Ariya turns nine

The final birthday for the year was Ariya who turned nine in November.

Ariya turns eight.
Ariya turns six.
Ariya turns four.
Ariya turns three.

Ariya was very happy that this year her birthday would be held in cooler weather as by now we had made the move to the Gippsland region in Victoria (the south east corner of Australia and 4,000 kms away from Kununurra.)

We had only been here for three weeks when her birthday arrived but thankfully we already knew a family here who also had recently just relocated from Kununurra so Ariya and Marisah’s friend, Nikita was able to join us for a day at the beach.

Our new location has us a one hour drive east from the city of Melbourne, one hour south of the snow and one hour north of Phillip Island. Ariya was given the choice and she decided on Phillip Island.

That morning Nikita arrived with her Mum and younger sister. They opened some gifts before enjoying a cupcake birthday 'cake'.

That morning Nikita arrived with her Mum and younger sister. They opened some gifts before enjoying a cupcake birthday ‘cake’.

Ariya turns 9

One hour later we were at Phillip Island. We headed to the southern tip to have a walk around and try and find some Fairy Penguins.

One hour later we were at Phillip Island. We headed to the southern tip to have a walk around and try and find some Fairy Penguins.

It was blowing an absolute gail which the kids found a lot of fun. Eventually we did spot two baby penguins hiding from the wind.

It was blowing an absolute gail which the kids found a lot of fun. Eventually we did spot two baby penguins hiding from the wind.

Afterwards we drove a few kms to the town of Cowes where we were told was a good swimming beach. After a picnic lunch of sushi all four kids were ready to get wet.

Afterwards we drove a few kms to the town of Cowes where we were told was a good swimming beach. After a picnic lunch of sushi all four kids were ready to get wet.

Well, the girls were while Jacob played it safe.

Well, the girls were while Jacob played it safe.

I was suffering from some severe back pain so took it easy laying on the grass keeping an eye on the kids and a game of cricket while Seerung went to find some coffee.

I was suffering from some severe back pain so took it easy laying on the grass keeping an eye on the kids and a game of cricket while Seerung went to find some coffee.

The water was really cold and they did not last all that long in it, preferring to get warm by laying in the sand....

The water was really cold and they did not last all that long in it, preferring to get warm by laying in the sand….

.... or with a towel and some hugs.

…. or with a towel and some hugs.

Jacob did it just for fun!

Jacob did it just for fun!

Ariya had a great day and apart from my back, so did I. It was so nice to be able to go for a drive and see such different country side and experience new things. I think I just might like it around here.

Jacob turns three

Next birthday to occur was Jacob who turned three in July.

His short life has been well documented at www.memock.com and his three previous birthday (yes, including his birth) can be found here.

Jacobs Birth.
Jacob turns one.
Jacob turns two.

This morning as I type this blog I have no recollection of this day and it is only by looking at photographs that I can remember – that basically we didn’t do anything!

In the morning he opened a present from his Grandma and Grumpy in New Zealand and in the afternoon his Uncle, Aunty and four cousins came over from across the lake to give him a present. The rest of the day was just a typical day in the life of a three year old. Lots and lots of fun and excitement. I don’t think we even bought him a present – such is my indifference for birthday recognition when kids are so young!

Here are some photos from the day.

Upon waking as a three year old it was cuddle time on the sofa with his sisters before opening his present from my parents.

Upon waking as a three year old it was cuddle time on the sofa with his sisters before opening his present from my parents.

Very excited about having a present. It was a toy car.

Very excited about having a present. It was a toy car.

Later on there was plenty of fun to be had outside blowing bubbles.

Later on there was plenty of fun to be had outside blowing bubbles.

Ariya 'helping' out.

Ariya ‘helping’ out.

Later in the day we had a visit from the 'cousins' and a big present was delivered.

Later in the day we had a visit from the ‘cousins’ and a big present was delivered.

Many hands make light work.

Many hands make light work.

This present was the bomb! Even now - 9 months later he still plays with it almost every day. He wants to fly helicopters - just like his Uncle Paul!

This present was the bomb! Even now – 9 months later he still plays with it almost every day. He wants to fly helicopters – just like his Uncle Paul!


Marisah turns seven!

Before I update the last 10 months in 10 paragraphs or less I wanted to continue my diary of blogging about my kids birthdays as I have done over the last five or so years.

Already I enjoy looking back at what I wrote and the photos and know that the enjoyment will only increase as do the years so I really want to continue documenting these milestones. Here are her previous birthdays that I blogged about:

Marisah turns six
Marisah turns five
Marisah turns three
Marisah turns two

But this blog is all about her turning seven back in May (2014).

May is one of only three months of the year in Kununurra when the weather is nice enough to enjoy being outside. So we made the most of it with a gathering of friends for some birthday cake, food and games on the lawn starting with cricket and ending with the ‘thong game’ – that is flip flops to you American readers!

