My Blog Has A New Home

My blog has now relocated to: http://www.talkingthailand.co.uk

I also have a new blog where I showcase my photographs. I would love it if you visited: http://www.morrisophotography.co.uk

Please visit both sites for all future and past posts 😉

Days like These

Since I have been living in Bangkok I get regular emails about what’s on. I don’t do that much on a regular basis but sometimes I see something that catches my eye.

So one Friday-my only day off- I got up early and was in the pool by 8.30am, followed by my regular exercise workout, had breakfast and was out the door at 10am.

I went to Thai lessons, which is what I normally do on Fridays, and afterwards I took myself to the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre where they were holding the “Bonjour Fair”- a French and Italian market. These types of events always intrigue me because I think it’s strange that you would get such a thing in Thailand. But Bangkok is an international city so of course these types of events happen here. I still find it strange. (Or maybe it is me who is strange!?) Anyway, I arrived and wandered around, bought a ham quiche and left. I only really went to check it out and as I didn’t have much money to buy all the delicious things I wanted to buy (Umm wine!) I didn’t hang around long.

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There were lovely offerings to be had- cheese, wine, bread and meats. There were also shoes and perfumes. All the things you would imagine would be at a French and Italian market. You could even try before you buy. I believe this market happens once a year.

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bonjour 2

The next thing on my agenda was to go to Lumpini Park to see the Bangkok Street Fair. After a quick trip to do some Christmas shopping, I got to Lumpini and meandered around watching the variety of street performers. There weren’t many people there when I arrived so I could easily watch the performers that were dotted around the park.

There were mime artists and trapeze artists but the best ones were a group of guys dancing and doing the limbo.

They had attracted quite a crowd.

On the way out I stopped to watch a woman doing her piece, which included a toilet and some flowers. I have no idea what that was all about but when she stuck her head in the toilet it reminded me of Renton in “Trainspotting.” I walked out of the park chuckling to myself.

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On the way back I stopped off at Onnut night market for somtam and a beer. I deserved it after my busy day. I hadn’t been there for a while and, although the prices have gone up a little, it is still a place I enjoy especially when the lady, who sells the somtam, recognized me, and I got a beer by simply mouthing the word “Singha” to the waitress.

I love days like these. They definitely put a smile on my face. 

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A-Z in Shapes and Objects

When my friends, Jamie and Trudy, were in Thailand in November, Jamie set me an A-Z photographic challenge. I had to take a photograph of things that represent each letter but I had to go through the alphabet in order. It’s taken me a while but here it is 😉

Why don’t you give it a try and see what you come up with 🙂

A DIY Day Out To Saraburi

My friend and I went to Saraburi to visit a local tourist attraction-sunflower fields. Doesn’t sound that exciting? Believe me it is worth the effort of getting there and even more so because we decided to skip the organised day trips from Bangkok and do a DIY version instead.

We left Bang Sue at 9.20am- the train should have left at 8.20am but hey this is Thailand. We travelled an hour and a half north to Khaeng Koi Junction where we changed trains for a thirty minute journey to Hin Son.


Hin Son is literally in the middle of nowhere. We had co-ordinates to follow and we had been told that the sunflower field was in the direction away from the school and towards the temple. That’s all we knew, and without ACTUAL GPS we walked for about 10 minutes to a temple we had spotted and decided that we were going in the wrong direction.

Luckily, we had seen some sunflower fields from the train, so we walked back to the train station-getting some bemused stares from the locals. On the opposite side to the station was a road but we agreed that it didn’t look like it went to the fields-we found out later it did-so we decided to walk back along the train track. Actually, we started walking through the fields but the grass started to get very long in places and we were scared that there may be snakes. A snake bite in the middle of nowhere would lead to certain death- maybe a bit of an exaggeration but a snake bite would be very serious, to say the least, considering one of us would have to leave the bitten party to go in search of help. Not a very sensible idea. So we backtracked a little and started walking along the train track. There are only three trains a day and we didn’t see one but we were constantly checking in both directions and we were ready to dive off to the side of the track if one came trundling along.

