Archive for ‘December, 2012’

See the Fireworks in Sydney on New Year’s Eve

By Chris K

Today’s Itinerary

  • 9AM – Grab your picnic food and drinks
  • 11AM – Grab your spot on the Harbour for the fireworks
  • 9PM – Family fireworks show in Sydney Harbour and Darling Harbour
  • 12PM – New Year’s Eve in Sydney! We’re gonna party like it’s 1999!
  • Stay up to date with a free subscription to our daily destinations email

We’ve made it to Sydney after an amazing road trip through the East coast of Australia. It’s the end of a long, fantastic year of travel and inspiration, and it’s time to let our hair down a little.

Ok, a lot.

We’re in Sydney for New Year’s Eve, and there’s only one show in Sydney that we need to see – the fireworks!

What is it about fireworks that can make grown men and women gasp and gaze into the sky slack-jawed with wonder? Could it be that we feel like we are looking into the universal truth about our origins, or is it just that we like to see pretty colours and things exploding? We don’t know, but maybe after a few champagnes on NYE we’ll have a better answer.

One thing we do know for sure it that we’ll be witness to the best New Year’s Eve fireworks display in the world.

Want proof? Check out this infographic provided by the City of Sydney.

what on sydney? sydney harbour bridge fireworks on new year's eve

Infographic by City of Sydney

Sydney New Year’s Eve Fireworks Facts:

  • Sydney’s NYE fireworks display draws the largest crowd in the world, of approximately 1.5 million people
  • over a billion people watch the Sydney Fireworks on television
  • there are more than 100,000 individual fireworks set off on New Year’s Eve
  • and the whole event is carbon neutral!

source: City of Sydney

The plan for New Year’s Eve in Sydney

The plan is to have a picnic on New Year’s Eve, staking out a spot with an amazing view as early as possible.

There are over 1.5 million people trying to get a great view of the fireworks, remember! So don’t be surprised if you get there late and find all of the good spots taken. With so many people wanting to be dazzled by the spectacular fireworks and the amazing party atmosphere, we need to find a venue, fast!

Luckily, there are many options all around the harbour to see the fireworks, and these include locations that are alcohol free or BYO (bring your own), that have disabled access, and that provide food and beverage available to purchase. It’s an important decision to make, because you don’t want to be uhm-ing and ahh-ing on the morning of New Year’s Eve.

We need to know where to go! So to kickstart your research, we’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you below.

By far the most up-to-date information on New Year’s Eve locations in Sydney is provided by the City of Sydney here.

Sydney NYE Tip:

There are plenty of options to choose from when trying to decide which is the best place to see the fireworks on NYE, but recently, many of the most popular sites have introduced limited access with ticketing. You’ll need to purchase tickets in advance to get into some of the most popular places to New Year’s Eve in Sydney.

Here are 11 amazing places to watch the fireworks in Sydney on New Year’s Eve

Our top spots to watch the fireworks, culled from years of research and personal experience in trying to get as close to the action as possible!

1. Sydney Opera House

  • Address: Bennelong Point, Circular Quay, 2001
  • Capacity: 4,200
  • Open from: 6.00am
  • Open till: 2.00am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

There aren’t very many places that offer vantage points as good as the Sydney Opera House. Just imagine standing underneath those gleaming sails as the sky above you explodes in outrageous colour combinations that only Sydney can pull off. There’s limited capacity here so make sure you get in as early as you can – but you’ll be glad you did.

2. Dawes Point (Tar-Ra) Park

Wondering what to do in Sydney? Why not get an amazing view of the fireworks by showing up early to secure your spot.

Photo by Nigel Howe, looking back to Dawes Point and the Harbour Bridge. CC License

  • Address: Parkland, Dawes Point Park, The Rocks
  • Capacity: 25,000
  • Open from: 12:00am
  • Open till: 12.00am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

The official City of Sydney NYE website says that “there’s only a limited view of the fireworks”. Well, that may be the case if you leave your run too late – but most revellers on the lower end of George Street in the Rocks are having way too much of a good time to pay attention to when the fireworks are about to start. If you make your way down towards the bridge at around 11:30 PM, you might be able to sneak yourself into a good position.

3. East Circular Quay

  • Address: Promenade, Alfred St, Sydney, 2000
  • Capacity: 4,500
  • Entry Fee: FREE

A location that will fill up fast, and can get quite crowded. You’ll have a spectacular view but keep in mind that once capacity is reached, access will be closed and there will only be pass-outs until 10PM.

4. Campbell’s Cove

  • Address: Hickson Rd, Sydney, 2000
  • Capacity: 6,000
  • Open from: Midday
  • Open till: 12.30am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

Campbell’s Cove has got to be one of the best places in Sydney to watch the fireworks. A great view of the Harbour Bridge and directly across from the Opera House, you’re really in the middle of the action here.

5. The Cahill Expressway …what?

The Cahill Expressway – yes, that’s right folks – on a road! Not just any road though – the Cahill Expressway has got to have one of the best views in all off Sydney, taking in both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House from it’s position above Circular Quay. This year, Transport for New South Wales are running a competition to watch the fireworks from the Cahill Expressway, with a family-friendly event planned.

6. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

  • Address: Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney, 2000
  • Capacity: 17,000
  • Open from: 10.00am
  • Open till: 12.30am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, located in the Royal Botanic Gardens, is a perennial favourite for watching the fireworks. Do note, however, there is a long, long list of restrictions for this site. These include;

  • All patrons entering the site will be subject to security searches
  • No BYO alcohol
  • No glass
  • No unsealed beverages, including water
  • No pets
  • No plastic sheeting/tarps
  • No tents, pegs or shade structures
  • No barbecues
  • No bicycles
  • No sharp or serrated knives
  • No bean bags, mattresses or inflatable furniture
  • No sparklers
  • No footballs
  • No frisbees

So beware! And leave the frisbee at home this New Year’s Eve.

7. Harbourlights

  • Location: Fleet Steps South, Mrs Macquarie’s Point
  • Open from: 6.30 pm
  • Open Till: 1.00 am

Prepare to bring in the New Year at this 18+ only party.

8. Lawn with a View

  • Location: Bennelong Lawn, Tarpiean Way, Sydney 2000
  • Open from: 7.00 pm
  • Open till: 12.30 am

Don’t forget to bring your own picnic rug to this one! Some other essential NYE picnic items are;

  • Champagne or Australian Sparkling Wine
  • bottled water
  • plenty of food – dips, chips, sausage rolls, olives, oysters, prawns…let your stomach guide you
  • speakers for your iPhone/iPod
  • sunscreen – you’ll need it if you’ve gotten in early to get a good spot. Make sure it’s SPF 30+, and reapply
  • insect repellent
  • playing cards or board games
  • camera and tripod

9. Blues Point Reserve

  • Address: Blues Point Road, McMahons Point, 2060
  • Capacity: 12,000
  • Open from: Midday
  • Open till: 12:30am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

A bit tough to get to if you’re staying in town, but the advantage of distance is perspective – and you’ll have a great perspective of the action.

10. Bradfield Park

  • Address: Alfred Street, North Sydney, 2061
  • Capacity: 50,000
  • Open from: Midday
  • Open till: 12:30am
  • Entry Fee: FREE

This is one of the absolute best locations in Sydney to watch the fireworks, but this is one spot that will fill to capacity pretty quickly. Get in early, and grab your spot.

11. Goat Island

Goat Island – funny name, but it has some spectacular views of the fireworks during New Year’s Eve. It is ticketed but the good news is that your ticket includes the cost of return transport from King Street Wharf in Sydney.

Best Family Friendly Place to Watch the Fireworks

Bradley’s Head

With no alcohol allowed here and bag searches to make sure, plus plenty of entertainment provided for the kids, they’re sure to enjoy the night leading up to the biggest fireworks display in the world.

Taronga Zoo

Roar with the lions as the fireworks light up the sky. This is definitely a family-friendly place to watch the fireworks, and the proceeds from ticket sales go to supporting the Lemurs. Goodness knows they’ve had a tough year!

Best place to camp out for New Year’s Eve

Cockatoo Island

Enjoy three days of camping, with barbeques, asian feasts, and hot breakfasts, as you both settle in to enjoy, and recover from, the fireworks display that’s taking place right above you.

The most expensive place to watch the fireworks?

Blu Bar, The Shangri-La Hotel: Granted, you’ll have an incredible panoramic view of Sydney, but at $600 per person, you’d almost expect to be able to set off your own fireworks!

Make sure you take some amazing New Year’s Eve Photographs

Our tip: don’t forget to bring your tripod! It will help you make sure your photographs are super-sharp. Ken Rockwell gives some more detailed tips on taking photographs of fireworks.

For inspiration, have a look at this gallery (and thank the many talented photographers, who have generously shared their pictures under a Creative Commons License.

Oh, what a night!

So – have you found a pozzy? (as they say in Oz – they mean, “have you found a good location”).

Great. Let’s kick our shoes off, enjoy some amazing food and fantastic wine, and count down to the New Year will all of our friends and family, past and present.

From Jacob and Chris, a big thankyou to everyone who has made our year one of the best ever. We can’t wait to keep travelling with you, next year and beyond.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

How to add Facebook comments to a WordPress blog without removing the WordPress comments

Wordpress comments disappear when using the Facebook Social Plugin. Here is how to prevent WordPress comments disappearing.

We heart WordPress.

This post is a quick shout-out to two sites who helped us solve an issue with our WordPress site.

We recently added the Facebook Social Plugin – to allow our readers to better share our travel content to the people they know who also find travel as inspiring as we do.

However, it seemed that the Facebook sharing plugin removes WordPress comments when it is enabled. This wasn’t ideal, so we went searching for some WordPress help.

We found the answers in these two posts, and wanted to publicly say thanks for helping us with our WordPress and Facebook problems!

WP.TutsPlus.com

The granddaddy of tutorials, both WordPress and otherwise, we were really happy to find this post.

It took a long time to track down something which solved out specific issue in this case, which was that the Facebook WordPress plugin removes WordPress comments by default.

We didn’t want to get dirty playing around in the plugin files, so this post by TutsPlus provided another option – with a little bit of modification to the WordPress theme, we could include both Facebook and WordPress comments together in the same post. That way our readers have the choice of with which option to post a comment – and we love hearing from our readers.

Thanks, TutsPlus!

http://wp.tutsplus.com/tutorials/the-ultimate-guide-to-implementing-facebook-comments-on-your-blog/

Designpx.com

There were some great pointers in this article that helped us to place and format Facebook comments along with our WordPress comments. Thanks!

http://designpx.com/tutorials/facebook-comments-box-plugin/

Road Trip, Sunset Cruise, Joy Flight, Wine Tasting, In Heaven?

