The Daily Explorer

December 21, 2010

Christmas Down Under

Filed under: Australia,Canada,Thailand — The Daily Explorer @ 1:54 pm
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Sydney, Australia: December 2010

MOZZIE BYTE (Editor): A warm welcome back to all our Daily Explorer readers and greetings to those of you who are joining us for the first time. Ray has been living nomadically for five years since he left England in November 2005 and has visited 18 different countries during that time. We have been publishing news and stories about his journey (you can find all of these in our Previous Issues archive).

Our aim at The Daily Explorer is to create a great publication for you, so please keep sending us your comments and suggestions as to how we can improve what we are doing. You can use the comments box on this site, or email Ray (, ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at

This is our final issue of 2010. Our Australian correspondent, Chuck Maboomerang (above) reports from Sydney where Ray is spending Christmas with friends. Our global nomad made a brief stop in Bangkok and a short visit to Vancouver in Canada before arriving ‘down under’ – we have all of his news and pictures. And to wrap up the year, Ray has selected a few of his favourite clips from YouTube for you to enjoy over the holiday season.

In case you missed our last issue, November 12th was a big day for Ray, when he celebrated five years on the road! To mark the occasion, we asked Ray to pick out some of his most significant or memorable encounters from those 1,826 days. You can read it now at: Three Pairs of Shoes; Five Years on the Road

Above: It’s been over five years since Ray took a giant leap into the great unknown, selling up everything to undertake a grand experiment in global nomadic living. Since then, he has visited 18 countries and has had many memorable experiences. He selected a bunch of his favourites for us to share in our last issue. If you missed it, you can read the full story at: Three Pairs of Shoes; Five Years on the Road

September and October can be very wet in Chiang Mai, as the ‘wet season’ is in full swing. When I met Ray on his arrival in Sydney, I wondered if it had anything to do with his decision to come to Australia for his sixth visit in ten years. “Not exactly Chuck. Some of our readers might remember from our last issue that I made a commitment to begin the process of writing a book about my last five years of nomadic living. Returning to my favourite guest house, I planned to spend a couple of months working on an outline and capturing some of the events and experiences that might be included. When I was getting set up to do this back in September, I projected that I’d probably want to take a break over Christmas from the intensity of the creative process and because I have great friends in Sydney, it was the destination of choice” explained Ray. “Admittedly, the weather in Australia is brilliant at this time of year, but it didn’t really have much to do with my choice to return” explained our global traveller. “Sydney is one of the world’s great cities with a lot on offer and I always enjoy being there” added Ray.

Above: The ‘wet season’ in Chiang Mai was in full swing in September and October as our intrepid explorer got to grips with the creative challenge of writing a book. “The purpose is to capture the essence of my experiences of the last five years on the road” he told me. Ray writes and stays at the TipTop Guest House – “It is my favourite place to stay and a very good place for writing – it is quiet, has a beautiful garden and they make me feel really at home” he told me

Talking to Ray, I discovered that his journey to Sydney from Chiang Mai had not taken a direct path and that he actually made three stops on the way. When I asked him where these were, I was slightly surprised by his answer. “The first was in Bangkok, the second in Vancouver (Canada) and the third in Brisbane” revealed our traveller. Naturally, I was intrigued to know why and asked him to tell me more. “Practically all International flights from Thailand depart from Bangkok, so I always knew I was going to go through there on my way out” he told me. “Some readers may recall that I took part in an unusual personal development workshop in England earlier this year, called the Hoffman Process. Because the work you do during the eight days of the course is very personal and intense, you tend to become very close with the other participants and one of them, Sara Man, just recently took a job teaching at a University in Bangkok” explained Ray.

Above: Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok – “This place has become very familiar to me” said Ray, who has passed through many times in the last five years

Some of our readers might recall that Ray briefly met with Sara on his way up to Chiang Mai when he returned from Malaysia in August. This trip gave him another opportunity to catch up with her again for a day before heading out. “She took me to her campus and showed me where she works and we spent the rest of our time together shopping, talking and comparing notes about life. I respect her decision to leave the UK (for now) and come here for this teaching opportunity, exploring a new way of living in the process – something which fascinates me and one of the subjects I will attempt to explore in my book” Ray told me.

