Friday, December 30, 2011

What was important to you in 2011? Mine is YOU!

OK, so it's the last day of 2011.  I have no idea where the frick 2011 went mind you, but its gone and it its place remain memories, friends, and passport stamps.

Since I began writing this I have starting reading some other blogs a bit more, to see what works, what I like, etc, and a lot seem to do stuff like, "my top 10 blogs", or "look what I got in 2011", which is a bit tiring.  But, it is nice to reflect on things that have past to get a sense of satisfaction to reassure ourselves that time past was not time lost.

So, this morning I was sitting in my villa in Koh Samui (my coffee was brought to me without asking exactly how I like it, thanks to my amazing house staff), I was trying to think of the places I had been this year.  It wasn't a bad list, but not overly impressive either!  I managed to get to Bali, Indonesia, for a family friends' wedding and stayed at the beautiful Karma Kandara (website here). Then later in the year I, obviously, came to Asia and have visited Cambodia and now Thailand.  So, three countries in one year, which has been pretty standard for me over the last few years. In fairness though, usually that has been for work.  As I ran study tours and worked for Curtin University I was often in Malaysia (often going through Brunei), China and Vietnam.

When I thought about it though, this years travels seems that much more awesome.  Probably because I wasn't working! But because of that, the ability to focus on the travel, I met some really awesome people. Seriously, this year I have meet some of the coolest cats I know or reconnected with people who I had lost contact with and, for me, that is one of the beauties of travelling.

Then I got thinking more, still on the same topic, and thought about all the travelling I had done within Australia, and I was blown away with what relationships I had managed to make and maintain.

To give you a run down of the year:

I brought in the 2011 year in Tasmania at the Falls Festival with one of my best mates Benjie, his partner Narisha, and his friends Jimmy, Peter and Fleur, and Kajsa  We spent four days listening to bands, and sneaking about with contraband alcohol, before touring Tassie for a day or two. (We had also gone to the Taste of Tasmana food show in Hobart just after Christmas where I had managed to catch up with fellow Perthian/JCLA'er/GV alum Tristan, and my JCLA buddy/down right LEGEND Aimee).

Jimmy,Kajsa and I.  Fall Festival, Tasmania, Australia 

Benji and Narisha

This lead to numerous trips to Melbourne as I started a new job in April for not for profit company called Teach for Australia (website) and required me flying to Melbourne every six weeks or so.  The TFA guys were, hands down, some of the coolest people I have ever worked for! Not only that, the vision of the company (an Australia where every child has access to quality eduction) is a very humble, noble, and achievable one.

The travel to Melbourne for work saw me being able to catch up with my cousin Tim (and finally see his house in the hills - amazing) and Uncle Dave. Go out with the TFA crew for the Melbourne comedy festival (I got belly ache from laughing so hard), catching up with Mattie and Liam (and getting our party on before dropping me - bastards!! ;) ), being in Melbourne for the AFL Grand Final (offing Collingwood!), Brendan and the new TJ, also dead set legends, catching up with good friend and fashion blogger Carly (Lady Smaggle, blog here) and some how, yet again, turning lunch into an 11 hour adventure of coffee, ales, tapa's and ciders.... Then going back to Naked for Satan an hour after we left because everything was just far too good), catching up with one of dad's best mates Steve... the list goes on...

The TFA crew, Melbourne, Australia

Half way through the year was Bali and Gili T, as I said, which saw me meeting Katie and so many friends of the Kotovski clan (if you know the Kotovski's, you are in the clan.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're not.  Just... no).  The wedding and the venue truly made the wedding trip a moment where friendship could be made over a few days and you could have some awesome times.  For example, I spent over a million on tequila on the wedding night... ONE MILLION... rupiah.. :)  It was just awesome meeting Asheesh, Ravi's mates, Claire et al.

This is the after Moet glow.... Katie and I, Bali, Indonesia

After my TFA contract expired, I took a few weeks off.  I hung around to see some champions of champions graduate from the John Curtin Leadership Academy before heading to Asia.

JCLA grads!!!!

Since hitting Asia, I have met some awesome people from Europe, Johanna and Rose specifically from Siem Reap, Manu and Rachel from Koh Rong who I will be seeing again shortly,  and in Thailand I am now in a villa with 8 other awesome peeps, all relationships I hope will endure.

Johanna and I in Siem Reap

Ludo and I rocking it out

My partner in crime, Tash and I, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Rachel and I, Sihanouk Ville, Cambodia.

I have to be honest, I am seriously downright shocked as to how many hits this page is getting.   Russian reverse span bots aside, I love that it helps me remain connected to everyone I have met while travelling, and also my friends am family back home.  I, of course, love you comments and messages on FB.

Koh Samui, Thailand

So, my 2011 was incredible because I managed to meet a bunch of wicked people and remain connected via the wonders of technology!!

