The Daily Explorer

January 23, 2011

Between The Lines

Filed under: Australia,Thailand — The Daily Explorer @ 4:43 pm
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Chiang Mai, Thailand: January 2011

MOZZIE BYTE (Editor): A warm welcome back and a very Happy New Year to all our Daily Explorer readers. For those of you who are joining us for the first time, Ray has been living nomadically for over 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 first issue of 2011. Some of you may recall that Ray celebrated Christmas and New Year amongst friends in Sydney, Australia and he has sent us a fantastic selection of personal pictures to give you a flavour of his visit there. Now back in Chiang Mai, Thailand our global nomad is researching ideas for a writing project (Editors Note: More information about this to follow later). It is likely that he will be involved with this for the next 3-4 months at least, so issues of The Daily Explorer may appear less frequently during this period. As the project unfolds, he may get in touch with some of you as part of his research. We will be receiving regular bulletins from Ray so we can keep you updated regarding his progress.

In case you missed our last issue of 2010, our Australian correspondent Chuck Maboomerang met Ray on his arrival in Sydney. En route, our traveller made a brief stop in Bangkok and a short visit to Vancouver in Canada before going ‘down under’. And to wrap up the year, Ray selected a few of his favourite clips from YouTube for you to enjoy over the holiday season. You can read it now at: Christmas Down Under

Above: Our global nomad made a short visit to the beautiful city of Vancouver in Canada before heading to Australia for Christmas. He also selected his top five YouTube video clips from 2010. If you missed it, you can read it now at: Christmas Down Under

On the opposite side of the world, the festive holiday season in Australia promised to be quite a different experience for our traveller from those he used to enjoy in England. I was curious to know how things turned out for him. “Well Mozzie, although it did feel very strange to me to have bright sunshine every day in December and to be walking around in my shorts, it was absolutely fantastic to be there!” he told me. “There is something magical about the city of Sydney and I was very excited to go back there for my fourth visit in ten years. I now have a base of really good friends including Matt and Elizabeth (a.k.a Charlie) Taylor, who I used to share a house with when I was in my twenties. We have tracked each others lives and stayed in regular contact and it was ten years ago when their son Pete was born, that I made my first visit to Australia. So I have known Pete since he was tiny and have developed a great friendship with him too” explained Ray.

Above: Map showing location of Sydney in New South Wales. On his way into Australia, Ray visited friends in Brisbane which, since the new year, has experienced some of the worst floods in its history (Editors Note: More about this in my comments at the end of this issue)

So where did our global nomad end up on Christmas Day? “Matt and Charlie are friends with a charming American family (living in Sydney for about 15 years). I have met them before on several previous visits and was delighted when they extended an invitation to me to join them all for Christmas celebrations at their home in Mosman, just north of the city centre” recalled Ray. “A couple of days prior to this, I got my first taste of ‘Chrissie Australian style’ when we all went to sing carols at twilight on the beach in Balmoral – it was quite surreal but very heartwarming to join hundreds of people picnicking in the late afternoon sunshine by the sea whilst belting out some of our favourite yuletide anthems” he told me. “You just couldn’t make it any more different to what I remember in the UK, where you would probably be standing outside in the freezing cold, with layers of insulating clothes on doing the same thing” observed Ray.

Above: Our explorer managed to capture this shot of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, showing that his photographic skills have definitely improved over the last five years – “Whether it is Christmas, or any time of year for that matter, Sydney is a fantastic city to experience” he told me. “I always love coming back” added Ray

Below: Spotted in ‘The Rocks’ near Circular Quay (Sydney Harbour), this Aussie Christmas Tree (left) has been fashioned entirely from old bicycles as part of an ongoing programme to raise awareness about re-cycling. And in Martins Place in the Central Business District, only the sight of the colourful Christmas decorations remind people as to this special time of the year (right)

Above: The Taylor Family were Ray’s hosts for his four-week visit to Sydney. From left to right, Pete, Matthew, Charlie and Jasper (the dog) who was being looked after by them while his owners were away on holiday – “In the ten years I have been coming to Australia, they have always been so generous and hospitable with me” said Ray. “One day, when I settle somewhere, I would be delighted to do the same for them” he added

