Michael's blog

Michael’s top six Thailand travel tips

13 March 2011
 

Travelling to Thailand can be an awesome experience. Its sheer beauty and tranquility is the reason Chantelle and I chose to have our wedding there. However, a Thailand holiday can turn very nasty very quickly if you are not properly prepared.

Getting sick is an easy way to ruin your entire holiday; believe me, I know. See my previous blog post from when Chantelle and I got very sick in Thailand in January last year.

Below are my top six Thailand travel tips:

1) Take care with what you eat and drink

Only eat food that has been well cooked. Hygiene standards are not always as good as they are in Australia and the only way to be sure that you won’t get sick is to eat food that has been well cooked to kill any germs. Also, do not drink the tap water; only drink bottled water. Drinking the tap water in Thailand will make you sick. Here are some sub points to remember:

  • Avoid eating uncooked food
  • Avoid salads as they may have been washed in tap water
  • Avoid fruit skins and leafy greens unless you’re in a nice restaurant
  • Clarify if the ice used in your drink is from clean water. An easy way to tell is if the ice has a hole in it (this represents the ice is safe to consume)
  • Choose deep fried, grilled or baked foods to ensure they are cooked well
  • Scrutinize the venues you choose to eat at. If it looks suspicious, give it a miss.
  • Use a high degree of caution when eating street food.

2) Learn a few Thai phrases

Knowing how to speak a few Thai phrases will get you a long way. I have found Thai people really appreciate it when foreigners (known as farangs in Thai) make an effort to speak to them in their native language.

The first thing you need to know about the Thai language is that there are special words to denote a male and a female. These are: Khap (male) and Ka (female). This is a polite syllable that has no real direct translation in English. If you listen to Thai people speak you will hear it frequently at the end of sentences. Its use denotes manners and respect.

Here are a few helpful Thai phrases:

  • Hello/greeting: Sa-wat-dee  Khap/ Ka
  • Thank you: khob khun Khap/ Ka
  • No thank you / I do not need: Mai ao

More Thai phrases can be found here.

3) The art of bartering

Always offer a ridiculously low price to start, because the shop assistant will always do the opposite. Take note of the price they say first, and then ask them to do a better price.  In most cases, you can always ask for half the price the shop assistant suggested in their first offer. From here on it’s a game of give and take. You should give in a little, as should they.

Please remember to be civil and respectful at all times during the negotiation. This will greatly help your chances of a better price. Also remember that the amounts you are negotiating usually end up being a matter of $10 or $15; so is it really worth fighting over?

4) Medications

Although there are doctors and pharmacies located throughout Phuket (and on Surin Beach), everyone going to Thailand should take the following medications with them to have ready should they fall ill:

  • Imodium (for the treatment of diarrhea)
  • Nausea treatment tablets
  • Dehydration medication
  • Paracetamol
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Antihistamine

5) Taxis

In Phuket, there are very few Taxi Meters (official taxis with a meter). These can only usually be found at the airport (turn right when exiting the airport building and go all the way to the end of the walkway. Tell the people at the yellow Taxi Meter hut where you want to go and they will organise the fare).

Elsewhere, you will have to rely on private cars or Tuk Tuks.  My advice is to use the private cars.

In Phuket, the Tuk Tuks are controlled by a pseudo mafia and the prices are strictly controlled, so there is little room for negotiation. As a result, prices have also risen dramatically over the past five years and are now as expensive as a cab ride in Melbourne.

Private cars can be found everywhere and are controlled locally in each area. In Surin beach there are around four or five stations where you can hire a private car. They look dodgy, but are actually the safest and most comfortable form of transport around Phuket. The prices are set and can be found by looking at the price board at each station. To hire one, all you have to do is approach the station and tell one of the men where you would like to go. Be specific and agree on the price before getting in.

Chantelle and I have never experienced a problem with the private cars, even after taking more than 30 trips with them.

6) Etiquette

Etiquette is one area where all visitors to Thailand should be properly educated. Thai culture has a number of very serious social rules which everyone follows, and it’s in your best interest to do the same.

