Monday, December 27, 2010

Fire! Fire!

Our good friends 'M' and 'J' arrived from Australia last week and after meeting them at the airport, we went to their hotel...the luxurious Holiday Inn. 'M' and I were standing outside and noticed a large wall of mist emanating from the side of the building, from a few stories high. We figure it's like those similarly used to cool down coffee shops and restaurants.

Shortly after the parking lot attendant starts blowing his whistle, directing cars away from a certain area. Sirens start blaring...from an ambulance, exiting the hospital directly across the road, which hurtles into the hotel car park and from a fire engine, which has over shot the hotel entrance and now needs to reverse in the busy street.

"It's a fire drill!" one of the management staff informs us, saying that all of the guest have been alerted.

Back home I've worked in offices and shops that have legally mandatory, regular fire drills. But ours never involve actual emergency services attending. Pre-nominated fire wardens (employees) have specified tasks...counting heads, ensuring allocated areas have been evacuated etc. Then we all take our merry time, returning to our offices.

So, I was surprised to see the fire truck not only arrive, but to engage the stabilising legs and set the cherry picker (AKA Skylift F32HDT) in motion.
Spray of mist in the background

Friday, December 24, 2010

Visa Run Day 9. The Home Stretch

We've been back in Chiang Mai for a week now. It took a couple of days to recoup and catch up on some sleep. The last day of the trip went fast and without incident. It was warmer and dryer as we rode closer to Chiang Mai. Blue sky and sunshine even appeared for a couple of hours. Our seat saver (wad of sponge foam) meant we didn't have to make as many stops.
I wonder how old these are?
Would we do it all again? Probably not...well not me, not this way, not on a 125 cc Honda Wave. Are we glad we did it? Of course! I can safely say that now, because I'm writing this from the comfort of my lounge chair, back in our apartment ;)

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flowers for Mum

Friday, December 17, 2010

Visa Run Day 7-8. Udon Thani to Loei to Uttaradit

Udon Thani is big. Bigger than I'd expected. Big enough to have it's own airport and appears to be a thriving centre for business and industry. This would explain a male dominated hotel dining room at breakfast and the availability of single beds ONLY, at the SiriGrand.

While we were in Laos we invested in a wad of sponge foam and tape it to our scooter seat. This will be our butt saviour over the next three days.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Visa Run Day 6. Unexpected Visitors In Udon Thani

This morning we took it easy and generally watched TV and vegged out in the hotel room, the next three days will be hectic enough.

While out of the balcony (yes, again) I see a truck with a tank on the back. The driver is scooping up fish in a net and placing them into basket, while a food stall owners waits patiently.
These fish are well and truly alive and flipping about. The stall owner pays and the fish monger adds ice from the esky to cool down the water in the tank. A few hours later the fish are ready for sale, char grilled and impaled on split wood skewers.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Visa Run Day 5. Vientiene, Laos (applying for the visa)

At 8.00 am I line up outside the Thai Consulate entrance with fellow visa applicants. The gates rattle open shortly after 8.30 am and we walk quickly to collect our number ticket. I’m 18th. Many of us haven’t completed the actual visa application and sit down to do so. The first 20 or so numbers are called so quickly, we don’t hear them...because we’re all busy, writing and gluing on photos.

No problem, I stand in line and those around me numbered higher happily let me jump ahead. By the time I head over to the payment building, the ticket machine is dispensing number 160. I exit the consulate at 9.35 am. All very straight forward and painless.

Stray meets me outside and takes me to a cafe he discovered a little earlier, just around the corner. Brugel’s Bakery is new, modern and owned/run by a young, half Thai, Laotian man. He has a good head for business, offering free computer use and WiFi, and complementary visa applications that the unscrupulous try to flog for 20 Baht outside of the consulate. In a month or so he’ll have a 400 Baht room to rent and if the standard of the cafe is any indication, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there.

Looking out to the street from the alfresco area

Monday, December 13, 2010

Visa Run Day 4. Vientiane, Laos

Declining Hotel Hell’s offer to mind our bike, for double the price of the lock up facility, we head towards Friendship Bridge. A quick passport check and stamp later, we purchase a 15 Baht bus ticket for the ride across. For some reason we are ushered away from the bus and into a private minivan?