Below: Balmoral beach at sunset – the unlikely venue for our traveller to experience invoking the Christmas spirit by joining the lively crowd assembled to sing a few carols – “Seeing people wearing Santa hats in the sunshine seems a bit weird to me but I guess the guys here are used to it” observed Ray

Above: Balmoral is also home to some really amazing fig trees

Below: Already overwhelmed by their hospitality, Ray was moved to tears when he discovered that his friends had also placed presents under the Christmas tree for him (left) – “Matt kindly set up a subscription to ‘New Scientist’ magazine for me which I can read online every month. And Charlie, who is extremely creative artistically, gave me a wonderful box with 52 hand painted cards bearing different fishes, one for each week of the year” said Ray, who sent us this excerpt from Charlie’s note that came with it: “Dear Ray. I wanted to give you a gift which would be with you all year but it needed to be easy to carry. So in this magic box you will find a saying and a picture for every week of 2011. I wish the words were mine but they instead belong to a mixture of wise and interesting people. The cards have been shuffled and I trust that some greater power than me will ensure the next one in the pile is the right one for the week in question. However, what are mine are the tiny paintings on each card. This will be a little bit of me appearing in your space every week… wherever you are in the world. You will see the painting and know I love you, am thinking of you and wishing you well on your travels. I chose the ocean theme because I see you swimming as a fish in the sea – a great sea with boundless possibility. Nothing is tying you down, keeping you still; there is always a new vista. I have no doubt that your journey has seemed daunting at times but you have continued to bravely step forward providing inspiration to me and others. You remind us all that we should not be still, stop learning or questioning”. Needless to say, Ray was quite overwhelmed by it – “Moments like these are so precious” he told me. (Editors Note: What an amazing gift for our traveller! It is no wonder that Charlie (right) and the Taylor family were the recipients of the highly prestigious ‘Daily Explorer Hospitality Award’ on one of Ray’s previous visits in 2007)

Above: Christmas dinner host, Doug Henry (left) shows Matt and Pete the table for lunch. In case you are wondering, the bird Doug is holding is not part of the meal! It is one of four hens they keep in their garden – a growing trend amongst city dwellers who like fresh organic produce – “If and when I get my own place again, I would certainly like to have one or two myself” said Ray. “The tiny little chicks are so cute” added our traveller

Below: (LEFT) The wonderful Katherine Henry (centre) carefully briefs daughter McCalla (left) and Matt (right) about preparing for the exquisite meal that is soon to follow. (RIGHT) A little while later and Charlie is salivating at the prospect of tucking in to Christmas dinner, Aussie style – juicy king size prawns, delicious Morton Bay Bugs and dozens of tasty oysters… yum!

Above: Two from Ray’s personal archives: Like many great friendships, Ray and Matthew go back a long way! These pictures were taken twenty years ago, when they both worked together. During the local annual snooker tournament, called “The Harrington Cup”, both Matt (left) and Ray (right), who were considered to be ‘hotties’ at the time, managed to reach the final. After a hard-fought match, Ray emerged victorious – a return match has yet to be staged!

Below: Two decades later, Matt and Ray are the best of friends and still have a certain charm when it comes to chicks!

Above: Give peace a chance! After a great Chrissie meal and some fun and games in the garden, our intrepid explorer takes a much needed mid-afternoon nap

As well as being the day after Christmas, Boxing Day is perhaps best known as the start of the famous Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Bluewater Classic’ in the Australian media, the race starts in Sydney Harbour and finishes 630 nautical miles later in Hobart, Tasmania. “It is widely considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world” Ray told me. “Initially planned by founder Peter Luke to be a cruise, a visiting British Royal Navy Officer suggested he made it into a race and the event was born. It has grown over the decades since the first race in 1945 to become one of the world’s top three offshore races and it now attracts maxi yachts from all around the globe” said our well-informed spectator. The current race record was set in 2005 by Wild Oats XI, which crossed the line in a time of 1 day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds. “Despite numerous probable hangovers from the previous day, I couldn’t believe how popular this was with the locals” said Ray. “There were thousands of people all around ‘The Heads’ where the Sydney harbour opens up to the ocean” he added.
Above: Thousands of people line the cliff tops from Sydney Harbour all the way to ‘The Heads’ to watch the 100 or so competitors in the Sydney – Hobart race head for the open sea on their 630 nautical mile journey south