Always take off your shoes when entering someone’s house or a temple. Pointing with your feet or fingers is considered very rude, as is touching someone on the head. Respect the local Buddhist religion, and by all means, don’t say anything about the king or the royal family. Thais truly love their king, so it’s best simply not to discuss him at all.

Thais are also very keen on keeping their cool. No matter how frustrated you may get, always try to speak softly and control your anger. Also beware that Thais place a lot of importance on perception and can become extremely upset if they are caused to ‘lose face’.

Michael.

April’s royal wedding now has a website

3 March 2011
 

As some of you may have heard, there will be a royal wedding in April, other than my wedding in Thailand.

The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton will take place only a couple of weeks after Chantelle and I get married. The royals will wed on Friday 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey.

The happy royal couple today launched their own wedding website: http://www.officialroyalwedding2011.org/

Their website is much like ours, and they have even opted for a similar domain name, including ‘wedding2011’, just like Chantelle and I chose. However, in a bizarre move, they chose a .org Top-Level Domain over a more traditional .com or .uk domain, most likely due to the fact these domains were already secured before they even thought about a website. I’m also not a fan of how long the domain name is, but then again, they couldn’t have chosen ourwedding2011.com, because it was already taken!

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding may also be shown live on the Internet through the official Royal Wedding website, which is also something Chantelle will have on offer for our wedding.

Furthermore, there is also a royal Twitter feed.

Come to think of it, much of the royal wedding seems to have a similar theme to my wedding!

However, there is one aspect of my wedding Prince William and Kate Middleton will never be able to copy. The tranquillity and beauty of Surin Beach in Thailand trumps the dreary and unimaginative confines of Westminster Abbey any day!

Michael.

Update: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

3 March 2011
 

Following my last blog post about Ivan and Ginger's wedding website, and my subsequent email to them, I received the following email from Ivan on 18 February:

Hello,

Congratulations on your wedding.

I will ask our friend who designed this for us to change the accommodation page to be original.  The other pages reflect content we wanted him to put up, for the accommodation page we didn't give him appropriate enough direction apparently.  Please accept my apologies for this.

Cheers, Ivan

A few days later I noticed some changes on their website, with my content and images removed.

Too bad for Ivan that I took some screen grabs before they could remove the content!

Michael

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

17 February 2011
 

I was checking the website statistics tonight and noticed something peculiar. Other than the incredible 85,000 website hits www.ourwedding2011.com has racked up since launch, I also noticed a large number of referral hits from one particular website - http://vgbgthaiparty.wordpress.com/

I had a look and was shocked to find a large amount of my content from www.ourwedding2011.com appeared on this website.

The mysterious website belongs to Ivan and Ginger, for their upcoming wedding at Twimpalms Phuket Resort in Surin Beach, the same hotel Chantelle and I are getting married at in April. Ivan and Ginger, who are from Toronto in Canada, are getting married in May, and are adopting a very similar wedding plan as Chantelle and I have for their wedding. They have chosen to use a website to communicate their plans to their wedding guests so everyone can have easy access to all the information they will need to attend; something Chantelle and I also thought was a good idea.

I had a look and found all my rounded photos (created using Photoshop), my summaries of the room types, my accommodation recommendations, and even my Google Maps screen shots of Surin beach appear on Ivan and Ginger’s website!

Ivan and Ginger obviously thought it was a smart idea to copy a lot of content from our website and put it on theirs. And I have to say, I totally agree! I wish someone had done this before I did so I could use their content and save myself a lot of time and effort.  I’m only too happy for them to use my content; my only request is that they include a reference of Chantelle and I, and a link to our website, in recognition of all the hard work we put into this!

What I can’t work out is where the link referrals came from, because after looking at their website, I couldn’t find a link to www.ourwedding2011.com anywhere insight. My guess is that they accidentally included a link to my website during the process of copying and pasting content from our website to theirs, and later deleted it.

I have sent an email to Ivan and Ginger alerting them to this blog and asking for a comment! I hope to get a response and will post it accordingly. I will keep you updated.

On behalf of Chantelle and I and all our guests, I would like to extend our congratulations to Ivan and Ginger on their upcoming nuptials and best of luck with the wedding plans!

Michael.

Life has been busy!

