30 September 2013

Bangkok Hospital

Now that's probably not the title of a post you want to hear!  And no, the hospital isn't in Bangkok - it's a branch of the hospital here in Chan. 

Having had a lovely time at La Luna on Tuesday, Wednesday saw me with my foot up - I'm not sure the walk there did it any good.  Anyway, you may recall that Mr John plays football on a Wednesday so off he went whilst I enjoyed some quiet time.

A few hours later, and slightly earlier than expected, he was home.  He clumped into the house with the announcement that he'd actually only played two minutes!  His feet got tangled with someone else, there was a crack and he went down. 

It was a miracle really that he could ride home but when Mr John is determined, he's really determined.  The guys had organised ice for him and after a bit he got his foot into his desert boots and rode home.  It didn't look too bad when he took his boot off but about two hours later we started thinking a trip to the hospital might be a good idea.

Kob to the rescue!  Yes our mate Kob (I seriously don't know what we'd do without him) came on Thursday morning and took us up to Bangkok Hospital.  It's a private hospital and only about 10 minutes from our house.  Kob picked us about 09:30 and we were all back at the house before midday.  I reckon that's pretty good because in that time Mr John was x-rayed, saw the doctor, was taught how to use crutches particularly up and down stairs, was fitted with said crutches, received pain killers and pain relief cream.  Not only that but the hospital has translators that stay with you during the whole process. 

The good news is that nothing is broken - it's a sprained ligament.  He will definitely be on crutches until next Thursday, when he sees the doctor again, and depending on the healing process, may need another week.  As the days have gone on the bruising is really coming out (his foot looks like he hasn't washed it in six months).

The whole thing, had we not had insurance, would have cost 3250 baht - that's roughly GBP£65 / AUD$111.  When we arrived here Mr John opened a bank account and it includes 10,000 baht medical insurance, he also has insurance through the school and we have joint world-wide cover so in the end it cost us 720 baht for the crutches (roughly GBP£14 / AUD$25) and we used the bank insurance in this instance.  So here's my advice - make sure you have some sort of cover if you're intending to live anywhere abroad for any length of time. Our cover gives a reverse charges emergency phone number for the UK so you can get help any time and they will deal direct with the hospital if required.  Ours is through World Nomads but of course other companies are available!

So it's been quite a few days with me "running" around after Mr John.  Bless him, it takes so long to get anything done, going to the loo, getting dressed.  We are very fortunate to have such a lovely circle of friends as coffee and cake has been delivered, gifts of fruit and biscuits received and a small Tesco shop done for us.  I'm not sure they all understand how grateful and appreciative we are of these things.

And just in case you're wondering about me, I'm healing fine and hoping to get back on the bike today.  The main issue has been because of the cut on my thumb, I've had trouble gripping things so riding has been out of the question.  Going stir crazy being stuck in the house has been the biggest issue!

27 September 2013

La Luna

With exams being in full flight at school, Mr John and the other English teachers are finding themselves with random free time.  As the sun was shining we headed off to this recommended bar for the roof terrace experience and it did not disappoint.  The higher up you get here, the more chance you have of a breeze - even though at street level there may not be a hint of one.  So the late afternoon saw us sitting up here with lovely views up and down the river, cold beverage in hand and a bunch of "beer food" ordered by Mr John. 

Our snacks consisted of onion rings, French fries along with ham and cheese wantons.  It was all very good - especially the onion rings.  Not being a beer drinker, I ordered a vodka screw cocktail and ended up with this amazing icy drink that went down like orange-aid!  Not bad value though at 79 baht (roughly GBP£1.60 / AUD$2.69).  As more teachers finished work, our little group got bigger and bigger and we are assured that the Thai green curry here is very good.  I only fleetingly felt guilty as a dragon boat crew in training went up and down the river several times.   
Located on Chanthaboon Waterfront (just after Yindee Coffee and before the Catholic Church foot bridge), La Luna is a great find.  There's Wi-Fi, sit down toilets and the only downside to the roof terrace is there is absolutely no shelter, so it's probably worth taking an umbrella either for the rain or maybe act as a sunshade.  We were lucky not to be rained on and because we were there about an hour before sunset, there was no need for suntan lotion.  A great spot for a cold beer.

