29 July 2015

Buddhist Lent

Did you even know there was such a thing? Well, now you do and it's this Friday. Of course this means Thursday is Asahna Bucha which commemorates Buddha's first sermon in Benares, India don't take my word for it, check out the link.  For the next three months, the monks are not meant to travel and to meditate, a lot. 

This also means there is a four day weekend coming up and we are off to Bangkok or civilisation as we sometimes call it. Can you believe we have booked a place with an oven. I know it sounds sad, but we don't have one let's face it, we don't even have a kitchen and I am so excited about cooking. Mr John has been menu planning for months. 

Speaking of Mr John, we attended the school Open Day for his Maths Project. The girls were very sweet and answered the judges questions well though sadly they didn't win any prizes. Mr John is hoping this will mean he won't have to do it all again next year. Anyway, back to Lent.

We are in a lovely area, not far from where we stayed when Anne & Graham were over. There's some snazzy little bars nearby and we were looking forward to checking them all out. The eagle eyed among you will have noticed I used the past tense. Why? I hear you cry

Well, the powers that be have decided that both these days will see the sale of alcohol banned. In fact, they've even named Friday "National No Drinking Day". Hurrah! So, I now have visions of arriving in Bangkok to find the alcohol shelves at all the supermarkets devoid of all booze except for a lone bottle of sherry and that's no good because you can only drink sherry at Christmas right? I don't want you to think we are total drunkards but we have been looking forward to a nice bottle of wine with our home cooked dinners. 

Still, all is not lost. There is a pool at the apartment which is ours to use for the four days we're there. Oh no, quick check the weather and tell me it isn't going to rain aaaaaargh.

24 July 2015


OMW or for the uninitiated oh, my, word ! I can't believe we only found this place recently. Still, we've managed to take Wicus, Emma and Orla there already - word may be spreading. Mr John had noticed it first as its just down from a tutoring school he used to frequent. I can't believe I'd missed it, but further investigation proved very fruitful. It is hard to spot but don't give up!

The menu focuses on the sweet stuff, but you can also get an all day breakfast plus bacon with eggs and pancakes, waffles and of course fabulous gelato that is hand made by the owners. In fact, they speak very good English, so don't be frightened to go in and order to your hearts content. If you're worried about narrowing down your choice, don't be because sample spoons are all the go to help you decide. Of course, I just find this confuses me more as I end up wanting everything.

I sometimes find myself in the vicinity of the shop on a Friday so I might just happen to pop in for take-away and get a small tub 35 baht of something deliciously rich like chocolate and a medium tub 55 baht of something light like strawberry. You can also get large tubs. Mr John especially likes the pineapple and white malt flavours together. Best of all, half the flavours on display are fat free so no guilty consciences required.

So with the hot weather continuing I make that sounds like sometimes it gets cold hah, get yourself down to Scenares for some amazing gelato. Sit inside in the air conditioning on some groovy chairs. 

If it's take-away you're after, no problems, just make sure it's the last thing you do and get it home "tout suite" or you may end up having to use a straw and not one of the lovely little spoons they give you and that would be a tragedy. Check out the FB page if you want to see more photos!

22 July 2015


So I was a bit conspicuous by my absence last week and there was a good reason. A very, very dear friend of ours has had a close family bereavement. I don't feel it's my place to discuss this in any detail, so hope that you will forgive my silence.

It's been a time to reflect on a lot of things and we often use phrases rather flippantly don't you think in our everyday lives? The one thing I truly believe though is that there is nothing more important than your health. Mr John and I try to do some exercise every week. This is something that I have been guilty of not doing in the past. It was too easy to blame my job or my age or any thing really.

You'll have to forgive me for leaving you with these reflections today. It's hard to be frivolous or self absorbed when you see your mate so deeply affected by the death of a loved one. 

I would ask that you remember your own loved ones that may no longer walk among us. Maybe more importantly, I would ask that you remember the living. Make that phone call, send that email. Reach out to the people you care about. Let go of those people who don't add anything to your life then you'll have more time for the important things. Finally, never take love and goodness for granted.

I'll leave you with the words by Reinhold Niebuhr that I was taught at school

if the use of "God" offends you, please insert what ever worldly reference suits you

10 July 2015

Sweet @ Moon

Finally went to this place the other day in the Old Town and was pleasantly surprised. I'd heard that the cake was very good and you know it would be rude not to check it out. Next door to La Luna this unassuming place opens out onto the river and provides ample seating. It's probably half and half for comfy seats v hard stools and if you're lucky, you'll be sat near a fan. If there is a down side to this place, I would say it's the lack of air. 

On a good day, there's a breeze running from front to back and there are "stand" fans dotted around. Right down the back of the shop, where the long couch is, there's also a large humidifier and if you're in front of this its a fabulous spot to enjoy the view and the tempting goods on offer. Of course, you can always get takeaway.
It's reasonably priced with a hot latte at 40 baht and cakes from 45 baht. I tried the coffee cake and the sponge itself was so light but lacked a little punch from the coffee flavour for my tastes. Just an extra hit in the cream would have done it. My coffee too was perfectly acceptable. So if you're having a wander in the Old Town, stop off here for a well earned break.

08 July 2015


Tiramisu cake
Life continues at a pace here, well you know, albeit a tropical pace. Still, there's always time for cake and Sweet Factory continues to excel in this department. Mr John is well and truly back into the swing of another school year. He's been extremely busy lately as he's in charge of putting together the maths project for the school. There's a regional competition coming up and it is, of course, very important that the school is appropriately represented. 