13 February 2011
 

Firstly, I would like to apologise for the long absence since my last blog post. Life has been very busy for me since my last post.

Since November I have: resigned from my job, started a new job, sold a car, purchased a new car, travelled interstate, celebrated Christmas and New Year’s, celebrated a quarter of a century of life, had my wisdom teeth removed, and done all this while also planning a destination wedding! Wow I have been busy.

It’s been a blast though and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Firstly, I would like to say a big thank you to Kelly Parkinson from KPPR, my former boss and a mentor, who helped progress my career and taught me everything I know in the art of public relations. It was really sad to leave, but I have now found a great new team at AusRegistry International, and I couldn’t be happier. My position as AusRegistry’s Public Relations Coordinator is a challenging one, but there are great opportunities for me there and the office is really cool. Not only are there iPads available for all staff to use, and everyone has two PC monitor screens, we also have a breakout space which has a pool table, pinball machines, two flat screen televisions for the Xbox and PlayStation 3, and some nice couches to chill out on. Could it get any better? Watch out Google, AusRegistry International is definitely a contender for best workplace in the world!

My new role has kept me busy, hence the lack of personal blogging about the wedding. However, that’s not to say I haven’t been doing anything for the wedding. Since my last blog post much has happened, the most important of all being the appointment of a MC for the reception. My good friend Phil Smith graciously accepted my invitation to be the MC. Phil currently runs his own public relations consultancy and is amply qualified for the role of MC at my wedding. You can find out more information about Phil on his website: http://www.magazinehill.com.au/

Another important development has been my dancing. Chantelle and I have been taking dancing lessons in preparation for the big day. It’s a development because I was starting from a very, very low skill base. There is still much work to be done, so hopefully I will not embarrass myself on the night!

We have also appointed our photographers and videographers, booked all our flights and accommodation, and written our wedding running sheet.

That’s all for now.  I will commit to updating you all much more frequently from now on. However, this may come in the form of a Tweet instead of a blog post. Please check out our Twitter feed for all the latest news.

Michael

Did anyone say… private luxury day cruise?

21 November 2010
 

When I first went to Phi Phi Island with Chantelle in 2004 I was blown away by its beauty. It is truly an amazing place and would definitely rank as the most beautiful place in the world I have ever been to.

This is why it was a wish of mine to organise some way all our wedding guests could join us for a special day cruise to the islands. And I guess a holiday to Phuket is not complete without visiting Phi Phi Island.

After some negotiating with Twinpalms, we have secured an awesome day cruise to the most beautiful place in the world.

So, eighteen lucky guests will be invited to join us for a once in a lifetime luxury private day cruise to Phi Phi Island on-board Twinpalms’ own 76 foot yacht, Twinpalms One. Guests will be pampered in the elegant surrounds of one of the largest and most prestigious yachts in Phuket. Check out Twinpalms One’s website for more information about the cruise.

Unfortunately, numbers are limited to 20 on-board guests. We will personally select 18 guests in February to invite them on the cruise. Apart from the on-board buffet lunch, the lucky invitees will only need to bring their bathers, as everything else is included.

For a description of the trip, photos and itinerary, please see our special events and activities page.

Recent Twitter headlines

8 August 2010
 

As you may have noticed, we have created a Twitter account for our wedding. We have been tweeting about everything you need to know about our wedding and the latest headlines about Phuket, bridal accessories and wedding trends. Here are some recent headlines from our Twitter account:

