Burma Tours – A Huge Success.

I have to be honest with you – when we first had the idea for our Burma tours (apparently you can call it Burma or Myanmar) I was thinking we’re going to be seeing a lot of temples and, it is possible to become ‘templed out’ – but did I have it wrong.

Burma was simply incredible. Sure, there were plenty of temples but here’s the thing – when you jam them altogether on wide open plains or in small fields they never seem to get boring. I guess the analogy would be if you looked in the night sky and saw one star it would get boring but when there’s thousands to look at, you could stare at the sky all night. Is that too poetic?

Once we stepped out of the hotel on to the streets in Yangon I realised “we need more time”. Yangon was so interesting and a very easy ‘walking’ city. As you walked along the blocks you entered Chinatown, little India, the European quarter – each area abounds with stunning architecture and unique street life.

The plains of Bagan with the myriad of temples, that are sprinkled with very little attention to town planning, were simply fascinating. Some of our group went up in balloons while others rented small eBikes and hit the back roads with me – devoid of traffic but around every corner a hidden gem – just fascinating. Then on the water for sunset rum sours on our own private sandbank in the middle of the Irrawady river.

Being a Spirit House tour we were all about food and getting off the beaten track. This took us overland to stunning ‘Petra’ style cave temples.

The highlight was Inle Lake – our boats whisked us along for an hour past solitary fishermen standing gracefully on their boats with their nets, past floating gardens to our boutique hotel suspended over the lake. Using our boats we explored small villages specialising in silk weaving, silver making, boat building or local snack making.

Simply put, Burma offers a wide range of travel experiences that are easily accessible plus some real hidden gems if you get off the beaten path, as we did.

So, if you’re up for an adventure to Burma – or any of our other destinations – please visit our tours page for details and booking forms.

Highlights from our Pushkar Tour

Pushkar camel fair is the perfect place to be for anyone who has read “Still life with woodpecker” and, let’s be honest, who hasn’t – and has an appreciation for camels (the cigarettes and the animal), red heads and aliens. In other words, if you like the bizarre and abnormal then this is the place for you.

The story of Pushkar goes like this: Brahma had a fight with a petal wielding demon and one of the petals fell to earth making this amazing lake.

Now, a whole bunch of other epic Hindu stuff happened and, to cut a long story short, Brahma made some mistakes. One of these mistakes was accidentally marrying another woman so he was cursed by his first wife in a way that this lake was the only place where he would be worshipped by humans.

Thus Pushkar is one of the five holiest sites in India and the only place where there is a temple to Lord Brahma.

This means that once a year, a million pilgrims and 2 tours of dusty Spirit House clients visit the sacred lake. The place packs out with pilgrims and Sadhus or holy men:

Most of the Sadhus sit around looking totally in touch with the universe and/or stoned and in various sates of undress. Pushkar is a holy city so alcohol is banned but not marijuana apparently.

Camel and horse traders also descend on the desert just outside the town for one of the largest camel fairs in the land. Tens of thousands of camels and horses are bought and sold here, thus killing two birds with one stone for the desert people: pilgrimage and commerce.

This tour certainly was an amazing experience. Our hotel was right on the lake which meant we were woken at 4.30am with chanting loud enough to wake the whole town and Brahma up. The reward was watching – not in a perverted way, but I can only speak for myself in this regard – the pilgrims bathing in the ghats.

But it wasn’t all pilgrims and camels. We had plenty of fun exploring Delhi- not something you would usually hear about Delhi – the Taj Mahal was still there in its magnificent serenity and a host of amazing places in between.

Impromptu workshops on photography on the bus with iPhones and the terrific Snapseed app had the group making great images:

And I have fallen in love with the Etchings App for making images like these:

So, if you’re interested in quirky travel experiences in India, Thailand, Indonesia etc. then visit our tours page and grab an itinerary. With just 8 people on each tour, it’s like a group of friends travelling together than a bus full of strangers.

Notes From India Field Trip

February 2016 sees the launch of our exciting new India Food Tour. Acland and cooking school chef, Kelly Lord, ducked off to India for 5 days to finalise details with our Indian ‘fixers’ and test elements of the tour.

In short, if you’ve never been to India before then you absolutely MUST go. It is simply amazing and a delight for all the senses.

The idea of this short field trip was to sample the food, check on hotels and investigate cool shopping experiences as well as taking in the major sites.


I guess everyone worries about the dreaded ‘Dehli Belly’, but we didn’t come to India to eat in our hotel, so armed with our local food guides we sampled a dazzling array of street food. The food was fresh, tasty, mainly vegetarian and delicious – and neither of us became ill.