The Laos visa took only 20 minutes: complete the form, attach two photos and pay about 1300 baht. We were approached by a taxi driver who offered us a trip into Vientiane for 150 Baht each, very reasonable for such a long distance, so we take it. The young driver shows us the Thai Consulate and then takes us to a hotel. It’s old, big and comfortable, but could do with a good scrub and renovating in parts. The rooms on the road side share a balcony that runs the whole length of the building, which makes for great people watching over the next few days.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Visa Run Day 3. Loei to Nong Khai

Before leaving Loei we stop to buy a new map, as ours has nearly reached it's limits. The gas station employee suggests we take another path to Nong Khai, up to Chiang Khan and south east, along the Mekong river. (video - Chiang Khan)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Visa Run Day 2. Uttaradit to Loei

It turns out that the route to Loei, plotted out yesterday, is a pleasant change. Quieter (not too quiet) roads, cooler in the shade of the hills and much more scenic. The video isn't very interesting, it's hard to get the camera out at just the right time. 
It’s nice to be off the main highway where the shoulder of the road is officially the motorbike (bicycle, tuk tuk or any other homemade contraption, motorised or not) lane. Overtaking on the inside feels unnatural and dangerous, and it’s illegal in Australia, so often we go around the outside...the normal way.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Visa Run Day 1. Chiang Mai to Uttaradit

When we arrived in Uttaradit this afternoon, Stray said he felt like a Labradoodle, the way everyone would do a double take when they saw us. But first, I’ll go back to this morning, when we left Chiang Mai.

We’d being weighing up our mode of transport for quite some time before going to Laos for my Visa and decided to hire a bike...not a road bike, more like a scooter, a 125 cc Honda Wave.

As we secure our overnight size bag to the front basket, ‘S’, one of the hotel staff (who speaks only Thai) made it quite clear that we are nuts. She alternates between laughing and frowning, and throws in a few ‘mai dee’s’...not good! We assure her we’ll be on the go slow, taking a few days to reach the border. It does occur to us that we may be making a big mistake, but guess that going such distances in Thailand is not the norm, as they are in Australia.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Off to Laos!

We're off to Laos for a week or so, to organise my Education visa and to have a look at rural Thailand and Vientiane. I expect updates will be few, but before we go, I'd like to leave you with this.

What can I say...small things amuse small minds. IT WAS MUCH LOUDER THAN THIS.

My quiet Sunday morning was interrupted by Mount Vesuvius, out on the balcony... I have no idea, but it's not mine. Obviously someone a few storeys down below, in the laundry, was a trifle heavy handed with the soap powder...I've been meaning to clean out there anyway. The joys of high rise living are new to me and an endless source of amusement and wonder.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Monday, December 6, 2010

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek

Yesterday we headed out to Royal Flora Ratchaphruek. We were oblivious to the free entry and planned celebrations for the King's birthday, therefore, didn't realise that most of Chiang Mai would be accompanying us.
Ratchaphruek is the national flower of Thailand, AKA, (Cassia fistula L.) or Golden Shower Tree. From what I've read, this immaculately manicured garden park started out as a flower festival in 2006. Amongst the gardens stands the Lanna style Ho Kham Royal Pavilion (behind me in the distance - above). And a little bit closer, below.

Friday, December 3, 2010

#3 You know you've left home when...

You know you've left home when...
  • it's a battle to find double bed sheets and blankets without cartoon characters on them...we settled for an electric blue Hawaiian print. Très chic!
  • he asks the waitress if the soup is 'hot and spicy?' to which she replies 'THANK YOU'.
  • your lunch date points out that it's NOT alright to shove CD's and people wearing old fashioned aeroplane goggles??? down the toilet...she's bitterly disappointed.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thailand's Got Talent - Takoyaki

Near where we eat most nights, a van parks close by selling freshly made squid balls, aka Takoyaki. Not the processed meat kind, these have squid in the centre of a dough/batter, which is flavoured with grated carrot and shallots etc.

