17 November 2015

Abi & Dave

View from our room!
We were lucky enough to start our time with Abi and Dave by staying at the KC Grande on Koh Chang. What a beautiful hotel it is and spending the day at the roof top pool is just perfect. This was Abi's first trip to Thailand and Dave's first foray into eastern Thailand. I don't think it could have started any better. We really like White Sands beach area, there are things to do without it being mental though it's sad that the Jungle Queen bar has closed loved the resident band that played there.

We didn't eat much in the way of lunch as there's so much choice at breakfast we weren't really hungry of course ice-cream is different. Since our last visit, there's a new converted VW combi-van cocktail bar. The guys are very friendly and there's access to a sit down toilet, so don't worry that it's parked on the main road. They use real alcohol I know that sounds strange but in a lot of places the bottles look real but they're often filled with wanna be contents so the drinks are awesome and reasonably priced at 150 baht roughly AUD£6 / GBP£3 / USD£4 / EUR4. Dave took a shine to their Long Island Iced Tea bucket and who can blame him.
Having spent three lovely nights on Koh Chang, Abi & Dave headed of for three nights on Koh Kood. To be honest I was a bit jealous as I've been wanting to go there the snorkeling is meant to be good but we just haven't managed it. Meanwhile, we headed back to Chanthaburi like Cinderella.

We had a lovely time showing them around town yes, including the lake at 6pm. We even headed to Maneechan Resort for a lovely lunch and an afternoon by the pool. Well, it was all going brilliantly until the storm clouds gathered and we figured we best get a wriggle on. Of course Abi & I headed to the changing rooms, found the hot showers complete with toiletries and the hair dryers so we might have taken a bit longer than we ought to. Anyway, half way home the heavens opened and we all got a bit wet on the motorcycles. Well, its all an adventure isn't it?
And all too soon, it was time for them to leave. I really can't express in words how thrilled we both are that people take the time and put in the effort to come and visit us. It was lovely to meet Dave who was very patient as I struggled with his south London accent and I've known Abi since she was in high school she feels more like a sister than a cousin. The good news is, it won't be three years before we meet up again.

If you'd like information on where you can eat whilst staying in White Sands, look here

13 November 2015

Super Saturday

OK, OK ... I've plagiarised the expression that I first heard at the 2012 London Olympics but it was coined that Saturday night to express the joy and pride of the sporting outcomes for Great Britain and quite frankly, I thought it was also appropriate for our full on meeting day. It made me laugh that there was about an hour where all three couples were sat on aeroplanes, wending their way to Bangkok.

Yes, this was the day my nephew Ross and Mr John's cousin Abi brought their partners on holiday to meet us or maybe it was just to have a holiday in Thailand??  It was great meeting Bryony and Dave. Thankfully, we managed to land half an hour before Abi & Dave so I thought that was a much nicer welcome than them having to wait for us especially as they arrived from the UK. Lucky for Ross & Bryony who'd traveled from Hong Kong and landed three hours earlier they had already got to their hotel and were enjoying cocktails by the time we rang them.
I'm pretty sure we all had a good time. We started the evening at Cheap Charlie's thanks to a recommendation from Lisa & Gordon. It's off Sukhumvit Road at Soi 11 and if you take Nana BTS you'll have less than a 10 minute walk. Be warned, spirits are served in slightly smaller glasses than normal, so you may down them a bit quickly not me of course. It was a great place to get to know each other and there's also some good places to eat just behind it. We chose Tapas Cafe and were amazed at the food. If you go and you're not vegetarian try the meatballs - the sauce is to die for just ask Mr John.

Of course no trip to Bangkok apparently is complete without a trip on the river ferry and a visit to Wat Pho. It is indeed our preferred attraction for first time visitors if only you could get a loyalty card. This time we also managed to fit in some shopping and lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok a request from Ross who is on some sort of quest I think. And speaking of Ross, thanks to him, we all enjoyed our own executive minivan back to Chanthaburi. It was a lovely way to travel this one had three rows of seats where as the ones we usually get have four rows - posh.

When we arrived in Chanthaburi 3.5 hours later, Abi & Dave still had another couple of hours to get to Koh Chang where they were spending the next week what a day of travelling for them.

We were lucky that Ross & Bryony were staying overnight before heading off to Koh Mak. It was Bryony's first time in Chan and so there were a few things we had to show her agreed to by Ross with his previous experience. So of course, it was off to the lake for 6pm and no, I'm not telling you why we do this, you have to check it out or come visit us.

We spent the evening at Tamajun and enjoyed ourselves way too much. Still brunch at Vietnamese Food always does the trick and our souls seen to by viewing the Catholic Cathedral. A wander down the street through the Old Town completed our lovely morning before waving them off on their next adventure.

My one complaint - way too short a visit. I almost feel like I dreamed it.

10 November 2015


What can you say about Hanoi that probably hasn't already been said on a million different travel sites? Probably not a lot, but I can give you our perspective on what it's like to visit. For us, there was only one negative. The constant beeping of horns - both bikes and cars. It did set my teeth on edge a little bit. In that sense, you could really feel the French influence on the city. 

