Phuket – for a beach and training holiday


Phuket is that island known for a relaxing holiday destination, but also these days a party destination too (think Patong). See a show, visit the old and dilapidated zoo where you can stand in an enclosure with a crocodile,    Go parasailing or tour to a nearby island. We were here primarily to relax, eat, get massages and do a bit of training!

Where we stayed

The Mercure Phuket is lovely and clean hotel, close to the heart of Patong. Whilst the area is in the busy part of Patong, the hotel is quiet. It is very big and has a good gym, huge pool and cafe. When you arrive, the complimentary welcome drink and choux pastry was a nice touch. Our room was small so I’d recommend the ones on the ground floor with pool access. They have good cocktails and they’re cheap in happy hour. The dinner buffet is absolutely outstanding and we’ve written a blog on this alone. See here for the blog

Naka Muay Thai

Naka Muay Thai is run by a Westerner from Amsterdam Tony (or Darryl) and his partner Noi. There are other professional trainers, including Thai’s working there too. Tony is a professional Muay Thai fighter and is currently also training for fights. The gym has been open around 3 years.

It is a small gym, but has a boxing ring, boxing bags and weights, perfect for a training session. It is very clean and also has a bathroom to get ready.

The gym is close to Karon and Kata beach, but you will need transport to get there. Tony was kind enough to pick me up from the hotel for only 100 THB, much cheaper than the taxis. I also got a lift back. He was extremely flexible with arranging my session and replied via email very promptly.

I chose to do personal training for 600 THB, which is extremely reasonable given that many of the group classes in the Chalong area are around 400 and this provided 1:1 training. It began with a warmup, stretching, and then some technical work, 4 rounds pad work and warm down. It was a marvelous session and Tony is a really technical fighter and teacher and was able to correct my technique, offer suggestions and I find this  a valuable session. I have trained at a couple of places over Thailand and found this was a hard session (which is a good thing!), and although I went in with experience, I’m certain beginners would be suitable too as he’s a great teacher.

Highly recommended for your next training session in Phuket.



Chalong is an area that has grown a lot since my first visit more than five years ago. About 30 Mins from Patong, it’s a suburb in itself with plenty of villas, hotels and air bnbs to stay in. It’s lined with Muay Thai gyms, the most famous and commercial – Tiger, as well as some others and many types of gyms for the fitness enthusiast. To accompany your solid training sessions, you will find plenty of restaurants and cafes with a healthy and protein focus. You can also get a massage easily and cheaply to recover from your hard training. A trip to Chalong is perfect for those wanting to get fit and lose weight in an enjoyable and relaxing location.

Tiger Muay Thai

When I first went to Tiger Muay Thai, it was such a new and exciting experience for me. I went to lose weight, get fit and learn a new skill. It was a small place and It has grown a lot since then. Tiger Muay Thai intends to teach quality traditional Muay Thai to people. It now has a range of other fitness activities like mma, boxing, yoga and more.

They have professional fighters living and training too, so you’re able to learn from the best. Classes are segregated into beginner, intermediate and advanced to suit each level.
Classes are 2 hours with running, technique, bag and pad work. The trainers are really technical but also fun too!


Tiger is a huge set up – accommodation, a grill restaurant and a shop selling gear and merchandise. Its getting pricy but still cheaper than training in Aus.


Chockchai Muay Thai

I trained at Tiger Muay Thai many for years and did some PT with Chockchai a number of times. He was such a great trainer, kind and helpful and I was disappointed to see he’d left. But when I enquired, I learned that he had in fact opened his own his own Muay Thai gym and stadium, so we went to check it out. Smaller scale, but offering the same type of training in a more comfortable, friendly and less commercial atmosphere, it was also less expensive. I was thrilled to train with Chockhai again. Classes were 2 hours with running, technique, bag and pad work. It was extremely enjoyable but still tough. We really liked that each day something different is added like boxing sparring, Muay Thai sparring or cultural component, the Wai Kru. Staff are lovely too. You can rent rooms if you plan to stay a while and also head with them to a match at the Chokchai stadium next door.

Chockchai stadium

This is a new stadium named after the legend Chokchai. It holds fight nights on Monday, Thursday and Saturday nights in the Chalong area, just 30 minutes from Patong. The stadium is an awesome local place to watch a few fights.

The stadium is amazing, brand new, comfortable seats, flashy lights, score boards and a great walk way for fighters to enter from. There’s a bar to purchase food and drink.

The show begins with a traditional Muay Boran fight and then a range of Muay Thai fights including children. The standard of fights was extremely high. At only 800 THB and to sit in the front row was extremely good value. You can buy tickets at the door or via Chokchai gym. We loved our visit to the stadium.

