26 June 2015

Hannah I

And before Leon had even left, Hannah arrived. It's been two years since we've seen her and "excited" can't even begin to describe it. I headed off on a silly o'clock minivan to make sure someone was at the airport to greet her. Mr John & Leon followed at a slightly more sensible hour and on the luxurious big bus well maybe luxurious isn't quite the right word but you know how much I hate minivans. Hannah was flying in from Hong Kong having seen Ross at the start of her holiday. As with his trip, it took me longer to get to the airport here than it did for Hannah to get her flight.

We'd booked an apartment in Bangkok for two nights and I like to think it was more relaxing for Leon than being put on a bus in Chan for the airport and left to his own devices. Three bedroom places are hard to find and poor Leon did end up in the lounge oh come on, it was a double bed and there were dressing screens to go round it

Leon and Mr John got to spend some quality time together whilst I took Hannah on the obligatory river cruise and a good look around Wat Pho. We also had another lovely catch up with Lisa and Gordon as they played tour guide for drinking establishments it's so handy knowing a local

Hannah, like most people we know, has a full on job and discussions prior to arrival centred around doing very little and sleeping quite a bit. Naturally, to us, this meant one thing Koh Mak yay! Extra bonus when visitors fancy a complete chill out as Mr John and I get to gatecrash their fun. So we emailed Mr Egg at Leelawadee Speedboat and he picked us up from our house, delivered us to the pier for the boat and did the same for us on the way back. He's totally awesome and we would never use anyone else.

Of course, by the time Sunday came around we all needed to relax as we had given Hannah the "all you can see of Chanthaburi by bike in one day" tour. Yes, whilst other visitors had time to savour the sights, take photos and generally relax we herded Hannah on and off the bike she went on the back with Mr John and I rode mine. We started at 9am see, a lie in, with Vietnamese Food following by a whiz around the Cathedral, then it was on to Robinson one of the "holy trinity" of shopping centres and the outdoor market. Obviously we also had to fit in Doi Chaang, Big C, the big buddha statue, three temples and Tesco thereby completing the holy trinity. It was hilarious with no time to enjoy yourself just keep moving!

Koh Mak was amazing and Hannah seemed to really enjoy herself. The villa we had even had a tub - I don't know what else to call it. It's like a hot-tub but there wasn't any "hot" and it was smaller than a plunge pool so we'll just go with tub doesn't sound appealing but it was fantastic having this right next to the kitchen and therefore the "beer fridge".

We did all the great things we love doing when we go to this island but we do have some very sad news. Massimo and Francesca are no longer at the Bamboo Hideaway. They were leaving at the end of the month when we went for dinner having decided they needed to move on. We will miss their fantastic food and it will take a little shine off the island for us in the future.

Of course no trip to visit your Aunty would be complete without visiting the ice-cream parlour. So off to Swensen's we went. But all too soon we were waving Hannah off on the bus to the Airport no preferential treatment like Leon got!. It almost feels as if I dreamt she was here in Thailand it went so quickly. As with all our visitors, we were thrilled to bits that she chose to spend her precious time off in our company. 

19 June 2015

Leon II

The excitement had not diminished any just because this was the second time Leon had visited us. Although the reunion was a bit surreal as he arrived in Bangkok the day before I returned from Australia. This meant he ended up becoming very familiar with a certain Starbucks near Ekkamai whilst Mr John met me at the airport *.  I thought it was lovely that, on this visit, Mr John was on holiday making it easier to spend some quality time together.

We had so much to fit in, it was pretty full on in the first few days. So it was Wednesday when we headed back to Chanthaburi and on Thursday, after a trip to immigration which I'll tell you about another time we took off for Koh Chang. We stayed at the Alina Grand Hotel & Resort. They use the terms loosely and I wouldn't recommend it, so I'll say no more! Regardless, we had a good time hanging round the pool, eating, drinking and generally catching up. 

In fact we even managed to catch up with Lisa & Gordon, friends who live in Bangkok. This may not sound that amazing but Leon, Lisa and Mr John went to high school together. What a weird and wonderful world it is.

