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Sue & Ed Tie the Knot & Go Bananas in South East Asia

Action Honeymooning... an Introduction. Words by Sue. Pics by Ed.

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We wanted to be Action Honeymooners and thanks very much to you and your awesome Honeymoon Gifts, we did it all!

We've done enough trains, plane, temples and tours to last a lifetime. In-between we've para-sailed, scuba-dived, jet-skied and basked in the sunset soaked luxury of some of the best Rooftop Bars in the world. We've fed stingrays, zebras and giraffes, held a tiger-cub in our arms and bathed with baby elephants. We've hurtled through the skies on Asia’s largest Flying Fox and hooned around the Philippines on ATV’s. In-between we've been spoilt rotten on the 'Honeymooner's Blag' as we swum, shopped, and stuffed ourselves silly across 3 countries and 6 cities. Leaving the best to last we reveled in a right Royal fashion in the magical tropical island paradise that is the Shangri-La Resort at Boracay...aaaahhhh!

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We intend to keep the memories forever and the Honeymoon Diaries seems like the place...Check out your slice of the hot Honeymoon Action here...
We also snuck in a copy of the Bride's Speech since it was abandoned on the Big Day along with a few of our fave Wedding pics. If you have any pics, please do us a favor and email them or post on F.B!

Sue & Ed xx

Posted by gobannanas 01:00 Archived in Australia Tagged honeymoon wedding introduction Comments (0)

Bride Speech: This Banana’s Gone to Heaven

My Bride's Speech was abandoned on the day. I blame it on difficult circumstances leading up to the wedding but maybe I was in some weird alternate universe - or just blissed out. Either way, here's what I would have said if I was up to it...

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I can’t believe that we’re actually here today!! Ed and I have been engaged forever, so I never rally imagined this was going to happen. And while I’ve never been one to fantasize about the prospect of getting married – right now I am having my Queen of Sheba moment and loving every minute of it!

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Ed and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary one year ago this week. I was in Sydney and he was in London. I put on some lipstick and dialed up Skype. Minutes into the conversation he suggested we get married on this day in 12 months’ time and within a few months, Ed was home. At last!! It is because of his decision that we are here today, It must have been the lipstick. We wanted to make this statement, in front of our friends and family, so here we are.

I met Ed in Sydney – Sydney Uni to be exact. We chose this stunning venue because of the billion dollar views and because the thought of getting married on top of one of the most stunning vistas in the world was exciting - and made us feel really grown up! The joyride that is our life goes up and down like a crayzee roller coaster and just keeps getting better.

It's like we said in the Vows though, it hasn’t been an easy ride and the fact that we've gone through so much: moving countries, visa nightmares, living apart, homesickness, financial challenges, family pressures, job instability, power struggles and the big one – deportment (just your average relationship then!) and have come up smiling every time meant that we have had something very special.

Right from the beginning Ed showed me that it’s OK to follow your heart. As a work obsessed career nut in the job that-ate-my-brain, I had missed that memo. Letting go of the safety rails, and turning my back on My Fabulous Life to follow Ed to the other side of the world was terrifying at first... and then I started to get it! Not everyone gets the chance to have a whole new beginning but I did. And I had the time of my life.

So many times during our travels I have looked at Ed – and that beeyootiful face – and wondered how on earth we found each other. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him – standing head and shoulders above the crowd, so stall and regal, dressed head to toe in black - that face, that hair. Something inside me said, you need to quit messing around and talk to that man. So I did!

Most people here today know that we met at a You Am I gig and we never looked back. Thanks Tim Rogers! Ever since music has been the backbone of our eleven year history. It was Ratcat though that was always Ed’s favorite – hence why I organized Simon Day to play a medley of Ratcat tunes tonight. It is my surprise wedding gift to my husband (and that's a secret that was hellishly hard to keep!)

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Ed is an optimist, that’s one of the things I love about him most. He doesn’t do depression and he always sees the bright side. I remember that sad day at Heathrow where he was waiting when I flew in. We'd not seen each other for months and months and then there was that unfortunate misunderstanding with the Visa Police who gave me 48-hours to turn around and fly right back home, Ed comforted me through my tears by saying, “don’t be sad; I’ve got tickets to the Mel Brooks stage-show of the Producers tonight! so you won't miss that!”

Ed is also the chief organizer and a Very Good Boy Scout as I discovered way back when we went on a picnic to a remote area in the Blue Mountains, and he packed, amongst other things, the phone number of the local police station! He’s also very calm in a crisis. When the crap hits the fan, he is unfazed.

He’s also the world’s biggest romantic. He doesn’t have to try. He just is. Whenever I got homesick when we lived in the UK, he would try to alleviate it by tempting me with irresistible treats: “Let’s go to the Greek Islands” or “How about Morocco!”Fancy Madonna in Paris?” It blows my mind when I think of the incredible experiences we’ve had. Ed knows how to woo a girl. He’s been doing it from day one and he’s never let up. He told me once that he was looking for someone to make the centre of his life – and he found me. I think I knew the deal when he turned up for our second date with a bunch of my favorite fuscia colored flowers and a bottle of chilled white wine. Swoon. Also when he thanked my mum in a birthday card for having me. Aw!

Eds’ mild manner hides unshakeable determination and a backbone of steel. He is also incredibly, and often frustratingly stubborn – but then so am I, especially when it comes to ‘us’. We value our relationship more than anything and we don’t plan to mess it with it. Once the air clears after a fight, and there are many, it’s business as usual. More often than not we end up laughing at ourselves. Ed knows how to make me laugh, and as us girls know – that’s what we’re talkin’ about.

Ed knows how to empathize as well. He was always considerate of how much I missed my parents while we were away, and he put his money where his mouth was, funding my yearly trips back home. There were still tough and lonely times in London but I’ll always remember waking up next to Ed and looking into his gentle face and those loving eyes and knowing instinctively that I was in the right place – with the right person. There’s no way I would have survived living in the UK for 7 years otherwise.

When I think of Ed I think of Fun. Ed knows how to party like no tomorrow. He is happiest when he’s entertaining. Towards the end of our time in UK he morphed into a real social butterfly who was nicknamed Teflon Man because of his ability to party all night (with the occasional snooze) and go straight into work the next day.
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Ed puts the ‘ed’ in Hedonist. But he’s also extremely responsible, hard-working and committed – so much so that we’re here today. He supports me in all of my career endeavors and encourages my creativity, happily providing the necessary tools and occasional I.T support – hey, I didn’t marry an I.T genius for nothing!! I couldn't have asked for more loyalty, happiness, commitment, love and most importantly good times from my guy. He is my biggest fan.

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He is also as our good friend Joly once said, so much more than the sum of his parts.

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Ed is from good stock. Born Edward Fang-Peng Lee in Malaysia to Chinese parents Elizabeth and Paul, he was raised in Australia. He has more integrity and self-respect in his little finger than anyone I know. This is a man who couldn’t lie to save himself. With Ed what you see really is what you get. In getting to know his family over the years, I can see where he gets it comes from….

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Ed is close to both his brothers: younger bro Shawn who absolutely threw himself into the role of Best Man with gusto and did an amazing job. And middle brother Eric helped us behind the scenes in more ways than anyone can know. Seeing Ed reunited with Eric after such a long break means the world, not just to Ed, but to all the family.

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Ed's parents have shown the kind of strengths that only the most loving parents are capable of. Ed’s lovely mum Elizabeth did an utterly amazing job of raising three boys in a foreign country – and she did them proud. The strength and single-minded focus that allowed her boys the the best start in life possible is truly inspirational. Her extreme knowledge of health and nutrition helped them cope through many a childhood illness.

Ed’s dad, Paul has experienced a lot, both in life and business and has come out of it a very wise man. Since he’s been through it all himself, he can see the challenges and obstacles that Ed and I face. Because we’re close, he is able to counsel us very frankly. We all need some help and guidance from time to time and Pa has been there to offer it. I’m still in awe at the fascinating history of the new family I’ve inherited.

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My own family are all here today waving the Ostler flag. My brothers Wayne and Michael - Wayne is my only little bro and my favorite little bro and we lurved his reading of Your My Best Friend!! We're glad Michael made the trip down from Qld since he was our star witness for the marriage certificate and we couldn't have got married without him!

