16 November 2016

I can't see you

So, you may have been wondering why I've haven't posted more on our latest adventure. Especially as I am completely besotted with Shanghai as a city. Before tomorrow happens, I thought I should explain myself.

You see, before we left the UK for China, I had a bit of a health scare. Going for, what I thought, was a routine eye exam which was definitely going to end in a glasses prescription I know it's not just me that finds they print packaging with smaller and smaller typeface I actually ended up at the Royal Liverpool Hospital Eye Clinic. To cut a rather long story short, I had bleeding behind my left eye. 

You can imagine how devastating this was especially when they start saying comforting things like "it could have been a stroke". I'm not a sickly person and I must say I really didn't handle the news that well. However, it went from you could have had a stroke to give this report and CD to the Chinese doctor when you get there. In my head I was like "make up your mind, either I'm about to die or it's ok to fly half way round the world and the resultant pressure on my eyeball".

So all in all, it's been a fairly stressful few months. This was not helped last week when the eye specialist in Shanghai confirmed that the treatment is for them to stick needles in my eye. Now don't get me wrong, I know there are worse things in the world and that there's a lot of people in much worse health than me and my heart goes out to them, but this is me and this is now. I'm alternately scared, terrified and fatalist. 

The worst bit has been having to put drops in my eyes every four hours for the past three days. Forget about putting things to the back of your mind and dealing with them when you need to, no! We'll put an alarm in your smart phone so that every four hours you can remember that they're going to put needles into your eyeball on Wednesday. Hurrah!

Poor Mr John has coped all the fall out, from having to hold me as I sob uncontrollably into his shoulder to being told he is without doubt the most unsympathetic and therefore worst person in the world. He needs a medal quite frankly.

So this morning my mate Ines and I are off to the China Art Museum (Shanghai). I first went here when Anne & Graham were visiting but we only had an hour and didn't even venture upstairs. The building itself is incredible (effectively it's upside down getting wider at the top) and I'm really looking forward to it. They also have a Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee shop. If that doesn't keep my spirits up, nothing will.

So keep your fingers crossed for me and don't forget to keep an eye on Instagram which is much more likely to be up to date than the blog. 

13 October 2016

Spring Airlines

I considered naming this "how to survive a no frills airline in China" but that's way to long a title. So, you may remember I mentioned jetting off to Bangkok to spend some quality time with Anne, Graham and the family. It worked out better time wise to get to single tickets with different airlines and I thought you might be interested in my experience with Spring Airlines

Actually, the airline itself is quite good. Planes were clean and staff were efficient. It's the passengers that add that certain "je ne sais quoi".

There were a lot of people checking in with no specific counters for various flights. The line kept moving though and the staff spoke good English. There were a few ladies who'd over packed and ended up opening their cases at the desk to try taking thngs out to meet the luggage allowance of 15 kg. Actually 5 kg is carry on (maximum) and checked is 10 kg.

Once checked in, you pass through the appropriate security and passport controls as usual. The next thing you see is everyone filling their reuseable water bottles. Only 1 RMB roughly GBP£0.12 / AUD$0.20 / USD$0.15 / EUR0.13 to get sterilised water and you're good to go.

The queuing issue that you hear about before you arrive here is not as big a problem as I expected, though we did end up stuck in the tunnel to the plane because they hadn't opened the doors before calling people through.

On the plane was yet another matter. The seats don't move AT ALL. My advice is, if you have a travel pillow, take it. If, like me, you forget your pillow, just pop your tray table down and put your head on it. This was the approach taken by many of my fellow passengers. Can you believe that's what those tables are for?

Of course, you don't actually want to use them for food. You pay for food and drink when you book your ticket. As you can imagine, it's silly prices and the photo's make you want to reach for the bin rather than the buy button. Seems my fellow travellers agreed with me. There was a variety of "picnics" going on. Some passengers had clearly cooked at home and popped it into a plastic lid container. 

Goodness knows what condition it was in as my unprepared chocolate Kit Kat bar (purchased in Duty Free - the only source of buying food in my terminal) had begun to melt even before take off. So there were people eating rice, peeling oranges and one enterprising row had bought a KFC meal - before even going through security - which they seemed to enjoy. Personally, cold french fries have never done it for me. Oh, and don't get me started on the outfits. One lady in her 60s proved that there is indeed no upper age limit when it comes to Hello Kitty as she dragged her Kitty shaped carry on case through Immigration Control.

The good news is that you can join in the exercises with the air crew prior to landing. Sadly I was too late to join in as the English version didn't come on until it was all over. So there you have it. But just one final pearl of wisdom - the air-conditioning blows hot and cold so hand on to that souvenir fan as it will come in handy I don't think being a woman of a certain age had anything to do with it.

Overall, I would fly with this airline again as long as it was no more than 5 hours. The trip to Bangkok was about 4.5 and that was fine. Anything longer than that and I'd want a little more pampering.

I have not been paid anything by Spring Airlines for this post. The opinions are my own personal experience of flying with this airline. Other airlines are available.