Food in Chalong 

Mostly a mix of Local thai restaurants selling your regular thai fare on the cheap, there’s a number of muscle/protein type smoothie shops as well as a cafe grill inside Tiger Gym itself. We were recommended to go to Ali’s grill too.

Ali’s bbq

We tried Ali’s bbq which is an expansive bbq, roofed but open walls and heaps of space to sit and enjoy your meal. Selling heaps of grilled meats, salads, wraps and more – it’s perfect for the protein eater trying to bulk up. Portions are massive and it is extremely affordable for what you get!


Old Town 

In Phuket Old town, you will find this old Thai provincial capital, reflective of the heritage of this area. It is historically rich with temples, old houses and tea houses which have remained outwardly authentic, whilst being used for modern purposes like hotels, cafes and galleries. We enjoyed our stroll through these streets, admiring the beautiful scenery and trying a lot of street eats and exploring the local markets. It’s easy to get a bus to Old town and worth a trip for the experience of culture and history.

Be sure to take a trip to Phuket sometime – it’s an awesome holiday.








A short getaway @Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula

After the rush of Christmas, I was in need of a short break and having some friends in Melbourne, I took the opportunity to head to Victoria and out of the city to some tourist spots. Ordinarily I’d go to the city, shop up a storm, test out some up and coming cafes and scope out town for some good bars and restaurants. On this occasion, my friend picked us up and off to the Mornington Peninsula we went for a day trip. The Mornington is known for beautiful beaches, eateries and a great place for the city folk to head for a holiday. We stayed inland and lunched at Merricks General Wine Store.

Mornington Peninsula

Merricks General Wine store

The General store has wine tasting, gourmet goods to purchase and also a gift store. Out the back, there is also a take away coffee window. I was keen to go to the restaurant for lunch and although it was really busy, we waited and got a table. My friends and I each had a glass of wine which accompanied the food well. My friends ordered the oysters, salmon and linguini. Food was beautifully cooked with delicate flavours. I had the poke bowl; a really fresh and healthy poke with tuna sashimi. We all really enjoyed our food. It is really popular, and a great place to eat. I would recommend booking.



3460 Frankston-Flinders Road, Merricks, Balnarring, Balnarring, Mornington Peninsula, VIC

Peninsula Hot Springs

The Peninsula Hot Springs are a natural hot springs and day spa less than 90 minutes from the Melbourne CBD. Make sure you book as it is extremely busy! $40 and unlimited time at the springs. Enter, pop your things in your locker and head outside. There are lots of pools, ranging in temperatures, from the ice cold plunge pool to 40 degrees! There’s also a sauna and turkish steam bath. The baths are in the middle of wide open spaces, with a beautiful outlook. A great place to hang out with your family, friends whilst relaxing and rejuvenating.

Springs Lane, Fingal, 3939
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Yarra Valley

The next day we headed down to the Yarra Valley to sample some of the regions beautiful wines.

We stayed at the Yarra Valley Lodge which is a huge resort on the site of a golf course. There is a member’s club for golfers, but guests can also play. You can take short trail walks around the site and see plenty of kangaroos. Rooms are spacious, they have comfortable beds, well stocked bath rooms and mini bars, TV’s have movies you can pay to watch and room service is also prompt. Breakfast was included, and although very busy, food was all you need at a buffet. On site there is a bar, day spa, pool and tennis court. All you need for a lovely weekend is here.

The next day we took a tour with Wild Wombat tours. We were picked up at our hotel, taken to 5 wineries (normally 4, but the lovely driver added in an extra), for $110, a full day tour including lunch and a glass of wine with lunch is very reasonable. Drivers are friendly and knowledgeable and tours always change depending on customers and area you are staying.

Wineries and breweries


In particular I loved the tasting at Chandon. Although this place costs $10 to taste, you can try 6 different sparkling wines and they have a few you can’t buy in store. One of my favourites was the “orange bitters” – pour in a glass of ice and it is like a spritzer. Amazing to have on a hot day!

Levantine Hill

Ezard at Levantine hill was also great. Huge site and it is a restaurant and cellar door that was rated Best Cellar Door in the 2016 Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine. We did a tasting, bought a few wines and had lunch too. Chef of the famed Ezard, I knew the food here would be good. As it was lunch, my friends and I shared a few dishes. The mac and cheese croquettes were a standout, as well as the mini sliders, linguini and cured salmon. It was an amazing lunch and I would certainly be keen to visit for a degustation.



Four Pillars gin was another top spot to visit. You can take tours of the site or undertake gin tastings. We did a tasting paddle; they have rare dry gin, navy strength gin, spiced negroni gin – try these with the matching garnish or add some tonic and you’re set for a great afternoon.