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Likewise my dad who I was proud to have walk me down the aisle today! My parents Lorraine and Max have been my No. 1 supporters throughout my life, always giving me the freedom to do whatever I’ve wanted to do and supporting me in whatever endeavors I’ve taken – whether they were sound or not! From a very early age I believed that I could be whoever I wanted – and that’s never changed. I have never felt pressured or compromised by them, nor have I ever felt that I’ve let them down in anyway. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Their response to the way I live my life has always been met with humor and supported by unconditional love – and that is what I plan to pass on to the most important people in my life.

That’s where you come into it. We have guests here today from all over the world – Hawaii, UK, Hong Kong and Malaysia, as well as from all over Australia – and to all of you we want to say thank you so much for making the trip.

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Firstly today could not have happened if it wasn’t for my best friend and Maid of Honor, Lisa Dee. Lisa has been on a single-handed mission for the longest time to have me here today, smiling, relaxed – without having a break-down! Right from the start it was her who took a hand in everything, from making sure I looked my absolute best, to negotiating the best deal from the venue. She is hands down been my number one support: counseling, nursing, soothing and listening to me through every drama and every meltdown – and believe me there have been a few! She is the best friend that any bride could wish for. Thank-you Lisa. I love you!

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I want to send big hugs also to the awesome King and Queen of Hawaii, Christie & Ralph who we met whilst on a trip through Vietnam a few years ago. We’ve stayed great friends since - the fact that they are here today is evidence of that. They’ve always called us ‘The freakin’ Aussies’, and today these ‘freakin’ Aussies’ are loving their Hawaiian travel buddies like crazy right now! It’s when we look at couples like these two funsters who travel the world and work hard and play and create dreamlike home environments wherever they go – that we see our future. This beautiful couple are our bright shining role models. If we can be anywhere near as happy as them in the coming years, then we’ll have every reason to smile!

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A big shout out also to our dear friend Anita who was there right from the start - long before I was. Her friendship with Ed has endured many years and crossed continents. Anita moved to the UK just before Ed and was a great and constant support during our time there – she even helped him pick the engagement ring!! She was also there for me. The fact that she has traveled all the way from London to here to be with us today means the world to us. Anita you’ve been through so much with us and we miss you heaps while we’re here in Sydney. We hope that our friendship endures until we are old and grey. Let’s toast our glasses to Anita!

Sue with the Sticklands

Sue with the Sticklands

A special shout out to the Sticklands for making the trip - and Robyn the Flower-Power Diva for saving the day!!

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Wayne and Joe for their role as Ushers
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Karen, Graeme and Betty MacKenzie - it's wonderful to have you in our lives....

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To Peter and Helen for making the trip despite their hectic lifestyles - we really appreciate it!

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My cuz Sinead for her AWESOME Irish Dance - she looked amazing!

flowergirls_13.jpgKaren and Domenic proud parents of the world's most beeyootifull flower girls!

Karen and Domenic proud parents of the world's most beeyootifull flower girls!

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Sue, Lisa and the flower girls [img=http://photos.travellerspoint.com/579590/08A78C152219AC68170BC053A2A73435.jpg

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Daniella for her beautiful reading of True Colors by Cyndi Lauper

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The Groomsmen for looking so hot

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And Lexi - because you rock!!

Wedding Guest Roll Call

It goes without saying that each of you were invited here today for a reason - all of which is documented on the Picture Boards made by Ed – if you missed your personal message on the night, here it is!

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Jenny, Jessica and Mr T

Jenny, Jessica and Mr T


Jessica Adams: Sue first met Jessica at her publisher's Xmas party back in 2003. While everyone else was sipping glasses of champagne daintily, they grabbed a bottle and shared it between them, drinking straight from the bottle! Afterward they went to see You Am I at the Metro. It was one of those magical nights, especially after knowing of Jessica as the editor of On The Street and being a fan of her massive body of work – books, columns and articles, Sue was honored to finally meet her. Staying friends for the next decade was the icing on the cake!

Jenny Valentish was introduced to Sue by Jessica in London and the two were inseparable until Jenny left to move to Sydney and Sue was so sad. Later on Jenny moved to Melbourne to become queen of the magazines and Sue moved back to Sydney. Even though they're in different cities, they still get too see each other heaps. A happy ending. Jenny and Jessica both helped keep Sue sane during a tough time in the UK and she is very glad to have you both in her life.

Rosie on the dancefloor

Rosie on the dancefloor

Rosie Beaton first met back at one of the Rolling Stone parties and they've stayed firm friends all these years. Rosie has always championed Sue's work as an author back in the day when Sue was a regular on her radio show. If you recognize the name it's because Rosie was Triple J's best loved host and announcer. She still is! But these days she is more likely to be seen on TV making people laugh which she did for me when I was having a pre-wedding melt-down!! Thanks for the Frangipani's Rosie!!

Nelly Phelan and Sue became firm friends whilst doing business - Sue in Sydney at Rolling Stone and Nelly at Levi's HQ in Melbourne. Since they've holidayed together in Berlin, rendezvoused in London, Melbourne and Sydney and love nothing more catching up over a delicious dinner and having a laugh together!

David Mills, better known as Davod, is Sue’s mate from Studio Magazines where he worked on Blue. Now he’s the editor of Sydney’s excellent Wentworth Courier and he gets invited to the Lord Mayor’s Sydney Harbour New Year Eve parties annually – jealous? No!! Famous for his snake hips tonight he has requested the 'single's table since his partner Barry is away working in Dubai. Once he hits the dance-floor, you won't get him off it!

Daniella Ortega and Sue first met at a Sydney Pollack seminar over a decade ago and just clicked. Shortly after Daniella met Gary Doust who was quite obviously smitten with her; what he didn't know, but Sue knew, was that Daniella was also smitten with him. Sue left them to it and pretty soon they were an item. Now they're the proud parents of gorgeous Jack. Sue sadly missed their wedding back in October 2009, but she's thrilled to have them here today!
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How hot do these two look?? Ange Cecco has been a friend of Sue's for a long time and is famous for her Elvis-esque moves on the dance-floor. Watch out for her and her partner Mel on the dance floor tonight!
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Daz, Jules, Wayne and Mr T

Daz, Jules, Wayne and Mr T

Daz Gover worked with Sue at Rolling Stone for several years. He was a fun super talented guy then, and he's a fun guy, super talented guy now. It was great meeting up with him after 7 years. He also has the most beautiful daughter, Aki!

Rosie, Penny and Rachel

Rosie, Penny and Rachel


Rachel Pirie is Sue's friend from her Rolling Stone days where they shared many laughs - and just as many secrets, over the years. Rachel recently moved in with her ace boyfriend Jules who we're happy to have here today!

Penny Koutras first came and worked with Sue at Beat Mag circa 1997-98 and then George joined the team as well. Later Penny came to work with Sue at Next Media. Penny since as become a mum but they've continued to party together in Sydney, London - and hopefully someday soon in Greece!!

Joe & Ali Ferrara: Sue & Ed were lucky enough to go to Joe and Ali's wedding a few years back. They hope their wedding is as much fun!!

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Andy Pape first met Ed at Glastonbury where they partied hard! Throughout the years they had good times at fancy dress events like ClownCon, PirateCon and SantaCon. Whether it was dressing up, partying hard or just hanging out, Andy was one of Ed's best London friends. He lives with his gorgeous girlfriend Zoe in London.

Aloha Christie and Ralph!

Aloha Christie and Ralph!


Christie and Ralph Eggers have come all the way from Hawaii to be here! We met them whilst travelling around Vietnam and just kept bumping into them. They called us, "The freakin' Aussies!'

Anita Carroll was there at Club 77 the first night we met! That makes her very special. She's been a great friend to us over the years in London and we're thrilled that she's here with us tonight. Cheers Anita!

Richard Sappe is Ed's London based Swiss born mate.A real jet-setter, he flies around the world constantly and we're thrilled he made the big trip to be here today. Cheers to Richard for coming up with the Honeymoon Registry suggestion – that worked a treat!!!

