This blog concentrates on Bali, particularly Ubud, Thailand, particularly Bangkok,  Burma, particularly Rangoon, England, particularly Rye, and Photography.

Muay Thai or Thai boxingMuay Thai or Thai boxing is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking and various clinching techniques. In Western boxing, the two fighters are separated when they clinch; in Muay Thai, they are not. It is often in the clinch where knee and elbow techniques are used. It is known as the “art … Continue reading Muay Thai or Thai boxing
Buffalo Racing FestivalRama V (Chulalongkorn) (1868-1910) is one of the most revered of Thailand’s kings. Every 23 October, the anniversary of the king’s death, is a public holiday. In Chonburi, 100 kilometres east of Bangkok, about an hour and a half’s drive from Bangkok, near Pattaya, a Buffalo Racing Festival is held on that day. The Buffalo … Continue reading Buffalo Racing Festival
Happy Saraswati DaySaraswati. Saraswati Day takes place on the last day of the 210 day calendar and is devoted to the goddess of learning, Saraswati, who is the wife of Brahma, the god of creation. She lives on the tip of the human tongue and on written letters of poems inscribed on palm leaf manuscripts, the lontar, … Continue reading Happy Saraswati Day
Satė – one of the World’s 50 Best FoodsSatė. Indonesian Satė is listed as Number 14 of the World’s 50 Best Foods according to the CNN Travel’s readers’ poll of July 2017. Professor Murdijati Gardjito of Gadja Madha University, Yogyakarta, has recently discovered that Indonesia has 252 varieties, which stretch over the whole archipelago, except in Lampung, a province in South Sumatra, and … Continue reading Satė – one of the World’s 50 Best Foods
Going, Going, Gone – BanksyLast Friday night in London, 5 October 2018, Sotheby’s auctioneer slammed down his gavel and uttered the famous trio of words, ‘Going, Going, Gone’ and as soon as the monosyllabic last word ‘Gone’ had passed his lips, it had indeed gone. The auctioneer had just coaxed the final bidder to offer a record-breaking £1.04m for … Continue reading Going, Going, Gone – Banksy
Emping are irresistibleEmping are crispy, crunchy, irresistible Indonesian chips, made of tasty melinjo nuts, which are, in fact, seeds. The snacky crackers have a very slight bitter taste and once you start you can’t stop! Best served with a pinch of salt and a glass of white or red at Murni’s Houses  – a must-have after a … Continue reading Emping are irresistible
Happy Batik Day! Mega MendungHappy Batik Day! Mega Mendung It’s getting on for 10 years since  UNESCO recognized batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on 2 October 2009. Today, on National Batik Day, the kids in Bali’s schools are wearing batik to celebrate. Batik forms a large, eye-dazzling part of modern Indonesian fashion. It’s … Continue reading Happy Batik Day! Mega Mendung
Melaspas Bringing Buildings to Life BaliMelaspas – Bringing Buildings to Life in Bali All buildings must be brought to life and purified before they can be occupied in a ceremony called melaspas. The wood, stone and thatch, cut down and killed for the construction, are, as it were, reincarnated. All parts are symbolically unified; posts and beams are ‘married’. Melaspas … Continue reading Melaspas Bringing Buildings to Life Bali
It’s Cool to be a Jesuit – St Anthonys Church, Yogyakarta, JavaIt’s Cool to be a Jesuit – St Anthonys Church, Yogyakarta, Java Pope Francis is a Jesuit and he’s cool. He’s the first Jesuit pope since  St Ignatius of Loyola and six other students from the University of Paris formed the Society of Jesus in 1534 nearly 500 years ago . Pope Paul III allowed … Continue reading It’s Cool to be a Jesuit – St Anthonys Church, Yogyakarta, Java
What’s Melasti?What’s Melasti? Bali has many unique traditions and one of the most colourful is Melasti, three days before the Balinese New Year, known as Nyepi. On this day, beginning in the morning, Balinese Hindus parade in Balinese dress down to the beaches, major rivers,  holy springs and lakes. One such beach is called Masceti. Melasti … Continue reading What’s Melasti?