10 October 2016

The Langham Hotel

So my good intentions of regular writing seem to have backfired. Perhaps it was because I jetted off to Bangkok to spend time with Anne & Graham and their family or because I came back from Bangkok with a head cold - either way, it's led to some slackness on my part. I'll try and fix that. I'm so far behind telling you what we've done, I'm not sure I'll be able to catch up on it all. Fear not, I can be quite determined when I want to be.

Firstly, we've been very lucky overall with Mr John's fellow teachers. They're a nice crowd and we have formed a small but you'll be pleased to know dysfunctional family. We look out for each other and share new information wherever possible. Mr John has been tasked with Grade 3 for this year. As you know, he prefers upper primary and at age eight, it's at the bottom end of what I refer to as his skill set. When he was training, he got to experience a number of age groups and found that he really wasn't quite Wiggles material. Unfortunately, he has to teach Grade 1 English for six lessons a week. On asking how his day had gone the other week, he looked at me with hollow eyes and declared he had spent the morning "sitting on the floor with my legs crossed and clapping my hands in time to the Pig who wore a Wig song" it took me ages to stop laughing.

So he perseveres with Performing Arts if you know him, you'll understand how funny I find this as he has two left feet and is missing being able to teach Math it's only taught in Chinese but thankfully still has Science. A few of his students didn't have English names when they started the year so he took a list of names for them to chose from. One student informed Mr John that he wanted his English name to be Suck. On explaining with the help of the Chinese teacher to this poor child what "suck" meant, he picked Steve from the list. Good call.

Last month Mr John took me to the Langham hotel for my birthday. Wow, what a treat. We were on the 26th floor and had full use of the Club Lounge we like to think of it as the "all inclusive" option. There was quite a bit of rain that weekend and to be honest I was pleased there was. It meant not feeling guilty about hardly leaving the hotel. When you're sat with a lovely glass of Shiraz in the lounge, it seems pointless to be elsewhere.

But there's still so much to tell you about our house but you can read about that here and our flight not to mention Anne & Grahams visit, the Art Museum, the Maritime Museum, my trip to Bangkok, things we've bought for the house and what it's like living in our local area. I need a lie down just thinking about it.

My brother Pete has a birthday today, so happy birthday bro xoxo

19 September 2016


Hello! How are you all? You might all think I've been swinging the lead but I can tell you, since leaving Thailand our lives have been action packed. Be thankful I may never bore you with the details but I will leave my options open.

As you know, Mr John is a primary teacher at International School and with that comes a fast-track experience of making yourself at home in an alien environment. We've only been here seven weeks gosh, is it that long? Doesn't time fly when you're having fun? And I can tell you, Shanghai is an incredible city.

It was with trepidation that I arrived here. Did you know the population of Shanghai is 24 million people? That's more than the whole of Australia where I come from. Thankfully, for both our wallets and sanity, Mr John teaches out in the boon docks - though on a fast train you can be downtown in 45 minutes.  

We were lucky enough to have our first set of visitors last week, yes Anne & Graham were back with us. Their visit gave me the best excuse to head downtown every day and check out the city. For me to get downtown is RMB 9  that's roughly GBP£1 / AUD$1.79 / USD$1.35 / EUR e1.20. How cheap is that? The only down side is that the Metro finishes running at around 22:00 so you either need to get a taxi / driver for RMB 250 or stay the night. Other than that, it's a fantastic system and isn't always full of people.

I am completely besotted with Shanghai as a city and unbelievably this is down to the architecture. It's so varied and so incredibly beautiful. Thankfully some of the buildings of the 1920s/30s  have survived the modernisation of the city so you get some history along with glorious modern structures. Beijing may be the capital by Shanghai is the party town. 
 The city is carved up into districts such as Xuhui which encompasses the Former French Concession. As the name suggests, you will find wide, leafy streets and a few good bars which include the Shanghai Brewery. You'll also find Hengshan Road Bar Street - I think the clue is in the title, don't you?
In Huangpu you will find People's Square and the Bund but just down the road is the old city where you can still find brickwork buildings. In fact, wherever you go in Shanghai, have a look down the alleyways. Often, right next to a newly built shopping mall, you will see the history of the city in an old two storey workshop nestled between these concrete and glass monoliths.

I was lucky enough to be taken to the Jin Mao Tower for lunch at the Grand Cafe (Grand Hyatt) last week and the view from the 54th floor was spectacular. Also across the river you'll find some enormous buildings, the most recognisable being the Oriental Pearl Tower. Of course at only 468 metres 1535 feet it is tiny in comparison to Shanghai Tower (at 632m / 2073ft) but it makes for a great picture.

There is still so much on my To Do list but not to worry, I have at least two years to get it all done.

Don't forget to check out my Instagram page. You'll have missed a lot in the last few months

16 September 2016

travelorlabout feature

If you would like a sneak preview of how we're doing, head over to travelorlabout.   
While you're there, read some of Orlas amazing adventures.

16 July 2016


So, the last few weeks have been a little stressfu to say the least. Having waved a tearful farewell to our lovely Thai friends in Chan, Mr John and I are heading to another exotic location.

But before we get there, we have a few weeks rest and relaxation (R&R) in the UK. Check out Instagram to see what we're up to. Don't worry if you don't have an account, just use the link you see in the top right.

And watch this space, we'll be back before you know it .......

