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This post is a little late and happened a few weeks ago. A busy schedule at school has kept me from finishing this one on time. A couple of weeks back we were invited to spend the day at a co-workers house (who lives in walking distance of Taphae waterfall in Nakorn Si Thammarat). The chance to visit a new waterfall is always an exciting one and is hardly ever turned down.
This all happened, because for the last few weeks we’ve been teaching adult classes at the municipality. These adult classes came as a big shock to us, as they were not part of our contract and were never really discussed with us. At first we were told we would be teaching 60 adults, 5 times a week, from March until September. We were certainly not happy with that at all and made a little bit of a fuss. It then changed to three days a week, and eventually after some more negotiation from our side, we got it down to 2 days a week. This was perfect for us, as we take Thai lessons on Mondays and Wendesdays and could teach the adult class on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Friday being free time.
In the beginning we were really nervous about teaching adults, as it would be a first for both me and Angela, but the classes have turned out to be quite enjoyable and the students that seem to come every week (about 15 or so) are motivated and excited about learning English, which always makes our job a little easier. Over the past few weeks, we’ve become friendly with some of the Thai ladies that frequent the class and after an evening of coffee and roti (a type of pancake filled with egg and banana) at one of the popular road side stalls, the idea for all of us to visit Pee Sila (works at the municipality and is in charge of sorting out all our admin) at her home near the waterfall, came about. Everyone seemed interested, so plans were made and we were to meet at the municipality at 1pm the following day. From there we would be picked up and taken to the waterfall, which was about 45 minutes in a car. On the menu for the day was a late lunch, and then some fun time to explore and swim with our new friends.
After the feast was done, I could hardly move. Honestly, I was ready to explode. There was so much food. Thai’s seem to eat a lot of food, but over a long period of time. I have seen some slim Thai woman eat twice as much as I do. I still can’t figure it out. I think they must just take little bites every so often, unlike myself, stuffing my face full of everything in the first 10 minutes.
A thai meal is a little different than what we are used to. The food is mostly shared amongst everyone, with different dishes placed in the middle of the table for everyone to pick at. This happens at restaurants too, where a few different dishes are ordered and everyone shares whats on the table. I quite like this way of eating, firstly because you get to try a bunch of different dishes and aren’t stuck with a big plate of something you don’t like and secondly everyone seems more social and chatty, while they take small tasters of whats on offer.
After all the food, it was time to see the waterfall. We had actually been once before with ollie pup and Jack (we had found it trying to find a view point, which we didn’t end up finding that day. We did however find the waterfall, but bad weather didn’t allow us much time there, so we were pleased to make it back).
By the time we had reached the entrance most of the people had left and it seemed we had come at the perfect time. All you could hear was the pounding of falling water, rushing over the tired rocks, creating a rhythm so peaceful, your body couldn’t do anything but follow it’s beat. At this point there is only you and the waterfall. Nothing else matters. Meditation is happening, even though you are doing nothing. Your soul awakens and a feeling of calm encompasses your entire body. It’s quite an experience.
During my time in Thailand, I have become increasingly interested in gardening. This hobby is not an easy one and takes time and patience to reap the rewards, especially when you have a dog that digs up your plants all the time. BAD OLLIE! Besides the frustrations, it’s really something seeing seeds sprout from nothing and grow into these amazing plants, that give us food and beauty. When I first began, with limited space, I started growing lettuce, cucumbers and basil and over time I have moved towards different things. In our new house, I have much more space to grow a variety of plants and I have been taking full advantage. At the moment in the vegetable garden I have basil, tomatoes, beans, lettuce and summer squash on the go, all organic of course! This post however is not about the vegetables, it’s about my new passion for flowers. We have some flowers blooming in the back section and they are all looking great. Luckily Ollie doesn’t dig much in the flower section. We can’t really figure out his passion for digging up the vegetables, but my hunch is it has something to do with ants (we have loads of ants) or maybe dogs just like to dig.
When I started, I was all about the vegetables, and didn’t give much attention to the flowers, but things have changed slightly. I think it might have something to do with my girlfriend and her love for these radiant plants. Our house is divided into two sections. The front and the back. The front has been allocated for the vegetables and the back and left side of the house, for flowers and any other plants we feel might work in that area. We (Angela and myself) have put a lot of work into the back garden and it is finally showing some promise. From being a dusty pile of nothing, it has been transformed into something with potential.