By Jacob Aldridge

Today’s Itinerary

Beach Sunrise - not just blue

Sunrise in Yamba, northern New South Wales. Photo by Mark Wassell, Licensed under Creative Commons

Australia has a reputation for being a big country. It covers 5% of the earth’s surface all by itself, is twice the size of India (but with just 2% of the population), and is the only country that is coterminous with a continent (we like big words).

Australians also have an infatuation with ‘bigness’, and no Australian road trip is complete without visiting at least some of these … attractions. As we continue our drive down the east coast, we bypass the Big Prawn in Ballina but make sure to stop at the unmissable icon that is Coffs Harbour’s Big Banana.

The Big Banana

Australia’s Big Banana, in Coffs Harbour. Picture by Adam. Licensed under Creative Commons

Since it opened in December 1964, the site has grown into a theme park of sorts and the Big Banana itself has featured on an Australian stamp!. We’re happy to settle for a walk-through the icon, a photo in front, and a banana split (what else?!) in the cafe.

Friday afternoon we arrive at tonight’s pitstop, the beach-side town of Port Macquarie. We’ve missed the May-November whale watching season, but there’s always time to grab a cold drink and enjoy a 90 minute sunset cruise with Port Venture Cruises.

Sunset over the water

Sunset in Port Macquarie, NSW Australia. Photo by Eugene Regis, Licensed under Creative Commons

Saturday morning dawns, and while the humidity decreases with every hour we drive further south, it’s still warm enough to justify an early morning swim before we jump in the car. They call it the Pacific Highway for a reason, as the Pacific Ocean is never too far away.

Until, that is, we turn inland, headed for the regional town of Cessnock. After a few days of relaxation by the water, it’s time to amp up the adrenaline again, and we have just the experience: a 35 minute joyflight in aboard a Nanchang Warbird!

Joyflight - joy?

Joyflight in a 1957 Nanchang Warbird. Picture Copyright Freeman X Experience

The angry flying dragon on the side of the plane speaks to the power the engine creates, as we find ourselves alternating between enjoying the 360 degree cockpit views and feeling the g-forces in manoeuvres at almost 400km/h (250mph). And just when you think you’ve got the hang of this, wham, the canopy opens! It’s intentional – so we can say we truly “felt the wind in our hair” as we zoomed above Newcastle.

Wine Barrel Hunter Valley

Wine Tasting. Photo by Wendy Harman, Licensed under Creative Commons

We’ve earned our drinks on Saturday night, and the town of Cessnock (like all good Australian country towns) offers plenty of local pubs to choose from. We’re really looking forward to Sunday morning, however; Cessnock is the heart of the Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s premier wine producing regions.

So from a heady plane flight yesterday to the heady flavours of a good Hunter Valley red wine – and as a sensible precaution, we’re taking a tour and letting someone else do the driving as we explore 5 of the regions 25+ vineyards … plus a cheese shop and some chocolate after lunch.

Two weeks ago it was Viennese Gluhwein, and here we are drinking a room temperature red wine under the Australian sun. How do you explore a big country? One unique experience at a time.

Want to go? Need to know!

  • The Big Pineapple in Queensland is another icon, though the ‘road trip tourist attraction’ is sadly dying in an era of discount airlines
  • Port Macquarie is a popular stop on the east coast Australia road trip, neatly breaking up the distance between Brisbane and Sydney. A longer alternative is to head inland, via towns like Tamworth, Dubbo, and Bathurst
  • Whale-watching season along Australia’s east coast runs from mid-May to mid-November, but there are never any guarantees even during the August-September peak period
  • 20 minute flights are also available from Cessnock, and there are a range of planes and experiences all around Australia
  • Australia’s 3 best wine regions are Margaret River (Western Australia), the Barossa Valley (South Australia), and the Hunter Valley (New South Wales)

Agree or disagree with our east coast Australia road trip suggestions? Want to recommend a winery elsewhere in Australia? Let us know in the comments below.

Let’s Surf Byron Now, Everybody’s Learning How…

By Jacob Aldridge

Today’s Itinerary

Learn to surf to be like this guy

Surfs up! Photo by Sander van Dijk, Licensed under Creative Commons

Nothing cures a Christmas hangover like an early morning swim in the ocean, so when we say farewell to Cabarita Beach in Australia we do so with clear heads full of beach Christmas memories.

We’ve hired a car, as we continue the self-drive exploration of Australia’s east coast, led by our local guide (and everydaydream co-founder) Jacob. There are almost 1,000 kilometres (625 miles) between the cities of Brisbane and Sydney – that’s the distance between Paris and Prague (but with far less Germany along the way).

Today is a much shorter stretch of that road, the drive from Cabarita Beach to Byron Bay. Byron, as it’s more commonly called, is Australia’s eastern-most point, home to an iconic light-house, several surf beaches, and a range of cultural events including the annual easter Blues and Roots festival.

The Lighthouse at the End of the World

Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia’s eastern-most point. Photo by thinboyfatter, Licensed under Creative Commons

We arrive about 11am, and the walk up to the lighthouse is our first destination. Construction began here in 1899, cost £10,042 (those are Australian Pounds; the Aussie dollar wasn’t born until St Valentine’s Day, 1966), and featured an eight-ton French-made optical lens. The lighthouse is still active, and also includes a permanent red light that shines on the nearby Julian Rocks, more famous today as a dive spot than for shipwrecks.

