Millions of years ago, a big coral reef covered much of what is now South East Asia. Just as they do now, coral polyps living in the reef secreted limestone as they built the coral, and other marine critters like shells and urchins deposited calcium.

Fast forward a bit and the tectonic plates below started to rub against each other and rumble. The continents started to move. The reef was thrust skyward by the movement of big slabs of rock and the sea level started to change.

Fast forward a lot more and where there was a reef, there’s now hundreds of little islands. Rock pillars jutting straight out of the sea.

Fast forward a bit more to present day. The islands in Phang Nga Bay in Thailand are spectacular. But it’s what is hidden within that is most impressive. Weather and time have carved their way through the limestone rock to produce caves and inner lagoons. Karstic formations ripe for exploration!

For more about exploring the hongs in Phang Nga Bay or sailing around Thailand, check out my sailing blog: the Alpha Odyssey.


 There were plenty of corners to explore in the 16th century pentagonal fort in Banda Neira!


I’ve got an earworm – a song stuck in my head! 

…never had to knock on wood. And I’m glad I haven’t yet. Because I’m sure it isn’t good. That’s the impression that I get…

I couldn’t remember who sang it, so I googled it: The impression that I get, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. (It was released in 1997, for anyone that’s interested, and was the band’s most successful song, reaching #1 on lots of charts.)

But, as it happens, it has led me to another of Life’s Big Questions: if you could only choose five songs to have on your smartphone (or whatever listening device you use), what would they be?

This one first rose to questionhood when I was travelling through Morocco. I met a fellow traveller who was in Morocco studying French. He had all his French lessons on his iPod (it was before iPhone), and there was only space for five or six songs. He had to choose carefully because he was going to be away for several months! 

I thought about which ones I’d choose. You need to be able to cover off on a lot of different moods.  And when I got home from the trip, I posed the question to a dinner party. 

I can’t remember which ones I chose back then (it was 2006ish), but here’s my current list:

Africa – Toto. To me, it’s a quintessential travel song (it has Mt Kilimanjaro in the lyrics!)

Freefallin’ – Tom Petty. It makes me feel free. And inspires me to take road trips (I picture Tom Cruise in Jerry Macguire, tapping on the steering wheel, singing at the top of his lungs).

Thrift Shop – Macklemore. It’s a catchy tune, and I’m an op shop queen!

Rasputin – Boney M. It reminds me of an old boyfriend.

Down Under – Men at Work. Aussie cliche, gotta have it in the list!

So there you have it – my five songs. 

What would you choose?

Sand bar Notoriety

Ted Bundy … The Boston Strangler … Jack the Ripper … Notorious figures from history that conjure thoughts of evil criminals doing heinous things. I could write plenty on their notoriety and how we seem to be so voyeuristic toward the macabre (just look at the popularity of the spate of recent True Crime podcasts: Stranglers, Felon, Casefile, Crimetown, 48 Hours, etc). But I’ll leave that to someone else.

Instead, our brush with something notorious was a lot less sinister, but scary all the same. In March we cast off the lines and commenced our two-year sailing adventure up the east coast of Australia and around Asia. Within 24 hours of starting we had to cross our first big hurdle: the “notorious” Wide Bay Bar. Any seafarer knows that bar crossings are not something to take lightly. (For the non-seafarer, a bar is collection of sand that gathers at the entrance to rivers and inland waterways). Bars are dangerous because they are often shallow and conditions can change quickly and without warning, sometimes causing boats to capize. Just days before we were due to cross the Wide Bay Bar, a boat very similar to ours (a 12 metre catamaran) capsized on the bar and the sailors had to be rescued. In fact, lots of boats end up with the same fate on this particular bar each year, hence its notoriety.

Anyway, our day came. We had meticulously studied the weather forecast and chosen the 2nd of March due to the relatively calm conditions and morning high tide (so you aren’t looking into the sun when you are crossing). We contacted the local Volunteer Coast Guard to get the latest condition report and reference points … and then it was time to cross! We donned our life jackets, fired up the boat motors and set off. We had another catamaran in front of us and a fishing boat behind us. We could see breaking water on both sides of us (nicknamed the “washing machine”, which indicates shallow water where it is most treacherous) but we were cruising through the gap. No problems so far.

Part of the Wide Bay Bar’s notoriety is the extended nature of the bar. It’s also nicknamed “the mad mile” because it takes a while to get fully across the bar, but we continued to follow the Coast Guard’s reference points, and phew! Across. Just then we looked back and a water spout rose out of the water where we had just been! That would have made our crossing very interesting!


For more of our sailing adventures, check out our sister blog, The Alpha Odyssey.

Precious Things

When I was little, I loved treasure hunts. We’d dress up as pirates, and with a hand-drawn map, march ourselves around the back yard looking for a shoe box filled with “treasure” (an odd assortment of marbles, lollies and chocolates, little shells collected at the beach, feathers and sticks, or whatever was lying about). X marked the spot!

As I got older, that morphed into more of a scrapbook-cum-diary where I would paste in magazine collages of the latest craze, movie ticket stubs, or postcards from friends or notes from boys. When I started travelling overseas, it morphed again into a travel journal, meticulously recording the sights, sounds and smells of my wanderings. And all the while I would jot down observations, or cool quotes or just random stuff I wanted to remember.

Then two things happened:
(1) everything started being digitised; and
(2) I moved onto a boat (where space is a limited commodity!)

So the next logical step was to digitise my scrapbook-journal-thingies. Enter “the blog”.

I actually already maintain two other blogs – basically my digitised travel journals (see my About page for more info) – but this one is just for all my other precious things. A place to muse. To share my thoughts on books I’m reading/podcasts I’m listening to/television or movies I’m watching. A place to observe the world, and celebrate its miracles of nature or lament its destruction by the human race.

This is my personal space. It’s a place to practice my writing and share my photography … and feedback is welcome on both. But I’m not trying to “grow readership” or “brand” myself, or any of that. I’m just “putting it out there” for anyone who might feel so inclined to share some of their preciousness as well.


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