Category Archives: Film

The New Chapter Begins

I finally feel now that I have begun to settle into my new home in Chiang Rai. As well as Emma living in the same apartment block, we now have Alice who’s joined us, and also teaches at the same school.

On top of this, my best friend from the UK, Abbey, is currently staying with me, as a first stop before she embarks upon finding the world, and possibly herself, over the next year.


Best Buds

With the girls, and a lovely bunch of people who we’ve met from visiting our favourite bar repeatedly, we have a nice little group in Chiang Rai; so that’s certainly helping to make me feel more confident and at ease in the city.


My first day teaching in Kindergarten was a blend of amazing feelings, and beautiful kids who melted my heart, mixed with equal parts stress, confusion and the loss of my voice. However I loved it.


Morning Dancing

I teach one of the Kindergarten classes, which contains 27 children, all either 5 or 6 years old. Speaking to the teacher beforehand, she advised me to just come in and observe the class for my first week, before getting more involved and planning in the second.

Perhaps I was naïve, however, this didn’t actually happen. I arrived, and was immediately told to stand up in front of all the Kindergarten children at the flag raising ceremony (which happens daily). A microphone was thrust into my hand, and straight away I had to talk to 300+ children and teachers, the majority of whom speak little to no English, whilst their blank faces looked at me in sheer bewilderment.

After this, I went to my classroom where I met the children. They’re all brilliant. They have this cute little uniform, which looks like a little sailor’s outfit. They have the most charismatic little personalities, even without being able to really speak English, they’re so loving and smiling and playful, that you can get along with them anyway.

10710719_10154824491410541_8080074217520893177_n (1)

Little Sailors Off For Lunch

They all have such huge hearts, and will run and hug me as I walk past, or cuddle my leg for no apparent reason.


My Class With Their Lanterns

Being told not to lesson plan, however, was a massive lie. There’s only one theme per week, as the children are so young, so last week was Loy Krathong; a festival celebrated around Thailand. Lesson planning for this, without any prior knowledge was a little challenging however we got there in the end, and the class and I ended up making our very own Kathrongs for the festival.


Homemade Kathrong


Kindy Kathrongs



Class With Their Kathrongs

This week the topic is “Thailand” so using the Internet as my resource, I’m planning lessons surrounding Thailand’s Geography within South East Asia, and also cultural traditions native to Thailand, such as The Wai, which is how you greet someone, by placing the hands together like a prayer, and bowing slightly.

I realise it’s only been one week at the school, but I’ve never felt so happy within a job. I could wake up in the worst mood, but walking through the door every day at 07.30 and seeing 27 smiling and happy faces grinning back at me…well it’s certainly the best cure for bad moods and irrelevant worries that may have come with me from my previous life back in England.


Lunch Time

I can only strive to keep these good feelings up.


The Move to Thailand. First Stop…Chiang Mai

The day had finally arrived. After talking about it continuously since February, it was at last the day that I was off to Thailand.

Julien took me to Heathrow bright and early on the Tuesday morning, where I checked in my bags, before we had a final Café Rouge Breakfast together.

So that was it; living In Julien’s pocket had come to a momentary end, and I was out, conquering the world alone.


My flight was to Mumbai, where I had a couple of hours in the airport, before flying to Bangkok, and then getting a connecting flight to Chiang Mai.



I reached Chiang Mai, and grabbed a TukTuk to the Eco Resort, and instantly took a sleep for around 5 hours.

When I woke up, I had two new roommates in the form of Pooja, from Dubai, and Alex, from the UK. We went to dinner in a local restaurant, and then went with Molly, another girl from the same organisation; GVI to the night Bazaar.

After we had all just arrived, everyone felt pretty sleepy, so we decided to head home for a relatively early one.

The next day, we woke up, ate some food, and lay by the pool again and slowly started to get out the hotel and see things. At first, we took a trip to the large shopping mall, in an attempt to sort out various phones and SIM cards, with the hope that we’d all be set up with a Thai number soon.

It was interesting to see the mall, of which I hadn’t quite known what to expect of. However it was scarily like home, with shops ranging from H&M, to Topshop, and even a Marks and Spencer. These shops aren’t really prevalent outside of the mall, so it was a surprise to see them in there; so different to the hustle and bustle of the chaotic streets outside.


Leaving here, we got a TukTuk to the old town of Chiang Mai, a square in the heart of the city.  We walked around the perimeter until we got to Thapae Gate, which is historically, the main entrance to the old city.