Jols and Iggy

Jols and Iggy


Joly Braime first met Sue and Ed 'the old chap' in London. He was looking for a place to live and we offered him the spare room in our flat. Soon he and Ed became great drinking mates and the friendship endured way beyond the job. We spent great times with Joly's family up in Leeds, and especially loved the White Xmas dinner back in 2009. Iggy is his gorgeous partner and also from the UK (even though she looks like she could be from Bondi Beach!)

Anita and Tash

Anita and Tash


Tash Mahabir met Ed & Sue in London. She is a fun-loving easy going girl with a real enthusiasm for life that is infectious. She has recently moved to Hong Kong where she's working and living and having a ball. Hopefully we will be there to see her in the New Year.

Jane, Jocke and Mr T

Jane, Jocke and Mr T


Jane Pender was a student of Sue's whilst in London and happily, she met Jocke - having moved back across the globe they now live back on the sunny beaches of Sydney. After Jane got her man, Jane and Sue became firm friends. Sue finds Jane, who is an absolute superwoman, extremely inspirational. Oh and did I mention she’s swum the British Chanel?!

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Karen and Domenic are long times friends of Ed’s family and today their gorgeous and sweet daughters Isabella and Antonella stole the show in their role as flower girls – beautiful!!

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Mother of the Groom, Elizabeth as in Queen Elizabeth, is very proud to be here today and very happy to have Ed home again!! We value the generous donation Elizabeth made to the African Orphanage on behalf of us as our wedding gift.

Shawn is Ed's youngest bro and best man. Although they seem quite different at first, they are truly brothers at heart as you can tell if you spend some time with them together. Shawn married his long-term love Margaret a couple of short months ago at a lovely ceremony at the Chinese Gardens.

Rockdogs and party animals Jared and Lexi came to stay with us in London and both of them were legends and who have turned into great friends. We'll always have a soft spot for Glasto - 2009 where Jared came with us and saw the great Blur reunion! Good times dude!!
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Lexi is a total legend, there’s just no other way to say it. She was an invaluable help leading up to the wedding, helping out and weaving her magic wand over the decorations and flowers and all sorts of things. Her school teacher personality helped keep Sue calm when things were getting out of control! Good thing she caught the Bridal Bouquet - and it wasn't even rigged!!

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Alison has been working for Dad's company Property Enterprises for twenty-odd years, and they're lucky to have her; she is one of the most reliable and dependable people you will meet. Her husband Derek and kids, Carmen and Chloe are her No 1 fans!

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Aunty Chua is from Kuching, Malaysia. She was so amazing and helpful, running us around Kuching to get all our wedding decorations and gifts. She also showed us a beautiful Buddhist Water Ceremony.

Aunty and Uncle Mui Seng travelled in from Malaysia and Aunty Mui Seng was one of the flower ninjas! Whenever we visit they are always enthusiastic about taking us to the best eating places in Kuching!

Julian works at Property Enterprise and is regularly spotted around Pitt Street Sydney where he works in real-estate. He has some great tips on loads of properties if you're in the market

Uncle and Aunty Koo share and look after Ed's Dad's business, Property Enterprises. They are a reassuring and kindly presence who are always on hand to help if anything goes wrong, which these days seems quite often!

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Father of the Groom, ‘Pa’, Paul Lee lives in Malaysia most of the time and has been an invaluable support to Sue and Ed right throughout their relationship and most especially leading up to the Big Day.

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Mother of the Bride, Lorraine and Father of the Bride, Max are Sue's Mum and Dad: they grew up in Melbourne and when the kids were old enough to go to Uni, they went for a trip around Australia and stopped on the Gold Coast. Needless to say they never came back! Sue loves having that Queensland base to visit so no complaints there. They really are the best parents in the world, never pressuring and never interfering – but always supportive.
Michael is Sue's eldest brother. She followed him around a lot as they grew up and together they had a lot of great times in the ‘group’ with regular holidays to the coast of N.S.W and Victoria. Michael works and lives in Queensland and this is the first time he’s travelled to Sydney to visit. Happy days!

Sinead and Peter

Sinead and Peter


Peter is Sue's Uncle and proud dad of Patrick, Brian and Sinead.

Helen and Sinead

Helen and Sinead

Helen is their fantastic mum. Sue was lucky enough to go to their Melbourne wedding many years ago, and has loved watching their 3 fantastic kids grown into dynamic young adults ever since. Sinead who has grown into a stunning young woman performed her awesome ‘Irish Dance’ for our wedding guests and the crowd loved it. Thanks Sinead, you’re a superstar!!

Joe and Wayne

Joe and Wayne


Wayne is Sue's only little bro and favorite little bro! He has the patience of a saint and he’s a very good listener. He also doesn’t take any crap from his big sis! He's here today with his long term partner Joe in their very special capacity as Groomsman. We’re so happy to see this couple endure the same tough challenges that we have had with Visa nightmares. It takes a lot to overcome obstacles like thse, but these two have done it and come up smiling!!

Carol, Gary and Robin

Carol, Gary and Robin

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Gary is Sue's cousin and Robyn is his awesome wife. It was Robyn came to Sue’s rescue on the day of the wedding and waved her magic wand over the floral arrangements. It turns out she’s a natural!! Together they have two amazing adult children, Julian and Tessa.

Max, John and Wayne

Max, John and Wayne


John Stickland is Sue's uncle and widower of Joy, Sue's Aunt and her dad's sister. John recently sold the family home in Melbourne and is now looking to relocate to sunny Queensland where he will be near the Ostlers! He’s had a trying time whilst here in Sydney in and out of hospital the past few days and we wish him well.

Karen and Graeme

Karen and Graeme

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Karen is Sue's long lost cousin, the daughter of Sue's dad late brother John. What makes her special is that we didn't know my dad had a brother until this lovely lady made it her life's mission to find my dad! After years of searching, they found my dad up on the Gold Coast and find out that he was adopted and meet his blood brother John. We're so grateful to Karen for making the effort and are over the moon that she could be here with her gorgeous partner Graeme and her mum Betty today!
Aunt Betty is Sue's dad sister-in-law, and wife of her Dad's late brother John. Betty came into our lives only a couple of years ago thanks to Karen, see above, and it has been a pleasure to meet this lovely lady!

Carol is Sue's cousin and the proud mum of two gorgeous kids - Dankia her daughter is her spitting image! Carol left her hubby Gavin home today to tend to their Victorian orchid, on this, the busiest time of the season. We're glad she could make it!

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James and Ed go way, way back. Ed was even there on the night he met his wife Deb at the infamous 'Shark Hotel.' Now they are proud parents of two irascible boys, Luke and William.

Deb is James' wonderful husband and has been a great support to Sue since she first met Ed. Deb is the kind of woman whose kind and generous hospitality always makes you feel as though you are part of the family. Thanks Deb, we love you guys!
Anatole, Poker Shark and all around legend, Anatole was a Sydney Taxi Driver who came and picked us up very late one night, after a Club 77 on one of our very first dates. Sue was pretty impressed with Ed when he made a quick call and within minutes, Anatole appeared like magic! Ed says, “I owe you one mate!”

Brett is Ed's mate, they go back a long way - to the first year of university in the early 90s, where they had a lot of fun and games, particularly in Ed's misspent youth of over-indulging in online games and chat. Brett's internet moniker was "DMouse", later shorted to just "Mouse". He is still, as ever, a lovable loon.

Dylan and Sine, Deb and James

Dylan and Sine, Deb and James


Dylan is Ed's mate from Uni. He came to visit us a few times in London before getting married in Bangkok to the beautiful Sine. Sadly we couldn't make their wedding, but we're thrilled they made ours!! Sine is also an pretty damn impressive cook and we’ve enjoyed a sensational meal over at theirs. Sometime we’ll return the favour – truly!

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Rich Stockins met Ed in the early-mid 90s due to a number of shared interests, not the least of which was a love of the Aussie band RatCat, who were massive at the time, and for whom Richard maintained the official fan website. He met his wonderful wife Jen in 2002, the very same year that Sue and Ed met for the first time.

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Lisa is Sue's best friend. They go back a long way when Sue hired Lisa as a photographer at Beat Magazine. She just popped in without an appointment, but worked her charm on Sue who hired her instantly. Some twenty years later, and they're still the best of friends. Lisa is Sue's Maid of Honor - but so much more. Without her constant support, patience and butt-kicking, Sue and Ed could not have produced such a wonderful day!

