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Inspiration 4 - Thailand & Japan

From diving to walking in the snow in just a few days.


Thailand was amazing. Everything was prepared for tourists to enjoy all the wonderful attractions on offer.

Lovely temples and statues everywhere, here in Koh Samui

Thai people are amazingly polite and smiley. Many places seem to survive on tourism and they are very good at catering to tourists. The food was delicious, with lots of vegetables, coconut and lemongrass, and generally available very cheaply. So in Thailand we visited lots of temples, restaurants and of course, beautiful places in nature.

Koh Phangan. The beaches were just gorgeous, at all times of the day.

We took a live-aboard diving boat in the Similan Islands, where some went diving whilst the beginners snorkeled. We swam with manta rays, saw hundreds of thousands of fish in coral reefs up close and also visited Richelieu Rock on the Andaman sea. Just amazing what you see under the water.

Many live-aboards visiting different islands
Chiang Mai, dragons, and gold ornaments everywhere

Eventually we reached Chiang Mai. The traffic and driving was a lot more civilised than in India, so we decided to rent a scooter to visit a famous temple up a hill in the North. On the way we came across a more beautiful and less crowded temple hidden in the forest so we stopped to investigate.

There were Buddhist temples in every village, town and city, with their unique pointy architectural style and plenty of dragons and glittering gold decoration. Quite different from the Tibetan/Nepalese ones.

Many of the temple compounds had a few monks or nuns living in them… apparently it's very common for young men to become monks for a while as part of their education, and then go back into the world and become householders!

Can you spot the tourist?
Can you spot the day-dreaming buddha?
Can you spot the elephant?

A beautiful version of a buddha statue, where he sits on the coils of a seven-headed serpent.

It was time to return home, via New Zealand. So we looked for air tickets to get there. And lo and behold, one of the cheapest rates took us via...


After the beauty but also chaos, noise, poverty and corruption of some parts of Asia, Japan turned out to be an unexpected oasis of tranquility, orderliness, technology, efficiency… A remarkably beautiful and civilised place where we learnt many lessons about minimalism, tradition, aesthetics & respect... we were so lucky to be able to spend a couple of weeks there.

We arrived at the end of winter, before the cherry blossoms bloomed, and in fact even got some snow. In Kyoto we experienced firsthand the aesthetics of the minimalist architecture and landscaping. What a beautiful city.

There were hundreds of temples hidden among the residential areas.

If you can ever manage it, you should visit Kyoto!

We were also really struck by the people, so polite, respectful, quiet and helpful. On several occasions someone left the shop they worked in and walked with us a couple of hundred metres to show us how to get to where we needed to go.

The way they dressed was also very modest and graceful, whether it was the loose-cut European style clothing or the traditional kimono.

Shrines with paper lanterns and beautiful calligraphy were very common.

Traditional Kimono
So many places, just waiting for you to enter, sit, contemplate
Simple yet stunning, a freshly made water spout in a shrine!

It was probably the hardest country for us to find food in, since we couldn't speak the language or understand anything that was written on the packaging in the supermarkets! And they love seafood so much that almost everything had at least fish sauce in it. We did find some delicious rice 'balls' in supermarkets which saved us on occasion!

Peace and quiet

Many places seemed to encourage contemplation. Gardens with magnificent quiet areas, even with instructions for visitors.

Read the sign!

We didn't go to a tea ceremony since they were rather expensive, but we spotted these ladies having tea whilst walking along the street and couldn't resist taking a photo.

Even places with lots of people somehow seemed to flow serenely
Nara Daibutsu buddha statue in Nara. Kept in one of the largest wooden structures in the world.

Up next: Past educational activities.

Just some nice little pics to intrigue you...