  • Wedding Diaries: 75 Do's and Don'ts for the Wedding -http://bit.ly/as5t75
  • Wedding disasters: 1. Getting arrested 2. Food poisoning 3. Wedding brawl 4. Swallowing the ring - http://bit.ly/ad1Dmq
  • Wedding Fashion Do's and Don'ts - http://bit.ly/a9PSqZ
  • Isaiah Mustafa, Old Spice Guy, posts new hilarious YouTube video asking girlfriend to marry her boyfriend - http://bit.ly/9b7F3I
  • 5 Most Over-The-Top Celebrity Weddings - http://bit.ly/ceH2Pn
  • Health Magazine Senior Nutrition Editor, Frances Largeman-Roth, Gives His Tips for Looking Your Best on Your Big Day -http://bit.ly/9nHiDF
  • Celebrity event planner Andrea Correale shares her tips on wedding trends that will be making a buzz in 2011 -http://bit.ly/btKhUk
  • Travel + Leisure mag ranks Ko Samui, Thailand as Asia's fourth Best Island Destination, followed by Phuket - http://bit.ly/9UVPRL
  • Bangkok, Thailand wins Travel + Leisure magazine's world's best city award for 2010 - http://bit.ly/bjphWD
  • Phuket's Surin Beach Area in Thailand Becomes Asia's Richest Beach Neighborhood - http://bit.ly/bj7qAh
  • Miss Thailand World contestants in Phuket for 'training' -http://bit.ly/9wLJKD
  • Surin Beach in Phuket is a hit with big name celebrities, according to Twinpalms Phuket Resort - http://bit.ly/9XfpaK
  • Asia's Best Beaches according to Forbes Magazine -http://bit.ly/96ynUa - Phuket's Bang Tao Beach is included!

Michael

Bangkok wins world’s best city award for 2010

8 August 2010
 

Thailand has been awarded the honour of being home to the top two cities in the world, with the Thai capital Bangkok winning the Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2010 World’s Best City Award.

In a coup of a different kind for the country famous for uprisings, Thailand swooped the World’s Best City Award with the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai taking second place.

It was a return to the top for Bangkok in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, having last held that ranking in 2008.

Other results included The Peninsula Bangkok winning the Best City Hotel award in Asia, while The Langham in Melbourne took the Australian honours. Ko Samui, Thailand, was ranked Asia's fourth Best Island Destination, followed by Phuket. Thai Airways was ranked eight in the World's Best International Airlines award, while Singapore Airlines took top spot.

Bangkok is a fantastic city and I strongly recommend all our guests to make a stopover in the world’s best city while they attend our wedding. Chantelle and I are planning to spend a couple of days in Bangkok the week after the wedding.

Michael

Good time to book flights and rooms with high Aussie dollar

8 August 2010
 

The return of the Australian dollar to US$0.90 levels comes just at the right time for guests wanting to save some money on booking their accommodation and flights, with savings greater than $140 available.

Because the Thai Baht is pegged to the currencies of several of its major trading partners, including the US dollar, the strengthening of the Aussie dollar reduces the cost of attending our wedding.

Currently (Sunday 8 August 2010) the Aussie dollar is sitting at US0.9188, following three weeks of gains. The Australian dollar is currently sitting on a 10-week high, at levels not seen since early May.

Currently one Aussie dollar buys 29.40 Baht. This is up from the 26.00 Baht levels seen earlier this year when the Aussie dollar was buying US$0.80.

This has a significant impact on our wedding. For instance, the Deluxe Palm room at Twinpalms Phuket Resort is now AUD$20 cheaper per night because of the strong Aussie dollar. This equates to a saving of $140 for a week’s accommodation, which could buy you a suit in Thailand.

I strongly recommend all guests to book their flights and accommodation now while the exchange rates are favorable.

Michael

Venus Williams says Thailand is her favourite vacation destination

18 July 2010
 

Tennis super star Venus Williams has revealed her favourite vacation destination in the world is Thailand, saying she loves going to the tranquil beaches of Phuket.

Williams told the Chicago Tribune recently that she doesn't have many opportunities to vacation, due to her tournament schedule, but that a place she really loves visiting and enjoys taking a vacation is Thailand.

“The people are so friendly and beautiful. From the hustle and bustle of Bangkok to the beaches in Phuket, I love going there. The food is incredible as well. Seafood, curry — you name it. I indulge in all different types of food when I am there,” Williams told the Chicago Tribune.

Interestingly, Twinpalms Phuket Resort reported that Venus Williams did not disclose where she stays during her Phuket vacations, though they believe it is usually in and among the villas and resorts of Surin Beach where celebrities are spotted in Phuket. Twinpalms says other sports stars own villas in the area, like Finnish Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen, who owns a villa in Phuket. Twinpalms also reports several other famous figures including Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Football club owner Roman Abramovich and model Kate Moss have travelled to the island in recent years.