Speaking of traffic, they have bike helmets there that either have a section cut out at the back or a hole at the top, so girls can leave their hair up in a ponytail or bun. Knew mine was missing something. I have such thick hair that I have to remove any band or clip so my helmet can fit. 

Don't think Hanoi is racy though, during the week a lot of places are closed by 9pm especially the "cheap eats" spots.
There's so much to see in the city and we were lucky enough to be able to walk pretty much everywhere we wanted to go. Around the French quarter, the streets are really wide and can really only be described as boulevards. The only thing I felt I missed out on was seeing an actual train come down "train street". We waited for ages but had to give up in the end. Maybe next time.
We loved the Hanoi Social Club, its a lovely little spot of tranquillity in an otherwise bustling city. The food and drink is reasonably priced and the food portion sizes won't see you go hungry. I tried the egg coffee here and I've got to say, I loved it. If you're trying to imagine it and I know it might sound gross, think of liquid tiramisu. It's the best way to describe it and don't leave Hanoi without trying one. The staff here were awesome and are part of the disadvantaged youth programme that's championed here. So you see, you're doing something to add to society as well.

Banh Mi is just about the best thing ever invented. You can buy a baguette and have it filled with meat and salad for only 32,000 Dong (roughly £1 / AUD$2 / USD$1.43 / Euro 1.33 / 51 baht). 
We also got to meet up with Emma and Orla from Chanthaburi see it really is a small world at Mojito Bar & Lounge. If you enjoy a cocktail as we do, you should enjoy this place. A good place to hang out with friends but watch your step if you head to the toilet later in the evening.

We totally spoilt ourselves with a little help from Hannah on our last day and headed to The Metropole Hotel for afternoon tea. We even took a cyclo there which was quite a hoot. Half the time it felt like we were about to head the wrong way down a road and I felt quite sorry for the lovely little man who got stuck pedalling both of us don't worry, we gave him a good tip. 
In fact, not only did we have afternoon tea followed by a glass of champagne well, we were celebrating my birthday but we also had a cocktail sat by the hotel pool. It's a lovely hotel and very quiet so if you can stay there, we think it would probably be a good option.

We really loved our break here and would definitely go back again. I'd also like to head a bit further afield and maybe see some of the coast. As we had limited days, we decided to focus on the city only and I think that was the right decision. So, if you get a chance, check out Hanoi.  

03 November 2015

Holidays R Us

We've had such a good time over the last three weeks. Seen some awesome things, eaten our own body weight in food at least that's what it feels like, sampled some new cocktails and spent some lovely time with family and friends.

I'm sat here hoping that I can do everything justice but to do that, I need to focus on a few amazing things. At the moment, it's all about trying to get back into the swing of things. The apartment is eerily quiet with Mr John back at school and although I didn't feel like it, I've started back at yoga. 

So, I hope you've been following our exploits on Instagram. What a great medium it is to keep people up to date. Being a visual person, it really suits me as I am a firm believer in the old "a picture paints a thousand words" adage. Of course, you can't really go into detail about what's been happening so I've been very good about keeping my junk journal up to date.

How much fun has that been! It's definitely been a learning experience. I think I overdid the preparation before we left I knew this at the time, it kept getting heavier and heavier. I just need to get a couple of photos printed is anyone else like me and thinks just keeping photos digitally is a little bit sad?  Then I'll share it with you - in all its glory.

Too often, we all can't wait to get away and don't appreciate what we have around us. Having visitors in Chanthaburi reminds us of the lovely little place where we live and the fact that we shouldn't overlook what's on our doorstep.

With both Ross & Bryony and Abi & Dave we took them to the Catholic Cathedral obviously but also made sure that we walked the Old Town back to their hotel. The Old Town, Chanthaboon, has a 2015 UNESCO Award of Merit in Cultural Heritage Conservation for the refurbishment of a 19th century mansion into a boutique hotel. Visitors have said the whole street reminds them of Georgetown, Malaysia a World Heritage site. It's true that the architecture in this part of town is in my opinion beautiful but it's also the street art that captures my imagination.
So stay tuned for an update on all our adventures but please give me a chance as I have a huge amount of photos to get through and put into some semblance of order. 

13 October 2015

...1....Lift Off

Yes, it's the big day and as you read this we are probably already at the airport. It's an early start with a 7am minivan. As you know, I much prefer the big bus but the timings just weren't right today and neither of us want to risk missing our flight.

Whilst Chanthaburi is now pretty devoid of any foreign teachers they pretty much all headed off last Friday Mr John and I have had a fairly relaxing weekend. Australia won their final Pool game of the Rugby World Cup which was most satisfying and as Mr John has recovered his composure after England finishing third in the group I am now able to properly gloat.

The Chinese Nine Emperor Gods Festival is on again. This year it runs from the 12th to the 21st. We are pretty pleased to have found our lovely doughnut stand again this year. 

