Monday, 27 September 2010

Putt Putt-ing around

 Hi all

 Been pretty busy around Pai in the last couple of days. Yesterday was pretty wet (it is the end of the rainy season !). So we caught up with some admin - photo archiving, bill paying etc. Once the weather had cleared we went and hired a couple of mopeds for 24 hours for the princely of 100 BT each (that's just over two quid in English!). I hadn't been on one for 25 years so had a little refresher and off we went with a little spin around the outskirts of Pai. Next stop was to a little spa place that had an offer on to have your feet 'cleaned' by these little fish, which was extremely tickly at first, but you soon got into it. Dean recovered with a Chang or two......... (but secretly I think he quite enjoyed it!)

Today we hit the roads early to avoid the worst of the heat. As you can see Dean was not quite James Dean, but we did have fun whizzing around the countryside. Pai has very few cars, but loads of people have mopeds so its much safer than other places where these things are for hire (ehh Freddie Beech!!). So we spent the best part of the day visiting Wats, Waterfalls & a Canyon as you can see below. No mishaps unless you count the fact that Dean is as red as a beetroot as he has burnt his legs, neck & head (how?). Tonight we paid for our day in the beautiful sunshine with a massive thunderstorm . Its pretty spectacular, but we have to take the bikes back shortly & the shop is the other end of town.........
 If you don't hear from us tomorrow we have probably been washed away....
Wish us luck
Thanks for looking

Sunday, 26 September 2010

And so the countdown to The Ashes begins

With the announcement of the squad for The Ashes a couple of days ago, it brought the first tinge of excitement about our impending Ashes campaign - certainly for me anyway. We're now only a little under 2 months away from the big kick off in Brisbane, and I certainly can't wait for the moment the umpire calls play and that first ball is bowled in Brissie.

In my opinion there were little surprises in the squad, apart from the decision to bring Tremlett along. We already have a bowler with pace and bounce in Finny, but I suppose Tremlett has been drafted in as cover should anything happen to him. The omission of Shazad was also a little surprising. Also, forgive me if I am wrong but if Tim Bresnan is a Test class bowler, then I am a Test class wicketkeeper!! But that's one for another time.

What's that coming over the hill is it a 'Mont'ster, is it a 'Mont'ster?! From a personal viewpoint, the most pleasing selection in the squad was Monty Panesar. Yes his batting is pretty poor (although remember Cardiff 2009??!!) and his fielding not much better, but on his day he is a matchwinner. I have long maintained that Monty has unfinished business with the England team, and that at some point we will see the 2nd coming of Monty. Being in The Ashes squad is part of that process. We maye not see him play in Oz, but at some point in the future he will be back taking wickets for fun. And I for one can't wait to see him rampaging down the wicket, jumping up and down and missing numerous high fives along the way as he celebrates trapping another batsman. Oh Monty Monty, Monty Monty Monty Monty Panesar!

Finally, my starting 11 for Brisbane would be as follows:-

Matty P

Not many surprises in there! Normally I would be tempted to drop a batsman and go with 5 bowlers, but I don't think we have the quality with the back up seamers in the squad, and there is no point in playing 2 spinners in Brissie.

Anyway, that's all for now. Roll on 24th November when we can all really get behind the boys at the start of a successful defence of the little urn.


Saturday, 25 September 2010

Pai in the sky

Hi all

Two days to cover today as we were stranded in Sappong last night as the buses were all full!!

 Yesterday we had part two of our hill tribe tour and we started with a trip to a fish cave to see some allegedly revered night carp which only live in fresh spring water and all cluster together under a huge outcrop and look just like a cave full of fish ( if you like that sort of thing!). The whole place had been flooded 10 days earlier so we have been pretty lucky as they had managed to get everything back in order. Even the termites were moving back in!!
We then drove through some amazing countryside to Sappong where we visited the Brown Lahu tribe . Of course I ended up at the school and the children were just having their lunch so the teacher invited us in to join them - they were so cute ... as you can see below

                                They even managed to find a chink in Deans normally child free existence and these two girls had loads of fun playing volleyball with him until the boys took the ball to play football LOL Typical!!

