It’s Easter Time

We hope everyone is enjoying their Easter breaks and relishing the abundance of chocolate eggs and bunnies!

Christoph and I are making the most of the short time off with him visiting his mum in Germany in between work while I meet up with my sister in Bangkok and Australian friends in Hoi An. (I get to try out my Visa Exemption Certificate for Vietnam for the first time!)

We’ve so far, had a very satisfying although busy first quarter which made me realise how the year is going to zip past me if I don’t pay attention. How did the Year of the Dog become the Year of the racing Greyhound? There isn’t much else to report for now except that Shanghai is still treating us well.

Cultural events pop up frequently. Museums and galleries are continually opening. We have good friends around us and I am gradually establishing myself with my volunteer work. All round life isn’t treating us too shabbily. However, I want to make a point in saying that we do have our challenges and obstacles in life as well. We regularly share our mishaps and moments of uncertainty with friends but who wants to read that stuff online? We’re known to endeavour to stay positive and make the most of every situation presented to us. A positive attitude isn’t a guarantee for eternal happiness but it helps substantially to lessen the burden. I’ll end with something I saw at the markets yesterday: ‘Life is like a bicycle, to balance, you need to keep moving forward.’ Anon.

Post-Birthday

It's been a week since Christoph's big birthday and thank you everyone for your well wishes. We arrived back in Shanghai on Sunday and slipped easily into our city life. The time off was very much needed; yummy food, massage, sleep, swim, food, sleep... the typical R&R routine ;O)

Part of Christoph's birthday surprise last Thursday. 

Part of Christoph's birthday surprise last Thursday. 

We began the trip in Singapore and met up with some friends and acquaintances. Then we flew off to Phuket and drove over flooded roads to get to Khao Lak. The place we stayed at was so secluded that we had no other choice but to unwind!

The birthday boy, enjoying sunsets each evening... with drinks of course :o) 

The birthday boy, enjoying sunsets each evening... with drinks of course :o) 

So back to normal and busy work schedules! Have a good week everyone!

Thailand Travels

We three sisters had a fantastic time in Thailand! Chiang Mai was very special because of our friend DL who lives there. We spent the first full day visiting temples and sights and on our second day, DL took us to two very cool local hang outs. The Bua Tong Waterfalls and Huai Tueng Thao Lake are both located within two different National Parks. We were very lucky with the weather, it's still considered monsoon season at the moment, and had a dry day and so were able to clamber all over the waterfalls and then relax afterwards on the lake in bamboo huts with a grand feast of fresh seafood.

Bua Tong Waterfalls; that's me on the waterfalls, also called the 'Sticky Waterfalls', as you can climb up and down on the calcium deposits.

Bua Tong Waterfalls; that's me on the waterfalls, also called the 'Sticky Waterfalls', as you can climb up and down on the calcium deposits.

In Krabi, we were unfortunately hit with stormy weather for most of the time except for the one day we decided to try for the islands. We couldn't believe our luck and loved the day spent on the water with swimming, snorkling and sightseeing around the Phi Phi Islands.

Maya Beach; made famous by the movie 'The Beach'

Maya Beach; made famous by the movie 'The Beach'

Bangkok ended up being very hectic but also fun. The days were packed with massages, manis/pedis, shopping and chat time. We really didn't have a minute to spare! This was Alison's first trip with Linh and I and we naturally wanted to make it special for her. She is now back in Perth with hopefully good memories of our time together while Linh and I have continued our journey. We are currently in Yangon, Myanmar which has been amazing so far. The internet is patchy and so I will post proper photos after the trip. Happy days to everyone!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Today marks the Mid-Autumn Festival for ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese all over the world! It is also known as Mooncake Festival or Moon Festival and traditionally falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar; on the eve of a full moon. The festival celebrates the end of the harvest season, which when you think about it, is pretty much in line with Oktoberfest and Thanksgiving.

