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Security tips before you leave home

With the excitement of packing your bag before you travel, make sure home security is a priority. Unfortunately in this day and age we have to be aware of who might see our home as a potential pay day so do ensure your home is not a possible target for break and enter.

Here are some ideas which I have found handy, for a month, a week or even for a weekend away. This is the time that great neighbours are blessings if they keep an eye on your home and even let you know if the kids throw a party; don’t forget to give them your holiday contact details. This works both ways of course as you can return the favour when they go on holidays.

To make your home look lived in:

  • red-letterbox-1414527-639x586Install timers on lamps around your home, there are ones that turn on at a preset time or when it gets dark. Even having a radio on timer will give your home the ‘lived in’ feel.
  • Outdoor lights ideally should be fitted with motion detectors, which trigger when someone is in proximity of the sensor, also great for security year round.
  • Place your mail, newspapers or deliveries on hold or have someone collect your mail daily. A ‘no junk mail’ sign on your letterbox keeps it free from filling up, although some junk mail deliverers cannot read! Australia Post can place your mail on hold for a small fee; make sure to organize this service well in advance.
  • If you are going away for quite awhile, have a friend or a lawn mowing service attend to your garden and water your plants.

Home safety tips:

  • Unplug all electrical appliances, air-conditioners, except fridges, but be careful… I recently unplugged the fridge by accident and came home to ruined food and a dreadful smell. This also helps to save electricity and to avoid problems with electrical outages.
  • If going away for over a week, turn off your internal water valve to prevent the risk of flooding from a broken pipe. These things seem to happen when you are not home! Lucky us, we had a call from our lovely neighbour last month to say there was water flowing down the front of our apartment, she turned off the water and called my son-in-law who discovered a burst pipe.
  • If possible, lower the heat setting on your hot water system to save electricity. Remember to turn the heat back up when you arrive home.

Security tips:

  • vintage-keys-1154925-639x954Lock all doors and windows; don’t leave keys inside in any locks. Do not leave a key hidden outside the house; chances are it may be found. Leave a key with a trusted person who can check on your home now and then.
  • A simple hint for extra security is to drop a rod into the tracks of sliding windows and doors.
  • Deadlocks are also a good idea, as it stops a burglar walking out the door with your TV…looks a bit strange to have a TV going through the window!
  • Stow away valuables, including hard drives with your valued photos or work.
  • Disconnect the electrical pad on the electric garage door, as a potential burglar may be able to figure out the code to trigger the door open. Instead use a strong lock.
  • Marking your valuable property using the ‘Police Property Identification System’ is also a good idea. Information is on the Queensland Police website, I am sure it is the same in other states and countries.
  • Make sure your home and contents insurance is up to date and that you have old for new or a reasonable amount that will cover purchase of new goods, how often do you hear of people that have not reviewed their insurance and then a flood, fire or theft happens and they can’t afford to replace the goods.

I find these simple ideas help me unwind and enjoy the excitement of preparation, the flight and my holiday.

Wishing you a fabulous holiday, you deserve it.

Happy Shopping


November 2015 Newsletter

I am so excited as the latest version of Hot Spots to Shop Bangkok has just arrived from our HotSpotsToShop-Bangkokprinter it is available to purchase from our website or as an eBook from Books Mango or Amazon.

In October I took part in the Nurses for Nurses Network Medical Tourism Trip to Bangkok, and while I was there for my knowledge of shopping in Bangkok I tagged along for the medical part of the tour as so many people ask me about the facilities available in Bangkok.
It was interesting to see how the Nurses’ perceptions about Medical Tourism and Service Provision in Bangkok changed as they visited both Bumrungrad & Bangkok Hospitals. Both hospitals are accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), a US-based organization widely seen as the gold standard for top-level healthcare service providers worldwide so the treatment patients receive there is of the highest standard.
I have a Bangkok based friend who is receiving treatment at the over 580 bed Bumrungrad Hospital so while I was familiar with the hospital had not seen behind the scenes facilities and I certainly was impressed. The amenities were spotlessly clean with equipment and systems in place that were equal to if not better, than many Western countries.
The rooms were more like suites in a hotel, with many having a separate kitchenette area and dining and living area for family members. As I have written before there are onsite shops such as a 7/ 11 store, lovely deli and many restaurants. Interpreters are available if required but there was plenty signage and instructions in English and all staff speak English.
Both hospitals attract patients from the USA, Europe, Middle East, the Pacific and other Asian countries and are marketed strongly in these markets, Bumrungrad Hospital even has an office in Sydney.
Of course it was not all serious and I was able to show them around all my favourite shopping



haunts. As there were 21 women and a few men there was a wide variety in what everybody wanted to see and do. A few that had bought old pieces of jewellery so I was able to introduce them to local jeweller Fluke and I think I was excited as the girls when they received their remodelled pieces. Butterfly brooch
Many nurses visited tailors and dressmakers, shopped the markets, we saw the new malls, went out to dinner at a couple of venues and even saw the Calypso Cabaret situated at Asiatique (a great indoor outdoor market and tourism complex).
There is already talk of another Nurse tour in 2016 and perhaps a tour for teachers and another for keen cooks so I will keep you posted.
For the seond year in a row Bruce & I were thrilled when our country pub the New Royal at Rubyvale once again won the Queensland Hotel Association Best Bush Pub Award. Our lovely little pub attracts sapphire Bar photo by Fredafossickers from all over Australian and overseas. The town of Rubyvale is a speck on the map located 17 kilometres from the Capricorn Highway, which connects Emerald and Longreach. If you out that way and would love some beautiful sapphire do come and visit us.

