Heather's Thairy

Heather's journey to Bangkok, Thailand: a year of adventure!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

And So It Goes...

I spent Christmas in Ko Samui this year, the first year that I have ever been on a beach at Christmastime. I must say that it is an entirely different feeling than freezing my rear off in Canada, that's for sure!
It was very odd not being with my family and friends from home. I was glad to be with other people from the school, though: being alone would have been pretty miserable.
It was sort of like any other day spent in Thailand, though...in many ways, it felt like Christmas came and went without much celebration or fuss. I missed having the "event" of Christmas dinner: cooking with my Mom, seeing my friends, buying gifts I really thought hard about, receiving gifts with intent behind them, sharing food and drink and good times with people I am close with...
I didn't miss all of that. I shared food (too much) and drink and good times with people I care about, and that was a relief.
Anyway, Christmas looked something like this:

Hot babes...

More hot babes...


Louis dressed as Santa Claus, wearing the beard over his nose...


Waaaaay too much food...

And hot babes.

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

Until next time,

Friday, December 22, 2006

Kickin' It In Kanchanaburi

Last weekend was Ray's last in Thailand, and we headed to Kanchanaburi for some adventuring. Ray had never even seen an elephant before coming to Thailand, let alone ridden on one, so that was a priority. I wanted to hike to the top of Erawan falls, so that was on the to-do list also. Of course, eating as much food as possible at Apple's was also a must, so we had a fairly full itinerary.
We arrived on Friday night in time to have a delicious meal at Apple's. This was a nice surprise, since last time we went to Kanchanaburi on a Friday night we got there too late and never managed to have any Apple's dinner. We booked a tour for the following day that included the falls, elephant trekking, bamboo rafting, a cave, a train ride and the Bridge on the River Kwai.
Most tours out of Kanchanaburi start bright and early at 8 AM and this was no exception...we hopped into the mini-van around quarter after eight and were off. The first stop was the waterfalls, which was good: having to hike up a mountain with limited pathways is something of a chore, let alone having to do it after a long day of other activity. We made it up to the top, stopping at each level on the way up.

We almost had to run back down, though, since we only had about a half hour to get back (which really wasn't enough time, it turned out!).
After some lunch, we went to the Elephant camp and had a nice ride around on an elephant. I've been on an elephant before but never "trekking": elephant trekking is sort of like pony riding back home. You sit on this little bench on top of the elephant and really don't have any control; the elephants know the course and amble along without much fuss. "Trek" is really a misnomer- to me, trekking suggests an element of adventure or danger or difficulty that was certainly not present on our elephant ride. However, it was still fun, relaxing and a great experience for Ray.

After the elephants we went on the bamboo rafts, which were pretty much just bamboo poles lashed together and thrown in the water. It was also really relaxing, very peaceful and private. We floated down the river for quite a ways and then moved on to the cave and the railway.

I'd seen the cave before, and I wasn't impressed then so I was even less excited this time. The train ride is sort of neat, though.
After riding the train for a while we got back in the van and drove back to Kanchanaburi, where we stopped at the bridge. Catherine, Darcy and Darcy's sister Deborah had rented a jeep for the day and as chance would have it were at the bridge at the same time as us. We ditched our tour for the opportunity to be chauffeured by Darcy. After a bit of a rest we had some more great dinner at Apple's and had a fairly early night.
Sunday we attempted to sleep in but were foiled by the construction going on in the next building. We got up, shook a million ants out of our stuff (we weren't even sure what they were going for, but they were really interested in camping out in our bags) and had yet another Apple's meal. There we debated what to do for the day, settling on going to Safari World.

We all packed into an SUV and drove out to Safari World, first doing the "Safari" and then seeing the crocodile and elephant shows. It was another good time there: the safari is really neat, especially the animal feeding, and the shows were fairly entertaining.

Ray and I decided to get on an early bus to Bangkok with the intention of having more time to get him organized to go...unfortunately, we somehow got on some random bus that drove in (I think) almost the opposite direction before we were told to get off and get on some other bus. It took us over three hours to make what is usually an hour and a half trip, but luckily we had lots of time to spare.
Ray packed a few more things and made some rearrangements and we were off to the airport. We weren't sure if he would be able to get all his stuff onto the plane without paying some incredibly ridiculous fee, but thankfully there were no problems and he got off without a hitch.

I have my apartment to myself for the first time since the beginning of October, and though I now have the ability to leave the dishes, walk around in my underwear, scratch myelf and basically be a big slobby idiot, I miss having company.
Anyone else want to visit?