Above: Ray’s friend from England, Sara Man has taken a job in Bangkok teaching at one of the University’s – “Sara is very professional and has approached this with great integrity and dedication. Having thought about teaching abroad myself as way of generating income, I was very interested to see what the reality of such a job is like” said Ray. “I became qualified to teach English as a foreign language when I first started travelling but have not yet done any paid work in that capacity” he told me

Below: Bangkok is a shoppers paradise, with many glitzy malls like this one at Siam Paragon (left) – “They are of marginal interest to me as I only tend to purchase something when I really need it. My bag space is very restricted!” he told me. Instead, our global nomad is more likely to be found inside a cyber cafe like this one (right)

Whilst Ray had to go through Bangkok on his way out of Thailand, he definitely did not need to fly to Australia via Canada, so I was curious as to what made him stop there. “Some of our readers may recall that earlier this year, I travelled through Borneo and Malaysia for three months with a lovely Canadian woman called Michele, who lives in Vancouver. After meeting unexpectedly in Chiang Mai, we became good friends, got to know each other pretty well from travelling together and stayed in contact via Skype for several weeks after she returned home” explained Ray. “When I reflect on our chance meeting, it really amazes me how life works – by this, I mean that when I took part in the Hoffman Process earlier this year, I spent a fair amount of time articulating a vision for my life, which gave me great clarity about the way I want to be living. In particular, I was able to describe what an ideal relationship might look and feel like, and opened myself to meeting someone with whom I could create that vision with as a reality” he told me. “For some reason, I thought it might take years to meet the ‘right’ person, mainly due to my nomadic lifestyle. So when I met Michele in March and we really connected, I instinctively felt this chance event was significant and paid close attention to it” recalled our traveller. “She is a fantastic person and someone who I would be very happy to be in a special relationship with. So even though I had made arrangements to be in Sydney for Christmas, when she invited me to come to Vancouver for a few days, I accepted to see what might be possible” said Ray.

Above: An aerial shot of downtown Vancouver. The green area behind all the skyscrapers is Stanley Park – “It is a beautiful city” said Ray. “Surrounded by water, with mountains, great skiing and forests all within minutes, plus a great lifestyle, I can understand why it is always near the top of those “greatest cities to live in” league tables that come out from time to time” added Ray

Below: Granville Island is a very popular destination for Vancouver residents and visitors alike, with lots of great places to eat and drink, specialty shops, a wonderful market and a theatre – “We went to see the stage version of “It’s a Wonderful Life“, which is one of my favourite Christmas stories” said our traveller

So what was Ray’s experience of Vancouver? “Well, I have been here once before, for a few days in 1996 and I loved the place. It has changed quite a bit since then; the development in the city has refaced it entirely, transforming the ‘hole in the wall’ village into a skyscraper landscape with extensive housing development very high up the mountains on the north shore. Despite all this, I think it is just as pretty and chic as I remember and I have had more time to explore parts of the city I missed the first time around” he told me. “The weather at this time of year (November) is pretty bad, cold with constant rain, which makes me feel at home because it reminds me of England! I will be happy to get to Sydney where it should be 30 degrees plus” he added.

Curious to find out how things went with Michele, I asked Ray what happened. “When we first met, Michele was very open with me and let me know that being in a relationship was not something she saw for herself at this stage of her life. So I always knew it was unlikely for me and her. Therefore, it wasn’t a big surprise when we met in Vancouver to find out this was still true. As most of my readers know, the theme of my life at present is about exploring the boundaries of convention, which applies to love and relationships as much as it does to where and how I live etc. In this respect, I am fascinated to examine my own concepts of what I consider to be true about the world and discover as many new perspectives as possible, which is quite hard to do on my own. So I saw my visit to Vancouver as an opportunity for me to establish an ongoing, supportive and loving friendship with Michele, as opposed to a romantic partnership. After all, she is someone who I greatly admire and respect and who also understands me and the way I am living – a true kindred spirit” Ray told me. “I am very happy to have friends like her in my life” he added.