During the year at Hot Spots to Shop we had tried to come up with some items that would benefit travellers so if you are looking for a Christmas gift why not a look have and you never know you may just win two nights’ accommodation at the Rembrandt. You can even buy QBE Insurance through the site at very competitive prices and go in the competition.
Christmas Facebook advert no2
Happy shopping & travels Wendy

Helpful hints for our next shopping tour

As we get closer to our departure date, here are some ideas to help you be well prepared for a beautiful time in Bangkok.

Check your passport. Under Thai Law your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period you intend to stay in Thailand.

Make photocopies, of your passport credit cards and airline tickets. Keep copies at home and take a copy with you. Keep the copies in a separate place to the originals or keep in your cloud address.

You don’t need to organise a visa before you go. You will be given a visa on arrival if you are travelling on an Australian passport; it is just a matter of processing on arrival at Thailand immigration.

The key to successful packing. Lay everything out that you think you will need, and then halve it. Pack only a few pairs of comfortable shoes as you will be on your feet for long periods when you are bargain hunting. I also use baby powder in my shoes to prevent any blisters developing. If you have one large and one small suitcase, you can pack one inside the other for the trip to Bangkok. I have a cloth suitcase that I always take with me, even if only to pack my dirty washing in for the trip home, I have it shrink wrapped at the airport and it protects it and keeps it safe. Alternatively, suitcases are cheap in Bangkok.

If you want to have clothes copied remember you won’t be able to wear those clothes while the dressmaker has them.

Shopping. If there is a something in particular you would like to buy in Bangkok, do some research before you go, so that you have an idea of its cost in Australia. If you wish to have old jewellery or stones set in your own design, or clothes tailored made, take photos, sketches, and swatches of material or anything else that will make it as easy as possible to describe what you want to the vendor. Ladies dressmakers are not a real bargain in Bangkok although the workmanship is excellent. I am happy to introduce you to my fantastic little jeweller and I also have a brilliant men’s tailor, if your man is not coming, Raja’s will copy a shirt or trousers you bring with you and deliver the finished items to our hotel. If you want jewellery or clothes made please let me know on the first day so we can go there early and order and you get a chance to check jewellery or have a fitting for clothes.

Medical needs. Don’t forget to take sun block and plenty of moisturiser, although pharmacies such as Hong Kong chain Watsons and British chain Boots are spread around the city. If you take any medication, make sure you have sufficient supplies for the trip, and preferably a little extra in case of delayed flights. I always carry a copy of my prescriptions with my safe papers.

Relax, and smile. We are going to have so much fun, and Thailand is the land of smiles. If you show the people you’re happy, they will look after you. Bangkok, which has a population of more than 8 million, is both congested and polluted however I have never felt threatened. Of course, as with any other large city in the world, it pays to be sensible and avoid unnecessary risks. Most importantly, keep your sense of humour at all times, and relax and enjoy what is a truly unique experience.


The Thai people and culture. Thais are conservative people, although when you walk down Pat Pong, you soon realize that, for a Buddhist country, they have very relaxed attitude towards sex. When it comes to dress a strict dress code applies at sacred sites such as the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Budda and visitors must be properly dressed before being allowed entry to the temple. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves and socks if they are wearing sandals (!!). Women must be similarly modestly dressed which means no see-through clothes or bare shoulders. You must remove your shoes prior to entering a Wat so slip on shoes are a good idea

Bangkok enjoys a tropical climate, and we will be there at the end of the monsoonal weather, we may not get rain however if it does rain it will happen at around 4pm and it can be very heavy. Don’t worry; there are plastic rain-coats and umbrella stalls on every corner. Thais are very keen on “cool” air conditioning so it is a good idea to take a shawl in the evening. A shawl will also come in handy on your flight to Bangkok and you might need it on our trip to the River Kwai, as buses can also be super cool.

The Hotel. Electricity in Thailand is 200 volts and 50 cycles per seconds. The Rembrandt Hotel has power points compatible with Australian ones. There is tea making facilities in every room plus a hair dryer and a decent make mirror, as well as bath robe and slippers. I love their lemon grass scented toiletries. There is a PC in the Executive lounge for guests use but if you have a laptop or iPad you can get access in your room.

Tipping. Although tipping is not a part of the Thai culture customer service staff in hotels and at tourist destinations are now geared towards assisting tourists. I would make my decision based on the type of service you receive and what you would do in the same situation at home and tip accordantly. I always tip the door boys or girls at the end of my stay as they are always very helpful getting taxis and arranging the hotel’s tuk tuk. I also usually tip the equivalent of a dollar per bag for delivery to my room, but this is not compulsory; if you intend to do this make sure you have some small notes.