Everyone enjoyed the afternoon but most importantly my smiling, cheeky monkey Marisah had a blast. She is growing up quick and has developed into a real character who loves to have fun and joke around but also has a serious and very lovely way of loving and being concerned for family and friends.

I will let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Ariya stayed up late the night before helping Seerung decorate the cake. Seeing as it took up half the fridge we could not hide it from her until the party so showed her in the morning. I think she liked it!

Ariya stayed up late the night before helping Seerung decorate the cake. Seeing as it took up half the fridge we could not hide it from her until the party so showed her in the morning. I think she liked it!

Candles are lit!

Candles are lit!

And blow! In the background is her little brother Jacob, her auntie who was visiting from Thailand and a cousin and a friend.

And blow! In the background is her little brother Jacob, her auntie who was visiting from Thailand and a cousin and a friend.


A very happy Marisah with her sister and cousins.

A very happy Marisah with her sister and cousins.

Mmmmm chocolate

Mmmmm chocolate

Time for games in the front yard around the lake. We were all pretty pooped by then end of the day!

Time for games in the front yard around the lake. We were all pretty pooped by then end of the day!

Quite a break

Well – that was quite a break wasn’t it!

10 months since my last post – the longest break by far that this blog has taken during the last six and a half years. Thank you so much for the comments via email, twitter and in person from people asking when I was going to start writing again. Well I am happy to say that the answer is now!

There will be quite a change though to the normal dribble that I usually type out as our circumstances have changed quite a lot.

Living or spending lots of time in Thailand are no longer part of our plans.
We have moved 4,000 kms clear across the other side of the country so living in the outback in the far north of Western Australia is also gone although both places have and will be visited regularly.
Homeschooling my kids has also changed quite significantly.
New businesses have been started and old ones have changed direction.

And that is just half the stuff that has been going on! I look forward to slowly bringing you up to speed over the next few weeks.


Renewing a Thai passport – what a nightmare!

After bidding farewell to my brother and his family at the Ubon Ratchathani airport my wife and I took a deep breath and thought now what?!

We had a lot of jobs we wanted to complete but not sure how best to go about them. In two days time we had an appointment organised with a group called Compassion to check out their local Ubon operation as well as to meet with our sponsor child. It didn’t seem worth it to drive back to the village only to return such a short time later so we let the hotel know that we would be staying on a little longer.

Another job that needed doing was renewing my wife and two daughters Thai passports so we all set off to the local passport office to get it done. Imagine my surprise when a sign outside said they were closed due to the government protests that were happening at that time. We ventured inside and spoke to someone who said that no passports could be processed at that time and that it would remain that way for the foreseeable future. The only way was to travel to Bangkok as there were two offices still open to help people in emergencies.

With only a few weeks left in the country we decided not to take the risk by waiting and headed back to the hotel to make plans. First thing we did was call compassion and ask if we could move the date forward to that afternoon and thank fully they said yes. Seerung then took all her paper work back to the office to talk to the staff who were on strike to ask if she had everything in order for a trip to Bangkok. No use going all that way if something was missing. Once it was confirmed we had everything I then booked tickets for the first flight the following morning to Bangkok for all five of us.

Back in 2009 I blogged about finally getting Thai passports for my kids. It was one of the hardest paperwork jobs I had ever had to complete with wrong turn after wrong turn, lies and corruption. I wrote back then that never again do I want to do that. I figured that renewing a Thai passport would be so much easy then actually applying for one. How wrong was I!

The meeting with compassion went really well and it was so nice to finally get to meet our sponsor child. I am not sure what the rules are from Compassion about posting photos of sponsor children so have decided it would be better not to. If anyone is interested in sponsoring a child in Ubon, Thailand or elsewhere in the world I can really recommend the Compassion team. I was very impressed with what they are achieving.

We were up by 5.30am the following morning but for some reason it took us way to long to get ready. As I ran down Sapphasit road trying to get the attention of a taxi driver I thought perhaps for the first time in my life I would actually miss a flight. We made it with just a few minutes to spare.

By 8am we were at Don Muang Airport in Bangkok and by 9am we were outside the passport office in Pinklao. Of course, we soon discovered it had moved but thankfully only 500m down the road. By 9.15 we arrived in a pool of sweat hoping that this was going to be a painless process. The elevator doors swung open on the 5th floor and we were greeted with the longest queue of people I had ever seen. 1,200 people were lined up in between various shops like a super long and very flexible snake.

Immediately people told us that we were too late. Apparently they can only process 1,200 people a day and that quota was already full. People had been arriving from 3am that morning! As it was a Saturday and on Sunday it was closed we were looking at a very long and unexpected stay in Bangkok. Just to add to matters, my visa was expiring the next day as well. I said to Seerung that I would wait with the kids and for her to see if she could find someone in charge and see if anything could be done.

