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Same Same But Different

We came into this world on the same day. My forceps provided the slipstream for her, 5 minutes later – and twin-life began. It was a mixed bag. The fun of having a ready-made playmate was diluted by sibling surveillance, and sharing. People said we were polar opposites. Maybe. Or maybe we were the same […]

A Sort of Homecoming

Three years ago the freedom of infertility set me on a mid-life meander to Melbourne. Last month, I went home… So, what have my cohorts and countrymen been up to without me? Well, apart from break-ups, breeding and Brexit. Not much. We did the rounds. From family roasts to beers with the lads. We were like social […]

Music From The Motherland

Recently, I discovered something laying dormant inside my mobile blower… Podcasts. More precisely, Desert Island Discs. There are hundreds of ’em – and many are my cultural counterparts; from Gallagher and Brand, to Weller, Winstone and whispering Bob. If you’re unfamiliar with the format. Guests (or “castaways”) get to choose 8 songs (or “discs”) to take with […]

Van Diemen’s Land

First I heard of Van Diemen’s Land was back in the 80s when my Walkman was partial to a bit of Rattle & Hum*. Little did I know, it was real place that one day would be on my doorstep. Nowadays it’s an Australian state called Tasmania. We fly to Hobart and make a long weekend of […]

Pull The Ladder Up Bruce

Some call it Australia Day. Others, Invasion Day. For me, it’s January 26th – a public holiday and a welcome break from the daily grind. Australians woke to the news that their prime minister had awarded Prince Philip a knighthood – and by bestowing this colonial trinket on a pointless prince had implied that no […]

Ocean Drive

The anniversary of my 4th decade on the earth gave the old girl an excuse to fly out for a visit. Fancy man in tow. My end of the bargain was to assume the role of tour-guide-slash-driver for a road trip round Victoria. #1 Phillip Island and the Mornington Peninsula The locals bang on about the penguins at Phillip […]

Cash on the Hip

As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a footballer (well, and a gangster – but that’s another story). I’d have been in with shout, but lager and birds sabotaged my crack at the top flight and I settled for that kick-about between two skinfuls – the Sunday League. Injuries were […]

Point Nepean National Park - Portsea, Mornington Peninsula

10 Years a Slave

Approaching 30 and birdless: “I stopped looking for a dream girl. I just wanted one that wasn’t a nightmare.” – Charles Bukowski As luck would have it, one turned up anyway – and it wasn’t long before we were shacked up and due to get spliced. From day 1 it was obvious she was gonna […]

Treasury Place - Melbourne

Back in the Game

This time last year I was looking out of my Canary Wharf window thinking: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller It’s good advice, but after 277 “days off” it was time to put some bunce back in the old […]

Hong Kong Airport 2012

Hello Goodbye

It’s been a while since my last post. So let me fill you in. When we wrapped up the backpacking we headed for a 6 week stint with the in-laws and Chinese New Year Macanese style. They’re a family that like their grub and Macau’s hospitality is top drawer. I fit right in. Only trouble […]

Phnom Kulen Cambodia

That Was The Trip That Was [Video]

With the backpacking part of this trip done and dusted. I’ve been in a reflective mood and put together a montage of the journey so far. Now it’s onto Melbourne where another new experience awaits – living and working in a foreign country. Is Australia really the land of Milk & Honey? _____

Chiang Mai, Thailand

When Harry Met Rooky

Got chatting to this monk the other day. Didn’t catch his name, so for the sake of the story we’ll call him Harry. The conversation* went something like this. Rooky: Being a monk must take a lot of self-control – no booze, no sex. So what makes virile young men (like yourself) pass up SE […]

Watching The Ships Roll In

19 Nights in Nam

The next stop in our tour of Indochina was Vietnam. This is what I saw… Saigon Scooters With 35 million scooters in Nam, you can forget what the green-cross-code-man told you. You’ll be there all day. They come at you from all directions, so my advice would be – just walk… If evolution’s true the […]

The House of The Rising Sun (2013)

Drop your Angkor, weigh your thoughts…

Cambodia, a perplexing place – one day you’re watching the sunrise over the “8th wonder of the world”. The next, you’re standing in the middle of the killing fields shocked by the evil humans are capable of. After a month on the beaches of Goa I can handle sightseeing again. So we fly to the […]

Teenage Kicks (2013)

