Thursday, 28 April 2011

Last night in Phuket

As I sit down to write this I am reflecting over the last 14 months of our life here in Phuket, Thailand and all the adventures we have had, mostly great, good and amazing and a few not so wonderful. It's almost hard to imagine life back in the UK again. I have thought as far as France and that is it. Imagined the joy of seeing and cuddling my little nephew for the first time and hugging my family once again.

We have met so many amazing people and made dozens of new friends.
If I thought this was it, I would be rather depressed but the plan is to come back. We have a few cards to play out over the next six months which will hopefully mean we can come back over the winter. With that in mind we have managed to leave a couple of boxes with our long suffering friends, so have avoided having to ship anything more than one small box back. It will be touch and go on the weight limit at the airport though so not sure how that will be. We have tried to be careful but it is not easy for a family of four to pack their last 14 months into a 20kg bag each!

We have spent the day today downloading some podcasts for the journey, relaxing by the pool and eating out with our friends this evening. Tomorrow we don't have to leave for the airport until 7pm so we have the whole day to soak up the sun and swim in the pool.
This will probably be my last blog post for a while. It has served it's purpose to keep family and friends informed of our nomadic life and will also be a great source of reference to look back on in years to come.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Leaving paradise

Well we are getting ready to leave this wonderful island, exactly 3 weeks from today. We have very mixed feelings about it as you can imagine. On the one hand we are dying to see our family and friends back home but on the other hand it's hard to leave such a beautiful place and such an amazing congregation. Many of us here are leaving this month so it will be lots of tough goodbyes. On Wed we said farewell to a lovely French family who have become special friends. They are off to Reunion for a few months. Hopefully we will see them later in the year in France.
This month 18 out of our 22 publishers are pioneering. What a great time we are having. It's not easy in this 35 degree heat and by the time we finish mid afternoon we are exhausted but it is so wonderful to be spending the day with our brothers and sisters. Many have been invited to the memorial and lots have promised to come.
We are determined to make the most of our last weeks here though and have been spending all our spare time at the pool. Nick is many times to be found on the golf course. It's going to be a tough transition to life in the UK again!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Recent shenanigans on Naka Island

Awesome day but certain people thought they were still in their 20s and ended up injured!! One friend got a broken toe, another a cracked rib and Nick has a nasty cut on his leg that gave us our first visit to a Thai hospital. All from playing football on the sand...........ah boys will be boys, I guess.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Friendly Bank Managers

As always it's been a busy week. Plans are afoot for our trip to India and Nepal. We can't decide whether to go at the end of Feb or middle of March. Either way we will fly to Dehli from Phuket and then overland to Kathmandu.
The aim is to travel super light so now we have to plan on what to do with all that we have accumulated here in the past ten months. Ah, the challenges of the nomadic life.

Last night I went into the bank at central (big mall in the middle of the island) to find out why the 200 Baht payment for phone credit I had made with the online banking system had not worked. (Bear in mind that 200 baht is about £5.) I had about 3 women helping me on the phone to see what had gone wrong. While they were doing that the bank manager came to chat to me and started showing me photos on his computer of his holiday a few weeks ago to Austria and Germany. Only in Thailand would you get such friendliness and people being so helpful over such a small amount of money!

The weather has finally picked up and we have lots of sunshine. Whoopee.......more beach afternoons!

On a sad note my friend Chika is in hospital and is very sick. They think it is dengue. This is very worrying as it is now the 3rd person in our little circle of friends here who has contracted this illness. I have been super strict with Nick and the girls about keeping up with our vitamins and the homoeopathic tablets that mum sent.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Stuff is nonsense

