• CategoriesTravel

    Hard Reset on Koh Phayam

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    Koh Phayam is a tiny tropical island at the very southern tip of Thailand’s western border with Myanmar, near the city of Ranong. During the fabulous weather of the high season, it is an increasingly popular destination for sun-seeking backpackers, keen to enjoy a budget getaway on an unspoilt paradise. Unfortunately, it is currently the quaintly titled “green season”, better known as the low or rainy season, for obvious reasons.

  • CategoriesExpat Life · Travel

    The Battle of Thung Thale Beach

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    Keeping low and moving slow, rifle firmly gripped in both gloved hands, I crept through a patch of dense woodland. I was shielded from the harsh sunlight and the view of most of the enemy invasion force by a wall of leaves, but the web of thin trunks and branches I was creeping through presented challenges of its own, particularly when it came to moving quietly. My squadmate joined me, silently indicating that we should move further to the left. The enemy were reportedly moving up through this area and, if we were careful, we would be able to attack on their exposed flank.

  • CategoriesTravel

    Mandalay: Not the Venice of the East

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    I ended my post about Bagan with the iconic words “the road to Mandalay”. I say “iconic” because I can think of at least two songs which feature those words prominently, most notably the Robbie Williams song of the same name. Admittedly, the song has very little to do with the second-largest city in Myanmar. Now I know why.

  • CategoriesTravel

    Bagan: Pagodas, Elephant Pants and Little Else

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    The story behind Bagan is that the ruler of the area took to Buddhism in a huge way, some time around the 11th century and immediately decided that he wanted his capital city to become the religion’s principle city. So, over the following few centuries, there was almost constant construction of at least 3,300 known pagodas, temples and monasteries. The exact reason why construction suddenly halted and Bagan went into a crippling social and economic decline is lost to history. The place just suddenly all but vanished off the map, taking its amazing cultural heritage with it; storing it out of time. Now that it has returned to prominence, I feel that over 3,000 almost identical structures was perhaps overdoing it a touch.

  • CategoriesTravel

    Yangon: Surprisingly Organised Chaos

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    I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when I arrived in Myanmar. Since my only frame of reference for the country was my grandad’s war stories, I suppose that a part of me was half-expecting it to be exactly as it was in 1945. In one or two regards, it actually kind of is.

  • CategoriesTravel

    Operation Longcloth (2016)

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    One of the three people in my family who influenced my decision to live as an expatriate was, in an odd sort of way, my grandad. It is an odd way because he spent almost his entire life in a tiny village near York in the UK, called Barmby Moor. However, as with most British men of his generation, he was called up to fight in World War II. I will go into more detail about his stories in other posts, but the important part is that he spent 1941 to 1945 in India and, as it was then, Burma.

  • CategoriesFirst Impressions · Travel

    First Impressions: Singapore

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    My immediate first impressions of Singapore were actually kind of jarring, but in an unusual way. I’ve lived in Thailand for rather a long time; I am used to its kind of scruffy appearance, its messy streets, crumbling paintwork and flaking façades. In honesty, it is a part of its charm. Getting on the bus from Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) and driving towards the city centre was therefore quite an unusual experience because Singapore is absolutely nothing like that. Everything is neat and clean.

  • CategoriesFirst Impressions · Travel

    First Impressions: Siem Reap, Cambodia

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    The very first impression of Cambodia was obviously of Siem Reap International Airport (REP) which, I was astonished to find, was quite a modern and fancy affair. Granted, we did have to walk across the apron, from the bottom of the steps from the aircraft across to the terminal, but being only a few hundred metres, a bus would have been frankly insulting. Once inside the aggressively air-conditioned building, everything was neat and clean and modern.

  • CategoriesTravel

    Songkran 2016: Wedded Bliss

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    The third and last of my Songkran travel aims was ticked off a couple of days ago and I’m now back in Phuket and back to work. My few days in Pattaya were a peaceful and very enjoyable way to end my journey, catching up with friends and family and sharing in the joy of a wedding.

  • CategoriesTravel

    Songkran 2016: Playing in Bangkok

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    I have now completed the second objective of my Songkran travels – celebrating the festival in Bangkok. It was exactly as chaotic as I’d been led to believe, but it was a lot of fun and a worthwhile experience.