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Following the Tracks

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Sunflower Fields

We arrived at the sunflower field with no scrapes- even though we had to scramble across the track with a 12 foot drop below. In our imaginations that drop was 1000 feet. We were a little burnt and our feet were sore from walking on the track.

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Crossing the Ravine!

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Sun Hat?

On either side of the train track there are fields and fields of beautiful sunflowers. It’s very peaceful, right in the middle of nowhere. There was no one else there apart from a couple of people who arrived in a van who, like us, had come to see the sunflowers, and a few stallholders who were setting up their stalls for the weekend rush of people arriving on the train. We basically had the place to ourselves. We wandered around taking photos and then we went and rested up a while in the shade with some sunflower juice to quench our thirsts.


While we were sitting there one the stallholders asked where we had come from. We told her that we had walked from Hin Son. She looked shocked. Thais don’t walk anywhere. Once we had recovered we decided to continue walking away from Hin Son-back in the direction of Bangkok-to the train stop-no more than a hut- at Khao Hin Dad. We didn’t know the name of the place at the time but we had definitely seen the hut. We walked off with the lady shouting:
“You can’t walk that way, it’s all jungle.”

We both looked at each other, jungle? The train goes that way so we thought it was safe to say there wasn’t any jungle going to block our way.

Along the Tracks Again!

Along the Tracks Again!

So off we went walking along the train track again. After a while we suddenly realised that the road was running parallel to the track but there was no way that we were going to get to it because the undergrowth was just too thick. So we continued along the track. Every few minutes we could hear lorries passing by on the road but we thought it was a train, so we stopped in our tracks (get it) and were ready to dive to safety. But all was ok. How we misjudged the distance between the hut and the sunflower field I still wonder today. We were sure it was closer. We kept walking and walking with nothing but train track in front of us. In the end I spotted a way off the train track to the road. It’s a good job I saw it because we were chatting to each other and could easily have missed it. But we swapped track for road. At least it was easier to walk on. After a good fifteen minutes we finally saw a sign that said railway crossing. At the same time a guy stopped on this motorbike and was asking us where we were going and where we had been. Typical. We had been walked for what turned out to be 5 km when someone saw us and told us where we were supposed to be going.

More Sunflower Fields

More Sunflower Fields

This guy, whose name was Mr. Praset, asked us if we wanted to go to his house and sleep the night. We gathered that he ran some sort of homestay. We politely turned him down and said we would wait for the train back to Bangkok. Off he went and we sat by the road. About fifteen minutes later he came back with bananas, a packet of chocolate biscuits, and a bottle of water each for us. He sat there and chatted away to us for ages. He asked us if we wanted a lift to Khaeng Koi but, again, we politely declined and said we would get the train. Off he went again and we moved to the hut that is the train stop in Khao Hin Dad. Some more people arrived, this time to just sit and stare at us- quite amusing really.

Mr. Praset came back again-this time in his truck- and asked us again if we wanted a lift to Khaeng Koi because he didn’t think we would make it in time to get the train back to Bangkok. As much as we wanted to get the train back, we also didn’t want to miss the train from Khaeng Koi, so we agreed and got in his truck. So we were off back towards Khaeng Koi but not before going back to Mr. Praset’s home. He wanted to show us where he lived. We literally drove into the drive, said hello to his daughter, and reversed out again. From what we saw it looked lovely and we found out that he exports flowers to China from the fields at the back of his house. But we suspected that he only wanted to show off his new “farang” friends to his daughter.

Mr. Praset seemed happy at our accepting his offer and excitedly kept saying:
“Look! It’s only 5.30pm; you won’t miss your train.”
We arrived at Khaeng Koi and offered him some money for the ride. He told us before that it would cost 100 baht each but he did not accept anything from us.

Khaeng Koi Station

Khaeng Koi Station

This is one of these random things that happen and it’s been a long time since anything like this has happened to me. While I don’t want to be walking along any train tracks, with seemingly no end, for a while, I loved meeting Mr. Praset and will definitely be paying him a visit when I am next in that area. As for the DIY day out to visit the sunflower fields- I would not have missed it for the world.