Whilst walking towards this, it was startling to see how many tours there were, offering trips to take you to the Tiger Temple. These are those God-Awful places that offer the tigers “a sanctuary”; however from what, I am not exactly sure. The tigers are chained around the neck, and more likely than not, are heavily sedated in order to keep them docile, so that tourists can pose with the animals, for their new Facebook profile pictures. A recent report observed that these beautiful animals were put on public display, each day between 1pm and 4pm, with no shade and under direct sunlight with temperatures often reaching 40 degrees Celsius. However, even with this knowledge, every tour guide claims that their visit to the Tiger Temple is not like that, and that theirs are different, which unfortunately still lures many travellers into these trips.

Anyway, we walked into the Old City, stopping to look at the odd market stall here and there. We eventually reached one of Chiang Mai’s many Buddhist Temples, this one being The Relic of the Lord Buddha and Arahants, at Wat Phan Tao. We entered, being respectful of the culture and religion trying to remember the rules ranging from no shoes, to lowering your head so you are always lower than an image of Buddha.




Outside we met some monks, who invited me to hit the big gong, otherwise known as the singing bowl. We visited a couple more of the temples, however it was soon time to head home, before our night in Chiang Mai.


We ate dinner, another variation of noodle and rice dishes, in the Bazaar area, quickly scoffing this down so that we could get good seats for the start of the Cabaret Show; or the Lady Boy show if you prefer.


We sat through a good 1.5 hours of the show, each act astounding us all even more at how these beautiful women were actually men. However, the put on a wonderful performance, even if they are a bit cheeky at asking for 200 Baht per head (rather a lot by Thai standards).



The next day, Pooja, Alex and myself woke up to take a taxi to the temple on the hill that overlooks Chiang Mai, by the name of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. When arriving back at the hostel room the night before, we’d discovered a new roommate, Amy, from America, so we brought her along with us for the days outings.


The taxi took us up many a winding turn, to the top of the large mountain. From here, we climbed the 309 steps to the temple.


Thankfully, if you are slightly older or have trouble tackling that many stairs, especially in the heat, there is an option of a cable car.   However, always in the pursuit of a better bottom, we opted for the stairs, and with little breath, reached the top. We paid our 30Baht, and entered through the grand gates.


Taking our shoes off, just at the temple doorway, we climbed just a couple more steps and entered the courtyard. It was simply breath taking. Words, or even pictures cannot justify the intricate design and architecture that is involved. The gold reaches from symbols of Buddha, to rooftops, to parasols. It is everywhere. The image of Buddha is on nearly every surface you look at, and the smell of incense rushes up your nose. You hear the chimes of the bells as Monks pray. The only downside is the hoards of tourists everywhere you turn. However, I am included in that category, so I guess I can’t really talk.




We then walked round the outskirts of the temple, overlooking the city of Chiang Mai, however due to being so high up it was hard to see the city in any detail.


10698627_10154766063125541_7744298025192200311_nIMG_6261 We descended the steps, where we met our taxi driver once more, who drove us back down the mountain, and into the town. Along with two Buddhist Monks and a very small child.


After some orientation that evening, and the following day, regarding the teaching projects we would all be embarking on shortly, the whole group of Global Vision International teachers and staff, went for a collective meal at a restaurant named Khum Khantoke. We here experienced authentic Lanna style dining, and dances, which are typical of the Northern parts of Thailand.



We had so much amazing food, from traditionally cooked chicken and rice, to curry pastes and banana fritters. This was followed by a series of performances and traditional dances, offset with lanterns being released into the sky. It was a really beautiful experience, even though it was for the sake of the diners and tourists, the colours, costumes and music were just wonderful.




And with that, it was to bed, and to finish up with a couple more days of training and Thai language classes, before making my way North, to the city of Chiang Rai, which is to be my home for the foreseeable future.

“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” It’s time to go Back to the Future.

All the way back in June, there was a big announcement for all sci-fi nerds and geeks. Hill Valley, California, the place where the Back to the Future franchise took place, was coming to England. Courtesy of Secret Cinema, a team of creative types would be working hard to recreate the fictional town, for films buffs to step into, fully immersing themselves in the 1950’s flair, eventually ending the evening with watching Back to the Future.

At this point Julien was on a work trip to Ireland, where he was writing a piece for the Daily Mail about the filming locations for Game of Thrones; so I thought to myself, as a treat to him I’d grab us a couple of tickets as a surprise.

If you’re reading this and tried to book tickets at the original sale, you will remember the sheer frustration and tediousness as Secret Cinema decided upon using a server that could not handle the volume of customers, who clearly would be trying to book tickets for an event with such a cult classic status and following. After sitting for the majority of my working day, at my desk, staring at the same screen telling me my booking was processing and to sit tight and not refresh, there was finally a message saying that no one managed to buy tickets, and to try again the next day; when they’d be using See Tickets instead.

