Walks

Get Inspired About What You See

I had this title written down for ages, but it wasn’t until I went to Chiang Rai in June that I finally got round to thinking about it and it wasn’t hard to find something that inspired me.

The countryside in the north of Thailand is just beautiful and, living in Bangkok, I sometimes forget just how beautiful it really is.

Things to do in Thailand
Beautiful Chiang Rai

I was just awe struck at the nature around me in Chiang Rai. The greens and browns of the open fields…

 

Things to do in Thailand
Colours of Nature

…mountains…

Things to do in Thailand
Kok River running through the mountains

…rice paddies…

Things to do in Thailand
Rice paddies-not quite lush green

…trees proudly sporting their sweet and fleshy bananas and mangoes…

Things to do in Thailand
Fresh mangoes

Flowers- purple, yellow, white, red, all manner of gorgeous bright colours in every shape and form you could imagine.

Things to do in Thailand
Periwinkle Pinks

The blue skies with white fluffy clouds, clear and bright sunny days followed by the grey of a threatening storm before the clouds burst and the earth drowned under a barrage of rain.

Things to do in Thailand
Blue Skies
Things to do in Thailand
Grey skies and rainbows

Birds-swooping and diving looking for their next meal or chattering to one another in the branch of a nearby tree.

Things to do in Thailand
On the wing
Things to do in Thailand
A resting sparrow

It was the beginning of the season and the land around me was brown and dying because of the lack of rain, but the changing face of nature will soon transform the environment into brilliant green and lush landscapes once more.

Things to do in Thailand
Brown fields, soon to be sprouting with new rice shoots
Things to do in Thailand
Harvesting!

Green is my favourite colour and you can see it all around. Chlorophyll, responsible for all manner of greens; brilliant, emerald, forest, moss and jungle-all green, all different hues and values, in varying amounts, different forms, different shapes and sizes and all combine to form something that should be appreciated.

 

It wasn’t only the colours of nature that inspired me, the sounds of nature both inspired and impressed me. I sat outside my room in the evening and became aware of insects playing their nightly song, all in sync. Midges buzzing, singing cicadas, croaking frogs and, then, silence! A second later, their chorus of pulsating buzzes was back again. I was distracted by the local cat calling in the distance, but I chuckled to myself because it added to the free music festival I was enjoying.

Things to do in Thailand
Friendly cat who was all too vocal in the evenings!

Then, fireflies attracting mates or prey with their cool trick of bioluminescence. I sat and listened and watched. It’s not often I experience these sounds, but it was an immense pleasure to just stop what I was doing and listen along. It really was amazing.

Things to do in Thailand
Dragonfly obsession!

Nature is nothing less than wonderful, just the sheer diversity of it is mind-blowing. I was well and truly blown away. If you ever get the chance to visit the north of Thailand, I recommend Chiang Rai wholeheartedly! 🙂

Things to do in Thailand
Kok River

If you would like to share some of things that inspire you, I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Reflections

A few years ago, I spent a fabulous day tramping around Dovedale in the Peak District of England. Along the 3 km route, we passed caves known as the Dove Holes, used the stepping stones to cross the river and meandered along the path until we reached Milldale, a village of beautiful stone cottages with gardens full of brighly-coloured flowers. It would be so lovely to live there! From there, we turned around and retraced our route and ended the day, back at one of my friend’s houses, with a BBQ and beers. It was such a great day out, not only for the green and glorious countryside, but I spent the day with some very good friends.

Things to do around the world
Dovedale, UK

In Cyprus, my friend and I and my mum and dad visited the Paphos Archaeological Park. I love these kind of places, I’m fascinated with the history and this one didn’t disappoint. There were ruins galore, remains of beautiful mosaics, and an ancent amphitheatre. I was in my element. I remember it being so hot that day, but it was nice to get out into the countryside with three of my favourite people.

Things to do around the world
Paphos Archaeological Park, Paphos, Cyprus

I arranged to meet my friend in Adu Dhabi and, one day, we took a trip to Dubai. We went up the Burj Khalifa, a real treat with phenomenal views for miles around. 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. It was a trip to remember.

Things to do around the world
Burj Khalifa, Dubai

Wat Po in Bangkok reminds me how much I love exploring my city. I love just going out, with my camera, and visiting my favourite places and there are plenty of new places that I find all the time. There is a never ending source of things to see.