25 September 2013

Coffee, cake & scooters

My friend Bex had an unexpected afternoon off on Monday so we arranged to go for coffee and cake at Delight CafĂ©. It was a lovely temperature, with a breeze coming across the lake, so we sat outside.  Bex had a white chocolate latte with chocolate cake whilst I chose an ordinary latte and strawberry shortcake.

My cake was glorious, so much so I was a good wife and picked up a slice to take home for Mr John.  We ended up sitting there for over two hours having some lovely girly time.

When we realised the time we thought we best get going before peak hour hit, also because some of the roads around the schools are closed off to two way traffic so that it's safer for the children.  So off we went and, to be honest, I'm not sure what happened except that it was completely my fault, my motorbike shot off and I ended up on the road with the bike on top of me.  Thank goodness Bex was there as she not only managed to get me but also the bike off the road before any other traffic came near us.  I was really lucky as nothing is broken and no stitches were needed.  We called another friend Juls, who came along on her bike with Mr John so he could take me home.  Bex went and got some cleaning alcohol (man that stuff stings) and some iodine to treat my scrapes.

We'd had such a lovely afternoon it really took the shine off but it also showed me how very fortunate we are to have such lovely, caring friends who are there whether times are good or not so good.  My right thumb has the worst gash and so holding things is a little sore at the moment and my right ankle (which thankfully didn't swell due to the ice treatment) has a scrape which gets sore.  The worst part is I've put a hole in one of my favourite dresses!  We think it might be fixable, so as soon as I can hold a needle I'll set about trying to fix it.  They say everyone who has lived in Thailand leaves with scars, so I guess I've done my bit.

23 September 2013


I just have to tell you about the Soft Shell Crab restaurant also known as Farm Pu Nim.  What an awesome day yesterday was.  Kob, along with his girlfriend Oi, picked us up to go for lunch in Khlung*.  From Highway 3 for Trat, we turned right for Khlung then went down some narrow roads until we arrived at the river.

From here boats ferry people to and from the restaurant for free.  We saw two in action so there's no need to panic if you don't get on a boat as soon as you get there, it's not long until another arrives.  The trip only takes about five minutes and you pass oyster farms on the way.  It is an absolutely idyllic spot and we were very fortunate not to have any rain yesterday - mu waanii fon mae tok** (which is Thai for yesterday there was no rainfall).  Naturally, it's a different story today.

We ordered via Kob (because the menu was all in Thai) soft shell crab, squid, hard shell crab and crispy Grouper.  It was all extremely delicious and washed down with quite a few bottles of beer.  Now anyone who knows me, knows that I'm not a beer drinker.  In Thailand, beer is served in a glass that is full of ice and I have to say I quite enjoyed it.  Mr John is horrified by this and tends to use the bucket of ice provided to put his beer bottle in to keep cool - something Thai serving staff find very odd.

As you will see from the photos there is a pig called Ut at the restaurant.  She is their walking garbage disposal.  I couldn't believe she was so big as the food is so good I can't imagine people leaving so much.  The restaurant was opened eight years ago and, as it's over the water, they have added areas to it as trade has built up.  People come and go by boat all day so there's quite a brisk trade and yet it didn't seem overcrowded and our service was excellent.  Basic English is spoken and I imagine armed with a few key Thai words such as shrimp, crab, fish etc you should be able to get a decent feed ordered.  There are sit down toilets and free Wi-Fi also available. 

Before catching the boat back to Khlung, we had some ice-cream and bought some dried mangosteen treats.  The lovely man driving the boat also took us the scenic route back, which takes 10 minutes, through the mangrove swamps that this area is known for.  I really can't recommend this place enough.

* The restaurant is not in Khlung itself, but the other side of the river and this is the quickest way to get to it. It takes about 15 minutes to drive here
** My apologies to our Thai friends for the , probably poor, phonetic spelling

20 September 2013

Football continues

Mr John's new blue boots
Mr John, I suspect, is a glutton for punishment.  Wednesday saw us at football again, with his new boots - so no excuses.  In fact he made an assist in a vital goal, so there was much celebration.  I really don't know how he does it in this heat...at least we're heading towards winter!  Being quite tall over here, the bibs they wear are a little short on him and I was not allowed to take any close up photos.

