Why the plight of the 12 Thai boys trapped in a cave captivated the world

NOTHING has captivated all of us more in the last few weeks than what went on in the dank and waterlogged underground caves in Thailand.

As the mother of 16-year-old — the age of a couple of the boys rescued from the dark, dingy and dangerous, water-soaked caves — it has been a very sad but riveting rescue. It has also extracted every kind of parental emotion possible.

We have been inundated with news of each tense minute of this extraordinary rescue and now, at last, the thrilling news that all 12 and their coach are safe.

We should not forget, of course, the tragic loss of the life of one former Thai Navy seal, a hero named Saman Kunan, 38.

The fact he died while helping rescue the young soccer players and their 25-year-old coach, is something that should never, ever be forgotten. And he will, no doubt, be rewarded posthumously by the Thai government.

Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty Images Source: Getty Images

With the euphoria of the miraculous rescue still kicking in, what I cannot stop thinking about is how the parents of the boys would have been feeling up until they knew for sure that their precious kids had been saved.

They would have been constantly nauseous. Would not have slept. Hoped and prayed. Put their lives totally on hold. Would possibly have been working out the worst and hopefully, the best outcomes for their flesh and blood.

Via the wonderful world of technology, and even though the parents knew their children were still alive (although perhaps putting on a brave face for video footage beamed all over the world), they would have been, quite simply, scared to bloody death.

It has been emotional for so much of the world — and we don’t even know these children or their coach, Ekapol Chantawong — but the resilience and strength they all showed over the last 18 days is something that has resonated with all of us.

I have often thought of the To Kill a Mockingbird moment when Atticus tells Scout: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.”

Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty Images Source: Getty Images

So I did. And I can honestly say that their plight over the last few weeks is totally unimaginable.

As a mother, I found it all heartbreaking. How the parents of the boys were going to get through it, I will never know or fathom.

Even though the boys are out, there is still a long way to go in terms of physical and mental rehabilitation.

The whole rescue mission has totally put everything going on in the world — from Trump to local politics (ho-hum), the World Cup and just about anything else — into perspective.

The fact these boys’ plight captivated us for days gave many of us a sense that humanity, passion and pure kindness really does reign. Most of us can’t even imagine being without our phones or device for 24 hours, let alone being stuck in a lifeless, labyrinth of a myriad caves, not knowing if we will ever leave.

One of the amazing elements of the last few weeks has been the brilliant support team from around the world who made their way to the ledge where they were living for the last two-and-a-half weeks.

Picture: Linh Pham/Getty Images Source:Getty Images

Picture: Royal Thai Navy via AP Source:AP

The mindsets of the boys would have very grounded before they took their plunge to get out of the cave. There would’ve been some who were panicked and anxious while others would have been more confident.

Their rescuers attempted to calm their minds, with some reportedly given sedatives to help steel their nerves for the journey out.

Meditation — a standard of Thai culture — is about getting the mind to the “right” place. Their coach, a former monk, is thought to have led the boys in some calming exercises.

While that may sound like hocus-pocus to some people, those with an interest in eastern culture will know the importance of stilling the mind and not panicking or becoming too anxious about dire situations.

It is not the sole reason the boys in their coach survived. It would just be ludicrous to say that. It was, much more practically, the work of the incredible divers who physically got the boys out, who did the job.

But having the right mindset was certainly something the boys needed.

The entire rescue seemed even more captivating and emotional because it involved kids.

Passionate, sporty young boys whose love of soccer and camaraderie ultimately left them trapped in the overflowing caves in the first place.

Many of us remember when Australian miners, Brant Webb and Todd Russell, were miraculously rescued from the Beaconsfield Mine collapse in April, 2006.

Of the 17 people who were in the mine at the time, 14 escaped immediately following the collapse, one was killed — Larry Knight — and the remaining two were found alive using a remote-controlled device.

The two miners were rescued on 9 May 2006, two weeks after being trapped nearly a kilometre below the surface.

This Thailand rescue was very, very different to Beaconsfield.

It involved children who could not swim; had never been cave-dived in their lives but somehow, with the impressive skill, experience and help of diving SEALs, they slithered their way out and back onto terra firma.

At the end, this was a good news story. But it was this close to being a very different tale.

Good news stories, these days, are very, very hard to come by. I get the feeling that they would’ve been many families across the world giving each other a big hug when the boys came out.

And let’s face it, what better feeling is there than that?

This article was originally posted on news.com.au


The Classic French Breton from Jac Cadeaux & Claudia Stahl

Who doesn’t love a classic striped T-shirt longsleeve top? I would imagine most of us would have some kind of stripy number in their wardrobe – I still have some from Remo, that have stood the test of about 20 years!

And how fabulous is this collection from Claudia Stahl – under her terrific label, Jac Cadeaux.
Here’s a little Breton history . . .