Below: The winner of the 2010 race was previous winner and record holder ‘Wild Oats XI’ (left). All of the yachtsmen had some seriously bad weather to contend with as you can see in this picture of one of the boats approaching a dramatic looking storm front (right). Recently, Australia has been beset by some of its worst weather in years, with huge areas the size of France and Germany combined in neighbouring Queensland underwater

For most of us, the period between Boxing Day and New Year is a relatively quiet time. So it was a great opportunity for our global traveller to take a long overdue, one hour drive North West from the city with Matt and Pete to call in on an old friend. “Actually Mozzie, Lily is both a young friend and an old friend” explained Ray. “When Matt and I lived and worked together in London in the eighties, we also worked with a couple called Pauline and Stevo, who had a young daughter called Lily. Fast forward twenty five years and Lily is now grown up with a young child of her own. Knowing that I was coming to Sydney, Lily kindly invited me to the farm in Glenorie which her and her partner James have recently moved into.  James is a vet and they have ambitious plans to make their property a top centre for horse reproduction. They have 37 acres of land and have already built a number of paddocks for the first bunch of horses they are looking after” Ray told me. “Their son Hamish was born last year and he is an absolute delight. I love what they are doing with the farm and wish them all the best for it being very successful” said our traveller.

Above: Matt, Pete and Jasper arrive outside the renovated farmhouse in Glenorie where Lily, James and Hamish live

Below: James took guests Ray, Matt (right) and Pete (left) for a tour of their property, which includes several acres of beautiful forest

Above: As 2011 begins, there is much to celebrate for James and Lily, with new life being one of the key themes. James (left), who recently assisted with the birth of this foal (centre) is growing his reputation as a horse breeder and vet whilst also taking on the joyful challenge of becoming a dad to his wonderful son Hamish, pictured in their pool with happy mum Lily (right)

Below: Pete (left) and little Hamish get to know each other


Above: Lily’s father Stevo (left) also lives in Sydney – “We used to share a flat together in Kilburn in the eighties” recalled Ray “and we have remained friends to this day, although I do not see him all that often. On this trip, he was quite excited to show me his newly renovated home in Palm Beach (right)

Knowing that Sydney hosts one of the most spectacular New Years Eve firework displays in the world, I asked Ray if he was able to get to a good vantage point. “I was really lucky” said our traveller. “The day before New Years Eve, I still had not found a place to go and I was introduced to a lady called Julie Miller by a mutual friend. She had only recently moved apartment to Milsons Point, just behind Luna Park and very close to the Sydney Harbour bridge which is the launch pad for a lot of the pyrotechnics” explained Ray. “She asked me if I had any plans to see the display and when I said no, she promptly invited me to join her party at home! I was really happy about that because I had never seen the live fireworks here and had really set my heart on making it happen in this trip without knowing how it would happen. Someone up there must like me” he joked. “I am so glad it worked out as the display was truly spectacular” added our global explorer.

Above: Night draws in on 31st December 2010 in Sydney Harbour (left). Meanwhile, Ray is perfectly positioned at his new friends apartment behind Luna Park, at Milsons Point (right)

Below: The wonderful Julie Miller (left) gave Ray his first opportunity to enjoy the spectacular Sydney Harbour fireworks (right)

Above: Over $5,000,000 dollars were spent on the Sydney New Years Eve display which lasted for about 25 minutes – “That’s over $200,000 per minute!” said our gob-smacked explorer

Below: Even as the fireworks were exploding (left), people all over Sydney were making their New Years resolutions. Ray’s friend Pete was encouraging others to join him on New Years Day by promoting his intentions on his tee-shirt (right)

Above: Our visitor had time to explore two of Sydney’s attractions. At the Australian Museum in Hyde Park, Matthew a.k.a Dr. Dolittle was spotted having a deep discussion with two furry friends (left). And at the Lord Nelson Hotel, which is the city’s oldest hostelry, our traveller was treated to a traditional ale and pork pie lunch

Below: The Daily Explorer rocks! The day before departure to Thailand and Ray and Pete enjoy a bit of air guitar as they sing along to rock anthem ‘Living on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi – “Ten year old Pete is really into music now and for his Christmas present, I made him a gift voucher that entitled him to sit down with me and go through all the music files on my computer. I invited him to select any that he really liked for his own collection! Then all that was left to do was to gear up and play them!” said our wannabe rock star. If my year finishes as it has begun, it is going to be pretty good and I hope this is true for all of our readers” added our traveller

