Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Every cloud has a silver lining!

It's a funny old world
You never know what is just around the corner...

We're in the middle of winter 
it's been wet, and cold.
The footy pitches are muddy and disgusting to play on,
and we are wearing coats.

Don't feel that sorry for us
this is a Melbourne winter 
and the sun is generally not that far away.
Here's the crazy poodle sunbaking in his winter woolies!

We are having the best ski season for thirty years
although lifts are shut at Falls Creek today due to high winds...

Winter chills are all around and we are surrounded by nasty flu bugs.
You can hardly get an appointment at the Doctors 
these days for love nor money.

Daughter No 2 has just contracted Glandular Fever (Mono)
and now looks at those muddy soccer fields
wishing she was out playing on them.

Daughter No 1 is still happily working in Liberia.
The deadliest ebola outbreak in history continues to plague West Africa 
and now the Liberian land borders have been closed.
We read every news report with keen interest.

I get a E-mail from a friend living in Asia 
asking if we could be on stand-by
to collect her daughter as there is a flu epidemic 
and they might be closing her section at her Melbourne
 boarding school.

'Sure no problems' I reply.
'As you live closer, could you return the favour and 
be on stand-by to collect my daughter in Liberia
as there is an ebola epidemic and they might be closing the Country?'

'Mum, you never guess what' Daughter No 2 says
with more excitement than usual in her tired voice these days
'My Melbourne University International Development 
course is studying Ebola this term!'

'Perfect' I say,
'Do you want me to come in as a guest speaker?!

Between your sister's on the ground, local knowledge
 and the Request for Special Consideration sick note from the Doctor,
You should get First Class Honours A+++ for that subject this term!'

Linking with Our World Tuesday
Thanks to all the hosts

Linking with Alphabe Thursday
Thanks to Jenny Matlock
K is for Kids!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Mum's Youth Hostel - open all hours!

Mum's Youth Hostel is officially open again.

I love to travel
but when we can't get away
we do the next best thing...
We have the world come to us!

We have our twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth
Japanese Homestay guests living with us at the moment.
Three lovely student nurses from Kyoto
who have never been out of Japan.

We do love the Japanese
Always so polite and calm. 
Well, until they accidentally set off the burglar alarm...
then there is much shrieking and panic 
on a par with the din from the alarm,
but generally it's quiet and I adore hearing their giggles!

It's a big deal to come to Australia.
They arrive with enormous suitcases
often bigger than them.
Empty of course, 
as they are here to learn English, to study 
and for shopping!

On the drive home on day one 
I warm them about the Crazy Poodle
our over enthusiastic pocket rocket of a dog.

The Crazy Poodle launches himself
with all his love and affection,
usually at the one girl who has requested a pet free house.
'Welcome Home' I say cheerily!

Their English is often extremely limited
but somehow we get by.
If the going gets really tough we resort to a translator
but mostly I'm become (even if I say so myself)
quite good at acting out what I'm asking.
It's my version of charades or 
an adapted version of 'animal, vegetable or mineral?'...

'The dog is barking at a possum in the tree'
more giggles and get me an Equity card please!

I really must do an teaching English as a foreign language course.
I'm getting too old to be seen through the windows
on all fours barking at my husbands leg,
what the neighbours must think!

Oh the fun we have...

Our visitors book is filling up. 
Over the past six years
 we have opened our home to visitors 
from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, America, United Kingdom, 
Canada, India, and Bali.

Never a dull moment here!

J is for Japanese
Linking with Alphabe Thursday Thank you to Jenny!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Melbourne's sadness

I woke to a sombre Melbourne this morning.

My city is hosting AIDS 2014 starting on Sunday. 
14,000 delegates are arriving in town.

Melbourne has just over four million people.
We are a small city by world standards
everyone knows someone, who knows someone
who is involved...

One of the Mums at Bookclub
is a Director of HIV Medicine. 
My boss has just taken a week off work 
to volunteer at this event.
Friends kids are working with the catering companies...

Flinders Street Station, Melbourne
Next week Melbourne hosts the world's leading 
HIV leaders, scientists and researchers.
Former US president Bill Clinton and activist Bob Geldof are due to speak.