Things to do around the world
Wat Po, Bangkok, Thailand

I spent seven weeks in New Zealand and at first I really didn’t want to be there. I had just come from Thailand and I missed everything about it, but thank God I got over that because I ended up having the best time there. I did so much and saw some wonderful things in that short space of time, including these Mirror Lakes. The water is so clear and still, it created some gorgeous reflections.

Things to do around the world
Mirror Lakes, New Zealand

Whenever I used to go home, I always made the trip to Scotland to see my Nana, who is, sadly, no longer with us. This day, my mum and I had taken a trip to Edinburgh and we had lunch in the Halfway House. I spent the first 12 years of my life in Scotland, so I never really got to enjoy the city as an adult. It’s a beautiful place, and, although I wouldn’t choose to live there again, it’s nice to go back to my roots.

Things to do around the world
Edinburgh’s Smallest Pub, Edinburgh, UK

New Zealand again, this time in Bluff. I’d rented a car, from Dunedin, and taken a road trip down to the south coast. It was New Zealand’s winter time, so I had the place, almost, to myself. I took the Bluff Heritage Trail, through wind-worn forests with brilliant views out to sea. I was also treated to a couple of seals playing in the surf. On the way back to Dunedin, I spent a very cold night in a little cottage in Owaka, so cold that I had to wear five layers, all under a blanket. Brrr! I can still feel the cold. It was in New Zealand that I acquired a love of walking and sightseeing.

Things to do around the world
Bluff Heritage Trail, Bluff, New Zealand

In 2013, I graduated from The Open University with a Bachelor of Science with honours. I can’t tell you how proud I was! I wasn’t even going to go to the graduation ceremony, but a friend suggested I go, otherwise he thought I would regret it. I was glad I did. It was in Manchester and my mum came with me. The ceremony was a little nerve-wracking, but everyone there had all done something that was really worth this grand occasion. Afterwards, my mum and I took to the town and enjoyed a lovely meal and drinks in a Thai restaurant.

Things to do around the world
Manchester, UK

Another day out in New Zealand and this day took me on a jaunt along the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. It was on a day when I was supposed to be going whale watching, but it was cancelled due to bad weather. So I wrapped up and went off in exploration of the local area, through farmland and forests, until I reached the black-pebbled beach, and sea. I did loads of other stuff in Kaikoura, like horse-riding, wine tasting, cave exploring and having a Thai meal in a restaurant that didn’t have a liquour license, but not to worry, I had two lovely bottles of wine in my hand that I had bought from the winery. How’s that for good luck?

Things to do around the world
Kaikoura Peninsula, Kaikoura, New Zealand

Whenever I’ve visited my rellys in Adelaide, they’ve taken me out and about to see stuff and we’ve gone to Granite Island a couple of times. It’s a small island next to Victor Harbour, small enough so you can walk around passed huge boulders, plants dancing in the sea breeze, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot the cute fairy penguins which live there. It’s even better when you’ve got Ernie by your side telling you about all the different plants and animals there.

Things to do around the world
Granite Island, Adelaide, Australia

I love going to Adelaide and the last time I went was for Christmas in 2014. I wanted to do some exercise, so my cousin suggested we hike up Mount Lofty. So, at 6.00am we started our day, along with my other cousin and his daughter, Amy. When we arrived at Mount Lofty, we stopped at this map which showed the different routes available to the top. I asked “Where are we?” Amy burst out laughing. She pointed at the map to show me a large, red “YOU ARE HERE” sign. She giggled “We are here!” I didn’t live that down for the next thirty minutes, she couldn’t stop laughing! It was a fabulous morning out in the sunshine, followed by a well deserved coffee afterwards.

Things to do around the world
Mount Lofty, Adelaide, Australia

A few years back, I spent a month on Koh Tao with friends. One day, I said I was going to visit a resort called Mango Bay. The best and easiest way to get there is by boat, but I wanted to walk across the island and my friends jumped at the chance to come with me. It was such an arduous journey, slowly going up some very steep hills with nothing on our feet but flip-flops. When we finally made it to the top, dripping in sweat, we took a well deserved break at the Mountain Bar. The views from our vantage point made us forget how hard it was getting there.

Things to do around the world
Views of Koh Tao, Thailand

Another day out in Adelaide with my two cousins, Scott and Craig. We walked along the Torrens River before heading back to the city through the botanical gardens. I love trees and this Eucalyptus camaldulensis, or river red gum, was worthy of a photo. It was thought to be living between 1,500 and 2000 years ago and it died when it was 500 years old! Imagine the things it has seen in its lifetime. We finished our walk at my favourite bar in Adelaide, The Austral, somewhere I try to visit whenever I’m in town.

