My first visit to Chinatown

Yesterday 4pm,  I boarded the village mini van and headed to the airport link station. This the start of my journey to Chinatown. I had no idea how long it would take and of course I was there way way too early…….changing from the airport link to the MRT and a very fast journey right to the end of the line . There I was to meet 29 other people for our food tour of Chinatown.

I sat on a small wall outside the Bangkok Center Hotel, the meeting point of our tour.

Soon I was joined by more people. Some ladies had brought their husbands, mums and guests. It was good to meet new people and exchange conversation.

Our large group was split into 3 smaller groups and we were met by our guide Olive. She was going to have a hard time as we were the group with food allergies. Some to seafood and me of course, chillies!!!! We were given history snippets while we walked. A very busy area and she was always watching out to make sure we didn’t get knocked over. Crossing the road in Bangkok can be quite a risky business.

Soon we came to this temple. I will have to return to go inside and view the 5 and half ton solid gold Buddha….wow what a sight that will be. Olive gave us the background to how the temple was built and why. I can’t remember what it was called now though. Sorry.

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Its a pity the light was fading as I sure this would have been a much better photo. The gold was amazing.

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Then onto the gates of Chinatown. Wow. The head of the dragon. I even got to stand on a special gold stone right under the gate. Apparently the story goes the stone is a supernatural stone giving you supernatural powers and a place to make a wish.

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Couldn’t resit really standing in such a special place. We were told to turn to the temple and face Buddha and make our wish. Lets see if it comes true.

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The detail on the carvings were amazing. Here’s a closer look.

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To the side of each pillar was a huge Chinese Lion. Olive asked us if we could see which was male and which was female. Turns out if you look closely the female lion has a cub under her foot and the male, can you believe it – a football……..

We took the path to the right of the gates, which is shaped as the body of the dragon right into Chinatown.

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Making our first stop at the shrine of mercy. Adjacent to the Chinese Hospital for the poor. Olive explained about acupuncture and cupping. I myself am having acupuncture for my poorly feet.  I have had acupuncture back in the UK and Chinese healing massages. They most certainly work.  There seemed to be lots of interest in alternative therapies among the ladies.

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The sun was setting and the lighting changed. The whole place seemed to come alive and the bright lights could be seen.

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I had been told Chinatown is hot, sweaty, congested but honestly I didn’t find it so. Yes, OK Thailand is nearly always hot but there was a good breeze. It was busy but not bad. I had expected a lot worse. There is so much to see. It seemed everywhere there were restaurants, street vendors, everybody selling their wares. I am certainly going back.

Our first stop was this stall Selling what I can only describe as a Chinese equivalent to donuts with green custard. The taste was amazing. You would never think to try green custard. It would be of course if you had any idea what was in the tub anyway. Here’s a photos.

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Absolutely divine. The owner (in the photo) had photos hanging up of himself, his stall and a member of the Royal Family buying his food. Olive told us he is the best. The custard was made from pandan leaves. So delicious. I can taste it now. You dunk your donut type treat into the custard. Delicious but of course very fattening. I tried to be good and shared one with another lady in the group.

Next stop was the red shirt sea food kitchen. Nothing to do with anything political just that each restaurant wears different colour shirts. We had a stir fry dish of mimosa (water vegetable) with garlic and chillies for the other ladies in my group. Followed by huge prawns and dipping sauce. There was also a chicken and mushroom soup. Delicious. It came in a steaming metal pot with a burner underneath and they had very kindly put the chillies in a separate dish so I could have some soup too.

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As we sat eating you could see at all the restaurants it was very busy. The restaurant over the street was the green shirt kitchen. Its a really good idea to find the restaurant you went to eat at and can’t remember the name.

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As you can see there was a lot going on. We were even subject of curiosity as people stopped to snap our photo. Maybe not seen so many western women all together??? just not sure as there was many Westerners (Farangs) about.

The next stop was the dumpling shop. Apparently a very famous shop.

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Again, how could you forget this chap. Certainly stands out. We chose bbq pork dumplings and some of the group chose the custard buns. I missed out as the other ladies said the custard buns were worth having again and again and again.

Then we went over the very busy main road. Olive asked the Policeman if he would stop the traffic so we would cross and bless him, he did.

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This was a shot taken as I waited for the pork and peppery soup. We sat on tiny stools and the smallest metal tables I have ever seen. Wow the pork was delicious but the soup unfortunately was too peppery for most of us and we all ended up having a bit of a cough. Remember to drink lots of water on  your way around. Olive made sure we got plenty of water to drink which was really thoughtful of her as it was getting very hot as the night wore on.