This guy has definitely cooked a few in his day and uses only a couple of skewers to get the job done.

The balls are moved along the row of griddles, depending on their cooking stage, the final one being set to 'keep warm'.

Op là! They're delicious and at five for 20 Baht, he has plenty of customers.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

#2 You know you've left home when...

 You know you've left home when...
  • you see a fully grown Labrador, going for a ride, standing on the front deck of a scooter
  • you miss a dumpling of a different kind...of course I miss the older dumplings too!
  • half the time he tells people I'm 'suay' and the other half, 'suay'...come on Stray, which is it? Beautiful or Cursed?...same spelling, different Thai tones

Monday, November 22, 2010

Loy Krathong and Yi Peng Photos

I need a better camera! Mine struggles to catch anything in motion and night moving lit lanterns in the evening skies, don't make for good photos. Here's a few that turned out OK.
Waiting for the lantern to fill up with hot air...
...ouch, this is getting quite hot...

...make a wish...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Palm Heart Puffs

Saturday night walking market on Wua Lai road provides an opportunity to sample even more food, with a helpful English sign here and there.

These caught my eye, looking like a pile of something between fairy floss and scoops of ice cream, before I spotted their explanation. "It looks, feels, and tastes like a bready flour cake, but it's not. It's made from steamed palm hearts.....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Loy Krathong and Yi Peng

Since we first arrived a few weeks ago, signs of Loy Krathong and Yi Ping were evident. The odd bang of fireworks could be heard and a lost looking lantern or two, seen in the evening skies.
The old city moat...yes, that's a big pink rabbit.
Last night the fireworks increased to an almost celebratory level, a few more lanterns appeared in the sky and decorative street lights were turned on around the city.
Tha Pae Gate
Hundreds of lanterns held captive
The evening wouldn't be complete without sitting on a giant panda...also a lantern!
Don't even think about doing the bunny ears Mr Panda
Tonight should be even louder and brighter...
...and I'm sure not everyone will quite make it home. This morning - it's 9.30 am right now and the fire crackers are already getting a run for their money.

""Loi" means "to float" and a "Krathong" is a raft, about a hand span in diameter, traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk...AND Loi Krathong coincides with the Lanna (northern Thai) festival known as "Yi Peng" (Thai: ยี่เป็ง). Due to a difference between the old Lanna calendar and the Thai calendar, Yi Peng is held on a full moon of the 2nd month of the Lanna calendar ("Yi" meaning "2nd" and "Peng" meaning "month" in the Lanna language). A multitude of Lanna-style sky lanterns (khom loi (Thai: โคมลอย), literally: "floating lanterns") are launched into the air" ...thank you Wiki.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You know you've left home when...

You know you've left home when...
  • you discover the Pandan Custard in your bun is listed as a food group on the packet...fine, but what the hell is in the Pandan Custard?
  • you put rice in his coffee instead of sugar...hey, I didn't have my glasses on!
  • he asks for more dog with his rice (that should have been vegetables Stray)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Welcome to Bor Sang Fishing Park

One of Stray's fellow TEFL students (S) introduced him to Bor (or Bo) Sang Fishing Park last week, so I had to go and have a sticky beak myself. Getting there wasn't as straight forward as we'd hoped, but we made it eventually, despite the English sign being located well and truly INSIDE the car park. A minor, major detail overlooked by our direction givers.
A half day arranged tour to this place costs around 1500 Baht +, but if you show up on your lonesome, you'll pay around 250 Baht for entry, rod hire and bait (no charge to watch) and I doubt you'd be able to sustain pulling in these monsters for a whole half a day anyway. The park is open from 9 am to 10 pm, and the fishing is better at night.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nong Buak Hard Public Park

I'm trying to walk off all of the food I've been blogging about, by taking regular walks. 'Regular' they haven't been, the old sleep pattern has been out of whack.

But I was inspired last night when I discovered I'd lost a couple of kilos on one of those PUBLIC scales, that plays REALLY LOUD CARNIVAL MUSIC when you climb aboard and has a REALLY LARGE digital read out of your weight...for the WHOLE NEIGHBOURHOOD to see.