But, what made 2011 big for you?  Let me know!!

Until next time, and 2012!!


Follow me on Twitter @TheDanFactor

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My own private villa on Koh Samui!!!

Don't ever let me say I don't have a good life... ever!!

For the past couple of days a few people and I have been sharing a 5 room (all separate) villa in Koh Samui, right on the water!

The villa has a main bedroom with a massive bathroom to die for and has views to the beach (about 5 metres away!!).  All villas have double beds (but you can get an extra bed put in for 35 USD a night).  Each villa also has a split indoor outdoor bathroom with fancy showers gels, shampoo, conditioner and the like.  The rooms each have safes as well as a small desk and wardrobe and are, get this, cleaned twice a day! Everything! The room and the bathroom!!

The complex itself has a spa and infinity pool, but is literally right on the beach so you can swim in the salt water if you choose!  The lawn is raked daily, as is the beach, ensuring that there is no rubbish or sticks etc that has washed up over night! :).

Not only do you get a room which is cleaned twice a day, the staff leave you treats before bed and draw your curtains, and clean up after you.  They will also make you coffee and breakfast every morning, and by night they will cook you dinner at cost price of food + 15% which turns out to be much cheaper than local restaurants and much better quality.

Oh, did I mention I have staff.  That's right, 2 chef's, a head waitress and a gardener! No dishes, and they even bring me my gin and tonics!! They also remember how you like your breakfast and everything!! Loving it!    Here are some snaps from the villa!! We are dead set loving it here.  I hope I can buy me some servants while on Koh Samui!!

The entrance to our home for one week.

Inside the gate! This is all ours!!!

Master bedroom and view to ocean.

Master bathroom

Check that bath out!!  The bath in the master bathroom!!

Standard room

Indoor lounge/dining room

Dining room table just before dinner

Outdoor lounge area and the ocean! :)

Whatever, this is how we roll... Don't hate the players...

Until next time,


Follow me on Twitter @TheDanFactor

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Years Eve in Thailand! What should I do??

Here are my options:

Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan.

The description of the website is as follows...

Koh Phangan is a very special place, there are few places in this world where you can live out your desert island dreams of palm trees and white sand beaches, and still have a blinding night out at a rocking party every month. With the global notoriety that the Full Moon Party has gained as being one of the biggest and best beach bashes in the world, we get more than our fair share of hedonists gracing our shores. Each year the scene here grows with the ever-increasing number of party faithful that return, bringing their mates and spreading the vibe.
Haad Rin is home to the Full Moon Party and also houses about 3-5000 rather mad people; it is the island's nightlife capital and has Koh Phangan's biggest concentration of beach clubs that collectively put on the ultimate travellers get together. There are over 12 major sound systems running the length of Had Rin beach, catering for 8000 to 12,000 punters in low season, 15,000 to 20,000 in high season and up to 30,000 at New Year. Within this transient crowd of party animals some highly talented DJ's pass through, banging out their wares to the raging lunar explorers that have landed on planet party.


Spend the night at Nikki beach on Koh Samui.

We'll have a bed, have some cocktails, and dance the night away!  Images (below) are from their website...

What do you think I should do?

More importantly, what are you doing for New Years Eve??

Until next time,


Follow me on Twitter @TheDanFactor

Monday, December 26, 2011

Le Méridien Bangkok - a review.

I am not really one to write a review on a hotel, but my stay at this hotel prompted me to change that!  I have stayed in a number of hotels in my time, including 4 and 5 stars, and the level of service and attention to details at Le Meridien Bangkok is probably some of the best I have seen.

Le Meridien Bangkok is a self rated 5 star hotel about 2 blocks from Patpong in Bangkok.  The hotel itself is only about three years old and has a classy, edgy, contemporary feel to it. As soon as you walk into the foyer and approach reception you see three streamlined stainless steel counters which the hotel staff always man.  I booked via and managed to get a discount, whereby my stay for two nights cost me about 250 USD.

Once checked into my room, I was blown away by the little touches! There is a block of boutique chocolate waiting for you on your bed (coffee flavour - OMG)! The room is decorated very contemporarily with splashes of red through the design of the furniture and the room.  Each room has a bed, a three person sofa, a work desk, a bathroom with a bath and TWO showers (a normal shower and a "rain" shower which comes out of the roof!) The bathroom has been brilliantly designed with sliding walls, which allow you to open up the bathroom and do things like watch television.  Amenities include scales, shaving mirror, hairdryer, safe, iron and ironing board, robes, kettle, coffee plunger, various spirits and drinking glasses, 4 packs of plunger coffee (I actually don't think they had instant), about 6 types of tea's, about 6 daily bottles of water, toothbrushes, vanity kits, free daily newspaper, and, this shows the level of thinking, take away coffee cups!  Have you ever had to leave a hotel in the early hours and wanted a coffee? Well, problem solved!! And the coffee was really good!