Teenage Kicks

After 4 months on the road, travel burnout was beginning to kick in – sightseeing had become a chore and I was missing the sense of purpose that work used to provide. Thankfully my friends at OSCAR India supplied the antidote – and asked me to do some football coaching. OSCAR is an organisation that […]

Bombay Luck

Our 34th day in India takes us to Bombay, and my mind adjusts to the flagrant poverty people had warned me about. Even before my feet hit the tarmac my window seat shows me a sea of shanties that seemed to go on forever. We spend Diwali in Ambedkar Nagar slum (our friends at OSCAR […]

Book: Be Here Now

Be Here Now by Ram Dass My rating: 3 of 5 stars In India and en route to an ashram, I was looking for a spiritual read to complement the trip. I heard this book led Steve Jobs on a similar journey, so gave it a whirl… It took me inside the mind of a […]

Cell Block Hippy

When the missus first floated the idea of a week in an ashram, “reluctant” weren’t the word. Don’t get me wrong, I like my yoga as much as the next man, it was the “mandatory” schedule* and the prison-like house rules** that put me off. In the end my curiosity prevailed – if it’s good […]

Temple Tunes

There’s something about a Hindu temple that makes me wanna sing a bit of Sanskrit. I’ve only gotta enter one of those places and the words “Govinda jaya jaya” or “acintya bheda bheda tattva”, are in my head. So as I’m in India (the home of Sanskrit), I thought I’d find out what these old […]

To Kill A Sunrise (2013)

South India Road Trip

Coming from Singapore, India’s like a different world; cows at bus stops, blokes in skirts*, people eating with their hands, shoeless pedestrians on dirty roads, entire families on one motorbike (sans helmets), regular power cuts, straight men holding hands, and incessant car horns during my siesta. It took a while to acclimatise. Three days into […]

Singapore Sunset (2013)

Singer Poor

Our journey down the Malaysian peninsula finishes with a few days in Singapore – everything is just that little bit better; shopping malls are spotless, public transport runs like clockwork, even the quality of the crumpet exceeds that of its Malaysian neighbour. We arrive on Grand Prix day. The chaos and crowds I was expecting […]

Mosquito Island

Bored of Melaka and with a few days to kill before Singapore we weigh up a trip to Tioman Island. The weatherman tells us they’ll be rain all week, but Time magazine had it down as one of the world’s most beautiful islands (in the 1970s), so we ignore him. Being a city person married […]

Melaka: A Poor Man’s GT

One of the benefits of colonialism is that you get towns with plenty of character, and in the case of Melaka & George Town that’ll get you world heritage status too. Well either that, or someone at UNESCO has taken a bung from the Malaysian tourist board. Melaka is the older of the two (by […]

Flags of the New Regime (2013)

KL: The Second Coming

It’s been 6 years since I was last in KL, but that was a honeymoon and sightseeing weren’t exactly a priority, so we’re back for another look… One thing we missed on our last visit (much to the disappointment of the missus) was a trip up the Petronas Twin Towers. So we book ourselves in […]

Show Me The Way (2013)

A Town Called George

After 2 and half weeks on Borneo, where it’s all wildlife and trees. It was time to get back to a proper city; 5 days in George Town, Penang was just the ticket. One of the first things I noticed was the amount of street art. Most of it painted by a Lithuanian fella (Ernest […]

Sunbeam

Ancestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

For some reason, I’ve always had an interest in human evolution and how we got here. So when the guidebook told me that the oldest human remains in SE Asia were found in a nearby cave, I could feel a day trip coming on. The Niah Caves are about an hour and 45 minutes from […]

Borneo Done

A few of my favourites from the 17 nights we spent on Borneo. Where we stayed (nights)… Sabah; KK (3) -> Sandakan (2) -> Kinabalu Park (2) -> KK (2) -> Brunei; Bandar Seri Begawan (2) -> Sarawak; Miri (1) -> Kuching (5)

The Friendly Dictator

Our journey along the north coast of Borneo takes us to an old stomping ground – Brunei was a British protectorate until 1984. These days it’s a “dry” country (you can’t buy booze anywhere)… Did we not teach them anything? We arrive on a Friday (their day of rest), the streets are eerily quiet. A […]

Parklife

I’m no David Attenborough, but if they’ve made somewhere a world heritage site it must be worth a butchers… So off we set for a couple of days in Kinabalu Park. Our accommodation was just outside the park at Borneo’s equivalent of the Villa Bella* – a rundown homestay; cold and damp, with grubby bed […]