Melbourne CBD


For NYE, we stayed in the city. A lot less busy than city, it is a good choice for your new years’. I booked the Sheraton on Little Collins street. Great location, 5 star luxury not far from the shopping mall, sports grounds and plenty of restaurants to eat. A very new and stylish hotel, rooms were fancy, huge bathrooms and certainly very comfortable. They have a great spa, pool and also deck bar where they had a DJ and small event for NYE. The buffet was also excellent. Check in was easy and I would recommend the Sheraton to stay.

27 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000, Australia

Phone: (61)(3) 9290 1000

Magic Mountain Saloon

For our drinks and dinner we went on the recommendation of Zomato to Magic Mountain Saloon. A pretty young and trendy place with thai inspired modern food, we tried a range of meals – great combination of flavours, a bit spicy but worth checking this place out. A huge range of cocktails and perfect for a date or catch up with friends. It also opens for breakfast.

62 Little Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Phone: (03) 9078 0078


Service in action @Camps International – Camp Tsavo Kenya. Part 1

Camps International is an organisation running in the UK and Australia, offering ethical service programs. This social enterprise runs trips in Africa, South America and South East Asia and trips are available for schools, gap students, families and individuals.

What appealed to me initially was the ethical mindset of the company. I’m extremely passionate about service learning and helping others and when I saw the promotional booklet, I was extremely interested. Running school trips is something I regularly do, and as a Service Education Coordinator, I thought this would be perfect for my school.

I joined a teacher Recce (or research trip) headed for Kenya to see what the company and experience was like, as a means to be able to see it first hand and have genuine personal knowledge to guide my decision making and teaching when back at school.

From the word go, Tanya from Camps was extremely efficient and helpful in organising my flights and providing me with helpful information. Not long after the end of Term 4, I flew from Sydney to Kenya via China on China Southern Airways. I met my fellow Reece travellers in China and off we went. Despite an extremely long journey on planes, and a scheduled refuel in Bangkok, we arrived in Kenya (minus my baggage?!) ready and raring to go.

We were met by Yusura who led us for the entire journey, had some breakfast, stocked up on supplies for the bus and began our long bus journey to Camp Tsavo.


After the trip in a bus and on an interesting highway drive (think millions of trucks wanting to overtake each other and seeing zebras on the side of the road), we found ourselves at the Camp Tsavo site.

The area is incredible, in a small place an hour from the town of Voi. It is village life with the locals living in minimal houses, many made from mud. It’s also very green, they have amazing produce. They have large families and so eager to see locals, coming outside to wave to the passers by. I’d happily just drive up and down the road all day. The children walk to school and quite far to get water. I’d love to see water filters be built or provide bicycles some day.


At the camp, we’re met by the local staff, introductions made and we are shown around the site and settled into our rooms – the camp style cabins have beds and blankets. Rooms (for 3) have electricity and charging facilities mosquitos nets, there’s drop toilets and cold showers. So, it’s actually quite like glamping.


There’s a dining hall where food is cooked for you and the food is incredible – think local food like meat and vegetable curries and Ugali. They also made some western food and in particular an amazing bolgonaise and the most tender meat patties I’ve ever eaten. Coming from a foodie, this food was superb. Filtered water, tea and coffee was also available.


The site itself and out look is absolutely incredible. It’s like you’re featured in part of the lion king and “circle of life” is constantly replaying in your head.



The trip includes a safari in a private game park. We visited this for approximately 4 hours and managed to see giraffes, elephants, warthogs, zebras and more. Unfortunately they aren’t prone to regular visitors and the sound of the vehicle scared them off. I’m keen to revisit Africa to go on Safari to a National Park or even to see the Great Migration.



Following this, we visited the Voi Wildlife Lodge, where groups are taken for a bit of R&R. An incredible resort overlooking animals in their habitat and this is amazing to watch the animals drink from a watering hole whilst having a drink or bite to eat yourself.


However, this is not the prime reason we were on camps. We were there to see the Service work projects and participate in these ourselves. This will be continued in the Blog Part #2.


A wonderful day on the sea @Ocean Spirit Cruise

Ocean Spirit Cruise 

We arrived at the reef terminal and checked in received our ticket to board the ship. A large boat, you can sit indoors on lounges, outside or on the deck.

As you arrive, tea, coffee, muffins and focaccia are available.

As the boat departs, we are given a safety briefing and collect the gear to use for the day of snorkelling. You are also able to pay extra for guided snorkelling tours or scuba diving.


The journey to the outer reef is approximately 2 hours. Whilst on board you can relax or learn about whales!


Whale Presentation 

According to the staff, dolphins are part of the whale family. Sometimes in small groups, some in larger packs. There are also whales with teeth and whales with baleen. One single blow hole for toothed whales. Bottlenose dolphins are the most well known.