Here are some snaps I pulled of their website (mine didn't do the room any justice!!)

The bathroom and room, note the sliding walls, below.

The pool

The breakfast... I don't even know where to start here.  It was, hands down, the best breakfast buffet I have ever seen.  Great breads and cheese, fruits, cereals, coffee's which you can order - e.g. Latte.  The eggs station was great and some was the meat section with a massive choice of cured meats.  Heck, even the honey was fresh, straight out of honey comb, dripping with fresh honey! Anything you want and it was all amazing!  My breakfast did not come with my room charge and ended up costing me about 20 USD, which was excellent value, and I would definitely do it again.  Mel and Asheesh, however, had breakfast included in their room charge, so check when you book!

Some of the bread selection and the ginger bread house!!

The concierge was more than helpful, sending us to two great restaurants with excellent directions as well as guiding us to the Bangkok Weekend Markets (I post about my afternoon at the markets here).  The hotel was very central and seemed like it was walking distance to just about everywhere.  For those places a little further the staff were brilliantly efficient organising us a taxi!

On Christmas eve, I even got a knock on the door and was given a bag of Christmas cookies!! Om nom nom!  How many hotels do that?!

The internet was free downstairs off 3 Apple Mac computers (one wasn't working) which were usually available at any time, 24 hours.

If had had any recommendation or complaint, and I do, it is that the wifi is not free.  It really annoys me that upmarket hotels usually do not have free wifi, but cheaper hotels do.  It is such a nothing cost for them!  Other than that, the hotel was a dream to stay at and at breakfast the first morning I actually had a "I can't believe I am here" moment when I saw the food.

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here, as did my friends, also well travelled individuals, with the breakfast being the highlight! If you would like to see some more photo's or information, check out their website here.  Remember to check out Agoda or Wotif for deals though!

Until next time,


Follow me on Twitter @TheDanFactor

Bangkok Weekend Market - CHRISTMAS DAY!

So, come Christmas Day, I still hadn't any plans and Santa had forgotten I was in Bangkok! Luckily I was staying at an amazing hotel who remembered and they gave me some  cookies as a present! Bless their cotton socks!

After talking to our concierge, Mel Asheesh and I thought we would go and check out the weekend markets, apparently the biggest markets in the world!

This market had EVERYTHING you could ever want!  It's so big you could walk through it all day and not see everything!  It sells everything from pets to furniture and from food to art. Unlike other markets I have been to, the venders are not aggressive, everything is clean and organised and we definitely got to experience lots of life - smells, colours, people!  It was actually a really enjoyable way to spend the afternoon, but we were knackered after a few hours on our feet!!  We managed to find some great iced treats! I found an amazing berry ice smoothy and Mel found a delicious coconut ice-cream served with real coconut and peanuts in half a chilled coconut shell!! TO. DIE. FOR!!

 Here are a few snaps I took!

Bags and hats!!




Vintage commercials!!


Lunch - Pah Thai 

Tasty snacks being made! An egg mixture with seafood and chives!! 

 Worms?  Not for people, for birds! What, do you think they eat EVERYTHING here! :P

Getting there:
If you are in Bangkok and want to visit these markets I recommend it.  If you really want to look at a lot then you should definitely give yourself a full day!  You can get there buy either taxi or public transport, but we could not find a taxi which would take us by the meter so we had to negotiate a price.  We managed to get to and from our hotel (near Patpong) for 200 THB. This included all road tolls etc.  The trip took us about 20 mins each way, though we did have good traffic.

What about you, what did you do for Christmas?

Until next time,


Follow me on twitter @TheDanFactor

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Everything in Bangkok is pink...

It dawned on me yesterday that Bangkok has a slight tinge of pink to it.  Seriously, everything is freaking pink!! How very metro! While walking around the markets for an hour yesterday I grabbed a few cheeky snaps for you! There was a lot more pink than this, trust me, I just didn't want to bother you with pink cups, birdcages and fly squats!

Confectionary and sprinkles!! 

My water for lunch and the straws that came with!!

A radom cyclist wearing a not so random colour t-shirt!

See, proof!  Two shirts in one shot!

Weekend market transportation!

Massage parlour...

Front and centre - rip off D&G undies!

A taxi...

...and just in case you thought that was a fluke... 3 in one shot...

A body massage parlour and club.... I didn't know if it was JC or JO... we preferred JO.

A club a block from our hotel.

Hope you enjoyed the snaps, off to Koh Samui tomorrow!!!

Until next time!


Follow me on Twitter @TheDanFactor

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Patong St and Christmas Eve - BANGKOK STYLE!!

