Category: Stops or events

Au revoir Bangkok

Bangkok, 06.01.2013
We woke up with the sun rising over the Chao Phraya river in the first cozy comfortable hotel beds of our entire vacation, in the Riva Surya hotel. Great place! Nice breakfast alone on the hotel terrace on the river, checkout, and off we went to our short Bangkok shopping and sightseeing trip.
The boat taxi took us to the Mandarin Oriental. Next stop was the Siam Paragon, a big shopping mall next to the Siam Center, another shopping mall, close to the next shopping mall and so on. In the Siam Square area you get a flavor of Asian shopping city centers I guess. It is a small and less glitzy version of how I imagine Japan. But I haven’t been there yet, to tbc. 😉
Close by is Jim Thompson’s house, a beautiful place from another time in the middle of modern Bangkok. They have a tour that leads you through the house, a truly marvelous building. I thought a lot of the work of my parents in this place that is laden with decor and ornaments.
Shopped and amazed we left for JJ market or Chatuchak weekend market. We had been at other Bangkok markets last time, but this one was a very pleasant surprise. Clean for a flea market, great merchandise, food stands and stylish bars with DJs playing cool electro music. We found plenty of souvenirs. Unfortunately we had very little time, this place is so huge you need at least an entire day there.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped to shop food for delicious Thai cooking back in Madrid and arrived late at the hotel. No time for a shower, packed the car and off to a Bangkok city traffic adventure to the airport. Initially a bit chaotic incl. 2 road errors, we were very proud to have made the trip in less then 1h without major complications! Looks like we found our way to quickly adapt to the local way of driving and street system.
Car drop off went smooth, I must say Thai rent a car was a great choice. Total km driven were 2724. Clean and efficient car, very friendly service, zero problems, best rate by far we found online. And then off to Doha, where we’re waiting for our connecting flight in the lounge, still dreaming about Bangkok. We’ll return, soon I hope.

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Last bath in the sea

Koh Lanta, 04.01.2013
Waking up at 07:00 we discovered our second line bungalow on the hill was a great choice! We could see the entire beach, the sea with morning calm, and we have a great plant with huge leaves right in front of our door.
Coffee and reading kept us on the veranda for some hours, before we finally went for our morning swim and some breakfast. And right back to the books on the veranda.
There is not much more we did honestly. In the afternoon two French sailing boats moored in our bay. And then we went for our last Thailand swim at sundown.
One more pad Thai noodles in the village and then sleeping early. Tomorrow we drive back the 900km to Bangkok, it will be a long day. Buona notte.

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Rainy day through Africa

Koh Lanta, 03.02.2012
Waking up yesterday it rained. It’s not the first rain in the morning so we had a coffee and a book waiting for it to stop. At 10:15 it was still raining and we went for our last chance for breakfast. We met Giorgia and Luigi there, an Italian couple we got to know during the New Year’s Eve dinner that we spent also the evening before chatting. They gave us good tips for Bangkok.
It kept raining, and we had to leave our bungalow. So we went packing, checked out, put the stuff into the car. Helena had some stuff to do for work, so I went reading at the bar. After Kerouac’s booze trip I started another book recommended by Mr. Wit, Jupiter’s Travels (link in the blog roll on the right), by a guy called Ted Simon that in the seventies did a four year tour of the world on a Triumph bike. 60.000 miles from London around the globe. Fantastic reading! (And by the way, this is the first book I read on the iPad. Great device. And it has the “define” function that explains words I don’t fully understand.)
So yesterday, while the rain washed the roof of the bar thoroughly all day long I read almost all the Africa chapter. It’s a fascinating book, for the story, the idea and the fact that this guy left his civilized London journalist life for a crazy trip around a world pretty different then ours is today. Different in the sense of primitive, undeveloped, wild, unconquered in much bigger parts then it is today. And he drove, on a bike, alone. Love that!

Shortly before mosquito time we changed to our new bungalows down the beach (La Laanta had no more nights for us so we found a much more basic hut next door). Then off to the village to rob the bank, shopping for Kena, Seven Eleven and another stop at the food stand we enjoyed a lot some days before.
We had dinner at a place on the beach Giorgia had recommended, bamboo bay. Good food, but full of German “Ökos” in their forties. Not really our kind of guys. And then back on the road through Africa, drinking rum while driving the bike from one adventure to the next before the eyes fell asleep.

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Thai cooking

Koh Lanta, 02.01.2013
Our friends know we love food and cooking, and Helena has a particular passion for Thai cooking (and me an even bigger one for eating Helena’s Thai cooking). So far it has been autodidactic, but today is the day we go pro: with our first Thai cooking course, that I won in a game of our New Year’s Eve show!
After a morning of intense sleeping, breakfasting, beaching, swimming, reading and doing nothing we drove to the main town to the cooking school. And for the record (friends listen up) we were not only on time, but 3 mins early and the first participants to arrive! 😉
There were 6 other participants in our course, a Brazilian and a German couple and 2 sisters from England. We choose to cook coconut milk soup, pad thai noodles, stir fried chicken/beef/seafood with ginger and massaman curry with chicken. The preparations went well, we cut vegetables for all 4 dishes and everybody was eager to start cooking. In the end this was probably the best part of the course since everybody was still concentrated and we learned about a lot of little secrets on how to use vegetables in day to day cooking that are unusual in Europe. I found similar to my Italian cooking background the way the preparation of a dish is built up. Prep work is important, then you start off with a base, add the primary ingredients, give taste with spices and finally add the last few items. What’s different though is the the constant turning of ingredients in the pan or wok. And I learned to use the nose in cooking, to decide when to add a piece or spice. This is a sense I didn’t use as a tool in the kitchen so far.
Finally we started with the soup, which went quite quick and easy. The taste was a little too normal, Helena and I would have preferred something more interesting. We ate our soups, started sweating quite quickly and then we went for the noodles. Also this dish wasn’t too complicated, but some things were prepared, like the precooked noodles. We would have lost too much time. After eating the second dish attention levels of the group dropped significantly. I was so hungry before the course that I just started to feel OK, no idea why the others got so slow.
The next dish we prepared in different versions each, chicken meat or seafood. First takeaway bags appeared. And the curry at the end saw half the group abandoning the woks somehow. I didn’t understand this really, also because the curry smelled really good.
So in essence the “so what” is that Thai cuisine is really simple, very tasty (we knew this one before), depending on a lot of amazing fresh ingredients and fun to cook! We’ll show off our learnings once we’re back in Madrid.

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2013 year of change, we salute you

Koh Lanta, 31.12.2012
Tonight we say farewell of the old 2012 and welcome new 2013.
2012 has been a tough year for me, my job took all my energy and attention and in the end big disappointment was the result. Bitterness, frustration, desperation, isolation.
No wonder 2013 is very welcome. It’s supposed to be a year of change, finally, and in many senses, not just the job.
So we said farewell to the old year with a show organized by the resort. This sounds sooooooo cheesy I can’t believe we did this! But yes, we did it, and also enjoyed it. Food was ok (although we would have enjoyed every decent Thai eatery 1000 times more), alcohol so so, show funny. I won a cooking course during one of the games, a really funny one actually that kept me sweating for 1 hour. And then we went for a walk on the beach for the last hour. Lying in the sand, looking at the stars and the moon, listening to the sea and the jungle we ventured into 2013, before the obligatory round of phone calls to our families started.

To everybody reading, since we’re no big fans of 1000 mails and SMS: happy new year. May 2013 be a great year for you. And don’t forget your wishes for this new year. You need something to dream, to long about.

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