There are also false killer whale, head end like a torpedo and uncommon in Australia. The Sperm whale is one of the biggest toothed whales. There are also Southern right whales because they are slow moving and were in past times, the right whales to “go after”. There were whaling stations at Tangalooma near QLd and Albany, Qld.  90% of the species were whales in earlier times but fortunately whaling is no longer conducted in Australia. In 1980 a new species was found – dwarf minky whale. Different colours on their bodies.

Humpback whales, most common in east Australia, are very distinctive with long pectoral fins up to 6m, weigh 30 tonnes in average, 13-16 m length, with long pleats to expand when they eat. Tubicles (giant hair follicles on the head).

In July to September is when you may see Humpback whales migrating. It is the biggest migration of a mammal. The round trip is over 5000 km. They make journeys to breed. From Cairns to Antarctica (and other journeys in WA and Beneath South Australia). It is too cold to breed in Antarctica so they come north. They then breast feed, producing 500-600 litres a day to feed their babies.

Great Barrier Reef and Michaelmas Cay

The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage site and is one of the worlds largest single living organisms and can be seen from outer space. It extends approximately 2600 km off the east coast of Australia. It is a network or different coral reefs and a marine park.

Captain Cook called it the Barrier Reef as to him it was a barrier between there and the open water. 1774 Matthew Flinders called it the Great Barrier Reef.

We travelled to Michaelmas Cay, a sand cay formed my fragments of plant and animal skeletons that are collected on the reef. A sand cay emerges when birds bring seeds and fertiliser.


The boat anchors near Michaelmans Cay, a small low lying vegetated sand cay, surrounded by the reef. The boat transports guests to the cay in a small boat. You then have the opportunity to snorkel and see the beautiful coral, plants, fish and other marine animals in the area. Over 1590 different types of fish are in the Great Barrier Reef. It is simply incredible. One of the most beautiful places you will witness in Australia.

You can buy some extras like guided snorkel tours or introductory scuba dives. Whilst anchored, you can also take a glass bottomed boat to see more marine life or have lunch.

A lunch buffet is offered with hot options; rice and curry or ratatouille. There’s prawns, cold meats, salads and bread rolls. They also offered dessert; fruit and chocolate and carrot cake with tea and coffee.

After a few hours at the Cay, the boat set sail back to the marina. On the journey home, we were offered a glass of sparkling wine and cheese and biscuits.


The staff on this boat were extremely professional and knowledgeable and some of the best we’ve seen. It was also evident they loved their jobs.

This was extremely good value at $202, let alone the $165 we got it on special for! A must do if in Cairns.

Ocean Spirit Cruise 


A retreat in Queensland @Palm Cove


Palm Cove is located in tropical North of Queensland,  Australia and is about 25 minutes north of the airport. You can get a taxi, an Uber or airport transfer, though we found Uber was the cheapest.  Palm Cove is south of Port Douglas and a smaller location. It has a boutique feel, with hotels, apartments and a number of restaurants. Walk along the esplanade and the beach or enjoy some fishing by the water. There’s a few shops and a grocery store to grab the necessities.

It’s in a good location to get picked up for any tours you book, and a number of travel agents who can make these arrangements for you.



Where to Eat


A restaurant on the esplanade selling breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were super hungry after our flight and went here for dinner. We all ordered a protein dish – lamb shanks, barramundi and chicken. All meals were perfectly cooked, amazing taste and came out very quickly. Quite expensive, but it is a holiday town.


This place is on the esplanade and has a wonderful menu! So many choices and lots are inspired by asian flavours. We ordered the pancake – full of greens, herbs and prawns. Huge size, very flavoursome and value for money.  We also ordered the special – a healthy egg white omelette with a beetroot relish, enoki mushrooms, a slice of rye and greens – this was awesome. We also got a few juices (these were expensive, about $9-$10). Staff were friendly and service was extremely fast, which was good considering that there was heaps of people there. Worth a visit if if in area.



Chill is a cafe and bar on the esplanade in Palm Cove. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We wee there for a couple of drinks on a Sunday night. They also had a cool band playing which was great entertainment. Staff were pretty fun and dealing well with the crazy crowd. They sell food in the form of tapas like tacos or oysters or larger mains like fish and burgers.


Jack and Shannan’s 

Jack and Shannan’s is in the lobby area of the Imagine Drift apartments. It is a cafe, restaurant and bar. We went there for our morning coffee as they did a great coffee, brewed chai and not too much of a wait.



We decided to go here for dinner as the food seemed a bit cheaper than most places in the area. Selling your typical mexican food, like burritos, quesadillas and fajitas, we all decided on the fajitas. Select beef, chicken or pork and that comes sizzling on a plate. You then get three wraps, a few small bowls of black beans, tomatoes and cheese to make your own wrap. It was a nice meal. Clean and tidy restaurant and friendly service.