The world’s number three ranked tennis player also told the Chicago Tribune that her favourite restaurant outside the US is Melbourne French restaurant, Francoise. She said she always looks forward to visiting Francoise every year when playing at the Australian Open, and described Melbourne as “a blast”.

Michael

Mt Buller snow holiday

18 July 2010
 

Chantelle and I enjoyed a fun-filled weekend of snowboarding earlier in July when we spent three nights on the slopes of Mt Buller.

We were joined by Chantelle’s mum Alison and her Uncle Neal, Aunty Cate, and cousins Amy and James.

We booked “Ski-in Ski-out” accommodation on the main ski run at Mt Buller which is called ‘Bourke Street’. This was an awesome experience because we could snowboard all day across the mountain and then snowboard right up to the door of our apartment to rest for the night. The apartment was a cozy three bedroom, two storey chalet with magnificent views of the whole ski resort.

The weather was perfect for our stay, with fresh snow falling the previous week which provided good snow coverage across the mountain. It snowed lightly while we were there, helping to maintain the snow coverage.

With only 260 days to go till our wedding, our snow holiday to Mt Buller was very much in contrast to what we will experience in the tropical paradise of Phuket.

Michael

Mark Adams' trip report

10 July 2010
 

My long-time friend and Groomsman Mark Adams departed Melbourne for London in April in search of new adventures, fun times and endless opportunities.

On his way he stopped in Phuket, Thailand, to see what all the fuss was about.

I have uploaded Mark's trip report onto our website for everyone to read. Please read Mark's trip report here.

If anyone else has a trip report they would like to submit please feel free to send it to us via email.

My Groomsman Mark departs for London

14 April 2010
 

On Saturday 12 June my long-time friend and Groomsman Mark Adams departed Melbourne for London in search of new adventures, fun times and endless opportunities.

This was the second time in my life I have had to say goodbye to my good friend Mark; the previous time was in Canberra when we were just seven years-old and still at Higgins Primary school. Then it was I who moved, coming to live in Melbourne with my Mum and Sister.

This time however there is much more certainty about the next time we will see each other; in fact, almost to the exact date! Mark will be a Groomsman at my wedding and I, along with all my guests, will be able to catch up with Mark in Phuket next April.

Chantelle and I bid farewell to Mark at Melbourne Airport. We wish him well in London and hope he has an enjoyable time in Europe.

Michael

Air Asia to KL provides few surprises, meets low expectations

14 April 2010
 

Chantelle and I were joined last weekend by Alison and David for a quick weekend getaway to Kuala Lumpur (KL) for an enjoyable, albeit, brief holiday.

The reason behind the quick holiday was the super special airfare deal we were lucky enough to secure through the new low cost carrier, Air Asia, for a remarkable $99 each way.

There was much angst before departing amongst our traveling party as to what to expect in regards to seat comfort, aircraft quality and punctuality.

Air Asia delivered few surprises, meeting our low expectations, but failing to leave an endearing feeling that would see us travel with them again.

Much controversy surrounded the introduction of Air Asia to the Australian market, specifically on the enticing cheap flights which are in contrast to the very unenticing no frills service.

I can now say its true: ‘You get what you pay for’, and $99 is worth the pain of eight hours sitting with your knees crammed against the seat in front of you, and the fights with the person next to you (Chantelle and David in my case!) for the precious extra centimeters gained by leaning on the armrest.

I can also say I would NOT travel with Air Asia for their normal prices (more than seven times the price of their special airfares), because it is just not worth it.

However, our time in KL was very enjoyable, and we even managed to visit the dentist, which was important, as I needed to get a cavity filled. We stayed at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel in Bukit Bintang and got upgraded to a suite room, which had spectacular views from the 31st floor. The hotel is above the huge 13 story Times Square Shopping centre, which provided us easy access to some of the best shopping I have ever done.

Please also see Chantelle’s blog about our time in KL.

Michael

Phuket trip report – March 2010 trip

4 April 2010
 

The awful feeling of post holiday blues which is usually experienced after returning from a fantastic holiday was avoided during our recent trip to Phuket because of one special fact – we will soon be returning for our wedding.

It will not be long until we will be returning to Phuket with all our guests to celebrate our wedding, a fact that is the cause for a lot of excitement.

