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.

22 August 2014

All in the news

I can't believe it's Friday already, though Mr John has been of the opinion that this week would never end.  I think he's still tired from Mondays' trip and he's taken to exercising with teacher Russ.  In fact, we had dinner with him and his lovely wife Ann on Wednesday.  Man that girl can cook.  We had the most amazing khao soi and not only that, she's promised to teach me how to do it.

Speaking of food and I seem to do that a lot, Mr John found sardines for me the other week.  He is totally not a fan, just like he doesn't like anchovy I know, weird right.  This may not seem very news worthy but so far here I've only found sardines in tomato sauce. Every tin, big or small, I can't get over it and I don't like it so I was thrilled when he came home with these.  It's the same brand as the baked beans we get, so I figure it's a brand that suits us.

I mentioned the other day how lucky we'd been this year with the rain then I watched the Thai news in English of course. There are 30 provinces that are currently in flood.  There's 77 provinces here so that's getting close to half the country. In fact, there was a flash flood in Nan province  on Tuesday evening and a 60 year old man is missing.  Hopefully this will turn into a good news story.

Speaking of the news, everyone was shocked yesterday when General Prayuth was voted in as the 29th Prime Minister.  The National Legislative Assembly voted 191 to 0 in favour of the motion.  The result will now go to the King for further endorsement.  But I digress.

So we're off to Pattaya this weekend to see Expendables 3.  We also have a couple of other films on a standby list but it'll depend on what time we arrive and what time we get organised on Sunday morning!  We've booked a different hotel one with a bath so you can look forward to the update next week don't worry there won't be any bath photos.  Pii Kob has very kindly lent us his car again, so road trip it is.  Hope you all have a good weekend.

20 August 2014


I discovered something new about my e-reader the other day and thought I ought to share it.  I don't know where either of us would be without our Kindle's other e-readers are available.  Mr John and I read voraciously and I often used to complain to him in England about how many books he bought into the house.  Anyway, it's the only way to go if you're travelling or moving in my opinion.  

The obvious benefit is the lack of "baggage" required and whilst one of my brothers and his wife make good use of their local library to feed their reading habit, it's not an option for us. Don't get me wrong, there's a public library just five minutes walk from our house but obviously the books are all in Thai.  Whilst we continue our battle to learn the language, I have no immediate desire to write or read the language figure that will come with time.  My first priority is simply to communicate with people.

So back to the point.  I bought my Kindle second hand and it's never let me down and I assume that's why it didn't come with an instruction book.  I may also be teaching some of you to "suck eggs" thinking I've completely lost the plot, but I found this great feature the other day.  

Now that I'm a poor housewife, I always look for free kindle book unlike my mate Dave who was given a large amount of vouchers recently from work and is madly spending it.  Some of them are quite good, some not so much but then it doesn't matter because they're free. 

Actually, we were both really lucky at Christmas and got sent a gift card from one of my sisters. This was hugely exciting and you've never seen anyone peruse the available books with such determination ensuring maximum value for money.

All this has lead to quite a few pages of book titles and finding the next book to read, or a specific book, can take ages.  Then I came across the "collections" option from the "menu" button.  It's so easy.  You can name the collection and then add any books to it that you want.  I've managed to turn my six pages of book titles into just one.  The possibilities are endless. Now, you may think I need to get out more and you're probably right but no one else has ever told me about this so I figured I'd share the knowledge.   

18 August 2014

Sleepless in Chan

Being a short week, last week went by in a blur.  And so much for the rainy season, compared with last year we've had very little rain.  Not only that but the temperature shot up again over the weekend.  Most of our time was spent trying to cool down!  We're starting to get excited though about our coming weekend in Pattaya and have lined up some movies to go and watch.

I have to tell you though about last night don't worry there won't be any of those sort of personal details.  Mr John has been asked again to go to Bangkok with the school.  I believe it's all the winners of the recent competition he attended and a show of foreign teachers.  Anyway, the bus left school this morning at 5 am yes people 5 am! 

We usually go and see Pii Kob at Hang Out on a Sunday evening as he gets really busy the rest of the week.  We don't drink well sometime I do as Mr John won't drink and ride and we get to have a good catch up.  As Mr John had to be up so early today the alarm was set for 04:15 we stayed in last night and he was settling himself into bed just gone nine.  

Have you ever had to get up unusually early?  Maybe it was for holiday or maybe for work but I bet you any money you didn't sleep properly the night before.  The time you need to get up often plays on your mind and when it's important that you don't oversleep it somehow impacts on your getting to sleep at all.  Well that was pretty much how it was in our house last night.