Phones and SIMs. If you have a spare phone at home take it and as you leave the departure area at Bangkok airport you can purchase a SIM card for your phone as it is a very cheap and a good way to stay in contact with your hotel, your travel companions, your tailor or jeweller. If you’re using your existing mobile, check with your provider that your phone is ‘unlocked,’ so you can use the temporary

SIM. The cost of phone calls between Australia and Bangkok are very high. Check out apps like Viber (free calls and texts) or Whatsapp (free texts) or set up a Skype account on your laptop or mobile if you want to stay in touch at home.

Banking. Let your credit card company know that you are travelling to Bangkok so they don’t think your card is being used without your knowledge. Most banks provide travel cards that you can load up with Australian Dollars and use as a Bpay option anywhere there’s an EFTPOS machine. There may be a minimal fee to generate the card, but it means you can pay in any currency you choose without fees or having to withdraw cash (which usually incurs fees). Ask your banking institution for more details.

If you have any questions I am happy to answer them, email me at

Happy shopping Wendy

Make Sure Your Luggage Can Be Easily Identified

On a recent flight I disembarked the aircraft, stopped at the newsagents to purchase a local newspaper and then headed down to the baggage carousel to collect my suitcase. The flight had been fully booked and there was a large crowd waiting as the luggage came out to the eager passengers. A couple of times a suitcase that looked mine came towards me on the carousel. I pushed through the crowd, struggled to get it off the carousel only to find it wasn’t mine. Eventually  the crowd thinned and there was only one bag was left on the carousel. Unfortunately this suitcase looked similar to mine but it belonged to someone else.

Make sure your luggage can be easily identified

Make sure your luggage can be easily identified

Downcast I headed to the airline’s Baggage Services Counter. The airline’s customer service agent quickly realized what had happened. Someone (the owner of the bag on the carousel) had taken my suitcase in error and as he had not put a baggage name label on his bag there was not much that could be done until he realized his mistake. Apparently this happens all too frequently. The airline phoned me later that night to advise me the passenger who had taken my bag had finally been in touch. Unfortunately after arriving and grabbing my suitcase he had jumped in a rent-a-car and headed six hours inland. It would be a further 24 hours before I had my luggage!

That day I learnt a lesson, it was just as important for other people to realize that my bag was not theirs as it was for me to recognize it on the carousel. These days I don’t tie yellow ribbons or tinsel to the handle I just have a smart luggage strap around my suitcase. It distinguishes my suitcase from all the others and I recognize as soon as it makes an appearance. At the same time it gives my suitcase and its contents added protection. Money well spent and I recommend them to all travelers. They are available now from our online shop.


Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy 2015

We are coming to the end of what has been a challenging year for me personally but I have great hopes for 2015. Things started to look up for us in October when our little country pub the New Royal at Rubyvale in the Sapphire Gemfields won Queensland Hotel Associations Best Bush Pub.

Wendy & Bruce at QHA Awards 2It was a gala night at the Convention Centre in Brisbane and it was great to have our little Aussie battler recognised among pubs, clubs, resorts and hotels from around the State. We came out to Rubyvale over three years ago now and took over the pub which attracts sapphire fossickers from all over Australian and overseas. Rubyvale itself is a speck on the map located 17 kilometres from the Capricorn Highway, which runs from Emerald to Longreach and is a small township and a minute epicentre vital to the Central Queensland Gemfields. At the 2006 census, Rubyvale had a population of 510.The Gemfields here are acknowledged as the largest sapphire producing area in the Southern Hemisphere and Rubyvale is easily found just 8 kilometres from the town of Sapphire. In the 106 years since our little pub was built, and then named The Royal Hotel, rather than The New Royal Hotel, its history and fortunes have mirrored those of the surrounding Central Queensland gem fields. Some years have been rich with good fortune, buzzing with visitors and activity and The Royal sparkled as the centre of attention in the region. In other less fortunate years for miners, and the years that stretched across the depression, war times and the ebb and flow of economic and social change, The Royal sat quietly, waiting for the good times to return. But always this quintessential Aussie Bush Pub has remained a place where travellers and locals alike can find a seat, a friendly word, cold beer, tasty meals, stories (lots of hilarious and doubtful stories!) and the kind of unpretentious welcome unique to Aussie bush pubs. Rubyvale’s infrastructure boasts The New Royal Hotel, a general store, a café, post office, and otherwise many proud locally run gem galleries and tourist mines. It’s a great area for sapphire fossicking and a friendly town where the locals like to welcome visitors. Designated fossicking areas are located in and around the township include the intriguingly named nearby areas of Reward, Scrub Head, Divide, Middle Ridge and Tomahawk Creek. The area can get up to 40’C during summer which has been most of this week, and can reach 0°C in winter and this year we had frosts which didn’t do our lovely garden a lot of good. The original pub was built in 1908 by an enterprising widow Kate Leahy and her son William who built a permanent hotel on the site of today’s hotel and called it Royal Hotel. They also owned a butchery and a bakery in the town. Local folklore says that Mrs Leahy did not have the money left over to furnish the hotel so borrowed crockery and cutlery from friends in the area and returned it once she had been give the okay to commence trading by licensing inspectors. Trade varied over the years with the rise and fall of the sapphire miners and in 1949 an ABC journalist reported that there were around 16 people living in Rubyvale but there was a hotel, two stores, a post office, garage, the hall and about 40 to 50 modest dwellings. However at the hotel there was no beer as there were not enough people in town on a week day to drink a five gallon keg. Eventually in 1961 the licence of the Royal Hotel was surrendered due to lack of custom. In 1982 a Royal Hotel 1hotel set was constructed behind the old storeroom for shooting of the film Buddies. In 1987 the original Royal Hotel, which was by this stage a grocery shop, residence and two gem shops burnt down! There was nothing the Rubyvale or Emerald Fire Brigades could do. In 1997 some ten years later, when the New Royal Hotel at Rubyvale was built over 700 patrons attending the grand opening. Subsequently the hotel changed hands in 2004 and due to the vagaries of business was placed into receivership in 2009. Bruce and I brought the New Royal in 2011 and commenced a heartfelt program of rejuvenation, maintenance and renovation, restoring the heart and soul of Rubyvale’s iconic pub and preparing it for its next generation of miners, diners, and visitors from throughout Australia and occasionally throughout the world!