Nu Nu

This is a lovey restaurant on the esplanade, open, with views of the ocean. They do breakfast, lunch, tapas and dinner. We were here for dinner and ordered a range of things to share; dumplings, mixed greens, an OUTSTANDING gorgonzola infused wagyu, kingfish sashimi and prawn schnitzels. The food was all excellent and no critiquing here! It is expensive, so go for a special occasion. The staff were efficient and friendly, but there did seem to be a noticeable feeling stress amongst them.

Williams on the Nard 

A fairly basic looking cafe from the outside and the menu makes it appear like an average dining venue. However this was certainly not the case. The food was incredible and presentation was like fine dining. This is not only true for what I had, but what I saw when other diners had their dishes come out. I was after something remotely healthy so ordered a beef tartare. It came out on a board,  topped with a raw egg, some capers, crunchy bread, some mustards and sauces and beautifully presented with edible flowers. Coffees were also good!


What to do?

Cairns Active Explorer

Take a trip to Mossman Gorge and the Daintree Rainforest

Where to stay?

There’s plenty of hotels and apartments along the esplanade for you to choose from. We stayed in the Imagine Drift Apartments. Large rooms, we had a 2 bedroom, with a kitchen and lounge space. The kitchen was fully set up and came with some tea and coffee making facilities. There were two bathrooms and a laundry in one. Big balcony overlooking the large pool. The pool is in a leafy area so it doesn’t get much sun. There is also a spa and a basic gym. It is all you need for a week away and perfect to travel with your friends and family.


Hope you all have a great time if you choose to travel to Palm Cove!


Out and About @Cairns

Where to eat?

Waterbar and Restaurant

Located at the Marina Pier, this is a steakhouse selling different varieties and sizes of streaks. Its selling ribs and seafood, it is perfect if you’re hungry! I went for a 200g steak with baked potato and salad. You have to pay an extra $3.00 for sauce. The meat was good quality and perfectly cooked. The staff were fairly new and thus our waitress had difficulty taking the order and made a mistake or two, but is fair when people are starting out, so it didn’t really bother our experience.


A restaurant on the marina just by the Reef Terminal. Offering lunch specials for $22.50 with a drink or 2 courses and a drink for $35. Pretty good deal and the restaurant had good ambience. We just went for coffees which were great and service was friendly.

Tha Fish

This seafood restaurant is in the pier of the marina. There’s a number of restaurants along this pier, but this one was quite busy comparatively, so presuming that translates to it being good, we decided to go. Unfortunately it was full, but the lovely man said to put our name down and come back in 45 mins. We went for a drink and did just that.

The menu has starters, entrees, mains and a fish selection. We shared the whitebait, lightly dusted and was nice start to the evening. We all couldn’t go past the fish option where you select a fish and your choice of cooking. One of us got the trout, with a lovely Indian flavour which was the staff suggestion – incredible. I went for a barramundi which sat atop udon noodles in a broth and lotus chips, this had gentle flavours and a lovely combination. My friend also had the barramundi with a butter sauce and snow peas and potatoes. The fish was beautifully cooked and our dinner was outstanding. Staff were excellent, particularly the front of house who was extremely accommodating and friendly. The waitstaff were excellent and gave good suggestions. Prices are reasonable for seafood. Worth a visit.


Prawn Star

Recommended by a friends, The Prawn star is a trawler that sells platters of fresh seafood; prawns, oysters, bugs, crayfish or combos. We got a plate of beautifully fresh tiger prawns and seafood sauce, as well as a glass of wine. A good option for your lunch or dinner as it is open until 8pm! Ranging from $25 – $80. You have to shell your own, but that’s part of the fun, right?


Pier Hotel

Went here for food and drinks on a Friday night. It was pumping with customers of all ages. We had some wines and an amazing salted caramel espresso martini. One of the most amazing drinks was their ‘mini beer shot’, liquor topped with white chocolate. We also ordered food – the barramundi, a little lacking in flavour and presentation. The Caesar Wrap was excellent. Food wasn’t too pricy. They also had live music on Friday night.



Salt House

We Went here for a couple of drinks and tapas food. Happy Hour is good as drinks were $5 and the food was 2 for 1 plates. We tried the pull apart bread, tuna sashimi, squid and fried chicken. The food was all excellent. The location is great, just by the marina and they have Trivia on a Thursday and live music on Friday nights.

Where to get beautiful?


Honey is a place to get a tan, wax, or relax with a facial or masssage. I went for a 2-4 tan which was $30. It was extremely natural and gave a nice bronze colour. I also got an eyebrow shape and the staff member did an excellent job. The lady there was also extremely nice and helpful; giving me tips about what to do in Cairns.

What to do in Cairns?