The End of a Beautiful Day

The End of a Beautiful Day

Diving in the Andaman Sea

A few years ago I went on a three day diving trip off of Ranong, on Thailand’s west coast, in the Andaman Sea. The Andaman Sea is part of the Indian Ocean and touches the shores of Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Burma, Malaysia and Sumatra. This is a very popular diving location due to the colourful coral and many species of tropical marine life-including whale sharks, leopard sharks and manta rays. As part of my TEFL course, I had paid for the four week course, accommodation and a job guarantee which was their full package, and because of this they threw in this diving trip for free.

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My Diving Buddies

I have a love-hate relationship with diving- actually to be fair I have only done it twice- but it is one of those things, for me anyway, that I never look forward to doing but once I have done it I want to go back for more. The problem is that I have terrible trouble with my ears. It is very painful to descend into the watery depths. If I don’t get rushed and can take my time I am fine, but descending too quickly and the pain is just unbearable.
We arrived in Ranong and boarded the “Sea World”- a 25 metre vessel especially equipped for these live-a-board trips. The air conditioned rooms are all located on the main deck providing sea views, sun decks and the communal “saloon” where you can relax watching TV or listening to music. The crew was fantastic, providing delicious meals for us in between dives, and looking after us while we were aboard.

We left Ranong around 9pm and more or less went straight to bed. It took about 8 or 9 hours to reach our first dive site- Koh Chi, 2km off the north east coast of Surin Nua. Imagine waking up and leaving your bunk to be greeted by a huge expanse of blue water, with no noise other than the squawking sea birds. The calm swell of the ocean as you sleepily get into your diving gear. It was rather surreal.

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Morning on the Ocean

Koh Chi has an average of 15 metres visibility and I saw a lot of marine life- clown fish, trumpet fish, bat fish, trigger fish, puffer fish, parrot fish, moorish idol, and blue starfish. In fact, looking in my dive log, this is the site where I saw the most fish. It’s very calm and relaxed down in that other world. The fish are just hanging out, going about their daily business.

Castle Rock was our next dive and this is where it went pear-shaped for me. This was our second dive of the day at 11.00 am and I only lasted 15 minutes. Actually it was 10 minutes, the last 5 minutes was ascending. I got my diving gear on and my diving buddy told me that there was a strong current at the surface so I had to descend quickly. I tried, I really did, but I had trouble equalising and I was in so much pain. Because I was trying to descend but couldn’t, we got swept away from the dive site. I gave up and signalled to my buddy that I wanted to go up. Reaching the surface I realised my nose was bleeding, and then I started to cry. I think I was a little shaken at how easily we got swept away. Plus the fact that I don’t like giving up on anything.

Before a Dive

Before a Dive

After a Dive

After a Dive

Afterwards, my ears felt like they had the whole ocean in them, but I pulled myself together and decided to stay on board for the next few dives and just watch the others from a “non-nose bleed and painful ears” vantage point.
The next few dives sites- Coral Garden, South East Point, South Point and Hin Kong were all done successfully, even though the nose bleed had put me off somewhat. But it was the last dive, at Richelieu Rock, that was the most stunning, and I was so glad I didn’t sit that one out. There was a bit of a current, but it was mostly calm making the conditions perfect for diving.

Richelieu Rock at Low Tide

Dive Site at Low Tide

Richelieu Rock is located about 200km northwest of Phuket and lies about 18km off the shore of Surin Island. It was discovered by Jacques-Yves Cousteau as a recreational scuba dive site, and it is considered to be one of Thailand’s most iconic dive sites. It is a horse-shoe shaped reef, rising 50 m from the ocean floor to just below the surface at low tide. It attracts all kinds of marine life including scorpion fish, moray eels, and groupers which I saw. Other divers have seen the occasional manta rays and whale sharks passing by as well.

