The passing of a King – a real King. The King of Thailand.

I watched the sad news unfold of the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on twitter before letting the rest of my household know just prior to the official announcement from the Royal Palace which was broadcast live on TV here in Australia.

Apart from my wife and kids watching, I also have my Thai niece living full time with us and that particular night had another Thai friend sleeping over due to work commitments.

We all knew it was coming but it was interesting watching everyone processing the information in a different way.

My first visit to Thailand was planned for 1994. I cancelled it just before I was due to leave (long story) but did enough research to understand how special the King was to the Thai people. A very special friend by the name of Valerie Bock who had worked in Thailand for 20 years had also given me a lot of information about him. At first I was incredulous about it all. I figured that the Thai people must have been brainwashed or threatened for there to be such an amazing amount of respect for just one man.
Eventually, after visiting many times and then living there full time I began to understand that the love and the respect was indeed genuine and well deserved.

Just now I read this simple but heartfelt email from Greg Lange who is the owner of Sunbelt Asia. It summed up, in just a few paragraphs, the type of man King Bhumibol Adulyadej was and will remain for a very long time.

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 10.51.53 PM

Many of you may have heard about the death of beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej who passed away on October 13, 2016 the age of 88 and during the 70th year of his reign.

You may have heard through the news about the nation’s deepest grief. Not a single face is without tears. Not a single word can be enough to express the sorrow we feel. The whole nation has once again united as one to share one of the darkest hours in its history; losing the heart of the nation who Thais love unconditionally and wholeheartedly.

For those who are not familiar with the strong bond between the Thai people and the Royal family, especially HM King Bhumibol, you may not understand why Thais had and continue to have such deep sorrow on His Majesty’s passing. In the rest of the world, there seem to be two kinds of Kings : those with absolute power, and those whose function is ceremonial and symbolic. The King fell into neither of those categories because on the one hand, he did not wield political power, yet on the other, he possessed a moral authority more powerful than that of any government this country ever had; he was literally the fabric that held this country together, the living embodiment of this country’s identity. Let me proudly and humbly share with you some of his stories I know…

His Majesty was born on the 5th of December 1927 in Cambridge, MA in the U.S. He was named “Bhumibol” which means “The Strength of the Land” by his mother who was originally born as an ordinary person and raised him well along with his brother and sister in a simple ordinary way, not in a royal luxurious way.

At the age of 2, he lost his father from a severe illness. At the age of 19, he lost his brother, HM King Ananda Mahidol from a mysterious accident. So, he had to accept the request from the government to start his service on the throne ever since. At the age of 20, he lost one eye from a car accident and he has used only one eye to work for his people throughout the long service of his monarch ever since….. 70 years of service without a rest.

His first royal statement as a king was “I will rule the land with righteousness for all the good and well-being of all Thai people” …. And he has done what he promised every single day of his life until his last breath.

Throughout 70 years of his reign, he traveled to almost every bit of the kingdom, mostly remote areas whose names are unknown to us, in order to visit his people and help them rid themselves of the problems they had and raise their quality of life. He created thousands of Royal projects to create foods, jobs and wealth for his people.

His Majesty’s palace is the only palace in the world where there are testing farms, agricultural inventions, cows, a school, satellite radio station and other inventions you wouldn’t imagine other kings would have in their palaces. He sacrificed his happiness, time, money and devoted his service for one single purpose; to create good lives for his beloved people. He had unconditional love for all the people, regardless of race and religion. His support was equal for Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. This is why Thailand is considered one of the freest religious countries in the world. He was a great teacher, creator, scientist, commander, farmer, and musician and above all, he was the only man in the country who could truly unite all the people as one.

He once said “My place in this world is to be among my people.” He taught us with words and through his actions to love, help, and give peace to each other.

He was someone who could have had a happy luxurious life if he wanted, instead he chose a very simple life and rough road to complete his given mission. His reward and life-time achievement was only one thing, the happiness of his people.

This is why Thais love him so much. In the end it was not his exalted status that commanded all this love – it was he, himself – his actions, his selflessness, his heart.
In remembrance of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej 1927-2016

Is Ubon Ratchathani about to be ‘discovered’?

Way back in 2009 I blogged about a writer coming and visiting me in my little village. He writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and is often seen on TV travel shows and heard on the wireless.

You can read about that here.

As a result he wrote a book called 5 ways to carry a goat where he dedicated a chapter to his visit with me.

You can read about the book and my thoughts back in 2010 here.

Last night I saw a link to a story about Ubon Ratchathani. Being interested in all things Ubon I clicked on it and was surprised to see the same Journalist (Ben Groundwater) had written an article called “Ubon Ratchathani province: The part of Thailand tourists haven’t discovered” a rehash about his time all those years ago.

