25 December 2014

Merry Christmas

We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

We will be enjoying a rib eye steak today with a bottle of D'arenberg and we have port to go with our cured meats and cheeses (including cheeseball). Not only that but I've made our own "Baileys Irish Cream".

Thanks to everyone who sent parcels to help us celebrate here. It means so much to both of us. 

You'll be pleased to hear the temperature has dropped a bit so it's much more comfortable and ever so slightly chilly in the evenings though not enough for long trousers!

Stay tuned in the New Year when I'll be playing catch up on a number of things we've been up to. In the meantime take of yourselves and each other. Thanks for sticking with me. Much love to you all.

23 December 2014

I'll ride with you

It doesn't seem right posting anything frivolous before mentioning the tragedy the occurred in Sydney last week. As the funeral for Tori Johnson and memorial service for Katrina Dawson take place it reminds us all how fragile life can be. I cannot imagine what their families are going through at what is meant to be a joyous time of year.

I watch the event unfold with horror last week. I'd not had a great nights sleep and was up before Mr John's alarm even went off. As he was getting ready, I put the tv on which automatically came up with Australia Plus network. Almost the first thing I saw was the hostages hands on the windows of the Lindt Cafe. A terrifying sight. Needless to say, the channel remained on all day.

Seeing two of the staff running for their lives into the arms of a policeman and the subsequent relief on their faces tore at my heart. I just couldn't believe this was happening in the country I'd grown up in and still, despite many years of living away, call home. The danger with being an "expat" is that your knowledge of your home country is stuck at a moment in time. Inevitably this is the day you left your homeland.

Despite frequent visits home, your hands on knowledge is limited despite what anyone else may tell you. My Australia is a gloriously isolated, young vibrant country trying to grow up and out of the British empire.  A land of opportunity where, with hard work, anything is possible. A country struggling to integrate indigenous Australians with immigrants from all over the world into a just society. Where the most recent arrivals can find themselves at the bottom of the pecking order - kept there mostly by the those who arrived in the previous wave until the next influx. It isn't perfect but my Aussie passport is one of my most treasured possessions.

Getting ready for bed that night there was suddenly flashing light on our tv screen and then the noise. The police were moving in. Then paramedics converged on the cafe and people were being carried out. It was over. At that stage no one knew the death toll. Already there were so many questions that I'm sure, in time, will be answered.

The bright light in all of this was the "I'll ride with you" hashtag on twitter. To say I was proud of this Aussie response would be an understatement. I read somewhere and I'm sorry I can't find the piece and credit the writer that saying all Muslims were represented by this scumbag was like saying the Klu Klux Klan represented alll Christians. I was also grateful for Muslim leaders in Australia publicly condemning this act. I've been waiting for this reaction from a lot of countries and have been frustrated in the lack of condemnation by the people who have the authority to do so and have their views listened to.

So hold your loved ones tight this holiday season. Think what you're saying before you argue with someone - is it really worth arguing over or can you let it go? Mr John says the key to our successful marriage is that he picks his battles. If it doesn't bother him he lets me have my way otherwise he voices his opinion. Of course, this just means that I really listen to him when he does this. He's a pretty smart guy.

09 December 2014

General news

After posting about our cost of living, I had a whole other post in mind to balance out the positives of living here. Then I saw a few newspaper items and read some books quite a feat here as a few books have been banned lately and having looked at this post everyday last week, have chickened out for the time being. I don't fancy being arrested for any implied criticism. So on with general news.

Pii Kob was in the Scouts
Last Friday was a national holiday so on Thursday evening, Mr John & I walked over to the Hangout. It's about a 20 minute walk so we stopped on the way to have some dinner. The reason for walking? Well, Mr John didn't have school the next day and neither of us have ever taken to drinking and driving. 

Mr John & Mr Han
This was a good opportunity to see Pii Kob and have a few drinks. We were also joined by Pii Noy and Mr Han. These guys can really use English and we had one of the best nights. I felt so bad that our Thai is not better than it is, but also very grateful to everyone for speaking English. We were quite prepared to walk home but Pii Kob dropped us at our door at 2.30am. Oops!