Bali is The Top Destination in AsiaBali is The Top Destination in Asia Bali is The Top Destination in Asia – the Number 1 Travelers’ Choice by Trip Advisor 2018 – and the Number 4  Destination in the World after Paris, London and Rome. Trip Advisor say “The artistic capital of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, … Continue reading Bali is The Top Destination in Asia
Demons in BaliDemons in Bali Murni’s Houses, my boutique hotel in Ubud, hosted a gaggle (is that the right word?)  of excitable photographers from Austria, Australia and England last week, drawn by the prospect of huge, scary, colourful demons of Bali awaiting them on the streets in various stages of creation. The ogoh-ogoh are inventive and frightening. … Continue reading Demons in Bali
The Photographer’s Workflow by Gavin GoughThe Photographer’s Workflow by Gavin Gough I read this 130 page 10-step guide from ebook cover to ebook cover. Over the last few years I’ve read everything I could get my hands on – and there’s quite a lot to get your hands on – concerning Lightroom. I can easily say that this latest ebook, … Continue reading The Photographer’s Workflow by Gavin Gough
Grand Nikko Hotel, Nusa Dua, BaliGrand Nikko Hotel, Nusa Dua, Bali.   Grand Nikko Hotel, Nusa Dua, Bali certainly has a ring to it. We had to go down to Nusa Dua for a wine-tasting and it was just too far, after all that wine, to drive back to Ubud, so we picked a hotel that had a grand sounding … Continue reading Grand Nikko Hotel, Nusa Dua, Bali
Bali Photography ToursBali Photography Tours   We’ve been talking to David about the possibility of offering Bali Photography Tours to guests of Murni’s Houses for over a decade and now it’s finally happened. It was worth the wait!     He’s providing Half Day and Full Day tours – there are four different themes to choose from. … Continue reading Bali Photography Tours
Living the Rangoon DreamMurni explains how the history of one of the World’s great hotels is inextricably bound up with Myanmar’s roller coaster history: Living the Rangoon Dream. March 2015 The Strand, Yangon.   The four Armenian brothers, Martin, Arshak, Aviet and Tigran Sarkies, legendary hoteliers, were born in Isfahan, Persia and created outstanding, mind-blowing, Western but Asian-style, … Continue reading Living the Rangoon Dream
The Photographer’s Post-Production Lightroom Video TutorialsThe Photographer’s Post-Production Lightroom Video Tutorials   I am very pleased to report that Gavin Gough has just released a fantastic series of video tutorials on how to use the development capabilities of Lightroom. It is called The Photographer’s Post-Production Lightroom Video Tutorials and concentrates on developing images in the Develop module. I really cannot … Continue reading The Photographer’s Post-Production Lightroom Video Tutorials
Orchids, Bangkok, ThailandOrchids, Bangkok, Thailand Or Tor Kor Market, Bangkok, Thailand has been voted as CNN’s 4th best fresh market in the World. Located next to Bangkok’s busy Chatuchak weekend market, it is packed with exotic fruits and vegetables that are unique to Thailand, as well as imported specialties from around Asia. The market is immaculate and … Continue reading Orchids, Bangkok, Thailand
Happy Jewish New Year!Happy Jewish New Year! Happy Jewish New Year!   Every Jewish New Year is special, but this time it is really special as it will never be repeated on this date again, well not for a long time..   The last time Rosh Hashanah came this early was 1899 and the next time will be … Continue reading Happy Jewish New Year!
Happy Independence Day, IndonesiaHappy Independence Day, Indonesia After a long struggle, on 27 December 1949, the Dutch finally recognised Indonesia as an independent state and transferred sovereignty to the Republic of the United States of Indonesia. On 17 August 1950, which was the fifth anniversary of the declaration of Independence, the country was proclaimed the Republic of Indonesia. … Continue reading Happy Independence Day, Indonesia
Friendly Ubud, Bali, IndonesiaFriendly Ubud, Bali, Indonesia 46,000 readers of Conde-Nast Traveler, the world’s premier travel magazine, have just voted Ubud the 9th friendliest city in the World. In 2010 the majority of 25,000 of its readers voted Ubud the “Best City in Asia.” I’m not sure Ubud is a city, I’m not even sure that it is … Continue reading Friendly Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Queen Sirikit’s Birthday, Bangkok, ThailandQueen Sirikit’s Birthday, Bangkok, Thailand Queen Sirikit’s Birthday, Bangkok, Thailand It’s Queen Sirikit’s 81st birthday today.  She and King Bhumibol left hospital a few days ago and are celebrating in Hua Hin. The rest of the country is celebrating too and the place is full of posters. It’s also Thailand’s Mother’s Day and a national … Continue reading Queen Sirikit’s Birthday, Bangkok, Thailand