There was lots of fruit vendors around. Selling amazing looking fruit and fruit drinks. I got a big bag of crispy pears for 100 bhat (less than a pound in UK money). I could have bought loads but knew we still had loads to do and I didn’t want to miss getting to the MRT with the rest of the group.  There were some lovely strawberries. I had paid double just the other day and they were so horrible I had to put them in the bin. But these ones looked delicious

The next stop was Thai ice cream. There were some very strange flavors. From iced tea, coconut with basil seeds through to Lychee sorbet. I chose the last one. I thought the safest bet. It was I have to say quite good. One scoop being enough of course.

Then only a few yards to another stop for sesame dumplings in a ginger soup. It is a very popular Chinese dessert. I actually thought this was my favorite dish of the evening.

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We ended it rather strangely I thought with Dim Sum at the Canton House. Seemed to spoil it after having 2 sweet dishes but never mind. Only 2 ladies tried the fried jelly fish!!! I have to say, I passed….it looked awful. For those of the ladies that could not eat seafood. There was chicken and cashew nut, my favourite but alas, huge dried chillies in it. Deep fried sea bass with garlic. I was so full, I would have loved to have some but I just couldn’t eat another bite.

Then we meandered back to the MRT to end our night. I will go back as there was many shops with beautiful silk garments. Shops selling nuts and sweets and all sorts of things. Definitely worth another look and we only saw the main road through China Town.

Can’t wait for next months activity which is a visit to Jim Thompson House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A trip into Bangkok for an early supper

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We decided that we would have to venture out into Bangkok. So last Friday in the afternoon I parked my car at airport link station and climbed the stairs to the platform. There are lifts but the stairs are certainly a challenge. Some stations have escalators too. Some stations have a lovely breeze due to the trains being run above street level on overhead lines, but some oh my goodness they are so hot. I don’t know how people do this every day.

OH is now most definitely a commuter. It’s certainly good exercise and the trains are lovely and cool with good air conditioning but they do get very busy at rush hour.

Anyway, I am digressing. OH couldn’t get away from work as planned so I decided to check out M&S inside Central (department store) at Chid-lom. I was so excited at the prospect of finding Per Una shorts and tops. Well, was I disappointed. Everything was crammed in and it was winter stock!!!! M&S would be so shocked to see their stock displayed in this way.

I thought I had been saved from stocking up at home on the underwear front. Alas no. The prices, oh my goodness, 3 times the price for shape wear knickers. Equivalent to 30 pounds a pair!! outrageous. I know they have to have them imported but really. So I guess I will be stocking up once again on my home visit.

I did come across a lovely cotton top from a different department so I thought I should treat myself and a coffee of course while I waited. A few minutes later and a phone call to say OH was on his way and I would meet him at the next station. I managed to get on the right train and off at the correct station. However, finding the right side of the main road to be on to meet OH caused a big telephone argument.

When people are doing this journey every day its no sweat. They know exactly which exit of the station (all overhead) goes where. I did not and found myself on the other side of the road with no way to get across!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! how stupid is that you ask yourself. Up and down those bbbb….. steps I went back and forth. So I had to wait for OH to come and get me and show me how to get to the other side. I just know he thinks I am really stupid sometimes (well, most of the time probably).

It was hot and humid (just for a change) and we didn’t know where to go to eat. Again, with all the thousands of places to eat, how come we didn’t know where to go. We found one place but all it offered after 4pm was sandwiches, soup and salad. OH suggested a pub called Bullies. Just like stepping back into a Wetherspoons back in the UK. I had a chicken fillet burger and chips. Delicious and the wine was good and sensibly price too. The staff are efficient and friendly too.

OH had fajitas and a soda.  We wandered back in the rain to the Novotel, where OH had stayed for 2 months while I was looking for a house and finished off the evening with a couple of little cakes and lovely coffee.

Back onto the Skytrain and then airport rail link for our journey home. I think we were both exhausted. Have to have more planning next time.  Got me out of the house though

 

Flying

OH has been on to me about flying a Giro-copter for as long as I can remember and this year when we go to the UK for a visit he has booked to take a flight in one. This is to see if he would like to learn to fly one of these tiny little things.He even got me to carry back books from the UK recently on Giro-copters. Is he mad????

I could never understand the fascination, but hey, each to their own!!!! so the quote goes. Things changed when a couple of weeks ago David got an email from a man called Tom at Nongprue Airfield. OH had been in touch with Tom last year to see if there was any facilities for Giro copters at the airfield.  At that point in time there wasn’t, however things changed and now Tom has taken delivery of the first one. He invited David along while the examiner was over from the UK to take a look and have a chat with the inspector/examiner.