08 June 2016

Wet, Wet, Wet

Yes, no, not that 80s band who spent 15 weeks at No 1 in 1994 with Love is All Around but the weather here at the moment. Rainy season has definitely arrived and this past week there's been rainfall every day in varying amounts and times. In fact, last Tuesday it pretty much rained the whole day. It's reminding us of our first year here. But I digress.

The result is that I've mostly been hanging around the house which doesn't result in anything interesting to share with you but, as always This is Thailand (TiT) so there's always something!

just like this one!
Last Sunday we took our morning coffee over to Toms corner shop and enjoyed one of Tan's lovely omelettes for brunch. Whilst sitting there, a taxi went around the corner and a large bag of beans fell out of the back. Quite a number of people, us included, yelled out to the driver albeit he probably wouldn't have understood us. Fortunately, there were enough Thai people hollering and so he stopped outside our old house and proceeded to dice with death at the intersection to retrieve said beans. 

Nothing weird about that I hear you say, and you'd be right. But as he was dodging cars and bikes his taxi started moving forward, slowly, down the street. Mr John and I were in hysterics, it was like something from a comedy show. Of course, the yelling started again and thankfully the car had only gone about 30 metres before he jumped back into the drivers seat and carried on. Honestly, I keep telling all our visitors that you don't need TV when you live in our neck of the woods. Just sit yourself down at one of Toms tables and watch what goes on. 

Another great pass time here seems to be "rearrange the supermarket". I'm not sure if it comes our of boredom or what day of the week it is or if  Jupiter is aligning with Mars but this is a regular occurrence here in Chanthaburi. Tesco Lotus is currently going through a major upheaval. I arrived at the fresh food section to find a large white tarpaulin over everything and all the fridge shelving missing. Took a little while longer to get the weekly shop done, I can tell you. I had to call into my favourite "shop that sells everything" the other day and even they have been at it is nothing sacred? 

New Travelodge
I've also been trying to get to the pool a few times a week but with the weather, it's been a bit too wet for swimming. Yes, I know how that sounds but hang in there. Obviously when you're in the pool, you're already wet so rain is not an issue. However, if you need to ride a motorcycle to the pool and it's lashing down this can cause dangerous driving condition. Hence, it becomes too wet to go to the pool. 

It's not just here of course, the rain played havoc with the matches at the French Open with the Seine at a record high level and Sydney was really rocked by torrential rain at the weekend. Keep safe out there people.

26 May 2016

Wash Day

It's been a while since I told you about my favourite washing place over near Big C. It's still the best place to get your washing done at only 20 baht a load unless of course you're lucky enough to have access to your own washing machine and provided you have somewhere to hang it at home.

Anyway, the rainy season seems to have properly started this past week and it got me thinking about the washing machines near Robinson yes, I know, I need to get out more. If you've never experienced a true rainy season you cannot imagine the state this leaves your washing in. 

Seriously, it can be wetter by the end of the day than it was when you took it out of the washing machine no joke. I'm not a fan of the machines there -  actually that's not true, I'm just not a fan of the 40 baht they charge for an 11 kg machine. However, they have half a dozen tumble dryers. It's basically 10 baht for 10 minutes with a minimum of 30 minutes. And there's no law that says you can only use the dryer if you've used the washing machines to be fair it might be written there in Thai but I can't read Thai.
It could work out expensive if you do this regularly and I've been lucky enough to only need it once when I had no chance of getting our towels dry. In the main, I tend to stick the clothes rack near the fan that seems to be on permanently in our lounge room.

So if you need washing done and dried, fancy a bit of window shopping / lunch / coffee then you could do worse that to head to this place. Just head to Robinson and look out for the pink building the other side of the open car park by the river. Enjoy!

23 May 2016


It's impossible to see everything in London really unless you live there so attempting to see everything didn't even enter our minds. Mr John has been avoiding London for some time deciding it's too crowded and just a big city. I'm pretty sure he's changed his mind after my personal tour guide services a bit ironic really, an Aussie showing a Brit the delights of their capital

Even though we'd chosen to stay in Twickenham and more on that in another post we'd planned ahead with our Oyster cards which were an absolute godsend and much cheaper than buying your tickets on the day. Getting in and out of town was pretty painless except on the Sunday when there was a bus replacement to another station. We circumvented this on the way back by going to Richmond and then getting the bus, which stopped outside our front door.

Anyway, I'd carved up our viewings to do some museums on the Friday as they're open until 10pm and some shops on the Sunday. Of course we then found out the London Marathon was being held on the Sunday so we switched our days around phew!.

We started at Liberty which Mr John had never even heard about honestly. I didn't want to buy anything there but I really thought he'd enjoy the architecture of the place and I wasn't wrong. Although looking much older, the building actually went up in 1924 though the store itself had been trading since 1875.
A short walk on from there and we were at Hamleys. This shop opened in 1881 and the five floors of toys is something else. Mr John was grateful to have a baggage allowance that kept him on the straight and narrow. He reflected that it was probably a good idea he hadn't been here whilst we were still living up north. I couldn't resist taking a photo of the ladies toilet on the fifth floor. It was like being in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The staff here are amazing and there's entertainment on every floor they must really earn their money.
A bit more walking I wish we'd had a pedometer that day brought us to the Burlington Arcade which opened in 1891. You can still see the attendants in their top hats walking the floor. And virtually opposite this arcade is Fortnum & Mason which was founded in 1707 though this store has only been around since 1840. Mr John really wanted to grab one of their trolleys and go crazy until I suggested the complications of getting everything into the two backpacks we had and whether it would survive a Thai "summer". I'm also not sure a teachers wage cuts it at the Queens supermarket. Don't forget to check out the toilets when you're in a place like this.