Mooncakes are central to the Mid-Autumn festivities. (Image source: www.allgreatimages.com)

Mooncakes are central to the Mid-Autumn festivities. (Image source: www.allgreatimages.com)

In terms of feasts, instead of drinking beer or eating turkey, we delight in sharing small round mooncakes. The round shape symbolizes completeness and unity and by sharing it with family during the week, shows completeness and unity within the family. There are many flavours and varieties of mooncakes on offer and you will find that most have an egg yolk at the centre, which is a symbol of the moon. Be sure to share the cakes as they are generally very rich, densely-filled and sweet; kind of what you want life to be like :-)

Leaving On A Jetplane

We're chilling out at the airport and will board our flight in about half an hour. We checked in 110kg of luggage and spent the past two days clearing out our apartment. It's one thing to be gypsies, another is to be high-tech gypsies with a laser printer. The past 5 months in Bangkok have been a mixture of fun, relaxing and hot! We are now happy to head back to our old stomping grounds for the summer where we can spend time outdoors without melting. Can't wait!

Christoph is going to miss his personalized Thai-style coffees. He calls this one a 'Tittie-Latte'. 

Christoph is going to miss his personalized Thai-style coffees. He calls this one a 'Tittie-Latte'. 

So it's good-bye to Thailand for now. We will be back, and hopefully with less baggage! Ps. I passed my exam :-))

Land of Smiles - But Not For All Who Come

Chinese New Year is soon arriving and with it will come an estimated 90,000 Chinese tourists to Chiang Mai alone. Over the past few months, we have read about a few too many air-rage incidences on flights between China and Thailand. Those cases mainly involved the Chinese fighting amongst themselves or arguing with Thai flight attendants, with some instances resulting in unplanned landings and fines.

Earlier this month, a famous temple in Chiang Rai, Wat Rong Khun, banned Chinese tourists for half a day due to the inappropriate use of the public toilets. It was re-opened later in the day because the authorities subsequently felt sorry for the visitors who were behaving and who had come such a long way to visit the precious site. Other such complaints from locals about Chinese tourists include: "defecating in the city's moat, causing traffic accidents with reckless driving and defacing several tourist attractions."

Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai

In order to curtail such bad behaviour for the upcoming Chinese New Year National Holidays, the Thai Tourism Authority have printed an etiquette manual in mandarin to be distributed in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai; the two most popular destinations for mainland Chinese. The manual will cover such things as museum etiquette, which will outline no-nos like touching paintings and using public property as lavatories. The simple things.

I really hope that the manual will help ease tension between Thai tourism operators/ business owners and Chinese visitors, as China topped the list of foreign visitors in 2013. Of 26.7 million visitors to Thailand last year, 4.7 million were Chinese, a 68.83 % increase from 2012. That's a lot of tourist dollars coming into the country that should be keeping the locals smiling but instead, are making them brace for a rough week ahead!!

Sources: http://www.tatnews.org/thailand-welcomed-26-7-million-visitor-arrivals-in-2013-exceeding-target/
http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/476553/chinese-tourists-to-get-thailand-etiquette-manuals
http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/476609/chinese-tourists-to-get-politeness-manuals
Image: http://en.m.wikipedia.org

King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 87th Birthday

Also known as 'Father's Day' in Thailand, today celebrates King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 87th birthday! King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the longest reigning monarch in Thai history and the world's longest current head of state. His reign began on June 9, 1946 and his coronation was held on May 5, 1950.

The people of Thailand are devoted to the monarchy and as a sign of that devotion and respect, wear the colour yellow on this public holiday. Why yellow? It's the king's favourite colour :o)

Over the last couple of days, Christoph and I have seen a see of yellow whenever we are out and about. As an observer to this tradition, I find it very touching and profound to see how the people of Thailand love their king so much. How great is it to be so loved by the people you watch over? It's truly inspiring.

The streets are full of supporters.

The streets are full of supporters.

Image credit: www.kauaikimonos.com