Eric is Ed's middle brother. They spent a great deal of time together growing up, even before Shawn was around. More so than anyone else, Ed is overjoyed to have Eric back in his life in Sydney again.
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Mr T and lots of friends

Mr T and lots of friends


Mr. T has been with us since we moved to London. Bought at a local market for the princely sum of £20 - he's been a totally wild party animal every since.

Andy and Mr T

Andy and Mr T

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After the ceremony

Sinead with Iggy

Sinead with Iggy

Eric on the dancefloor

Eric on the dancefloor

the reception

the reception

Andy and Joly

Andy and Joly


Reception Exit Arch

Reception Exit Arch


Wedding Dance

Wedding Dance


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The Happy Bride!

The Happy Bride!

Ed_carryin..r_threshold.jpgEd carries Sue over the threshold - and the....

It's been a really long day!

It's been a really long day!

Posted by gobannanas 07:00 Archived in Australia Tagged wedding speech photoboard Comments (0)

Langkawi: The Jewel of Kedah

First Stop Langkawi: Chasing Frangipanis...

sunny 36 °C

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It’s after midnight when we arrive at our first destination Langkawi after hours waiting for our connecting flight at K.L airport. Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea. We have come here because it is said to be Malaysia's most romantic destination - we are that gullible. Hot and humid, the air is loaded with the sweet intoxicating scent of Frangipani. Our destination, Langkawi’s Award Winning Eco Frangipani Resort and Spa – The whole place is dripping in every shade of Frangipani imaginable. It even has magical upside down trees!

Thanks to Richard, Shawn and Margie & Rich & Jen for flying us here!

We are welcomed by the manager (a Malaysian version of the Love Boat Captain) who hums discretely around Ed inquiring about the well-being of ‘The Honeymoon Couple’. Later that day we return from our adventures to find our King Size bed covered in fresh Frangipani petals. Wow, just wow!! Ed also finds a Frangipani Surprise when he visits the toilet… that's one way to keep it fragrant! Our absolute beachfront Love Bungalow with its tropical outdoor Garden Shower (great for those who aren’t afraid of slithery gekkos!) offers the perfect sanctuary after a hard day’s touring.

Thanks to Wayne, Joe and David for the awesome accom!
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Ed is over the moon thanks to the Beachfront Breakfast Buffet which features all his faves – hot rice and noodle dishes and an Egg Station. For me it’s all about the fresh pancakes, coconut jam and tropical fruit with home-made banana cake and frangipani tea. Yaa-um!

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Planning an itinerary with equal time spent on road, water and at the resort, we zip around the island in our funky hire-car. First off we discover the Oriental City where we feed carp and rabbits - and avoid the sad elephant!

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Later we ooh and aahh at the spectacular jungle landscape from high above the treetops as we trapeze across in the famous Langkawi Cable Car

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Thanks for the Cable Car ride Alison!

Then we drive to one of the walks to view the falls. Unfortunately it is dry season and the falls are not active but the lush, green surrounds are breathtaking. Moreover, as we had the whole place to ourselves, it really felt quite special, our own secret jungle retreat.

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Afterwards we drive out to the stunning Datai Resort to see Gulai House famous for its jungle style accommodation, beach activities and eateries. After ambling around the private Beach Club and sampling the local Jungle Juice, we realise that three hours is too long to wait for Gulai House to open. Confusingly the Horse-Riding is a long way from where we are – and so we change our plans – we know from research that there is a similar (if not better) dinner option in Koi-Samui – and it is there we will have our jungle feast. Horse-riding can wait until Boracay. Heading back into the main city Kuah we stop for a spot of much needed shopping (bathers are a useful thing to have on a Tropical Island holiday!) Later we eat a delicious meal at Wonderland, a canal-side Seafood Market popular with the locals.

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The next evening it's time for some smokin' romance with our first Sunset Cruise. Being the first to board the great white Cruiser, we nab the Thai style daybeds on the Top Deck, (Honeymoon couples who work it can get away with a lot!) Service includes a tasty BBQ dinner and open bar – yes Open Bar people! After 5 vodkas it’s time for a rough ‘n tumble stint in the Salt Water Jacuzzi. Have you ever been pulled along in a giant rope net behind a massive cruiser while waiting for a magical sunset? I haven’t had this much fun since I was 5 years old!

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The next morning we board our Pregnant Maiden Lake,[/i] (named after the famed profile of the island - it looks like a pregnant lady on her back!) we roar around the turquoise waters in a Solar Powered Paddle boat before diving in and splashing around. Ahhhh…

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Thanks for the ace experience Joe and Ali

Afterwards we trek through the local Bat Caves, at first glance there is just the one bat but as we advance into the deepest darkest corner, the ceiling is completely covered in bats! According to our guide there are around 500. Jerking our heads to avoid getting splattered in Bat-Poo, the Guide helpfully explains that a number of the bats we are looking at are dead. Turns out that ead bats can hang for up to 3 months. That explains the smell then!!

Exploring the cool damp caves with their tiny nooks and crannies and caves within caves, hanging stalactites and clear bubbling water escaping from unexpected water springs giving us a chance to cool down and absorb the changing landscape around us. We thoroughly enjoy the caving. And we are nice to the bats.

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Thanks for our caving experience Daz!

Finally the time has come to pack up and say goodbye to our sacred Frangipani Haven *sigh* but not before the ladies at Reception (after hearing of my Frangipani fetish) present me with a freshly made lei and Frangipani Crown. I am now well and truly the Frangipani Princess.
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We are properly unwound by the time we leave Langkawi – the perfect base to prepare for our next adventure...

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Posted by gobannanas 05:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged beaches sunset honeymoon view ocean hotel monkey cruise island dinner romantic spa luxury cable-car mangrove frangipani rabbits Comments (0)

The City of Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo

Ed's birthplace

I love the idea that Ed was 'born in Borneo' even though he only moved to Australia when he was only 2 years old! Kuching is the capital of Sarawak and is on the banks of the Sarawak River on the northwestern part of the island of Borneo. Arriving late on Saturday night, we are met by Ed’s dad, ‘Pa’.

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We cab it back to his city pad where we are staying. Over the next few days we will visit the grandparents and those relatives who couldn’t make it to Sydney for the wedding.

We are up bright and early for breakfast at ABC cafe, a local breakfast place and very popular with the locals. The menu is rice porridge, noodles and my favourite Malaysian food: Popia. These delicious little pancake rolls are sold all over Malaysia as snacks, filled with vegetables and tofu, chicken or prawns. A chilled glass of kopi peng - iced White coffee (sweetened) is the happy ending.

We go with the aunts to do some shopping and check out Plaza Merdeka, the city’s latest and glossiest shopping centre and the project of Ed’s uncle who we will see this afternoon. After a quick but tasty lunch of yum-cha style dumplings and fried seafood snacks, we are driven to Ed’s Grandma on his mother’s side, along with Aunts and cousins.

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Grandma lives just a few minutes We arrive with bags of fruit and are served tea. Photos are shown as blessings and gifts are exchanged. We have a great time catching up but all too soon it’s time to say goodbye and make our way back home. Soon it will be dinner time and the aunts and uncles have special dinner plans for us. They take us to their favorite open air market which is flooded with locals. I am the only white person there. We devour plates and plates of noodles, chicken and other delicious and spicy dishes. Later we go back to Uncles and drink red wine. We fall into bed exhausted and over-full but happy.

The next day we will do an informal Ceremony for Grandad and wear traditional wedding outfits. The aunts pick us up early for a breakfast of Sarawak prawn laksa – just the thing you need before you pour yourself into a cheongsam! We go to Golden Arch cafe, reputedly the best laksa and kolo mee in town. Ed was in food heaven!

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My cheongsam was made in Kuching on a previous trip. Happily it still fits in spite of endless gourmandizing. We got to Kuching's best Bridal Boutique for a quick glam over...

