Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

another day cooking

Yesterday I spend another day in the classroom cooking a great number of Thai dishes. This time it was just me and two teachers so plenty of time for questions and answers. I wont bother you with all the details but here is a photo of me and Jo cooking and one of a sweet and sour prawn dish I did.


Last Monday I did one of the most touristy trips I have done in a very long time.
Together with nine others I visited an elephant camp, a Karen village with a few women in traditional costume weaving cloth, a waterfall for a swim, a jungle walk, well rice fields really, then another village this time with a Hmong man in costume and finally a ride on a bamboo raft down the local river. Nothing really new or exiting but it kept me busy for the day and the people that were on the tour were pleasant enough.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cooking Class

I spend yesterday at a cooking course here in Chiang Mai. We started out with a visit to the market where we were shown and got taste all the weird and wonderfull things that grow in Thailand. Including ten or so varieties of egg plant, more herbs and spices then I can remember and a colossal selection of fruit where the unwary got to smell a Durian. ( Tastes good but smells like a sewerage plant on a bad day.)

We then proceeded to the actual kitchen, a well layout and roomy place with lots of shade to keep things cool. And then we went at it first up how to make green curry paste from scratch then on to "Green Curry Chicken"

Followed by "Steamed Chicken Souffle in a Banana Leaf Basket" the chicken was actually because I don't like fish the others were making fish souffle.

Then it was time for Cashew nut and Chicken stir-fry
Fish cakes with a cucumber sauce or in my case more chicken.

And finally Tom Yam soup with prawns, Yes I do actually occasionally eat prawns.

And that was just for lunch. Needles to say to much to eat for any of us.

After lunch we proceeded to make sticky rice in sweet coconut milk with mango. Followed by spring rolls and PhatThai with egg.

All in all a good day I learned lots and am looking forward to trying out some of my newly learned skills when I get home.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chiang Mai

Thirteen hours on the bus and of course no sleep. However I am here and I have found a room in a funky little hotel that's tucked away in one of the little lanes in the old part of the city. The hotel is in a converted Thai farm house and chock a block with art, antique and knick knacks. It reminds me of a place I stayed in a few years ago in Pondicherry with Mum & Dad. Only the rooms are a lot smaller but they do have air conditioning and free Internet access as well as breakfast included in the price. Not bad for ten bucks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bold decisions

Forgot to mention. After I had my haircut yesterday I decided it wasn't really short enough. Half an hour in front of the bathroom mirror with a fresh razor blade solved that problem and now I have as much hair, as well ah, a guy with no hair.

Off to Chiang Mai

This afternoon I leave for Chiang Mai on an overnight bus ride. I hate these all nighters with a passion but short of flying it's the only way to get there.
Yesterday was fantastically hot here in Bangkok and I spent a great deal of my time inside my hotel room with the air conditioning on high. Today seems fractionally cooler and hopefully in Chiang Mai it's cooler still.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back in Bangkok

All roads lead to Bangkok and yesterday I returned there as well.
The trip was long, slow and a lot less comfortable then the outward bound journey with heavy rain and a lot of traffic on the road but we got there again.
Today is "getting things done day" and so far I have booked a bus ticket for the overnight bus to Chiang Mai on Wednesday and had a haircut. Still to do; buy some toiletries and a wallet. As you see travel can be rather mundane.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

quick update

My cooking course got canceled, not enough participants, bit of a disappointment but such is life.
Tomorrow my beach adventure ends, for now anyway, and I will return to Bangkok to arrange further travel north.
Stay tuned to this channel!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Perfect Day

There was some heavy overnight rain but by the time I got out of bed and wandered over to the restaurant it was dry and the sun had come out and the weather with a little sea breeze blowing was perfect again.
So what to do as they say in Nepal. I had an email from dad asking me more or less the same, what else is there apart from a beach? Well the island is quite large and most of the interior is a national park that has plenty of opportunities for hiking and swimming in streams and waterfalls, there is an elephant camp where you can get a jungle trip on the back of a pachyderm and of course there is diving and snorkeling. Oh and there is a cooking school where I will be taking lessons tomorrow.
For me right now the attraction remains sun, sea and sand though the water temperature is just right not a hint of a chill when you get in and by judiciously exposing myself to the sun I start to get a nice tan. Then there is the opportunity to sit back and read a book as well as writing my blog posts and slowly starting to write down the outline of my autobiography, working title "The rat ate my bar of soap and other things I hate about this place"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It's a hard life.

Yesterday I busied myself with; breakfast, walk along the beach for ten minutes, drink coffee, swim, have lunch, read a book, swim, have a few beers, eat dinner, read some more, go to sleep.
Not to exhausting a schedule.

There was another huge downpour last night with fairly high winds but this morning the weather is back to it's tranquil self. I measured the temperatures over the last 24 hours and it's consistently around 31.5 degrees Celsius during the day falling to 28.4 during the night. Very nice indeed.