Not in Rome

When in Rome. Photo by Taki Lau, CC License

Obligatory “eastern most” photos taken, there’s a few moments to look out over the ocean and reflect that the expanse of the Pacific stretches here for 11,500 kilometres. Head out in a straight line, and the next land mass you will find is Chile, South America.

Lunch is a casual affair at the Beach Hotel. “Top Pub” to the locals, and situated in the middle of town overlooking Main Beach, it’s theorised that every backpacker who’s been to Byron has enjoyed a beer here, and the chips aren’t bad either.

And then we’re off down to Belongil Beach to learn how to surf with Black Dog Surfing. The basics of surfing seem simple as we run through them on the sand: dangle your feet over the back, pop yourself up with intent in one, quick movement, and then hold your balance.

Best Learn to Surf School in Australia, Byron Bay

Learn to Surf in Byron Bay, Australia. You won’t be the only one! Photo by Viajar24h, Licensed under Creative Commons

The only things to do in Byron Bay

Things to do in Byron Bay. Photo by BudgetPlaces.com, CC License

Sun set, Byron style. Photo by Aidan-Sally, CC License

Sun set, Byron style. Photo by Aidan-Sally, CC License

Actually mastering this while the waves are crashing down around you is a different matter! Thankfully, in this heat, nobody’s complaining about constantly being dumped into the cool blue water. And by the end of our 3.5 hour lesson, we’ve all managed to get upright a couple of times – nothing to challenge local(ish) boy and new surfing world champion Joel Parkinson, but enough to ensure we will leave Australia with some experience of this national obsession.

You can – and many people do – spend an entire holiday in this town. Our afternoon surf lesson is a start – there are even surf schools offering 3 month long intensives, until even the goofy foot can hang ten. For us though, there are other towns further south as we continue toward Australia’s largest city.

Want to go? Need to know!

  • Tourists make this trip on wildly varying budgets. One of the cheapest ways to do it is to rent a camper van – transport and accommodation in one expense. Wicked camper vans may not be the cleanest, but they sure are the funniest
  • A goofy foot is actually just a left handed surfer, so it’s not as insulting as it seems
  • Parko is actually a Coolie boy – closer to Cabarita than Byron, but local to Byron when compared with Vienna and Oman
  • Byron Bay hosts the Blues and Roots ‘Bluesfest’ festival in easter, and Splendour in the Grass in July. Different styles of music fans will have their preference; local farmers welcome both because it seems rain is guaranteed every time
  • The Pacific Highway runs down Australia’s east coast, and is a reliable road, although popularity (especially over Christmas) makes it Australia’s deadliest highway – drive safe

Are you a grommit, goofy foot, or newly crowned world champion? Share your surfing tips (or Australian coastline experiences) in the comments below.

Bridge Climb and an Australian Beach Christmas

Our Christmas Itinerary

By Jacob Aldridge

Waking up beside the water in the river city is always a treat, even when we do it this close to dawn. The first rays of each new sun strike the top of Mount Warning, about 2 hours south, and we have somewhere special to be not long after the sun rises in Brisbane: on top of the iconic Story Bridge.

After the safety instructions, we climb as a group 80 metres above the Brisbane River, right to the top of the steel cantilevered bridge, opened in 1940. This is your last chance for a bridge climb Christmas gift – photographs of you dressed like a Teletubbie in your grey-and-blue jumpsuit are a guaranteed hit.

Story Bridge Climbers

Climbers on the Story Bridge, Brisbane. Photo by ed37, Licensed Under Creative Commons

From up here you can see all the way from the Sunshine Coast up north to the Gold Coast down south. For tourists, Brisbane is mostly a gateway to these miles of beaches. And for Christmas, it’s south to the beaches that we must go. And we’re going down faster than you might imagine – this is an abseil climb!

If you’re used to a northern hemisphere winter Christmas, then an Aussie beach Christmas comes with fair warning. There are no chestnuts roasting on an open fire – in fact, there’s a total (outdoor) fire ban here at the moment, as the mercury moves past 30°C (86°F) most days.

Jacob's Christmas Pavlova

Our co-founder Jacob once made this Pavlova for a family Christmas. Once.

Hot roasts and puddings are mostly replaced by cold slices of ham and pavlova smothered in summer fruit. And forget staying indoors – an Australian ‘White Christmas’ means beach cricket and plenty of sand being kicked in the air.

Limoso put us in an airconditioned car for the trip – to avoid the GC crowds, we’re driving a little further south, to spend Christmas on the northern New South Wales beaches of Kingscliff and Cabarita.

Christmas day feels similar wherever it is celebrated. The anticipation; the opportunity to reflect on another year over, and a new one just begun. Travelling at Christmas and away from family, it can be a sad time, as those you love enjoy festivities without you. This can also be an opportunity to forge new traditions, replacing mulled Gluhwein and turkey with cold beer and prawns (or vice versa).

After the pressies, it’s down to the beach. Everyone’s a mate today, so get stuck into the nearest game of cricket – guaranteed there’s someone trying out the new set from Santa.

Sun, Sand, Water - Howzat!