I decided to put the Xmas decorations up this week, It was lovely getting out our little collection of decorations which was greatly enhanced last year from friends and family. The weather has cooled down every so slightly recently which has been a welcome relief. We've also booked ourselves into Pattaya for a night to spoil ourselves with "foreign food" for Xmas.

It's been busy by Tom's the last few days. There's some filming going on that Mr John was involved in on Sunday they wanted some western men. It was a long day for him but he found it fascinating. It'll all be over tomorrow though, which is another national holiday - Constitution Day. That means Post Offices will be closed so I best make sure there's some things ready for posting on Thursday or else Xmas will have come and gone!

Finally, I just want to say a big thank you for the calls and messages of support after I 'fessed up to feeling a little low. It meant the world to me and I'm sure you'll all be pleased to know that my "mojo" is slowly returning.

27 November 2014

Cost of Living

Now that we've been here over 18 months where has the time gone I realised I have not shared our living costs. Whilst we are no longer "rich" in monetary terms, we live a reasonable life. It's simply a matter of choosing where our money goes. I think of it as an "either / or" situation. We can either eat out seven days a week or we can go on holiday a couple of times a year.

Before we get to the figures, I think I should explain some of them. Our rent includes internet access and TV. So why choose to have additional expense? Well, the internet is shared between the other 14 apartments and when everyone is at home it slows right down. The TV includes "free to air channels" which, of course, are all in Thai. The TV package we have is the mid-range and is mostly the choice of Mr John as it includes his favourite rugby channel. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining because it also includes Australia Plus which means we get to watch Australian Rules Football as well. The point is, this cost is purely our choice.

The electric cost is representative of a fairly high average for us. The most expensive bill we had was 950 and the cheapest 520. It's the air-conditioning that seems to impact the most so April and May tend to be expensive. There were times last December when I didn't even have a fan on during the day so one of our cheapest months. This differs to the water cost which is a minimum 85 baht and we've never gone over that figure even though some days I shower five times!

Food and Drink includes coffee and alcohol and covers all our household staples. I've included eating out separately and although we tend to eat at Tom's across the road, we usually spoil ourselves at least once on the weekend with western style food.

Personal Expenses is the money Mr John and I have for ourselves to spend or save as we see fit. For me, it's mostly to fuel my caffeine habit whereas Mr John saves his for bigger treats I should also point out that he has less opportunity to spend his being at work all week.

So, there you go and here's the figures.
* rates are approximate and have been rounded up or down
Weekly costs can vary
Savings (minimum quoted) covers holidays and bike registration / repairs etc
Wifi / TV / Mobile costs are with True Vision

21 November 2014

He's away again!

Well, as I write this, Mr John is in Chiang Mai. All the English Programme teachers, which includes Thai teachers, have gone on a field trip. They left at 1pm yesterday on a bus for the 16 hour journey. As you can imagine he wasn't overly enamoured with the mode of transport.  

Factor in all the stops for food and comfort breaks and they arrived there around 6.30 am. Time enough for a "wash" and change of clothes at a petrol station before arriving at the school they're visiting. Whilst the trip is paid for, each teacher was given material to have a shirt made for this school visit. There's a lady around the corner who does sewing so we left it with her. Whatever you think of the shirt itself and I have my own opinions the craftsmanship is amazing and all for 550 baht.

They're having lunch at the school and then back to the bus for some sightseeing this afternoon before rocking up at the hotel around 16.30 this afternoon. Yes, that's right, a total of 27.5 hours without a bed or shower! There's more sightseeing planned for tomorrow after the 7am breakfast call and 8am bus departure. Luckily, they can also choose to do their own thing in Chiang Mai and I think Mr John might be choosing sleep! 

Never mind, they leave at 8am on Sunday for the trip back complete with various temple stops so I'm not really expecting him home til close to midnight. He's one of the lucky ones though as next week Grade 6 are taking exams and so, at most, he'll only have to invigilate. Imagine that bus trip on Sunday and then having to teach Monday morning? 

I did the usual washing earlier in the week and I've taken to popping in the local coffee shop while the washing is doing it's stuff.  The lovely man there I really must find out his name speaks reasonable English and he kindly offered me some passion-fruit that his Uncle had given him from his garden.  It's the best I've ever had. Quite sweet but with the lovely passion-fruit acidity.