Mr John was carrying them and having finished his, he assumed I had too. But I still had about a third of mine left when he threw the whole package into the bin. I was so sad that he's promised to get me some more when we're back in Chan in a weeks time.

Actually, it's a shame all the teachers are away as there are a few vegetarians amongst them and all the yellow and red stalls serve is vegetarian food. 

So don't forget to keep up with our travels on Instagram and the all important Super Saturday. Take care everyone.

08 October 2015

Junk Journals

As you know, we're gearing up for our holiday in Hanoi, Vietnam and our lovely visitors in October. Mr John has three lovely weeks off and whilst we have things we want to do, we're also hoping he'll feel rested by the end of it. We've built in plenty of "chill" time so I'm not too worried. Anyway, I mentioned in my last post that I've started the preparation for my junk journal and it's all way too exciting.

The idea of these things and don't take my word for it, just search the web is that you pick up all sorts of random bits and pieces, that don't cost you much or indeed anything and add it into your journal. When you're travelling you can add ticket butts, postcards, paper bags, envelopes, maps literally anything you're given and add it.

Because we've chosen to fly with hand luggage only I can't take all my bits and pieces with me, so some things will have to wait til I'm back home before final embellishments can be added. Just so you know, by bits and pieces I mean things like scissors and metal hole punch which will be confiscated by security without doubt even in Thailand. So I've tried to do as much before we go as possible.

I cut up a cardboard box that we received off Hannah to make the front and back covers. If you think ahead about the finished product you can come out with something that I think looks good. The metal rings can be bought at any good stationer. Here in Chanthaburi I like to try B2S stationers on the ground floor in Robinson. It was only 60 baht for a pack of four. I've chosen to use them all on this occasion but I could have opted to use 1, 2 or 3. 

Luckily, I'd recently been given a 2015 diary that had monthly planners in, so I used one of those to give an overview of the whole month. You can be as creative as you want and you'll probably find, like me that the first thing you do isn't as beautiful as the last thing. Don't stress, it's yours anyway so do what you want.

You can see I've used cereal box cardboard as a backing panel for the planner to give it some sturdiness. I've also included one of my all time favourite quotes. So I don't forget some key things we want to do in Hanoi, I've written a quick list on the back of some wrapping paper I received recently. If you can get your hands on washi tape yes, also at B2S it makes anything look awesome! 

I've been including Mr John in all my preparations read this as boring him to tears with creative stuff that he has no interest in but nods and agrees in all the right places as he knows when I am happy, he gets to be happy. I've even made a page just for him that I'm hoping he'll do on one of the days. 

One of the things I spoiled myself with last time we were in Bangkok and way before I knew what a junk journal was was a Nancy Chandler Map. These are such beautiful works of art and have some really helpful info that often only locals know about. Sadly these maps are only for Bangkok, Chang Mai and Hanoi. 

The next main additions will be printed photos of our travels / events. I know, most of us don't get anything printed any more what with digital cameras, smart phones, tablets etc. I like to have some so I can put them up on our walls and luckily there's Kodak places in Chanthaburi where you can get photos printed straight from your phone. I just need to figure out if there's an App there's bound to be!

I've also included an envelope and a paper bag to store small bits in, a spare Chanthaburi postcard that I had I intend to pick up more postcards as we go and "odd" pretty papers I've had lying around for ages. I've been lucky with all my bits and pieces I keep for scrap-booking which have come in very handy. 

I've chosen to make mine A5 size, but again you can choose any size you want. I'm so inspired I'm already trying to think what one I can do next. I have odd collections of bits and pieces from all our holidays so maybe it's time to get them into something like this. 

I promise, when it's finished, I'll capture images and share them with you, In the meantime, the creative ones among you and I know there are loads seriously need to check this process out and start doing it. It's so much more portable, instant and convenient than scrap-booking. Just remember - never run with scissors !!

06 October 2015

Countdown ... 1 ...

Yes people, in a week from now we will be in Hanoi and I'm already too excited. Of course, this may also be because of Super Saturday as I like to call it when everyone ok, so not exactly everyone arrives in Bangkok. Mr John and I have opted to only take carry-on luggage of 7kgs each. This is a whole new experience for him and has taken some persuading.

This isn't a problem for me though it does restrict my shoe allowance until I recently discovered Junk Journals or Smash Books as some people call them. Regular readers will know that I love doing creative stuff and I can't believe I've not come across these until recently damn you Pinterest!! Anyway, if I don't stop tinkering with the preparation of my junk journal soon, my entire 7 kilos is going to be taken up by said journal. I was going to share this with you today, but think it needs a whole post to itself.

Because I have so many exciting things that happened this weekend. Did you see the Rugby World Cup? Did you? We did mwah ha ha. Saturday well, technically it was Sunday at 02:00 here night Australia played England. Whenever these two teams play, Mr John and I get as close as we can to "falling out". This is a bit unusual in our house as we get on really, really well. Still, it's always good to mix things up.