So 24 hours later, I found myself with great ease, booking two tickets for Secret Cinema Presents Back to the Future. Success. Finally.

I told Julien about the surprise just a few hours later, seeing as A) I was super excited to hear his reaction, and B) I was worried he’d go and book himself tickets, not knowing I had.

Being a MASSIVE Back to the Future nerd, of course he geeked out straight away and started planning his outfit out. Even though we’d been told the theme for the night would be 50s, as that is the era that the movie mainly revolves around, Julien opted to plan his outfit around Back to the Future Part II, specifically Marty McFly’s pretty rad hat, jacket, hover board and of course, those sick Nike Mags.


Julien’s friend, Fern Blevins, had done an amazing job turning an old, unwanted bag; into a fully-fledged, legit looking hover board, as if straight from the film itself. It looked incredible, and she had been up until the early hours the night before, desperately trying to get it ready for him on time. With this to truly finish off the look, we knew we were going to look so (Marty Mc) Fly.


We had tickets for the opening night; the 24th July, and we were both excited beyond words. The plan was for Julien to meet me from work, at Highbury and Islington, and for us to catch the London Overground to Hackney Wick. Everything was set, it was a baking hot day, and I’d asked to finish work an hour early. As I went to collect my things from my desk at exactly 15.52, my phone lit up.

“Tonight’s Secret Cinema: back to the Future is cancelled. We apologise for the inconvenience & will send further details via email. SEE Tickets & Secret Cinema.”

Bearing in mind we were meant to be at Hackney Wick at 17.00, I instantly thought this was some kind of hoax. However I then received an email with the same message. And of course, social media was purely erupting with anger.

So with the knowledge that this was for real, and a deflated heart, I called Julien to deliver the bad news. Bless him, he was in West London, where no one would have any idea about Secret Cinema happening on the other side of London, and a sad little Marty McFly had to begrudgingly get off the train, and head back home to change.

I immediately requested that we attend on a date at the end of August, and therefore be guaranteed that they sort this out in time and we could go.

That night Julien and myself decided to drink a lot of cocktails in the sun to try and make it all better.


So fast-forward nearly one month to the 21st August. We are the proud owners of two tickets for that night. We wake up, excitedly, and go downstairs to cook ourselves a fancy breakfast. Lets have omelette, we say. It’s Back to the Future day.

I go to my hairdresser in Mayfair, Jimo, who runs the magnificent Salako salon on George Street. Being someone who literally gets told off by their boyfriend for not brushing their hair when they get out of bed in the morning, I just knew I’d need a helping hand in achieving that 1950’ s look.

Jimo is a literal dream. I’d discovered him through a Time Out London offer that turned up in my inbox one day. I went along for a haircut and was blown away by not only his talent, however also his experiences, who he’d worked with, his kind nature and hospitality. It’s not a general experience like many other hairdressers you visit. He makes you feel like no one or nothing else is more important than your hair, and he works his magic.

So anyway, after Google Image searching for the perfect hairstyle, and agreeing I probably wasn’t going to be looking like Scarlett Johansen (he’s a hairdresser, not a magician / surgeon) we agreed on an extravagant French Pleat.

In just over an hour I was done, and felt a million dollars.   I’d changed into my outfit, a yellow dress, and a red handkerchief round my neck, teamed with a vintage American baseball jacket draped over my shoulders, and very dramatic red lipstick, with almost Winehouse style eyeliner flicks. Walking through Marble Arch during a Thursday rush hour, I certainly got funny looks, however, I kept telling myself I looked fabulous and just shook it off.

I got home to find my boy all dressed up as Marty McFly, and looking great in his whole get up.

We grabbed some tinnies for the road, and off headed to Hackney Wick. The vibe on the train, as we got closer was mixed. The many of us that were donned in our 50’s outfits were all excitedly looking around, giving one another almost a secret nod, as if to say “Hill Valley? Me too”, whilst everyone else was thinking “what the hell train am I on?” or even “Oh just a normal day of eccentric East London idiots, dressing in order to show off”. The latter being the most likely, to be fair.


Anyway, we got off at Hackney Wick, and were directed across the bridge, and down the road to the Olympic Park. Already, the actors were out in force to recreate the feeling that we’d suddenly time travelled back to the 1950’s.   Instead of having your usual security asking you to stick to the side of the path and allow other pedestrians to pass, they had actors in true 50’s American Cops uniforms shouting and yelling for us to get into file, and for us to put away our “calculators”, meaning our iPhones.

