Bangkok Sensory Overload


IMG_4206Arriving in Bangkok for the very first time we experienced very quickly what I termed BSO, Bangkok Sensory Overload.  Visually Bangkok is “busy” with a lot of people 8 million in fact, wearing between them a lot of smiles.

Traffic is congested being a built-up and enormous sprawling city, with life being lived on the streets themselves.  The colors are vibrant, patterns ornate, and the colour gold in abundance.  The noise is just loud, your hearing is cluttered with general city life, overhead sky trains and a heavy dose of 24 hour building construction.

The smells are from one extreme to the other with pollution as a backdrop.  You can almost taste the food before you eat it with the powerful Thai spices and fragrances intermingling.  Outside you can feel the place on your skin, sweat droplets formed by the heat and humidity trickling down you, until you step indoors.  That is into one of the numerous cavernous and vacuous shopping malls, and experience arctic air-conditioning, for which, we are very thankful.

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On the move….to Bangkok, Thailand

In the summer of 2013, after six years living in Atyrau, western Kazakhstan a true hardship assignment we have our new marching orders; Bangkok, Thailand and, we are very happy about it.  Moving house is one thing, moving jobs, country, schools is yet another daunting task. Always made easier however remembering that we’ve done it before (many times), and it always works out, even when you think it might not.  Boxes packed and loaded, long term storage sorted, dog shipped, goodbyes said……. then repeat the other end but in reverse.

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middle Middle

Our middle child and tallest graduated Middle School in the summer of 2013.  After six years living in Kazakhstan and attending DAIS it was time to move on to something larger than a school with 50 kids and only eight in the graduating class!  The cavernous school gym provided the backdrop to the traditional American ceremony followed by numerous photo opportunities.  All the kids are moving on, there is no further schooling available to expat kids here so an assortment of boarding schools and new assignments await at various locations around the world.


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The West Coast of Scotland

Early spring 2013 we revisited the north west coast of Scotland with purpose in mind.  Staying at The Torridon Hotel situated on the edge of Loch Torridon we came together as a family to enjoy the natural world of the rugged west coast, and appreciate life for a week at a slow pace.  10 years previously my father-in-law passed away, and his ashes were placed in a cairn made by the family overlooking Loch Torridon.  Weathered over the passage of time it was time to rebuild and revisit this beautiful resting place.  The weather was peaceful, views spectacularly dramatic, castles old and crumbly, and lots of brisk bracing hill walks.


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Paris in the Spring Time

IMG_3158My tall little girl turned 14, and for her birthday we left Kazakhstan and took a girls trip to Paris for four days.  My folks came too for the multi-generational experience.  We went up the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed dinner there a few nights later with boat ride down the Seine.  Sauntered as one does down the Champs-Elysees and took our lives in our hands navigating the Arc de Triomphe.

We explored and got lost in The Louvre and were surprised how small the Mona Lisa painting is up close and personal.  In Notre Dame we witnessed a group of ladies bare chested and demonstrating, probably then didn’t really need to pay to go and see more bare chested ladies at The Moulin Rouge later that night.  My favorite was probably The Musee d’Orsay a converted railway station with paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir and Monet.  Time well spent one on one with a kid growing up fast.

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Cambridge Reunion

IMG_0504The first week in the New Year saw us in Cambridge, England enjoying a big family reunion with my husband’s side of the family. From Australia to Kazakhstan and Bristol to London, we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday. In total we gathered; four siblings with spouses,  and nearly a full house of 11 grandchildren, in the beautiful and historic city of Cambridge where she lives still.

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Christmas Traditions

IMG_2620Christmas Eve family church service snowing & wrapped up warm, last minute Christmas shopping, walking through Breckenridge enjoying the lights.  Hanging the stockings by the fireplace, setting out the goodies for Santa & his reindeers (still).  Christmas morning opening presents, Christmas day blue bird ski-ing, Christmas evening turkey dinner & a movie.  Mince pies, Christmas cake, Fortnum & Mason chocolates – all things English.

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Angles in Architecture

IMG_2709We had never built a house before.  So a few years ago, when we decided to go ahead, we spent a significant amount of time researching architects and were very happy to finally get to work with Hagman Architects based in Basalt, Colorado.

We knew what we wanted; a contemporary house with lots of sharp angles, clean lines, masses of glass, concrete floors, stainless steel, and interesting mixes of metal and wood.

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The Old and The New

IMG_1881Atyrau is an interesting and slowly changing city.  The main roads in the city are lined with gleaming glass fronted modern office buildings, interspersed with Soviet style apartment blocks.  The back streets are lined with a mishmash of old wooden and corrugated homes (often painted blue) all rubbing shoulders in a city of contrasts. Only just over 20 years ago the country obtained independence and these things take time, generational time in fact.  In the meantime the eclectic mix of the old and new makes for interesting viewing.

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It’s not Sainsbury’s or Safeway’s

IMG_1901Shopping has always been an adventure in Atyrau not knowing what you are going to be able to buy, and having to go to at least three or four markets or shops across town.  One thing is for sure that over the last five years since we have lived here, the variety of food stuff has increased dramatically, and as with any free market so have the prices. WordPress has been blocked in KZ so my posts haven’t been as frequent as I would have liked, sorry.



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