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!