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Showing posts from 2017

Oh Christmas Tree!

The evergreen fir Christmas Tree, the symbol of Christmas. Get it right and it's adored, get it wrong and  ... you could be at our place!

Last Christmas I was in Bangkok apartment hunting ahead of our Thailand relocation. I had no clue as I searched for any signs of Christmas, that this was due the death of the much-loved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I did wonder how it would be living in a country where Christmas appeared non-existent. 
Unbeknown to me, what I was witnessing was not a Country that did not wish to mark Christmas, but a country in mourning. Most celebrations were cancelled or at the very least subdued out of a mark of respect.
I can only understand the real impact of this seeing the tremendous effort which has gone into celebrations in 2017. The Thais put on a great Christmas, despite it not being a holiday that they celebrate. It is a normal working day, which is a bit of a shock to some of my friends whose husbands will be working!
In Asia often trees have been adapted as …

Seeking Mr Right in Nha Trang, Vietnam

We ended up in Nha Trang, Vietnam entirely on a 'that looks nice' decision looking at the Luxury Escapes website. Outside of Australia, you may not know Luxury Escapes. It’s an Australian company offering affordable luxury in high-end hotels usually in destinations which need their profile building.
I barely knew of the coastal resort of Nha Trang  despite it being known as the Riviera of the South China Sea.

It’s a part of South Vietnam that is about to explode as a destination judging by the mass of property development. It has a very pretty six-kilometre stretch of white sandy beaches, with abundant marine life, in a huge bay with nineteen islands to explore and a mountainous backdrop.
It is well discovered amongst Russians and the Chinese but our circle of friends we less impressed, preferring Da Nang or the more historic Hanoi.  So it was with slight trepidation that we arrive a Nha Trang, a one hour flight from Ho Chi Ming City. We could see immediately the Russian influenc…

Moving on in Vietnam.

I've never liked Vietnam as a holiday destination.  This puts me at odds with most people who go there and love it.  They love the culture, the food, the cities, the shopping and the beaches...
For sure it is as interesting as the rest of Asia, but for me, I could never escape the weight of history. I found the constant setting the scene in terms of the Vietnam war as quite frankly so horrific, that it would impact on my holiday. 

I won't repeat what we already know about the Vietnam war, described as one of the US's most controversial military campaigns. Australia's involvement included nearly 60,000 Australian military personnel on the ground. Mental and physical scars run deep across the world.
I found that on previous holidays the average Vietnamese tour guide was so concerned to set everything we saw in terms of its context if any, to the Vietnam war that it always impacted on my mood. At one point it was so bad  we would say 'No, we're British, we weren't …

Life at Embassy Place.

We're on the move again, just call me Gypsy Wren!
We took a decision when we arrived in Bangkok to take a short-term lease at Embassy Place Apartments. We couldn’t stay longer because the place will be bulldozed to make way for a new high rise development. This week we said goodbye!

But as moving is what we do, and it seemed like half a plan to take this bigger, better and cheaper apartment, even with the hassle of moving out...
In the dizzy excitement of Bangkok apartment hunting, we knew the moment we walked up the drive, that this was the one we could happily call home. 
Come visit with me and see what you think...

I have been blessed to have lived in some of the world's most wonderful cities; Hong Kong, Brussels, and Melbourne but I'm a country girl at heart, I can’t live feeling hemmed in. 
I like the frenetic pace of life in these big cities, but I do need a retreat, a place of Zen calm.

I need to see light, have space and hear a decent dawn chorus. If I don't wake up t…

Shanghai Shenanigans!

Thirty years ago Mr Wren and I took two weeks off work to backpack around China. We ended up in Shanghai and ever since then, anyone who knows me will tell, I have always wanted to live in Shanghai.
Last week we were back in Shanghai, and as I watched the masses of people out enjoying a Sunday stroll on the Bund it was hard not to be impressed at how far China has come, since those days.

Back in 1987, we stood in Tiananmen Square, before Beijing Tank Man and the uprising. We endured several slow & tedious trains around the country before Shanghai's Bullet train became the fastest train in the world. We even called into Hong Kong on the way home and admired the skyline. Little thinking that we'd end up calling Hong Kong home or that sleepy Shanghai would give Hong Kong a run for its money as a World Financial Centre and become the world's fastest-growing Skyscraper City.

Back in the Eighties, us lovebirds stayed at the Seagull Hotel on the Bund. It seemed quite flash in th…

From Russia with love ... well sort of!

Crazy Soccer Mum is off to Russia to watch the World Cup in 2018. Try breaking that news gently to your football-mad son.

It was quite a week Down Under as Australia made worldwide news  and is rather chuffed with herself for two reasons:
Firstly Australia voted a huge rainbow yes in the same-sex marriage equality vote. When, hardly had the hugging finished, when everyone (well mostly grown men) were back hugging each other with delight when the Socceroos finally won a last-ditch place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. 
Yes, whilst President Trump was tweeting about Elephants and banning (or not) the Ivory trade into the US, our Prime Minister was proudly tweeting
'The Socceroos ... are on the road to Moscow...' 

We should go we said! I've never been to Russia, Moscow would be amazing...
My son and my husband had been talking about a boys trip to the World Cup for months but missed the first ballot in a leave-anything-to-the-men and fat chance it will get done sort of a way.
But the Socc…

Ni Hao from China!

Gotta love the Chinese Immigration!
The first time I arrived in Shanghai was exactly thirty years ago and I just loved this city. In fact, I have always wanted to live in Shanghai. I love its cosmopolitan feel, its energy, its architecture, its vibe. 
I remember once saying OK four years in Melbourne and then Shanghai... well that idea never flew, the global financial crisis hit, the kids had important exams and life moved on!

So here I am ten years after my last visit to China, to get eat, drink and get married, a whole other story, standing in front of a Bangkok Chinese Immigration official, who wants to know why in 2007 I had a double entry visa to China and only went once?
Ummmmm well... Oh gosh, do you remember what you were doing ten years ago? I'm sensing this unintentional blot on my copybook could be stopping me from getting my visa to Shanghai. Or maybe it was something else?
I thought I'd been careful with all my paperwork... I’m here to apply for a tourist visa. I read…