Posts by lisbonchick

2023, a new year full of new possibilities and adventures and a trip to Koh Phayam!

We’re definitely not used to the cold anymore! It was so good to come back to Thailand and be warm again. Thailand does feel like home, it is comfortable, familiar and we love it here. So, why are you moving, I hear you ask… When we decided to leave everything behind it was for an adventure, for variety, for a different way of life. Staying in one place is not what we want and Africa beckons. We had 3 places we were considering: Mozambique, Senegal and Turkey. There were jobs for both of us in all those countries but Mozambique came first. Now for the paperwork! And so it starts. We have spent the last 2.5 months getting phase one sorted and what a headache it has been – there is more to come but we will get there.

Bang Tao beach
Misty doggo! Sadly, she has cancer and not much longer in this world.
Something big in Phuket Town!
Not your average school warning…

2023 saw the year of the Rabbit – Chinese Lunar Year with 15 day long celebrations. There are quite a few Chinese temples in Phuket so this is a popular celebration here and all over Thailand. We went into Phuket Town to see the sights and enjoy the party atmosphere.

No idea who she is but she is now on my blog!
At one of the temples
Wooden poles are decorated with gold leaf
Incense bowl
Where the Chinese fire crackers are lit

As it is out last year in Thailand, we had to decide which places we wanted to visit for the last time; we settled on Koh Phayam. One of our favourite places ever. It is such a beautiful, chilled island, no cars and not much there. There is one ATM on the island and it doesn’t always work so good to take some cash with you. No 711s, no high rise buildings, only small local shops, simple bars and restaurants. One of few places where you can still get a simple bungalow on the beach! It’s the sort of place where you could get stuck for months…

Pier in Ranong
How to load a boat
Things are simple over here…
Our cabin at La Ong Lay on Long Beach, beautiful, quiet spot.
The view from our cabin
Sunset on Long Beach
Resident baby monitor lizard. Great camouflage.

Job To Do is well known all over Thailand! His music has made a massive impact on Thai country and folk music with his unique blend of reggae. He has had a huge influence on the popularity of reggae music in Thailand and he plays all over. He has played many times in Phuket and somehow I never managed to see him. As luck would have it, there he was on Koh Phayam right next to our hotel! Great music, they played for over 3 hours and what a great atmosphere, sand between our toes and a very chilled crowd. You can read more about him on here:

The man himself
How to play guitar with dreadlocks
A novel way to protect your property!
Many hornbills on the island, especially around the Hippy Bar
The Hippy Bar! Built completely out of driftwood, it is a fantastic construction , with up to 3 stories and many, many different spaces and chambers to sit down and enjoy the view and the sunset. Where the Thai hippies hang out 🙂
Mike and Silvana
The main bar
The boat at night, so many colours

I’m a sucker for hand painted signs, so here a few from the island.

Our place!
If you are ever in Koh Phayam, go there! Such lovely people and lovingly made food.
A little jungle view from a mountain top cafe
What it looks like from the back of a bike!
The road to our beach home always made me a little nervous but Geoff wasn’t bothered!

I think we managed to explore most of the island on this second visit but there was a beach we had missed last time. It turned out to be one of our faves in the end. It had a road sign “beautiful rock by the sea” which was intriguing. As it turned out, there were many rocks by the sea and it was rather beautiful. I think the beach is called Khaokwai beach, not entirely sure as the signs point to the rocks and I saw no beach name.

Small bar on the beach, really chilled, managed to waste a few hours there…
Rock binoculars!

And so ends our trip to Phayam – we will miss you! Back to Ranong and Phuket. Until next time…

Fancy a haircut in Ranong?
Another favourite – Memories in Khao Lak

And so starts another year, our last in Thailand!

After a full on summer in Europe, we were finally back to Thailand and in need of a holiday. Time to start job hunting, scary time, have to hand in our notices before we have jobs but hey, that is part of the adventure, you never know where you might end up. So exciting but scary and nerve racking all at the same time. We are currently in the process of doing paperwork for Mozambique. Great school and package, fingers crossed it all gets accepted. In the meantime, we are enjoying our last few months in Thailand.