Things to do around the world
Ancient Tree, Adelaide Botanic Gardens, Australia

Vachiratharn Waterfall is located in Doi Inthanon National Park, near to Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand and I went there when I first came to Thailand in 2008. Throughout the day, I did bamboo rafting and stood on the highest point in Thailand. In the evening, the tour guide asked me out for a few drinks with him and his friends. We didn’t go anywhere fancy, just a little roadside bar, but we had such a fun night and it made me realise that, as a solo traveller, there may be times when you feel lost or lonely sometimes, and I certainly felt that throughout my travels, but things happen that always have a way of making you feel good again.

Things to do around the world
Vachiratharn Waterfall, Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

I like to be reminded of some of the things that I’ve done. I wish I had a photographic memory and remembered everything I have ever done, which is why I love to take so many photographs! 🙂

What makes you remember some of the things you’ve done? 🙂

Parks and the City #2

My favourite park, and possibly my favourite place to go, in Bangkok is King Rama IX Park. It’s not far from where I live and I go there to run most weeks. Sometimes, I go there just with my camera because, around every corner, there is so much to photograph and I never get tired of taking photos of the same things, but I always manage to find something novel.

There is plenty of wildlife to encounter. Here are a few of the birds and animals that I regularly see there.

Parks in Bangkok
Little Egret
Parks in Bangkok
Water Monitor, looking at me, looking at him (or her)!
Parks in Bangkok
Chinese Pond Heron. I love the light on the water, it looks like it’s been painted using thin strokes
Parks in Bangkok
Green Bulbul

There are so many beautiful flowers in the park too.

Once a year, in December, there is a flower festival called The Magnificent Plants that Beautify the Suan Luang Rama IX Flowers Festival. Fantastic name, don’t you think? It really is a great time to visit because they make a special effort to plant new flowers, so there is an outburst of colour during the festival.

During the festival, many people have stalls where they create beautiful displays of flowers for people to buy.

There is more than just flowers and plants to buy, there’s also Thai food and handicrafts.

King Rama IX is a huge park, covering around 200 acres and there are 2,300 plant species and loads of trees for shade on a sunny day, which is usually everyday here.

There are 6 different areas to the park.

Parks in Bangkok
International Garden with a Roman temple
Parks in Bangkok
The Garden of the Great King with the Ratchamangkala Pavilion
Parks in Bangkok
The Romanee Garden with flowers and plants that have been taken from other parts of Thailand to recreate the different environments from across the country.

Parks in Bangkok

Parks in Bangkok
Mangrove Forest walkway

The trunk of this tree reminds me of a giraffe setting out on a walk! Can you see it?

Parks in Bangkok

Then, there are the people who, like me, enjoy this beautiful green space a great deal. It depends on the time of day I visit as to whether there are many people about. The park gets busier as the sun goes down.

Parks in Bangkok
Sleeping
Parks in Bangkok
Chatting
Parks in Bangkok
Catching up on social media
Parks in Bangkok
Playing
Parks in Bangkok
Taking photos

And last but not least.

Parks in Bangkok
Getting married!

I hope you enjoyed our little jaunt around King Rama IX Park. Just one of Bangkok’s parks in the city! 🙂

 

 

 

Parks and the City

I love going on jaunts around Bangkok and, invariably, I’ll find myself in one of the parks in the city.  Sometimes, I plan to go there, but other times I’ll wander through on my way somewhere. It’s so lovely to see all that green hidden amongst the concrete, and, even though you can still see the buildings all around, it really feels like you’re miles away.

So, let’s take a wander through Lumphini Park…

Things to do in Bangkok

In 2016, park officials removed some of the 400 water monitors living in Lumphini Park because they have been damaging plants and scaring people, some of them are over 10 ft long!

Things to do in Bangkok

Jogging anyone? Lumphini Park, just like most others in Bangkok, is a popular place for people who wish to exercise once the sun starts to sink and it gets a little cooler! Although, these enthusiasts were out enjoying themselves at 3.40pm!

Things to do in Bangkok

Things to do in Bangkok

What a fabulous way to spend an afternoon, canoeing on the lake, right in the middle of the city!

Things to do in Bangkok

Things to do in Bangkok

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” Deepak Chopra

Things to do in Bangkok

There aren’t many people around, it’s far too hot yet, but this means I get the place, almost, to myself!

Things to do in Bangkok
Things to do in Bangkok
I hope you enjoyed today’s wanderings. Join me for the next one soon! 🙂 In the meantime, check out my Top 6 Parks in Bangkok!