Our recent trip was a very successful one which allowed us to make all our final plans and lock in all the deals for our wedding. We met with JJ, our wedding planner from Twinpalms Resort Phuket, to organise the finer details like the flowers, buffet menu, table settings and transportation arrangements.

We were also fortunate to receive an upgrade with our accommodation at Manathai Resort Phuket. We were upgraded to the duplex suite, an elegant and spacious two-storey apartment style complex which featured a lounge room and kitchen downstairs, bedroom and bathroom upstairs, and a large balcony overlooking the pool.

It was also great to meet with some of the locals. We spoke with the owner of Twin Brothers Restaurant, Chanonpipat Prachumsrisakul, about his great restaurant on the beach, which we ate at nearly every day. Twin Brothers serves some of the best Thai and Italian food I have ever eaten, and it was a real pleasure to meet the man behind the whole operation.

Apart from this, we also did a lot of shopping, touring, pampering, eating and sun baking on the beach.

It was a great trip and I’m really looking forward to the wedding.

Michael

Melbourne hail thunder storm - Sat 6 March 2010

17 March 2010
 

Although not exactly related to our wedding, the storms that hit Melbourne on Saturday 6 March certainly did grab my attention, and the attention of hundreds of thousands of viewers on the popular video sharing website YouTube.

Chantelle and I were not spared the dramatic fury of the storm, which was described by some experts as a 'supercell storm' with the power of a mini cyclone. As the storm hit, I grabbed my Nokia N97 mobile phone and captured the moment the storm flooded the city and belted our apartment with hail stones the size of golf balls.

Interestingly, only moments after I posted my video of the storm on YouTube, I received thousands of views and a flurry of comments. To date, I have tallied up 40,000 views, and have been awarded numerous honors by YouTube, including hosting the third most watched video in Australia for the week.

The link to our wedding you ask? Well, I posted the video to our YouTube video channel, mkcswedding. Tenuous, you say? I agree, but please check out my video of the storm and our other videos related to our wedding.

Michael

Phuket trip report – January 2010

7 February 2010
 

We’ve just arrived back from our January 2010 trip to Phuket and are extremely pleased with the progress we have made in planning our wedding.

Our meeting with Twinpalms Resort Phuket went really well, and we are now very close to locking in a deal to confirm our package.

We met with Jom, Twinpalms’ Sales & Public Relations Manager, and JJ, Twinpalms’ Sales & Public Relations Executive, who were both very helpful. JJ will be our wedding planner and will handle all the intricate details involved with planning a wedding. It was really nice to meet them both, and to personally see the venues and rooms.

Apart from all the wedding planning activities, the other highlight (or perhaps lowlight is a more accurate description) of the trip was the food poisoning we both suffered. This was not an enjoyable experience and is something we will be striving to avoid when the wedding comes around. Twelve hours of constant vomiting, followed by four days of stomach cramps and total body weakness is no way to spend your holiday. I guess the only positive to be gained from this experience is the wisdom to now know we must avoid any sickness at all cost before the wedding.

Another highlight worth mentioning is V Australia. We flew V Australia to and from Phuket and were very impressed with their aircraft, service and on time performance. V Australia’s Boeing 777 aircraft are fantastic, with really large seats and an awesome entertainment system. It’s also handy that they fly direct from Melbourne and Brisbane to Phuket.

The best part about coming back to Melbourne after this trip was the knowledge that we will be back in Phuket very shortly, as we have another trip planned for the last week of March.

Michael

Holiday music – Songs to listen to when on holiday in Thailand

26 December 2009
 

Holidays are always memorable occasions, no matter if they are good or bad.

Photos help us to capture specific moments. And videos can provide a snapshot of special events.

But for an everlasting nostalgic feeling that can transport you back to the sunny beaches of Phuket, music is the only cure.

Specific songs listened to in certain locations on a holiday can be remembered for a lifetime, making it possible to invoke memories of that special moment anywhere at anytime.

And there is science to prove it is possible. The psychological memory tool known as ‘the peg system’ is a phonetic way of remembering anything you could possibly need to remember. It works by linking numbers to a list of words that are easy to associate, and then using these words to form the ‘pegs’ of your memory system.