To cut a long and for Mr John very painful story short - AUSTRALIA WON HURRAH! Not jut that but England, who is hosting the tournament, in now out of the running for the quarter finals which start on October 17. Of course, this Saturday Australia will play Wales to decide who tops the group. I'm hoping we'll win as the draw to the finals appears slightly easier than if you come second. So fingers crossed. In the meantime, Mr John is speaking to me again which is always nice.

In honour of the big occasion and honestly, because I wanted to defrost the freezer I made a Moroccan Lamb & Feta salad for dinner. I bought the lamb when I was in Australia in March / April. It was a beautiful backstrap and I knew when I got it, it would make a great warm salad. What I didn't realise was how good it could be. We both really enjoyed it but sadly that's now all our imported meat gone. Very sad about that but at least we got to enjoy it. I recommend this easy menu if you have access to lamb!

Some of the high school English teachers I know have pretty much finished for the term. In fact, some are even officially on holiday. This is lovely because I get to do things like have coffee with Emma at Latte Coffee House. What a civilised way to start the day. Anyway, since last time I was there, they've put covers over the outside tables. They look really cute and I'm sure they've been helpful with all the rain we've had lately.

We've been getting the fallout from the tropical storms that have been hitting Taiwan and China the past week or so. It's been torrential and we didn't go anywhere on Sunday. Still, I guess that's what the weekends are for. Hope you enjoyed yours.

30 September 2015

Countdown ...3, 2 ...

Yes, the countdown continues with only two weeks to go before we head off to Hanoi and then welcome our international visitors. We just can't wait. 

In the meantime, I went to pay our internet / TV / Phone bill the other day. Yes, they're all with the same provider but of course, they have to send us separate bills. Why? Who knows. Anyway, there's a self service booth at the shop. Helpfully it even has the instructions in English, you know like "scan bar-code here", "insert bank note here" and my favourite "kiosk doesn't give back change". So you'd think this was a pretty simple operation, right? Wrong. Think again - This is Thailand or TiT as I like to say for various reasons (say it out loud, you'll get it). When you arrive at the shop, you are warmly greeted by a member of staff. They're very smiley but there's not a massive command of the English language. These lovely staff members tend to direct you read foreign people to the self-service machine presumably because the counter staff have no English either.

Anyway, you can't operate the self-service machine ... yourself. You need to have a member of staff operate the self-service machine. Not only that, but because the machine doesn't give change, the member of staff goes to the counter staff and gives them the money you've handed over in order to get change. The member of staff then gives you your change and feeds the correct money into the self-service machine. Awesome!

All this excitement however is tinged with sadness as we have to say goodbye to the lovely Chantal next week. She's been an awesome addition to the Chan community and we wish her well in her next endeavour. Naturally, we spent the afternoon with our colouring-in books for some quality time. 

Orla cooking flat breads
In order to celebrate properly and there's a few other events planned, a few of us had a home cooked dinner on Saturday night and much game playing ensued. Games like bananagrams and apologies for the language shithead card game. If you've never played these games then use the links to find out how they work. There was a lot of fun and a lot of laughter. 

28 September 2015

Relaxing Massage

Last Tuesday I did something to my left shoulder. I still don't know what it was but either I had sat awkwardly on the couch or I slept weirdly. Either way, if I reached out with my left arm I was in agony - enough to wince each time. 

If I sat still for too long, as soon as I moved it would hurt. Putting my hand up in the air or waving it around felt OK though so I carried on going to yoga. I was talking to my Pilates instructor after class Wednesday, who suggested I try a massage at either KP Grande or Maneechan hotels. I mulled this over for a day and decided to do it. I picked out the Maneechan because I thought more foreigners would stay there and I was more likely to get a western style massage.

Having been warmly welcomed at the front door, I headed to the Reception desk to make my request. Funnily enough, they had a large list of massage services right next to the desk no, not those sort of services, this was legit and I duly advised I would like a head, neck and back massage. I was lead through the hotel, passed the pool which looked lovely and to the room on the other side of the complex. There were about six mattresses all at floor level. That seemed a bit to caring and sharing for my liking but I was the only one there so didn't think anything more of it.

Alarm bells did still not go off when I was given a fetching little outfit to put on. I've confirmed with the very nice lady who did keep calling me madam which I hate but hey that I want my head, neck and back massaged. I've done this by also including hand signals pointed out my head, neck and back. She's nodded and directed me face down onto one of the mattresses. And, by the Gods, then it starts. Without a drop of oil in sight.

Have you every had a Thai massage? I can't say I recommend it. Sure, some people love it. They think this is the original massage which we should all have. Quite frankly, this is not my opinion. By the time she turned me over yes I know, why on earth do you need to be turned over when you're having your head, neck and back done all sorts of thoughts were going on in my head. 

My first thought was - I wonder if anyone has ever gone for a massage, fully functioning and come out the other side a paraplegic? I kid you not. This woman was pulling and pushing me for all she was worth and not just with her hands. Oh no, she had a foot firmly planted on various bits of me and went to places that not even Mr John has been to in twelve years. Not only that, but every now and again she would punch, yes punch, the soles of my feet. What the ...... insert expletive of your choice...!