Today I woke up early enough to escape the heat of the day and wandered up to, around and back from Nong Buak Hard (or Hat) Public Park.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Elephant on Thipanet Road

The other night on the way home from dinner we saw this on one of Chiang Mai's busy, busy roads. The elephant is only young and the mahout seems to be trying to sell food to locals, so they can in turn, feed it.

It's something I thought was reserved for tourist areas. I don't condone it, but thought you might like to take a look.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kitchen Otto!

This morning we hit an all time low of sorts. The novelty of eating out for every meal has worn off, and cold sandwiches and salads, made in the apartment, aren’t exactly comfort foods.

This morning...

Stray had slept in for a change and felt like eggs for breakfast. How are we going to cook them? Our cooking facilities total a toaster and an electric kettle. After fossicking around he came up with this....
Notice how white the tile grout is Mum!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's a jungle out there - mop buckets, shampoo...

'It's a jungle out there' will no doubt be a regular post on this blog. Nearly every day, or at least every week, I buy something I didn't intend to or can't find something I want. Some days it's a bit like a Lucky Dip! So these posts will often  be a cry for help. Shopping without being able to read can also turn up some pleasant surprises!

After a particularly bad morning the other day, involving a suspected broken toe, rude tuk tuk and songthaew drivers and a giant headache, I decided to wash my hair with my new bottle of shampoo...which turned out to be CONDITIONER! That's the culprit on the right.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

SiamSato, Ceylon Flowers and Abaranth

At the 7-11 I noticed this in the refrigerator.
It was in the beer I grabbed a bottle, because it was so cheap. Only 25 Baht. I opened it when I returned home and poured some in a glass. No bubbles, barely any colour...what’s going on?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chiang Mai's 23rd Food Festival

Lately our blog seems to be revolving around why break the theme now? Last night we walked over to the 23rd Chiang Mai Food Festival. Not huge, but big enough to pass away two or three hours. About a hundred or so food stalls surrounding a large eating area, where you can enjoy a meal, beer and live entertainment.
Grilling whole fish over coals.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Umong Wine House Warming

Back home I really enjoy a glass of red wine (probably a little too much at times ;). In Asia, imported wine is obviously on the expensive side when compared to local products, particularly if you're on a local budget. Mike's review on Mao Berry Wine gave me hope, so I thought I'd do a bit of sampling myself. Why not!  A a house warming celebratory drink. We moved from a hotel room into an apartment today.

While wandering around Central Airport Plaza, I purchased a small bottle (70 Baht) of Umong Wine, rather than blow 250 Baht on what might be an inferior product.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why So Blue?

I came across this today. I didn't taste it, because, just looked unnatural to me. After Googling 'blue rice' I discovered that apparently it's coloured with the flower Morning Glory. Even if I knew that it wasn't riddled with blue dye, I still wasn't sure what to do with it next. The rice platter was surrounded by bowls of toppings/ I guess you just flavour it to your own liking?

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Random bits and pieces

After a trip to Warorot Markets to buy a 'polite' shirt (collar and sleeves) for my official student photo, today I enrolled in my Thai Language course! Now I wait for my application to be approved by the Ministry of Education (MOE).
Not a good photo of Warorot Markets
Mum...I'd like one of these for Christmas for my lounge room please ;)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Garden

The Garden was one of our favourite places to eat, drink and duck out of the hustle and bustle of central Chiang Mai last year, so we went back for a visit. Unfortunately for us, good for them, it's situated smack bang near the intersection of the Sunday night Walking Street Markets.

I don't remember the walking being as slow or as crowded as it was yesterday evening. We stopped for a juice and sat out of the way for about 20 minutes and to escape the stifling heat generated by  bodies and hundreds of stall lights.

Anyway, we got there in the end and were lucky there were still a few vacant seats.

Stray's meal: pad see ew, excellent! My meal: Squid with basil and  of course steamed rice. Also excellent, however, I forgot to say 'nit naawy phrik kha!'. HOLD THE BLOODY CHILLI. Even after plucking the little blighters out, it was incredibly hot. My eyes started watering and the fire in my mouth intensified. I do alright on the chillidometer, but will never reach Thai standards.