Mr John never has trouble sleeping.  I remember a few years ago now he said to me one night "I don't feel very sleeping tonight, I'm not sure I'll be able to .... zzzzzzzzzz".  Seriously, he fell asleep before he'd even got the sentence out.  Not last night though.  At midnight he was still awake - not a good sign.

I woke up this morning and it was still dark.  The bedding to my right was in a clump.  I looked at the clock beside the bed and it seemed to say 5 am there is a light in it but I have enough trouble reading anything nowadays without it being so early in the morning.  I staggered out of bed to check the clock in the kitchen as I wanted to be certain.  Sure enough it was 5 am!!  I burst back into the bedroom, clock in hand, and declared to Mr John "IT'S 5 AM"!!

That's when I noticed that his side of the bed was empty, his clothes that he'd thoughtfully put out the night before had gone and darkness was both inside and outside the house.  What an idiot!!  I too must have been stressing for him somehow.  So he's on his way, hopefully safe and definitely completely oblivious of my screamed announcement.  

13 August 2014


What a lovely four day break we've had.  It didn't start out great though.  Friday found Mr John on an emergency mission around town trying to get his laptop fixed.  His hard-drive had "bitten the dust".  

After calling into a few shops and being told "broken" he finally found a place that was able to communicate and to cut a very long story short - it's all fixed.  Now he just has to go about replacing all the documents he's lost without the aid of any back-ups, doh!  I did benefit from his excursion however as he turned up with lunch on Friday.  Mutton curry complete with roti bread. It was a great surprise and tasted fabulous.

Actually, when I think about it, the whole weekend started out rather badly.  I had commented on Thursday night how Mr John was looking rather pale and sure enough, Friday saw him with a terrible cold which I suspect was "man-flu" this is so beyond the usual cold we girls suffer from and, according to my male friends, is the worse type of illness you can have.  Fortunately it only lasted a couple of days as he took himself off to the pharmacy near the lake and they gave him these tablets that just worked miracles.  By the following day he'd stopped sneezing and by Sunday morning his sore throat had cleared up.

As he wasn't feeling very well, I thought a fried egg on toast would be ideal full of protein for breakfast on Saturday.  So I duly got myself organised and got the camping stove out.  The "lock lever" had got out of position so I put that back and turned the ignition on.  OMG we had a fire in the kitchen!!  There were flames coming out all around the switch and the gas can on the right hand side - none of it where it should be.  I grabbed a tea-towel and tried to beat them out, meanwhile yelling out "we have fire, we have fire".  Mr John came lurching down the hallway full of cold and took in the sight.  Using his teacher voice, he got me out of the way and opening the back door so he could turn off the cooker and take it outside to the tiled balcony.

It's OK, you can laugh. No harm was done, everyone's alright.  That has of course meant that we've not had a gas ring to cook anything on all weekend.  Mr John tried it again once it was outside but to no avail.  Oddly enough there aren't any pictures of the flames ok so maybe it's a bit of an exaggeration as the "flames" were under an inch high.  It was a good excuse however to get a takeaway from Lollipop Cafe - which continues to excel itself.

taken about 18:30
After all this excitement, the weekend settled down and we chilled out.  There was a super moon around this weekend and we tried desperately to get a good photo of it.  And the reason we had the long weekend was that yesterday, the Queens birthday, is also recognised as Mothers Day here.  We bought a small flowering orchid and delivered it to Tan (head chef at Tom's shop) who was very pleased with it. At least we think she was.  There was lots of smiling but she doesn't speak any English.  I'm going with her being happy too.

11 August 2014

What to Wear

I can really only talk with authority on Chanthaburi obviously, but pretty much all of South East Asia is "same, same" as the locals say.  You really need to consider what you bring with you when either travelling or staying here. 

I don't know why I haven't written about this sooner, but there are so many things I consider obvious which are not necessarily obvious to everyone else.  I hope these tips will help make your visit / stay even more enjoyable.

Keep it simple and keep it pure. You don't really want synthetic clothing.  Sure it washes and dries easily but consider how you'd feel if you wrapped yourself in cling film on the hottest day of the year and did your usual chores / activities.  Yep, that's pretty much what synthetic fabrics feel like here.  Fortunately, having lived in a warm climate before, I know about these things.  My top tips below focus on work apparel. If you're lucky enough to be on holiday, just stick to the non-synthetic mantra.

great for the weekend
For girls: consider knee length skirts if you're planning to teach  as trousers are a "no-no" and some tops that cover your shoulders appropriately.  In fact, if you're teaching primary, you might want your skirt a little longer as there's often lots of bending.  Shoestring or spaghetti straps are frowned upon in schools as well as thongs which some countries call flip-flops.   Consider your footwear carefully as you'll be standing in front of a class all day.