My fellow travelers are the usual bunch ranging from the mundane to the plain odd. There is a family with two young children, eight and ten or there abouts, the mandatory Dutch guy (No not me, another one), some British and Americans ( Who are stereotypical loud and talk about "back in the day..." which can't be more then five years ago for them as none of them looks old enough to have left college.) There are people with dreadlocks and beads and virtually all women and most men have tattoos. Then there are the inevitable white guys with a Thai "girlfriend" in tow. One of them a thirty to forty year old French guy with a solid physique, obviously spend a lot of time in the gym, with a girl about half his size and the body of a twelve year old.She didn't look to happy when he wanted to go back to their room. Don't blame her.

And then there is the staff. The "resort" is run by an extended family that follows the principal of "if people really want something they'll ask". Ordering something in the restaurant or paying for it means waking up the nearest likely looking person and putting in your request which will get a nod of the head or some grunt and then some time later your food or drink will miraculously appear. The food by the way is very nice. Curries that are hot enough to bite without obscuring the flavor of the underlying ingredients and plenty of it. I had a quick nosy through the kitchen at the back of the place and was impressed with how clean it was the kitchen staff even wears disposable hair nets and gloves.

Enough writing for one day, back to lazing about.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ko Chang

Yesterday I traveled all day. First as pillion passenger on a motorbike while being pulled of balance my backpack and net book satchel. Then on a bus, a sorng taa a ferry and again a sorng taa. A sorng taa by the way is a pickup truck with two benches in the rear tray and, if you're lucky, a roof of some description to keep the sun the rain or both of your noggin.

Somewhere along the way I grabbed some lunch and immediately got caught out by the language barrier. I thought I was ordering a chicken dish to go with my rice but ended up getting a combination of beef, chicken and squid. Nothing wrong with that you would think, and there isn't really, except that I never eat seafood of any kind. As it was the dish was heavily spiced and after the first bite the difference in taste between the various bits became academic.

It was almost five in the afternoon when I arrived at my destination. The Nature Beach Resort is a grand name for a collection of huts on the beach but as a hut on the beach is what I was after it'll do nicely. My room has a mattress on the floor, a pedestal fan that blows a hurricane, a western toilet with a bucket of water to flush it and a cold water shower that sprays brackish water but at a good flow.

The weather is monsoonal at the moment and the sea is churning and there are signs up in various places warning about rips. In spite of that plenty of people are in the water and even a number of sun bathers are stretched out on the beach. This last bit seems funny as it's overcast and there is hardly any sun. Seeing them run for cover when the next squall comes through is always good for some entertainment too.

In the evening competing discos where trying to out do each other in the volume stakes. I was worried the racket might continue all night but around ten the rain started to pour down, and pour down seriously this time, and that either drowned out the sound or short circuited their electrics or maybe their customers just went home. It went quiet all the same and I slept until eight the next morning.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Island Hopping

All being well I will be off to Ko Chang tomorrow. Ko Chang is an island to the east of Bangkok close to the border with Cambodia and I hope to spend a few days swimming and snorkeling. I might move on from there to some of the other islands or start going North towards Chiang Mai.
We'll keep you posted.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Been unwell

I have been in bed feeling sorry for myself the last few days. That is the time I was awake. The first two days I must have slept for close to twenty hours every day and on day three I had the trots. However today I felt finely good enough to get out of bed and went for a breakfast of fruit and yogurt.
Let's see what today brings!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


The flight went on time and was half empty, three seats for me to stretch out over, and at any rate it is only four hours. Before you can say inflight movie we landed in Bangkok.
Customs and immigrations went smoothly too, that the longest stretch was just about he taxi ride into town.
And with that afternoon's trip you go forward in time by about three centuries. Now I am sitting in a nice restaurant having green chicken curry and sipping a beer. Kathmandu and Dal Bhat is nice but my old body is starting to rather enjoy these little luxuries.

A Change of scenery

To me there is such a thing as post hike come down. After flying out of the mountains and into Kathmandu there is 24 hours or so of euphoria, good food a decent room, coffee in the hotel garden. And then comes the crash; the heat, the noise, the unbreathable air, the hassle. At that point in time I normally settle in a routine of planning the next trip or get homesick.
This time however was something slightly in between. I couldn't go on another hike because I'll need my allocated visa time to go hiking with Dave later in the year and going back home for a few months didn't really appeal either.

So plan B.
The situation in Thailand of Reds vs Yellows vs who knows what seems to have settled down for the moment and I know that a bit of swimming, snorkeling and plenty of good Thai food will do wonders for my mood. A trip to the airline office confirmed what I suspected, no problems getting seats to Bangkok, and thus this afternoon I am off to the Thai capital. See you there!