Melbourne is no stranger to big events
think Commonwealth Games, Formula 1 Grand Prix, Australian Open,
but this one just quietly, we are rather proud of.

Rather proud that without anyone batting an eyelid 
we were playing our part in getting together the world's 
leading experts in the global fight against HIV.

State Library, Swanston Street, Melbourne.
Yesterday we woke to the news 
of the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, 
shot down over Ukraine near Russian border.
Our Prime Minister, Tony Abbot tells us 
of the 298 on board, 28 are Australians,
Eighteen were Victorian residents.
Flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur
with a connection onto Melbourne.

There is initially a suggestion that up to 100 people on this flight
were heading to Melbourne for AIDS 2014.
Six Dutch passengers travelling to attend the conference 
have now been confirmed among the dead.

 They say “The cure for AIDS may have been on that plane..." 

Federation Square, Melbourne
Yesterday we saw horrific pictures of the burning wreckage.
Today we see the personal stories of Australian lives lost,
including a Melbourne University student.

We are in the middle of the University holidays
many of my daughter's Uni friends are in Europe travelling.
This would not be an untypical route home.
Malaysian Airlines prices are good,
more so, after they lost MH370.

Taken before all the flags were lowered to half mast until the end of AIDS 2014
Our Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle
put this tweet out last night:

Sorry I generally pride my blog as a happy place,
but Melbourne is in shock.

Unknown Mami

Monday, 14 July 2014

Holidaying in Bangkok - Are we mad?

People look at you a bit weird 
when you tell them you're off to Bangkok at the moment...

You know the sort of look that says:
"well you clearly love adventure holidays!"

Tuk Tuks - still the best fun way to travel!
It was fine!
I can report Bangkok is steamy hot, stormy and 
extremely quiet.

On account of most tourists heeding many governments' 
advice to exercise a high degree of caution!

Indeed most local people we meet are unperturbed
by as they call it 'just another coup'.
It is, they explain, just the way Thailand sorts things out 
when neither party are strong enough to take control 
the political democratic way...

Yes life in Thailand is very different to my
all mod cons lifestyle in Australia
and that is why I love to visit.

Living on the water
That and the Thai people who we love!
They have to be one of the loveliest, smiliest nations...

We had some lovely conversations especially over some of the lovely 
Western names the waiters and waitresses had selected.

One gorgeous waitress was called Cake.
'Ohh, that is my sort of name,
Why did you choose Cake?' 
 Her friends called her pancake 
because of her round face she told us.
Yep, that would work for me too!

Up at the crack of dawn for our bicycle tour 
I asked my DH if he'd ordered the coffee?'
'Yes, Night is coming' he replied with a straight face...

Or 'where's the taxi?'
'Moss is stuck in traffic!'

The loveliest people...

Now we have been lucky enough to have been frequent visitors to Bangkok
so we didn't feel the need to rush out and visit every temple 
or go to the Grand Palace again.

Although I didn't stop us from asking silly questions of the guide:
'what do you call that temple?!'

All temples are called Wat, 
although I know you already knew that...
We chuckled for hours about that one!

Wat's that called?
Instead we chose to do the Amazing Bangkok Cycle
one of my favourite Bangkok tours, which Tim had never done.

We cycled through the backstreets of Bangkok,
through some market areas and poor housing districts
before loading the bikes on a Sampan and crossing to the other side
of the Chao Phraya river and exploring the park lands.

Crossing the River with ABC tours
Later that evening we relax with cocktails before dinner 
at Saffron at the Banyan Tree

Loved the bars and restaurants at the Banyan Tree, Bangkok
Oh yes, this is the life
We are happy to be on holiday in Bangkok!
Linking with Blue Monday 
Thank you Sally!
Travel Photo Monday

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Bangkok Critters

Where are all the animals?

I was really surprised on our recent trip to Thailand
to find so few animals on the streets of Bangkok.
In fact, I was in danger of having nothing better 
than a few fish to share with you!

Fishtank at Jim Thompson's House, Bangkok
On our boat tour we threw bread in the murky river 
to find a frenzy of African Cat fish appear from nowhere
But that was a bit tacky...