The Breton stripe originates from Brittany (or ‘Bretagne’ in French) on the North West coast of France. A decree on the 27th March 1858 introduced the striped shirt as the prescribed seaman’s uniform. The stripes were white for 2cm and then blue for 1cm.

The navy and white striped shirt was made the uniform of the French navy. Somewhat ironically, the garment usually has a boat neckline. The distinctive striped pattern made them easy to spot in the waves in emergencies.

Many designer have a long enduring love of the simple but chic stripe. Coco Chanel introduced the striped pattern to a nautical inspired collection in 1917, after visiting France. Seaside destination holidays, like St Tropez, were becoming popular and so this more casual style was ideal. This style broke away from the more heavily fitted styles of the time. This stripe style was made even more popular by icons James Dean and Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Edie Sedwick, and Brigitte Bardot, wearing the style.

From its humble beginnings as a naval uniform, the Breton stripe pattern has grown to be almost synonymous with effortless Parisian style but further than that it has become a truly adored product that has stood the test of time.


Have best & worst dressed lists had their day?

On Monday, the worlds of fashion and film will collide as we see the biggest global runway in the world happen in Los Angeles. Hellooooo Oscars!
Yes, aside from a bumper year of some seriously extraordinary films, the other thing that will be just as scrutinised will be the red carpet fashion.

While that horrendous question ‘what are you wearing?’ – has (fortunately) lost its momentum & reverence over the last few years – let’s face it, it is still something that many, many people want to know.

I’ve been thinking a lot, particularly in light of every sexual atrocity and assault we’re hearing about everyday in the entertainment biz, and all the pro-female movements happening all over the world – thanks to #metoo and #timesup.

So, is ‘commenting’ on what public people and figures wear to a high profile awards night a goer anymore? Is it objectifying women or is it just all of us professing our own armchair opinion about a turntable of pop culture – fashion.

You know what, I think it is exactly that.
While that opinion may not go down well in all quarters, one of the great things about observing celebrities and stars and the dresses they wear and the make up they have on and their hair-dos and the jewellery they don often takes us away from what is normally a mundane Monday.
It takes us to fantasyland. It takes us into a world that most of us will never experience. It will be our water cooler conversation on Monday and probably well onto the next day.

Just wait until the Oscars and the first thing SO many onlookers, viewers and readers will look at and want to look at are the frocks – the grand gowns that none of us will ever be able to afford, but at least we know we can look at them and have an opinion about them.

But ‘having an opinion’ is where the line often gets blurred. Saying whether you ‘like’ the shape or color of a dress is not being judgemental. It is just being truthful. It’s not being judgey-judgey nor is it ‘bullying’.

We really need to look at fashion commentary just like we do at any other kind of pop culture commentary. Whether sport, the theatre, seeing a band or watching a movie – they either played well or they didn’t or we either liked a performance or we didn’t. And we all have a right to say it.
Because someone might say they don’t like a particular dress, that opinion is not a reflection, at all, on the person who is WEARING the dress. It is purely a personal opinion about a particular fashion aesthetic.

Of course there are going to be best and worst dressed lists. They happen at every awards night whether here or globally. While the words ‘best’ and ‘worst’ can be polarising, the reality is people turn to those stories because of their use in headlines.

As someone who, for many years, is called on to comment about red carpet fashion, I have wrestled with the words ‘worst’ or ‘bad’ and have to admit I feel a little uncomfortable using them myself. Sure, I have an opinion. I love having an opinion. And it is one that is supported by years of observing and writing about fashion and popular culture.

You have an opinion too. And not always will all of our opinions see eye to eye. But I really don’t think we should start getting so politically correct that we can’t express a feeling or opinion about a dress for goodness sake. Being downright bitchy, rude, a bully and personally attacking someone is totally not on. Comedian Joan Rivers was about the only person who could get away with it and even then there were times when her fans would cringe, but she delivered her comments in a way that only she could.

When we go into a shop we go through the racks and say yes, no, yes, no. Don’t like that. Yes, I do like that.
So when that huge slew of celebrities wander down the huge ruby rug on Monday, of course there are going to be divisive opinions. But that is what life is about. Expressing yourself – just as all of those on the red carpet at the Oscars will be doing. And if we want to be armchair critics, we can. We just need to draw the line at any kind of personal attack.

The one thing that good and informed commentary is about is being able to do it with a sense of knowledge and just remember to park the bitchy caravan a long way away.

By Melissa Hoyer


What it's really like to fly on the new Qantas Dreamliner

Yes, I have experienced the delivery flight journey on the plane that will help flyers stave off the dreaded effects of jet lag. With the first Qantas Dreamliner up and running, nationally and internationally, I thought I would give you the real low-down on what it is like to take flight in one.

I was one of the lucky people on the first Qantas flight into Australia from the US – the 787-9 Dreamliner – the plane that hopes to make your flying experience the most comfortable, fuel-efficient and smoothest yet, with nowhere near as many internal, plane-type noises no matter what end of the plane you’re flying in.