We made some garden beds using old coconut shells, that we obtained from the market for free. These beds are where most of the flowers have been planted. I would say nearly 90 percent of all the flowers we have, were started from seed, so its been a good long wait to see them bloom. It has been an interesting hobby thus far and definitely worth all the time and effort. I am now more inspired than ever to get stuck in and make this garden brighter and more colorful than before.
I know I said this post was about the flowers, but here are a few pictures from the vegetable garden.
I woke up early Sunday morning and realized I didn’t have anything to do. I got on the text to my mate Eugene and implied another biking trip. “Lets do a little exploring” I thought. I immediately received a phone call saying he was game.
“Breakfast and a shower, meet you at the gas station in 30min”.
A quick fry up (eggs and toast) filled me up nicely. I jumped in the shower, packed my dry bag (snorkels, towel and sunscreen) and off I went. We got the bikes topped up and a plan together. Pak Meng, Trang seemed like a good option for the day. It was very hot and we needed some ocean time.
“Do we know where we are going?”
“Not really, but I remember seeing signs to Pak Meng on our last Lanta trip.”
“Okay, lets hit the 403 (the highway to Trang) and take it from there.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Two hours later we arrived in Pak Meng. We ended up taking the 403 from Thung Song to Huai Yot, turned right onto Highway 4, which takes you to Koh Lanta and Krabi and then another left onto the 4159, and followed the signs until we reached sunny Pak Meng. We parked the bikes, had a quick walk on the beach and then swiftly decided we needed food and a beer. We managed to find a simple restaurant, that had tables on the beach, sat down, put our feet into the sand, ordered some calamari and our favorite ‘Leo” beer and took in the beauty.
From Pak Meng you can actually see two of the Trang Islands. One being Koh Mook and the other Koh Ngai. Koh Kradan is out of sight behind Koh Mook, so no views from Pak Meng beach. Getting to the islands seems like a pretty easy affair. There is a long tail service on Pak Meng that will take you to your island of choice. They also offer boat tours around all the islands and even a bbq option. From what I gathered, you go fishing, hopefully catch some fish and then bbq everything on the boat or on an Island of your choice. Got me interested! If long tails are not your thing, the Pak Meng pier has bigger boats that come in at specified times and transport tourists to all the islands.
After our snack, we did a little exploring. There is a national park called Chao Mai National Park, which I have actually been to before when I did a summer camp last near February. There are facilities to camp, if you like being outdoors, or guesthouses for those of you who are not so fond of sleeping in a tent. The entrance is 200 baht and it’s definitely worth a visit. We also had a look at the Pak Meng pier, where you can catch ferries to all the islands. There are many different companies offering all sorts of things. There is diving, boat tours, kayaks and a variety of water sports.
While driving around we found some quiet spots to make our camp for the day. Hungry as always, we went and got some street food (fried fish and som tam), made our way back to the beach and spent an hour swimming and hanging out.
Rock climbing has always been something I wanted to try, ever since meeting an Argentinian guy named Maximo on our Everest base camp hike in 2011. This guy was a mean machine. He was one of those crazy people that took groups up to summit mountains in the Himalayas. He had some really interesting stories to tell and you could see that love for climbing was ingrained into his soul. We had told him we were planning on living in Thailand, and the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “you gotta check Krabi out, there’s some bad ass climbing down there” He preceded to tell us about this video he made climbing through his double story house and that we should definitely youtube it. It’s a pretty cool video. Well, a year later, I had heard that a friend of ours, Christina, who stays in ThungSong, had gone to an awesome bay called ‘TonSai’, which is in Krabi province and done some climbing there, so I was intrigued to find out a little more. There was a bbq and some socializing, and information began to flow about TonSai, the climbing, how beautiful it was, and how cool and genuine the people were. She had actually met a climber there and become friends, so we had a contact and possibly a guide to take us on our first climbing adventure. Krabi, famous for it’s lime stone cliffs is a climbers paradise. I have been told on numerous occasions that its one of the best places to climb in Thailand, and with it’s relaxed vibe and friendly people, it’s a popular spot for all travelers.
