26 March 2015

Up, up and away!

As you're reading this, I will have landed in Melbourne for a lovely two week catch up with family. It was a rather hastily organised trip a couple of months ago and not at all on the original schedule of "Things to Do in 2015" but when I got a message from my sister-in-law about a small party in April I knew I had to do everything I could to get there.

You see Anna has been married to my brother Roger for 40 years this Easter Saturday. Can you believe that this is where I tell you Anna was 5 when she walked down the aisle, I can't believe it and I was a bridesmaid.

Of course Mr John was already booked to go to Hong Kong for the rugby 7s which is on over the weekend. He also gets to spend some quality time with RossWhich brings me to the point, you see Roger and Anna have decided to have a dinner with just the bridal party. 

April 1975
They wanted to celebrate and do something different but not have a massive party. So now, with me on my way, that's the whole party having dinner and a small sherry ok, so maybe a large sherry!!

So here we all are looking fabulous I'm the short one. The "after" photo should be very interesting and I promise I will share it with you.

So don't forget over the next couple of weeks to check out Instagram where you'll be able to see what I'm up to.

24 March 2015


Well, it should start with the Thailand National Youth Games that have been happening since last week at the Stadium and will be finishing up on Friday. As is often the case here, the only reference I could find for this prestigious event was on the Cricket Association of Thailand website. I'm sure cricket is not the only thing that has been played.

In fact, the opening ceremony was covered by one of the TV channels here. The stadium is a reasonable distance from our house, but you could here the fireworks like they were being lit next door.
On top of that, I had the most surreal but fabulous experience the other week. I was perusing the shelves of Tops in Robinson as you do and singing along with Christina Aguilera being piped through the store when a voice said "excuse me, are you Mrs John?". 

To cut a long story short, I was concerned that I should know who this lovely young lady who was speaking to me I don't know by sight everyone Mr John works with but no! She has been living here in Chan for a year and plans to stay here another year teaching. She said that this blog had helped and that it was all she could find when she got here I like to think of this as a back-handed complement and that she likes my writing style and hopefully hasn't changed her mind now that she's reading this.

I was so shocked that I forgot to ask her name, so can I just say thank you so much. You have no idea how thrilled I am that one of the reasons I set this blog up has come to fruition and that someone other than my friends and family enjoy reading it. It doesn't get much better than that.

19 March 2015

Baan Rua Resort

My friend Kik told me about this place and she was absolutely right. It's a great place to enjoy a swim and have some lunch. Although at first glance the setting may not seem that glamorous, being right beside a big bridge, it's a lovely spot to while away quite a few hours.

Having not been here before, I took Anne & Graham with me on my first trip whilst Mr John soldiered on at work. I'd been told it was at the end of the bridge on the right hand side and in trying to establish its whereabouts I had mentioned the white temple at Laem Sing. Kik said yes and that I should turn right. I had also seen photos on her Facebook page of the resort and knew you could clearly see the bridge from it.

Without further ado, we all jumped in the car with our beach towels and headed for Laem Sing. After a walk along the beach and, I must say, an outstanding cup of coffee, we set off for the bridge. Before turning right, I thought I'd drive past the spot where we saw monkeys, you know, for our foreign visitors entertainment. Turns out they weren't where I expected them to be but as there was nowhere to easily turn around I had to keep heading west when we accidentally found them all over the road. Excellent tour guide brownie points.

Having turned around, I then intended to go straight to the resort. By now it's getting toward lunch time. I head back toward the bridge and straight on which would have been the agreed right turn if I'd come from the bridge itself. I'm thinking, no worries, piece of cake, we'll be able to see the resort from this high up. Except we couldn't. I drove straight ahead thinking there'd be a sign. But there wasn't. Then the heavens opened and I pulled into a "rest area" whilst poor Graham is trying to find the resort on his phone. It was then we discovered there was a small leak around the rear window. 

So no joy with trying to locate the resort but he's spotted a large swimming pool on the location map. We head off with renewed optimism. I follow the instructions given and we end up on a dead end road with a rather large wall surrounding what could only be described as a derelict building - albeit large! At this point, I also noticed we were low on gas but decided not to share that with the group considering it to potentially be a step too far! All tour guide brownie points lost.

We took all sorts of turns and roads, crossed the bridge more than once and ended up in more than one dead end until finally I gave up. I decided the best course of action was to drive the coast road to Chao Lao beach and hopefully find a petrol station. I knew there were places to eat there! Well, you'll never believe it but going over a bridge (about 15 minutes down the road from Laem Sing) I spot the resort. We'd found it! 

It all worked out beautifully in the end. The food was outstanding and reasonably priced (around 100 / 200 baht for a main dish). I should warn you that, whilst the staff are lovely, their spoken English is not great, but the menu does have the English titles so a bit of smiling and pointing and you end up with a lovely lunch. There was only one ladies toilet by the pool so guess there might be a queue on busy days, but the two showers have liquid soap and shampoo so you can freshen up nicely.

The charge for using the pool is 100 baht and although we had brought our own towels, they were insistent that we paid. And here's the map so you won't be driving down any dead ends honestly, it's so easy to find I'm a bit embarrassed

17 March 2015


Before I tell you about our time in Bangkok, I really must share with you the cooking course that Anne & Graham did with Lollipop Cafe. For those that don't know, Warm is a professional chef whose English is outstanding and from his commercial kitchen you can learn how to make Thai dishes like a local. So dinner was literally brought to us one night and it was super delicious. This course comes highly recommended and certainly the end product is well worth it.

