Koh Phi Phi revisited

PhiPhiLBKK 001 (304)

Koh Phi Phi was initially put on Thailand’s tourist map by film maker Danny Boyle, who used stunning Koh Phi Phi Ley as the main location for the 2000 film “The Beach“.  Although the film wasn’t a hit, it’s notoriety provided backpackers with a new holy grail destination when “doing” Thailand. The rest of the world however may sadly remember Koh Phi Phi Don as one of the numerous locations devastated by the 2004 tsunami.  Here is one of the most famous pieces of video footage captured when the tsunami hit Koh Phi Phi Don’s Cabana hotel on the morning of 26 December…

When I backpacked around Thailand in 2005, I decided to spend one of my six weeks helping some of the tsunami effected areas, either by volunteering with the clean up or just spending my money to help restart their local economies. When I reached Phuket the clearing up was pretty well advanced, so I headed to Koh Phi Phi.  On arrival it was clear they had a long way to go rebuilding – here are some of the images I took of the destruction that remained seven months after the tsunami hit… Continue reading

Attending important monkey business

Lopburi 159

In Thailand, there are officially three seasons – rainy, cool and hot.  A few days ago, the rainy season was officially declared over when the Royal Thai Crown Price changed the attire of the Emerald Buddah to his cool season garb. The last three months have been particularly wet, so I took this ceremonial changing of the seasons as my cue to start exploring Thailand a bit more.

My inspiration for this weekend has come from quite an unlikely source – the enigmatic world explorer Karl Pilkington. His report from Thailand’s monkey city of Lopburi was enough for me to hit google and figure out how to get there. Imagine my delight when I learned that the annual Lopburi Monkey Festival was an imminent, and this included an extravagant party for these beloved and sacred city residents. So off I headed to Lopburi, which is only 150km north east of Bangkok. I took a minibus from Victory Monument as it was quicker and more convenient for me, but Lopburi can also be reached by train from Hualamphong station.  Fares for both are around 120 bhat one way. Continue reading

An expat for 10 years – part 3

I had visited Australia before – I have old friends that have lived in Perth for years, as well as other friends scattered across this huge country. I also have many Australian friends who I have made either though work or diving, so I had a very good insight into what the country had to offer. With enthusiastic optimism, high expectations and general excitement about a new stage in my personal life, in late November 2012, I packed up two bags and my bike and headed to Perth.



Perth is a gorgeous city and one of the world’s best kept secrets. This is probably due to its isolated position both in relation to the rest of the world and within Australia. Perth is of course famous for mile upon mile of stunning beaches and a vibrant economy, driven by the mining and the oil and gas sector booms, as well as more steady economic drivers such as agriculture. I had done enough research and advance ground work to evaluate there were opportunities and a market for my skills. Plus there were of course other reasons that drew me to Perth. Continue reading

An expat for 10 years – part 1

How my journey started…

3 October 2013 is rather an unusual anniversary for me. It marks 10 years since I left the UK to start my life and adventures overseas. It wasn’t my first time working outside the UK though – I spent 1998-1999 in Sarajevo as the SFOR/NATO spokesperson. It was there I was bitten by the foreign bug and it is absolutely true – travel and living in a foreign country does broaden your mind and I was also fortunate enough to have a job that was full on every day…

Being interviewed by Combat Camera - the US led internal communications team that kept the 34,000 SFOR/NATO troops up to date.

Being interviewed by Combat Camera – the US led internal communications team that kept the 34,000 SFOR/NATO troops up to date.

Although I returned to the UK and I toughed it out for a few years, life just wasn’t the same. Just as I left a good job with Laura Ashely in 1987 to join the Royal Navy, in September 2003 I traded in a nice secure corporate job with Standard Life in Edinburgh for a three-month contract working for the EU Special Representative in Skopje. As I flew out to Skopje with two bags on October 3 2003, there were a few that thought I was bonkers. At this point you may want to make a cup of tea – although I have split this “story” into three parts, this post covers four years…. Continue reading