It is a short but nice read and so, wanting to blow my own trumpet a little bit, thought I would share it with you all. Enjoy.

Ubon Ratchathani province: The part of Thailand tourists haven’t discovered

Here is the writer, Ben Groundwater wondering if he should believe me how nice and smooth the local Rice Whisky is.

Here is the writer, Ben Groundwater, wondering if he should believe me how nice and smooth the local rice whisky is.

Down the hatch

Down the hatch


The aftermath!

The aftermath!

Ariya turns 10

Double figures. *Sigh*

While I love watching my kids growing up – learning, experiencing and living life – it sure is a reality check when the first one hits 10 years old. I feel like I only started this blog a few years ago – yet upon reflection she was two when I wrote my first post!

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

Ariya is a sensitive soul who really looks out for others. However, during the last year she has really started to step out of her comfort zone which is great to see. She has made some new and solid friends yet is still so super close with her sister and loves her little brother to the moon and back.

I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring – plenty of goodness I am sure.

We made a bigger deal then normal for this birthday and Ariya had a group of friends over for a play after school with three of them staying for a sleep over and more fun the following day (Saturday). Here are a few photos and a video.

Marisah stayed up late the night before helping Mum decorate the cake.

Marisah stayed up late the night before helping Mum decorate the cake.

After school I picked up and brought home the three friends who were staying on for a sleep over.

After school I picked up and brought home the three friends who were staying on for a sleep over.

Getting ready for bed.... yeah right!

Getting ready for bed…. yeah right!

More friends arrived in time to help eat the cake.

More friends arrived in time to help eat the cake.

The trampoline makes a great table - Thai style!

The trampoline makes a great table – Thai style!


Ariya is really starting to enjoy cooking. Basic stuff at the moment but she can do some mean eggs and pancakes etc (great for when she cooks for her siblings allowing Mum and Dad a sleep in!) so this book was a very welcomed present.

Ariya is really starting to enjoy cooking. Basic stuff at the moment but she can do some mean eggs and pancakes etc (great for when she cooks for her siblings allowing Mum and Dad a sleep in!) so this book was a very welcomed present.

Jewellery is always welcomed!

Jewellery is always welcomed!

As is money! She bought a how to train your dragon lego box set with it.

As is money! She bought a how to train your dragon lego box set with it.

Jacob turns four

It was a quiet affair for Jacob for his fourth birthday. If presents had not arrived in the mail from family in the previous days it may well have been completely forgotten!

It was a school day and Jacob also had his once a week 2 hour session at Kindy so in the morning he opened up his presents and in the afternoon we took him out for a babychinno and some sugar.

He really seems to understand birthdays now and is already asking about how long to go until his next one so this year we might make a bit more of an effort!

Jacobs Birth.
Jacob turns one.
Jacob turns two.
Jacob turns three.

Still waking up with a bowl of porridge showing me with his fingers how old he now is.

Still waking up with a bowl of porridge showing me with his fingers how old he now is.

Opening presents before school. Cars and books were happily received.

Opening presents before school. Cars and books were happily received.

A West Coast Eagles car from his cousins.

A West Coast Eagles car from his cousins.

All three off to school on a cool winters morning.

All three off to school on a cool winters morning.


Coffee time!

Coffee time!

Marisah turns eight

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

Marisah’s eighth birthday was one of highs and lows.

The highs of course was that it was her birthday! She had five friends come over on the Saturday (her actual birthday) and they had a lot of fun playing outside as well as completing the treasure hunt I had arranged. During the hunt I noticed Marisah was a little slow and within an hour she had her head in a bowl vomiting and feeling very sorry for herself. We were all sorry for her as she was out for the count for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

We continued on though with a very sombre girl blowing out her birthday candles and watching a movie with her friends. Three friends stayed over for a sleep over and thankfully by the morning she was back to her normal self and enjoyed their company until they were picked up.

Later that evening over dinner Marisah enjoyed opening cards and gifts from her cousins while her sister and brother helped / played up.

Apart from the sickness it was a nice time with family and friends. With her 9th birthday only a few months away though I feel like time is spinning out of control.

Happy birthday Marisah, I still love you to the moon and back. xxx

Sick, but not sick enough not to be able to watch a movie.

Sick, but not sick enough not to be able to watch a movie.

Mustering enough energy to blow out the candles.

Mustering enough energy to blow out the candles.

Present time.

Present time.

Reading cards from the cousins.

Reading cards from the cousins.


Show me the money!

Show me the money!

Bling bling!

Bling bling!

Pfffft, siblings!

Pfffft, siblings!

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.