After a swift queue we were finally at the front, and declaring we had no phones or cameras on us. Which of course, was massive lie. We’d done our research via the different hashtags on social media, and worked out people were certainly sneaking in different devices to take photos, therefore making us even more determined to get footage. Even more of a reason to not want to listen to the rules, was how much we’d been messed around with the whole cancellation saga. So screw it. We had cameras and we were going to use them.

In we went, like excited little children and ran up the ramp and round the corner, to a big sign greeting us to “Hill Valley, a Nice Place to Live”. Just like in the movies. We passed all the little bungalow huts that depicted scenes from the 50’s, to which we would later return.

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 11.32.45

We walked past these and into the main area of Hill Valley. It was a square, with the infamous clock tower being the central focus, which would later display the movie, projected onto the front. Directly opposite this was Ed’s Diner, which served amazingly strong and fabulous adult milkshakes containing liquor. Along the two parallel sides connecting the clock tower to Ed’s Diner, there were a series of shops, including a florists, a Post Office and such like, broken up by Hill Valley High School. We opted for this as we heard the music blaring out.   We had to queue for a very short while, and quickly went into the school hall, where the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance was taking place.

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 11.45.34

Again, there were incredible actors / dancers who were talking to Julien about his outfit and how they’d never seen anything like it before in the 50’s. They’d then suddenly break out into synchronised dancing; not having previously given any indication that they were processionals.



Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 11.48.32


We had a bit of a dance, had our pictures taken, explored some more, and then decided to ride the big Ferris wheel. We only had to queue a short while, and we were at the front. We got on, and as we started gradually escalating higher in the sky, I remembered how I have a fear of even Ferris wheels and how safe they are, which of course is embarrassingly silly. However, this did make for some great sneaky GoPro footage, as I was squealing with joy and excitement on the wheel.

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 11.27.36

After some more eating and copious amounts of drinking and dancing, it was time to settle down to the film. We squeezed in any space we could find on the floor, facing the clock tower and town hall; which was harder than you’d imagine. The serious film goers had been saving their seating area on the grass right from the beginning; which I guess is fair enough in a way, however also, they’d completely missed out on the essence of visiting Hill Valley and checking out all the amazing parts of the re-enactment of the town from the 50’s, and to be quite honest should have just gone to an open air cinema to watch it. Anyway, these die-hard fans were very arsey about letting the people that were dancing sit down; as that was ruining their “area” they’d been camping out in. The film started, and after a few huffs and puffs and groans from certain people around us, we decided to go and sit in Ed’s Diner at the back, and watch from the seats there. Which of course suited us just fine, as we sipped away on our alcoholic milk shakes, and laughed, joked and watched the movie without disturbing anyone.

Whilst the movie played, actors were employed to act scenes out in sequence, on the stage underneath the projected film. They did this so well, and even ran between audience members. They also had cars going around the audience, including the DeLorean – which of course excited Julien beyond belief.


At the end, during the infamous scene where Marty McFly needs to get back to his real time life, in the future, and The Doc is trying to link the clock tower cable up to meet the lightning bolt, actors were indeed playing this out at the same time. Credit to Secret Cinema for this part, massively. The Doc manages to zip wire down and over the heads of the crowd, whilst Marty drives the DeLorean back to the future, leaving fire skid parks on the pavement.

The movie finished, and instantly came on a 50’s jive bands, and everyone got up and danced. Inside Hill Valley High, another band was playing and people were dancing in there too. It was literally like being taken back in time, and nearly everyone was getting really into the spirit of things and having a wonderful time.


Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 11.39.30

We went into the little huts around the back of Ed’s Diner, where each one depicted a little taster of a home from the era. With old décor, and pictures of James Dean on walls, it was a very sweet little extra touch to the set.


With the night soon coming to an end, we took ourselves away, and started making the walk back to the station to go home.

We’d had SUCH lovely evening, and left extremely happy customers. Secret Cinema, without a doubt, seriously messed up with the pre organisation of the event, and I feel the general consensus is the people who flew over from other countries for the original events, have not been compensated for air fares or for hired hotel rooms, which I do think is massively cheeky, however I just feel lucky enough to have been able to make a different date alternatively.

Aside from that, it was done incredibly well, coming from someone who liked the movie but wasn’t a fanatic, and also from Julien’s perspective as someone who is a phenomenal fan of the franchise.

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 11.38.04

I can honestly say I hope to experience another Secret Cinema at some point in the future.  Bar the initial mess ups, it was an incredible evening.