My second thought was - do you have any formal qualifications for undertaking this "service"? Health and Safety is, well, not very healthy or safe in Thailand. The general "sabai, sabai" namely chill out, relax, whatever approach coupled with a Buddhist belief that when your time is up, your time is up means that the Western obsession with your own personal safety just gets in the way of living life so best not to bother with all that.

One of the problems with all of this is that as she's working on one part of you, the rest of you has tensed up waiting for the inevitable surge of pain that's about to head your way. If you've already got a part of you that's tense, this sort of massage can surely only lead to other parts of you felling tense? And why do I have to roll onto my back when I'm only meant to be having my head, neck and back massaged? And what do you mean, sit up??

By the time she was jamming her chin into the top of my skull I was ready to run out screaming assuming I wasn't actually paralysed. I had been breathing so deeply and exhaling so dramatically think pregnant woman, labour pains whilst face down that I'd left a damp circle on the sheets and presumably they'd have to get a hair dryer or some equivalent to the mattress so that it was dried out for the next victim customer

I get up off the mattress. This was only achieved by rolling myself onto my knees and gingerly, one foot at a time, raising myself up. I lurched to the bathroom so I can change out of my "massage outfit". I feel like I've been 10 rounds with Mohammed Ali. I'm offering up all sorts of promises to the Gods that I'm still able to ride my motorcycle home and will not be stuck here until Mr John finishes school.

Then 300 baht (about GBP £5.50 / AUD $11.80 / US $8.30 / EU 7.40) plus a tip what was I thinking later, I'm on my bike heading home thinking I should have tried the KP Grande. To be fair, it's feeling a little better but I'm not sure whether that's due to the skills of my masseuse or just time passing remember, this was no serious injury. I somehow suspect it was the latter.

22 September 2015

Too much coffee?

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that I didn't post anything last week. Well, that was because, quite frankly, I was having way too much fun! You see it was my birthday last Tuesday and I had a lovely week. Got to eat cake, went out to dinner with friends, got some lovely cards in the post and even some pressies. Awesome. So a quick thank you to everyone who made it so special for me.

Actually, I had loads of things to tell you, so you may actually get fed up of me by the end of the week. Did you see the US Open Tennis final? I even skipped yoga to watch the end of it shock horror but it was exciting. 

I think the staff at Doi Chaang thought I was moving in but who can resist coffee cake? Infact, I had my first ever coffee rush while I was eating it and enjoying my latte. Have you ever had that? I felt like I was drunk. Whilst I have never experienced it before, I saw a guy I used to work with experience it and I have much more sympathy now. I think on my third visit of the week, they were contemplating a restraining order!

Of course the really big excitement of this week has been the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. I don't want to labour the point because quite frankly it just makes me feel way too old but I saw one of the Pool games in Brisbane in 1987 at the very first World Cup. There has of course been the predictable results though Australia don't play until Wednesday but the biggest upset and I must say once of the most exciting games of rugby I've seen in a while was when Japan beat South Africa. 

South Africa is an incredible rugby nation and, like Australia, have won the RWC twice. You can imagine, how unbelievable it was that Japan beat them. As a neutral it was the most incredible game to watch sorry to all our South African friends, I know it will have hurt

Mr John naturally wanted to see England's first match and due to the time difference, this started at 02:00 on Saturday morning, our time. So Friday night saw us in bed early and several alarms set. I enjoyed watching the opening game but, honestly, I think I'll leave him to get up on his own all England's matches are at the same time. Except when they play Australia of course. Oh, our poor neighbours! 

11 September 2015

Sport Crazy

I've been watching the US Open tennis tournament this last couple of weeks. There's been some very exciting matches. On Wednesday I was watching the Djokovic / Lopez match and it was an incredible match. Lopez, unbelievably, was two sets up and the fourth set was 6-5 in his favour. I was meeting someone for coffee and even put them back 15 minutes so I could see the end of the set - come on, if he'd have won that set Djokovic, number 1 in the world, would have been out. 

Lopez was about to serve when, the screen went dead and this appeared. Yes, it's part of the three times daily, we're going to interrupt your life so we can update you with our propaganda progress. This goes on at 8am, 12pm and 6pm. Lovely. I shouldn't complain, they now include English subtitles.

It's been a bit of a hectic week, this week. I've gone back to yoga with the torturer and continue to feel a bit like a human pretzel. The good news is Friday classes are back on so now I can go Monday, Wednesday and Friday which spaces it out better and lets me get things done on Tuesday and Thursday. Seriously you wouldn't believe, by the time I have been, get back, shower, let my hair dry it's suddenly 11 o'clock and I haven't done anything. Mr John's underpants don't wash themselves you know!

Speaking of him indoors, I'm sending him to Mars. OK, well not literally to be fair, I'd miss him, but don't tell him that. He's "scheduled to depart 4 March 2016". And you should see the frequent flyer miles - amazing! Mr John teaches science at school and is a bit of a geek with these sorts of things. It cost nothing to submit his name and I thought it would be interesting for him.