Come and visit us and check out the local mines, Miners Heritage was originally a working mine but today the owners Kerrie and Kim conduct tours and they also do beautiful jewellery as they formally owned a jewellery shop in the Brisbane Arcade. Jane and Micheal who have the local motel, a jewellery shop and an observatory with a powerful 14” Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope, perfect for seeing the magnificent clusters and colours of stars which shine so brightly in the outback. In the little town centre Peter and Eileen run a lovely café and shop and Anne is just across the road runs a shop in conjunction with her husband, Dave who cuts gems and runs tours with his brother Keith. Bobby Dazzler mine and café is short walk from the pub and there are many really good jewellers dotted around the area and we have had many guests who have found their own sapphire and had it cut and made into lovely rings, earrings and pendants. Come for a weekend in 2015 and stay in one of our delightful log cabins set in  pleasant native gardens. .

Group in foyerI was in Bangkok last week helping some lovely shoppers experience the delights of Bangkok, we stayed at the wonderful Rembrandt Hotel, enjoyed a cooking class there and of course a farewell dinner at their fabulous Indian restaurant . We shopped up a storm and  we bought exciting Christmas gifts and experienced the twice yearly Jim Thompson sale at the convention centre.

We will have more tours in 2015 so why don’t you join us?

Meanwhile  trust you all have a wonderful  time with family and friends over the holidays and I hope all your dreams come true in 2015, do hope that includes some travel.

Happy travels Wendy

Newsletter November 2014

It has been so long since I have written but I have had a couple of health issues and also have been working very hard on my book Shop, Eat and Sleep Australia.

The book will raise funds for Ovarian Cancer Australia and Mater Research for further research and education into Ovarian Cancer. I have been lucky enough to have some well-known Australia women agree to take part and give their thoughts and secrets about where to shop, eat have a coffee or just enjoy their home town or an area close to their heart. We have some incredible woman in Australia, some great tourist destinations and I am really excited about putting these together and at the same time raising money for a charity close to my heart.

Also I am thrilled about our new website and services we are planning to add to our business in the future, I am adding a blog so you can keep up with that I am doing but more about all that later.

I was also privileged in October to travel to Vietnam with 10 lucky women to enjoy shopping, eating, sightseeing, having clothes and shoes made and just having wonderful time.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We all met up in Hanoi where we were shown the local sights by a wonderful guide I have used before Bel, not only did Bel show us the sights but gave us great insights into the lives of women in Vietnam. We shopped for the beautiful Vietnamese Lacquer ware and saw how it was made; pottery and pearls were also on the list of exciting purchases.

Bel also came with us when we travelled up to Halong Bay and spent a great night out on the water, sitting drinking a gin and tonic whist watching the sunset over the water, it was so relaxing and for me a highlight of the trip.    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hoi An came next, this lovely Cultural World Heritage listed area is a firm favourite of mine, with its 400 year old Japanese and various. All the girls made their first call the dressmakers, I use Yaly, it’s probably the biggest in town and maybe a wee bit more expensive but the quality of both the fabric and workmanship is excellent. They also do shoes so not only were the girls busy ordering shoes but boots for those from cooler climates.

We were lucky to be there for the Hoi An Full Moon Festival which is held on every 14th day of the lunar month. The Old Quarter of Hoi An ancient town switches off its electric lights and the brightly coloured lanterns come out, we had great fun setting our little candle lanterns out on the river and making dishes. We loved the markets with their array of spices and although the fish did nto smell all that brilliant it was still fun wandering through the markets.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Not up to Angkor but the trip to My Son was magical and give us an appreciation of the ancient Champa Kingdom.