What a nice bunch of people. Now I have seen these things in action I can understand OH’s fascination. I would love the take off but oh boy, I don’t think I would like the rest of the experience.

I met some of the guys and their wives for the first time this weekend and what a lovely  people. So down to earth. No airs and graces. No hurray Henries either. Just run of the mill people, having a great time over here flying all sorts of microlites, or as they call them, flex wings.They made us both feel so welcome.

They were even kind enough to invite us to a BBQ on Friday. Where I got to meet Chris, the hostess of the evening. Hopefully a new friend for me.

Sunday saw us down there again to see Peter and his family  from Hong Kong flying in a flex wing. Even his mother of over 80 years was up there. I couldn’t believe it. Makes me look really foolish if she can do it. Well, I guess there is time yet.

Tom needs to qualify as a Giro-copter pilot before he can start training OH. I just hope they are careful. It seems to get very bumpy up there.

So I guess now it will be every weekend down to the airfield. Tom was really kind and took David up in this flex wing on Sunday. Made his day.

 

Raw Food Class

Saturday was my second Raw Food Class with Jennifer of De-hydrated: Modern Living Cuisine.

My first last month was amazing. There I was sitting in car with Wendy traveling up to Bangkok. I was thinking to myself. Really, is this worth it? a 1 1/2 hour drive for what? something that you know nothing about. What happens if its a waste of time and money???????

I am happy to say it gave me such a buzz I couldn’t stop thinking of what I could make, how I could adapt what I had learnt and oh the Chocolate class in July.Certainly every penny well spent and I got to meet some new people.

The first class was all about desserts….mmmmmm….my favourite topic. Like me, if you have never understood or even heard of raw food, sign up for at least one class. It is truly amazing. You don’t have to be a vegan or even be health conscious, go along and try it for yourself. The class is a demonstration and hands on experience. Testing what has been made is the best part I think. I never knew raw food could be so good.

OH won’t let me make any creamy curries any more or desserts where cream or pasty is involved. Wow this gives you a different way to cook or not as the case may be. So easy and so absolutely delicious.

I think many people, like me would think vegetables, salad and fruit. What could you possibly make that I don’t make already. Nope, it certainly wasn’t salad or crudites. It was heaven on a plate. This is high end eating at it’s best. White chocolate lavender cheesecake. Parisian chocolate Torte…mmmmmmm and many more. Each class consists of approximately 5 or 6 different recipes. On Saturday I didn’t feel I could eat chocolate for at least another week after our class that morning. Oh boy did I get to eat some chocolate!!!!!!so rich and yet so healthy. For a newbie I certainly couldn’t recommend it enough.

I thought chocolate was that lovely fattening stuff you see in the supermarket. When you read the labels though you will be horrified at some of the rubbish you are actually eating. Raw chocolate is the real thing. We even got to learn the history of cacao- chocolate to you and me.  I also now know what my ice cream maker can do, so I will dust off the cob webs and get it working this week. No more cream required. Nuts made into a milk. so easy.

The classes are small, making it more friendly. A maximum of 10 people per class. I am sure some of the people I have met so far will become friends.

Jennnifer’s website is :-    copy and paste the link for it to work. Sorry not clever enough to get it to click through as yet.

www.dehydrated.com

 

Pictures to follow soon.

 

 

 

Floating Market

Christina and I stopped off at the Floating Market at the south end of Pattaya recently. Don’t be fooled when you pass and see absolutely loads and loads of tour buses!!!! I don’t know where all the people go but the day we visited I think they must have gone through a magic door as there was hardly anyone about.

There is an official car park at the front and rear of the Floating Market area, however the tour buses like to double park all along the Sukhumvit Road!!! Why I don’t know, Oh yes, I remember, to pull out in front of you without any indication while trying to cause as many accidents as possible as they cross 3 lanes of traffic!!!!! Why oh why they can’t park around the back is beyond me!!!!

Anyway, I will get off my soap box and tell you about the Floating Market. I never wanted to visit this place thinking that it would be as the name indicates “Floating”. Thank goodness Christina visited before. I have a fear of water so there was no way I wanted to stride across water!!!! When in fact there is water all around and underneath but everything is built upon the water and is most certainly sturdy.

Swing Bridge

OK there is one swing bridge but you don’t have to cross  it if you don’t want to….. (NOT for me).

Lots and lots of little shops selling all sorts of nice souvenirs, clothes, bags, shoes, beauty products, basket ware and of course food!!!!!