On their advice, we headed to Nong Bua Seafood at Whitesands you'll find it on the main drag just look out for the sign. It is a fantastic place, very, very reasonably priced. There are no "airs and graces" you get served, you eat, you leave. There's a lot of seafood on display out the front that you can point at and choose if you're not comfortable with the menu and there's such high turnover, the seafood is fresh it's always a concern here that it's been sitting in the baking sun all day
Of course part of the reason Leon left his visit until April was to check out Songkran and I don't think he was disappointed. It really is like being a little kid. As usual sleepy Chanthaburi was rocking and quite literally this year. We met up with Roy and his "posse" at the lake and were given a very Thai welcome with the whiskey flowing and the band rocking out the country music. We were invited in because Mr John had worked with one of the guys at a previous school.

I don't think I've told you before but there is a shop by the lake where you can purchase all you "country" related gear Stetsons, cowboy boots I kid you not. There was also some lovely food being passed around and a guy working the barbecue tirelessly it was also lovely to have a sit down

Of course no trip for Leon would be complete without some quality time with the legend that is Pii Kob. We'd seen him a little bit but then got to have a lovely lunch at a new for us place just out of town. The food was really good and a lot of laughter shared. But all too soon it was time to head back to Bangkok for a bit more sight seeing before Leon had to leave.

We love having him here and we're hoping it won't be his last trip. Who knows, maybe next time we can take in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. As always though, we are so grateful to people who make the effort to come see us and bring us chorizo!!

* you can get a bus back to Chanthaburi from the airport but it's hit and miss whether there are enough seats. The easiest bus terminal for the eastern parts of Thailand is Ekkamai (because it's on the east side of Bangkok) and rather than drag Leon back and forth on his first full day we thought it best to let him relax a bit

17 June 2015

Monkey Beach

The weather has been really hot lately, no seriously, hotter than it should be this time of year. Also, we haven't had as much rain as we've had previously though I have to keep reminding myself it is only part way through June. Sometimes it appears that rainy season is definitely here and then it clears up for days on end. Unless you're living in Bangkok at the moment. There have been some horrendous storms, mostly in the wee hours of the morning, some flooding which invariably results in commuter traffic chaos. We have some friends living there and it's playing havoc with a good nights sleep.

In fact, it has been so hot lately that I told Mr John we needed to go to the beach the other weekend. Some of the new teachers joined us and we had a lovely afternoon. We headed off to Laem Sing and Ao Krathing or monkey beach as we like to call it. There's ample parking though I found the walk back up to the bike a bit much not being 100% fit.

Of course prior to being even remotely fit enough to do this trip, I dragged Mr John along to the cinema. We went to Big C shopping centre and saw Mad Max at the Major Ciniplex. All films in Chanthaburi are shown in Thai although the trailers for other movies are in English. It's a lovely way to get out of the heat for a little over 100 baht. My only advice, if your Thai is not very good, go for a low or no plot action film

I started back at yoga last week. Its a good reminder of how sick I've been. I find that when my head spends too much time pointing at the floor, I have to stop and sit down. It makes me so giddy but not in a good way

photo courtesy of Orla
TO GET TO MONKEY BEACH: Head to Laem SIng and the large bridge that spans the river. If you're coming from the highway go over the bridge and you will see a large white temple at the end of it. Turn left here and just follow the road. You will see signs for Ao Krathing and end up in the parking lot. Go down the steps to get to the actual beach. Oh, and beware of the monkeys who can steal your bag.

12 June 2015

Home Time

You may remember the whole point of my trip to Australia was for Roger & Anna's wedding anniversary Roger kept referring to it as "getting the band back together" and what a fantastic evening we had. Everyone in the bridal party was able to make it and we even had some guest stars like Adam their son and his gorgeous wife Judy along with Dianne's husband Maurice. There was a lot of talking, eating, drinking and laughing. It was a perfect night and another cherished memory. Plus I got to spend extra time with brother Pete who stayed an extra day so I didn't have to make time to get to him bless him.
Of course, that's not all I did. It was an actioned packed fourteen days I can tell you. 