In the main part of town along the esplanade is a lagoon where you can swim, as there is no beach or accessible ocean in this area, plus there could be crocodiles or dangerous jellyfish. The lagoon or fake beach is perfect for a swim to cool off.


Active Living activities

The town offers free fitness activities which some gym equipment, yoga, rock climbing, aqua aerobics or box fit. I decided to do the box fit class which began at 6:30am. 15 minutes of a warm up which included sprints, push ups, burpees etc and then boxing combinations for the last 45 minutes. It was physically hard, but you can take it at your own pace. The instructor was knowledge and friendly and i’m impressed that Cairns council offers these activities for free.


Bungee or Bungee Swing

If you’re an adrenalin junkie that wants something exciting and fun to do, make sure to check out AJ Hackett Cairns. At 140 m above sea level, and a 50m jump, you can take a bungee jump in the rainforest! Your jump can be taken in many ways; swan dive, water touch, titanic, backwards, tandem, jump off the roof, handstand or even off the roof with a BMX. Different levels to suit you the less kenmore experienced. It’s $179 for the jump and prices are less for extra jumps.

For those looking for something a bit different, they also offer the Minjin Swing, which 1,2 or 3 people can take. In a body harness, you are taken up high (higher than the bungee) and pull the cord which drops you for a few seconds and then you’re let swinging. It drops from 45m-1 metre in 3.5 seconds at speeds of up to 120km an hour and is for those seeking thrills! I did this with a friend and absolutely loved it. Scary as you’re rising, but exhilarating! Next time, real bungee for sure.

There’s purpose built platforms for friends and family to watch and a licensed bar selling drinks and some snacks. You can buy t-shirts or media footage to remember your experience.

The company pick you up and drop you home from Cairns or the Northern Beaches.



Visit the Great Barrier Reef

Visit Cairns and Mossman Gorge

Adventure time @Cairns Adventure Group

Active Tropics Explorer – Tour Guide Karl

We were in Cairns for a holiday away and decided that a tour was the best way to sea the wonders of the North Coast of Queensland.


Before heading up to Mossman Gorge we participated in a welcome to country smoking ceremony, led by an Aboriginal guide, of the Kuku Yalanju people, who also explained the uses of some local plans and natural ochres. This ceremony was to protect us whilst on our journeys.

The bus then took us up to Mossman George where we walked through the rainforest and had the opportunity to swim in local creeks.


Departing here, we drove through the sugar canes and stopped to go on a crocodile tour. The boat driver was extremely informative and we were lucky enough to see 6 crocodiles on this tour, including a 450 kg called Scarface. On the one hour cruise, it is also possible to see tree snakes and the Ulysses blue butterfly.




The bus then drove up to Cape Tribulation where we had lunch (included on the tour) and walked down the beautiful white beach.


On the Marjja Botanical Boardwalk, we were guided through the rainforest with explanations as to what the specific plants can be used for and also the dangers to be aware of.

On the final part of the trip we were taken to Floravilla, an Ice cream shop to try some of the organic ice cream using natural flavours and no preservatives; mango, honey and yoghurt, guinness. You name it, they have it. I just wanted traditional vanilla and it was smooth and creamy.

The trip then headed back to our hotel with a drive up to Alexandra Range lookout and through Port Douglas.

Karl had been working for the company for a year, mostly doing white water rafting guiding. He was extremely good at this guiding. Very knowledgeable about plants and animals and the area and very explicit in his instruction. He was passionate about his job.

A lovely day out in a small group of 25 with an extremely knowledgeable driver and guide. At $169 per person, it is worth the money spent.

Cairns Adventure Group


Where to @Ko Samui

IMG_0097 (2)

Ko Samui is an island about 1.5 hours off the east coast of Thailand. A great place to unwind and have relaxing holiday by the beach. It has a tropical climate and we visited in September, which meant a bit of rain in the afternoon. This island has many nice beaches to explore, there are plenty activities available including; jet ski hire, go carting, parasailing, golf and Muay Thai gyms to train at, and stadiums to watch this traditional martial art.

Where to stay

Chaweng Beach is the busy part of the island with plenty to see and do. There are a range of options lining the beach to suit any budget including resorts, and other hotels that are less fancy with clean rooms and the much needed air conditioning. Whilst on this part of the island we stayed at both types of accommodation. The B2@Beach Samui was only AUD$40, which was a great option as Kurt was on his own for a couple of days. With beach frontage, a clean bed, aircon and a bar with cheap cocktails. This no frills option was low budget and the perfect for lazing by the beach sipping on a cocktail and reading a book. The hotel had a small pool and spa, however with Ko Samui being a beach destination, I recommend swimming in the ocean instead of a pool.

