I often think that I should have travelled when I was young, but back then I could not fulfil my dream as I had to support my children's education. Back then I promised myself that I would travel and see the world when I became free from all responsibility.
I’ve always wanted to visit Australia ever since I learned about Captain Edward Timothy Miles, who towed a tin dredging boat from Tasmania to Phuket via Penang. He was brave enough to start the Tongkah Harbour Tin Dredging Company company 100 years ago, one of the first foreign investors.
Believe it or not, the company premises still exist in Saphan Hin. Unfortunately, the beautiful bungalows that were still very fashionable places to live in the early 1990s are now in a terrible condition.
I finally managed to make my trip to Sydney, Australia in August when the temperature there was a mild 22 degree Celsius.
Yes, it was terribly cold for me, especially when we flew to Cairns later on in the holiday to have a taste of the tropical rainforest weather. Cairns is an interesting city in the north of Queensland. I learned a lot while I was there, especially the way they looked after their environment.
In the centre of town is The Esplanade, which is a focal point of the city. There is also a huge swimming pool for everyone to use for free. It's a place where you can meet people from all walks of life enjoying themselves with their families. Phuket could learn a lot from this.
Then I drove to the tiny town of Kuranda, home to the fabulous Kuranda market, which is a new-styled market with a unique atmosphere with vendors from Bali, Nepal and India.
I met a Malaysian lady who sold banana wrapped in sticky rice. I felt that she was Australian now and not Malaysian. She was ‘straight forward’ and spoke English with an Australian accent.
I also spent a night at a caravan park in Atherton near Herberton called Woodlands, and felt right at home there. The receptionist told me not to miss an opportunity to watch the platypus at 5.45pm. So I went for a walk in the park and I noticed that the platypus was there – so punctual.
I have to say that I felt quite disappointed at the size of this queer animal. It's only one foot long and six inches wide. I was surprised that the platypus played such an important role in tourism.
What did I most appreciate in Australia? Definitely the forest and its beautiful banyan trees.
The Australian government do very well to protect the forest – I even saw an accessible path for people in wheelchairs – and it is my dream that it could be the same here in Thailand too.