Whilst there'll be tennis finals showing on our tv this weekend, the thing we're really looking forward to is the start of the Rugby World Cup next Friday. Well, actually, given the time difference it starts here at 2am on Saturday. All Mr John's England matches are on at that time he he hee but Australia has some very civilised times like 22:45 except when they play England. Pool A is a tough group to get out of as not only does it have Australia and England in it but also Wales, Fiji and Uruguay. So, best get a new set of divorce papers printed out don't worry it's just our running joke. 

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

08 September 2015

Countdown 5, 4 ...

Now that it's September and quite frankly how did that happen? Mr John is feeling the strain of non-stop teaching for the last four plus months and is looking to October with slight desperation. Yes, it's the three week "mid-term" break and I don't think it can come soon enough for him or some of the other teachers.

We're so excited about October because we have so many fun things happening. Firstly in approximately 34 days we are heading to Hanoi. We've not been before and are really looking forward to it. In fact, Mr John has booked us into an Executive room so there are high hopes all round it even has a bath. It's really just a city break, so for us that's four nights and we're staying in the Old Quarter it's the shopping district so look out.

We'll be landing back in Bangkok just before lunch on a Saturday in mid-October and I can't stop giggling every time I think about it. Why? Because cousin Abi and her boyfriend Dave arrive just after lunch on the same day. Isn't that awesome! In fact, I'm not sure whether we should meet them flight-side or be out in the arrivals hall. It's Abi's first visit and we can't wait to see them.

And as if that wasn't exciting enough, guess what? Ross is coming back for a week and is bringing Bryony with him. And guess what else? Yep, they're arriving around lunch time on that same Saturday. What a hoot. All six of us will be in Bangkok for the weekend and I think I can feel a headache coming on already. I'm just beyond excited.

As a consequence of all the above, we've been keeping our heads down here in Chan to save as much money as we possibly can. Fortunately, some others are in the same boat as a lot of teachers head off travelling for the two / three weeks unbelievably it does vary between schools. Of course, some things are exempt from the saving binge - like coffee. I mean, that's an essential and definitely not a luxury. Right??

The political scene here continues to be perplexing. The draft charter was rejected and so the current "government" will be in place for at least another 22 months. Investigations are ongoing into the bombing at Erawan Shrine. In fact, Mr John's school had a visit from Immigration the other day supposedly because of it. Apparently they spoke to some of the teachers and wanted to see visas and work permits. 

So now, Mr John is meant to keep these documents on him whilst at school - just in case. It seems a little weird, I mean, why not just speak to the Directors and review their hiring process but then, what do I know. I've also read that Immigration officials have been told to strengthen their checks of foreigners coming in and out of the country. No doubt that'll slow some things down at the Airport but we have nothing to hide so will just have to be patient with any ensuing hold ups. There really never is a dull moment here.

03 September 2015

Bake Today

I was having coffee with Wicus a while back and discussing how expensive a visit to Bangkok Hospital is for me because I'm not covered by a school

Actually, to be fair, the visit itself is not that bad at 500 baht but it's the cost of any prescription they give you which last time cost me an added 2500 bahtHe kindly told me of a clinic where the doctor speaks reasonable English I think her English is actually very good but she lacks practice and therefore has to think a little before saying anything and it's down near the park / lake. So I headed there when I had my recent bought of bronchitis and sure enough, my whole visit only cost me 820 baht. Winner. 

But I digress because the point of this post is to tell you about a coffee shop that is next door to the clinic and one I've been meaning to try for ages.

Bake Today's big draw is their "all cakes for 35 baht" and I've been intrigued about this for some time but being on the main road I just haven't found a reason to stop. Having visited the doctors, this seemed the perfect excuse to pop in and check it all out. 

Have you ever heard the expression "you get what you pay for"? Meaning if you don't pay much you won't get much. I think that's pretty much the situation here. Cakes around town tend to cost between 60 and 90 baht generally speaking so I'm sure you can understand my curiosity. Ignoring the doctors advice that I not have any hot drinks I'd not been out of the house for a week and felt rubbish so to hell with it, I needed a coffee and to feel like a human being I dragged Mr John into this place and afterwards, was a bit sorry I had.

The interior was "asian cute" which means there were stuffed toys everywhere which I will never understand with table and chairs to sit at. The coffee was OK and a standard "ish" price of 40 baht for latte and the cake was edible but a little on the dry side. Somehow I don't think I will be heading back here, which seems harsh because the lady behind the counter was very nice and welcoming. 

01 September 2015

One Pot Pasta

I can't begin to tell you how much better I feel today. Thank goodness. Often when you're in the middle of "being sick" it feels like it's been going on forever and will never end. Mr John has been his usual awesome self keeping on top of the washing, food shopping and making sure I was fed without having to actually do anything. He even abandoned his exercise regime so I ate at appropriate times.

In order to keep life as simple as possible we reverted back to the one pot pasta meals that we enjoy but haven't cooked for ages. A bit lacking in liquid early on, he soon got back into the swing and made some of the yummiest dinners we've had in a long time is it only me that thinks food cooked by someone else tastes way nicer than something you've cooked yourself? 