Some of you may have noticed I've not been posting as much lately as I usually do. The truth is, I've been really out of sorts. I enjoyed Mr John being on holiday and of course Ross' visit was exciting and once that was all over I just found I don't know what to do with myself. I had so many plans when I finished work - scrap-booking, family tree, painting - but it's just so hot here all the time that doing these things takes a massive effort. A fan blowing at you is not at all conducive to having photos and paper and glue spread out in front of you. Turn said fan off and the result is a pretty sweaty, horrible mess. 

Bex & Jules
There are times when I'm extremely lonely. Foreign teachers are a transient bunch, tend to be quite young and it's very hit and miss whether you find people who are decent and you actually want to hang out with and who themselves don't want to go clubbing every night. I don't think it helps that I was spoilt when I met Juls and Bex. Those girls were amazing and I miss them a lot. 

19 November 2014

Festivals R Us

The end of the rainy season festival was on recently. I think someone forgot to tell the "season" though because it continued to rain for at least another week. We're very lucky with this festival as it takes place in the old town which is a five minute stroll from our house.

The food vendors are also fantastic and we often wish we knew where we could find them the rest of the time or that we had them there once a month. Loads of people were out and about and the strangest things was we couldn't walk more than about 100 metres before someone said "hello" to us. Some of these were past students of Mr John but quite a few were friends or acquaintances of ours. 

The other lovely thing we did was go to the park (aka lake) for Loi Krathong. You may remember last year we went to the local temple on the river near our house, but went for something a little different this year. This was partly because our friend Anne took me to the park early in order to make my own krathong. I had a ball and my Thai friends have been very impressed with my abilities! Wonder if there's a full time job for making krathongs?

14 November 2014

Koh Mak

What is there to say about Koh Mak This is my favourite island, of those close to us.  A chance to relax, eat some good food and go to bed early, feeling like it's midnight! This is one of the odd things about this place.  I guess because it's so laid back and darkness falls here by 6 o'clock that by 10 you feel like you've had a really good night and should consider going to bed.  How rock 'n' roll!  
It was a bit of an early start as we didn't want to waste our first day but the taxi got us to the pier in lovely time to catch the 10:45 Boonsiri catamaran. At this time of day, it stops at Koh Kood first, so it was like a mini cruise of the area. We stayed at Good Time Resort just like we did in May.  I really can't recommend this place enough and it always seems as though Mr Peak cannot do enough for you. In fact, having headed to CoCoCape Pier to have a drink and watch the sunset, we found that their bar had not opened for the season. Having had a lovely lunch at German Steakhouse, we weren't looking for a big dinner.  So, we headed back to the resort when we saw Mr Peak and he arranged for pizza to be delivered to our holiday house!

We stayed in Pineapple House (though we had booked Villa Ginger).  It was a great space for all of us with one bedroom and en-suite on the main floor and another bedroom with en-suite upstairs.  To access this bedroom, you had to go up the outside staircase, which was also the way to the "crows nest" as I liked to call itThis spot, which had seating on three sides and a table in the centre, was a perfect place to catch the breeze and enjoy a glass of wine! 

Of course, that was until we had a massive storm one afternoon and the loudest clap of thunder seemed to be right on our roof.  I wish I'd had the camera ready for Ross' face as it was a picture and Mr John, ever the conservative one, had us heading back downstairs safely out of harms way!
In fact, we had rain a few times while we were there and because a large seed pod had got stuck in the "drain" pipe, we had about an inch of water on the patio. Once removed though, everything drained away pretty quickly.

A highlight of our time away has to be our trip to Bamboo Hideaway with it's La Dolce Vita restaurant.  Massimo and Francesca are the nicest people and the food, you simply cannot miss a visit here if you go to Koh Mak.  We had an amazing three course meal, complete with coffee and limoncello. In fact, the boys even had an extra main course to share! I like to think it was because they had a small taste of my lasagne and wished they'd ordered it too.
Our trip back was no less fun and by pure chance we got a taxi back, driven by Mr Egg.  He owns Leelawadee Speedboat and speaks good English. In fact when Ross and Mr John told him they were from England - his response? Lovely Jubbly! If you're unfamiliar with the British Sit Com, Only Fools & Horses, have a look.