I finish my meal. I ask the waiter for a little bit of milk.  He looks at me strangely and questions my request. I guess he couldn't figure out how the milk worked in with the squid dish and Chang beer. 'Yes please', I say. By the time he returned with my milk, delivered in a small jug :) the inferno was dying down...but I drank it anyway for good measure.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Yesterday - Half of today was spent getting some much needed supplies: phone charger, universal power board, locks etc. But on the top of our list were pillows. Because ours.... well, I reckon somewhere around town two foundation stones are missing.

The mattress isn’t far behind in the comfort department, but we’ll deal with that another day.

Robinsons at Airport Central Plaza, which is on par with Myer or David Jones, was a little over our price range. In fact the prices were similar to those back in Australia. We walked about a kilometre or so down to Tesco Lotus and bought our 199 Baht pillows, including covers.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s sleep, but I’m sure our new purchases will only highlight just how bad the mattress is.

Friday, October 22, 2010

First post from CM

If I was a superstitious person I may have cancelled my trip to Chiang Mai. The omens or warning signs leading up to our departure may have been enough to deter some: increased Red Shirt activity, explosive devices going off willy nilly, the cancellation of my course = loss of Ed visa = possible/probable loss of my deposit, headlines of  'Thailand - expecting worst floods in 50 years', an Aussie bank losing all of my certified documentation to sell my shares just prior to leaving, waking up to find a dead rat size mouse at the foot of the mattress on our last morning at home (a farewell gift from our cat) ...but, no, not me...I'm here!

We arrived late last night, extremely tired, but happy we got it all over and done with in one day. On exiting the airport Stray saw his old taxi driver mate, Mr A, so it was nice to see a familiar face straight away.

The hotel is pleasant, quiet, clean and quite large, situated in the outskirts of Chiang Mai and shadowed by Doi Suthep. Theoretically I'll be able to find my way back, should I get lost, using the mountain as a landmark.

The recorded female elevator attendant in hotel is a bit of a worry. She had a slight spac attack this morning and advised that we were shooting up past the mezzanine floor and penthouses (like there are any) at great knots, and that there was an earthquake and we should get out.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I've buried the cat, Chiang Mai, here we come!

Stray and I are taking the scenic route to Chiang Mai this time, from the Gold Coast, to Kuala Lumur, to Bangkok, to Chiang Mai. Three flights and two airlines in one day, a tad painful, but very economical. AU$369.00 one way. Let me tell you, we were absolutely buggered by the time we boarded the plane (I can say that even two days prior to leaving, while I'm writing this post). We didn't achieve all we set out to do, but at some stage you have to say 'that's enough, it'll be waiting for us when we get back'.

Emotions - for me, running somewhere between, hysteria, relief, excitement, name it, I've got it.

Last week I had my head in the oven (noooo, I was cleaning it, although it was such a chore, turning the gas on did cross my mind) and I thought back to our return flight from Kuala  Lumpur earlier this year (To get anywhere with Air Asia, we have to go via KL). I was sandwiched between Stray (happy about that) and some older, short, vocal, stumpy Aussie guy.

Me and my big mouth. If I'd shut up and not asked to sit next to Stray, who was across the aisle, we would have ended up with three seats to share.

This ain't us!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Videos - Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi...sort of. 2009

....still uploading old videos, finished now, I promise! 

On the last leg of our Thailand holiday we went out to Ayutthaya. 'I' could have spent days out there if it weren't for the heat, I love old architecture, especially if its crumbling. We arrived by mini bus at which time our tour guide diligently dispensed round stickers to our we knew who we were! Stray offered to afix mine and proceeded to adhere it to my..well, not in an appropriate place. I could have and should have smacked him up side the head, but there were witnesses.

After visiting a Wat (one that was rebuilt after the Burmese burnt it down)...I cant remember the names and feel a little ashamed, but one can get a bit Watted out  after a while, we headed to one of the large ruin sites right next door. Wat Phra Si Sanphet?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dragon Fruit Tree

This post should really be called 'Dragon Fruit Plant on a Tree'. Two posts ago I replied to a comment and mentioned our Dragon Fruit plant (Pitaya) and how the only fruit we ever see are small and pathetic, and on the ground, along with ginormous dead flowers. I first tasted the white fleshed variety in China, without it's skin and cut up, so didn't recognise it at the time. Twenty or more years ago I planted a small piece of the Pitaya cactus at the base of a gum tree.