We came to Ko Samui specifically for a wedding, and thus later relocated to the western side of the island in Taling Gnam, a quieter part of the island, where the wedding was held. We stayed at The Sunset Beach Resort for AUD $220 a night. Sunset Beach Resort is a lovely option if you want to stay in a quieter part of Ko Samui. It is a 5 star resort, complete with buffet breakfast, a pool with a bar, you can also order food by the pool. The resort has beach front access, which has a nice outlook, but not the best swimming option as the bottom is reef which is not the best to walk on. However, the pool is amazing and many deck chairs to relax by the pool. Stick to canoeing if you want to be in the ocean. You can also wander next door to the Intercontinental for a beverage and to enjoy the pool which has a stunning beach view and pool bar.


The sunset has a spa on site, you can borrow bikes and there is a muay thai facility. nearby. We ate in the restaurant too and the food was excellent. There is a well fitted out gym, though you do you workout getting to it, but worth it for the view. It was our anniversary and they decorated our room with flower petals and a provided a fruit bowl. The rooms are large, ours had a jacuzzi and there are also villas too. The staff were lovely and eager to assist.

For a bit more extravagance, the Intercontinental is situated higher on the cliff top here at a hefty price, but it is an amazing as a honeymoon location. The hotel is beautiful and the view is incredible. We visited here for a wedding which was superb.


Getting around

If in Chaweng there are plenty of options to get around: you can walk grab a taxi, a tuk tuk or scooter. If staying in Chaweng, walking is your best bet, you can take the scenic route and stroll along the waters edge or take the main road to take in the boutiques, street food and the action of the bars and restaurants, we loved checking out the live seafood on display.

Cafe Picks

Our pick of cafes for good food and coffee include Spearhead and Cream Cafe.

Cream Cafe

This place is a modern cafe with awesome coffee, smoothies, ice cream and both Thai and Western Dishes. The pick of the dishes being the southern Thai rice salad. Beautifully presented blue and brown rice with served with an assortment of ingredients that are added to taste. The added ingredients which are sprinkled into the bowl and mixed together to create a tasty textured dish. The granola with fresh fruit and yoghurt, is a good option if looking for a western style breakfast. The food was beautifully presented and super tasty. Staff were delightful.



Another place to get your coffee fix is the cute little cafe that has just opened in Ko Samui. A trendy and stylish place, selling good filter coffee, cold drip, cold brew and your regular lattes of course. A range of food available and on this occasion we shared the Tokyo Rose, a fluffy blueberry pancake topped with fruits and cream.



For Thai cusine Galangal is a good option if you are after restaurant food. If you are more adventurous there are plenty of street vendors and a street food market behind the Cental Festival mall Chaweng.

What to do

Taling Gnam Muay Thai

We went here for a group class whilst in the area. They replied to emails quickly and when we arrived were so welcoming and helpful. Warm up, one on one technical training and pad work. Super hard and relentless. We loved it, some
fun sparring at the end. For one hour it was about $10. The trainers were awesome and I highly recommend this place. Small group at 7:30am meant it was practically 1-1 class.


Best buffet in Patong @Grand Mercure


How did we find out about an awesome seafood buffet in Patong, Thailand? It was more by luck than our usual method of putting in time researching. Whilst in Phuket Thailand we stayed at the Grand Mercure Patong, where this buffet was located.



We were enjoying some cocktails by the pool where the mojito’s were amazing. Made with local award winning rum distilled at the Chalong Bay Distillery, a place you can visit, enjoy a bite to eat and tour the facilities. The chocolate and mint mojito a clear standout, made with Hershey’s sauce and the passion fruit mojito, also very good. 



Whilst lapping up the beautiful weather with beverages in hand, we were starting to research and discuss options for a seafood dinner. Whilst in discussion, we noticed the Taste of Asia buffet and seafood BBQ being set up for the evening, with the stations including cuisine from Thailand, China, Japan, Vietnam, and India. 


IMG_0027 (23)

We further investigated and discovered the price was THB 999 which converts to roughly AUD $40. There was also a promotional 25% discount for downloading the Accor hotel group App. Done and done, easy decision. This option not only convenient, it had a clean and hygienic set up and the food was beautiful displayed and prepared. We were chomping at the bit to get at some fresh seafood and were into it as soon as the buffet opened at 6pm.



The spread was out of this world with a Japanese sushi and sashimi bar prepared whilst you wait, with top quality salmon, tuna and octopus, and this was our first check point. There was a salad bar and cold seafood section including NZ mussels and fresh prawns which also made the first plate.



This plate of food was conveniently finished, just in time to sample the fresh seafood that was being served straight off the BBQ. There were large river prawns, whole fish, squid and blue swimmer crab charred over hot coals. This was the perfect way to enjoy the natural flavours of the seafood. There was also a range of tasty sauces to accompany the seafood to add even more flavour.