In fact he has quite a sense of humour. Turning down one street he said he was taking a short-cut and we'd be in Chan in 20 minutes it's a good hours drive.  So I think next time, we'll be contacting him for our travel needs. The good news is he's from Chan and knows the area well so getting dropped off at the house was no problems.

29 October 2014

We're back.....

the Big Bus bbirtack to the Airport in Bangkok
What a fabulous time we've had with Ross. I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted but there was just way too much fun to be had. And now, he's already back in Hong Kong and back to teaching. Why is it when you do fun things time whips past and drags when you're bored?

So it all started with the arrival at Bangkok International Airport, followed by the 3.5 hour trip back to Chan.  Honestly, the road between the two is awful and you get some scary potholes that just suddenly appear in the road when you're least expecting them!  

Actually, on that note, Ross commented he would have preferred another 1 hour internal flight to Trat and then a 1.5 hour drive back to Chan as he had no desire on this visit to see Bangkok.  He's got a good point.  For instance, I would never put a "long haul" visitor straight in the car and bring them back to Chan.  When Leon visited, we spent two nights in the capital and then got the big bus back.  This seemed to work really well.  So if you're planning to visit, you might want to take all this into account. I should also point out that our trip to the airport was longer than Ross took to get to Hong Kong airport and fly in!

Anyway, it was Tan's birthday on that first Saturday and although we missed the visit and prayers by the Monks, we were back in time to join in the free drinks and karaoke OK, so we didn't really join in the singing because the words were all in Thai. We had a lovely dinner that night too with friends Russ & Ann. I must have been enjoying myself because I have no photographic evidence this even happened. Not at all like me, I think I'll blame the 8 hour round trip drive. 

There were lots of things we didn't do during his time here like the waterfall, local beach, craft centre, Khlung or even a walk around town, but we did get to do some good stuff like see the Cathedral, visit Pii Kob at the Hangout where Ross made his Thailand singing debut, walk around the lake, visit a few other bars and a few coffee shops.

We spent a bigger chunk of our time in Koh Mak and I'll give you a run down on that in my next post.  Meanwhile, Mr John still has a week's holiday left and the rain has returned with a vengeance - which isn't great when you're trying to catch up on 10 days worth of washing!

15 October 2014

A.S.E.A.N. Day

Chompoo looking fabulous
Last Friday we went to the ASEAN day celebrations at Mr John's school.  It was quite a festival and the effort put in by students, parents and teaching staff was commendable. Each of the 14 countries were represented by year groups from both the English and General Programme.  My John's year had "China" and we were treated to a "cup" of tea when we arrived at their stand. Chompoo, who you may remember was Mr John's entrant in a competition earlier this year, was our "tour guide". She had us tasting some various things but our favourite was a pork satay.

It was a great way to end the first term of the school year.

10 October 2014

Only 8 sleeps!

Well, it seems I've been suffering from inertia lately. I'm not sure what's been up except maybe I'm in sync with the weather.  We've had quite a few days where it has rained all day. Plus we've been a little quiet here in the household as we prepare ourselves for our next overseas visitor.  Yes, Ross arrives a week tomorrow and we are sooo looking forward to it. So it'll be done with the cleaning and the washing and on with the fun and festivities.

Mr John has his last day at school today for the three week break between terms. This means he'll be messing with my routine but fear not, I have a few jobs lined up for him - just don't tell him!

Of course today is a huge day for the "littlest" of my three big brothers.  Yep, today Pete turns 60. OMG! How did we all get to be so old? He was the youngest 'til I came along many years later and stole his position in the family. Fortunately it's not something he's held against me.  

