a harbour located in the north of Sydney’s central business district. There are walkways, parks and restaurants around the quay and it’s also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There are also many bars, cafes and restaurants and it’s a popular place for tourists and locals alike who come to enjoy the jazz bands and musicians that play regularly. Circular quay is also the place to go for ferries, trains and buses.

Website: www.sydney.com/destinations/sydney/sydney-city/circular-quay for attractions, events and much more.

Circular Quay, Sydney

Fraser Island, Queensland
Fraser Island was listed as a World Heritage site in 1992. There are many tours to choose from, so choose wisely because there is so much to see. There is a large diversity of habitats; rainforests, eucalyptus woods, mangrove forests, sand dunes and coastal areas. It also hosts a wide range of fauna, from dingoes, whales and birds to the occasional salt water crocodile. It is the biggest sand island in the world. 80% is covered in plants and trees due to the mycorrhizal fungi which occurs naturally and is present in the sand. Visit 75 mile beach and see the Pinnacles and Eli Creek or enjoy one of the island’s 100 or so lakes.

Website: www.fraserisland.net for further information on Fraser Island.

Fraser Island
Source: www.australia.com

Indian Pacific; A Trip Across the Nullabor
The Indian Pacific train is one of the few true transcontinental trains in the world. The route: Three nights and four days via Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook and Kalgoorlie, one way, 4,352km. Whether you’re journeying from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific or the other way round, enjoy travelling across the Nullarbor Plain, on the longest stretch of straight railway track in the world. It is definitely a trip worth taking.
Fares available include the Gold Service; Sydney-Perth $2529AUD or $2019AUD if booked in advance (based on a single cabin).

Website: www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains/the_indian_pacific for everything you need to know about the Indian Pacific.

Indian Pacific, Australia

Noosa Heads, Queensland
Noosa Heads is small town on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. You’ll find boutiques and restaurants which run parallel to the calm waters of Noosa Main Beach. A great way to spend the day is to explore the hiking trails for the chance of seeing local wildlife and wonderful views of the ocean. Or you can spend time relaxing on any of the beautiful beaches in the area.

Website: www.visitnoosa.com.au

Noosa Heads, Queensland

Walpole, Western Australia
When in western Australia, visit Walpole which is famous for its giant Tingle and Karri trees, and one of the best things to do there is go and see the “Valley of the Giants.” The elevated tree top walk is 40 metres high, making for spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Beneath the canopy walk there is also a pathway around the Tingle trees for walkers. There are also Eco tours and cruises and wildlife parks in the area.

Address: Valley of the Giants Rd, Nornalup WA 6333, Australia
Open: Daily, 9.00am-5.00pm
Website: www.valleyofthegiants.com.au

Valley of the Giants, Walpole, WA

Have you been to Australia? What was your favourite place? Or maybe you have a favourite activity that you did. I would love to hear from you. 🙂

 

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Koh Kret and Fresh Market; A Day Out With TakeMeTour

A few weeks ago, I went on a tour to Koh Kret with TakeMeTour, a tour company based in Bangkok. I was met by Chantima at Saphan Taksin pier at 8.30am and we travelled by boat to Nonthaburi Pier.

It’s such a lovely journey from Saphan Taksin to Nonthaburi. There are many wonderful sights along the way; plush hotels, people’s homes, churches, temples, bridges and much more. I am easily pleased whenever I take a trip along the river. You can tell when you are leaving Bangkok because the buildings are replaced with open spaces and green vegetation. It takes just under an hour to reach Nonthaburi.

Upon arrival in Nonthaburi, we walked a short way from the pier to the large fresh market where we wandered passed stalls selling everything you could think of; fresh fruit, vegetables and fresh fish and meat. Also for sale are chicken feet, pig’s head and trotters, and entrails from various animals. When you walk through these places in Thailand it is interesting to see that of the animals they sell and, ultimately cook and eat, all the parts are used.

There are also live animals; eels, frogs, turtles and fish which can be bought and used in a variety of Thai dishes. I saw one of the fish try to escape by flipping itself onto the ground. All to no avail though as it was soon caught and returned to its shallow watery grave to await its fate.

Interesting maybe, but, for me, not that desirable and slightly stomach turning. But you have to remember that this particular market, like a lot of local markets in Thailand, are not meant for tourists. They provide cheap, fresh food for Thai people to use themselves.

From there we took a taxi to Wat Sanam Nuea which is located just by the pier for Koh Kret. We took a small ferry over to the island. Once there, the best way to see Koh Kret is on foot. There is a pathway that goes all the way round the island and a leisurely walk, through local villages, will take you around 1 ½ to 2 hours. There is also a market to browse and buy local Mon pottery, or countless restaurants to sit and have lunch while you gaze out over the river.

I had been to Koh Kret before so I wasn’t really interested in walking around the island, much to my companion’s relief; it was so hot. So we found a nice restaurant by the river to have lunch.

After lunch, we made our way through the Otop market, where we got distracted by a stall selling pot pourri; the beautiful little incense stick sets and handmade candles are a great gift for anyone. In fact, there are lots of beautifully handmade products; soaps, clothes, bags and, of course, local Mon pottery which has been created into an array of different products.

Before I went on the trip I had already decided that I wanted to try my hand at making my own pottery work of art. There are some 20 pottery workshops on the island but the one we went to was near the end of the Otop Market.

Pottery Workshop, Koh Kret

We paid the 100 baht fee and put our names on the list and, while we waited, we watched the professional potter create a pot which, to our amazement, took less than ten minutes. He made it look extremely easy but, then, he has been practising for many years. I used to go to pottery lessons in the past but, even with a little experience, I knew I wasn’t going to be that good at it.

When it was my turn I climbed in behind the potter’s wheel and the guy put the clay on to the wheel and started moulding my creation for me. Then he said “Ok, design.” I thought it looked good as it was and I was nervous to do any more moulding because I didn’t want to ruin it. I didn’t want the thing to collapse in on itself, which is exactly what happened. The top of it came away in my hands but, luckily, the guy was on hand to re-mould it for me.

After a few more minutes I had finished and I had my very own pottery from Koh Kret that I had designed, almost, by myself.

Pottery Workshop, Koh Kret
My finished article!

There isn’t just pottery you can try your hand at. TakeMeTour will arrange cycling around the island or if you fancy a refreshing drink, you can sit and catch your breath with a beer tasting session. They are very flexible to whatever you are interested in doing.

Overall, I had a great day out. My guide, Chantima, looked after me very well. She came to meet me at the agreed meeting point, took me to Koh Kret for lunch and pottery making, and saw me on my way home again. She was helpful and flexible to what I wanted to do during the day. I thoroughly recommend this Koh Kret and Fresh Market Trip with TakemeTour. You will get to see how the locals shop and also visit a beautiful part of the country away from the concrete jungle of Bangkok. If you want to do something authentic and different then this trip is definitely for you.

 

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