Of course no trip to London is complete without seeing some famous landmarks and some of the hidden gems that hide in the back lanes. Please don't dismiss this city as too big to handle. There is gorgeous architecture at every turn and living history with every step. Mr John is yet another convert to what this great city has to offer - just don't try and do it all in one weekend. 

16 May 2016


Wow, what an amazing summer Mr John and I have had. Our five week break in the UK was terrific. We ate too much, drank too much and laughed too much but isn't that what life is all about? We had an incredible time and even got some sight seeing done in London. I promise I will share our exploits with you over the coming weeks.

Loch Tummel, Scotland
In the meantime, I hope you followed our travels on Instagram. Remember, you don't even need an account with them to check out our photos. Speaking of which, I was thrilled last week when British Airways included one of our past holiday photos in their #FlyBA flipagram.

Anyway, I thought it would be good to get back into the swing of things by welcoming all the new and returning teachers to Chanthaburi. So Welcome!

We're having a very unusual heat-wave at the moment honestly, I've never known it this hot in our three years here. At least you have a lovely air-conditioned office to spend your day in. Make the most of it and only venture out when absolutely necessary by this I mean to get coffee, naturally. Of course, it really is just a fabulous excuse to eat some home-made ice-cream

To save all you lovely people from trawling this blog, here are some quick links to get you going

Immigration  You will become painstakingly familiar with this place during your stay. Your first encounter will be 90 days from the date you entered the country if you had the right visa. Have a good look at your passport because when they stamped it you will notice that it tells you to report every 90 days but won't have recorded a date. Get that calendar out and start counting people.

Top Tips  There's a variety of topics covered here including using talc, where to swim after work and the cheapest way to get your clothes washed unless you're fortunate to have access to your own washing machine

Food Stuff  Just about everything here tastes sweet even bread and butter. We've tried a lot of things to get a taste we can live with so hopefully these suggestions and others here will come in handy

And finally, to all the girls out there, DON'T put your handbag on the ground when your purse is still in it. If you put it down, take the purse out and put it on your table. Your money is in your purse, money has pictures printed on it go on, have a good look at any denomination and that means it should ever be near the ground. Most places expect you to use a stool for your handbag, so don't be shy.

Please feel free to search any of the topics you see and get in touch if you need any other information. Remember, this is only my take on things here in town according to my taste buds.

Thanks for stopping by and GOOD LUCK  for the coming year everyone

01 April 2016

Permission Granted

It's been a bit of a crazy time lately and there's hardly been time to catch my breath. So many farewell lunches, dinners and drinks but then, it's always like that at the end of March. So now, the vast majority of foreign teachers have not only left the school but the country as well. I wonder what next years by that I mean the next school year which starts in May teachers will be like?  I think Mr John becomes the third longest serving foreign teacher at the school now. That just seems pretty weird considering he's only in his third year.

Speaking of which, yesterday was spent at Immigration. Thank goodness it wasn't like the experience I had a couple of years ago I still have nightmares about that one. To be fair, it was pretty trouble free and the school administrator was with us which is always incredibly helpful as it negates the language barrier. We were both exhausted by the time we were finished and I'm not really sure why because we were there less than two hours.

Of course, it's not over yet. Now that we have next years visa, we have to go back today to get our re-entry permits. Yes, even though we are allowed to stay here for another year, any time we leave the country we have to hand over 1000 baht each to enable us to temporarily leave and come back again. Our trip to the UK straddles the end and start date for our current and new visas so we've had to wait to have both before getting the permit.

We are almost beyond excited at heading back to the UK for our first visit in three years. Mr John has been compiling a list of meals that he's planning on working his way through during our visit. Now don't panic, he's put aside his gym membership money already for our return. To ease ourselves into the holiday, we've booked a hotel near the airport and we'll be making our way there on Sunday. Should be lovely hanging around the pool and we don't have to check out until 4pm on Monday. We're staying at Best Western Amaranth hotel, so I'll let you know how we get on. It's about 10 kilometres from the airport but has it's own shuttle service.

In the meantime, I'm washing like there's no tomorrow and you could eat your dinner off our apartment floor you know how it is. Not that there'll be any cooking for the last couple of days ... Muslim Food here we come!

Happy Birthday to my big older brother Mike!!!

22 March 2016

Samad Dang Resort

A couple of years ago seriously, where does the time go, Tom took us to this place to celebrate Mr John's birthday. This year, we went again to celebrate his nieces (Taan) birthday. Emma also joined us as she's heading back to the UK for good in a couple of weeks. The weather has really started to heat up but we were thankful for the occasional breeze coming in off the sea.

We really enjoy the food here though you probably need to budget about 250 baht per head but you do get quite a bit of food for that. On this occasion we had red seafood curry, crispy fish and a tom yum type soup.