So in his honour, I thought I'd share a few memories whilst I'm 7,000 + miles away and he can't reach me well, what are little sisters for?
  • wearing platform shoes in the '70s when he's already over 6 foot tall
  • buying me jeans in my teenage years when I grew too tall for the pair I had my Mum wouldn't buy me any because nice girls don't wear jeans
  • playing the piano and saying "oops sorry" when he made a mistake before starting again - mostly Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata
  • the two of us on the piano playing a "honky tonk" duet version of Amazing Grace much to our mothers dismay
  • not holding my hand when walking down the street presumably because it may have ruined his street cred
  • running out of the bathroom, razor in hand, with a crazed look on his face to see which of his sisters in the house had newly shaven legs
  • reading a book and laughing so hard he nearly wet himself both indoors and on public transport I think Spike Milligan was mostly involved
  • at a family picnic, being sent with the other "I've got no children" bloke to get food that the nephews would eat and returning with only potato chips and fizzy drinks
  • being the best story teller in the family though to be fair these can take forever as he starts laughing at the next line before he's actually told any of us
Of course there are a lot more stories but not all are for public consumption the one with the shorts and panty-hose still makes me laugh out loud and no doubt the older siblings would add many more not to mention nieces and nephews who have their own dirt on him. So many happy returns to an ace big brother. We'll be having a "small sherry" here in your honour. 

Now that the AFL Grand Final and the NRL Grand Final are done and dusted, I'm not sure what we'll be up to this weekend. No doubt Mr John will have earmarked some rugby union for my viewing pleasure! Hope you all have a great weekend.

01 October 2014

October? Already?

The rain has returned with a vengeance this week.  Needless to say we haven't yet ventured back into town but fear we will have to soon as the Chinese festival will be finishing soon and it would be rude not to have some more doughnuts.

As the rain has been ever present, I've been taking the opportunity to do a bit more craft work.  With the rain comes cooler temperatures and it's much more conducive to getting on with stuff.  So now we have a perpetual calendar on the wall.  I bought an A4 picture frame and used some pretty paper.

The post from here can take anything from 5 to 10 days to arrive and is never the same twice so I have to think ahead if I want to post something. I'm also used to having to complete "customs" stickers when sending anything overseas, but they don't believe in them here.  I popped a little thing in the post to my sister-in-law in Australia the other day and when it was delivered to her, it came compete with a pamphlet on what you can and cannot send into Australia. I'm not sure why they insist on sending it to her as she clearly didn't post it to herself.  I was nearly in the dog house though as this isn't the first time she's received one of these things!  A few years ago now we sent a bunch get it  of banana related stuff to her it was just an in-joke at the time and because we'd put a pack of dried bananas in, customs took a dim view of the parcel.  I took it all on board though and have not sent anything untoward since.

I've also sorted a white-board for us that I've customised. Invariably, after returning from doing the weekly shop, Mr John will enquire as to whether I got something in particular that I am completely unaware of, so I thought this would help. Of course, the system does rely on him adding things to the list!

The best thing I've had though was a photo sent from my niece under instruction from her son who will be four this month.  I'm thrilled that all the way in Oz and from this gorgeous little man, he wanted his Mum to send me a photo of his colouring in.  The colouring-in book accompanied a small gift for his little brothers' birthday.

Speaking of birthdays, and it being the first of the month, we'd like to send a big shout out to Bitong, Aunty Marilyn, Pete, Johnny Boy, Roman, Kik and Dan. We hope you all have a very happy day.

26 September 2014

Nine Emperor Gods

Doesn't that sound fantastic!  This is a Chinese vegetarian festival that runs from 23 September until to 2 October that's nine days and nine nights. The dates can vary each year as it ties in with the ninth Chinese lunar month. It's to celebrate the birth of the nine emperor gods and on the ninth day, there's a ceremony to send them back home.  In fact, to some, it's more than vegetarian it is, in fact, vegan.  Not only does that include no dairy but some vegetables and spices. These nine days are not just about not killing animals but also being pure of body and mind.  

Some consider garlic and onion to inflame the passions and therefore these are also avoided during this time. Apparently, devotees of the festival will also refrain from from sex and alcohol.

In town there's banners, yellow background with red writing, across the roads and temporary vendors have popped up everywhere. We didn't bother with the bike this year and simply walked.  It was really busy with everyone tucking in to the variety of food available.  We had some fantastic spring rolls and found the doughnut stall that we enjoyed so much last year.

22 September 2014

I'm so cold...