We then carried on around the village and met some lovely people who all wanted us to take their photo and show them the LCD view. The embarrassing thing was they they were all so short compared to us which is a feat in itself. We then visited a local cave called Tham Lot which is over 1km long, but as its wet season we were only able to go in the first third of the system. Finally we went to visit another local tribe the Lisu, but the heavens opened and we didn't really get change to take many photos. Back in Sappong we were supposed to get a bus to Pai, but they were all full so we stayed at a fabulous guest house called the Sappong River Inn which you've guessed it, its right on the river. We had the best meal so far with local shan meatballs to start with. Then I had the most amazing local dish of chicken & lemongrass with spices and herbs. Dean had an extremely hot Penang curry which I couldn't eat but he loved. We then collapsed in bed and watched a DVD. This morning we travelled to Pai by minibus which only took 55 mins despite the timetabled arrival time of 1 hour 20 mins which probably explains why I felt so queasy with all the winding mountain roads we took. However the views were amazing and definitely the way to travel in this part of the world.  Pai is a bit of a hippy enclave and is pretty chilled out so we will be resting here for a couple of days before travelling to Laos.
So off to the bar now to watch Chelsea v Man C - Did I really just say that........... well have some Chang anyway.
Catch you later
Thanks for looking

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Mae Hong Son hill tribes

Hi all

We are now just 20km from the Myanmar (or Burma to all you oldies...LOL) in the most picturesque town of Mae Hong Son, nestled in the northern Thai mountain ranges. We arrived last night and had dinner by the lake washed down by a few Chang beers....

Today we managed to secure a guide who took us to visit some of the local hill tribes. Our first stop was a temporary refuge centre managed by the UN. This camp has been was set up approx 20 year ago to house the fleeing Red Karen tribes from Myanmar & they have been there ever since!
Within the Red Karen tribe we saw two three sub tribes which you will see below are all quite different! The first are the 'long necks' and all the traditional women wear these incredible brass rings around their necks some of they weigh up to 5kg not only that but they also have a similar arrangement at the tops of their legs, which means they can't run or even do much bending, which I suppose puts scrubbing the floor off the list of chores... Another tribe was the 'big eared' Red Karen who you've guessed it have big earrings......
The tribes are not really allowed  to work as they are not Thai citizens so make their money by selling small trinkets and woven clothes to Thais to sell on to tourists in Chaing Mai. The UN is working on a program of relocating the refugees around the world, but they have to give up their traditions and culture in order to be eligible, which seems a little harsh to me. However the people we did meet were so lovely and warm and the children followed us around all morning watch us from a distance.
This afternoon we headed south a little and climbed and climbed up into the mountains. I have never ever seen such steep roads, but we chugged our way up to visit a Mong tribe. The Mong are generally the richest of all of the tribes and certainly seem to work their socks off! The tops and sides of the mountains are covered in cabbages and other soft leaved veggies which won't grow down in the extremes of the valleys.
We visited the school first and helped a small group of children who were playing scrabble to help them with their English!! We then walked down into and around the village and visited a lovely really old lady who showed us around her house. Lets just say Bijou is really stretching it when you have 12 people living in one house,which is only one room. I really hope none of them snore like Dean!!!  This is the lady who ran the village shop where we sheltered from the afternoon downpour. what you cant see in this phone is how small she was (about our chest height!) but she was so sweet and actually welcomed us to take shelter without wanting us to but anything.  Finally we visited a White Karen village and had a go at threshing some rice which was really hard work and we were put to shame by the old women who demonstrated it to us............. More Pad Thai for us then. Tomorrow we travel to Pai and visit a couple more tribes which I am sure will be equally interesting...

So thanks for looking and will catch up with you when we get to Pai.......

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Back to school

Dear all

It was back to school for us today as we had a more mellow day learning how to cook a 6 course banquet of thai delights. I'm not sure how Dean took this but he certainly enjoyed eating everything he made!!

First stop was the market to pick up our ingredients - Some of the vegetables and fish were amazing to look at and the smells.... well some were truly fragrant like the coriander & basils, but the fish & the Durian.................

