What's the gayest thing to do in Bangkok? Go and spend a few hours at Babylon Sauna and Spa, Bangkok’s (perhaps the world’s) most luxurious gay sauna. We first visited Babylon some 20 years ago when it opened and it has been powering along ever since. It is certainly a favourite with westerners but also offers many opportunities to meet Thais and men from all over Asia. For a relaxing gay day out in Bangkok, or a short stay while transiting through this fabulous city, Babylon is a gem and it closes just in time to make it back to Silom Soi 4 for a few drinks to end the night with your new mates.
If you’ve ever heard of the famous Venus De Milo sculpture which resides in the Louvre in Paris then you probably know it’s home was originally the island of Milos, located in the south western corner of the Greek Cyclades. Our prior journeys to these spectacular islands had so far bypassed this exotic beauty but now was our chance to explore her shores in all their exquisite charm. From the moment we arrived in Adamas, the main harbour of the island, we were suitably impressed. The small, bustling marina filled with mega yachts, ferries and cruise boats was fringed with traditional Greek tavernas, sweet-scented bakeries, chatty cafes, souvenir sellers, car rentals and lively bars.
We found a new romance in the south of France, right in the heart of the Languedoc Region. Our first impression of the port town of Sète, situated on the Mediterranean coast, was of a rather unremarkable seaside village. However, during our two week stay, Sète revealed its unspoilt charm and divulged its raw beauty, its casual, relaxed vibe and a deep sense of French culture. Now we repeat our liaison every year. Sète is slowly making the transition from its historical roots as a working port to a popular tourist destination. Trawler boats still fill the harbour, along with the raw, salty smell of fresh seafood, wet nets and the sad wail of supersized sea gulls. But during the summer months the tourist numbers swell and the town becomes the epicentre of festivities.
Bruges has been on our bucket list since seeing the 2008 crime thriller In Bruges in which Irish hunk Colin Farrell (Ray) and Brendan Gleeson (Ken) hid out in this gorgeous Belgian city. The sleepy canals, decorated with white swans and small stone bridges, are framed with colourful flowers, lending the cityscape an unexpected tranquility. Like Ken we fell in love with medieval Bruges. Its beauty and serenity are distinguished by its meandering canals, cobbled stone streets and ancient, intricately decorated buildings. Bruges can be overrun by tourists daily, so the earlier you arrive the better. On our short visit we spent about three hours wandering the streets of this compact but stunning city. Around every turn there was another amazing photograph to be captured.
Timor-Leste (East Timor) has some unenviable credentials. It is the third poorest nation on earth, 70% of its population are subsistence, it has the least tourist visitors of any country in the world not at war and has 50% unemployment. Aside from that the Timorese are known to be open, friendly and generous people, as we found on our brief visit. This fascinating country has huge potential with an increasingly educated youth population, a wealth of natural resources and an equatorial climate. Since 2017 they even have a Gay Pride which includes people from the LGBTI community, members of the clergy, tribal folk, students and government officials. Timor-Leste is a leader in South East Asia for gay rights, although unfortunately, it still has not enacted laws to protect its LGBTI population.
Darwin is Australia’s top end capital city. Although remarkably small, its quiet, relaxed vibe is a natural gateway for those seeking adventure in the Northern Territory. Attractions like Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks, Katherine Gorge, crocodile spotting and outback desert experiences await unsuspecting visitors. This time however, we were not in Darwin for any of these reasons, rather to catch a cruise ship to Singapore which also happened to coincide with the celebration of our first wedding anniversary. We arrived on a Saturday to spend two days before our departure and to sample what surprises Darwin had to offer. The weather was at its best, perfect early days of August were dry, mildly hot, low humidity and brilliant sunny, blue skies stretching endlessly into the ‘never never’. Our Uber driver said, “It doesn’t get better than this in Darwin”.