Having got up at 04:00 on Friday to get to the school and catch the bus, Mr John finally got home at 21:15.  He coped remarkably well with the day, even with the karaoke that ensued on the bus on the way home.  I think the highlight of the day was "Snow Land" where the temperature was -8 C. Even he was cold!

We've seen some fabulous football matches of all codes over the weekend. Some very close results and sadly Mr John's NRL team - North Queensland Cowboys - are now out of the finals.  Next Saturday is the AFL Grand Final and we're looking forward to that.  It starts at 10am our time.

Mr John decided it was time to get some more wine in over the weekend.  We go for quantity rather than quality here as there's little difference in taste between a 300 baht bottle of wine and a 600 baht one. "Casks" are definitely the way forward this one cost 699 baht which is roughly AUD$25 / GBP£13 / USD$22 and I guess this one should last us about 6 weeks, just like the other one!!

Of course what weekend would be complete without a Sunday afternoon at a coffee shop.  We headed to Doi Chaang and I must admit, the view there always makes me happy we live here.

19 September 2014

Mash it up

I've been a little distracted this week what with all the celebrations and cake hmm cake and I realised there's a load of stuff I haven't shared with you. Upper most well in Mr John's mind is the fact that I produced mashed potato at the weekend.  This is fairly miraculous on a number of levels. I currently have no way of boiling anything and I can't find a potato masher.  I miscalculated the amount of potato required by two people and then I thought, well they're pretty soft so why not give it a go.  

A good substitute for the masher was the long handled plastic spoon I have with holes.  Anyway, a bit of milk and butter, some seasoning and hey presto pretty good mash.  I have made better but given the implements I was very pleased with the end result.

We've had quite a bit of rain lately, though mostly overnight. When Mr John and I took a walk the other night we saw how high the river has come up in a relatively short space of time. There's still no flooding here but the province further south of us, Trat, has seen some localised flooding.  

Of course we're not as badly off as my nephew in Hong Kong who experienced his first Typhoon alert this week.  It was a T8 and the scale only goes to 10. He's fine though and only had to deal with a morning off work before the alert was reduced.

Mr John has gone off on his travels again.  Apparently they're off to the National Science Museum in Bangkok followed by a trip to Dream World, a theme park, which by all accounts is "the World of Happiness".  Hopefully this works on him as he had to be at school at 04:30am the time the bus was leaving and isn't due back until about 20:00pm.  From personal experience, this is unlikely to make him particularly "happy".  Those poor children!

Meanwhile, I'll be watching the AFL footy on TV this afternoon I've been told we have to watch the NRL repeat on Saturday! Hope you all have a great weekend.

17 September 2014

Let them eat cake!

What a great week I've had already and our postman has been earning his keep lately.  I really must thank everyone who sent parcels for my birthday making it such a special day. Modern technology certainly helps as well, I'm not sure communication has ever been easier.  I remember when I was small we used to post "reel to reel" tapes to my Aunty & Uncle in England from Australia and vice versa.  It used to take about six weeks for them to arrive at their destination! Times have definitely changed.

Of course it wouldn't be a birthday without cake and, in my case, coffee.  Brunch produced a fabulous crepe cake and I like to think it was just for my benefit. Mr John had a full on day at work so it was just me. He did manage to spoil me, though probably not in the way our Western friends are used to!  

On his most recent visit to Bangkok he found Marks & Spencers a British store and got me some Percy Pigs.  What a treat, no seriously.  I watched a film in the afternoon and proceeded to make myself sick by eating the whole bag luckily it was a small one.  I also got a new cover for my iPad which I'm thrilled with - it's a gorgeous teal colour.

Having had dinner at Toms and head chef Tan having produced a special plate of fried chicken which Tom called ABC chicken not KFC chicken Mr John rode us over to Hangout to catch up with Pii Kob. We usually visit him every Sunday night but Mr John had a rugby match live that he didn't want to miss, so we switched it to Monday.  Well not only did Pii Kob get the live band to sing "Happy Birthday" to me but he'd also got a cake, complete with candles.  A very happy day.