Above: Downtown Vancouver, seen from the 2010 Athletes Village showing False Creek, Canada Hockey Place and BC Place (left) and Lions Gate Bridge at night (right)

Below: During his visit, our global nomad managed to escape the city, and took time to explore the dramatic and beautiful Vancouver coastline

Above: Ray confirms his arrival in his eighteenth country since he started travelling, as he tries on this jacket in a downtown store (left). Our global nomad also experienced another favourite treat of his – breakfast and endless cups of coffee in a traditional diner restaurant (right)

Below: Michele, photographed near Mount Kinabalu (Borneo) in June when she and Ray were travelling together – “She is a rare, one of a kind, thoughtful, intelligent woman and I am so glad our paths have crossed. Our conversations are quite challenging sometimes, yet they really help me to get a better understanding of myself, which is probably the reason we met. I am sure we will be friends for a long time and I wish her well on her journey” said our intrepid explorer (Editors Note: She is also one of the best dressed backpackers we have ever seen)

Above: Our global traveller prepares to leave Vancouver to continue with the great nomadic experiment – “I know there are some great things coming in my future – I just don’t know when or what they are, but apart from that, I am comforted by the certainty they will happen” laughed Ray

Ray’s third and final stop on his way to Sydney was Brisbane. “I have met a few people from there since I started travelling and one or two who I really like” Ray told me. “As I had come such a long way to get here, it seemed crazy not to spend a few days in this small but growing city, which is only a one hour flight away from Sydney. One couple I stayed with are just about to become parents – Karla Portch was my tutor at Chiang Mai University when I studied there in 2006 and she is now married to a chap from Brisbane. I was very excited to see them both, especially as the birth of their child is happening very soon” said Ray. “I also dropped in on Maree Symons who I first met in New Zealand in 2007 and who is now mum to a chirpy little two-year old boy, and Megan Ford – someone I became friends with on a visit to the tiny little town of Coober Pedy in the Australian outback in 2008. Catching up with these people is one of the joyful bonuses of being able to travel, and gives me the feeling that the entire world is my home country” explained Ray. (Editors Note: Ray first visited Brisbane in September 2008)

Above: No, it’s not the ‘London Eye’ – Brisbane has its own version of the iconic wheel on the ‘South Bank’ although it is slightly smaller

Below: Catching up with good friends. From left to right, Megan Ford who has recently moved to Brisbane from Melbourne, Karla Portch who is preparing for the birth of her first child in January and Maree Symons who has become a mum since this photo was taken in Wellington in 2007

Our traveller last visited Sydney in August 2008. When Ray has been in this wonderful city in the past, he has been invited to stay with close cobbers Elizabeth and Matthew Taylor, who live near Manly on the northern beaches. “They are such enduring, true friends who have always been very kind to me” said Ray. “We have known each other for over 25 years and the three of us shared a house in England for a while when we all worked together. This is my sixth visit to Sydney and I always get really excited about seeing them, including their son Pete who is now ten!” said Ray. “Elizabeth (a.k.a Charlie) beautifully prepares their guest room for me to stay in and they really make me feel like part of their family, which is a rare and welcome experience for me. So not only am I staying with fantastic people, I am in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with great beaches, food and nature within easy access. What more could a traveller ask for as a backdrop for Christmas?” said our grateful traveller. I asked Ray if he had any special plans whilst in the city? “No I don’t really Chuck. I will be mainly enjoying the time I have here and meeting with as many friends as possible” said our global nomad. (Editors Note: For more information about Sydney, check out Ray’s last visit in August 2008)

Above: The iconic Sydney Opera House in all it’s glory, or should that be the Sydney Oprah House?

Below: This is the view that passengers get when they take the commuter ferry from Manly Wharf to the city – “There can’t be that many cities in the world with a better vista” said our very impressed visitor

Above: A close up shot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (left) reveals that there are people on top of  it! – “Anyone can climb the bridge” said our traveller. “I have done it twice and it is spectacular”.  The waters in the bay around Sydney are full of interesting sea-faring vessels like this old sailing ship (right)

Below: The beach at Manly Wharf – “People living in this city are usually no more than a few minutes away from beaches like this” observed Ray

Above: Ray’s long time friend Matthew Taylor, with his ten-year old son Pete – “I first visited Sydney when Pete was born so I have had the opportunity to become friends with him as he has grown up. He calls me “Baldy” which I have to say I quite like!” admitted Ray. “And Matt is a great mate – a true ‘salt of the earth’ type. Some of our readers may recall that he famously won our Daniel Craig ‘lookalike’ competition a couple of years ago” said Ray