Until next time,

PS Dad: This one's for you...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

So This Is Christmas

It's almost Christmas here in Thailand...it's a strange phenomenon, the love affair that the Thai people apparently have with Christmas. They don't celebrate any of the religious aspects of the holiday, but have adopted the decorative, consumptive Christmas that seems to prevail in the Western world as well.
For me personally, Christmas is a time to share with family and friends, a time when being a bit excessive and generous is perfectly acceptable. It's a time when we can enjoy comforts and not feel guilty about it.
Since the majority of my comforts are unavailable at this time, I have made some efforts to recreate the feeling of being home at Christmastime...this was aided by a package recently sent by my parents that had baking inside, as well as Christmas cards and trinkets received.

My little Christmas tree is pretty and ridiculous at the same time. "Let It Snow", proclaims the tree skirt (which, in itself, it hilarious considering the size and artificiality of the tree). A state of emergency has been declared in some of the Northern parts of Thailand- because it is 15 C. Snow is not in the forecast.

My Mom sent shortbread in the mail, which arrived in delicious, wonderfully scented smithereens. Since butter is remarkably inexpensive, I wanted to make some for my Secret Santa gift, and because I desperately needed to bake SOMETHING given the season, I tried my hand at shortbread in the toaster oven.
That little device is amazing. And though the butter here comes from those malnurished, anorexic cows we see on road trips, the cookies were pretty darn good.

Merry Christmas, everyone.
I miss you.

Until next time,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ha-Phi Ha-Phi Joy Joy

We recently had a long weekend for Constitution Day or something, which meant that Ray and I flew down to Phuket with Alisa, her sister Shauna and her friend Melissa. We spent a night in Phuket Town (completely forgettable) and then took an early ferry over to Ko Phi Phi. We had a bit of difficulty finding a place to stay but settled in an out of the way place called US Guesthouse which was passable for our needs.
Ray got sick on the Thursday night, and wasn't feeling 100% until Sunday, so Saturday was a pretty low-key day for us. Mostly just relaxing...

Sunday we went on a snorkelling tour, similar to the one that I had been on before only this time there were over a hundred people on the boat rather than only about 12. It made for a different dynamic but we staked out a good place on the boat and had a great time.

It was tons of fun, and as usual, we all got too much sun. That evening, Ray had his first bucket at Apaches Bar. You never forget the first time...

It was a fabulous weekend, with only one bout of rain and only a tiny (two-hour) delay on the flight back; we arrived back exhausted and sunburnt, happy to have spent time together on a beautiful island.

Until next time,

The Thai Way

Another quickie before I bust out the big guns:
Here's what passes for "Cheesecake" in Thailand.

That would be regular white cake, sweetened as usual, with butter icing, sweetened as usual, with parmesan cheese mixed into the batter and prettily arranged on the top.

Help me.

Until next time,

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I've received some compliments on the photographs on my website, which I am grateful for...However, I feel that it is only fair that I acknowledge that not all the pictures are mine. The majority are H.C.Ford originals, but I must also credit the following talent:
1. Alisa
2. Steph
3. Ray
Much thanks for your contributions!!! I'll continue to poach your good stuff, ha ha ha!!!
Here's a cutie until I get another post together...this mommy and just-born brood was found amongst the ruins in Ayutthaya. The little white puppy was apparently stuck behind his mother; poor thing! Their eyes were not even open yet. So sweet!