I had a great time staying with my niece Abby and her extremely tolerant husband Greg for putting up with me not Abs!. Staying with them means I get to see my sister Lynne and have quality time with the next generation. Teddy is just a star and is clearly revelling in being the "baby" of the family. 

Roman is really into his "dance parties" and we had a very good time listening to Bruno Mars, again and again and again. Apparently four year olds never tire of hearing the same song. I have to admit though dancing around the lounge room, singing badly was very liberating for me. It reminded me of the things I used to do with his Mum when she was little and their Uncle Warren. 

Speaking of Warren, I got to spend some quality time with his partner Jess who is totally awesome and the latest addition to the family Molly. Oh my, but she is the most gorgeous baby of course. I'm just thrilled to have another girl in the family. I have six nephews but only two nieces and girls are way more fun to dress up.

Obviously no trip is complete to Oz without spending time with Rhys, oh and his Mum and Dad of course. Actually it was Michael's birthday during my visit and it was nice to be able to share the day with him not to mention the dinner at Healesville Hotel. I think I'm safe in saying that Joan's and my favourite place is the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie - a must visit. It's just so relaxing here.

On this trip I also got to stay with Adam another of the six nephews and Judy. They completely spoiled me by taking me to dinner at Movida Bar de Tapas how cool does that sound. Dinner was amazing and just the other day I saw it was voted number 15 in Australia's top 100 restaurants. Adam made me stay up late drinking whisky bad man whilst Judy & I were much more civilised at Brunetti Cafe.

But of course, I'm left with visitors guilt - I didn't get to Sydney to see Gareth another nephew and his partner Jara. They will just have to go to the top of the list for the next visit of course I'm not sure how thrilled they'll be to hear that but hey, that's what Aunties are for.

I just can't believe how easy it is not to see someone for forty years and just chat to them like it was yesterday and now be FB friends. Thanks to the "blogging" ladies who let me join in their retro film evening complete with Prosecco. Thanks everyone who put up with me put me up. I feel so lucky to have been able to go. No matter where I go in the world as soon as I land in Australia, I know I'm home. It's so familiar even after all this time away. And who knows, maybe next time, I might even bring Mr John.

09 June 2015

What? It's June?

Such a good look ...
I can't believe how long it has been since I have managed to sit down and tell you all that's going on. I hope you kept a look out on Instagram for some photos as I tried to keep you up to date. 

I guess the problem is when you're sleeping 12 hours at night, then falling asleep on the couch for the other 12 hours, there's not much to photograph. So May pretty much passed me by. I went to Bangkok Hospital and they put a mask on me before I'd even had my xray! 

Five different sets of tablets and nearly 3000 baht later, turns out I had bronchitis. This only got diagnosed when I figured three weeks and three bottles of cough mixture not shifting a cough meant it was probably a bit more serious than an "awful cold".

The good news is that I've finished all the tablets I was given and found that last Thursday I was able to do something during the day that didn't result in my being exhausted that evening. 

In the meantime Mr John has really stepped up to the plate, doing the shopping, cooking, washing and even cleaning under supervision. Turns out he's a bit of a champion when it comes to limited facility cooking as well. Of course he's back at school now and I must say, this year we have met up with some lovely people who have signed up for the years teaching. These include some lovely "girlies" so it's all quite exciting from my point of view.

We've had some awesome thunderstorms over the past few weeks including one where I swear the clap of thunder actually happened inside our bedroom it was that close and of course the rainy season means it can take a couple of days to get clothes dry but we struggle on. Actually, it's still not as bad as it was the first year we were here so I guess we need to be grateful for small mercies.

I went back to yoga yesterday. Boy was that an experience. I could feel it in my calf muscles by the time I got home. I found it hard to do a couple of moves that I used to be able to do before the holiday but guess I just need to build up my stamina again. There's another three classes to do this week, so hopefully I'll feel like progress has been made by the end of the week once my torturer has put me through my paces.