This is the way a fruit bearing DF plant should look, neat, trimmed and well maintained.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Videos - Sarawak and Sabah, Malaysia, Brunei 2008

...more videos and a few photos.

Apart from the pea soup atmosphere (humidity) in Borneo, I loved the Malaysian part of the country. OK...I liked all of the areas of Borneo we visited.
Looking left out of the hotel window to the resort area of KK.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Snap's Thai Language course cancelled

I wasn't going to go on about my/our courses on this blog, but can't help this post.

My One Year Thai Language course has been cancelled. You can read the whole account at my other blog...if you really want the ins and outs. Stray's TEFL course appears to be OK...for now, even though we were to attend the same institute?

I will apply for a 60 day tourist visa and take it from there...with an outbound flight to probably Laos, so I can stay legitimate and arrange an ED Visa.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nata De Coco...Salacca...Favourite Foods!!!!!

Stray and I have enjoyed broadening our food horizons as we travel, trying different dishes, vegetables and fruit. We dropped into (not our usual) an Asian grocery store yesterday on the hunt for fresh, thick sheets of rice noodle, but they didn't stock it.

We want to try our hand(s) at making Pho Chien Phong. Little pillows of fried noodle topped with beef and kang kong. We love cooking, because we love eating good food.
Not my photo, but we tried it in Hanoi, it's delicious.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Video and Photos - Floating Markets and Giant Dragon Temple, Thailand 2009

One of the things I wanted to do in Thailand last year was to visit the floating market. I had no idea that there was more than one (stupid me) and hence, went to not quite MY intended location. We went by taxi from BKK and arrived at a VERY expensive boat ride through the markets. We're not quite sure which markets we went to, perhaps Don Wai, either way it was ridiculously priced at around 1000 Baht each! This was probably inclusive of our taxi driver's kick back.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Videos - Vietnam 2008 and 2010

Everyone who's visited Vietnam has their own 'crossing the road' story, photos or videos...we're no different. This one is called NOT crossing the road in Saigon. We're trying to reach our pink hotel on the other side, but stopped to take a video of what we were up against.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Videos - The Sounds and Rum O'clock, New Zealand 2009

....still uploading videos.

Early last year Stray and I took a cruise from Sydney to New Zealand and back. Personally and unlike Stray who is quite the social butterfly, I'm not one for cruises. However, if the price is right, I'll go. Why I'm not keen on them - I eat way too much, over priced drinks, I tire of nodding and saying hello every minute or so, to passing fellow passengers, I'm not into bath towel origami lessons and you usually only get one day in port to race around like a headless chook, seeing the sights.

Pros- I eat way too much, the places I visit in one day, I only have to unpack once, hmmmm that's about it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Videos - Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei 2008

While in Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei, Borneo) we hired Tommy and his boat to take us down Sungai Brunei to see the proboscis monkeys. He also so showed us around Kampong Ayer, the water village...a MUST SEE. Again, sorry about the sound. It was quite windy... I swear my eye lashes were stuck to my skin in an open position.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Videos - Northern Thailand 2009

We've had small videos stashed away and have never done anything with them. So (to take my mind of everything) I'll be uploading them according to their location, to our blog. Some are incredibly short and have a strange metallic sound?

Intersection outside of the Parasol Inn (centre of Chiang Mai) where the Sunday night walking market takes place, along with cake in child proof packaging.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Visas, birthdays and the To-Done list

Well it appears Stray has his four week TEFL course to attend and it appears I have my visa documents waiting at the Thai Consulate in Brisbane. When our police checks are returned from the Federal Police, we can finally mail our applications. I'll sleep better when I have my visa encrusted passport in my hot little hand.

Tomorrow is September 11th, both of our daughter's birthdays. They're not twins, we were just incredibly good planners...hah! Tonight we'll have a celebration dinner with family.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Stray's TEFL course (non) update

Firstly, Thank you to those who left comments of support and replied to emails regarding our concerns and have offered suggestions.