20 minutes later she came back with three tickets in her hands. They were numbered 1201, 1202 and 1203! She had found someone with a sympathetic ear who went and spoke to her boss before returning with those three magic numbers!

Our excitement was short lived though as we considered the day ahead. The line did seem to to move quite quickly but then we realised that it was only the first stage. You are seen by the people out the front who check that all your paperwork is in order. If so, then another number is given to you which is for the next queue to actually go out the back and get your photos and fingerprints done.


After two hours of waiting with Seerung shuffling along in the queue while I sat on the floor with the kids we eventually got to see the paperwork people. Unfortunately it was just as lunch was being delivered and the two ladies were not very interested in us. They took a quick look and said that a document was missing and we would have to come back with it another day. All the blood drained from my face as Seerung patiently explained that everything had been checked in Ubon and we were told we were good to go. As they started shovelling food into their mouths they simply said that there was nothing they could do and to please leave. I told Seerung that seeing as the document they wanted was actually located in New Zealand we needed to do everything we could to get them to change their minds.

We asked to see their boss but they said he was busy. We said we would come back in half an hour after lunch. When we did they said they did not know where he was. Suddenly an official looking man walked into the room so Seerung asked if that was him and they said yes so we grabbed him as soon as possible. He looked through our paperwork and listened to our story and then scribbled a note to attach to our form and said we are good to go! What a relief that was!

We got our new queue numbers and then found a patch of floor to start another long wait. During this time Jacob started running a fever so I went and got him some medicine which he took and then fell asleep in my arms. My back felt sore for days! After almost 5 hours of sitting on the floor and 12 hours since we had started the days journey finally we were the very last people left in the room and then we were called. By 5.30pm it was all over! We staggered outside and found a seat and considered our plans.

This is Marisah getting her photo and finger prints taken.

This is Marisah getting her photo and finger prints taken.

Using my phone we figured there was enough time for Seerung and the kids to get back to Don Muang airport and catch the last flight back to Ubon. I also had just enough time to get to Suvarnabhumi airport on the other side of town to catch a flight to Phnom Penh in Cambodia as my Thai visa was expiring the following day. I chose Phnom Penh because it was the cheapest ticket at the right time into a country that I could get a visa of arrival.

We walked out onto the street where I hailed a taxi and loaded the family up. No time for farewells and I felt really sorry for the kids who were a bit confused with what was happening. I then crossed over the busy road to catch a taxi going in the other direction. Boy did it feel good when I fell into that back seat and closed the door!

We all made our flights and I arrived exhausted into Phnom Penh a little before midnight. I got some sleep but woke early which was good as it allowed me a few hours to walk around the streets of Phnom Penh. Too be honest it did not impress me all that much but obviously I had barely even scratched the service. Later that day it was the return flight back to Bangkok and onwards to reunite with my family.

Can you believe that this is the only photo I took of Cambodia! This is the Phnom Penh boardwalk

Can you believe that this is the only photo I took of Cambodia! This is the Phnom Penh boardwalk

If you are thinking that then I managed to have some time to rest up after all the adventures, you would be wrong! As soon as we were back together it was time for a five day celebration to be held at our house in the village! More to come on that soon.


A future Thai Volleyball star?

Little boys and girls are obviously different and there is always that standard “girls play with dolls and boys play with balls” thing I had heard about and witnessed but even so, I have been surprised at my son, Jacob.

With no encouragement from me, his entire life, apart from food and sleep seems to revolve around tractors, planes, helicopters, cars and balls. Ping Pong balls, Aussie Rules balls but most fun of all is the good old soccer ball as it least it bounces straight! Such a different lot of interests compared to his sisters at the same age.

I remember blogging something similar about him two years ago when he was only just 12 months old.

Kicking the ball with his older cousins is always a great way to spend an afternoon. Well for him anyway!

Kicking the ball with his older cousins is always a great way to spend an afternoon. Well for him anyway!

Sometimes you don't quite connect properly.

Sometimes you don’t quite connect properly.

Yet other times you get the timing perfect and that sweet spot never felt so good.

Yet other times you get the timing perfect and that sweet spot never felt so good.

Volleyball has always been very popular in Thailand but with the recent success of the national women’s team at the Asian Championships where they won the gold medal all of a sudden it seems everyone is playing it.

Jacob watched with interest before deciding it was time to have a go as well.

Get your hands in the right position.

Get your hands in the right position.

Bend your knees and keep your eyes on the ball,

Bend your knees and keep your eyes on the ball,

Whoops, a little too early and over the back it goes.

Whoops, a little too early and over the back it goes.

This is harder then it looks!

This is harder then it looks!


Perhaps I should keep my eyes open?

Perhaps I should keep my eyes open?

Nah, keep them closed. Practise makes perfect!

Nah, keep them closed. Practise makes perfect!