Unfortunately  on the day we went some of the shops/stalls were closed either due to the Songkran holidays or the rain we had had that morning I am not sure which. It was very hot and sticky. Thank goodness it was over cast. I would not have liked to go on a sunny day.

I thought it would be the same old tat that is found in some tourist places but no, there seemed to be something different everywhere you looked. Bartering of course is the norm here too.

Deep fried ice cream

We did stop from some deep fried ice cream. Quite yummy!!!! and a snip at only 20bhat!!! around 40pence mmmmmm……..

I think we did quite well, picking up a pair of flip flops made out of sparkly beads and  a blue flowery material bag for a few pounds. Christina got a silver  Tiffany and co necklace, some perfume a  great pair of sunglasses. Then onto the food. Syrup coated rice cakes (they are really nice) and some dried fruit.

There are lots of food vendors, most on small boats alongside the walkways. Here is one cooking bananas on a tiny bbaq

An elephant was strolling about at the top end of the market but as we came to leave it had already left with the mahout. Christina was disappointed.

The only thing that spoilt our day was some Indian gentlemen that had come on a group tour. They kept wanting to take Christina’s photograph and they wouldn’t take no for an answer. At one point they grabbed her and tried to take the photo so she quickly turned the other way. I wonder if they would have been happy people doing this to their wives and children!!!!! We were not the only ones to suffer they were doing the same to other women around the market!!!! shame there was no security.

When we stopped by the dried fruit stalls a lady was trying to take a picture of someone beside us, or so I thought, so I moved away. Turns out they wanted to take photos of us!!!!! They then asked us quite nicely for photos with their friends. I don’t know who they thought we were but we did oblige quite happily while they lined up to have their photos taken with us. Bless them do they know how badly I look on photos!!!! probably brake their cameras!!!!!!!

Well worth another visit. I have my eye on another few bags…….

Lunch with the girls & Public Holiday

Tuesday we all met at Jan’s apartment for lunch. Wow, right on the beach. What a fantastic view. I can see now why people live in apartments. No flies, no mumwee (tiny flies) just a beautiful breeze from the sea, oh and the view….. Deeann took us upstairs to show us the roof terrace. An infinity pool and a lovely area with tables & chairs and sun loungers. Who would ever need to go to the beach???? So tranquil.  I could have moved in there straight away. No need for air con here. The difference in the temperature was unbelievable. When I left home I had opted for a summer dress and I was still sticky and hot.In Jan’s apartment with the windows wide open I could have even had a long sleeved shirt on and felt cool.

We made a toast to “New Friends”. I have only known these ladies a few weeks and already they seem like old friends. What a lovely bunch of down to earth people. So one thing good did come out of going to the International Ladies Club Coffee Morning. I would not have met Julieann and in turn would not have met her friends that I  now sat with having a delicious lunch.

I had brought the dessert, which went down really well. Nigella’s white chocolate mint mouse. It’s so easy to make and so light and  moreish!!!!! I will collect the glasses next time I see them, which will hopefully be next week at our house. I don’t know what to make yet as Wendy has a gluten and wheat allergy. I can think of a dessert straight away, flour less chocolate brownies, but what to do for the main course?????mmmmm I will have to think on that one.

I also received a phone call from one of the neighbours. There is a house warming party at the beginning of May and they wonder if I would like to do the catering. Of course I said yes, I just love cooking. Today I have quickly jotted down a few menus to give them some ideas of what I could offer.

It’s a Public Holiday today 6th April. OH is off and we had decided after our stroll along the beach at the weekend to return, only the forecast is for thunder and rain. It didn’t look much like it was going to happen this morning. The sun was shining when I woke, I had completely forgotten that we were going to the beach.Short term memory loss or just being blonde, I don’t know.

We decided to stay home and sit by the pool, but oh those little mumwee!!! I am sure they try and get in your eyes and up your nose!!!! so we packed up and headed for the beach. We found a road that lead down to the beach further along from the View Restaurant and only had to walk a few yards to deck chairs and parasols at a small cafe/restaurant or a shack with tables and chairs to be truthful. We took a drink and settled into our chosen deck chairs. Even though I was in the shade and sun creamed up so to speak I could still feel the suns rays. I still can’t get my head around that but know from experience that indeed even in the shade the sun burns!!!!

OH however sat in the sun!!!, by the end of the day, oh burny burny!!!

I don’t know what I expected, but we were not charged for the use of the deck chairs and we had a great lunch. I think I had it in my head that it would once again be primitive stuff.  If you look at it that way anything extra is a plus. Really surprised once again. The menu was extensive and boy was it good.