I mentioned the lovely lake last week and there's some very large fish and at least one turtle in there.  It's a lovely spot for a bite to eat.  I also tried out the coffee shop and I've got to say the latte wasn't bad.  There was a small selection of cake which looked quite good.

Not having had dinner, I wanted to have some of the crispy pork that we'd had last week, so I headed over to the eatery and asked for it in my best Thai.  Unfortunately their English was non-existent, much like my Thai, and they kept saying something else to me.  Concerned that I would end up with something I didn't want, I opted to make life simple and having looked at the menu (which was all written in Thai) I pointed at one of the six pictures and asked for one of them!  They looked like crispy spring rolls so I thought not much could go wrong.

Well, as it turned out, they were crispy rolls but did not contain the vegetables I was expecting.  Instead they were filled with, I think, ham and cheese.  At least, I'm pretty sure that's what it was.  Either way, they were delicious and were all gone by the time Mr John came off the pitch - well, they would have been cold by then anyway and everyone knows you can't eat cold spring rolls...

18 September 2013

Vietnamese Food

This great eatery is right near the Catholic Cathedral, in fact if you sit in the right place you can look at the church while you eat.  We were first taken here by Kob a few weeks ago and as Mr John had the day off school we decided to pop down there.

The day wasn't very good, weather wise, and we got absolutely drenched getting there.  It was definitely worth the trip though as the food there is terrific. We ordered Vietnamese Bread and Vietnamese spring rolls. 

All this for 150 baht (GBP£3 / AUD$3)
I'm not really sure what the bread is filled with but it has a mostly savoury flavour and the rolls are what we would call "western".  The spring rolls are cold and were full of finely cut vegetables.  You could feel the goodness in them.  The coffee they serve, I really enjoy.  It comes in a filter and the cup has quite sweet milk in it which you can choose to stir in or not as the case may be. 

They also do a good "pan egg" breakfast and there's plenty for lunch / tea to choose from as well.  There's also free Wi-Fi.

16 September 2013

A big Uh Oh!

Yes, it was my turn to be 50 on Sunday.  Now I really can't believe I've got to this age so quickly and other friends who've already got there agree.  As Terry Pratchett, a literary hero of mine, quite rightly points out "inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened"

We were due to go to Laem Sing for the weekend with friends, but since Thursday it has barely stopped raining, so that idea was knocked on the head.  Our friends Juls and Wicus called in the afternoon and presented me with a lovely bottle of vodka and suggested we have a few drinks which is exactly what we did.

Tom, our local corner shop owner popped his head in and suggested we go to Timeless which is a bar near Big C when he closed up at 10pm, but before that he returned to the house with his guitar, Tan his Mum bearing flowers and one of the other girls with a birthday cake and I had the first of many "Happy Birthday" songs of the evening.  We all thought Mr John was behind it, but he assured us he'd had no part in it.

Timeless was a treat, there was a live band and it's right on the river and has a lovely setting.  We enjoyed some food and I was again sung "Happy Birthday" to.  Tom was invited on stage to play his guitar with the band.  I was also invited on stage to sign Hotel California - a favourite of Toms!  A minor road wreck as I'm no singer but very enjoyable, though I suspect less so for those listening.

It was then onto another bar where we caught up with other teachers Bex, Fraser, Paul, Will, Aidy and Mike.  Now I'm not sure of the name of the bar, but will work on that, however it's directly opposite Orbit near Big C and has a massive upstairs deck that's completely covered.  It is filled with tables and chairs and had a really good live band playing,  Everyone just gets up at their table and dances.  Yet again, and I suspect due to Tom, the band played "Happy Birthday".  We then popped across the road for a quick drink at Orbit before Tom took Mr John & I for some food before getting in at 3am.

Sunday called for a lie in, various phone calls from family and friends and ended up with a select few out for dinner at Kobs' bar. So it ended up being a fantastic weekend, even though the beach didn't factor at all.  Quite the opposite as the walk to the bar Sunday evening showed the river is up again and we're on flood alert.  Lucky we haven't taken the fridge off the desk yet!!