Getting here is very easy by car but you can ride here on your motorbike. You need to allow about 45 minutes and make sure you use plenty of sunscreen and have a full petrol tank. Of course it's so close to monkey beach that you can combine two of my favourite things in the one trip - swimming in the sea and eating - so really, your time will be well spent.

Puk Tom's sister in law brought a box of Cicadas with her that she had lovingly prepared. I have, so far, managed to avoid eating insects but she's so lovely, I had to have one. Actually, they were quite nice and this was probably good practice for when there's too many people in the world and the only way we can get any protein is to eat insects. When that day comes, I think I'll move in with Puk

08 March 2016


Well, it's that time of year again. Mr John's students have long finished Grade 6. I'm pretty sure the high school students are done and dusted. Even the primary school little ones are just about done for another school year. This also means the annual back-packer teachers are heading off to pastures new. Most have already "left the building" and who can blame them. 

I'm really not sure why all schools insist on teachers staying to the end of March when the vast majority of students finish late February / early March. Unless, of course, they're staying on for another year.  I mean, it would save them money and give people freedom to book there flights out of "Dodge". You would be shocked how much airfares go up on April 1 - and that's no joke

Meanwhile, Mr John is busy sorting his desk, making sure his filing system is flawless and working on some new ideas for the next school year. I'm not 100% sure if he's being proactive or just keeping out of my way as I spring clean the house. As regular readers will know, he totally messes with my routine when he's on holiday a sentiment echoed by many of my married friends - about their husbands and not Mr John specifically

Of course, technically, it's not "spring cleaning" as there's no such thing as Spring here. The weather lurches from "winter" which is basically a less muggy period from the rest of the year to ridiculous hot and muggy around April followed by "the wet" which runs roughly June to October. We've been quite lucky the last couple of weeks where the mornings and evenings have been quite temperate, not so much this week. We're definitely getting a taste of things to come,

For the first time in three years however, we are not waiting with trepidation for the hot spell because we're off to the UK for five weeks. We're really looking forward to it and are hoping for a cold spell much to the chagrin of family and friends. Mr John is particularly looking forward to some "real" beer. He was asked the other day what he wanted for his first dinner in the country. His response ... everything! 

Doesn't five weeks sound like a super huge time? Trust me, it's not. Not when you have family scattered around the country and friends in all four corners of the land. Honestly, it is reminiscent of our trips home to Australia where we try to see everyone covering three states and failing dismally. Mr John still hasn't seen some great spots in Melbourne like Como House. Next time! 

What we have done for this upcoming visit though is grab some time in London to do proper tourist things. In fact, I know London better than Mr John so it'll be nice showing him around he's going to kill me for that comment. It's only four days and it's sandwiched between our trip to Devon and heading back to the north west. Best of all, we get to catch up with friends while we're in London too, including the lovely Leon. We really can't wait to see everyone. 

02 March 2016

Handy Hints?

With a short week, last week, before I knew it the weekend was upon us again. Time seems to be flying very quickly at the moment. So much so, that Mr John was at a party last night for all Grade 6s as it was their last day in school. From now until the end of March he gets to clean his desk, make sure all his folders are in the right order, plan something different for next years class and the all important visa required to carry on teaching next year. So don't for one minute think he's got his feet up.

I'm in spring cleaning mode at the moment not that Thailand even has a spring but winter has gone and it will really start hotting up next month. Actually, we've been lucky with a few cooler days lately and I think that's helped me get into gear. I've even been moving the bed to make sure I've got at everything.

So because it's been pretty quiet on the news front, I thought I'd share a couple of things I've been meaning to tell you about for ages. You know how it is, something minor that you mean to share with your friends but keep forgetting about and promising to do it next time? So here's a couple of tips for you.

Passed on by my mate Debbie the one in Australia and not the one in England I bought some celery to make Cheeseball at Christmas time. Whilst Mr John loves celery and I've read all the articles you can find on how it takes more calories to eat a stick of celery than is in the celery itself - I just don't like it. Try as I may. I do, however, like it in cooking. I feel lucky enough to be able to buy celery here in Chanthaburi and whilst elsewhere in the world I can buy trimmed sticks of it, here I have to buy the whole thing. This usually leads to me making weird and wonderful things in order not to waste it and I hate waste or throwing out a very limp, almost rubber like celery sticks. So how do you avoid this?
Wrap the whole thing in tin-foil. Yep, simple as that. I eventually used the last of it some four and half weeks later and you could still snap it in two. Hallelujah! So, if you are fed up of wasting your celery or eating your way through it quickly, here's the answer. I didn't believe it until I did it, so no more celery waste in the Mr John household.

For anyone living in Asia, you'll know how awful the water is and how dependent you are on bottled water. I have real issues with how much plastic is used in the production of said bottles plus, when you add it all up, it can be expensive. Get a water stand and only use the extra large bottles of water. The stand set us back about 350 baht but when you consider we were spending about 200 baht per week on 1.5 litre bottles you don't need to be a mathematician to see that it soon paid for itself. At just 12 baht a bottle, I wish we'd bought one sooner.