I arrived in Bangkok around lunchtime, Christmas eve, and proceeded to Le Meridien Bangkok to meet some dear friends Melissa and Asheesh.  The hotel is AMAZING. I have stayed in some very nice hotels in my time but this one pretty much takes the cake.  stay tuned for some info on it..  I checked in immediately using the same little trick on their free computers in the lobby!

We headed to Somboon Seafood restaurant for an amazing late lunch.  Samboon was recommend to us by the concierge and it specialises in seafood.  We ordered about 5 dishes with some glasses of beer, of course, and each meal was quite good. Some were rather spicy, the tom yum soup was to die for as were the shrimp balls and fish.

Whole fish with chilli, ginger, garlic and basil.

After lunch we decided to go for a walk to let our meal settle and find a refreshing beverage to maintain our fluids.  We walked a few blocks and found our way into the Patpong district of bars, street sellers and ping pong shows!  Mel and I stopped to have a chat while Asheesh was dealing with a work call and we couldn't figure out why some guy was unrelenting in his determination to see his ping pong show.  That was until we saw what we were standing next to (below).  We said we would love to see the shows if he was in them which he was adamant he wasn't. Pity. He just looked at us strangely then moved on.  What a light weight!!

Looking for some magic or inspiration in your sex life. Viola!

We did find a somewhat less sleazy venue to sit down at which supplied many cocktails, drinks and eats, served by lady boys dressed and Santa... or Mrs Claus, not sure which.

My gin and tonic with a swivel stick.

 I've looked better!! So have that fake sleeve tattoo someone tried to sell me! :)
I did buy a lighter than projects an image of three people in a consensual activity though decided not to put a picture of that on here... pretty funny though!!

Our waiter.  Ms Man Claus!! 

After our sex infused G&Ts, we decided to get a massage back near our hotel before we went out for the night.  Only to find, low and behold, Asheesh's masseuse's name was Porn. No joke.  Can you believe that?  You're a masseuse named Porn, in Bangkok.  How many happy endings would you have been asked for??  I really wanted to take a picture but felt that would be too rude!!

We decided that it was time for us to move on from the children of the night and progress to what we are more accustomed to... fine drinks and good venues!!  Mel, Asheesh and I have now officially parties in some of the best venues in 3 countries this year, Australia, Thailand and Indonesia (OK, it was Bali, but the nicer parts of Bali).

I had read a few years ago that the rooftop bar in Bangkok named Sirocco was one of the top ten places you had to drink at in Asia, so we decided to go there after heading back to the hotel briefly to shower and change into something more appropriate.

The Rooftop bar is outside of the dome on top of the State Tower and is an amazing venue.  However, the use of space we all thought was under-utilised and the dress standard definitely wasn't being maintained (we were told no t-shirts, shorts etc).  Unfortunately what is an amazing venue and bar turned out to be a lot of tourists coming for one drink, photo's and then leaving.  This was all to the detriment of any atmosphere which the venue was definitely lacking, which was disappointing because there is so much potential.  There was an amazing jazz quartet playing above the dining and bar area, the drinks were large and good quality (I ordered the cucumber gin and tonic - amazing).  However, there definitely wasn't a vibe, it wasn't intimate, and was overcrowded with people coming for a quick look then leaving. However, the view is incredible as it is on the 64th floor.  You have a sweeping panorama over Bangkok and the river Chao Phraya.  Sunset views from Sirocco would be mesmerising!!  You actually end up being higher than any fireworks which are going off in the city which different - looking down at fireworks! The backdrop of the golden dome is nearly as impressive as the view.  Some of you may recognise the venue from the Hangover II.

Overall though, we found the venue too crowded for a bar it's size with the wrong type of clientele (poorly dressed) for what it deserved. While it is Christmas eve, and so may have been busier than normal, we thought it was a bit over-rated.  The bar is worth popping into and having a drink, but if you do take a light jacket as is can get cool. Once you have made a look and a drink or two move to the other side of the dome and look for a less talked about (but equally as good), less crowded bar called Distil.

Looking back at the dome from the roof top bar

Me, Melissa and Asheesh.  The photographer could have been better - I apologise!! :) 

 Distil offeres a similar type of service and menu to the roof top bar, however also serves free pistachio and olives with all drinks. There is a choice of standing tables or day beds to drink at.  We took a standing table while each ordered a drink and enjoyed being out of the wind (Distil is much more comfortable temperate wise being out of the wind) .  Mel and I ordered a "Cool as a Cucumber" cocktail, hoping for something similar to a cucumber gin and tonic and managed to get something very green with peas in it... (below).  It was quite nice, but the peas were a bit interesting!! At both bars expect to pay about 500 Baht for a drink plus taxes and surcharges.

'Cool as a Cucumber' cocktail from Distil at the top of the State Tower in Bangkok.

We were knackered after this, so retired to our hotel in the hope Santa would remember we were here!

What did you do for your Christmas Eve??

Until next time,


Follow me on Twitter @TheDanFactor