Editors Note: We expect to see some changes this year for Ray as he leaves the world of travelling for a little while to explore the world of writing. He has signed up for a five-day writers workshop in Chiang Mai at the end of the month and told me this about it: “The course is being offered by a published author and literary agent called Wendy Goldman Rohm and I feel it would be beneficial to approach the challenge of book writing like I would anything else that is new to me, by learning from someone with experience. By attending the course, I will also (hopefully) get some input as to the overall theme of my book and how to organise it in the best way for potential readers. I came across the course by chance as I was trying to work out some of these things and it felt like it was meant to happen, so I went with my instincts and enrolled. So much has happened to me in the last five years yet I don’t really know how to select what is most important or how to convey it in a compelling way to anyone else yet. Every time I meet people and ask them what they would most like to read, I get a variety of different responses so it is important that I give myself an opportunity to clarify the big picture first before getting into the nitty-gritty” said our global nomad.

Above: Our global nomad has recently returned to Chiang Mai, where he spotted this message emblazoned on the wall of the HUG Academy Dance and Arts centre (left). The challenge of writing is giving Ray plenty of food for thought (right)

Ray has asked me to inform those readers who don’t already know, about the people of Queensland, Australia whose lives have been ravaged by some of the worst flooding in their history. Having recently been in the devastated city, I asked Ray for his view of the situation there. “When I arrived, it was raining heavily around the clock and the worst had not hit by the time I left. You could sense that trouble was brewing. Now, the full extent of the damage is apparent and it is an absolute catastrophe for some” said Ray. “There are plenty of information sources online for anyone who is interested in the details. What struck me personally was the sheer scale of it – at one point, an area larger than the whole of France and Germany combined was underwater and in Brisbane alone, over 20,000 homes were flooded. Although the friends I stayed with have escaped the worst, I have spoken to some of them in the last few days and they have joined the other tens of thousands of volunteers who are out on the street with shovels helping to clear up the mess. It is probably going to take months to return the city to normal and cost the government somewhere in the region of $3 billion. My heart goes out to everyone there, including those who lost loved ones in the flash floods at the height of the disaster” said Ray.

Above: The swollen Brisbane river burst its banks, unleashing havoc for residents in the lower lying areas of the city – “It’s such a shame” said Ray. “The people in Queensland are fantastic and don’t deserve this. By all accounts, they have responded in the best way possible, accepting what has happened and getting it sorted out” he told me

Below: Even the giant Suncorp Stadium was inundated (Photo: Torsten Blackwood/Getty Images)

Above: To give readers an idea of the horror that was facing residents in Brisbane, this graph illustrates the impact of the flooding at the peak level, which was mercifully about a metre below that of the floods in 1974

Below: In case the graph above doesn’t shock you, take a look at the pictures below and you will see how the quiet suburban street on the left was transformed in to the murky lake on the right. Queensland is a sub-tropical area and the floods bring all sorts of problems with them, especially snakes

Finally, in our wrap up of 2010, Ray selected a few of his favourite clips from YouTube for you to enjoy over the holiday season. We received several messages from readers about one of the clips, called “Validation” which turned out to be extremely popular. (Editors Note: The links to many of the videos we select are sent to us by readers so if you come across something you would like to share, please email us and let us know about it). For those of you who missed “Validation”, or would like to see it again, here it is:

On the subject of validation, this just came in from one of our readers: “I am starting a campaign called “Love your Bankers”. They need therapy and they need to be loved because they think money is all there is. Poor, deluded people. The banker who jumped in front of a train because he was down to his last million, is a perfect example. We must look after them and make sure that they’re happy, otherwise we won’t get anywhere on time if we’re going by train”.

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

That’s it for now. On behalf of everyone at The Daily Explorer, we wish all of you a very Happy New Year and hope that the next 12 months is everything you would like it to be. As to Ray’s progress, we will keep you posted!



1 Comment »

  1. Great to see your blog again… and enjoyed it of course… Christmas lunch looked a grand affair… Loved those birds… I keep seeing shocking images of the flooding in Brisbane… that photograph of the storm approaching is magnificent!

    Comment by Susie Moberly — January 23, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

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