Below: Our traveller’s visit co-incided with an exhibition of the work of top photographer Annie Leibovitz at the Museum of Contemporary Art (left). There is plenty of entertainment on offer, with one of the more unusual and humorous offerings being that of “Ivan Rojas and his dancing doll” (right)

Above: As the New Year rapidly approaches, some of our readers may be considering which resolutions they will be making and some will inevitably choose the challenge of giving up smoking – “When I was staying in Kathmandu, Nepal a couple of years ago, I met a great guy called Nick Terrone (left) who is from Sydney” recalled Ray. “We have stayed in touch and I met him here. He is a very charming and enterprising chap and helps people quit smoking in one hour, guaranteed, as the sign outside his office shows (right). If you are trying to kick the habit, take a look at his website

Below: Originally from the UK, Mike Read has settled in Sydney with his wife and two young children – “I was introduced to Mike on one of my business trips here by a mutual friend and we instantly hit it off. He is a very creative guy, always doing interesting work and great fun to hang out with” said Ray. “I took this picture of him and his son Josh when I was invited to his place for Sunday lunch – mmm nice!


Christmas Video Selection

In some of our previous end of year issues, we have asked our global traveller to show us some of his favourite video clips from the Internet and have usually had great feedback from you about it. So we decided to do it again this year and asked Ray to choose three clips which we hope you will enjoy over the holiday season. This is his selection:

1. Danny MacAskill – “Way Back Home” (7:43)

“I chose this one because it made me remember that we all can do anything we want if we put our minds to it and if we can find something we really love, we have the potential to become truly brilliant at it. And the photography and music in the film is brilliant too” said Ray

2. FASCINATING AIDA – “Cheap Flights” (6:13)

Given I am a traveller, I trawl the web for funny clips and have a huge selection. This particular one was sent to me by one of my friends (and part-time Daily Explorer photographer) Susie Moberly. And it’s a real hoot!

3. Validation (16:24)

“Validation” is a fable about the magic of free parking. It was sent to me by my good friend San-bao in Ko Samui and has been watched nearly 5 million times on the web and has won loads of awards. If you only choose to watch one of these clips, make it this one. Whenever I have sent the link to someone, I have always had great feedback. It is the ultimate feel good video clip” said Ray (Editors Note: The awards include Winner – Best Narrative Short, Cleveland Int’l Film Festival, Winner – Jury Award, Gen Art Chicago Film Festival, Winner – Audience Award, Hawaii Int’l Film Festival, Winner – Best Short Comedy, Breckenridge Festival of Film, Winner – Crystal Heart Award, Best Short Film & Audience Award, Heartland Film Festival, Winner – Christopher & Dana Reeve Audience Award, Williamstown Film Festival, Winner – Best Comedy, Dam Short Film Festival, Winner – Best Short Film, Sedona Int’l Film Festival)

Editors Note: That’s it for 2010! On behalf of everyone at The Daily Explorer, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope that the year ahead is full of love, joy and great opportunities. We will be back sometime in early 2011 to update you about Ray. Whatever is happening, we will keep you posted!




  1. Hi Ray. What a great installment! Thank you for being so open. I loved the video selections. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from snowy London. Love Howard.

    Comment by Howard — December 21, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

  2. Greeings from a VERY wet and cold Mill Valley! Great to read your latest from Oz – surprised though that you didnt mention anything about the Ashes war that was and still is taking place at this time! Karin has started her first job for over a year – selling high quality lingerie in a little store in Mill Valley called Chadwick’s of London. She’s loving it! We both lost 30 lbs a few months ago and have kept it off! I think you were an inspiration Ray! We both wish you a safe and happy holidays and a truly awesome 2011. Let 2011 be a year of unprecedented breakthroughs, much joy and success and oodles of love – for all of us!!

    Much love
    Michael & Karin

    Comment by michael banks — December 22, 2010 @ 7:07 am

  3. Merry Christmas to you and what a great update. Loved seeing Vancouver again and especially loved seeing Matthew looking so young and handsome still – he hasn’t aged a bit!! I look forward to hearing about more of your fabulous experiences and adventures in 2011.


    Comment by Nic — December 22, 2010 @ 10:57 am

  4. Have a very happy Christmas in the sunshine. Get writing that book – it will be a brilliant read I know and say Hi to Matthew for me. Have fun and I’ll look forward to the next instalment.

    Claire xx

    Comment by Claire Trigger — December 24, 2010 @ 2:49 am

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