Australia’s national sport, played in Australia’s favourite backyard – the local beach. Photo by Colin J, Licensed under Creative Commons

Some folk are sticklers for the rules of beach / backyard cricket – 3 step run ups to bowl, one-hand one-bounce catches, and any shot into the water is six and out. We’re more relaxed – making the water part of the game is a perfect excuse to field knee-deep in the ocean! Everyone agrees that you can’t get out first ball.

And there’s always patience for beginners – ask for a bat, have a swing, try not to get caught, and remember to have fun.

The perfect right hand break

Catching a wave. Photo by Aristocrats-hats, Licensed under Creative Commons

Cold prawns and cold beer

Prawns and Beer – enjoyed worldwide, perfected down under. Photo by Kevin Walsh, Licensed under Creative Commons

There’s unanimous agreement on the evening of Christmas Day, as we sip another cold drink, eat some more prawns, and brag about the waves we caught on a borrowed body board, or the diving catch we made in the sand. Today was brilliant, and with Boxing Day (December 26th) also a public holiday, we’ll be doing it all again tomorrow.

From the team at Every Daydream, have a Merry Christmas. On Thursday, we’ll be back with another great Australian summer tradition – the ocean road trip!

Want to go? Need to know!

  • Story Bridge Adventure Climb were just the third bridge climb in the world, and offer a range of bridge climb packages including a New Year’s Eve fireworks climb
  • Gold Coast accommodation books out early for the festive season. We think the less popular destinations, like the Sunshine Coast and Northern NSW, are much nicer anyway
  • There are even pseudo-professional beach cricket series in Australia – watch some video here
  • Become an Aussie Christmas legend by making your own pavlova from scratch. Or just be sure to buy a kilogram of prawns on your way to the party!
  • Stay up to date with a free subscription to our daily destinations email

Wherever you are in the world, what are your Christmas traditions?

Have you experienced a Christmas travelling away from home?

Tell us in the comments.

Bangkok art, fashion, and…fight night thrills?

By Chris K

This Weekend’s Itinerary

Bangkok’s full name is really, really, really, really long

According to Wikitravel, Bangkok’s full name is “Krung thep mahanakhon amorn ratanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilok popnoparat ratchathani burirom udomratchanivetmahasathan amornpiman avatarnsathit sakkathattiyavisnukarmprasit” (กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลกภพ นพรัตน์ราชธานี บุรีรมย์อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์).

Surely one of the world’s longest location name, it roughly translates as “The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of Ayutthaya of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn”.

Wow.

Once we’ve finished that mouthful, we’re out to explore Bangkok on Day Two of our visit here. Read all about Day One in Bangkok!

10 AM: Jim Thompson, an American Millionaire, has left an incredible House of Asian art in Bangkok

We start the day with a visit to Jim Thompson’s House, an essential part of any visit to Bangkok and a great way to get a comprehensive overview of Asian art from Thailand and from the region.

Jim Thompson's House, Bangkok, Thailand

“Jim Thompson’s House”, a photo by mashfiq, licensed under Creative Commons.

Plus, the tranquility of the setting will make it seem like you are taking a pleasant walk through some eccentric gentleman’s art collection, instead of a museum tour.

And, in fact, you are.

This museum has a long history owed to it’s namesake, Jim Thompson – an American businessman who collected Asian art throughout the 1950 and 1960s.

The house was built specifically to house his collection of Asian art, gathered from countries including Thailand as well as Laos and Cambodia. The house is very accessible, and a fantastic way for us to easily see art from across Asia in one location.

Asian art in Jim Thompsons House, Bangkok, Thailand

“Jim Thompson House”, a photo by cb_agulto, licensed under Creative Commons.

1 PM: Stop…Fashion Time

Like many before us, we are becoming slaves to fashion and sacrificing our lunch. But there’s a good reason – as Anna has promised to let us in on a local Bangkok fashion secret.

We leave Jim Thompson’s house and make our way by motorcycle taxi (see Day One in Bangkok for the reason why we’ve skipped the tuktuk), zipping across the congested streets of Bangkok.

We arrive shortly after, exhilarated, at Anna’s favourite tailor, Taj Mahal Clothiers, located on Soi 4 Sukhumvit. We’re told that although they are a little more expensive than most Bangkok tailors, they’re worth the extra because of the quality of the materials and their craftmanship. I’m not one to argue with a Bangkok local, especially since Anna’s boyfriend owns six of their suits!

So many fabrics, so many choices. Safari suits are coming back this season, right guys?

Guys?

Thailand Tips – Be kind to the King!

Respect for the Royal family in Thailand is taken really, really seriously. Don’t make the mistake this guy did and insult the Royal Family of Thailand – you could end up in gaol!

In fact, maybe you should earn some brownie points, just in case, by sending the King of Thailand a personalised message here.

5 PM: OPTION ONE: Muay Thai Fight Night Thrills

Alright, so this isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes, which is why there’s alternative itinerary for our last evening exploring Bangkok, but hear us out – life should be an adventure and if you don’t push the boundaries of your experience whilst you are travelling, then when will you? Not convinced? Ok then, well then skip ahead to Option Two and enjoy Bangkok’s sweltering, sexy nightlife.

The rest of us are going to push the envelope a little and visit Lumpini stadium, Thailand’s premiere venue for Muay Thai Kickboxing.

Run by the Royal Thai Army, fights are held Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 6 PM, and we’ve got ringside tickets.