Seriously, I was incredibly impressed by the whole experience. I’m not saying all this because I joined a gaggle of fellow travel and business media types on the ‘delivery’ to Australia. I say it as someone who flies a lot at all ends of the aircraft.

It’s all about the windows. They are big. The lower cabin pressure makes you feel clearer in the head once you arrive home too. The plane is sleek, understated and beautifully designed with the most extraordinary finishes by designer David Caon. Of course, Qantas’ industrial designer, Marc Newson, has had a big hand in this new incarnation, but David Caon bought it into fruition.

Dreamliners already exist on a fleet of other airlines – Air New Zealand, United, Qatar, Etihad, Nippon, and Air India to name a few –  but the idea is for Qantas to ultimately phase out their jumbos, by bringing the Dreamliners into Australia. Sure, we all like to complain about flights and their pros and cons but on my Dreamliner flight, the consensus was incredibly positive.

In fact, the delivery of the brand new aircraft is like nothing I have ever experienced, it’s understated and chic. It’s as simple as that. On a 10 hour flight home, I slept like a baby and it was a seriously good sleep. I’m putting that down to all the research conducted by the Charles Perkins Centre, who worked for a number of years on the correlation between circadian rhythms, sleep patterns and eating the appropriate mile-high food. They really got it right.

Dreamliners are pressurised at 6000 feet as opposed to 8000 feet, which is a height a bit like the altitude of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Here are just some of the advantages of flying the new Dreamliner.

Windows on the 787 are 65 per cent larger than comparable aircrafts and customers can adjust the amount of light that comes through with electronic control. Which is unreal – you can actually see a much bigger picture view of your departure and arrival destination.

Responsive cabin lighting is another positive, meaning the lighting in the Dreamliner will be adjustable to the time of day and activity of service and includes a simulated sunrise to gently wake flyers on morning lights. That was a lifesaver on the 10 hour flight home from Honolulu.

The Dreamliner is an efficient airplane using up to 20 per cent less fuel than other aircraft of its size and has lower CO2 and NOx emissions. Carbon dioxide is produced as a result of fuel consumption and the reduced fuel consumption means fewer CO2 emissions. The state of the art engines in the Qantas Dreamliner also reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 20 per cent.

Smoother ride technology ensures the Dreamliners are equipped with a system that senses turbulence and commands wing control surfaces to counter it, smoothing out the ride so customers can enjoy a more comfortable flight. There is also quite a holistic approach to cabin noise quality, with multiple solutions throughout the aircraft addressing the cause of annoying noise and vibrations.

It seems so compact as opposed to the enormity of a plane like the A380, but the cabin ceilings are higher, there is a better air filtration system, the seats are bigger – economy seats have been given an extra 1 inch – and the windows are larger, giving you a nearly panoramic view from the seat you are sitting in.

There is also no need to worry if you miss out on a window seat, there is enough window depth for you to be able to see what’s going on up in the clouds from the middle.

While the 787 is not the mega A380, I found it ridiculously comfortable, simply because of its compact size. I still love the A380, but this just seems like a more intimate flying experience. And the best news, we’ll be seeing more of them as the years go on. While we’ve all flown a number of airlines, this new plane in QF fleet is one I would highly recommend.

Melissa Hoyer was a guest on the inaugural Dreamliner trip to Australia.

This article was originally posted on vogue.com.au


Why wearing black to the Golden Globes does matter. . . .

Fashion is so often seen as this frivolous ‘thing’ that means nothing.

This ‘thing’ that is dismissed because a lot of people just don’t understand it. That it is trivial, indulgent, boring. But no. Just no. Like sporting events, music, entertainment and film, fashion is incredibly big business. It is popular. It is essential. It is copied and worn by most of us, whether we like it or not.

Whenever we wear anything – whether it’s the t-shirt we threw on, that has been hanging over the end of the bedhead in the morning, the cossie you’ve decided to wear to the beach or the first outfit back to work today, you are making statement.

It is a multi, multi billion dollar business so that is why, as we peruse the Hollywood A-listers in their black dresses today, this is one small step in a bloody important movement.

By wearing a black gown or pants (as many did) to the Golden Globes, those who chose to do so – and I reckon it was around 99.99999% of guests – it was one dramatic way to draw attention to what has been going on within the entertainment industry for years. The sexual misconduct and appalling behaviour shown by those who should have known better is something that will continue to be uncovered over the following years. And ‘yes!’ to that.

It is being forged by a group of high-profile women who want to show their solidarity. It isn’t tokenism. It is a very large group of humans basically standing up to say ‘we are not going to take this crap anymore’.

Sure. There are naysayers. Yeah. Yeah. Wear one black dress and that’s the end of the story. Somehow, I don’t think this will be the end of the story – it is actually bigger than a one picture deal, which, once made in its entirety will possibly make the biggest blockbuster ever.

In the meantime, the rats have to be smoked out of the ranks and by the look of it, both here and globally, that is definitely happening.

Melissa Hoyer