Until next time,

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

OK, Let’s See Ko Si Chang

Last weekend we went to Ko Si Chang, an island only a couple hours from Bangkok, with Alisa and Stephanie. Getting there was something of an adventure, having never been there before; we missed our stop and had to catch another bus back, and then got taken for a bit of a ride in a songthaew which, upon hiring, was perhaps being hawked as potentially amphibious. After deciding that we did NOT want to pay some sketchy guy 3000 baht to row us to the island, we found a really nice hotel to spend the night at.
We got up fairly early the next morning and headed to the pier, where we promptly got on a severely overloaded ferry. About half an hour later we were on the island, being accosted by the usual crew of tuktuk and motorcycle drivers. We agreed to drive with one who sang and danced and professed his love to Stephanie (she called him crazy). We ended up, after another fairly decent amount of driving, at a nice hotel. A quick change and it was back in the tuktuk to the beach. Ko Si Chang is small and a mostly Thai visited island, and it has one smallish beach on the far side of the island. We spent most of the day there; the water was pretty nice, the sand was good and the view was amazing.
Our driver picked us up later and took us to a nice viewpoint to see the sunset. We arranged for him to come back in the morning and take us on an island tour.
That night we ate at Pan and David’s, a restaurant that I had seen online when I was searching for information about the island. It was fabulous- a wide selection of Thai and European food, everything we had was reasonably priced and delicious. They had maple ice cream and brownies and grilled vegetable sandwiches and real cheese and homemade pickles…needless to say, we were completely impressed and went back the next day for lunch.
Unfortunately, our driver from the previous day failed to show in the morning, so we found another guy and went on the tour. We stopped first at a Chinese Temple, leaving our bags in the tuktuk…which promptly drove off. With nothing to do but panic a bit and have a look at the temple, we walked up several flights of stairs and checked it out.
After coming back down, we discovered that our new driver was nowhere to be found. We cursed tuktuk drivers in general for a little while and then saw that he was cruising back up the hill towards us…so we relaxed a bit, checked to make sure that our stuff was intact and headed off to the next attraction, the old palace grounds.
We walked around and took in the scenery, which was interesting and pretty.
When we were leaving the palace we stopped at the Marine Research Center, which was small but fascinating. There was an interpreter on staff who showed us all the animals in the touch tank (not one single animal in there was something I was particularly interested in touching, but neat to look at…).
The tour also included the beach (which we declined, since we had already been there the day before) and the viewpoint that we had enjoyed the sunset at the night previous.
Getting back to Bangkok was easy- we headed to the pier, got on a ferry that left quickly after we boarded and caught a bus on the street where we had got off on the Friday night. Ko Si Chang is a close, convenient and beautiful place to visit: another weekend getaway to add to the list!

Until next time,

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mountain Bikers

A couple weekends ago Ryan organized a motorcycle trip from Kanchanaburi to the Three Pagodas Pass, about 300 km away. Ray and I were excited about the concept but, since neither of us had ever driven a motorcycle, were also skeptical about our ability to participate.
We decided that we would go along on the trip anyway, and if it turned out that we couldn't drive and we couldn't be passengers then we would just hang out in Kanchanaburi and have a good time there.
Alisa and Ryan gave lessons early Saturday morning. Ray took the bike out first by himself and had a bit of an accident...he was pretty shaken but not seriously injured. Stephanie, Rhoda and Amber all tried with either Ryan or Alisa on the back giving them instructions, and all managed to ride successfully. I was nervous, having seen Ray fall, but Alisa is a great teacher (funny how that would happen) and I could drive the bike no problem.
Yes, that's right, Mom and Dad and other concerned parties: I drove a motorcycle. In Kanchanaburi, on the road, through traffic. Don't worry I wore a helmet and jeans. It gets even better...

We took off for our journey around 10 AM, me driving and Ray on the back. We drove for about an hour or so to Sai Yok Waterfalls. They are not as large as Erawan Waterfalls, but they are more easily accessed and very pretty also.

After a bit of a break, some lunch and another lesson from Alisa, Ray was ready to drive so I hopped on the back and we drove another stretch.

A while later, after seeing some spectacular scenery, we reached an area where it had been raining.
The road was fairly twisty and wet and Stephanie spun out on a turn. Luckily, she too was not seriously injured, and after some first aid and some damage assessment to the bike we were ready to go again. Steph rode on the back of Ryan's bike and Ray took Stephanie's bike.

Not only did I not think I would drive a motorcycle, I didn't think that I would drive under these conditions:
1. With a passenger
2. Through traffic
3. At speeds maybe reaching 100 KPH (hard to say, because the spedometer on my bike didn't work)
4. Through the rain
5. In the dark.

...see Mom and Dad? I told you it got better.

We eventually reached Sangklaburi, the nearest town to Three Paagodas Pass. We stayed in a bug-riddled bizarre guesthouse, had some beers and resolved to leave early in the morning again for more adventuring.

We headed out fairly early the next day, visiting Three Pagodas Pass first. It is where the Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) borders meet. The Pass itself is not that spectacular, but the drive there is very scenic.

Going back towards Kanchanaburi, we stopped at a "Waterfall"...which we never saw. We were told it was a kilometer hike up a hill, and none of us (with our sore bums) were interested in hiking anywhere so we spent some time at the pond at the base and then took off again.

Ray and I shared driving on the way back, with Ray logging the most kilometers. We got into Kanchanaburi around 7 that evening, which seemed like great timing but unfortunately the last bus to Bangkok left at 7:30 so we didn't have a chance to eat at Apple's for dinner.

It was an amazing trip. It was completely thrilling to be able to drive the bike, especially on my own- although I have to say that it was quite a big change in weight not having a passenger and I almost found that it was harder to control with only me on it. The scenery was fantastic and there is perhaps another bike expedition in the works. I was really glad that Ray had the confidence, after falling, to try again: he really loved the drive and although we all were aching afterwards we had a great time.

Until next time,