Muay Thai Kickboxing, Bangkok, Thailand

“Muay-Thai-7”, a photo by idirectori, CC License

Now, gambling is permitted here, which is certainly the exception in Thailand (at least, according to the strict letter of the law), but you’ll only be able to gamble if you’re a man. Anna says;

If you’re a guy, find the crowd of gambling men at the back and mingle with them, and put on a bet or two. You should learn the words for blue and red in Thai beforehand – that’s all you’ll need to bet. Make sure you keep an eye on the dudes that have taken your bet – they’ll try to slink away without paying if they lose!

If you are after unique, local experiences, then watching a live Muay Thai kickboxing bout in Bangkok will definitely fit the bill.

5 PM: OPTION TWO: Bangkok Bar Scene Chilling

If watching Muay Thai kickboxing isn’t really your cup of tea, or cocktail, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are some great bars and restaurants recommended by Bangkok locals.

Cheap Charlie’s ( 1 Sukhumvit Soi 11 ) is an institution and the best way to kick your night off. It is almost exclusively frequented by Bangkok locals and has few tourists, although it has been featured on CNN Travel so that may not always be the case in the future.

Nest ( 33/33 Sukhumvit soi 11Klongtoey-Nua ) is just a little bit classier than Cheap Charlie’s, and is a great place for a cool drink. Anna says that it’s at end of same street as Cheap Charlie’s;

Up an elevator to a rooftop bar – ask someone who looks like a local because it’s hard to find!

Finally, Bed Supperclub ( Sukhumvit 11, Klongtoey-Nua ) is where you’ll head if you’re looking for a place to see and be seen – trendy, if a little weird.

Goodbye Bangkok!

We eventually stumble back into our hotel rooms at…er…what time was it again?

It doesn’t really matter – we have a late flight tomorrow and luckily have all morning to pull ourselves together. There’s even time to collect our suits and send them home, before our midnight flight from Bkk to Brisbane, Australia.

We’ll land just after lunch on Sunday afternoon, and we’ve organised the limo to take us to an early check-in at the Stamford Plaza Hotel. Three decades after hosting the Commonwealth Games and twenty-five years after World Expo ’88, Brisbane has emerged from the shadow of Australia’s larger cities. Restaurants still close too early, but that’s not a problem for us today – instead of dinner out, we’re filling up closer to home at the Stamford’s Sunday afternoon Chocolate High Tea.

It’s a long way to go for a hangover cure, but so worth it.

Want to go? Need to know!

  • Taj Mahal Clothiers both ship to, and visit, many cities around the world. Great for us travellers, but even if you don’t make it to Bangkok you can always see them when they’re in your town.
  • In Bangkok, like in any other city, you should always watch your drink, and don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  • Learn the rules of Muay Thai Kickboxing here, if you’re so inclined.

Have you been to Bangkok? What did you love? What did we miss?

What should we see when we come back?

Tell us in the comments!

Bangkok – hot, hot, hot!

By Chris K

Today’s Itinerary

Bangkok is the world’s hottest city

We’re out of the frying pan and into the fire as we fly from Oman into Bangkok, Thailand – officially the hottest city in the world. With year-round mean air temperatures of 28°C (82°F), we’re lucky to be in Bangkok during the ‘cool and dry’ season between November and February.

Arriving into Suvarnabhumi Airport at 7:25 AM, we make our way into central Bangkok using the Airport Link (SARL). Our hotel is the Shangri-Hotel (Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu) on the banks of Bangkok’s river, the Chao Phraya. The temptation after that long flight from Oman on arriving in our room is to dump the luggage and collapse straight into bed, but….must….resist!

Only being in Bangkok for two days and after an overnight flight from Oman means there’s lots to do, but little energy to do it, so our local guide Anna, who’s lived in Bangkok for two years, has promised to let us take it easy – but that doesn’t mean we can slack off!

After jumping straight into the shower and putting on some long-sleeved clothing made of light fabric, we’re off to the Oriental Pier.

11 AM: A River Ferry to the Grand Palace

Outside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is the Oriental Pier, and that’s where we meet up with Anna. She has planned an easy day for us today, and promises a relaxing surprise this afternoon.

We catch the Chao Phraya Express ferry from the Oriental Pier for a quick trip up the Chao Phraya river, part of the navigation toolkit of any Bangkok local.

We disembark at the Tha Tien Cross River Ferry Pier, and from here it’s a quick walk to one of Bangkok’s biggest tourist attractions, the Grand Palace.

It becomes clear why we wore long-sleeved clothing and pants at the entrance to the Grand Palace. As a holy and important site to the Thais, there are people at the entrance checking your dress and ensuring that it meets their standards for respectfulness. Although you can hire clothes, it’s really better to dress appropriately to begin with. In this video, journalist Lauren Bercarich explains all.

The Grand Palace isn’t just one, but rather a complex of buildings, and has been the residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782, and is still in use as a royal residence and as a ceremonial site. The beautiful and intricate architecture is entrancing and it takes several hours for us to complete a tour. We linger particularly at the Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the famous and significant Emerald Buddha. Only Thailand’s King is allowed near the Emerald Buddha, ceremonially changing the Buddha’s robes throughout the year.

Wat Mahathat, Bangkok, Thailand

“wat mahathat bangkok”, a photo by telmo32, CC License

2 PM: Wat Po and the Origins of Thai Massage

After visiting the site of the Emerald Buddha, we arrive outside the Wat Po temple.