And finally, you all know how obsessed I am with the washing yeah right well I thought I ought to share with you the facilities near Robinson. With only three months to rainy season, you might find that you need a little help in the drying department. Of course this is only if, like me, you prefer to do your own washing for about 5% of the cost of having someone do it for you I'm sure singleton teachers would much rather pay someone.

It's easy to find this place. Head to Robinson through town and over the bridge. Stand with Robinson behind you, the river to your left and you'll see the big pink building an apartment / hotel accommodation place and the laundry is underneath that building on the left hand side as you look at it.

Whilst the washing machines are more expensive, at 40 baht per load, when compared to the other side of town at 20 baht, these machines are slightly bigger at 11kg plus the bonus of having tumble dryers at the same location. Of course you don't have to do your washing here to use the dryers. You could wash anywhere and then bring it all here to dry it but I'm a firm believer in cost / benefit so for me, riding from anywhere else is likely to cost me the 20 baht difference, so I just suck it up.

The best bit is you can do some sneaky shopping in Robinson whilst you wait for it all to finish. Of course, if you want to avoid temptation, you could always have a coffee or something to eat at Koff House but more on that next time. Happy washing!

24 February 2016

Little Cafe

This lovely little place can be found as you drive out of town, past Tesco Lotus. It's been open for a while now and the strangest thing is, you feel like you could be sitting in a café in Bangkok rather than Chanthaburi.

There isn't a large cake selection but there are some small and perfectly formed ones. They do a crème caramel but because they don't turn it out on a plate, it's awkward to make sure you get some caramel to go with your crème but perseverance is a good quality don't you think?

This neck of the woods is getting to be more and more populated with restaurants and cafes. For example  Black Sheep restaurant has moved practically next door, so you can kill two birds with one stone so to speak. Of course, there's also So Grill, the Korean barbecue place nearby as well. So why not check it out

18 February 2016

Sometimes Coffee & Gallery

This place opened around Christmas time but it took me until Rachel visited to get my act together and try it out. It looked so tiny from the outside that if you saw a few people standing near the door, you'd think it was pointless going in. Well fear not, there's actually plenty of room. This is because there is a large second floor which also has a terrace leading off it. Whilst the downstairs is air-conditioned and has a couple of couches and tables, upstairs relies on floor standing fans and cushions that surround the low tables.  

Situated diagonally opposite Tamujan bar in the old town, you will find a lot of art dotted all round the walls, with upstairs having a whole wall with peoples sketches pinned to it. Downstairs, by the service counter, there are some really nice postcards and other artsy things to buy. English is not the first language here but enough English is spoken and the people are so smiley and friendly that it really doesn't matter.
I really enjoy the hot latte here and at 40 baht it is reasonably priced. Mr John finds a black coffee acceptable. They have a small selection of cakes that, portion wise, are smaller than other coffee shops in town however they taste good and range from 35 to 55 baht, so not too much to complain about.

As with everywhere here in town, if it's busy the service is very slow so be prepared to wait. We found this when we went with Emma on the last lovely cool Sunday we had. If you go through the week though, service is very efficient and you can sit on a comfy couch and enjoy the free Wi-Fi. There is also a toilet on the premises but I can't give you any detail on that yet.

You can find Sometimes on facebook. So why not check it out?

16 February 2016

Maudlin Monday?

It works if you can get past the look
If you've managed to catch up with me on Instagram, you'll know that I spent all last week coughing and spluttering. Poor Mr John had to take over the household tasks such as washing and food shopping bless him. With the help of some "dry up your extremities" drugs, satsumas and the weirdest banana and coconut water concoction from Tan at the corner shop which looks foul and tastes weird but works, I am feeling myself again and once I build up some strength will be fighting fit.

So yesterday, I'm all ready to pop to Tesco and get food for the week and my motorbike won't start. I try and try figuring it's a little slow as it hasn't been ridden in nearly a week. I was supposed to meet Mr John for lunch and fortunately he hadn't ordered when I finally got to speak to him on the phone.

A knight in shining armour, he headed home and popped it up on its kick stand to wait for it kick start the bike obvious right? Anyway, it's just not happening so he asks me if there's petrol in it. Derrr obviously there is says I I filled it up on the Friday before I got sick and it only had a short trip on the Saturday.

produced without an oven
In fact, Sunday it didn't even get ridden. We had the most welcome cold spell here in Chanthaburi. It was so cold I wore my jeans. In honour of the cooler weather I made Mr John a Sunday "roast" and then in the afternoon we took a walk down the old town for coffee and ice-cream. It was lovely because Emma came along and she and I stopped for a small sherry at Tamajun. But I digress. So there he is rocking the bike left and right to see if he can here petrol. Meanwhile I'm trying to find a stick to act as a dipstick but am struggling.

Mr John's expert opinion is that there is no petrol in the bike. I'm flabbergasted. It can't be right, it had cost me 85 baht to fill her up just over a week ago when it's barely been ridden. It usually does me a fortnight after I've filled it.

Anyway, he goes to Tom's shop and comes back with two "bottles" of petrol and the funnel. The way this works, Tom has a plethora of empty, previously loved whisky bottles of dubious quality. His sister buys a massive container of petrol and puts a litre into each of these bottles. They are then sold for 25 baht. The funnel is a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off.