One Of My Obsessions

I haven’t been out with my camera much recently, I haven’t felt that motivated, but, thankfully, I am over that lack of motivation and the last two weeks, I have been clicking merrily away, but more of what I’ve been getting up to will follow shortly. In the meantime, I was just sifting through my photos when I came across some photographs of my favourite building in Bangkok; MahaNakhon Tower. I love all kinds of architecture and over a period of 2 years I took loads of photos of the different stages of its construction.

These were taken in October 2015, it’s almost finished, but not quite. I love the pixelated effect.

This was 2016. If you’re ever in Silom or Sathorn, you can’t help but notice Bangkok’s tallest building looming up towards the sky.

MahaNakhon was completed late 2016, but, even now, I just can’t help myself taking photos of it, or pointing it out to whoever I’m with if I’m in the area. I love the bold structure against the blue of the sky and I love the way the clouds are reflected in the windows of the tower.

As a photographer, I love looking for interesting shapes, angles, and colours. It’s amazing what you can see when you train your eye to find things.

And there is just plain crazy!

Architecture in Bangkok

And to add to my little obsession, MahaNakhon are in the process of building an observatory which should be completed sometime this year. They say, “Unique architecture. Unrivalled experience. Offering dramatic 360 degree panoramic views across the city, the visitor observatory will open daily, providing soaring double height indoor spaces and a rooftop viewing platform from the highest point in Bangkok. Stand on the sky, with MahaNakhon’s skytray, a cantilevered glass balcony extending outside the building, enabling each guest to walk on air.”

And there’s gonna be a roof top bar!  Drink anyone?

What are your obsessions?

For more photography of this unique building, check out my previous posts! 🙂

A Rising Story

A Rising Story- Part 2

A Rising Story- Part 3

A Rising Story-Risen

The Wilderness of Mount Tongariro

Back in 2008, I toured the north and south islands of New Zealand and one of the most amazing things I did was to hike across an active volcano, otherwise known as Mount Tongariro. Feeling a little hungover, as was the norm back then, I started on the hike across Mount Tongariro National Park. I had five layers of clothing on, it really was that cold, and it took about eight hours to cross from Whakapapa Village to Ketetahi. The scenery was dramatic with snow-covered mountains rearing up into the sky all around our little hiking party.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

At ground level, there were mountain springs flowing with cold clear water, and the greens and browns of plants growing up out of the melted snow.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mountain spring, Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

About halfway through the hike, we passed Mount Ngauruhoe, otherwise known as Mount Doom, which, for me, was a real highlight. I’m a die-hard fan of The Lord of the Rings, and I couldn’t stop myself from climbing just a little way up and getting the guide to take my photo.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Doom, New Zealand

We hiked on through dove-white valleys, the wilderness that lay ahead unseen, concealed by the brilliant white all around. It was blissfully quiet, but I could hear my fellow hikers chatting in the distance. In fact, it was a good job they were there because I could easily have gone missing, never to be heard from again.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand
Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

I trundled on and started to make my way upwards. It was such a struggle, the snow made it very slippy, so I had to wear crampons. It was incredibly cold and the higher I got, the windier it got. Eventually, I found myself at the summit of the mountain. The effort is always worth it!

Things to do in New Zealand
The summit of Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

At the top of Mount Tongariro, I got three hundred and sixty-degree views and it felt like I was on top of the world. The clouds were lower than the summit and it seemed otherworldly. It was peaceful, even though I wasn’t alone, and I took a moment to stand there, looking at that perfect scene in front of me and thought of all the things I had done up to that point.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand
Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

On top of that mountain, I felt elated and overjoyed I was there. It was one of those moments that made me realise all the decisions I had made about my life were the right ones and I was definitely living my life to the fullest.

After a while, it was time to continue on my hike. The way down was bloody difficult because the slope was so steep and, instead of snow, I had hot rocks to contend with. Not just hot rocks but slippery hot rocks. The easiest way to do it was to inch my way down, much like when you’re on skis. I tried that, but any small movement would send a cascade of rocks down the mountain taking me with them. The next tactic was to slide down on my backside, but before I could even manage to get in a position to do this, I slid, fell on my arse, and ended up in a heap with five other people.

Things to do in New Zealand
The way down, Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

We started to laugh, every little movement sending a few more rocks downwards, and us another inch from where we sat. Eventually, we managed to pull ourselves together and made it to the bottom unscathed.