For guys: Trousers and shirts are a must and you will need a tie on occasion. Mr John bought black golf trousers before leaving the UK.  This may sound odd, but they are light weight and water resistant.  In contrast to my advice on non-synthetics, a 100% polyester shirt can be very handy.  It's light weight, dries quickly and doesn't crease if you put it on a hangar as soon as it comes out of the washing machine

On that topic remember if you bring cotton shirts, that are plain in colour you're going to need an iron and ironing board unless you're happy to look like you slept in your clothes.  I would warn against plain coloured shirts generally, stripes, plaids anything multi-coloured will hide a multitude of sins and prevent drudgery.

You may have read before that the days of the week have corresponding colours and a lot of workers stick to that mantra.  You could do worse than to bring only white shirts though. For shoes, I'd go leather and again make sure they're comfortable - suede in a tropical climate is not a great match mostly because of the torrential rain.

Having grown up in Australia I've had it drummed into me to "slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat".  Excellent advice which I still adhere to except .. the hat.  I'm sorry, I just can't stand wearing them here because the sweat just runs into my eyes and it's disgusting.  Instead I use an umbrella as lots of people do here mostly whilst riding their motor bikes.

Fans & Hankies
As well as a fold up umbrella, you'll find a fan in my handbag.  This one was given to me as a present from my friend Roger who'd flown to Japan to meet his now wife.  I must have had it for more than 10 years.  It's beautiful and has come in very, very handy over here.  Another great inclusion is a cotton handkerchief.  I know these are considered old fashioned but Mr John doesn't go anywhere without one.  I think it was instilled in him by his Granddad.  They're much better than tissues if you get really sweaty.

Coats & Warm Clothes
Honestly, practically don't bother!  The clothes you have travelled in will suffice if you do get a cool spell.  We had three days of "winter" as we would define it last December when we reached for long pants but only then in the evening.  A zipped, long sleeve hoodie type top of the light weight variety is very handy when you're on you motor bike late at night.  As far as raincoats go, they can heat you up something shocking.  Don't forget when it's raining here it's still hot rain does not equal cool.  Mr John and I prefer the poncho style raincoat as it's easy to get on and off and at least allows some air to circulate.  It also provides cover lower down your legs when it's throwing it down.

Best Friend Forever
Even if you follow my advice or if you're already here with pointless luggage the best thing you can buy is talcum powder.  We have never suffered from prickly heat, thank goodness, but none the less this is the best thing you can buy.  After you shower, sprinkle it all over and yes I mean everywhere rub it in so it blends a bit, get dressed and off you go.  It really helps reduce sweating.  Just make sure you wash your hands before putting your clothes on, otherwise you get powder marks over everything.

Hope you've found this helpful.  If you have any top-tips, please share them.

The above has been written for people from colder climates.  If you're used to heat and humidity, you'll already know what you're comfortable in and what suits you, so go with that.

08 August 2014

Post Office

A week or so ago, I found myself needing the Post Office.  There's a lovely new one near Immigration which is pretty big but the old Post Office opposite the Kasamsarn hotel is just up the road so off  I went.  It was quite busy and I had to wait a little while with my number. 

When you walk into the post office, there's a small plastic holder on the right hand side of the long counter that has laminated cards with numbers on.  The idea is you take one of these then sit on the plastic chairs waiting for your number to be called.  Fortunately, they have a display screen that tells you the number being called and which numbered "slot" you need to go to.  They also announce this system in Thai with some pre-recorded voice. 

The level of English from staff varies but I haven't had a problem yet.  Smiling and showing them your clearly addressed envelope usually does the trick.  Anyway, I was sat there patiently waiting when I noticed the TV showing stuff in Thai so I really have no idea what it was about.  They work the same kind of system at our bank only they show the news still don't know what they're saying and it's on a flat screen TV.  As this TV is so old, it kept flickering between a black and white then colour picture.

Mr John has had some breathing space at school this week.  Since Wednesday, the Grade 6's have been on Buddha camp.  This is where the kids go and stay at the Temple, sleep on the floor and have talks given by the Monks.  Sounds like a blast, doesn't it? 

This weekend is a long weekend with the Queens' birthday being held next Tuesday.  In order to "return happiness to the people" the ruling military have also decided that Monday should be a holiday too.  I believe the idea is also to try and boost local tourism as a number of countries are still telling people not to travel here.  Sadly, tourism will not be getting a "boost" from us this weekend.  As we used to do in England, we tend to avoid travelling on "bank" holidays.  We'll be doing our bit later this month when we will be returning to Pattaya as Expendables 3 will be showing.

So have a lovely weekend everyone.