So, Mr John puts both bottles in the bike and pushes the start button. Then I see some liquid dripping from the front of the bike and there's suddenly this really strong smell of petrol. Yes, that's right, all the petrol he as poured into the fuel tank is now coming out from underneath the front of the bike.

Another trip over to Tom's and he saves the day by getting the mechanic down the bottom of our street to come to the house and take the bike away. In the meantime, I've popped up to Tesco to grab some food on Mr John's bike and managed to make him a cheese sandwich for lunch. Thankfully, by 7pm, the bike was fixed and back parked under our house and had only cost us 200 baht roughly AUD$8 / GPB£4 / USD$5.60 / EUR5. How lucky was that?

only 1/3rd is working here
Of course, that wasn't the only excitement in my Monday. Mr John used my iPad whilst I was shopping and it locked up on him. Since then it just keeps freezing and turning itself on and off. Being the smart person I am I resorted to my laptop only to be greeting by the most horrendous screen I've ever seen. Miraculously I didn't cry. I chose instead to laugh because really they were the only two options. Today the screen has come to life but the iPad, I fear, is not long for this world.

I sure hope your Monday was less traumatic than mine.

04 February 2016

PT Court Hotel

More by luck than judgement, I found a great place to stay in Bangkok when Rachel came to visit - PT Court Hotel. We had a two bedroom apartment and honestly, we could have moved in for a month. In fact, I believe the majority of apartments here are for just that purpose, long term living in the city.

The apartment was about four times the size of our home here in Chanthaburi. The main bedroom had its own ensuite and a "family" bathroom was directly opposite the second bedroom door. The second bedroom not only had a large double bed but a wide single as well. Both bathrooms only had showers, so if a bath is vital to your holiday happiness, this is not the place for you.

Although it might seem a little dated because of the dark wood in the lounge / dining area, the bathrooms and kitchen have been renovated and the whole flat was spotless. In fact, the only down side here is that, even though the kitchen was spacious and had good facilities, there were no cooking implements. By this I mean pots and pans, wooden spoons or even a tea towel and washing up sponge. Obviously this is only a problem if you actually want to cook. This wasn't on our list of things to do and we certainly had enough glasses, cups and saucers the cups are small as they are everywhere in this country so if you've bought instant coffee you'll find it best to divide it evenly and make two cups for our needs.

There's no wifi in the apartment, you need to head to the pool to get free internet access oh no, the hardship! The pool wasn't busy when we were there and I guess if it's mostly long term residents, it won't get busy as the novelty often wears off and for some reason Thai people aren't keen on swimming. By the pool there's some really comfy seats and spending time here is really easy.

As far as location is concerned, it's difficult to beat. There's so much within walking distance. It's only 300 metres roughly to the Century Movie Plaza and besides the obvious benefits to this - air conditioning and a Tops Supermarket - you can take the escalator up one floor and after Boots chemist, you're on the walkway to the BTS station. For the princely sum of 140 baht, you can get an all day BTS train ticket and get on and off to your hearts content.

Of course, Victory Monument is known as the minivan hub for Thailand. If you check out this map provided by easymap.in.th you'll be able to see where you can get to. Not only that but the airport link terminus is Phaya Thai 45 baht from the airport which is only one stop away from this BTS station. What a winner right? Don't forget that if you have a large suitcase you'll often be charged for an extra seat. Of course, I can easily get sick on minivans so I still head to Ekkamai for the big bus to Chanthaburi and they don't charge for suitcases.

There are some good, reasonably priced places to eat around the hotel along with a few bars and coffee shops. The Saxaphone Pub is so handy and there's always live music playing. The bar tenders speak good English and serve great drinks. It's definitely worth checking out.

Although there are coffee franchises within Century Movie Plaza we found a great place called Bean Around. A large latte at 70 baht was well worth the money and I can personally recommend their club sandwich at 89 baht. There's free Wi-Fi and a spotless sit down toilet.

So you can either while away a bit of time here in air-conditioned comfort or pop down for a take-away to enjoy it by the pool or in your apartment. We found this place using the foursquare app. I love this app as I find it so incredibly helpful.

02 February 2016

Just one more..

I hope you've been following our exploits on Instagram. It certainly felt like an action packed holiday with Rachel here. It was lovely seeing her and she seemed to enjoy getting to know the real Thailand.

We spent some quality girlie time in Bangkok so that Rachel could get over her flight and see a bit of the big city. We stayed at a great place - PT Court Hotel - but honestly, it was so good, it needs its own post so I'll save the details for another day.

Of course, no Mrs John trip would be complete without a good walk around Wat Pho. It's pretty impressive, reasonably priced and you can always find a good Pad Thai nearby. We also visited Cheap Charlies and the Saxaphone Pub which are personal favourites.

Back in Chanthaburi, we took in the familiar sights. Rachel found the lake at six o'clock to be a little unnerving and slightly scary and no, I'm still not going to tell you, you have to visit for that one . We agree but to be fair most visitors are so flummoxed they rarely voice this particular reaction. Interesting.