The whole hike was amazing, and the last part of the journey to Ketetahi Road was through a small forest which, compared to the strenuous hiking I had just tackled, was easy. But, I was so intoxicated with joy that I skipped and ran through that forest until I reached the end.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

The hike had taken around eight hours through a wilderness which had stirred my heart at every turn. Mind you, my body was singing a different tune over the next few days because I ached all over, but it was one of the best days out I’ve ever had.

This is one of my tales from my new book which is on the way to being published 😉

Photo Walks Around the City; November and December 2017

On the last round up of what’s happening on the streets of Bangkok, I took relatively few photographs. But here they are. We’ve already said goodbye to 2017 and welcomed 2018 in with open arms!

Happy New Year to you!!

I hope 2018 brings joy and good fortune with everything we do!

Much love 🙂

French Ambassador’s Residence, Bangkok

The French Embassy is located in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok, on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and in the grounds of the embassy is the residence of the French ambassador, Gérard Araud. Usually, I only get a glimpse of this charming colonial-style building from the river as the boat surges on by but once a year, in September, the ambassador open his doors to the public as part of the European Heritage Days initiative. This initiative was started in 1984 so everyone could enjoy free visits to various sites in order to appreciate and learn about cultural heritage. It also raises awareness of citizens to the richness and cultural diversity of Europe, in particular.

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The ambassador’s home from the outside

The house was built around 1830, and in 1856 it was rented by the customs department to the French trading mission, before being awarded to France by King Rama V in 1875.

Art and Culture in Bangkok
Photograph of the original house

There are guided tours available in different languages but the number of people is limited. However, you are free to wander through the house and grounds between 10.00am and 4.00pm. The tour includes lunch which you can enjoy in a seating area on the ground floor of the house.

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The spacious back garden

On the day I visited, I just missed a tour and I didn’t want to hang around waiting for the next one, although the lady told me I could go back and join the next one, but I was happy just to mooch around on my own.

So, let’s see what’s inside.

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The seating area on the veranda

Art and Culture in Bangkok

The reception room

The living room with a few of the ambassador’s collectibles

The dining room

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The dining table ready for dinner
Art and Culture in Bangkok
The menu from 1913

Another dining room

The book collection

Art and Culture in Bangkok

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The Bangkok Times

My favourite, some old photos and newspaper clippings of meetings between two nations

For relaxing

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The swimming pool
Art and Culture in Bangkok
Some more snapshots and knick knacks
Art and Culture in Bangkok
Chill out zone at the back of the house

This garden is amazing and I can just imagine sitting by the river with a glass of wine. I wonder if the ambassador does that? 😉

Fantastic river views

Places like this in Bangkok just amaze me. I hope you enjoyed the tour 🙂

Guided tours:

French: 10.30am, 11.30am, 2.00pm, 3.00pm
Thai: 10.40am, 11.40am, 2.10pm, 3.10pm
English: 10.50am, 11.50am, 2.20pm, 3.20pm

Address:

Trees Glorious Trees

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I love trees! I love anything to do with nature, but trees are one of nature’s beauties. And what’s not to love about them?

They have many different colours

Nature Photography
Mount Lofty, Adelaide
Nature Photography
Mount Lofty, Adelaide

Some grow up from the forest floor, giving the forest diversity

Nature Photography
Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne

Some are weather beaten or their leaves eaten by insects and other animals, so they provide food, not just for the animals, but as they deteriorate they provide nutrients for the forest

Some may have died…

…but they still have their place where they once grew

Some grow together to create a forest of natural columns

Nature Photography
Mount Lofty, Adelaide

They create a leafy paradise in parks…

Nature Photography
Adelaide Botanic Gardens

.. and on river walks

Nature Photography
Along the River Torrens, Adelaide

They grow tall and colossal, like mythological titans

Nature Photography
Khao Kheow National Park, Thailand
Nature Photography
Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne

Some of them are ancient and have seen centuries and history unfold in front of them

Nature Photography
Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Their branches grow like lightening-forks or reaching arms

They provide shelter and shade to other living things

Nature Photography
Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne

They stand dignified as we pass by, engrossed in our own thoughts, walking under the arches they have created

There are those trees that grow out of water

Nature Photography
Chonburi Mangrove Reserve, Thailand

And those that grow in towns and cities

They are fruit bearing

Nature Photography
Khao Kheow National Park, Thailand

And they produce leaves of different colours, shapes, and patterns

Do you love nature? What are the things you love?

For more nature click here  and here 🙂