Cat fish Bangkok, enhanced by Picmonkey!
I went three days with only coming across a large rat,
which would have been ok, 
but it wasn't running in a particularly straight line...
but then neither was I by the end!

A lack of critters was a tad disappointing given the 
Country's promise of exotic animals everywhere.
The day of the elephant 
around town has long gone...

But then I came across these cute kittens
sunbathing under a motorcycle

Have a happy weekend
where ever you are!

Linking with Saturday's Critters thanks to Eileen

and Camera Critters.
 Thanks to Misty

Camera Critters

Friday, 11 July 2014

Bangkok Skywatch

Don't you think you look at the sky 
more often when you are on holiday?

Is it that you have more time
or just that skies elsewhere look more interesting?

This week we've been in Thailand
admiring a myriad of different skies...

The day starts of well with blue skies and fluffy white clouds
as we speed along the Chao Phraya river 
without a care in the world...

But later on... 
Take a gander at these storm clouds!
Taken from our Bangkok hotel balcony. 

We know it's the rainy season 
but we're not looking forward to this rain!

The storm passes,
happily moving off without a drop of rain on us.
Thank you Dear Buddha!
We head up to one of the many rooftop bars
for pre dinner drinks...
This is the life!

A sundowner cocktail and a glorious sunset,
go hand in hand on a perfect holiday.
We have the time to stop, linger and admire...

Bangkok has some impressive sunsets
and some rather nice cocktail bars...!

In case you were wondering 
what it's like in Thailand at the moment 
given the military coup
my previous post Beautiful Bangkok covers this.
It's fine!

Linking with Skywatch Friday
where people from all over the world post great photographs 
of the sky in their part of the world. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Beautiful Bangkok

So somehow we ended up in Bangkok
in the middle of a military coup.

It was already low season
but add in martial law ,
a curfew to put the kibosh* on all rooftop cocktails
together with the rainy season and high humidity, 
and you practically have the place all to yourself!

Wonderful, whoever wanted a boring holiday?

We've packed carefully 
no red or yellow t-shirts
which might be misconstrued as political support one way or another.

Our Australian Government's Smart Traveller advice is to: 
exercise a high degree of caution in Thailand, 
as the security situation remains volatile...

We arrive to find remarkable calm,
and unlike many European or American airports
not even a Royal Thai Army machine gun in sight...

When you arrive at Bangkok's International Airport these days
the Thailand Tourist Board operating under 
the new administration of
the National Council for Peace and Order,
give you a right royal welcome.

The Thai people, renown for being friendly and welcoming
are so super pleased to see visitors these days,
 they are offering tourists one heavily discounted local tour.

We figured speeding through the Bangkok backwaters
should keep us well away from any trouble. 
Yes, a James Bond boat tour was perfect!

Our tour guide turns up in a Stars and Stripes Jacket, 
he thought we were American!
Which actually as it turns out was rather sweet of him 
as he later tells us he is not best pleased with the 
US Government for the Trade sanctions 
they have imposed on Thailand.

We didn't like to go there with what the 
British or Aussie Governments are doing...

Or that the rest of the world 
is not entirely impressed by Thailand's
recent military, government or political behavour!
'No, no we're not American' we say!

But actually the majority of the Thai people we speak to 
seem resigned to the coup, even welcoming.
'Someone needed to sort things out', they say.

They've seen coup after coup here in Thailand. 
and now the curfew has been lifted,
they hardly notice any difference.
'When they closed 7 Eleven, then it was serious'

It appears as if the rest of the world is far more concerned about 
the removal of democracy than the Thai's we converse with.

Of course we don't meet the peasant farmers who would disagree,
One lone taxi driver, in the privacy of his own cab tells us
'No-one is saying what they think...
They are scared'.

We've been to Bangkok many times
and apart from the lack of tourists,
 it doesn't feel any different to us.

There are some phenomenal deals on hotels
Flights are pretty cheap
and guess what we got a late check out at the hotel until 4pm
Easy when no-one is checking in!

Book your holiday to Thailand quick
It's beautiful here
Don't you think?! 

* ki·bosh

put the kibosh on, to put an end to; squelch; check: Anothersuch injury may put the kibosh on her athletic career.
1830–40;  of obscure origin

Linking with Our World Tuesday 
Thanks to all the hosts