Back in the school Dean cooked the  staple meal of Thailand Pad Thai, whilst I made chicken  with cashew nuts. For the next course I made spring rolls and Dean made Thai fish cakes both of these were so simple yet we pay a fortune for them at home.

 The next course was the soup and we both made coconut soup, which is a favourite of mine. Our soups are at the top of the page mine is on the left and is the seafood version Deans is the chicken one on the right - Yummy

We then made the curry paste for our curryDean made a Penang curry and I had a go at a green curry. Finally we finished off with deep fried Bananas & I made a sticky coconut rice with Mango. Delish!
After all that cooking and eating we spent the evening just walking around the night market.. 
We sadly leave Chaing Mai tomorrow bound for Mae Hong Son near the border with Myanmar. We are not sure if we will have access to the internet there but should be back online in Pai in a couple of days.
As always thanks for looking

Monday, 20 September 2010

Treking in Chaing Mai

Hi all

Relatively quiet day today as went treking about 55mins north east of here. The weather was boiling in the morning and it was pretty heavy going due to the humidity, but spent lunch time swiming at a waterfall which was utter bliss & so refreshing....

However no sooner had we set off from there then the heavens opened and the rain just poured as only it can in Monsoon. It made the morning look like a stroll in the park as every climb and every descent was a mudslid. I really struggled as I am the first to admit I am not the fittest prson in the world, but now I have had a shower and got rid of all the mud I am glad we did it! - Honest!

So tonight quick curry and internet post then off for some well earned sleep............

Thanks for looking

Sara xx

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Kanchanaburi to Chaing Mai

Hi all

We have been off line for the last couple of days as we ventured out for a day to Kanchanburi. Not too early a start with a pick up at 7.00am then we were whisked off to Khao San road & everyone was issued with different mixes of coloured stickers and we then all swapped mini buses and off we went....

First stop the WWII Cemetery that was built by the commonwealth fund to hold the graves of  nearly 7000 commonwealth & Dutch servicemen  killed whilst POW's working on the 416km Thai/Burma railway link to support Japans expansion into SE Asia. This feat of engineering despite rampant malaria, other deadly diseases and dangerous terrain was completed in 9 months. Our next stop was at the Bridge over the river Kwai & was considered the most brutal and deadly part of the whole scheme. It was only the bombing of this bridge which stopped the Japanese making further inroads and although the bridge has been rebuilt you can still see the bomb damage on the end of the bridge.

We then took a train journey along the line for about and hour and a half up and were then whisked off again for a leisurely lunch on a bamboo raft restaurant. Next stop a monastery which purported to be a tiger temple but we thought it was more of a large zoo with photo opportunities with tigers of various ages.  Despite our conflicting ethics we still couldn't resist a snap or two!

Once we were back in Bangkok we jumped on a train to Ayuthaya. We didn't check our tickets on purchase and ended up in the 3rd class cheap seats - Fun but hard!
So yesterday we walked all around the fabled fallen city of Ayuthaya, which was the capital of Thailand until 1767. It was built in the middle of three rivers and was therefore considered pretty invasion proof, but those persistent Burmese managed it in the end. There are loads of fabulous Wats in various states of ruin & I have taken loads of photo's but we have yet to find an Internet Cafe that will allow us to safely upload. - Angela it will happen soon promise....
Last night saw us on the sleepertrain to Chaing Mai in the North of Thailand. We caught the train at 21.00 and were supposed to arrive be  9.45 but didn't get here until 12.00. So today has been about getting Vietnamese visas, flights to other places and organising treking trips from here that I will update you with as we go.

So off to see the Sunday waking market now and find some tasty morsel for dinner...