31st August ...Stray replied to THE email he received from TAT.

'Wasn't it the 4 week course I enrolled in?'

Yes...yes it was, but apparently they have him enrolled in both the 4 and 2 week course? and stated that they would look into it.

Confusion/disorganisation in large institutions is not uncommon. I am still waiting for my next course subject for Financial Services (in Australia)...that was over a year ago. Luckily I flunked myself out. I won't even go into the tit for tat I've been having with our telecommunications giant, Sensus...what do they not understand about the word 'CANCELLED'?

2nd September...still no reply

5th September...silence, but today is Sunday! so maybe tomorrow?

Ironic...Stray has his visa documents (although we have not submitted them to the Thai Consulate yet) and no course. I have my course, but no visa documents.

Lastly, Women (apparently) feel the need to speak, or in my case write, about 20 000 words per day. Stray should be thankful I have two blogs to keep me quiet.

Monday, August 30, 2010

TAT advises Stray's TEFL course has been cancelled...

This afternoon Stray received a momentarily heart stopping email from TAT (Teach Abroad Thailand), in answer to his Visa questions, as they had not provided any information to date. The email also asked him if he'd received notification of the CANCELLATION of the TEFL course due to commence in November. TAT advised that the other students were relocating to Pattaya. There was no offer of a later start date.

NO, he did not receive the notification and NO, Pattaya is not an option!!!!!! because I will be based in Chiang Mai...and we really like Chiang Mai.

So he requested a refund for the £450.00 deposit already paid.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

To Do-ne List (the cattery, laptop security and life in general)

So, how’s it all going? Well, good, but a bit stressful ...thanks for asking!

The To Do-ne list is getting smaller, but is still quite large and scary. About 80% of the house contents now resides in the donga in boxes labelled A-Z or 1 -  and their innards methodically logged in an Excel spreadsheet for easy (ha) relocation. The walls are pretty bare and cupboards look a little like those from the set of Ghost Town.

Some of our clothes and linen have been vacuum packed into those plastic sucky bags and now look like compacted road kill.

The gate, the essential loophole closer in the Rotty proof fence, has been wire brushed (by me) and is awaiting a coat of black glossy paint (by me).

*Note – the Rotty hasn’t chased next door’s sheep for a couple of weeks, but he has taken liberty with the open gate and was caught out on the road twice today. He is truly a beautiful dog and we have no doubt that we will have him, nearly, trained and adjusted before we go...but Bundy still glares at him with a ‘WHEN!!!! are you leaving????’ look.

The side veranda, AKA cattery for the daughter's three indoor nutty cats, has now had its slab (floor) laid. Our wonderful friends came to help and due to rain, the ordeal/partying lasted two days, not one. The event was not without its hilarity and tragedies.
Still before, but from another angle...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Google Translatastic! would be excused in believing I clearly have too much time on my hands, which I do not. I’m just biding time until we take off!

Part of writing a blog, and reading the blogs of others, is a journey of discovery. Usually a blog is born out of a purpose to share, educate and or entertain. While I’m pursuing my own interests I come across some remarkable and humorous material.

I (as many of us do) have a chuckle when I find those funny signs or menus written in Chinglish (to which whole websites have been dedicated like, but it was refreshing and amusing to read about just the opposite on China Hush. Some very poor judgements made in choosing life lasting tattoos...written in, well, Englese! I won’t be listing them, but you may like to take a look.

Brisbane’s China Town...and what about China Town? I sincerely hope that the Brisbane City Council, in its infinite wisdom, took the time and money to ensure we have not littered China Town with similarly ridiculous signs.

I’m really interested in what new comers to Australia think when they arrive. Are we hospitable as a nation? What do some people find odd about us or our customs?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pilotage Cambodia

It's 2008 and Missy sets off from the US to Cambodia...her first time in Asia! She stays for eight months and revisited just recently. She spent her time there teaching English and Art at Aziza's Place (AP). AP is an orphanage of sorts, although in this case, the kids have parents. Pilotage Cambodia, Missy's blog, takes you on a journey of sadness and joy, as she briefly touches and enriches the lives of the kids doomed to an existence of scavenging at Steung Meanchey city dump, she in turn creates memories and learns lessons I am sure she never knew were possible.