The corals, as well as the fish, are beautiful, ranging in colour from red to purple. And it’s from the colours that the rock gets its name. Some say that it is named after the red robes of Cardinal Richelieu, while others say it is named after a general in the Royal Thai Navy. Either way the colours of the coral are simply stunning. I spent 50 minutes in the company of the rock and its inhabitants. And for those 50 minutes I forgot about painful ears and nose bleeds and enjoyed what I was seeing.

Blue Andaman Sea

Blue Andaman Sea

I never looked forward to any of these dives, but once I was down there I relaxed and started to enjoy myself. If I get the chance again I will go diving again but I am not quite ready to go out and buy my own dive equipment just yet.

A-One Diving
256 Ruengrad Rd, Kaoniwate, Muang – 85000 Ranong – Thailand.

Mobile: +66 (0)81 8915510
Tel: +66 (0)77 832984
Fax: +66 (0)77 830984
Email: info@a-one-diving.com

Rayong’s Fruit Farm

I went to Rayong’s Suphattraland-a huge plantation where different kinds of Thai fruit is grown. This was a few months ago, before I changed jobs- I went with my grade 4s on their school trip.

Suphattraland Rayong

Suphattraland Rayong

From Bangsaen, it took around two hours to get to the fruit farm and once there we had to wait for one of the Thai teachers to get our entry tickets. We didn’t pay because we were on a school trip but the cost is 300 baht for Thais and 400 baht for foreigners, but that includes fruit tasting and papaya salad for lunch.

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Papaya Salad for Lunch

On arrival you get a free drink of iced durian juice which is pleasantly refreshing. Then everyone piles onto the tour bus, which holds about 30 people, and it takes you through the plantation so you can see all the different fruits being grown. It stops briefly for you to taste the rambuttan which have been plucked from the nearby trees.

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Rambuttan

The tour bus continues to a large area where you can taste a few more different varieties of fruit-like mango, pineapple, dragon fruit, jack fruit and durian. All these fruits, as well as many more, are grown on the plantation. It was the first time I have tasted durian and I liked it. It is a large fruit with a sharp spiky skin and it smells of rotting flesh. But if you can ignore the smell you will be pleasantly surprised with the taste. It is very sweet and has a slightly strange velvety texture. It was quite delicious.

Durian

Durian

We had lunch at a little restaurant in the middle of the plantation and then went to look at the honey farm, where they breed their own honey bees. There are products that you can buy at over inflated prices. Royal Jelly, which is apparently very good for you, was a little out of my price range at 2500 baht (46 GBP). So I bought a bottle of honey instead but I am sure I could have got the same thing in the supermarket for half the price.

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Honey World

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I liked the visit there, it’s interesting for me to learn about new stuff, and there were plenty of tour buses arriving so the place is a popular tourist attraction.

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Rayong Fruit Farm

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If you have a spare afternoon, and are located in that area, or if you just want something different to do, Suphattraland is located at Ban Khai in Rayong province and is open every day of the week, 6.30am to 6.00pm.

One Couple’s Thoughts about Thailand

A few years ago two of my friends, Trudy and Jamie, came to Thailand for a holiday. I went to meet them in Bangkok for a couple of days. What follows is their take on the strange, yet wonderful things that they came across.

Tailless Cat

Tailless Cat

 

1. Tailless cats. They are everywhere in Thailand. The reason is not that the cats have broken their tails at some point, as most people may think, but more probably due to mutation and crossbreeding. Or as my friends proffered, “they may have had an electric shock, from the electricity wires”.

 

 

 
chatterbox

2. Strange people on boat piers. On a boat trip along Bangkok’s canals, we happened to share our boat with a strange dude. He was on his own, nothing wrong with that, but he sat next to me on the boat, and proceeded to talk, and talk, and talk. It was nice to chat, at first, but he felt the need to speak to us, about everything! Don’t you know it’s sometimes nice to just shut up and enjoy the surroundings.

 

Souvenirs, Bread, Beer?

Souvenirs, Bread, Beer?

 

3. Mini Floating Market. On the canal, lurking in wait is a lady in a boat who wants to sell you stuff. Bread (for the catfish), souvenirs, and beer (at highly inflated prices). She always asks if the boat driver wants a beer. I am sure they are working together.