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Grandad is 96 (in Chinese years) and a Malaysian Datuk. His home is set upon acres of landscaped gardens. The interior is simple, yet elegant, decked out in the finest silks, artifacts, art and carpets. The sitting room is all set up for a Tea Ceremony. We sit on the antique sofa and each hold one of Granddads’ hands as we sip the tea. He talks in Teochew (pronounced Dio-chu) to Ed who speaks back in Hokkien. I look on and try to follow the conversation but it’s hopeless. I feel so lame that I can’t contribute. Lip reading doesn’t work either since Grandad doesn’t see so well anymore. I sit back and try to read the body language to decipher what’s going on.

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After the Tea Ceremony we head into town with Granddad and his entourage for lunch at Heritage, the best Chinese Restaurant in the heart of Kuching City. A swoop of waiters to deliver each dish. We feast on a banquet of Shark Fin soup (naughty but nice), Butter Prawns, spicy pork and various vegetable and tofu dishes, there’s just time for a quick rest and change before we head off for a traditional Malaysian dinner with Ed’s mum side of the family. I’m trying to restrain myself from pigging out which is hard because it seems impolite. These people take their food seriously. Not eating is not on. Silently I wonder how the freak I will cope with more food without exploding! Somehow I manage. Dinner is course after course of mind-bending deliciousness. Fish-head Currry, Wasabi Prawns, pork ribs and loads of other special dishes. What an extraordinary treat. By the time we leave Kuching we will surely be a stone heavier!

After dinner there’s time for a quick bar hop around the local area. It's not easy finding local bars but there are a couple of decent ones on the main drag with good music. When they fail us, we head to the Riverside Bar which is quiet but it’s nice to sit and catch up with the goss over a glass of red.
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All too soon it is time to leave Kuching. Family obligations have made this trip speed by and there has been no time for sightseeing. We will have to wait until next time to visit the Kuching Caves and the Semenggok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre. Then we will take those x-rated Orang-utan pics we promised. Watch this space Jenny, Mel and Ange!

Posted by gobannanas 05:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged honeymoon malaysia borneo Comments (0)

Chiang Mai

Off To See The Elephants, the Wonderful Elephants of Chiang Mai

sunny 34 °C

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Arriving in Chiang Mai it is a massive relief to find that the air is less humid than Malaysia. We check in at the swish De Naga Hotel – a modernised traditional Thai boutique hotel perfectly located right by Tapae Gate - Chiang Mai's main entrance to the old walled city. The welcome is warm and the charming staff clad in gorgeous traditional Thai Chakri dress really do represent `The Land of Smiles.’ We relax first by the pool in the elaborate courtyard just in time for Happy Hour Margaritas. As is the done thing we exchange travel stories with a few other Aussies.

Dinner is stroll down to the Riverside where we board the romantic River Dinner Cruise which to be fair, would have been more romantic – if we hadn’t fallen asleep! Thinking we could do it all, we'd forgotten that we’d had a 3am wake-up call in Kuching and no sleep since.

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We try again a day later with the Mae Ping River Cruise – ah much better! The boat offers a bird’s-eye view of the bustling Riverfront life from the restaurants and bars to the fruit and flower stalls and markets. We stop at a Farmer’s Market for fresh herb juice and platters of freshly sliced fruit. While we’re there we learn some behind-the-scenes secrets of the local people. What a great way to kick-start our time in picture perfect Chiang Mai.

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Aloha kakou Christie and Ralph!

The next day we head up into the hills to see the elephants and do some bamboo rafting. We feed the elephant family from endless bags of bananas and perch upon on a wooden seat on their back as the trainer rides up the river. Then we will watch the famous ‘Artist’ elephant Suda paint a portrait.

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We fall in love with the elephants and two days later we head back into the mountains again. This time we are not mucking around. We are booked in at the world renowned Chiang Mai Elephant Camp for a half-day Mahout Training session. Today we will learn how to ‘talk’ to the elephants, ride them bareback and then wash them down in the lake.

We start by getting to know the elephants: feeding them and even playing with the babies. They love it. Once we have learned how to mount and direct them, it's time to go for a ride along the river. I volunteer to drive, but after nearly running us into the creek, Ed gets hysterical and takes over. I prefer being the passenger anyway, it’s so relaxing just sitting up there enjoying the view. When it comes to the washing part of it, the elephants just love it. Closing their eyes and practically sighing as we fling buckets of water over them. We name the area Poo-Poo Lake because the elephants don’t stop pooping just because we are in the lake. Ed is coping remarkably well despite being in a mild state of shock. We take our Training Course Certificates and official photos away in the end and marvel at what we just did. What an utterly incredible experience!

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Thanks for the elephants, Ange & Mel, Carol & Gavin!

Hours later our very patient Tuk Tuk driver drops us off in the heart of the jungle where we swash-buckle our way through bush with the local wildlife and other thrill seekers. We are at Chiang Mai’s longest Flying Fox Zip Line. There are 29 different platforms ranging from 10 to 400 metre zip-lines, as well as rope bridge walks, abseiling and much trekking through the jungle. Watching the jungle action unfold below from way above the treetops in this gigantic green playground is simply amazing. Ed may have started out with a fear of heights but by the end he was miraculously cured!! What a way to see the jungle! Aaaiiieee!!!

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Thanks for the Flying Fox Rosie, Jane and Jocke!

Back in the Old City of Chiang Mai we do a local walking tour of the Temples, called 'wat' in Thai, even more stunning when the gold arched roofs are lit up by the sensational sunset. Chiang Mai has over 300 Buddhist temples and we pass around 290 of them! Along the way we see many Monks going happily about their business. One even gives me a cheeky wink!

Later on we eat sensational curry at Chiang Mai’s Best Curry House and visit the Night Safari where we feed giraffe, zebras and deer.
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On the final night we wander down to the Night Bazaar to find some treats for dinner Papaya Salad and Phad Thai. Afterwards we wander around the market and get ourselves a place at the ubiquitous Cabaret Show – free to get in, but watch those soaring drink prices!! The show is fabulously entertaining - young and fresh and surprisingly moving with many of the performers telling their real-life stories through their performance....

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Afterwards we chill out in the Open Air market bar where a series of musos get up and do their thang. Winding our way back through the crowded streets to Ed’s favorite Rock Bar, we encounter Ben’s Bar - surely the world’s tiniest bar. A simple trolley on wheels, fully decked with every imaginable ingredient - think of any cocktail and this lady can make it. We sit ourselves next to Adelaide’s friendliest traveler to share Chiang Mai tales and killer cocktails. Pretty soon she leads us back to her part of town where she promises there will be some serious party action. She is right.

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Several hours and one hard rocking metal band later, we drag ourselves home. Waking the next morning we both have the worst hangover of our trip so far. “Ah but it was fun!” says Ed with a sparkly eyed grin. He is right!

On the final day we visit picturesque grounds of The Bhubing Palace (which we childishly call Pooping Palace in a tribute to Poo-Poo Lake.) Afterwards we travel a short distance further to visit Wat Prathat in Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai’s largest temple which sits perched above Chiang Mai some 30 minutes outside of the city. Here we encounter the maddening crowds that we’ve managed to avoid everywhere else. We shudder and nurse our hangovers, taking a couple of hours to laze by the pool before we brace ourselves for Bangkok.
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All too soon our time in Chiang Mai draws to an end. What a place: exciting, eventful and exotic. We promise ourselves we will be back. We board our overnight train to Bangkok where we have a day before heading onto Ko Samui. Our first-Class private double bunk sleepers ensure that not only will the train trip be fun but we will also get some good sleep. Hopefully!

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Posted by gobannanas 05:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged night honeymoon landscape hotel elephants safari luxury zipline abseiling cabaret Comments (0)

Koh Samui

Our Secret Garden

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IMG_4405.jpgTropical Shower Power

Tropical Shower Power

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Located slap bang in the middle of Big Buddha Beach, the Secret Garden Resort is surrounded by golden sand and blue waters for miles and miles. Our absolutely perfect Honeymoon Beach front bungalow really is right on the beach! All we have to do is throw open the sliding glass doors, and step onto our own private terrace - straight onto the sand!
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The fun continues inside with beautiful heart shape welcome made of petals, and the Balinese-style bathroom with its covered outdoor shower area with natural stone walls. Smiles all round! For Ed it’s all about lying in the hammock and falling asleep to the whispering of the waves.