"Words cannot describe the journey.. but they try." - Missy.

Steung Meanchey

I can't tell you how I tripped over Pilotage Cambodia, because it was completely off my normal blog circuits, but I am so glad I did. As a blogaholic, it's hard to pick a favourite...if there is such a thing, but there was something about the way Missy wrote that kept me glued from start to finish. 

AP also has its own Newsletter called Aziza's Courtyard and it too, is well worth a visit, subscription...or better still, a donation.

Cambodia, and of course Ankor Wat, is on my 'see before I cark it list'. Stray and I heard nothing but good things about the country from fellow travellers and I hope when we're in Thailand, that we can make the journey. I know I'll be making a special stop, whilst there!

If you have time or love a good, honest read, please take time to check out Pilotage Cambodia...from the beginning.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What are these please?

Sunday morning markets.

Turmeric? and chillis.
Don't know what's in the bags, the guy selling these didn't know their any language. Here's a close up, any ideas? Small to big pea sized and shaped, each on their own stork attached to a main stem. Most were green, a few were turning yellow to red and you can just make out the small cream coloured flowers. Chillis?


Sunday morning market at Woodridge Station, Brisbane, Australia 6 am - 12 pm. We walked away with enough fruit and veggies to hurt my arms, for AU$20.00.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dalat digs

A couple of weeks ago Retire 2 Thailand was calling for alternative retirement locations and fond memories of Da Lat, Vietnam came to mind. Then more recently American Vietnamese was blogging about university student housing in HCMC (Saigon) and of course I had to add my two bobs worth about our experience with the same, but in Da Lat
Earlier this year we caught up with an old, young friend, Dung, in the picturesque mountain city of Da Lat (a MUST SEE).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Barcelona baggage

Stray and I love to travel, especially in Asia, but I really did enjoy our short stint in the Mediterranean and would love to go back there one day...only it’s so far away and our one time visit left a bit of a bad taste in our mouths. I mentioned this incident in brief, in a previous post, but here’s the whole story.
This was only our second trip overseas and our travel package included flights and a seven night cruise, leaving from Barcelona (Spain) to France, Italy and back again. We cruised with Royal Caribbean and the ship, Voyager of the Seas, was truly spectacular, dwarfing the others docked along side in port. It took a couple of days to get over the jet lag, but we had a ball. Every day was at racing pace, with only one day to see which ever city we had cruised into.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Life Update - the Rotty, Blackboards, getting ready etc.

Things are going pretty well to plan.

1. I have confirmed that there is NO alien infestation in the Donga...just dry rot and have relocated it's contents outside, to the yard , under a tarp, and am arranging for new flooring to be delivered. It has been a very INTERESTING exercise (CJ and LJ!!!!), since some of it's contents have been long buried and forgotten for may years.

2. I have completed and shipped off the last of my blackboard jobs off to their various habitats and am looking forward to completing my 'How To' Chalk Art ebook/tutorials, while in Thailand.

3. The Rotty seems to have (touch a freakin' forest's worth of wood) stopped chasing the sheep next door...YES, we have Kiwi's living adjacent to us. As big as he is, Conan is like a giant rodent and has a Houdini like talent of being able to squish, squeeze and slide under a few centimetres of barbed wire dog fencing. I take that back...I just had to retrieve him from the neighbours place, yet again.

Conan, the Rotty, in bliss!
 4. I feel like I am living in a bit of a war zone of late, as expected, with so many different projects happening, both in and outside of my head. Boxing up, repairs and building happening all around.

5. I have been investigating some really interesting and invaluable (to me) blogs...and am sure I have yet to discover many more! As much as I like to go off on a tangent...I am trying to focus on Thailand...Chiang Mai....learning Thai and having a ball! For now, anyway!

I've moved the Blogga Log (Blog Roll) to a stand alone page due to my growing addiction to reading and collecting blogs of interest.