Starting with sunsets or was it sunrise from the plane.
Back on our local beach – Bang Tao, will miss this place!

Due to my ulcerative colitis, we spend a lot of time in Bangkok but before that, here is something at the traffic lights in Phuket!

Selling small bottles of Yakult. No idea….
Rainbow Phuket to Bangkok

Whilst in Bangkok, we decided to explore places we had wanted to visit but for some reason or another had not got round to it. One of those places is the Golden Mound temple. Apparently it is the only hill in Bangkok and 344 steps take you to the top. It was built in 1467, quite old then.

Geoff is still at it!
Bells, bell, bells!
Golden hearts with messages, representing the shape of the leaves of the bodhi tree, the most sacred tree in Thailand

We did a fair bit of walking, Bangkok is great around the old part and the old streets. It really takes you back in time and it is such a contrast to the new skyscrapers, shopping malls, huge advertising billboards, concrete skytrain….

Benjakitti Forest Park – 72 acres!

In September, we added another cat to our family. Sadly, Sherlock Holmes went walk about and there was a kitten in need (isn’t there always…). He was too cute and we couldn’t resist!

Monsoon season starts around end of April and as expected it brings rain and big storms. 2022 was a particularly fierce year for rain. Phuket and other parts of Thailand suffered the worst floods in 30 years. Never seen so much water in my life! It was horrendous, mudslides, floods, roads collapsing… No idea how only 1 person died. There are obviously many photos but these document some of my drives home. There were various floods over a period of a few weeks, so it came and went but the rain seemed to go on forever, months and months.

Our road
Our pool, we flooded 3 times, once it came into the house, then we got sandbags!

We had a glimpse of sunshine and ran to the beach for a sunset, it was not to last but it was a ray of hope followed by another trip to Bangkok.

Bang Tao beach
Jack’s Bar
Bangkok sunset

Bangkok walkabout around the Portuguese and French Embassies. I just love walking around the old streets, away from the concrete jungle and shopping madness.

France meets Thailand at the French Embassy in Bangkok
The river was so full from the floods!
Hindu Temple, Bangkok

Great area for walking about, some good vegetarian Indian eateries and shops and a beautiful temple, always full of life, colour and smells.

All handmade out of fresh flowers! So beautiful.
Christmas lights! Some quite odd ones…. Bangkok goes crazy with Xmas, so many lights everywhere and massive trees.

And it was time to fly off to Portugal for Christmas! Had not been there for Christmas for over 20 years, we were so excited to be spending it with family. Even better to be together with Mazzie, Joshua and Sandra. I really don’t like the long plane journey and the jet lag but it was worth it. We had a lovely airbnb with lots of space and plenty of places to walk to.

Lots of Father Xmas on bikes in Lisbon, no idea…

We had a fabulous Xmas at Leonor’s house followed by another at brother Jorge’s house! So much amazing food and wonderful to be with family. I’d forgotten how much food is eaten in Portugal. Leonor’s Xmas was a feast followed by one at brother Jorge’s house where we had over 12 desserts. This was after eating various starters and main courses! Oh, and a massive Bolo Rei.

Brother Ze Pedro e Dulce

Pre Xmas sunset in Sesimbra! Sesimbra is usually packed in the summer so it was really weird to see it deserted and shut. We struggled to find a cafe to warm ourselves up with a hot drink. The sunset was beautiful and the walk along the beachfront blew the cobwebs away,

We spent an afternoon at the Botanic Gardens in Belem. Peaceful and quiet, met a cat, plenty of birds and wandered about watching peacocks…

We love Lisbon! Our plane was cancelled so get got a bonus day and night to potter around and have another drink with brother Jorge. What a treat. Saw the Xmas lights and watched the sun set over the bridge.It truly is a beautiful city.

The oldest cathedral in Lisbon

Off to England to see friends and family. We stayed in Brighton and just chilled ; literally as it was quite cold although not as bad as we expected. Lisbon was quite balmy and we didn’t even wear coats but the UK was windy and drizzly. We didn’t do much and tended to stay in and snuggle.