12 September 2013

7 a side football

So Mr John received a phone call from our friend Kob because Ton (the shrimp farmer we met a few weeks ago) had asked if he'd like to join in football on Wednesday.  Mr John decided it would be good exercise for him and agreed.

Kob called and picked us both up. Now I must point out that I don't intend to go every week as there are some things that only boys should do!  But, as moral support, thought it would be a good idea to go to his first night.  We also needed to check out the route as we had no idea where it was.  Turns out it's just off the main road that runs past Robinson and it's an amazing complex.  There's an ornamental lake with seating for dining, a couple of covered pitches and some open ones. 

When we got there Ton had ordered beer and then food for us.  Mr John was looking rather worried and was fearful of being sick before he'd even started running!  There were about 20 guys who all knew each other and apparently are all shrimp farmers.  One of the guys girlfriend goes every week and she speaks very good English, so I wasn't even on my own.  She ordered cake for the two of us.. yes, there's even a coffee shop here!

So the guys play 7 minutes a half, I think, and winner stays on.  They were all so friendly and there were varying levels of English spoken.  Liniment was in good supply and I thought Mr John handled himself very well, unfortunately hitting the cross bar so no goals yet, though I should point out he mostly played in a defending position.

Got to say the funniest thing was when we got home, Mr John still dripping with sweat, the water had gone off.  Luckily I'd filled some empty bottles with water last time it went off so he had a "two lemonade shower".  Needless to say the air was a bit blue.  Funnier still....it came back on just before we went to bed.

As you will have noticed, my routine is a bit out this week but guess normal services will resume next week.  Mr John has another day off tomorrow and this weekend we're going to the beach with friends.  Have a lovely weekend everyone.

10 September 2013

Koh Chang

As Mr John had booked a day off, we took the opportunity to head to Koh Chang for a break and boy am I glad we did.  The weather was great and the accommodation and location were ideal.  We decided on the slightly busier area of White Sands beach this time and picked the KC Grande to stay in.  The resort is split by the main road and we were on the land side but felt we had the better deal.

Our hillside Jacuzzi room

Although not right on the beachfront, we pretty much had the roof top pool to ourselves and the views were amazing.

Our building also contained a water slide and..well...you just have to don't you.  Actually it was a little scary.  Started off ok but by the time you got round the last bend you were hurtling towards the not so deep pool - about 1.4m.  I was screaming coming round the last bend and Mr John confessed later he thought I was being "a bit of a girl" until he went on it too!!  Laughed myself silly.

Mr John, a mad rugby fan, requested a visit to Paddys Palms Irish Pub to watch Australia play South Africa - though the less said about that the better (for those that don't know Australia lost).  We also ate there having a great Steak & Ale pie and when we went back the next day to watch the Australian (Rules) Football League elimination final (yes, my team lost as well so not a good sporting weekend), I enjoyed a roast lamb dinner while Mr John opted for the cooked breakfast.  I haven't eaten so many carbs in months - awesome!

As if that wasn't enough we also ate at La Dolce Vita restaurant and whilst the setting wasn't vey nice, back off the main road weird buildings around, the food and service was fantastic.  Very happy food bunnies!

06 September 2013

The New Travel Lodge

The Grand Ballroom is on the right hand side.
Today we've been to the Lodge for a swim!  There were birthday celebrations at school today - 103 year anniversary but they all happened this morning and then the teachers got a bonus (unannounced) afternoon off.  We went with two lovely friends of ours Wicus and Juls.

The Lodge is near to Tesco (it's marked on the map as number 1 under accommodation) and is only about 5 minutes from our house.  It costs 100 baht (GBP£2 / AUD$3.50) which gives you a towel, a locker if you need one and free Wi-Fi.  When you get to the entrance, you can ride down towards the back of the hotel and the pool is on your right,  There's an office marked up as "Pool Services" and you can pay there.  There were only 6 sun loungers, though there were more tables and chairs.  A little disappointing was that there was only one sun umbrella - with just us there this wasn't a problem, but I wouldn't like to bake in the Thai sun without one.