Sounds a bit boring. But, being creative, you can use ‘the peg system’ in a similar way to peg specific songs to certain locations on your holiday, allowing you to not only remember the sights, but sounds, smells, feelings and emotions too.

Here are some songs that I have pegged to recent holidays to Thailand:

Love Generation – Bob Sinclar
(Chantelle’s mobile phone ringtone, so every call reminds her of our holiday!)

O-Zone - Dragostea Din Tei
(Remember Ma-ia-hii Ma-ia-huu Ma-ia-haa Ma-ia-ha-ha or numa numa a? This Romanian song was a massive hit and continues to be with all the Eastern European tourists in Thailand. It’s a song that’s hard to escape!)

A-ha - Take On Me
(A Scandinavian hit sensation! You won’t be able to escape this song, or fellow Scandinavian hits by Abba or Aqua when staying in Phuket)

Thailand relaxation / meditation song
(Often played while getting a massage)

And here are some good holiday mood setting songs:

Jason Mraz – I’m Yours

Mike Bailey – Wild World
(Season one ending of TV show Skins, sung by Mike Bailey who plays Sid. A remake of Cat Stevens song Wild World.)

Bryan Adams - Summer Of 69
(Summer of 2009 perhaps?)

Michael

Here comes the bride: and up goes the price

20 December 2009
 

Mention the word “wedding” and events can cost you more, an article in Choice Magazine in December has revealed.

A Choice undercover shadow shop has revealed that if you mention the word “wedding” when booking an event more than half of the venues and suppliers will charge more than for an identical birthday event.

Choice sought quotes from 60 reception venues, cakes makers, hire car businesses, entertainments, florists and photographers in Sydney and Melbourne. One shopper asked for prices for her wedding and another for her 40th birthday. Both events had the same number of guests and identical requirements in terms of cars, cakes, flowers, photographers, entertainment and venue.

All the venues, bar two, wanted extra for the nuptials with one Melbourne business wanting to charge almost double.

Photographers were told shots were only needed at the reception centre. Of the ten approached five charged a higher rate for the wedding. One asked for $2200 extra. Seven of the ten hire cars businesses quoted more for the wedding. Two Sydney operators upped the ante by 54%. Six of the ten DJs did likewise with one quoting 87% extra for the wedding.

Suppliers said that the demanding nature of weddings and ‘sky-high’ expectations meant higher costs and justified the more expensive quotes.

“Mention it’s a wedding and the price often immediately jumps, which makes it difficult for couples trying to plan their big day on a budget,” said Choice spokeswoman Elise Davidson. “Choice believes that for services such as a DJ or car hire there should be no difference in the quality of service or the cost. Our survey shows it pays to shop around and haggle.”

The average cost of a wedding in 2008 was $33,349, with Australian couples expected to spend a collective $3.7 billion on their big days in 2009.

For more information about the cost of weddings see the Choice investigation.

Michael

Phuket dreaming leaves a sour taste in Melbourne

21 November 2009
 

Lying on the sand at Port Melbourne beach in recent weeks has got me thinking - Melbourne’s beaches are horrible!

I’m a massive fan of Melbourne, and I will defend its credentials as one of the most livable cities in the world, but it’s almost impossible to find a good thing to say about Melbourne’s beaches.

Being the ‘city by the bay’ is the first problem for Melbourne’s beaches. Before you even enter the water you are met by coarse sand that is riddled with sharp shells. Because there is little water movement in the bay, the sand isn’t circulated well. The lack of waves means thick, heavy and coarse sand granules are left on the beaches.

This is also a problem for the water quality. According to the Victorian Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Port Phillip Bay beaches generally meet policy objectives in regards to the bacteria levels found in the water. However, the EPA says the water quality can deteriorate very quickly following rainfall, and they say Port Phillip Bay beaches routinely become dangerous to health following rainy days.

“Historical results show that rain can temporarily cause poor water quality at bay beaches. As a general precaution, EPA advises against swimming near stormwater drains, rivers, streams and other outlets into Port Phillip Bay during rainfall and for at least 24 hours afterward,” the EPA stated in a 2008 report. And according to the City of Port Phillip, more than 300 stormwater drains are emptied into the bay. That’s a lot of drains to avoid..