I have only one photo of Anne and Grammy! Can’t believe there are no others. Very poor show… Maybe the cold froze my fingers and sadly there are no photos to show.

And so, 2022 draws to a close. A year of ups and downs! Marianne left home to go to uni, my illness flared up again, we decided to move, had two amazing trips to Europe to spend time with family and friends. Lost one cat, got another cat, had many trips to Bangkok, witnessed some awful floods, and so it goes on… We are grateful for our friends and family and for the experiences we continue to have. A new chapter awaits and with it some different blogs and scenery. Let’s hope 2023 brings everyone lots of joy and happiness. Miss you all!

Wanderings around Europe Summer 2022…

It has been a while…. Not sure, not had the inspiration to write… A lot has been happening and time flies. Marianne left for uni in the UK in August, we went to Europe for the first time in 3 years, we decided to move on and have been job hunting.

First stop Lisbon in the Summer. What a beautiful city and country, I never tire of it. We had not seen anybody for so long, it was amazing to make connections again and to feel part of something. Living so far away, with such a different lifestyle, it can be easy to feel a loss of connection with those we are close to. Covid further created

Castelo de São Jorge, Sintra
Brother Jorge!
Discoveries monument, Lisbon
At the top!
Yay, Joshie and Sandra have arrived!
Recycled art at the Oceanarium
At the castle, on top of the world!
Expo site cable cars
Riverside in Lisbon
Just love jellyfish!

Sadly we all got Covid during our stay in Portugal! Just before, we had a fabulous family reunion in a beautiful area in Minde. Thank you Leonor for organising this.

Glacial river! After the warm water in Thailand, this was way too cold for us.
Wherever we go, Maz finds a horse to ride!
And Sandra finds cats…

There was one thing I have wanted to do for years, to walk the Passadiços do Paiva, 8 km of steep wooden walkways along the bank of the Paiva River with scenic views. Provides a walk “untouched”, surrounded by unique beauty of landscapes, in an authentic natural sanctuary with waterfalls and rivers. The route extends from the river beaches of Areinho and Espiunca, lying between them, the Vau beach. A journey through biology, geology and archeology. Sadly, between having Covid and one of the hottest summers in history, we were not able to do this walk as it was closed due to the danger of fires. Instead, we chilled in our own schist village in Arouca. Very isolated and raw natural beauty!

Room with a view
We had a river close to the house, not cold at all.

I had not been to Coimbra before and I absolutely loved it! What a beautiful city steeped in history. I could easily have spent more time there. We visited the old university, of course.  It was the first Portuguese university in 1290 in Lisbon and relocated to Coimbra in 1308, making it the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world. Its historical buildings were classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2013. The library, built in 1717 is simply stunning and considered one of the most beautiful in the world. You are not allowed to photograph inside so these are not my photos. Oh, and the books are protected from insects by a colony of bats!

The library!

We visited the Cabinet of Curiosities in the Science Museum of the university. These cabinets were popular in 17th century onwards and were mainly created by the European nobility, who tried to gather in these rooms a set of objects, such as exotic pieces, in an attempt to recreate the work of God. The aim of these cabinets was to display rare, exotic and even bizarre objects, so as to amaze the visitor and simultaneously show the cosmopolitan vision of their owner.

Cabinet of curiosities
The main square

The rest of the city was great for walking and we did some exploring although by this stage we were all pretty sick and spent the next two days in the hotel recovering.

Bordalo graffiti in Coimbra

It was time to leave and visit out friends and family in the UK where the weather was also fabulous. Don’t you just love the British seaside… and Brighton! Here are some typical seaside scenes, you wouldn’t expect this in such a trendy city but there you go.

As we were in Brighton we decided to go up on the i360, a 162 m moving observation tower with, as the name suggests, 360 degree views! Fabulous, highly recommend it.

Duke of York’s cinema, Brighton

We spent some time exploring London with Mazzie, Camden Market was her fave place. We found Peaky Blinders over there!

We couldn’t even remember the last time we saw each other! So, so long ago… We had a great time in Portsmouth, pottering about like tourists. We went up the Spinaker Tower, what a view at 170 meters high with a glass platform, not for the faint hearted.