Taken from the back of the hotel.
The outside of the hotel looked a little shabby (Mr John commented he wouldn't have liked to have seen the "old" Travel Lodge) but Reception looks good and the pool was really clean and so deep - not even Mr John could touch the bottom.  This is unusual for us as all the hotels we've stayed in so far have pools that are around 1.4 metres deep.  The staff were setting up for a function in the Grand Ballroom and we saw some interesting floral displays being taken inside.

Mr John has booked Monday off as a holiday as there are more birthday celebrations so no-one has to cover his classes.  We've decided today to spend it in Koh Change so keep an eye out for next weeks post. Happy weekend everyone!

And "carn the Tiges" (my Aussie Rules football team - Richmond - has made it to the last 8 for the first time in I can't remember how long) so I'll be watching the match via internet on Sunday.

04 September 2013

Weekend - Part II

We had an appointment with our friend Kob on Sunday.  He was to pick us up at 10am and show up King Taksin's Shipyard.  However, just after 9am, the phone went and it was Kob asking if we'd had breakfast.  So he picked us up 10 minutes later and took us to a Vietnamese place near the Catholic Cathedral.  I don't have any photo's of this but it was all so yummy, it won't be the last time we'll go and I'll be able to do the place justice.

The Shipyard is about 15 kilometres out of town and it was terrific.  Of course, we're very spoilt because not only can Kob translate signs but is also very knowledgeable on Thai history.  We were also accompanied by his lovely daughter Bitong (hope i've spelled it right) who managed to put up with all the "old" people and practice her English a little. 

Not a lot of Thai history is conclusive apparently, but this is supposed to be the place where Taksin, the soldier, gathered his troops and headed across the sea and up the river to what is now Bangkok, defeated the Burmese and united Thailand.  He then went on to be King.  The manager of the Shipyard, Joi, provided us with a lot of fascinating facts and he speaks a little English so if you go there without a Thai translator, don't be afraid to ask questions.  The museum also houses a lot of Chinese pottery and I was allowed to hold a spoon that was about 250 years old.

Also on the site is a co-operative weaving project and Bitong was able to try her hand at weaving.  We also bought a handbag each - well what girl can resist shopping?  I really liked some placements but they weren't the finished article.  Guess that means a trip back there.  Everything was very reasonably priced and if you're looking for a memento, I'd recommend it.

 As if all this wasn't exciting enough, we were then taken to another friend of Kob's who owns a shrimp (or as I would call it - prawn) farm.  It was a huge place with lots of pools for the shrimp.  As always Thai hospitality was at the fore and we were given a massive bowl of cooked shrimp to enjoy.  We could only eat a fraction of it and when we left we were given the rest of the bowl - fantastic!  We also left with an invitation to go back at the end of the month to see the harvest.  So there'll be some more details then.

Another fabulous day out - we're so lucky.

02 September 2013

Weekend - Part I

Concert was televised by Channel 3
There was so much going on this weekend that I feel I have to break it down into two parts!  We'd heard that on Friday there was going to be a jazz orchestra at the Lake so we headed down their to check it out.  Nothing had started when we got there and we weren't sure when it would, so we decamped to Sangchareon bar.

The view, the breeze, the only way to eat lunch
On Saturday, Mr John took me to Laem Sing beach and we had a fabulous day.  It took roughly 45 minutes to get there on the scooter but it was well worth it.  We had a lovely stroll around the place and ate some excellent seafood.  Mr John ordered Squid in Lemon, which sounded fairly inoffensive and whilst it did have a beautiful flavour, it was soooo spicy! 

This one was medium sized
When we first arrived we stopped for coffee at Chaba Coffee where we not only had the drinks we ordered but were given a free cup of tea as well.  The coffee was good and came with free Wi-Fi.  We took a little drive around the area and went over the large bridge (signposted for Chao Lao) where there is a pure white temple and unbelievably we came across monkeys.  There were loads of them from newly born to the "dad" who was about 3 feet tall.  

It's my birthday in a couple of weeks and we have decided that this is where we'll spend the weekend.  It's not very "touristy" with most visitors being Thai and with virtually everything being on the beach it is an ideal location for us.

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