After a dip in the tepid water we set off for a walk along the beach. The nearby Fisherman’s Village is a Noosa/Byron Bay-style village with equally ridiculous beauty and over inflated prices! After a light seafood dinner at the Happy Elephant and a couple of drinks, we conk out.
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We are up at dawn to greet the morning sun. It’s impossible staying in bed when the ocean is lapping away just a few feet from your door. It’s a shame the local dogs have the same idea. A gentle walk along the beach soon entails six – count ‘em - playful puppies vying for my attention. Wading thigh high into the water is the only way to avoid their playful bites. Later we explore the local area and the Big Buddha up high on the mountain. We like what we see, but it’s too hot to stay out so we rush back to the comfort of the resort – and the beckoning ocean.

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Koh Samui is a jaw dropping wonderland of nature and beaches and we CANNOT wait to get out there. The second day we’re all set for our 8 hour aquatic Jungle trip to the Ang Thong National and Marine Park.

We set out to the Archipelago of 42 islands with towering mountains, thick jungle, white sand beaches, waterfalls and hidden lakes to explore. We swim and navigate Kayaks in and out of low ceiling-ed cave reefs and trek up to the top of the mountainous tropics to see the vista on the other side. large_IMG_4773.jpg IMG_4523.jpg IMG_4525.jpg
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Next stop the stunning Pregnant Maiden Lake

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Thanks for the Island Hopping fun George & Penny. Zoe & Andy!

After a tough day of sailing and swimming – we are spent! We have dinner at a family run local beach-front joint who are happy to prepare Ed’s favourite noodle and prawn dish. They also serve amazing home-make Fish Cakes – yum! Then we take in a nearby Fire Show on the beach where a ten year old kid plays with fire like he’s been doing it for 40 years.

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The next morning we swim and laze about. Then it’s off to explore the big smoke in the nearby popular Chaweng Beach to see what all the fuss is about. We stumble across thousands of sunburn bodies draped every which way across the sand and try to block out the doof-doof pumping out of every speaker. We’re so relieved not to be staying there. Desperately in need of a cool drink, we endure a dodgy bar and atrocious pink ‘Thai Whiskey’ cocktails before stumbling across the gorgeous Banana Fan Bar where exotic cocktail magic served in fresh pineapples and coconut shells appear before us. Must be my Lucky Pineapple top working its magic!!

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Eying off the restaurant next door with its sublime gardens, lanterns and private canopied tables – RIGHT ON THE SAND - we decide to go for it. We’re due for our Fine Dining experience after a few eating disappointments (why is the local food drowned in sweet sauce?) we decide this is it.

We select a private area for our beach-front seats at Eat Sense and order our food. The Southern Thai meal of Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Mango, followed by Salmon in Red Curry sauce - fragrant slow cooked whole salmon served in silky slices, and the Prawn Noodle dish that Ed is fast becoming a connoisseur of, works its magic. Add that to the ridiculously romantic setting which is enhanced by candlelight and then, as though on cue, a full moon slowly starts its ascent. Within minutes we are bathing in its fiery red glow. Fireworks light up the beach and Chinese Lanterns are released into the night sky. “You are very lucky” whispers the Maître-de as she swishes by. She’s not kidding! It is breath-taking. We are having our own private Full Moon Party!

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Thanks Rach and Jules for the World’s Most Romantic Dinner and the awesome cocktails!

Much later we are out on in a busy pub on the main drag watching Koi Samui’s finest rock out to requests. Whatever complaints we have about Chanweng’s over-crowded beaches, bad cocktails and thumping techno are replaced by memories of the perfect night.

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Thanks for the drinks and live music Eric and Anatole!

The rest of our time in Koh Samui goes by in a dream. We take it easy for the next couple of days and laze by the beach, sprawling over balcony hammock with sunset cocktails.

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Posted by gobannanas 05:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged honeymoon thailand island samui koh Comments (0)

Bangkok

Temples and tours by day. Open Air Roof Top Bars by Night!

sunny 35 °C

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We are woken at 7.00am as we pull into the center of Bangkok. We have a whole day ahead of us. After checking our luggage into the lock-up at the station, we set out by foot to explore. Numerous cries of “Took Took” sing out to us from the scores of Tuc Tuc drivers outside the station. “Foot Foot” we laughingly reply and keep walking.

What a steaming city Bangkok is – the most humid we’ve been in so far. The heat grabs and and sticks. Ed is coping much better than me. We head to Chinatown to avoid the worst of the Sunday crowds. Here you can find anything and everything! We have a few quiet hours to wander. Unbelievably delectable food smells snake out from any available square inch. Every kind of sweet and savory food and fruit imaginable is here: hot fresh and tasty for just a few Baht. The food options get crazier with every corner we pass. I am in pieces. How will there be time to try all of it? What if we miss some? Anyone who says don’t eat street food in Bangkok has surely not been tempted like this. How on earth can you resist?

Once we’ve had a buffet style sample of dumplings, noodles and ‘sticks’ – tender grilled meat on a stick coated in fresh herbs; sticky sweets and treats, miniature mango pancakes and crunchy Pomegranate in coconut syrup and fresh pineapple - there’s no room for anymore. We mosy on down to the Riverside and board a local ferry to explore more. What a relief to be on the water. The waterways are bustling and the breeze is cool – ahhh. The instant we get off again the heat clings to us and being bloody Westerners, all we can think of is Air-Con! We wind our way through the narrow streets and soon find ourselves at the Royal Bangkok Mandarin Oriental – widely regarded as one of the best hotels in the world. We pop in for a sneaky peek. The lobby is a breathtaking work of art with great mounds of orchids and lilies dangling artfully from the ceiling. The fragrance is unbelievable. The bar area overlooking the Riverside is tempting but too damn hot. We pop around the corner to the Shangri-La and ogle the sprawling pool area - that’s what we’re talking about! But sadly we have a deadline and there is no time for a swim.

After a quick meal of Phad Thai and Papaya Salad (what else!) it’s time to head back to the Station for our overnight train – destination Koh Samui. A few vodkas and beers help us sleep fitfully. Before we know it, it is 5.30am and the guards are banging at our door. Leaving the train, we wait for a bus and then a ferry to take us to the Secret Garden Resort.

A few days later we return to Bangkok.

Our 5 day Bangkok leg starts well. We’ve been upgraded. Woohoo! Our deluxe 19th floor suite at the Furama Silom boasts floor to ceiling views of Bangkok, and somewhat unexpectedly, a completely see-through glass walled bathroom – did someone tell them it was our Honeymoon? They’ve also thrown in a fruit platter and sweet miniature fruits dipped in toasted coconut for our Honeymoon welcome. Nice!

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Over the next few days we will attack the city by foot. Along the way we will visit the Grand Palace and explore loads of markets (especially the fragrant Flower Markets where the ladies prepare the floral offerings for the hundreds of temples) and visit lots of Buddha’s (including Thailand’s biggest Sleeping Buddha). It goes without saying that we will see a lot of crayzee stuff at the Patpong Red Light district, and for sure we will eat a LOT of outrageous food. But come 4.00pm each day and there will be no mucking around as we march right back to the hotel to shower and change in preparation for our Open Air Rooftop experience which we have decided to make the focus of our trip.

And so begins the Hot nights, Hot Views Rooftop Bar Crawl. Thanks Nelly and Osc!!
It helps that our Honeymoon Suite is literally 7 stairs away from the Rooftop Swimming Pool so without any ado, we get right into it. Lazing on our backs in the tepid water we look up into the greyish/blue sky where skyscrapers rise as far as the eye can see and go over our itinerary.

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Our first stop is the Moon Bar at Vertigo – Bangkok’s 61st floor Open Air Bar at the Banyan Tree. The totally sci-fi spaceship-esque seating takes in show-stopping views. Especially if you’re early enough to nab a front row seat and grab a Moon-lovers cocktail! The spectacle of the sun setting over the city dazzles while the cocktail and breeze combo cools. The panorama spread out below is truly nothing short of spectacular. We stare out over this massive city completely awestruck. Who knew that Bangkok was so damn glitzy!!