After all the good information, plans began taking place to bike to Krabi early Saturday morning, take a boat from Aonang to TonSai, find a bungalow, chill out on the beach, swim, snorkel, maybe climb, spend the night, spend more time on the beach, take a boat back to Aonang and then in the late afternoon bike back to ThungSong. It was going to be a busy two days! Lack of time, because we had work on the Monday, meant it was more going to be a scooping out trip. Go have a look, see if we like the place and then when we have more time, maybe head back and spend a week there, maybe two, possibly even move there (only kidding about the last part, although I wish I wasn’t). The initial biking group was only three, myself, Eugene and Christina, but after a birthday party at Collettes place on the Friday, another 3 entered the group making it six (Angela joined on, as well as Christinas friend Collette and her friend from the states Railey). Three bikes, six people and no idea where to go, meant it was going to be an interesting journey. I had downloaded a map at school, but ‘silly me’ forgot the map at the office and over a weekend the school is like a fortress, so it’s difficult to get anything out. We had a vague idea, a friend that had driven there a good few times (who was a phone call away), we spook some Thai (so asking directions wouldn’t be a problem) and then pure determination. Nothing was going to stop us from reaching paradise.
The drive was actually very smooth and took around 2.5 hours. It was a route we had not travelled before, which made it a lot more exciting. It was a beautiful drive. It’s so different traveling on a bike compared to a car or a bus. Visually, it’s so much more appealing, to me at least. I feel I can experience so much more on the bike. The smells, the friendly smiles, the fresh air and of course the scenery. I feel more in touch with everything around me. It’s also a nice adrenaline rush. We eventually arrived in Ao Nang after one flat tyre and a few missed turns, but that’s what makes it fun. Ao Nang is a very popular beach town for families and couples. It’s a little expensive and too overcrowded for my liking, but we needed to meet a friend for lunch and get a taxi boat to TonSai. After finding a suitable restaurant, we all tucked in to some delicious Thai food. With our stomachs filled to the max, it was time to get a 10 minute boat ride to TonSai for 100baht/person.
I didn’t know what to expect, but WOW! That’s all I could think of coming in on the boat. This seemed like the place we had been looking for. A paradise for all who come through. We had been told that TonSai was like a little hippie village, a place to lose yourself, forget about life and just enjoy the experience. There was beach for those who loved the sea, jungle for those who loved nature, and rocks for those who love to climb. A little haven for each traveler passing by. Next to TonSai is the bigger, more popular Railey beach. Situated in the same bay, Railey seems to be a popular destination for many who come to Thailand. When the tide is really low you can actually walk to Railey from Tonsai. However with popularity comes more people, more boats, bigger hotels and less of an authentic Thai experience. I was happy with the smaller, cheaper more intimate TonSai village. Bungalows go for as cheap as 200 baht/night. The rooms are very simple, but it’s all you need in a place like this and they’re 2 min from the beach.
It turned out to be an amazing day filled with swimming, snorkeling, lazing about, making new friends, eating and dancing, but unfortunately no climbing. We were all pretty knackered form the bike ride and needed a day to recuperate. We had also found out that our possibly climbing connection had damaged his foot and would be out of action for a couple days. Christini had also been a bit sick, so climbing would probably be off the list this time. We actually ended up partying a little past our bed time and spending more money than we had budgeted for (leaving no money to climb), but met some interesting charactors. One guy being from Belgian, had sailed his single mast yacht all the way to Thailand, but because the mediterranean was so dangerous and filled with pirates he had to put his yacht on a bigger boat in Phuket and have it shipped home. Anyway, like I said, we would use this short trip to test the waters and then when we had some more time, get back and do all the climbing we wanted. The Sunday was all about relaxing and doing absolutely nothing. We found a cool spot called Sabai Sabai cafe and we never left, until we had to of course.
We totally fell in love with TonSai. The people were amazing and truly genuine. I felt so comfortable there, at ease if you know what I mean. We even left some clothes and snorkels at the chill out bar the night before and in the morning Ang went back to see if we could salvage something. We got everything back. They were so happy to help! I would say some of the kindest people I’ve met in Thailand.
It was way too short to really experience what TonSai has to offer, but we’ll be heading back very soon. The place is like a magnet drawing me there every minute of the day. I even made friends with one of the Thai barmen there, and offered for him to come and stay with us in ThungSong. He will be coming to ThungSong on the 16 March and then we’ll be heading to his hometown in HatYai the next day to watch JoB 2 Do. Should be fun!