15 September 2014

Faak Chan

We're reliably informed it's pronounced "fark" but it still makes us giggle! Anyway, Tom decided he needed to take us out for my birthday which is in fact today and on Friday we went to this music venue / restaurant / bar.  We went after Tom closed the shop, which I might point out he did early, and met up with Tor, Pok and Tan (Tom's brother, sister-in-law and niece).

If you want to get a feel for it, check out the short video here

We had a great time, though I think I should have had a "nana nap" in the afternoon.  The Thai's know how to party, though not necessarily with our choice of music.  Around midnight, the lightening started and the rain soon followed. Not to be deterred, the staff were using the large sun umbrellas to ferry people towards the toilets which are downstairs so they wouldn't get wet.

After we left this place, Tom decided he was hungry and took us to a place for food.  I did tell him I was full but it fell on deaf ears.  It's a place run by people of Chinese origin and I struggled to eat my bowl of food.  Perhaps you can empathise with me?  I had been drinking beer with a lot of ice.  Those of you that know me will know that I pretty much never drink beer.  The ice takes the edge off it though and it's simpler to order.  Drinking in the heat here can mean you go straight from sober to the headache stage without the "drunk" and some might say fun part in between.

You can imagine how late it was when we got home and then we had to wait for a bit while the air-conditioner worked its magic in the bedroom!  I think I'm getting a little old for such late nights but they're such lovely people and really, we had a terrific time.

12 September 2014

Bits 'n' Bobs

We've had the "lurgy" going around our house recently.  Nothing untoward and nowhere near as bad as "man flu".  I blame Mr John and his close proximity to 39 eleven year olds! Still, we battle on.

Hawthorn v Geelong
One piece of very exciting news is that the ban on the Australia Network had been lifted. Just in time for the Australian Rules Football (AFL) finals series that runs through September. Both our teams made it to the Elimination Finals.

My team, Richmond, finished 7th and Mr Johns' team, Essendon, finished 8th on the "ladder".  The result of the games would mean that which ever one lost, would be out of the finals series.  Needless to say they both lost which was heartbreaking.  Although Mr John is a relatively new supporter of AFL, I've been supporting Richmond since I was six years old.  Anyway, the Richmond game was awful and pretty much all over in the first quarter with Port Adelaide having a 42 point lead. There's always next year ... hmmm.

Mr John has been very excited too because after a year of saving, he's bought his own iPad AIr guess he got tired of sharing.  I'm so impressed by his perseverance. Some weeks he only saved 100 baht but once he puts his mind to something, that's it. He got a good deal with a case and "finger print" screen protector thrown in. 

You might think this is just another expensive gaming device, but with the technology he has at school, he's able to use it with the smart board and there's a lot of educational Apps around. So it's not just for fun.

He's also been gallivanting again.  He headed off to Bangkok on Wednesday for a Teaching Maths seminar on Thursday.  Now why is it, as soon as he goes away we get a horrendous thunder / lightning / rain storm leaving me semi-awake hoping the roof stays on?

03 September 2014


We fancied trying somewhere to eat outside the shopping mall for a change.  Mr John suggested Italian or Indian.  As we can get a reasonable amount of pasta and pizza in Chan, my vote was for the Indian.  Mr John rang and booked the table but had a bit of trouble understanding the directions. I'd already looked on line and found about four different maps for this place so who knew where it was.  Actually, that's a helpful hint - don't trust internet maps when in Thailand, they're invariable not quite right. Check out my map below.

Alibaba promotes itself as a tandoori & curry restaurant.  For the princely sum of about 1200 baht we had popadoms to start then I chose the buttered chicken and Mr John the Jalfrezi. Having enough rice on a daily basis, we ordered naan bread for the mains and washed it all down with some house wine.  I had the Chardonnay, which could have been a brave choice but it was buttery and smoky, just how I like it.  And they set the table with knives and forks which is really exciting as eating here involves forks and spoons.

We will definitely head here again and it says on their website that they will deliver.  Speaking of their site, there is more on the written menu than appears here so don't get hung up that they don't have what you want.  Enjoy!!

From our hotel keeping the beach on our right we walked towards Central Festival until we passed the Hard Rock Cafe. 

After the Cafe you'll come to a wide street (T intersection) and you should turn left. 