So I have been thinking lately about all the 'stuff' we saddle ourselves with. All the crap that we think we need. In reality there are very few things in life that are really necessary. Living here in Asia for 9 months or so has opened my eyes to what we in the western world think of as 'things we desperately need and cannot live without'. I have come to the conclusion that life is less stressful if you manage to keep it simple and lean. Experiences are what count, not things.
So we had a trip to Bangkok. It was so good to get away from Phuket for a few days. The manic hussle and bussle of the big city was ironically a well needed break from our island life. Our days have  become very predicable and serious. Not a good thing at all. Not to mention that we are now in high season and the driving has become even more of a nightmare than before. It was refreshing to regroup and think about being true to ourselves and how we have always lived. Starting this week we will be changing a few things and planning a two month adventure trip before we go back to Blighty. Nick has always dreamed of Nepal so that will definitely be on the itinerary. I would love to visit Tibet, so maybe that too. Our tentative plan is to get to Nepal and then make our way through Tibet and  China and down through Vietnam. Bhutan would be amazing but not sure if we will fit it in on this trip. So first we will just book our journey to Kathmandu and see where the wind takes us. No definite plan on how long to stay or where to go. All we need to do is get back to KL for the flight back to London on the 30th April.
I read half the LP Vietnam book on the beach today. So exciting. The planning of a trip is almost as exhilarating as doing the actual trip itself. Tomorrow I am going to buy the Nepal book. We have a rule about LP books. They are a sort of souvenir of where we have been but we are not allowed to buy one unless we are definitely going. So all the books in our collection are places we have been to.
Today we went to Nai Thon beach, and although there were more tourists now the high season has hit, it was still a haven of peace and tranquillity. We swam in the sea and it was amazing to see the change in three weeks since we were there last. It is so much calmer and the lifeguards were obviously not needed as much, no crazy big waves or rip tides. Nothing on earth is as relaxing as a long afternoon at the beach reading James Paterson and eating ham sandwiches. Totally rejuvenating.
Back to crazy madness tomorrow but with a difference. 

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The art of Non Conformity

Well I have been very remiss in keeping up with this blog.
I think part of it is that I am not sure how many people actually read it. So if you do please encourage me by commenting at the bottom of this post.
Even if not many read this, it is a great record of our unconventional life for my girls to look back upon. It's amazing what you forget!
I have been reading a great blog over the last couple of days:
It's called The art of Non Conformity. A great read, but I must warn you, you are liable to loose a few hours of your life getting sucked into his excellent writing. I thank my friend Jamie from Florida for introducing me to it.

Well what have we been up to....
Mum came to visit, which was awesome in so many ways. It was great to show her around. We went on some amazing trips. One of which was Phi Phi Island. Now that was a trip of a lifetime. Between snorkeling with the fishes  and swimming in a bottomless lagoon where the water was the colour of dreams to walking where Leonardo Di Caprio has trod it was unforgettable. We even saw a Leo lookalike which totally made Candace's day!
We also did the James Bond Island trip again which was a beautiful experience. Even after being totally ripped off by a so called Marine National Park 'warden' it was a day to remember.

Apart from the excitement of all of that, life has just been very ordinary really.
We have all been pioneering over the last few months and also working our butts off. Some of us on new ventures and others on the 'same old, same old' stuff.
Life got a tad stressful after mum had left, with us all feeling a bit 'Thai'd' out. Not being able to afford to go away for a couple of weeks, which is what would have fixed it, was tough. All of a sudden everything here seemed harder than it had been. We were desperate for some Western influences. I think we all miss our family too. Not being able to be a part of Brychans first little year of life has been harder than we all thought it would be. It seems like a very long seven months till we go home.
Mum very kindly reminded us what great work we are doing here and how we are needed (thank you Mum!) and Victoria who experienced the same gave me an understanding ear. When I thought of the ordinary life back in the UK, I cheered myself up and remembered to be grateful for all we have here.
It will just make next year spending time with our family in France (and Liverpool) that much more amazingly special.
This weekend we are off to Bangkok for the long awaited convention. Lara is getting baptised (and we have a part too) so it will be super exciting. It will be nice to leave the island for a few days. I even got some ironing done this afternoon so everything is ready for our flights tomorrow afternoon. We only live 15-20 mins away from the airport now which is very handy.
I'll leave you with a couple more photos. The first is mum's last day at one of our fave beaches, Layan. The other is on the JB island trip in the longtail boat. Yeah I know life isn't that bad right now! At times though I would give it all up for one little Brychan cuddle...........

Oh and how about this to see how time flies!
Our trip 2007 is the first one. The other is a recent 2010 one.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Koh Lanta

Did I mention that life couldn't get any better?! Well I was totally wrong. After exploring some lovely beaches and driving across the middle of the island we found an amazing place to stay our 2nd night. Moonlight Bay Resort. As soon as we saw the beach bungalows I knew that we had to stay there, even if it stretched our budget somewhat. The stilted houses were right on the beach and overlooked the sea. Each had a huge bed, kitchenette and awesome bathroom, oh yes and a jacuzzi on the balcony, overlooking the sea (have I already mentioned that!). It was without doubt the most wonderful place we have ever stayed. It even had a swimming pool just off the beach.
The place was so wonderful that we didn't even want to go out for dinner, so we popped down to the 7/11 and bought picnic stuff to eat on our balcony (overlooking the sea!!). Ham sandwiches and crisps have never tasted so good.
It was everything I wanted and I just sat outside, listening to the surf and reading for hours. I can't actually remember the last time I felt so relaxed.
The next morning after a wonderful nights sleep we did some beach combing and found lots of lovely little shells and loads of sea glass. We left it as late as possible before we left, but the 4 hour journey home meant we couldn't stay too late. Just as well we didn't as most of the trip it poured with rain. Coming through the Krabi region was amazing though as the tall karst cliffs were topped with clouds and mist and looked almost surreal.
It was a bit of a shock coming back to Phuket with all the business and traffic, but for now it's home. We can't wait to go back though and are definitely planning to in September, when the Moonlight Bay reopens for the season. A week in one of those beach bungalows is definitely something to look forward to. Who knows maybe we will stay longer!!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Malaysia and Koh Lanta - Day 1 and 2