IMG_5070.jpgIMG_5096.jpgIMG_5094.jpgIMG_5087.jpgIMG_5081.jpgIMG_5080.jpgIMG_5073.jpgIMG_5072.jpgDragging ourselves away after a couple of drinks, we head north for Sofitel’s SO 29th floor Rooftop Bar. The Moroccan style day-beds at the floor to ceiling window nooks make this a completely different vibe. Sprawling on the beds with fruity cocktails is fun, but we’ve been spoilt by our Open Air experience. The view here is impressive but nowhere near as sensational. The beds are comfy though!

Come 5.00pm the next evening and a private boat taxi ferries us across the Chao Phraya River to the 360 Rooftop Bar at Hilton Millennium. Hurtling up to the 31st floor, we discover an almost deserted Open Air bar. Weird! We take our front row seats. Happy Hour adds to the dizzying feeling of contentment that washes over us. Two drinks later and a BOOM, POW, BANG – shots ring out in the night. It is a few seconds before we realise a stunning firework display is exploding all over the River Chao Phraya below. We didn't even know it was Easter Sunday!

The Baiyoke Towers at the Sky Hotel are located just around the corner from Ratchaprarop station which gives direct access from the Airport Link rail line. At 84 stories high, it is allegedly the tallest tower in South East Asia. We start our adventure tour on the 75th floor at the Floating Market Buffet - a somewhat tacky but hilariously entertaining concept based on the original floating markets below. In the grand tradition of buffet food it is tasty but salty! From there we shimmy up to the 77th floor to check out the Sky Museum with its quirky displays. And then it’s onto the 83rd floor Bar and finally the 84th floor Revolving Observation Open Air Roof Deck. This feels a lot like the Empire State Building but with around five times the light-show! Before we know it, we’ve wiled away 5 hours and loved every minute of it!
The next night we divert back at the Rachathewi BTS station to check out the Rock Pub where young locals belt their heart out with all the rock classics from Guns N’ Roses, Jimmy and Deep Purple at astonishing volumes. Now Ed is really happy!!

Our Rooftop Tour wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t visit the Dome, Bangkok Sky Bar. If you’ve seen the film Hangover, you will know of the world famous attraction which sits on the roof of Silom Road’s 64-story State Tower – right on the same street where we are staying!

Shimmying up to the 63rd floor and getting past the glamazon door bitches before tittering out across the spectacular runway and up a massive flight of stairs – you can’t help but feel that you are in one hell of a Bond film. The 360 degree views are mesmerizing, as is the fanfare from the harem of hostesses who bow as you go by. A four foot glass wall gives this bar a giddying ‘whooshy` feel. The downside is that the small-ish space is absolutely packed and has no seating. On top of that everyone is falling over each other to take photos. The effect makes it feel more like a claustrophobic tourist destination than a world class bar.

As coincidence would have it, we’ve saved the best ‘til last. During our ventures we discover Central World – a massive shopping and eating experience which links to the Centara Grand Hotel of which the Red Sky Bar is nestled on the 66th floor. Since there are more food options than we've ever seen in our life, we decide to eat there. Here's how it works, we enter a sprawling Food Court area with literally hundreds of food stalls. Upon entry we are given a card with a bar-code. Then we just point to what we want and the chefs behind the counter pile your plate. Eat until your hearts content and then on the way out get your bar code scanned and pay. It’s like a big party buffet - and just as much fun!

Arriving upstairs in time for Happy Hour we take our seats and wait expectantly. It is our fifth rooftop bar in just as many days and one could be forgiven for becoming jaded. Except that you’ve got to be kidding right! As the sun goes down and the lights of the city twinkle and sparkle before us, landmarks from a vista we are now starting to know a little better, start to unfold. There are no crowds and plenty of front row seats so we move slowly around the space taking in the 360 degree view. We may have seen it all before but tonight is our last night and we are enthralled. This is romance people!

Five days of endless temples, tours and inner city trekking with loads of crazy people watching scenarios under our belt and we agree that Bangkok is a lot of things – but pretty by day it is not. Night time however is a completely different story. Outside the chaotic city hullabaloo, there are many spots for some peace and quiet - and we know just where to find them. After a day spent in the clinging minging heat, the idea of being far away from the the relentless smell of street food and sewerage is better than anything we know.

What a shame we have a Cinderella curfew to make our midnight flight to the Philippines.
e a Cinderella curfew to make our midnight flight to the Philippines.

Posted by gobannanas 05:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged honeymoon wedding thailand bangkok skyline bars rooftop Comments (0)

Heaven is a place in Boracay

Shangri-La Tropical Island Resort Fantasy

sunny 35 °C

Here it is folks - the happy ending. As part of our wedding package we were offered a 3-night stay at any Shangri-La Hotel in the world. We chose the tropical island of Boracay in the Philippines famed for the massive island resort, pristine beaches and magical sunsets.

The welcome into the Shangri-La at Boracay is on another level. We are talking total shameless James Bond.
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Minutes after our sea-plane from Manila touches the ground we are on a Shuttle Bus to the Caticlan Boat Jetty Port where we are met in the private Shangri-La Lounge. Long cool drinks and icy wet towels await us. Shortly after we are escorted onto a sleek white speedboat where a crew of 6 attend to our every need. Jetting over what is truly the clearest, cleanest water ever and trying to look as though we do this every day, we arrive at our destination.

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As we approach the Borocay Boat Jetty Port, the silhouette of a cigarette slim blonde comes into view, her gold dress shimmers in the sun and her perfectly coiffed chignon ensures that not a hair is out of place. Our French/Russian host escorts us into the open air Lobby. If we thought it was James Bond film clip before, it’s the total movie experience now. Woop!!!

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The Shangri-La Resort has its own corner of Boracay complete with private beaches – of course it does! Our Garden Suite is one of 219 villas, suites and tree-houses. Fresh white petals adorn the bed and the sunken bath in our sumptuous Honeymooners suite. A bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, chocolates and a platter of fresh mangoes and banana await us.

A short stroll through the tropical gardens to the maze of pools, spas and the infinity pool, we arrive at Banyugan Beach. The crystal clear water is framed by endless white sand. Wading out into the azure ocean, the sea bottom is perfectly manicured with award winning sand. There is no place for rocks, pebbles or anything else likely to spoil the guests experience at the Shangri-La. The air is indeed rarefied.

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Come cocktail hour and we take front row seats for Boracay’s infamous Sunset Action. Everywhere you look there are stunning, gorgeous views of Boracay. It’s dizzying. Solana Bar is built into a cliff and designed to provide a sweeping view of Banyugan beach. We greedily guzzle bottomless glasses of Happy Hour Sangria before moving onto the beach side cabanas. Three glasses and we’re shimmying straight out of our sunset seat and into a sugar-coma-nap.
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Desperate to revive ourselves, we swap the isolated experience of Tree Top dining for the buzz of the Open Air Seafood Grill Buffet. We savor the juiciest grilled seafood, mud crabs, giant prawns, black shell clams, whole fresh squid and tuna steaks in the lush outdoor atmosphere. “Try the Lobster!” says the chef as I approach for yet another serve of Tempura Wasabi Prawns. “Oh go on then!” I'm a sucker for the sweet stuff though so after gorging on seafood - it's fluro-colored dollops of mango mousse and sticky coconut pudding that melt in my mouth. Slivers of tropical fruit and coffee finish us off. Yum!!