Finally it was Ho Chi Ming City and from there a visit to the Cu Chi tunnels where we wondered at the ability to live in such basic living conditions.

In between shopping and eating we managed visits to the Old Post Office, Reunion Palace and Saigon’s Notre Dame Cathedral. We finished our tour off with farewell drinks at the Sky bar looking out over the city.

On my way home I called into Bangkok, as your do, for a spot of shopping! There were very few tourists around, making access to shops and places of interest very easy, there were heaps of bargains. Nobody reported seeing any trouble so why not take advantage of the great prices and visit Bangkok for a drop of Christmas Shopping and a relaxing time prior to the hectic Christmas Parties. I will be there 8th till the 13th December and the Rembrandt Hotel has put together a wonderful package for all you fabulous shoppers.

Till next month happy shopping Cheers Wendy

November 2011 Newsletter

BKK Guru 2012 Sue & Aileen 006Our trip to Bangkok for the Shopping Guru at the Rembrandt Hotel was a mixture of old and new friends and everybody voted it a great success.

We started the frivolities at The Café on the 1st floor at the RembrandtHotel where we enjoyed a lovely Thai meal and got to know one another. It was delightful to have a family flavor with June joining her daughters Maree and Camille.

First morning we sorted out the use of the sky rail card which came with our shopping package and then used the sky rail to get to the Emporium Shopping Mall where we all had a great deal of fun spending our 1000 baht shopping voucher which was also part of the package. Sue had trouble spending hers but one thing about a group of shopper the others were quickly on hand to help her out.

As usual on this trip Jim Thompson’s factory outlet with its many bargains in small gifts, home wares and beautiful fabric was great hit. We spent time in Platinum Fashion Mall, this mall of several floors with a multitude of small shops selling fashion with children’s clothing a great buy, but the best find was a hat shops selling some fascinators, many under $10, there will be some great head gear at Melbourne Cup luncheons this year and June who is a guest at a wedding was able to find a suitable facinator!

Each evening we gathered in the executive lounge of the Rembrandt, again part of our package and enjoyed drinks and nibbles while we discussed the day, what we had brought or what we were going to do the next day. The staff in the lounge, as are all te staff at the Rembrandt,  were fantastic and were helpful with extra shopping hints and making sure that drinks were kept flowing.

We went to Gail Dwyer-Gerrard of Ethan’s Accents Jewelery’shome and had a private viewing of her fantastic jewellery collection. I must admit several of us brought some of her exquisite pieces, well worth a look if you are heading to Bangkok and I believe she will soon be bringing her collection to Australia.

Food cooking classIt was a tossup whether the cooking class at the Blue Elephant or afternoon tea at the Oriental was the favourite. The Blue Elephant is easy to get to as it is opposite the Surasak Sky train At the cooking school we watched as our teacher showed us how to make each recipe and then adjourned to the well-equipped kitchen to try ourselves. However one of the highlights was a meal of the food we had prepared in their delightful restaurant. We all left with copies of our recipes as well as a little goody bag of curry pastes, and other ingredients to use when we got home.

The afternoon tea in the Authors Lounge at the Oriental Hotel was a great opportunity to relax and be waited on in beautiful surrounding. Our only problem here was the extra cool air conditioning, why do so many Asians feel the need to cool down building to near on freezing temperatures.

Something different was the Calypso Cabaret which is a transvestite one and half hour cabaret show at the Asia Hotel. The small theatre meant we were able to get a good view of the fantastic costumesand makeup of the stars of the show and several of our group waited at the end to have their photos taken with the actors.

Our last night was time to swap email address, reminisce about shopping bought and shopping left behind and to talk about where to next! We ate at what I consider to be Thailand’s best Indianrestaurant the Rang Mahal.On the top floor of the Rembrandt Hotel the view of Bangkok is fantastic and the food is superb. We had party masks and there was loads of laughter and great food to say farewell.

Flooding in Thailand

Over the past weeks, seasonal rains that have been heavier than usual have resulted in flooding in Thailand. Airports including Suvarnabhumi Airport have been affected

Our hearts go out to the people of Thailand in these dreadful floods. One of the festivals that will be effected by the floods is Loi Krathong, the Festival of Lights scheduled from1 to 30th of November when the full moon of the 12th lunar month lights up the night sky, throughout Thailand, and is when thousands of decorated krathong or traditional banana leaf floats are set adrift in rivers and waterways in a spell-binding ritual called Loi Krathong. It is the time to make wishes for happiness together and success in love but this year many will just be hoping  to be blessed with survive.

Also the Phimai Festival from10-13 November the traditional long-boat races and the Royal Barge Procession will be affected by the floods. Normally people line the banks for this festival.

If you would like to help the people of Thailand in their hour of need The Royal Thai Consulate, Sydney has launched a relief appeal to help those affected. You can also help make a different by donating:

Thai Relief Appeal:

Commonwealth Bank

BSB 062070 Account No 10290038

Fake goods

Fake goodshave become a problem worldwide however it is something that we usually attribute to Asia rather than Australia so it was a surprise to learn that hundreds of fake designer handbags worth over $1 million were seized at Parklea Markets in western Sydney.Police say they raided the markets and seized more than 500 counterfeit handbags bearing brand names including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Burberry and Prada.