We had fresh mangos liquidized to make a long ice cold drink. The famous Thai seafood omelette, seafood fried rice and prawns with vermicelli. All cooked in what seemed to be a very short space of time. It was beautiful and very tasty. The total bill for the day – less than Ten English Pounds….. can’t go wrong there.

There were a few men and women peddling their wares but all where polite and no one hassled us at all. Just a polite “No thank you”and off they went. We did feel sorry for a lady selling shirts and sarongs with her little girl in tow. After she walked away we really felt awful and that maybe we should have bought something after all. Maybe she would not get to eat today.

We will go back at the weekend and hopefully we will see her again. This time we will buy something from her. We said goodbye to the man who served us and said we would be back again at the weekend. He was hoping we were coming back tomorrow but we explained we were not on holiday but lived here. He spoke really good English and was such a polite and courteous chap. We headed home just as the grey clouds were heading in, but still managed to get away today without any rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st Weekend in April

Finally the sun has started to shine again. Washed our two cars and was sweating. The sun seems to be intermitant today but we have to be thankful. The people in the South of Thailand are having a terrible time with floods and land slides.

I only remembered half way through Sunday morning that it was Mothers Day and opened my card from my daughter. Ah, it made me cry. It’s times like these that you wish you were not so far apart. Her boyfriend of many years had also put a card in for me too. So sweet and thoughtful.

Sunday was most definitely a better day. The sun was up and boy was it hot, we headed off to Ban Ampur Beach. It was mid morning and some of the areas seemed to be busy already. As we walked past The View Restaurant and along to our right we were amazed at what we found. There was a huge tree on the beach and its branches draped down almost to the sand. It was so cool underneath and someone had erected a swing made from a log. It was lovely just swinging back and forth with the wind blowing through the leaves. Now I could have got a chair and sat under there with a good book all day. It was so cool compared to the hot sand and the glare of the sun.

Further along there was  a beautiful cafe with it’s own conservatory right on the beach.It looked so typically English and almost out of place yet a refined touch.We discovered the Pinnacle Resort. Lots of sunbeds on the beach and locals selling their wares. Now why did I not bring any money. Some of the dresses and shirts looked so bright and vibrant. Just the thing for our colourful Thailand. There were people selling sunglasses and handbags and even cooked seafood. Ah, there goes my lunch!!!!!

We walked as far as we could until we came to what seemed to be the end of the beach. Lots of huge boulders and rocks signalled the end. So we about turned and walked back to The View. We splashed through the water leading out from a river into the sea. Probably someone’s efluent from somewhere!!!!

On the other side of this outlet there was rows of tiny huts offering fresh fruit, beers, lots of local cuisine and of course the Thai massage. We even spotted a couple of summer chalets. Jet skies to rent!!!! Deck chairs, sun beds with parasols awaiting new customers. A very relaxed atmosphere. No one in a hurry, no one posing or strutting their stuff. Just ordinary people enjoying the beach. We stopped at one of huts and sat in the shade to enjoy a drink.

We were having such a lovely walk we forgot that the tide might have come in and then we wouldn’t be able to get back across the outlet we had earlier splashed through!!!! Then what would we have done?? Luckily we were OK, I think the tide was going out.

Back in the car we realised how hot it was away from the beach. Sure there would be some burnt holiday makers today. We took the car back along a different route to see where we ended up and came across even more cafe’s and bars leading back to the main road and back home.

A quick lunch and then off to the town where my husband works. He has been jogging around the grounds of the hospital 3 times a week. Yes, I said hospital. I couldn’t believe it. There hidden away behind the hospital is a huge lake with lovely gardens. Around the lake is a red and yellow paved path. The whole area laid out for walkers and joggers alike. There is a driving range, tennis and badminton courts too.

What we had not planned on seeing were 2 monitor lizards!!!! I didn’t even know they had them in Thailand. Luckily they seemed more afraid of us thank goodness. We beat a hasty retreat!!!!!

I had never been before and wish I had brought a picnic as there were some shaded seating areas around the lake (away from the lizards I hope) and there were a few families enjoying a peaceful Sunday afternoon out.  We made do with a magnum ice cream sitting in the car. What a treat, havn’t had one of those for months!!!!!

It was very hot and we were glad to get home to have a dip in the pool.  Hubby got the sunbeds out and we lay in the sun drying off for an hour until it was time for tea.

To finish my mothers day we headed off to PK’s. An outside local restaurant down the Hua Yai Road. Good local grub and a large menu of western food too. I chose chicken and cashews with pineapple rice and hubby had a very hot dish!!!!!

An end to a beautiful day.