Anyway, I thought I ought to revisit the recipe and share it with you all again. I've managed to be a bit more specific so hopefully your efforts will be more successful. You can make a tomato sauce or, if you're feeling decadent, a creamy sauce. Either works really well with this recipe though I probably wouldn't add the dried chilli if I was also using cream 

Although this recipe uses fettuccine you can use any pasta you want to. Mr John particularly likes fettuccine but to be honest, I use whatever is in the house. If you're going to use penne or fussili pasta, then replace the 100 grams with one cup (250 ml) for each person. 

The joy of this recipe is that you can use whatever you want and, more importantly, whatever you like. Vegetarian? - don't use any meat. Don't like spicy food - don't add the chilli. Like spicy food - add more than one chilli. Don't like mushrooms or broccoli - think about pumpkin or snow peas in fact I might try one with some grated pumpkin to see what happens. 

Free you mind, think about pasta meals you have eaten in the past, what did they have in it? Your only limits for this dish is your imagination.

Serves: 2
Time: 5 minutes preparation, 10 minutes cooking
Utensils: Deep pot with lid, large spoon for stirring, knife for chopping

  • 1 chicken breast , skin removed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 medium sized onion chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 350 ml boiled water you can add a chicken stock cube if you like
  • 1 dried chilli they pack a punch here
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil
  • 100 g mushrooms
  • 1 inch round of fettuccine  I make a circle with my thumb and forefinger snapped in half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 100 g broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

FOR A TOMATO SAUCE add 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
FOR A CREAMY SAUCE add 1/4 cup heavy cream

  1. In a deep pan, brown the chicken pieces in olive oil.  Don't worry about these being cooked through as they will cook more once everything is in the pot
  2. Add the garlic and onion and fry with the chicken for a minute or two
  3. Add the water I use water just boiled by the kettle as its helps speed up the process and fettuccine
  4. Add the chilli, herbs, mushrooms and season to taste
  5. Add the tomato ketchup or cream 
  6. Bring the liquid to the boil then turn the heat down until it's a gentle simmer. 
  7. Put the lid on and cook for 5 minutes
  8. Give the contents a stir and add the broccoli 
  9. Cook for a further 5 minutes check the pasta is cooked simply by tasting a piece
Take the pot off the heat and stir through the parmesan.  Then just dish it up.  It's that easy.  

As an added bonus there's hardly any washing up as you serve straight from the pot into your eating bowls.

22 August 2015


After a couple of enquiries I though it best to let you all know what's going on with us. 

I'm sure you've all heard about the awful bomb at Erawan Shrine in Bangkok and the senseless loss of life. Our condolences go to all those who have lost loved ones. I'm also sure you're aware of how far away we are from Bangkok and so were not directly affected.

I have, however, come down with another bout of bronchitis and have just got back from the doctors with my second set of tablets. So, dear reader, "rest" continues to be the instruction and I need to listen. Mr John says I have terrible trouble sitting still but to be honest, I'm feeling too exhausted to do much else. So until I'm feeling better and have a spark of energy to write something, please be kind to yourself and each other.

14 August 2015


Well, what can I say? Quite a lot actually. Our jolly day out wasn't quite what we all had in mind but the company was excellent so really no complaints. I have a nephew called Rhys, he is a legend, fact. To précis his words when you give him something he doesn't like .....

Me: Did you like that? 
R: Yes
Me: Do you want some more? 
R: No
I think that pretty much sums up my feelings on Rayong.

OK, so we were a little late heading off but this trip should be about one and a half hours. We sat on the minivan me in an individual seat near the door to try and avoid getting travel sick at 11:30 and we walked into Central Plaza having had to get a taxi as it's not "in town" at 14:00. I know it was a national holiday and there was a bit of traffic on the road but I did have an incredible urge to keep saying "are we there yet?" "are we there yet?".

So after trying to find somewhere different and relaxing for lunch you know, where we could chat and maybe have a drink and failing dismally, the girls came up with the option of visiting a Strawberry Town. We had terrible trouble trying to find a taxi and then making ourselves understood. We then found out it was about 36 kilometres away and by this time it was 15:40 and it starts to get dark around 18:00. So we knocked that idea on the head. I also found out later that there are actually no strawberries here and that its more like a resort,

Next up was the idea of going to the beach. Thinking we were being clever we headed to the Information desk in the Plaza as surely their English would be better. Wrong. But they were very smiley and tried their best. We did establish that the beach was 40 kilometres away. So we knocked that idea on the head.

There was only one thing left to do in circumstances like these. Head for the cinema and hope an English film was going to be shown soon. And success, yay, we got to watch Fantastic Four in the Honeymoon Seats very appropriate. We got lucky with the timing as only one of the films is shown in English even though there are about eight screens. 