 

 

 

4. Canal Trip. One piece of advice from my friends- don’t do the canal trip after a few beers.

Feeling Green?

Feeling Green?

It’s not exactly settling to the stomach.

 

 

 

 

Post Box

Post Box

 

5. Post Boxes. As part of the canal trip, you get to see some traditional Thai houses, and the people who live there. Some of the houses are nothing more than wooden shacks, and one thing that Jamie was more than bemused about was that some of these shacks had post boxes.

 

 
6. Waving Cats. Called Maneki-neko, these little figurines are thought to bring good luck to their owners.

220px-Solar-powered_Maneki-neko_with_continous_moving_arm

Maneki-neko

Trudy took an instant dislike to these cats as she thought them a little freaky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kamikaze!

Kamikaze!

 

7. Kamikaze Lizards. Cute little animals that are seen everywhere, but tend to dart away if you get too close. However, as Jamie experienced, one such lizard decided to throw itself in Jamie’s general direction, landing on his shoulder.

 

 

 

 

Tesco

Tesco Lotus

8. Tesco Lotus. I mean who would expect to find Tesco all the way over in Thailand; Boots, Ikea, and Marks & Spencer. Yep they are all here.

 

 
7 11

 

9. 7 11. A handy little corner shop in case you can’t be bothered going to the larger supermarkets. You can choose from any of the five located in the same area.

 

 

10. Vitamin B. Another piece of helpful advice; Vitamin B helps with mosquito bites. The little buggers don’t like it apparently.vit b

 

 

 

 

 

 

curry

Thai Curry

 

11. Food. The food, oh the food. Two firm favourites of my friends- chicken with cashew nuts, and the curries. I don’t think they were bothered which curry. All of them!

 

 

 

 

rbv

RBV

 

 

12. RBV. For those not in the know- Red Bull Vodka. For some reason, if you say Vodka & Red Bull, when ordering, the Thais don’t get that; you have to order Red Bull Vodka. In a bucket preferably.

 

 

 

 

 

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T.I.T- This is Thailand

 

 

13. No Health and Safety. My friends witnessed some guys several floors up, on the outside of the building, cleaning windows, with no safety harnesses. T.I.T. after all!

 

 

 

 

 

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Taxi Metre

14. Taxi Metres. After a little advice from me, my friends always asked for the metre to be used when taking taxis. If the driver says no, get out and get in a different one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

tuktuk

Tuk-Tuk

 

 

15. Tuk-Tuk Drivers. Don’t believe them when they say the Grand Palace is closed. It is never closed. My friends didn’t believe them, and enjoyed a nice day out.

 

 

 

 

 

deserted beach

Deserted Beaches- Just make sure you wake up in time to leave!

16. Deserted Islands. Apparently, when on a boat trip, you shouldn’t fall asleep on a deserted island. I am not sure whether this was Trudy or Jamie, or both of them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patpong

Patpong

17. Patpong. Be very careful if your curiosity gets the better of you, and you go into one of the many ping pong shows in Patpong. My friends got taken down a dark alleyway into the club, where they bought one drink. Five minutes later they were presented with a bill for 9000 baht. Bangkok can be expensive, but not that bloody expensive. They had watched a couple of shows- all manner of things being shot out over the audience (you will have to use your imagination for that bit). They challenged the bar staff, to which the woman replied “you have seen show, you pay”! They paid 2000 baht and quickly left. So be very, very careful if you find yourself in the same sort of situation. Suffice to say they didn’t leave a tip.

 

 

18. Football Playing Elephants. On a lighter note, elephants can play football. And Jamie decided he was going to be the goalkeeper. After trying to save the first ball, and suddenly being in pain, he let the elephants win.

elephants

Elephant’s playing football. Really?

 

 

 

 

 
My friends left Bangkok and spent the rest of their holiday on Koh Samui. They thoroughly enjoyed the time they spent in Thailand. They are planning on coming again later this year. I cannot wait to see them, to get more insight into their thoughts.

 

Mohamad Al Karbi

محمد القربي

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