About 500 metres up this street, on the right hand side, you'll see Alibaba.

01 September 2014

'cos I'm happy!!

As you know, cooking in the limited facilities kitchen is a constant battle.  Having lost the use of my gas camping stove recently it's become even more of a challenge.  Feeling reckless with hindsight I found a recipe on the net for garlic and herb bread done in the slow cooker. 

We don't actually possess a slow cooker but the "electric frypan" we bought cooks in the same way.  So I gave it a go. Disaster! It went straight in the bin. Won't be trying that again.

We've had lots of exciting news over the weekend.  Firstly my baby nephew he's actually 30 is going to have his own baby with his lovely girlfriend.  Due next March, it will be the third "great" generation of the family and lovely that the cousins will be close in age.  Secondly, we're due a visit in October from my eldest nephew.  He's coming for a week and we're so excited.  We're thinking a few days on Koh Mak which means it'll be a nice holiday for us too Mr John has his three week break between terms.

As it's the first of the month I thought I'd do a shout out for all the birthdays so.... Happy Birthday to Dayel, Paul, Carla, Ake, Sam, Caroline, me, Abi, Glad and Rachel. And an extra special congratulations to Mike & Joan who've been married for 42 years today.  Where has that time gone?

And finally, I saw this on Facebook over the weekend and had to share it with you all.  This is so true of Thailand and how the road "rules" are more guidelines.  We were only commenting the other day how we have never seen a "learner driver" on the road. You know, the cars that have "L" plastered all over them and a number to ring for lessons. Hmmmm...

29 August 2014

Discovery Beach Hotel

Our recent trip to Pattaya saw us stay at this hotel.  We booked through Agoda and got a really good rate of 2000 baht per night.  It was more expensive than the last hotel we stayed at but this one had a bath which was a big seller for us at the moment.  As there were only single bed rooms left when we arrived they upgraded us to the Chic Tower.

This building was lovely though the air-purifier they had in the lobby smelt like a bad dinner - my only complaint and the carpet in the corridors was so thick I actually took my shoes off to walk on it in bare feet.  Our room was amazing and the way they have done the balcony a sort of triangle shape means that you don't see anyone else and feel as if you're the only ones there.

Not only did we make full use of the bath and the rain shower but we also got into the pool. These are the joys of having two nights instead of one.  We didn't eat at the hotel preferring to get stuck in to the western cuisine available in the town so I can't comment on that.

The reception staff and housemaids were very nice, adding to the ambience. We would certainly recommend this place to anyone planning a two night plus visit.  It would be such a waste to only stay in this place for one night and simply sleep in the huge, comfortable bed.

27 August 2014

Pattaya II

You know, if Mr John had told me 11 years ago that he'd take me on holiday to a shopping mall - I'd probably have walked.  However our weekend was spent doing exactly that and I had a ball.  For me, the highlight was just sitting in Starbucks having coffee and reading the paper.  How times have changed.

You may remember last time  we only went for one night, well this time we decided to make it two nights and booked a hotel nearer the shopping mall I know right! and with a bath.  We chose the Pattaya Discovery Beach hotel and we were really glad we did.  

Don't get me wrong, our previous hotel was really good value for money and for one night was ideal.  This hotel was much closer to where we wanted to be and gave us a view of the beach plus had parking for Pii Kob's car.  In fact, this hotel justifies it's own post so watch this space.

We managed to get two movies in - Expendables 3 and Hercules.  We would have seen Into The Storm on Sunday had the viewing times been better for us but there you go, seems you can't have everything. In fact, Saturday was a little fraught as Mr John had us route marched to Mulligans Irish Pub straight after the movie so we could see the second half of the Australia v New Zealand rugby match and anyone who knows the score will understand when I say though I wish we hadn't bothered.

As we had an extra night we also managed to fit in a swim in the pool and of course a couple of lovely baths.  Whilst we had breakfast at Mulligans and my advice is don't bother with this it seemed cooked by someone who'd seen a big breakfast but never actually tasted one! I discovered a free eating out booklet and Mr John, having undertaken extensive research, found an Indian restaurant for dinner.  It's called Alibaba and it was fantastic. Again, this place deserves it's own write up so I'll get on to that.