Of course, before we knew it, it was time to bite the bullet and head back home we couldn't stay forever, the girls had to teach the next day. It was 19:10 I'm reliably informed when we came out of the shopping centre. Then of course we had to get on the back of a motorcycle taxi each don't ask why, I'm exhausted just re-living it to take us back to the Bus Station. Thankfully a minivan was heading to Chan in 30 minutes. Forty-five minutes later we were on our way and I walked through the door to Mr John at 22:00. 

I'm not sure any of us will be in a hurry to head off on a day trip to Rayong any time soon. To be fair, there were some pretty looking shops like Rip Curl and Sketchers if you're in the market for that sort of thing but really pretty much everything else you could find here in Chanthaburi, albeit a little less shiny and probably on a slightly smaller scale. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained but, as I said, the company was excellent. Thanks Emma and Orla

12 August 2015

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to all the Mums out there! I know this date differs all around the world and quite frankly, when you're away from "home" what date do you stick to? Do you use the date in the country where your Mother lives and if you do, can you remember it? Do you use the date in the country you're currently living / working in? And if you do, will your Mother think you are deranged as you dial up Skype other video conferencing services are available and boom out a happy greeting? These are just some of the dilemmas you have to deal with as you start globe trotting.

Of course, Mr John and I are pretty static here in Thailand. Today is the Queens birthday and therefore Mothers Day for the whole country. It's a national holiday and so yesterday, at school, there was a big assembly in the morning. I popped along to check out what was happening but I actually didn't see much in relation to the children's Mothers being celebrated. What I did see where the lovely matching shirts all the teachers wore sadly they never seem to think of the foreign teachers as, forget how bad the pattern is, the material is so thick for the heat of the day they all end up a sweaty mess.

There was food giving to the Monks and the whole school was at assembly singing the national song I'm genuinely not sure if it's also the national anthem and the school song but no Mums by the time it got to that stage. Still, it is always lovely to see the little ones first graders are sooo tiny.

Nice hat!
This last week has seen Mr John survive "man flu" actually, he was really sick and even had a day off school for the first time ever though I did wonder if it was tied in with "post holiday trauma". We are both missing the conveniences of Bangkok and the lovely swimming pool that was so handy.

And so today, I've left him home alone don't panic, there's water in the house and I've opened the windows and have gone off with the girls for a day trip to Rayong. Am really looking forward to some quality girlie time and I suspect Mr John is looking forward to some uninterrupted Play Station time.

05 August 2015

4 nights in Bangkok

Oh my, what a fantastic extra long weekend we've had in Bangkok. I really hope you were checking out our pictures on Instagram. Although we went separately to Bangkok we both had reasonable trips. There is so much to tell you but one of the highlights was meeting up with Lisa and Gordon. We made the executive decision to watch Mission Impossible 5, followed by lunch and a bit of shopping.

I'm not really sure who was more excited about having an oven but I produced some fantastic dinners even though I say so myself. Is it OK to be a fan of your own cooking? Or is that considered narcissistic

Anyway, roast chicken dinner was accompanied, amongst other things, by cauliflower cheese and Yorkshire puddings. The roast duck breast also got dauphinoise potatoes plus I did Mr John a few small roast potatoes using the fat from the duck breast. 

Now, I'm inclined to think you're all wondering what the fuss is. Some of you may even have made these types of meals mid-week. Unless you have grown up in a Western country and then lived in a non-Western country, I'm not sure you can appreciate what it's like to live without a kitchen / oven / certain produce. Of course, if you live in a big city like Bangkok, you can get access to all these things - at a price obviously - but at least they are available. Here in Chanthaburi well, you can't even get beef mince or potatoes with any certainty.

So yes, we pretty much hung around the apartment most of the time. Given that two of the four days were "no selling alcohol" days, this really wasn't an issue.
We used the pool a couple of times. They insisted on me wearing a swimming hat, which they supplied because oddly, I don't have one. But there was hardly anyone there. In fact, it was crowded on Saturday with three other people in it. 

We had taken some DVDs and watched a couple of films. At this time of year, you have to be prepared for rain and sure enough on our first night it bucketed down. The lightening and thunder made quite a display from our 15th floor vantage point, so really no complaints but it wasn't the last of the rain.
The apartment was 600 metres from the local train station, this may not sound far but in tropical heat it can seem an awfully long way. No worries though, the apartments had a "shuttle bus" that went around the rather large block with the total trip probably taking 15 minutes. You could buy tickets in the office at 10 baht each. This was an absolute bargain as it was in fact an air-conditioned mini-van. At the weekends it goes as far as Chatuchak market yes still only 10 baht so that's a winner and when you need to get your luggage back to the train station it's a no-brainer.

Tuk Tuk's and motorbike taxis were abundant and relatively cheap at 50 & 20 baht respectively and there was a lovely, reasonably priced coffee shop just across the road. Of course being in the big smoke, we couldn't resist the odd Starbucks.

We would really recommend this fabulous apartment and Bert (the owner). If you'd like to enquire about staying there, get in touch using my Contact Form and I'll be happy to pass on your details to Bert. 
Please note that I will note receive any gratuity, cash or otherwise.