We recently had a lovely barbecue at our friends Scotts house. I’m not really sure what the occasion was, but I think it was a pre party for Bills (another ‘farang’ Thung Songian) birthday. Thung Song is a small place and sometimes there’s not much to do, so when someone offers a venue for a bbq we all do handstands and jump for joy. This session can last for 10 minutes sometimes. It doesn’t even matter where you are. If you hear the good news while you are teaching, this doesn’t stop you, if you are having a haircut, shopping, or playing the guitar, the outcome is the same. LOL! Maybe this only happens in my mind, but I’m sure everyone has the same feelings of happiness.
Scott had said that all the meat and fish would be supplied and we should just bring ourselves and our beverage of choice. I did hear margaritas were being made which made a lot of people really happy! Then Henk (my South African nemesis) told me he was going to be making his famous potato salad, so I felt a contribution from my side was surely needed. “How about a loaf of some delicious homemade bread” I thought to myself. It would be the perfect addition to the barbecue. “What to bake though?” Keep it simple or go all in and try something different.
I had started making a basil and oregano loaf, when an idea (to try something new and different) dawned on me. This hardly ever happens by the way! I have attempted focaccia before and really loved it. Why not add a spin to that by using the same ingredients, maybe different ingredients inside the bread instead of on top of it. YES! This would be my ultimate offering to the good peeps at the party. I’m sure Thung Song has never seen bread like this before. I will say, this type of bread has obviously been around for ages and you can find many recipes online with different ingredients, so I can’t take any credit for coming up with this one. I do like to tell myself things like that sometimes, just for a little bit of a laugh. The loaf is called a ‘roulade‘ and can be made using savory or sweet ingredients. I think it’s a French word that means to roll. I choose to go the savory route with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, cheese and yogurt. My mouth waters every time I think about it! Anyways, I ended up making both loaves, one reason being, I had already started the basil loaf and the other, if the roulade was a flop, I always had the basil loaf to fall back on. Well, let me tell you, both loaves came out perfectly for a change, so this little experiment was a success.
Mushroom, tomato and basil roulade topped with chia seeds
What you need for the dough: 2/3 cup milk, 2 eggs (1 slightly beaten and the other separated into the white and yolk), 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp yeast, 2 tbs salt, 1tsp sugar, 3 cups flour, a handful of chia seeds (you can also use poppy, sesame or flax)
What you need for the filling: a cup of tomatoes, two small onion, a cup of mushrooms, a handful of fresh basil, a cup of cheese, a cup of plain yogurt, oregano, a cup of basil, salt and pepper.
Recently I had the awesome opportunity of hosting a classroom olympics unit with my kids. I was teaching comparatives and superlatives at the time, and after some research, stumbled upon the idea of a classroom olympics competition. It just made perfect sense. I spent some time on it and came up with these activities.
1) Who is the fastest runner?
2) Who has the loudest voice?
3) Who can write the most words?
4) Who can write the fastest?
5) Who is the stongest? (arm wrestling)
6) Who can hold their breath the longest?
7) Who is the best singer?
8) Who is the fastest backwards runner?
9) Who is the fastest on one leg?
10) Who can jump the furthest?
11) Who can jump the fastest?
12) Which team has the fastest wheelbarrow? (One student holds another students legs in the air, while his hands touch the ground)
13) Who can throw a ball the furthest?
14) Which team has the most points in a superlative quiz.
So basically you split your class into different teams. I had teams of five students. Students must then think of a name for their team or they can choose a country. Once each team has a name, you can start the games. If your students don’t know about the olympics, you could pre teach some vocabulary or even show them a video to give them a good idea of what they will be doing. For each event, all teams need to put forward one student to compete. I had a piece of paper I had prepared, with all the events on them and numbers one,two and three for gold, silver and bronze. After each event I would write the top three students names down. I would then ask students :
Who is the fastest?
Is _____ faster than _______?
Is _____ slower than ______?
Who is the slowest?
Is ______ the fastest?
After all the fun and games it was down to the real business. Prize giving! I had downloaded some certificates and medals from abc teach and printed them off. Due to the lack of facilities at our school, I could not print anything in color, but that didn’t matter too much to the kids. They were just as proud winning first place with a colorless medal and certificate. I drew a podium on the board and then began calling the events. First bronze, then silver and finally gold and first prize. I gave first prize winners a certificate and a medal. The kids really got into the the idea of winning gold and even put on some good dramatical displays. Some pretended to cry and others really gloated their success. It was great to see the kids really get into it and become the characters they needed to be.