06 August 2014

Bermuda Trianlge

So I went to do the washing some might say the highlight of my week and it was all looking fine when the heavens opened.  Well, it is the rainy season.  So I had to wait a bit for it to settle down before heading back home.  Of course, this has knock on effects, like how do you get the washing dry when it's damp and wet that's the weather and not the washing.  We battle on though and you always, always have your raincoat under your bike seat just in case.

I keep going on about my cooking miracles in the limited facility kitchen but what I haven't mentioned to you is that the house has become a "Bermuda Triangle" for cooking utensils.  Last week I couldn't find my potato peeler.  It can happen that in a fit of absent-mindedness, you can throw one of these out with the peelings and I figured that must be what I'd done.  I wouldn't mind so much but it was from Australia and is my favourite style of peeler and can be difficult to get hold of elsewhere in the world.

So having butchered our potatoes somewhat in peeling them with a knife over the weekend, I also then couldn't find the only sharp ok so I'm using the term loosely black handled knife we have.  It's about 8 inches / 20 cms long and there's no way I would have thrown that out with the peelings!  I'd only used it the night before and I'm pretty sure I washed it up but now we can't find it.  So frustrating.  Mr John reckons that maybe it's the geckos playing silly buggers and I really don't think its old age.... but it is definitely a mystery.

04 August 2014

Food blog?

I've been starting to worry lately that this is turning into a food blog which it was never meant to be.  I'm sure it's just a passing phase but you need to remember that there are others living with limited facility cooking and I think it always helps to get ideas.

Mr John didn't get home until about 10pm on Friday because they left Bangkok at a really bad time with traffic being a nightmare.  He had a pretty good time on the course and got to do two lots of public speaking.  This is quite amazing as he's basically a shy person.  Marvellous what standing up in front of children five days a week can do for you.

So Saturday we headed off to Macro to pick up something for tea and ended up going a little crazy money wise because we bought lamb shanks.  At 400 baht for three it was quite extravagant but oh my goodness they were delicious.  I used the electric frypan which really is just a slow cooker and made a "jus" I have to call it that because Mr John doesn't like gravy.  Add sauté potato and voila!  Even better, we also now have lamb for sandwiches in the week.

It was definitely potato weekend as I made dauphinois potato in one pan.  They weren't quite the same as those made in an oven but encouraged by my one pan pizza success I figured it was possible.

There's a variety of recipes that you can use and everyone has their own preferences.  I added onion to this one which I don't normally do but I wanted to compensate for these not being done in an oven.  And cream is hard to get here in Thailand, but the whipping cream you can get in Tesco Lotus does the trick.
  • Instead of individual ramekins I used our small (6 inch) fry pan 
  • I boiled the finely sliced potato I used one large one for about three or four minutes before putting them in the pan as I was worried they would come out raw
  • Layer up the potato with lots of black pepper, a little salt and finely sliced onion until you have no more potato
  • Pour over the carton of cream
  • Put the pan on the heat so that it is all simmering gently
  • After five minutes add a good handful of grated cheese
  • After a further five minutes (stick a fork in them to see if they're done) remove from heat and serve

01 August 2014


I can't wait til Mr John gets back from Bangkok tonight, I've had terrible trouble sleeping! And why is it that no sooner has he headed off, we get the worst thunder storms?  Wednesday night was an absolute doosie and it was 3am before I could settle down again.

Before he went away, he took my motorbike for a service. He took it back to the place we bought it from. We both always carry some emergency cash and he took some spares with him as we were unsure how much it would cost and even whether they'd be able to do it there and then. So he arrived back home less than an hour later and they'd changed the oil, checked the battery and some other stuff and charged him 160 baht. Can you believe it? That's roughly GBP£3 / AUD$5.30 / US$5 / EUR€4. We were thrilled to bits.

In my rock 'n' roll lifestyle, I've cleaned both our electric fans recently. There are no photos as I was too ashamed to take a "before" one and therefore no point taking an "after" one. It was quite therapeutic but a little scary dismantling it - what if I couldn't put it back together or worse still what if I broke a piece? All's well that ends well though and we now have two shiny fans. Next time I undertake this task, I'll take some pictures because they won't get that bad again and give you a step by step guide. 

Wow, there's something to look forward too. NB: must get out more

And today is a big day for Ross, my nephew, who is heading to Hong Kong to teach for a year. He's been a secondary teacher in the UK for some time now and we wish him all the best.  

Birthdays: can you believe it's August already? So we'd like to wish a very Happy Birthday to Kat, "Aunty" Karen, Podge, Rhys, Sedgey, cousin Amanda, Ted, Katherine and the gorgeous Bex.

I don't normally do this, but I have to give a special mention to Rohan and Debs who will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary later this month.  Their wedding day was so beautiful and now, three children and three grandchildren later, they still look out for each other. An inspiration to us all.