Ambling in Amed, East BaliAmbling in Amed, East Bali Last week we went to Amed. Murni and I were with Southeast Asian textiles’ expert Dr Linda McIntosh and we were on a mission. The mission was to scout out places to bring a small select group of textile enthusiasts to. We needed to find interesting weavers and dyers, who … Continue reading Ambling in Amed, East Bali
A Walk on the Wild Side, Ubud, BaliIt’s easy to get off the beaten track in Ubud.  A Walk on the Wild Side, Ubud, Bali follows. Recently Murni and I took  two of our guests at Murni’s Houses for a walk on the wild side. It only took five minutes to be in the rice paddies and amongst the coconut and palm … Continue reading A Walk on the Wild Side, Ubud, Bali
Mask Ceremony, Ubud, BaliMask Ceremony, Ubud, Bali. Last month the whole community in Ubud attended an unusual ceremony.   Mask Ceremony, Ubud, Bali. Balinese masks take many forms and are usually carved from a special,  fine-grained, cream-coloured, light wood called pule (alstonia scholaris), which grows in graveyards. Two of the masks in question came from a pule tree … Continue reading Mask Ceremony, Ubud, Bali
Kuningan in Ubud, BaliToday is Kuningan in Ubud, Bali, which is the last day of the 10 day holiday beginning on Galungan when the gods descend and are present. Today the gods leave Bali. The roads are decorated, shrines are covered in glorious textiles and statues are dressed. The Balinese pray at their temples and shrines. It’s an  … Continue reading Kuningan in Ubud, Bali
New Spa Ceremony in Ubud, BaliNew Spa Ceremony in Ubud, Bali     1st June was not just a day, it was an auspicious day, and it was not just an auspicious day, it was a triply auspicious day. Perfect for a New Spa Ceremony in Ubud, Bali. The Balinese believe in auspicious days. They are coincidence days, rather like … Continue reading New Spa Ceremony in Ubud, Bali
The Tarot Reader of UbudThe Tarot Reader of Ubud   It’s not every day that you meet a tarot reader, and certainly not every day that you meet one  in Ubud, and especially not one who advises top government ministers. Meet The Tarot Reader of Ubud.     It is not unusual in Asian countries for government decisions to … Continue reading The Tarot Reader of Ubud
The Barongs of BaliThe Barongs of Bali   The Barong is unique to Bali and every time you see one it’s exciting. As you can see, they look life-like. They have spirit and come in various forms, the most common one being the Barong Ket. They symbolize Bali. Murni’s Warung Shop was honored to be asked to commission … Continue reading The Barongs of Bali
Candi Dasa – East BaliCandi Dasa – East Bali   Even in Bali, it’s sometimes important to get away from it all and Candi Dasa – East Bali is a pretty accessible place.     Candi Dasa is a quiet, sleepy seaside town in eastern Bali that rests on the edge of a lagoon.     When we come … Continue reading Candi Dasa – East Bali
Darmaji School – East BaliDarmaji School – East Bali   Every year we visit this wonderful school Darmaji School – East Bali with the founders of The Ganesha Foundation, a charity which supports the school under the auspices of the East Bali Poverty Project.     Its purpose is to help children receive a basic secular education.     The … Continue reading Darmaji School – East Bali
Walking Street – Pattaya – ThailandWalking Street – Pattaya – Thailand   Walking Street – Pattaya – Thailand is probably the most exciting street in the world if like to have fun.     We went with our friends. We knew what to expect as we’d been there before.     There are all kinds of entertainment, bars, discos, gogo-dancing, … Continue reading Walking Street – Pattaya – Thailand
The Lady Boys of Pattaya ThailandThe Lady Boys of Pattaya Thailand, is a famous cabaret show performed by lady-boys, and trans-gender dancers.     We are lucky to have friends who live in Pattaya and visited for 2 days. On the first night we went to the famous show.     It’s hard to believe your eyes. The dancers wear … Continue reading The Lady Boys of Pattaya Thailand
Flower Festival Chiang Mai ThailandFlower Festival Chiang Mai Thailand   Flower Festival Chiang Mai Thailand. There’s a glorious three-day festival held during the first weekend in February each year, when Chiang Mai’s temperate and tropical flowers are in full bloom.     We’ve been many times to Chiang Mai but this was the first time in February.     … Continue reading Flower Festival Chiang Mai Thailand
Chiang Mai Portraits, ThailandThere is something about Chiang Mai. It’s laid back, often literally. People take their time and they have  time for you. And they smile. For me, it’s the ideal place for portraits and street photography, especially in the Chinatown area. On my last morning in Chiang Mai my shoe broke and this wonderful lady fixed … Continue reading Chiang Mai Portraits, Thailand
Dancing in Chiang Mai ThailandDancing in Chiang Mai Thailand   In Chiang Mai, Thailand as part of the three-day Flower Festival held during the first weekend in February each year, there are dancing performances on a stage at Thappae Gate, the entrance to the old walled city of Chiang Mai.     Our hotel was only 5 minutes’ walk … Continue reading Dancing in Chiang Mai Thailand