Up at 6am to get all my emails done before heading off at 7.30 for the trip down to Malaysia. It was a gorgeous run down and so nice to see more of Thailand. Once we got to the north of Phuket the traffic started to thin out and after leaving the island it was quite calm and quiet on the roads. Candace had made a load of sandwiches so we only had to stop for the loo and to stretch our legs. We got to the border around 3.30 in the afternoon and it was the easiest crossing ever. Just stamped out of Thailand and into Malaysia then the same on the way back. After a quick stop at the duty free to load up the car with White and Mackay and some other amazingly cheap booze bargains. At least a third of the price that we would pay in the UK. Now all we have to do is not drink it all at once when we get home!
After looking at the map we decided to head for Hat Yai to find a hotel for the night. After a lovely trip through some Thai countryside looking for the right road we arrived just as it was going dark and found a hotel that was very basic but nice and clean. After a nice shower, and a whiskey of course, we headed out for something to eat. What a lovely surprise that right around the corner was a decent looking Japanese restaurant. Even better the food was amazingly delicious.
After another early start we drove back up towards Krabi to catch the ferries to Koh Lanta. This is somewhere we had wanted to visit for a while so we were rather excited. There are two Lanta islands. The first is not very inhabited but you have to drive across it to get the ferry to Koh Lanta Yai which is where the tourist spots are.
It was definitely not what we expected at all. It reminded us of Koh Chang somewhat in that it was not as developed as Phuket and a bit scruffy. Obviously as soon as we got off the ferry there was all the trashy tourist bits and cheap digs. The further we got away from there though the better it got. One of the best things being the lack of cars, bikes and people. It is low season now in Thailand but this was so wonderfully quiet after Phuket.
We found a lovely place to stay the first night called Clean Beach resort! Great, if rather warm bathish, pool and across the narrow road was a super beachfront restaurant. The girls dived in the pool and Nick and I went for a walk on the beach. I had spotted as we came in that there was a massage place so after our walk I went and booked a foot and head massage. The place where they did it was part of the restaurant and right on the beach so as I lay there smelling of coconut oil and listening to the waves and surf I wondered if life could get any better.
We finished off a lovely day with dinner at the restaurant which was extremely tasty and with a location that couldn't be bettered anywhere in the world.
We sure slept well that night!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Life for now

Another weekend and another week gone. How time flies when you are having fun.

The end of May has been busy with work and ministry. We have had some wonderful experiences talking to the Burmese, Nepalese and Indian tailors and market workers. They are so grateful for time we spend with them talking about the bible etc. What a contrast to the UK, US, France, in fact everywhere we have lived before. THIS is what it is all about. Everything else, is secondary. What a wonderful privilege we have to be here.

We are very much enjoying the use of our new pool. Nick and I swim most mornings before we go out on the ministry or start work. Today we have a rainy day but everyone is swimming anyway. Cool! The girls make good use of it too in the afternoons. Mr Pong, our landlord, has just fixed the lights too, so now we can swim at night.

My sweet and gorgeous little nephew is doing much better. He is still in hospital and his poor parents are exhausted but he gets stronger and stronger every day. He is slowly learning to feed properly and we are praying that he will be able to go home very soon.

Next week is our first visa run. Our plan is to drive down to Malaysia. It's a 9 hour drive from here but we will just do it in a day and then stay in Ko Lanta for a couple of days on our way back. It will be nice to see some more of Southern Thailand and to have a change of scene for a week.

We are having a party tonight, yeah! Our lovely friends, Mayumi and Yomiko, are leaving to go back to Japan so we have invited some friends over to say goodbye. Hopefully it will stop raining so some can swim. I love our international brotherhood here. Tonight we will have friends from Japan, Australia, Thailand, The UK (of course!) and the good ole US of A!