It’s full name is the Wat Phra Chetuphon, and is well known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Inside is an enormous reclining Buddha, roughly 40 metres long and covered in gold leaf. That alone is impressive but with a smile Anna turns to tells us more about Wat Po.

And what a surprise! It turns out that Wat Po is considered the origin of Thai massage – and is, in fact, a functioning Thai massage school, the country’s most prestigious. This is too good an opportunity to pass up and for the rest of the afternoon, we experience the best in Thai massage and relaxation at the site where it all began.

Thailand Tips – What is a Wat?

A typical Thai Wat, which is loosely translated as monastery or temple, has an enclosing wall that divides it from the secular world. Find out more here.

Sunset over Wat Arun.

Sunset over Wat Arun. Photo by Mark Fischer, CC License

6 PM: Night Markets

We’re early for dinner by Thai standards, but it’s been a long day and we want to fit in a quick tour of the markets before we finally collapse. We head up to the Suan Lum night markets by motorbike taxis because, in Anna’s words

“The best tip I would give is to use the motorbike taxis – the guys on street corners with orange vests on. That’s if you’re game- they’re much quicker in the horrendous congestion of Bkk (Bangkok)! You can bargain a little because they’ll give you a tourist price at first, but they’re cheap anyway. And they’re way better than tuktuks, because they won’t take you to the tailor or shop that is giving them fuel vouchers in exchange for customers”

At the night markets, we load up on accessible street-style food in a big open courtyard, listening to local live entertainment.

Goodnight Bangkok!

That’s it for our first day in Bangkok. Smiling and serene from our massages and with our bellies as full as Buddha’s from the night market, we fall asleep in minutes.

TukTuk, Bangkok, Thailand

“Go Baby, Go Go”, a photo by lynhdan, CC License

Want to go? Need to know!

  • Don’t disrespect the monarch! Lengthy prison terms up to 15 years can be imposed for insulting the monarchy.
  • Keep your fluid intake up! According to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is the world’s hottest city. Located just 14 degrees north of the Equator, Bangkok is sunny at any time of the year with temperatures over 30°C (86°F). So make sure you have plenty of fluid throughout the day.
  • Bangkok has many public transport options, including the BTS Skytrain, the underground metro line MRT, Bangkok buses, river boats, and the famous tuktuks. Find out more at TransportBangkok.
  • Locals refer to Bangkok as Bkk.
  • Did we mention that it’s hot in Bangkok? Drink water, silly!

Have you been to Bangkok? What did you love? What did we miss? Tell us in the comments!

UPDATE FEB 2013:

Mark Fisher (who took this amazing sunset photo that we used above) was kind enough to update us that the Suan Lum Night Markets have closed down. As an alternative, he says;

[although it is father out] the Train Market (Tarad Rot Fa) in Bangkok is very interesting and could be worth adding to you itinerary.

The Bedouin aren’t the only Wise Men of Oman

Today’s Itinerary

By Jacob Aldridge

The sun rises over the Wahiba Sands, Oman

The sun rises over the Wahiba Sands, Oman. Photo by Aries Vitan Wong, CC License

There’s something different about waking up to a cool desert morning. Unlike the genuine cold of a Viennese Christmas Market, which bites at your throat and chews your fingers, early risers in our desert camp experience a more invigorating chill. It’s almost as if the cold focuses the mind on the significance of every moment.

Breakfast includes some traditional fruits from the Arabian peninsula, and before we’ve even offered to help with the washing up and taking down the tents we’re ushered back into our 4WDs.

People have lived in the Wahiba region for almost 8,000 years, and while modernity gives opportunities to the next generation, it’s a shame to note that most of the camel trains we pass are ridden by tourists as the locals embrace the air-conditioned benefits of a new 4WD.

Two camels in Oman

Camel photo by Erkan Pinar, CC License

Mid morning we stop to visit a Bedouin house in the desert, an opportunity to meet and talk with some of the proud tribespeople who embrace both their bedouin traditions and the emerging Omani national identity. Livestock remain the key economy here, mostly goats and camels. While tourism is increasingly important, we get the feeling that the clean house and well-dressed, well-spoken people we meet are nothing new – they may be surrounded by 12,500 square kms (4,800 sq mi) of desert, but that’s no excuse for a mess.

 

How friendly are the locals? Check out this video – this group are either being very polite to an Australian tourist, or they actually like the taste of Vegemite!

Official Amouage Gold picture

You can buy Amouage Gold perfume from the source

We arrive back in Muscat by mid-afternoon. There’s plenty of time before our flight to take in more sights and sounds of this city – but it’s the smell we are interested in. More specifically, the smell of the Amouage Perfume Factory. Feted as ‘The Most Valuable Perfume in the World’, Amouage Gold for Women is created from the resin of the frankincense tree and the essence of the rare Omani Rock Rose, plus another 120 ingredients including Myrrh.

That’s right – Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. If you’re looking for an excuse to treat yourself this Christmas time, look no more.

Conveniently, the Amouage Factory is located not far from the airport, meaning we arrive in plenty of time for our Oman Air flight onwards. We will land tomorrow morning in Bangkok, Thailand.

