It’s time to introduce you to my “sister”. She’s not my real sister – I don’t actually have any brothers or sisters. I’m an only child and a great friend of mine always says “you’re SUCH an only child”.

In 2003, I was invited to Thailand and I met Lalida, who was assigned as “liaison officer”, I guess to look after me. We immediately struck up a friendship and ever since then we have emailed each other every single day. In 2004, she came to Australia to visit me and my mother adopted her. We refer to my mother as “our mother”; much the same way as I have adopted her father. Every time I’ve visited Bangkok, Lalida’s father drives us around to visit Buddhist temples. A favourite one Lalida and I visit is Wat Phra Kaew (วัดพระแก้ว) or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

In 2011, I am hoping Lalida and her father visit us in New Zealand. Her father is certainly keen to come and has volunteered himself as a “worker”. I might just take him up on that – he can help me milk the goats I hope to have by then!

It’s a privilege in life to have such a special connection with someone.

My "sister" Lalida and her father on a visit to China. Lalida is wearing a beanie my mother gave her.