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...