Thanks for looking

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Wat's wats and yet more wats

Hi there

We are still in Bangkok and have spent the last 2 days either sleeping or visiting the large number of Wats (temples to you and I!) around the royal area of the city. I'm not sure whether its the weather, the amount of walking we are doing or the build up to us leaving but we have both been sleeping around 10-12 hours every night. I feel like we have been bitten by a tsetze fly!
The biggest and only disappointment with Bangkok to date has been the scam artists who try and 'be-friend' us as we are walking and tell us that the attraction is closed for Buddhist day/cleaning/religious visits or what ever and they can take us to another place nearby which is equally as lovely and it just so happens their friend with a silk shop is on the way. Luckily we had read about this prior to our arriving, but we saw plenty of other people being persuaded into tuk tuks by these crooks. However for us it was the sheer volume of thes guys that was annoying they are everywhere. Its a shame cos apart from that we have had a great time even if the Wat's do get a little much after a few......  Even the weather (its the end of the monsoon season) has been pretty good and Dean is already burnt to a crisp....

The other great memory we will have of Bangkok is the food we have had some great meals all really cheap. We ventured down the infamous Khao San drinking strip last night for a few beers & met some like minded travellers and picked up some great tips and a huge hangover... Tonight we walked down to Patpong night market and saw all the vendors selling fake Jimmy Choo and Chanel bags and designers watches there were some really good fakes!!

Anyway leaving Bangkok for Kanchanaburi tomorrow so will bore you with WWII & tigers on our next post.

Hugs & thanks for looking


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Day 2

Just a quick update before bed (Sara is already in bed!!). Today entailed a late wake up after our flight yesterday. After our late start we went for a long walk around the city followed by dim sum for lunch near Democracy Monument, which was nice (as they say in the Fast Show!). We followed on from this with a visit to a couple of temples (including a 50m high buddha which is supposed to be the tallest gold buddha in the world apparently), then to the tourist information offices to sort out our next few days - We've now got a couple more days around Bangkok, before a day trip to see the Bridge over the River Kwai, followed by an overnight train to Chang Mai for a few days. From there we'll probably be looking to visit a few places in the north west like Pai (flooding permitting as we've heard there's some floods at the moment!!), then look to plan our route on to Chang Rai and into Laos.

Sorry it's not as informative as Sara's updates, but hey ho!

Over and out.


Monday, 13 September 2010

Day 1

Dear all

Well we finally got on the plane after a massively busy last 10 days of parties, handovers and final issues with the house renovations. We want to give a very big thanks to Hilary & Mark for all their help in getting our all sorted.
Now its Monday night & I am full of Chang Beer (6.4%!!) and a fabulous Green Curry which was served with a pile of coconut rice and spicy prawn crackers for 7 quid for the two of us.....result. I can't imagine why I was getting so stressed......

It was all a little mad in the last few days since my last post and I'm not really sure we got that excited about our trip in the preceding weeks & even when we got on the plane we just collapsed and slept most of the way. Now we are in Bangkok for 4 days we have a little more time to think about the next few weeks and make the ideas in our heads a reality.

I didn't manage to post the top 10 things I was looking forward to  last week so here are five of them to get you started.

 - Not getting up in the dark, going to work and getting home in the dark.
- (Hopefully) Seeing an Ashes victory in Perth (Dreaming!!) or Melborne (unlikely!) or Sydney ( One can but hope....)
- Visting Angkor Wat at dawn and watching the sun rise over the temple.....
- Not having to talk to builders....
- Seeing Tubey in Perth .... It isn't tour if your not there mate..

So with my Chang beer and good food doing its job I am going to sign off and collapse in bed with the thought that at least I don't have work tomorrow................... LOL (  although I do miss you ......)

Night & thanks for looking


PS - Dear work I did not pack my pressie hope you are not too disappointed...............

Chang and thai red curry.....


Barmy Army

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

11 days to go

Hi All

Well we finally seem to be getting some semblance of order in the house, having only moved back in on the 20th. It has been boxes & boxes everywhere.
Dean has been exemplary as usual in managing to be out when all the work is being done! (only joking  - he has been a very good humper of boxes ! LOL). So now its just a little matter of a host of leaving events - yeah. Do the tax return - Boo & transfer all the bills over to Chris who is renting the house whilst we are away - double yeah.

We have a fellow Barmy Army friend Rich who is also off on his travels albeit a different route after the Ashes and he has put together a list of the top 10 things he is looking forward to.

So tonight I will compile my list and publish it tomorrow.............

Thanks for looking