The hot food bar could not be passed up with a range of local specialties including curries, the pad thai freshly prepared, as well as tom yum kung. In addition to this there were also satay chicken skewers served straight from the BBQ. With a enticing selection of Chinese BBQ meat including succulent duck and chicken, which had our mouths watering.

With so much delicious food it was going to be a case of our eyes being too big for our stomach. However we did manage to spare some room for dessert. There were many bite sized custard filled Chou pastry profiteroles, tiramisu, creme brulee, a fruit salad selection, a station preparing freshly made fritters and local specialty desserts made with sticky rice.




The buffet at the Grand Mercure is must visit especially if you are after a seafood feast. You are spoilt for choice with delicious, freshly prepared food. The buffet  is one of the best we have tried and it was also great value.


Grand Mercure Patong


25 courses @Gaggan



After a recommendation from instafoodie friend It’d_be_rude_not_to ,  Gaggan was on our list of places to visit in Bangkok. We were lucky enough to secure a table at this acclaimed restaurant, rated the best in Asia and # 7 in the world in 2017 by Restaurant. It is described as progressive Indian, and we felt it was infused with other Asian influences. Make sure you book ahead of visiting as it is well sought after. Having read mixed reviews which is usually the case online, we went in with an open mind and a hungry stomach. Our booking was 9:30 pm which is pretty normal  in Bangkok.



Our driver missed the unassuming entrance to Gaggan, with a small lit up sign the only give away, so make sure you’re on the lookout. We walked to the entrance down a long dark driveway and at the end stood a well lit two storey converted cottage painted white, with pained glass windows and doors, an out door garden and water feature which was extremely picturesque. 



We are met by the wait staff and led to our table up stairs. Once seated the staff introduced themselves and provided us with the wine list. On the table, the glassware and tableware, a cold refresher towel and transparent strip of paper printed with 25 emoji’s representing the bites to be served for the evening, which was explained by the waitress. Whilst 25 does sounds like alot, however as a hungry diner, amount of food was spot on.  Each dish was a bite sized piece, and paced out it was completely apt. Whilst it is clear this would be a mountain of work for the kitchen to prepare, given the molecular gastronomy techniques being displayed with each dish, each dish arrived presented impeccably and with precise timing as to the dishes received by other diners. This alone is impressive! 





The restaurant is nicely set up, with white linen and staff in generic black and white, not unlike any other fine dining restaurant. We liked the vibe to this place, the staff displaying whimsical humour which complemented the playful menu and food arriving at the table.


The meal started on a high note with a large pink salt block arriving at the table with what looked to be an oyster. We gathered the oyster was paired with water melon going by the first emoji on the list. We were amazed when it was confirmed the oyster shell was edible and no oyster present. This dish was like nothing you could imagine, with an opaque purple edible pearl on top. 



We’re not going to outline each dish on the menu, that would spoil the fun for your visit, we will outline some notable dishes for us. 

The tom yum kung which was a cold tom yum puree served in a crisp rice paper and prawn head shell, the vindaloo beef croquette had a nice crisp panko crumb for texture and rich slow cooked vindaloo inside, the cold scallop curry was another stand out.

We also really enjoyed the eggplant cookie and the carrot waffles filled with froi gras and yuzu chutney.





There were two firsts for our dining experience, with one dish called ‘lick it up’ which came in with it’s own 80’s rock theme song which was cool. This dehydrated mushroom dish also inscribed with ‘lick it up’ in green pea puree. This led diners to having to lick it off the plate like a dog. Quite funny to look around the restaurant at this time. 

The fire portion of the menu was an amazing spectacle, the waiter taking to a wooden tray with a blow torch setting the banana leaf outer layer on fire. At one point I was thinking this would not fly in Australia due to OH&S or some fire safety regulation. But this is Thailand and what visitors love are a lack of over restrictive measures and a care free attitude, with a little sprinkle of danger thrown in. We wait for the embers to clear and unwrap the outer banana leaf and inside a melt in your mouth piece of sea bass.



The desserts were all presented nicely and our favourite would have to be the beetroot and chocolate rose which came to the table in a box that looked like a book. Coincidentally the title of the book including our surname. The minion wasabi ice cream on a stick also added a bit of fun to the meal. The other desserts while nicely presented didn’t really do it for us.



Other than a dodgy bathroom, this was an interesting and enjoyable experience. The crockery was as impressive as the skill involved in preparing this degustation. The food hit the mark for the most part, as to be expected with a 25 course meal there were going to be some items that didn’t suit our taste. 


Is it worth the price tag? Yes. Given there were 25 courses of intricately prepared food that hit the table in our two hour seating, which was an impressive feat and the work involved is nothing to sneeze at.