Swing for your Supper

Hanging with the Orangs

It’s not everyday you get to see an endangered species in its natural habitat. So the opportunity to visit an orangutan sanctuary was too good to miss. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre aims to return orphaned or injured orangutans back to the wild. Orangutans only exist on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra and are […]

“Meat Bone Tea” to You & Me

One of the drawbacks of being married to a Chinese Doris is that from time to time you can end up in some decidedly suspect eating establishments. One such establishment was Yu Kee Bah Kut Teh in Kota Kinabalu. From the outside it looks like a low grade canteen, which is due a visit from […]

Photo Essay: Macau – Part 1

Macau’s become like a second home and as a result I’ve been a bit lazy with the camera. But the few half decent photographs I did take are below. I’m back in January for Chinese New Year and part 2.

These Buddhists might be onto something…

My trips to Big Buddha and the A-Ma Temple got me thinking about this Buddhist teaching I came across a few years ago. It’s the only one I know, but to me it makes perfect sense. Don’t believe anything simply because you have heard it. Don’t believe anything simply because it’s spoken by many. Don’t […]

You know bro, YOLO…

If we’re talking about living for the moment and making life count. This kid puts it better than I could… Breathing is a luxury and I could die today I would like some change, like a shopkeeper – George The Poet

Wide Awake in Macau

The locals tell me Macau used to have a sleepy village feel. Not so now. It’s not only woken up, it’s practically an insomniac. The little former Portuguese colony, is the only place in China you can gamble legally. Since changing the gambling laws in 2002, new casinos have been springing up all over the […]

The Fool on the Hill (2013)

The Wisdom of the “Fool”

  Visiting Big Buddha* reminded me of that old Beatles tune – The Fool on the Hill**. Not because he’s a fool, but because people don’t seem to be taking much notice of him. In a place where Buddhism is the most popular religion, I find it ironic that there’s so much consumerism going on. […]

Reckon I might take this advice…

Poem: “No Leaders, Please”  invent yourself and then reinvent yourself, don’t swim in the same slough. invent yourself and then reinvent yourself and stay out of the clutches of mediocrity. invent yourself and then reinvent yourself, change your tone and shape so often that they can never categorize you. reinvigorate yourself and accept what is […]

The Day We Caught The Plane

Wednesday 24th July 2013: It’s a lovely English summer’s day and I’m in the car on the way to the airport. John Denver’s words play out of the radio: “I’m leaving on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again”. How apt I thought, but I’m glad he’s not a pilot for Cathay Pacific! […]

There’s nothing like a good clear out…

Since deciding to depart these shores, I’ve been getting rid of stuff like it’s going out of fashion… To be honest, most of it had. But it did get me thinking… Why did I own a load of stuff I didn’t need? And what made me spend so much money on it in the first […]

Revolutionary Road

Our “Revolutionary” Road…

If there’s one film that’s left a mark on me and the missus it’s Revolutionary Road. Winslet and Di Caprio play this couple in 1950s America, who dream of moving to Paris to be artistic interesting people but settle for the mediocrity of nine-to-five suburbia instead. It’s an ill-fated story that all ends in tears. […]

The only one smiling is the sun tanned boss…

Listening to this tune on my daily commute helped me realise it was time for a change. The Jam: Smithers-Jones (1979) Here we go again, it’s Monday at last, He’s heading for the Waterloo line, To catch the 8 a.m. fast, its usually dead on time, Hope it isn’t late, got to be there by […]

Tube Train by Cyril Power (1934)

Probably my favourite piece of commuting related artwork… Not much has changed in the last 80 years! Power used linocuts with separate blocks for each colour. For more detail click here.

Book: The Art of Travel

Saw this book and thought it’d be worth a read before the trip… The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton My rating: 2 of 5 stars Don’t really know what I was expecting, maybe it was some insightful ways to get more from my travel experiences. What I got was a book of two […]

Step 1: Give work the *Spanish Archer

  After 5 years at this place it’s time to call it a day. It’s the first time I’ve jacked in a job without another one line up, but sometimes in life you gotta let the chips fall where they may. Like a shopkeeper, I need change. _____ *Spanish archer = elbow (from the Spanish […]

Going Nowhere

An ode to my fellow commuters…

“Wanna be wild ‘cos my life’s so tame, Here am I, going nowhere on a train, Here am I, growing older in the rain.” – Noel Gallagher