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We can peer out over the Infinity Pools and admire the glossy surface of the sea from our seats;hell we can dive straight into the ocean for a moonlight swim if we fancy it - if it wasn't for the return of the sugar-coma-nap! We struggle to finish our meal. Forget paddling in the ocean we can barely waddle back to our room! We decide the Sangria is drugged. It is the Shangri-La's way of keeping guests in the compound and not having them leave to spend all their cash on the main part of the island. We sleep like beached whales and once we wake, we hotfoot it out of there. The Resort is breathtakingly beautiful, but we want to explore the island - and see how the other half live!
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Thanks for the World's Most Romantic Dinner James & Deb

Boracay is said to be THE place for diving and snorkeling and I am freaking out about what to do tomorrow. So many choices and so little time! Time to book our ocean activities. First cab off the rank is the para-sailing. The next day we board a speed boat and hurtle out to sea where we are harnessed to a colorful canopy chute and hoisted up into the air and dragged along faster and faster until we go higher and higher into the air. The views are dizzying. So is the occasional lurch of the rope that pulls us!! We hover up high above the ocean for around fifteen minutes before being lowered gently down.
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We are helped back into the speedboat but I'm not happy. I want to Parasail again!! The driver moves out of the driver’s seat and gets Ed to drive back into the bay, I close my eyes but it’s a hoot!
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Next we are taken out to sea to a Dive Platform where we don bizarre space-snorkel helmets. We are about to take the Boracay Marine Walk. Fitted with a 25k oxygen filled helmet that allow us to stay under water for fifteen minutes, we are lowered into the turquoise waters where we find ourselves surrounded by tropical fluro-colored fish which we encourage by hand-feeding bread. Our diving guide uses his knife to cut some sort of breadfruit that grows on the coral reef. He peels it and breaks it into segments and then feeds us under our helmets. It is a weird chewy texture. I imagine it’s some kind of breadfruit but Ed suspects that we’ve just eaten an amoeba which has been skinned alive. Oh dear!
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Thanks for the experience Andy & Zoe

Afterwards we wade out to the Mother Mary Grotto lodged into a great rock in the sea for some happy snaps before walking to the other end of White Beach to check out some local accommodation options (for our next visit). We stroll down to Diniwid beach to Spider House famous for its Tree Top bungalows. We make friends with the manager over a Sunset Cocktail and snag the front row sunset seats.

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We always said our Honeymoon wouldn’t be complete without horse-riding along the beach but unfortunately they don’t let the horses ride along the beach in Boracay – and the idea of galloping along the dirt roads alongside ATV’s, Tuk Tuk’s and Shuttle Buses doesn’t really appeal. Instead we hire out a couple of ATV’s and hoon along the windy dirt road that leads up to Boracay’s highest lookout vista where we get a 360 degree view of the island. And much more.

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Thanks for the ace ride Deb and James!

Back on the ground, we have lunch on the beach at the Pineapple Hut, a tropical place which features tropical inspired meals with ribs and grills on the menu. I’m happy! Come sunset we are back at the Resort perched up in the hills overlooking the ocean. I am having my Champagne Sunset and I am very happy about that. Afterwards we head back into town. It's Saturday night. We take a seat at a waterfront bar where people-watching is an endless and fascinating past-time. A local band starts up and moves from reggae to rock and back again. Ed's happy!

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Thanks for the Champagne sunset Ange and Mel!

Later that night we stumble back to the resort. Ambling through the late night deserted Shangri-La we breathe in the rarefied air and as we leave the main Lobby and head into the covered hallway Ed shrieks: "Look, it's a crab." I look and sure enough, there is a giant Pincer Crab which could be plastic except that Ed saw it put up its dooks in defense when it saw us coming! I didn't believe it is real until after eye-balling it for about five minutes and it moves ever so slightly. This is too hilarious. We fancy that this is the outcome of those who come to the Shangri-La and drank to much Sangria - they are turned into crabs!! We wander off in a daze, wondering if this little crab escaped from Friday night's dinner table - and our chopsticks.

Every morning we look forward to leaping out of bed and getting down to the beach - forget breakfast, there's no time!! Plus we've eaten so much this trip, we're trying to take it easy now. Any excess food we eat will surely travel home with us. On the final day we are like kids as we leap into the ocean and jump for joy. It's 7.00am. The beach is deserted, the water is warm, the endorphins are pumping. It’s a heady experience.

These few days at Boracay have showed us more jaw-dropping awesome-ness than anything we’ve ever seen in our lives. We’ve been well and truly spoilt and we loved every second of it. The hardest thing is leaving. Poor Ed has to drag me out kicking and screaming. Luckily we've made a promise to come back for our first Wedding anniversary. Not having this amount of hedonism in our lives is criminal!

Boracay the shining star of our Honeymoon has been a spectacular success. Did I mention that it was Ed's recommendation? I am very happy with his choice! Very happy with him actually.

Happy Honeymoon everyone!
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Posted by gobannanas 09:00 Archived in Philippines Tagged beaches honeymoon diving island philippines speedboat parasailing boracay Comments (0)

One Night in Manila

Last stop before heading home...

sunny 32 °C

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We are staying Bayside in Malate, the old city at the southern end of Manila. Our hotel room overlooks the ocean and the famed Bay Walk to the right and Boys Next Door club to the left. We dump our things and head into Chinatown for a noodle fix. The noodles are great and the dumplings are even better but the neighborhood is dodgy - way dodgy. After lunch we walk for half a dozen blocks before finding a cab. Our cab driver tells us off for walking around Chinatown. “Not safe!” he says. “No walking!” We realize this could be a scam to ensure we get a cab everywhere – but what the hell - we got enough bad vibes in Chinatown to tell us all we needed to know.

We are dropped off at Ocean World where we are on the lookout for the White Moon Bar. Ed's research reveals that this is the perfect place to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. I’m not so enthusiastic at first, doubtful that anything can beat that insane Boracay sunset, but I’m pleasantly surprised as the magic starts to happen and Ed is victorious. As the sun sets over the ocean we plan our evening.

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A short while later we jump in a cab and head back into Malate’s bar district to find some live music. We are successful. The second venue offers 3 bands throughout the night - best of all it's free. Ed is happy! After the second band, a hard rockin' 4-piece with a charismatic Eddie Vedder-esque front-man who happily takes requests from the audience, we pop out to explore the local area. Alas there's not much to explore. Most of the bars are Girly Bars and there is a definite vibe on the street that makes it uneasy to walk around. We find a small street bar teaming with colorful locals. We take a seat and enjoy some serious people watching but two drinks in the child beggars are making it difficult to relax. We decide to leave. We have an intriguing destination ahead of us...

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The Hobbit House pub is based on Lord of the Rings and all the waiting staff are dwarves. Unfortunately our cab driver can’t find the address we give him. After driving around the block a few times he gives up on us and we get out of the cab to walk down a dark street – which we know is completely stupid. Before we're even out of the cab, a power packed motorcyclist stops to ask where we are going. “It’s not safe to walk!” He says. Apparently the Hobbit House has moved. He tells us to get back in the cab and he will lead the driver there. We get back in the cab. Traffic is the dense. We have no idea if we’re getting scammed as the cab winds its way through the city streets. It turns out we are not. Give or take a bit of ‘tip’ extortion from the biker.

The ‘Little People’ are outside to greet us as we arrive at Hobbit House. We pay our 150 pesos entry fee and are ushered in. The place is half empty but there is live music. There is also Karaoke. Ed is happy. Drinks in hand and we are ready for a new adventure.

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Soon after Ed takes his place on the Karaoke stage. His accompaniment is an acoustic guitarist. Her range is quite small it turns out. She doesn’t have Queen. She doesn’t have the Beach Boys. She really doesn’t have very much at all. With her encouragement - and no other choices - Ed settles for Air Supply! I diligently film his tentative version of All Outta Love – and to be honest, it’s weird. I am used to Ed doing mad, crazy Rock-eoke – this is way too tame. The song finishes and Ed launches into Bizarre Love Triangle. A stocky man approaches and compliments Ed on his singing. I look at him suspiciously. The guy is a British ex-soldier living in Philippines with his Filipino girlfriend. Ed finished and leaves the stage. The couple ask us to join them. We do so and it's fun. Many, many drinks later we find ourselves in a deserted bar across the way, a local Aussie owns it, of course he does!! The night has been interesting and fun – but we are lightheaded after a long boozy night so we make our excuses and leave in the wee hours of the morning. The shimmer of the sun bouncing off the ocean wakes us up a few hours later. We check that all our bits are intact. Everything seems OK. Phew!

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We wander down to breakfast and plan our day. The choices are to follow the tourist route and go and explore the Old City with its medieval fortress - and get hounded by a thousand and one touts - or not. We decide we've had our share of dumbed-down cab drivers, scammers, child beggars, pimps, trannies and bad boys, and we don't fancy being bombarded with hundreds of hopeful ‘Tour Guides’ everywhere we go - it's our last day and we want to take it easy. Manila has been interesting but it's stressful. The alternative is to go shopping. And since we have the SM Mall of Asia, the biggest shopping mall in Asia right on our doorstep, it seems rude not to!!

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Posted by gobannanas 05:00 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunset honeymoon shopping philippines bar sightseeing Comments (0)

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