Officers also raided a house at Stanhope Gardens, where they allegedly seized more fake handbags, footwear and other accessories. It is probably a timely reminder to all that this is an illegal business.

Hot Spots to Sleep at Airports

Airport is always coming up with new ways to look after wary transit passengers. Those flying through Dubai International Airport can now catch some rest by staying in a ‘Snooze Cube’. Ten sound-proofed units have been installed at Dubai’s Terminal 1 and each unit contains a full-sized bed, touch-screen TV offering a selection of entertainment and music, as well as high-speed internet. You can hire by the hour for under $20.00 per hour.

Those of you who love something a little different for yourself or to give at Christmas  will find Shining Inspirationswho sell fantastic beaten stainless steel at The Boutique Markets,to be held at Portside Hamilton,39 Hercules Street, Hamilton on Sunday morning on 13th November from 0900-1300. There will be another two markets in December The twilight market from 5pm – 9pm on the 9th December and then subsequently the last one before Christmas is on the 11th December from 0800-1500.

The Boutique Market Website is

September 2011 Newsletter

I have only just got back from two wonderful shopping trips, the first to KL and the second to Bangkok and I am madly running around getting organised for a holiday with my special man.

The trip to Kuala Lumpa went really well and we all enjoyed ourselves.

From having our feet pampered by the local fish to learning to cook Malaysian style to shopping up a storm it was a fun filled week.

You can see from the look on my face that the fish were not my favourite but I know that many love this type of pedicure. (Cheryl I will send a photo to insert here)


The cooking class at LaZat Malaysian Home Cooking School was lots of fun.

Malaysian food is a fascinating blend of cuisine, a fusion of diverse cultures, predominantly Malay, Chinese, Indian and Baba.  We watched as our teachers, local woman with a flair for cooking, showed us how to cook each dish before we then tried these ourselves. We then all gathered around the table and eat the food we had prepared and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.

(Will send a photo for here)


The classes are hands on, held Tuesdays to Saturdays in the mornings and presented in English in an entertaining manner by Malaysian ladies who have lived overseas. The location is a contemporary Malaysian home in a suburb, approx. 25 minutes from Kuala Lumpur city centre; they will arrange transfer for a small fee.


We also had a lovely evening at Annabel McKenzie’s home which looks out on KL and the lights twinkled at us as we had a great time trying on the various clothes she has imported from India. She had gathered some other local ladies and we loved the bags made by Francis. Lee from Lee’s Beads could not be there but Annabel had some of her products and also Kerry Grant who makes the bags I love.

If anybody is travelling in a group to Kl do get in touch with Annabel and she will arrange to show you her wares, well worth the effort.


One day we had lunch at Peter Hoe’s this lovely shop has plenty to keep you shopping but also a lovely little restaurant selling lovely salads and light lunches. We shopped the markets found a gem of a bag shop and shopped in both upmarket malls and markets stalls.


I will tell you more about Bangkok and what we found there next month.


Congratulations to Valerine with a Yahoo email address who is the winner of two nights at the Rembrandt Hotel in Bangkok. We stayed there on our shopping trip to Bangkok and it really is the ideal location for shopping and just relaxing. We will be in touch with you Valerine and let you know how to claim your prize.


(Cheryl can we put some photos of the hotel or something here)



On a sad note I was really sorry to read that the famous Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill closing down


The Travel Bookshop, made famous in the film Notting Hill as Hugh Grant’s place of work, is closing down after 32 years. The bookshop has been a landmark for both tourists and locals. A group of poets and writers are volunteering to work for free if a buyer can be found for shop. It is sad that in this modern age many of the final old shops can no longer complete so don’t forget to support your local shops so that they are not forced to close down.


Happy Shopping





Dates for your diary of you are travelling to Hong Kong the National Day Race Day (horse racing) is on the 1 October 2011 at Sha Tin Racecourse

The National Day Race Day has long been one of the highlights of Hong Kong’s racing calendar. Every year, the Hong Kong Jockey Club stages the National Day Cup, along with a range of cultural performances at Sha Tin racecourse, to celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The event attracts thousands of visitors from diehard racing fans to the uninitiated.

Also later on the same day the 2011 National Day Fireworks Display starts at 9pm and continues for approximately 23 minutes). Grab a vantage point along Victoria Harbour and join the huge crowds heading to Victoria Harbour to celebrate the People’s Republic of China’s 62nd birthday with a glittering harbour fireworks display.


(Cheryl you may find a picture on the Hong Kong tourist website)


Many of you write and ask about medical procedure in Thailand so for more information check out the article on medical care in Thailand article by Richard DeAndrea MD, ND at






Finances on holiday

•           Debit and credit cards can be used at ATM around the world but check your card provider to ensure you can use your card in the country you are visiting, also check your banks charges and be aware that there can also be a local bank charge.

•           Traveller’s cheques are a safe substitute for cash; if they are lost or stolen they can be replaced easily. Usually they can be exchanged for local currency at banks, hotels or some shops. Remember there could be a charge for exchanging traveller’s cheques. Record the cheque numbers and kept in a separate area from the cheques

•           Check with your bank or foreign exchange bureau if there is a discount on fees for ordering currency on line or in advance, if you order with Travelex online and collect at one of their branches there is no commission charged

•           Have a small coin purse to separate your home currency from your foreign currency, you can then simply return to your wallet on your way home. This way you won’t be trying to buy the paper on your return with foreign coins. Also handy if you are visiting several countries

•           If there is a few of you travelling together have a separate wallet or purse with a kitty to pay for taxis, coffees or small items that you share together.

•           If there is a big group consider one of the debit cards that you can put money on before you leave and use this to pay for accommodation, meals and transport you are sharing

•           Check up on tipping in the country you are visiting, is it considered correct to tip in many countries. Work on a $1 per bag for porterage, at restaurants check to see if service fee has been added if not tip. Always tip if you feel you have been offered extra service.

•           Keep exchange slips as these may be required if you want to exchange money back into your home currency

•           If visiting Vietnam do not take local currency out of the country as you will be unable to exchange it. Coins from any country cannot be exchanged, drop them in the charity box at the airport or on board the plane.

•           Always have a backup credit/debit card you can access in case of emergency

•           Don’t have any credit card purchases made in your own currency, I have found that this is never as good an exchange rate as allowing your bank to do it, you are at the mercy of the shop keeper or their bank if your ask for it to be exchanged when you purchase

•           Have a print out of exchange rates that you can easily consult when you are buying, there is one in the back of each Hot Spots to Shop book.



Website of the month

Have loads of good travel medical advice and also a good newsletter for those of you that travel regularly

July 2011 Newsletter

I am busy packing my bags for a tour of KL and all the shopping and eating delights that bring and then in Bangkok at the Rembrandt Hotel where I will be Shopping Guru in residence for shopping eating and spa.

Sugu with part Zari Collection KL MANZA FairBoth trips are going to be loads of fun, in KL I have arranged with Annabel to have a private viewing for our Hot Spots shoppers of the  Zari Collection This is a home-based business owned by Kuala Lumpur couple Sugu and Annabel. Their stylish range of carefully selected handmade textiles from India supports the local handicraft industries of India. Since everything is handmade there are never two pieces the same. We will see printed cotton kantha stitched bedcovers, silk bedcovers made from old sari fabric, hand blocked and hand stitched bedcovers from Jaipur, hand blocked tablecloths, cushion covers, kaftans, organdie cutwork tablecloths and runners, fabulous old throws with fine kantha stitching, plus a unique collection of contemporary jewellery from Jaipur, and a selection of fine pashminas, silk and wool shawls along with designer silk and wool scarves. They only do viewing by appointment, but if a group of you are going shopping to Kuala Lumpur like we are, email them ahead of time and arrange to see their collection. They obviously have a great eye and I know you won’t be disappointed. Email Annabel at

Twin Towers KLWe will be in Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival which runs from the 15th June to the 31st August 2011. Kuala Lumpur is a shopper’s paradise so think of us roaming the malls picking up great bargains. Of course we won’t get to visit all the 70 shopping malls but we will certainly get to the cream of them. I am packing lightly and am aware of new restrictions on luggage.

One of the things I am most excited about is a cooking class at Lazat Malaysian Home Cooking School This course was recommended to me by a KL expat Melanie who considers it one of the best. I will tell you all about it next month.

The Rembrandt Hotel has lots of exciting goodies waiting for us at in Bangkok our stay includes a wonderful massage in their spa, I had a couple massages there last visits to the hotel and I think it was one of many highlights of my stay. Of course readers will be well aware that my favourite restaurants is the  Rang Mahal – The Best Indian Restaurant in Thailand, situated on the 26th floor of the hotel, you get  a brilliant view of Bangkok as you dine.

What will I buyOf course we are there to shop so we looking forward to privately viewing of Gail Dwyer-Gerrard of Ethan’s Accents jewellery. We are planning  a cooking class as well as loads of shopping fortunately we will be there for the weekend markets so I will be leading the group around this wonderful exciting market to see what great finds we can come up with.

There are a couple of rooms left or this tour so if you have some free time from the 10 to the 16th August and maybe some points you want to use, or even take advantage of the cheap fares out at the moment go to the hotels website and book your room. If you have any trouble just contact me.

I am working on my hand luggage and what you carry onto an aircraft. I am trying to get it to a minimum as I know I will be leaving Brisbane and passing through Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok’s airports so don’t want to be carrying a load of things. I will also be using two different airlines one full service the other low cost so they will have different rules. I have a clear bag which for liquids in, which includes my make up and any medication. On the long haul flights I have a small purse in which I have a pair of socks which I slip on once we are in the air and also an eye mask to block out light. Try as I might I cannot wear ear plugs but if you can include those.  In the plastic bag I have a small container of moisturizer and a lip balm. If there is an opportunity once I have passed security I buy a bottle of water but check as some airport such as Bangkok you pass a final security check prior to keeping onto the aircraft and they don’t allow bottles of any liquid. If you don’t have water ask the flight attendant for one early in the flight. I always carry a light shawl or pashmina which I can throw around my shoulders if I am cold. Low cost carriers do not carry blankets and I often feel chilly on flights. Other than that I have my music and something to read.

If you can’t join me I will tell you all about the trip next month.

Happy Shopping Wendy

In response to increasing consumer demand from the Australia market, Hawaiian Airlines announced that its Sydney-Honolulu flights will go daily year-round, starting December 14. This is great news as with the Australian dollar so string against the America dollar you can have a great time in the shops.

You may be able to find a plane off their website)


An America site but with the current rate of the dollar well worth looking at this site created by Jenny Frederick, this online store to sells creative and colourful packing products.  Gathered together to simplify the pre-trip frenzy, Jenny set out to create a single source for all things needed to travel in style. was born out of a love for travel and a need for travel products that are as fun and inspiring as the trip itself.



The winner of the two nights at the Rembrandt Hotel in Bangkok is ………….. Remember it is not too late to join the shopping guru trip and use your two nights straight away.

May 2011 Newsletter

I have had a busy month as my mother has moved from Cairns to Brisbane so we have been out and about together buying furniture, making curtain and buying plants for her new garden. One of the only downside of her move was that due to the fire ants in Cairns she had to leave her great collection of plants behind. So to make up I got out my Suellen Retschlag Op Shoppers Guide and we hit the nearby ops shop and found some lovely plant pots that she was bale to fill with new plants. (Cheryl if we do a more information and hide her website underneath, also you should be able to get an image of the cover off her website).


I also had a trip to cairns to sort out my Mothers home up there and met up with many friends including Cairns Airport GM commercial and terminals, Kate McCreery-Carr and she told me all about a new health and beauty concept store has opened its doors in the domestic terminal departure lounge at Cairns Airport in Queensland.

Proprietor, Rajiv Bhindi, has launched the first ever Health + Beauty Express store which is a concept that grew out of his existing Airport Pharmacy located within Adelaide Airport,  Kate said “We congratulate Raj and his team on their striking new store with its distinctive black and white décor and beautiful product range,”

If you are flying in or out of Cairns look out for their exclusive range of convenient travel size items that also meet the current regulations for international travel, including gorgeous miniature bottles of many top name fragrances. (Cheryl if yu Google the pharmacy there should be an imagine we can use.)



The Australian dollar has made travelling overseas a great bargain, hard I know for our own tourism sector but great if you love shopping, for once the fact that you will have Australian dollars will be even better than American dollars. Time to plan your trip with me to Kula Lumpur in early August or our Shopping Guru trip the second week in Bangkok.


Don’t forget to wear a white shirt on the 19th May  The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) invites Australians to show their commitment to fighting ovarian cancer and supporting the thousands of Australian women and their families who are affected by this insidious disease.


The inaugural White Shirt Day is an OCRF initiative to garner collective support for this important cause. Ovarian cancer may not be the most common cancer in women but it is certainly one of the most life-threatening. There are no discernable symptoms for ovarian cancer and currently there is no early detection test. As such, the disease is usually well-advanced when diagnosed and subsequently the mortality rate is tragically high.


In Australia alone, one woman dies of ovarian cancer every ten hours.


Early detection is the key to changing this devastating statistic – the OCRF is committed to advancing research so that an early detection test can be developed.

For more information (Cheryl the website probably has an imagine we can use maybe the silver ribbon)


I was lucky enough to enjoy a Food Tour T Sensational Flavours tour last week. A new option for locals and tourist alike in Brisbane the tours have been put together by Jacqueline Gregory. Jacqui obviously has a passion for food and has put together several tours highlighting some fabulous food places in Brisbane.


We started the day at Mayfield Chocolates and tasted their magnificent handmade award winning chocolates. Next was real love of locals Black Pearl Epicure, where we got to taste cheese and dips from their array of brilliant gourmet foods.  Onto Di Bella Coffee where we heard all about roasting and barista skills and a exquisite coffee.

A real surprise for me was Mistress of Spice where we tried dips and I must admit I brought some superb spices. Wray Organics was next and I couldn’t get over the quality of their organic foods, we washed that down with a freshly made beetroot, carrot, and apple and ginger juice. Judy at Cakes by Judy C showed us her wonderful designer cakes and some gorgeous sweet tooth samples. Heinz Meats was a favourite for me as my Father was a butcher in country Victoria and I remember the smoke house and sausage machines that Heinz showed us and also some impressive smoked, cured and locally produced continental meats he allowed us to try.  Samios Foods is a wonderful Greek produce store and we sample cheese and some really beautiful olives. It was all finished off at Cliffs Café where we overlooked the Brisbane River and city skyline as we ate Lick’s luscious ice cream.

All in all a really lovely day out and a great tour for those on holiday or a real treat for locals. Check out the website for a full list of tours. (Cheryl you should be able to get a snap maybe of the bus and we can hide the website under more info)

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