So it was nearly time for Anne & Graham to return home to Queensland but not before one last hurrah in Bangkok. I'd organised a two bedroom apartment near Sanam Pao BTS*. Agoda.com came through again with a great deal on Abloom Exclusive Serviced Apartments not sure it's that exclusive but they were very, very nice. We've not stayed in this area before but we will most definitely go back. It's so handy for lots of tourist places but the area itself is quite laid back.

Unfortunately Anne wasn't feeling her best when we arrived, so we adjusted our itinerary accordingly. This let us test out room service, which got a thumbs up, and the Tea Olive coffee shop. Although weirdly named, the guy here was really nice and produced excellent coffee which could be delivered to your room but we weren't that lazy!

Four stops on the BTS will bring you to Mo Chit and the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Graham & I popped here to pick up a suitcase which was a really good buy. Make sure you haggle here and don't pay the first price you're told I went with 20% off. So I guess my top tip is to make sure you're fluent in Thai numbers and the words hundred roy and thousand pan. We reckon we probably covered 10% of the market so if you are going here, give yourself plenty of time. It's also ridiculously hot so keep yourself hydrated and if you don't like crowds . . . probably don't go!

One stop away at Ari BTS is The Villa mall. There's a Starbucks and quite a few eating and drinking establishments but also Villa Market which is a supermarket that stocks western goodies including some fine looking meats and delicious cheeses. Mr John was like a kid in a candy store!

One stop in the other direction, will bring you to Victory Monument and just a couple of stops after that to Siam where you'll find loads of shopping malls, including Siam Paragon. We had a meander around here on the Sunday and stopped for a lovely pot of tea at TWG and got to meet up with our mate Ake.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye which was really quite sad. It was great to have time to show them the sights here and just chill out and chat endlessly about all sorts of things. Anne and I were the last ones left at home after everyone else had married / moved out plus we did a bit of travelling in Europe together, so our relationship is different to my other siblings and I'm thrilled to say she backed a winner in Graham. What I can't believe is she's a grandmother of three! Still, 60 is the new 40 right?

* For those that haven't been to Bangkok, this is the Skytrain service in the city. It's by far my preferred method of getting around as the trains are air-conditioned and really very cheap. The cheapest ticket is 15 baht roughly GBP £0.30 / AUD $0.60 / USD $0.46 / EUR €0.43. The most expensive is 52 baht roughly GBP £1.07 / AUD $2.07 / USD $1.58 / EUR €1.51 which will get you from one end of the line to the other end.

12 March 2015

The first wave

Wow, what a fantastic time we have had with Anne & Graham. I hope you were following our exploits on Instagram. What an easy App to use and I will definitely be making further use of it as the holiday season is upon us. So you may want to consider getting an account if you don't already have one so you can keep up with what's happening. So, Anne & Graham stayed at the Kasamsarn Hotel and I can't believe I've never covered this place so I'll put that on my "to do" list
It's very handy to the old town and our house so perfect for having a small sherry of an evening! In fact the Tamajum bar was well and truly visited, several times! There is also ample parking at the hotel and as Pii Kob was kind enough to lend us his car for their visit, it was perfect.
Vietnamese Food was a big hit for brunch and we ate there twice. Lollipop Cafe was where you could often find them though and it was lovely to join them for breakfast there. When I booked the hotel, I decided against including breakfast at 150 baht a day mostly because there's enough places around to eat at and omelette at Tom's is only 30 baht.  We really did do all the sights too like the Catholic churchKing Taksin ShipyardLaem Sing.
We ate at some favourites Pu NimBlack Sheep and a new place which deserves it's own mention Meneechan Resort. Of course no trip to us would be complete without regular coffee stops and so we did Doi ChaangBrunchDelight Cafe and Koff House another one for the list!

There was one night, however that sticks in my mind which was the night I decided we would have take-away pizza. We've used Pizza Company before and can order on-line for delivery though this does often mean Tom literally waving his hands and chasing down the pizza motorbike because they can't find our house! For various reasons, we needed to go to Tesco Lotus which is our nearest pizza place and so I thought I'd take care of "dinner" whilst Anne & Graham did a bit of shopping.

It was all so easy, with the use of the menu, to get my order taken until I asked about size. I should point out that some Thai people have trouble finishing words in English because they don't use all the letters in the Thai language and they think English is the same. I swear, this is the exact conversation I had:

Me: What size is the medium pizza?
Her: 6 sli 
Me: OK but how big is 6 slices making a circle with my hands
Her: 6 sli looking at me like I have special needs
Me: OK. How big is the large pizza?
Her: 8 sli
Me: trying not to giggle, I lunge at a nearby table, waving my finger in a circle over the dinner plate that's on top  Large?
Her: No
Me: Medium?
Her: No
Finally, she heads to the shelf where the cooked pizzas come out from the kitchen totally frustrated by this stupid farang who just doesn't get it, speaks to one of the "chefs" and returns holding the metal plates they cook the pizza on
Me: Double Cheese 6 sli, Meat Feast 8 sli 

I was exhausted. And it was two for one special offer time so we had loads of pizza, in fact so much we had two dinners out of it.

Look out for the next instalment of the visit which includes our trip to Bangkok

02 March 2015

Don't miss out!

If you're not following me on Instagram this last week, here's just some of the highlights you might have missed out on. So pop on over using the Instagram link it's there, top right, see it? You don't need an account, just check it out. You'll even be able to see Bangkok this weekend.
Always eat dessert first! Brunch
It's not alcoholic, honest! Tamajun 
Always time for coffee Doi Chaang
Definitely related!