Sadly we were too busy eating to take pictures of all the food but I have to say India really does give Thailand a run for its money when it comes to the sheer variety of food on offer. We have both never had so much vegetarian food and I’ve never been so full.


India really is unique and is a photographer’s delight. From historic buildings and ruins to colourful characters, you will need plenty of batteries and lots of SD cards or storage.

This guy was ‘charming his pet cobra’ in the car park:


Our local rickshaw guys catching up on the latest news:


Peaceful ruins in the local park:

And of course, I left my charger in Bangkok so my trusty camera died but you as the saying goes; ‘the best camera is the one you have on you’ and the iPhone proved the point and shoots cool video as well:

slo mo from the iPhone.

Things To Do:

Delhi is home to some groovy neighbourhoods that are packed with trendy cafes, cool bars, great fashion and homewares. These neighbourhoods are a delight to explore and make a change from the upmarket massive shopping centres that the rich middle class people flock to.

There are ruins, monuments, tombs, museums and a history that extends back thousands of years that make Delhi (and the rest of India) a destination truly worth visiting.


Make no mistake, India is a confronting place but at no time did we feel threatened in any way. People were very helpful and English is widely spoken. There are still some concerns, the subway has women only cars, don’t look at or talk to beggars. Street food is tasty, cheap and with a good guide, quite safe to eat.

The huge rise in the middle class is creating changes in attitudes, culture including fashion and food. Make no mistake, there are beggars on the street and people living in slums along the side of the road but there are also palatial shopping centres, people driving Audis. This is thanks to a huge surge in the middle class. Well educated and newly rich Indians are bringing back ideas, trends and influences from the West – making Delhi an interesting cosmopolitan city – but you don’t have to scratch too far below the surface to find the REAL India.


Our 2016 Indian Tours are going to be fantastic and the perfect way to ‘dip your toes’ into the proverbial Indian ‘water’. Limited to eight fun-loving adventurers, our February tours are fully booked, but we are planning more for November. Visit our Indian Tour Page for more details.

The ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ of Bread and Butter.

If you’ve seen the documentary ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ you know the passion and dedication behind Jiro and his tiny Michelin starred Sushi restaurant at a train station. In this video, we explore the world of Dan Richer whose passion is bread and butter.

The ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ of Bread & Butter: Razza Pizza Artiginale from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

In a world where we over-complicate and automate many things, it’s nice to see people getting back to the basics.

If you’re interested in learning how to make fermented butter and sour-doughs, I attended a course by Elizabeth Fekonia, who is based on the Sunshine Coast, in which we made cheese as well as fermented butter described in the video above.

I should point out that fermented butter might sounds like a ‘new/hipster’ food offering but for thousands of years it was very common, because it’s easy to make and easy to keep without refrigeration.

toastSpeaking of ‘hipster’, Toast is becoming the new food trend with funky coffee shops serving up a Toast Menu.

If you want to start your own Toast Bar, grab a copy of ‘Things on Toast‘ – I did – all I need now is a cool venue and wait for the hipster apocalypse.

Spirit House CD – ONE

Many years ago customers swooned over our groovy Spirit House CD – a collection of down-tempo, ethnic tracks from around the world. Sadly, the record company we used to license and distribute the CD closed and the Spirit House CD became a collector’s item.

We still get calls for the CD and thanks to the magic of the interwebs we have created a spotify playlist of the tracks – except for two tracks that aren’t available on spotify so we swapped them with similar tracks from the same artist.

Time for some ear candy:

How much do you share on social networks

Jack Vale appears to be an incredible mentalist as he freaks people out at local eateries with intimate details about their lives. It’s how he finds this information that is both incredible and scary and something you should show anyone who is constantly tweeting, instagramming or facebooking on their phones. Check out the video below:

Follow us on Instagram

Well, it’s taken a while but my 13 year old niece has been rattling my cage about getting Spirit House on Instagram so you can share photos and that sort of thing.

So voila:


We’re instagramming – you can follow us and be sure to use #spirithouserestaurant if you’re tagging pics taken at the Spirit House and we’ll start rewarding the most photos we like the most etc.

Very cool wedding photos

Sometimes a photographer comes along and manages to capture essence of a Spirit House wedding perfectly. That’s why we love Ruth Ryan’s photos of Jo and Cam’s wedding.

As any professional photographer will tell you, capturing photos at Spirit House is tricky. With all the greenery and mottled light, you really need to know what you’re doing.


So, if you’re looking for a great photographer – why not get in touch with Ruth Ryan.