Before too long, it was time to head to our favourite island Koh Mak. Mr Peak, manager of the Good Time resort met us at the pier to take us to our villa. He's a lovely man and can't do enough for you. There was some new building going on, don't panic nothing high rise but of course it's always concerning when you see your island paradise changing. Right next to Good Time, going down the hill, is Kitchen Maam. It's a convenience store with tables out front. The people here are lovely and we never had a bad meal. Prices range from 60 - 150 baht per dish on average and you can get any drink from the shop fridge and it'll be added to your bill.

Rachel covering up at Wat Pho
We've never been to the island during high season before. It made it difficult to find accommodation and we didn't know how it would be, but we still hardly saw anyone. Isn't that amazing? It didn't feel busy at all although there were subtle differences like all the tables at Food Art Hut being taken instead of us being the only customers. It was a great place for Rachel to feel like she'd actually been on a beach holiday and not just hung around some back water in eastern Thailand. Thanks for coming all this way to see us Rach!

25 January 2016


It's been a while since I told you about a good coffee shop, so here's another one to add to the list. This place is in the old town down near La Luna and having studied in Australia, the owners speak good English. They also have sit down toilets...but more on that later.

Whilst the inside is not large, it is air-conditioned which makes it a pleasant spot on a hot day. The décor is very modern industrial and so the two sofas are basically cushioned pallets. This does not make lounging an easy task though I suspect a long legged supermodel could pull off the look a lot better than I can. 

The coffee is good and served in the obligatory glass at least, for us Aussies it's obligatory and is priced at the higher end at 55 baht. I really enjoyed the chocolate brownie I had there complete with ice-cream. It added another 80 baht to the bill but sometimes you just have to do these things. Think of it as a special occasion treat and you can live with the price. To compensate somewhat, there's a large urn of chilled water you can help yourself to.

What you can miss, if you're not careful, is the lovely outside seating that there is. Plenty of tables and chairs and electric fans dotted around that you can plug in if you're not getting enough breeze. Aside from the noise of the fans it really is very pleasant and quite tranquil out here.

You'll find the toilets right around the back with a large plank of tree that's used for the basin someone's got a good eye for detail. So, if you get a chance, check this place out.

18 January 2016

Kasemsarn Hotel

Personally, I believe this to be the best hotel in Chanthaburi for location, cost and cleanliness. Whenever we have visitors we get them to stay here and we don't get any kickbacks though, quite frankly, I think we should by now. 

It's true that there is no pool and you might consider that  a deal breaker however you can use the pool at other hotels  which are further out of town for either 100 baht or the cost of lunch. It's a short walk down the hill to the delights of the old town with its cute cafes and bars. It's also less than a ten minute stroll to our house but they also let us leave our bikes there, parked in the shaded car park.

Reception staff have adequate English and they are more than willing to have staff flag down a taxi for you and explain where you want to go. Whenever we have visitors I pop in with written down dates just to make sure there's no confusion and they sort the rest. I do this because their website is absolutely useless for anything other than finding out their phone number and room rates.

Speaking of which, we do manage to get the 30% discount for visitors so that's nice. This means a room with a balcony comes to 980 baht (roughly GBP19 / AUD39 / USD27 / EUR25). It's also one of the few places in Chan where you can use a card to pay for your accommodation.

The centre of the hotel is open to the elements and provides an "atrium" feel to the place. We love this, especially if you're lucky enough to experience some rain during your visit.

We don't normally recommend including breakfast with the booking. There's a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, if you decide in the morning you want breakfast, you simply pay the 150 baht and off you go. The breakfast is ok, but not knockout and we sometimes like to go for brunch and there's other cafes nearby that you can easily walk to. We find it most useful to have breakfast on the last day of the visit as there's no need to cart your luggage around and because you don't need to be staying there to have breakfast we have been known to join our visitors for breakfast.

When we experienced all the flooding in our first year here, this is the place we stayed overnight because we thought we wouldn't be able to flush our loo at the house. So we can recommend this from our own first hand experience.

15 January 2016

Time flies

Well as I'm sure you can all imagine, Christmas was a very weird time this year. I was on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, naturally, and Mr John did his best to keep up. Thinking it would help, I even made us a fireplace to hang our stockings watch out for the "how to" post. I tried very hard to keep it all as normal as possible and we did enjoy our lamb dinner but none the less, it was weird.

This year we went to the Christmas Market here in Chanthaburi that's held outside the Catholic cathedral. We've been to quite a few of these types of markets over the years. Most of them have been in Europe.

There were no handicrafts to purchase here, no crass consumerism. There was, I believe, the obligatory raffle with plastic storage boxes the main prizes and the coveted electric fans for the jackpot. Santa wasn't due until 10pm and the fireworks scheduled for midnight. Oddly enough, we listened to the fireworks as we snuggled into the bedcovers.

And so now, I can't believe, we're already half way through January and this is my first real missive in some time. I guess my mind has been focused by the imminent arrival of my friend Rachel.  We've known each other over 10 years and I'm so looking forward to seeing here on Sunday. We worked together and shared a house whilst on contract in Yorkshire along with another good mate, Wendy hang on, why isn't Wendy coming too?. We'll be stopping in Bangkok for a few nights then after the dizzy heights of this town it will be time to chill out on one of the islands.

L to R: me, Wendy and Rachel at "Champagne Towers"
I hope you're enjoying the start of 2016 and are not as horrified as I am as to where time goes.