You may recall that last year, his task was to prepare Chompoo for the recitation contest. This year, it's much more complicated. His team is doing "Art for the unARTistic" and involves a lot of parabolic curves. They have to put a pack together and have an interesting display not only for the competition but for the open day at school. Of course Mr John is not the only one with added responsibilities. Just the other day, my mate Thuy had to cancel our coffee date now that's serious!

The rainy season is a bit hit and miss at the moment. No sooner do I think it's here to stay than the sun is blazing again. About half the provinces are in drought and there was a headline yesterday that claimed Bangkok will run out of tap water by the end of this month. Chanthaburi is known as the fruit growing province so as you can imagine, gets a lot of rain and is not one of those in drought. As often is the case here, no-one seems particularly concerned maybe because of another circulating headline, that the end of this month will bring torrential rain. That wouldn't be so bad, but there's a four day weekend at the end of the month and we're already booked into a place in Bangkok. Ah, it's only rain.

Of course, the most exciting thing we have to look forward to is a visit from cousin Abi. We're really looking forward to seeing her in October and getting to know Dave. Can't wait.

03 July 2015

So Grill

A couple of weeks ago, we had dinner here with some of the teachers, including the lovely Deja who left at the end of last month. It was very sad to see her go as she was such a nice person, a ready laugh and an inordinate amount of common sense. Sadly, Thailand just wasn't for her and we wish her lots of luck for her future where a return to medical school beckons.

LtoR Joke, Louise, Deja and Thuy
To celebrate or maybe just as an excuse we checked out this new "all you can eat in two hours" buffet which can be found on the Tesco Lotus road. It costs 499 baht to have the full menu which includes beef and seafood or you can go without those additions and spend 349 baht

The biggest drawback I can see is that your whole table has to have the same menu choice but on the flip side, the price also includes all your drinks (non-alcoholic) which are refilled as and when you want.

Most, but not all the "dead" trays
We ate a seemingly ridiculous amount of food and it was a bit of a challenge cooking over your own set of coals which are set in the middle of the table. I say this because the beef was quite thin and you generally need to keep an eye on the food so you don't overcook it. 

I've got to say the company was awesome and there was a lot of laughter going on. Pretty good considering there was no alcohol consumed. 

01 July 2015


Boy have we had some rain this last week. Rainy season hit with a vengeance so much so that Mr John didn't move from the house on Saturday of course that may have had more to do with the fact that the semi-finals of the Super 15 were on rather than the wet weather.

buy Twister here
I'm clearly getting my fitness back because I no longer feel dizzy when dangling my head at the floor during yoga. That's not to say that the Torturer isn't trying to turn me into some sort of human pretzel. Seriously, it's like playing a game of Twister without the mat.  On Monday, she introduced these weird black straps but frankly, I'm just not going there!

But back to today's topic. Immigration. DON'T GET ME STARTED ,,,,, seriously, what is it with me and Immigration? Mr John had got his visa extension whilst I was still in Australia. With the existing visa running out on the 20 something of April and Songkran starting on the 13th we thought we'd best get mine sorted before time got away from us.

Off we go on the morning we're going to Koh Chang with Leon we've left him having a lie in. I've remembered we needed our marriage certificate and have duly taken a copy of it, along with a copy of my passport let's not even go down the track of breaching Crown copyright by photocopying this document because here, you need copies of everything. So at 08:55 we're at the office, quick in and out - no worries. Yeah, right.

I've forgotten to bring a passport sized photo with me. Honestly, this is a school boy error and I should have known better. I can't blame Immigration for that one. Firstly, there's very little English spoken at the office itself. I find this amazing as surely the majority of people who need to go to Immigration are non-Thai's? Anyway, we've also got Mr John's passport which was completed by this same office the previous week. Easy, right? Wrong, so wrong.

In a nutshell, what we needed was
  1. Copy of my passport
  2. Copy of our marriage certificate
  3. Letter from Mr John's school about Mr Johns' terms of employment
  4. Copy of Mr John's contract with the school not sure how this is different to 3?
  5. Passport sized photo
  6. Immigration application form
  7. Copy of Mr John's passport
  8. Copy of Mr John's work permit
  9. Fee of 1900 baht
As you can imagine, only the school had certain documents so our morning included a trip to see the new Administrator who, bless her, was doing her best in a job she'd been given very little training in. It also included a trip back to the house for the photo. 

By this point, Mr John was starting to get a little hot under the collar vague threats of leaving the job if I'm not allowed to stay resulting in me suggesting that he wait outside whilst I continue jumping through the hoops. I figure it's never a good idea to upset anyone who has the power to get you deported. 

By 11:00 we were all finished and I had a lovely 12 month extension stamp in my passport. All I have to do now, is go through the same trauma next year. I think it might be best though if we go at the same time. I'm pretty sure it wasn't this hard last year!

Just to make things lovely and interesting, today we have to go back and do our 90 day report. Yes, this is just to let them know we are still here. I am not really sure what it achieves. Surely if Mr John had left the school, their administration would have cancelled everything? This reporting does not include having to pay any sort of fee though I best not say that too loudly as someone somewhere is bound to think that's a good idea. Still, we continue to do the right thing. But knowing me, you best all keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck.