30 August 2013

Yindee Coffee

This is another place we're not too sure of the exact name!  We refer to it as the Watermelon bar because that's my favourite drink here.  Actually, until we combed the menu looking for the name, I didn't realise it did coffee.  Obviously I'll have to rectify that and try a latte here soon. 

Located on the Chanthaboon Riverfront, this place does the best fruit smoothies I think I've ever had.  At only 25 baht there is a variety of fruits you can choose from.  My favourite is watermelon which is so sweet and cold, you can't beat it on a hot day.

Not bad for about £6 / AUD$10
Anyway, we decided to have dinner there the other night.  We ordered pork burgers (though we could have ordered chicken or shrimp ? burgers), french fries and chicken pop (which some might call popcorn chicken).  Whilst I stuck with my watermelon smoothie, Mr John chose to have a small Heineken.  The service here is good with basic English spoken by some staff and a sit down loo.  The food was very good and came to 295 baht, which is quite good for "foreign" food here.

28 August 2013

A new addition

Yes! Finally! I have added a map to the blog which you can see as a new tab above.  It's difficult to get a good map of Chanthaburi so I resorted to drawing my own.  Clearly it is not to scale and there are a lot of roads I've left out but am sure these will be added at some point in the future.  I will try and be diligent in updating it as I add more information on local places but hopefully it will let you all have a better feel for where we're living.

Head to tail around 12 inches / 30 cms
Speaking of which, Mr John went to the bathroom before bed the other night and reported back that I was not to get over excited but that there was a reasonably sized gecko near the roof.  We have lots of geckos here and I'm used to them having lived in Queensland, Australia, but I have never seen one this big.  I'm quite glad I got the warning! 

26 August 2013

Breakfast discovered!

We've been going to Doi Chaang at the Lake for some time now but were only told by the owner recently that they do breakfast.  Now, I think this place is actually called "from earth to cup" as that is the name of the Wi-Fi but you can't see any signage that says that, it's all Doi Chaang.  

So off we went on Saturday and had the breakfast. Got to say it was great! The little round "salami" bits were a bit weird because they were really sweet but all in all a great breakfast. Plus we had some English newspapers from Bangkok so it was a lovely few hours.  I was feeling a little continental and had a cappuccino because it was morning!  Breakfast was 35 baht - well worth it.

23 August 2013

Learning Thai

The Thai language has 44 letters and each has a low, middle or high sound.  Our friend Kob  tries his best to teach us a little every week.  We were given a classic sentence the other day that is guaranteed to leave your Thai friends in hysterics as farang rarely get it right!  The sentence is KAI KHAI KHAI KAI which when said correctly (and each word sounds different) translates to WHO SELLS HENS EGGS.  As you can see, it's all in the pronunciation!  So we battle on - I think Mr John is doing a bit better than am (he's a whiz with numbers).

So far, in Thai, I can say "hello", "how are you", "I'm well", "no good", "thank you",  "ashtray", "I'm full",  "delicious", "how much", "chicken", "pork", and crucially, "I don't understand". Most recently I've learnt the numbers 1 - 10 but can only say them if I hold out my fingers as I go - must be some sort of Pavlov's dog thing!  It doesn't seem much when I write it down but I have to keep reminding myself we only landed 4 months ago next Monday!

Numbers - written phonetically 
1. Nueng
2. Song
3. Sam
4. See
5. Ha
6. Hok
7. Jed
8. Paed
9. Khow
10. Sip

21 August 2013

Banana tree saga continues

Those of you that are avid readers will remember my dilemma over what to do with the banana tree that fell over in the backyard.  Well that problem's solved!

On Sunday morning I was sat outside and could hear people down the far end of the garden, but then next thing I know another banana tree came down and there was a man standing there. What else could I do but say "Sawadee ka" (which is hello in Thai) and disappear back inside.  So now we have an uninterrupted view of the apartments at the back of us.  Having been used to hanging the hand washing out in all sorts of apparel, I now feel like I have to shower, dress and do my hair before I step outside the back door! 
Mr John & I are currently trying to think of ways to mask the back window to continue getting some privacy! 
Other than that, I seem to have got over the "man" flu quite well - Mr John however has started sneezing!  The other news I forgot to share with you - mostly because I couldn't even spell my own name last week - is that we came back from Bangkok with a 12 month visa for me. Huzzah!  It's a Type "O" which is a dependants visa and specifically states "employment prohibited" - get in!!!

19 August 2013

Wat Khao Sukim

A good investment at 90 baht
Wow!  What a weekend we've had.  Mr John & I invested in a Thai BBQ (it's about the size of a normal bucket) on Saturday and had our friends Juls and Wicus round for tea.  I had made a cheeseball in honour of the occasion which was well received by our visitors and won me wifely brownie points!  It was also good to have a decent chunk of red meat.  Dinner was a bit later than we'd intended as this BBQ cooks very differently going from a furnace to a gentle warmth - but we learnt things for next time.

Having gone for a drink on Friday night at Sangchareon bar (previously referred to on this blog as the Heineken bar) the lovely owner, Kob, invited us to go out with him on Sunday to see a temple nearby. So we met up with him mid-morning and I have to say I had the best day I think I've ever had here.  Wat Khao Sukim is the name of the temple and it's the most incredible place.  Kob, who has a law degree, speaks very good English and was able to provide us with all sorts of information on the Buddhist faith, the treasures that have been donated to the temple and the plans to build an enormous Pagoda.  We would never have got so much out of our visit if it wasn't for him as all the signs are in Thai.

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As if seeing the temple wasn't exciting enough, Kob took us to see his friend Tueng who owns a garden - or what we would refer to as a small holding.  It's 40 "rai" and 1 rai is roughly 1600 square metres so 40 rai works out at around 16 acres.  It's full of all sorts of fruit trees and he picked us longan straight off the tree!  Whilst Tueng also has a law degree, he is mad about music and we were treated to a few numbers on his ukulele.  So there we were, sat under the house eating longan, drinking the best espresso (made by Tueng) we've had in Thailand and enjoying live music.  I could have stayed there all day and must admit I tried to get Tueng to adopt me - no joy so far but I'll keep trying!!  We ended a fabulous day with all four of us sharing a traditional Thai meal at what I can only describe as a road-side cafĂ© - it was delicious.

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We can't thank Kob or Tueng enough for their generosity not only of their time and hospitability but of their perseverance in speaking English and not laughing too much at our feeble attempts to speak a little Thai.

16 August 2013

Man flu!

Well, it's been a week since I last posted anything here, the reason being I've had the worst cold I can remember...so bad in fact, I believe it's been man flu (which I understand is nearly fatal - at least that's what Mr John and other male friends tell me).

The weekend had a promising start as it was a three day break with Monday being the Queens birthday and Mothers Day here.  We arrived in Bangkok on Saturday and checked into the Pullman (King Power) hotel which is the one we always stay in.  It's conveniently located, reasonably priced, staff are friendly and facilities excellent.  We stayed on the Executive floor which gives you free tea, coffee and cold drinks all day and between 5-7pm there's free happy hour with a small buffet.

We spent a bit of quality time by the pool and thankfully, at it's deepest, it's about 1.5m because by then I had a runny nose and a hacking cough and all I could do was walk or float on my back!  Not quite the break we had planned. 

Mr John had been very excited to try an Italian restaurant that was not too far away but I'm afraid he just had to slum it in the hotel Wine Pub!  He didn't complain at all and I did really feel for him but just had no energy to go anywhere.

So we got home on Monday, I spent Tuesday in bed all day in the air-conditioning.  By Wednesday I managed to get downstairs and laid on the couch all day and by Thursday ate my first meal in three days.  You'll be pleased to know however that I'm now properly on the mend and reckon by Monday normal service will have resumed!  Here's hoping...

09 August 2013

Did you guess the fruit?

Once peeled, as this one is here, you eat the whole thing
So last week I asked you to guess the fruit and I can tell you it's a Farang.  Now this might be a little confusing as farang in Thai means westerner.  Tom, our lovely corner shop owner, often tells the little kids that visit to say hello to the farang whilst pointing at us.  Mr John and I secretly think he's got a little business on the side and charges 5 baht for it!!

Farang is a guava fruit and, as is often the case with fruit here, extremely good for you.  Grown on trees, it is slightly larger than an apple and has a similar taste - slightly sour overtones - and I really enjoyed it.

This weekend is Mothers Day in Thailand (it ties in with the Queens birthday on Monday) and means a long weekend for Mr John which we will be spending it in Bangkok.  I'll let you know how we got on next week.

07 August 2013

Nearly back to normal

Although it has been raining - well it is the rainy season - we haven't had any further scares with regards to flooding - which is a blessed relief in the Mrs John household I can tell you.  Still, we're not taking any chances and, as you can see, the fridge is still up on the desk!  It's by far the heaviest thing we have to move so it just makes sense.  The couch is still on the floor as it's fairly portable and fits across the dining room table.

Of course the weather plays havoc with the few chores I have. For example my hand-washing can take two full days to dry.  I'm comforted by the fact that even the lady across the road who does the main washing often takes an extra day.  You kind of have to plan ahead as when we first arrived we would hand the washing over in the morning and get it back all clean and folded when we went for our tea. 

The wet also brings the mosquitos out and they adore Mr John's unsullied skin - much to his annoyance.  They pretty much leave me alone - even more to his annoyance!!  We are also a little more wary of riding the scooter as the roads (and to be fair footpaths) are very slippery after rain.  Don't feel sorry for us, we still get out and about, it's just a matter of timing.  Though wearing a plastic "poncho" to keep dry on the bike, when the temperature is still in the early 30s, is not much fun.

05 August 2013

The Catholic Church

This church is, according to several sources, the largest building of its kind in Thailand.  By foot, you can get to the church by walking down the Chanthaboon Waterfront in the old town and taking the footbridge over the river.  There are plenty of signs so it's not hard to find.  A missionary chapel was first built here in 1711 and travel guides say there have been four reconstructions.  It's a DIY job I don't fancy! 

Seriously though, it is a beautiful building and the inside is cool and peaceful and, to me, represent a bit of western culture in an eastern society.  The fourteen stations of the cross are beautifully represented (just can't shake that catholic school-girl upbringing, even though the family aren't catholic!) and there is a statue of Mary which is done in the most exquisite silver and gems. 

Sadly, the photos did not do the statue justice so you'll just have to take my word for it.  This place is definitely worth a visit.

02 August 2013

Krabi Coffee

This coffee shop is situated just outside Robinson shopping centre and is the only coffee shop  we know of around that area.  It is frequented by gem traders and more that once I have been asked what I'm looking for!  With limited English, the staff are very friendly.  Mr John likes the black coffee here but it is the most disappointing latte I have had in Thailand (more like a flat white that's gone horribly wrong!).  Needless to say, I drink Thai iced tea when we go here. 
It's air-conditioned, with one very comfy couch and has free Wi-Fi but the toilet is not a sit down one, so we tend to save any visits for the shopping centre - which is usually why we're in this area.