Also worth noting is the water temperature. At 18˚C (Nov), Melbourne’s beaches are the coldest in mainland Australia. The water temperature is so cold in Melbourne swimmers may be subjecting themselves to the risk of hypothermia, or in extreme cases, death. According to the University of Minnesota, water temperatures that would be quite reasonable as outdoor air temperatures can lead to hypothermia very quickly.

For example, a water temperature of 10°C can be expected to lead to death in approximately 1 hour, and water temperatures hovering at freezing can lead to death in as little as 15 minutes. On the other end of the scale, even water temperatures as high as 18°C may eventually lead to mild hypothermia after only two hours of exposure.

So, as I’m lying down at Port Melbourne beach, my mind naturally wonders to the idyllic beaches of Phuket. One of the reasons we chose Phuket for the location of our destination wedding is because it has some of the best beaches in the world. With average yearly water tempretaures of 26 – 29°C, Phuket’s aqua blue water is perfect for swimming.

And Phuket’s beaches have also been proven to be very healthy. The Environment Office of Phuket takes water samples from 14 of Phuket’s beaches six times a year. The Thai Marine Biology Centre also conducts tests six times a year at 23 beaches. Overall, their combined results show Phuket’s beaches pose no danger to the health of swimmers. The only beach to cause minor concern was Patong beach, in the heart of the bustling entertainment precinct.

And since we are going to have our wedding at Surin beach, one of Phuket’s most exclusive and beautiful beaches, there are only good things to look forward to for our wedding.

Here is a sample of what to expect!

Michael

The engagement party

17 September 2009
 

Let me start by saying thank you to everyone who attended our engagement party last weekend. A big thank you for all the presents too, we really appreciate it.

The party went off without a hitch. The weather was nice and warm, the food was great, the venue was outstanding, and I didn’t spill anything on my nice tie and white shirt! Seriously, it was a great party and I wish we could have gatherings like this more often.

It was so nice to see everyone from all over the country in one room. We had family and friends come from Adelaide, Brisbane, Coffs Harbour, Canberra, and of course, all over Melbourne. We even had a surprise call from Bangkok.

For me, the night was a special opportunity to extend our gratitude to all the people who have helped us to get where we are today.

It also marked the moment we start the countdown to the wedding. It is roughly 564 days until the wedding, and I can’t wait!

There were heaps of photos taken on the night. Trust me, I know, my cheeks were cramping under the strain of smiling for too many photos. Please check out our media gallery for the photos.

Thanks again to everyone who attended. I hope you can all make it for the wedding, we would love to see you there.

Michael

Welcome to my first blog

30 August 2009
 

Hi, welcome to my first blog entry. It’s late August and we are only weeks away from the engagement party. Despite having planned the proposal for six months, and now being engaged for almost four months, it still hasn’t really sunk in that I’m getting married. Maybe having this website will help create the realism of the situation. I mean, the wedding feels like it is so far away (initial plans are for early 2011, hence the url address ourwedding2011.com), and I can’t wait for it to come.

Well, the first major milestone on the journey to our wedding (except for the proposal, for me at least) is the engagement party, and I think after this I will now start to really feel like I’m getting married. It is going to be so much fun, and will be the first time I’ve seen some friends and family since I proposed to Chantelle. I think this might be a reason why it hasn’t sunk in. Also, embarrassingly for me, when referring to Chantelle to other people, I still have a bad tendency of saying “my girlfriend”, instead of correctly referring to her as “my fiancé”.

I know I know, how horrible of me. I’m sure there are many women out there shaking their fists at me. However, in my defence, I’m just so used to saying “my girlfriend” it has become entrenched in my lexicon. I have been saying it for the past seven years.

Anyway, I will hopefully be able to shake off this bad habit soon, and maybe the engagement party will be just the cure I need. I’m really looking forward to it and seeing you all there.

I’m hoping to provide you all with an insight into my mind through this blog in the lead up to my wedding. Also, I will put particular emphasis on providing all the travel and accommodation details you will need for the wedding. I look forward to sharing all the destination information I can through this blog.

Please keep a regular eye on my blog for the latest updates.

Michael