Want to Go? Need to Know…

  • A single entry, one month visa for Oman can be purchased for 20 OMR (about $USD50) at the airport
  • December temperatures in the desert are reasonably mild, but the summer heat and the late winter evenings are especially dangerous
  • Even experienced desert drivers and hikers are reminded to take precautions with water rations and recording your planned itinerary with your consulate and/or hotel in case of accident
  • You do not need to book in advance to visit the Amouage Factory
  • Click here to stay up to date with a free subscription to our daily destinations email

Share your Oman thoughts or desert experiences in the comments below.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

When we launched Every Daydream last week, we knew that one of our advantages was the creation of awesome content. We weren’t aiming to be a one-stop-travel-shop, but rather to offer everyone the opportunity to experience new destinations, even if only for ten minutes a day.

We also wanted that content to be accessible. On our website, our daily destinations are available for everyone. To thank you for signing up, we send out our daily destination in a free email for you to read at your leisure (you’ve told us that “commuting on the train” and “during my coffee break” are your two favourite times so far). And we promote these through various social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

There’s a fair amount of work that goes into every daydream (see what I did there?), so we’re always looking at ways of linking these services. Today I’m playing with connecting our website (which is built in WordPress) to our emails (which are built using MailChimp). There are a few plugins that offer to help – unfortunately, one of these (ChimpExpress) is no longer supported, so we’re currently trialling AutoChimp and WordChimp. [UPDATE: These both work, but neither save us time in creating the image and text heavy email experience we want to be famous for.]

What does this mean for you, our dear reader? Hopefully, you won’t even notice! It’s possible that, over time, our newsletter layout will evolve, and we expect it to do that anyway as we collect more feedback from you. Importantly, everything we do to create time in our processes means we have more time to seek out and share the amazing holiday locations you signed up to read about.

And as always, if you want to share your experience or thoughts then let us know – you can comment on our site, or reply to any of our emails.

Founder Jacob Aldridge, in front of the Gulfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Founder Jacob Aldridge, in front of the Gulfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Skip Dubai and Abu Dhabi – Oman is the new hot destination

Today’s Itinerary

By Jacob Aldridge

We considered a self-drive tour of Oman, but being mindful that English is less common outside of the main cities (and we don’t speak Arabic) we decided to join a small group tour. And there are a surprising array of tour options and Oman holiday packages – including Turtle Watching! – as Oman aims to compete with (and outperform) the airport hubs of Dubai (Emirates) and Abu Dhabi (Etihad).

Textiles at the Ladies Market

Ladies Market in Ibra – the adjacent souq remains co-ed

At 8am the luxury 4WD arrives at our hotel. There’s a two hour drive ahead of us, as we leave Muscat’s waterside location and head south through the Harjar mountains and inland to the town of Ibra, in the Sharqiyah area. Now best known as a ‘gateway’ town, Ibra also boasts a weekly ‘Ladies Market’ – every Wednesday the souq is open only to women, and run by women, with a focus on household and textiles products.

Al Mansfah Ruins

Some of the ruined mansions of Al Manshah

As we drive away from Ibra the village of Al Mansfah is silhouetted on the horizon, a community of 19th Century mansions that fell with the fortunes of the region into disrepair. At this point we assume Ibra is a gateway to barren desert sands.

How wrong we prove to be, as the 4WD enters the Wadi Bani Khalid ! With several fresh water springs, and year round water, this valley (Wadi is Arabic for valley – we’re learning Arabic fast) is known for the deep blue water at the foot of the mountains. Experienced hikers would be drawn here for the opportunity to explore some of the largest caves in the country, including the underground chamber of Kahf Maqal. We stop for a more relaxed picnic lunch.

 

Desert oasis of Wadi Bani Khalid

Just what we imagined an oasis to look like. Photo by Andries3, licensed under Creative Commons.

And then it’s into the desert, and the Wahiba Sands. Covering 12,500 square kms (4,800 sq mi), what initial looks barren surprisingly reveals itself as an expansive ecosystem. The region is home to the Wahiba Bedouin tribe, and we’re staying here tonight in a desert camp. You may have been camping before – but you’ve never been camping like this!

Driving a 4WD through desert sand

Experienced drivers know how to maximise safety and fun. Photo by Erkan Pinar, CC License

We could spend a few hours enjoying the spacious tent and the food and drinks available in camp – truly, this must be how Bedouin tribal leaders lived despite the nomadic elements of their lifestyle. However, we have one more activity today – and it’s something Lawrence of Arabia could never have imagined: dune bashing in our 4WD! Definitely best led by an experienced sand driver, there’s a real thrill in racing up a mammoth sand dune, with no road in sight, and then cresting over and down the other side. This is why we travel.

So much fun can be exhausting, and dinner and bed beckon. But be sure to take a few minutes to drink in the night sky as the milky way reveals an expanse of stars known to every generation of humans except the modern city dweller. We will fall asleep feeling humble between the innumerable sands below and the infinite stars above.

 

Stars are visible even inside your tent

Night may be falling, but the wonder is only beginning. 4WD and Tent Phots by Erkan Pinar, Licensed under Creative Commons

Want to Go? Need to Know…

    • You can see a list of Oman Air’s holiday packages by clicking here
    • There truly are a range of tour options from other operators if you search for them, from 2 night to 2 weeks, and encompassing a lot more than we thought Oman would have to offer
    • December temperatures in the desert are reasonably mild, but the summer heat and the late winter evenings are especially dangerous – even experienced desert drivers and hikers are reminded to take precautions with water rations and recording your planned itinerary with your consulate or hotel in case of accident
    • Click here to stay up to date with a free subscription to our daily destinations email

Share your Oman thoughts or desert experiences in the comments below.