Back to Brighton once again and it is time for Pride 2022! The city is full of colour and rainbows, such a happy, carefree atmosphere.

It is always a pleasure to spend an afternoon in Lewes, wandering around the old lanes, sitting in the cafes and what a wonderful summer of sunshine to do this in.

Anne and Grammy kindly let us stay in their beautiful house. We were very lucky to also look after Sam who is a truly lovely doggo. Mazzie and I enjoyed taking him for walks up on the hills, beautiful views and sense of freedom up there.

Brighton grafitti
Fancy finding Pickard here…

And it was nearly time to go back home. Time to leave Mazzie who went on to America to work at a stables in North Carolina. It was so hard to say goodbye… Before she left, we went to Barcombe Mills for a swim but it was full of algae and not safe for swimming.

Thailand here I come! Another school year about to start and time to start job hunting for our next adventure.

It is nearly the holidays…

Nearly the end of another school year and nearly time for our summer hols. After 3 years, we are going to Portugal and the UK. Can’t wait…

In February, we visited the Surin Islands. Surin Islands are an archipelago of five islands within Mu Ko Surin National Park, in Phang Nga Province. The islands are 55 km off the coast, 100 km north from Similan Islands in the Andaman Sea and just 18 km from the oceanic border of Burma

Popular for its coral gardens and white beaches, Surin Islands are one of the most famous diving and marine life viewing sites in Thailand. It is a very untouched area with only a Moken village and national park buildings where you can stay as well as a few tents. It is probably one of the most beautiful places we have been to.

On the way there we had some pretty heavy rain!

Green swamp

Our tent, could have stayed there for a few more days.

The only way to get around!

Fishing boats
Khao Lak on the way back to Phuket. By Memories Beach Bar.
Bang Tao beach, our stomping ground.
Misty doggo
Stuff you find on the beach….

In April, we went island hopping in Koh Mook, Lipe and Kradan. Yes, I know, it seems like our life is one long holiday but we do work in between! Mook is less touristy than some other islands and with Covid, it has been decimated. It was quiet, many places were closed and it had a feeling of being derelict but I loved it! There is a great, little bakery in town, she makes delicious banoffe pie for 25 baht.

Main street in Koh Mook
Local barber shop
Local houses
Maybe at some point…

Someone’s kitchen

So many starfish!

Goodbye Mook, hello Lipe! Quite touristy but it grew on us, eventually. Met some friends from Bangkok, did some diving and stayed at Castaway Resort which also has a dive centre. Nice place with a decent restaurant.

Zodiac Bar in Lipe. Best music and fire show.
Wherever you go, the fireboys will follow….
Yay, it’s dive time! First time diving off a longtail, have to go in backwards.
Dive site, not so clear further down

And now for a spot of kayaking!
To a small island….

From Lipe to Kradan. A very small island with no roads, no shops, nothing really. Very beautiful and unspoilt. We stayed at Kalume. A beautiful eco resort run by an Italian couple. Delicious food and it felt like home, very cosy and a happy place

Phuket Town is just on our doorstep and is a place we go to for a little slice of small city life. There are many good cafes and local restaurants and it is seeped in history. There are many sino-Portuguese buildings and a great market on Sundays. Our favourite is China House for lunch!

Old Chinese shop/home, now one of our favourite places for lunch.

Final dive of the season at Koh Weo, a tiny island off Bang Tao beach and Tin Lizzy Wreck (a tin mining excavator). It was surprisingly good and clear. We had been there before with very poor visibility which was disappointing. We were lucky to go with a lovely couple from Argentina we had met in Lipe.

Our chilled captain!

It has been a very long school term but we were lucky to have a long weekend halfway through which we spent in Chinatown in Bangkok. It is such an amazing area, full of history, alleyways, markets, stalls and food. An assault on the senses. It was also a great excuse to meet up with Sarah and Mick. We stayed at the Shanghai Mansion. Beautiful hotel and a huge room right in the heart of Chinatown.

Fried fish
Dried squid
Dried prawns
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