Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Our Holiday Part 4 - Pai in the sky!

After 3 nights in Chiang Mai we decided to explore further north so hopped into our rental car and headed up towards Pai.

On the way we stopped at Mae Rim's Tiger Kingdom! Where we were able to get up close and personal with some magnificent tigers. They were beautiful. Such an honour and privilege to be able to interact with them. There is no doubt that they are wild animals, even though these are reasonably used to humans being around. (I know some people don't like this kind of thing, but really these animals seemed really healthy and well treated and I was so grateful to get the chance to see them and even touch the younger ones)

More Tiger Kingdom photos HERE

We then drove on and on and on along the most nausea-inducing windy '762 curves to Pai' road to Pai. Check here and here to see what the road looks like. There was some gorgeous scenery and a surprisingly really large number of coffee shops en route. I mean there were LOTS. It became almost laughable. We stopped at a nice 'Swiss chalet' looking one for lunch. The rest of the drive was spent listening to TED talk pod-casts, which were interesting and inspirational.

We finally reached Pai at dusk that evening. All feeling a bit rattled and 'naar'. We found an incredible special on Agoda and stayed at the luxurious Yoma Hotel for about 60% off! A, after having had to drive the whole day, decided he was heading straight to bed. The boys and I grabbed the car and took the short drive into town. Where we wondered around the night market, and had dinner on the street. We didn't stay out late and went back for an early night and decent sleep. The boys thoroughly enjoyed the amenities in their room having long showers with lovely toiletries, blow drying their hair and wearing gowns and slippers etc. They also raided their mini bar! Thankfully these are reasonably priced in Thailand (I wish it was the same everywhere else!) and items cost barely more than the usual price at 7Eleven anyway.

Next morning we decided it was time for a bit of elephant trekking so off we went to Thom's Elephant Camp a few kms outside of town. It turned out that Thom is actually a lady. :) We took 2 beautiful ellies and A and Quinn rode one, while G and I rode the other, each with a guide or 'Mahout' to control the gentle (but sometimes obstreprous) giants. It was surprsiingly high and rather unstable at first, so I found it a but scary and intimidating. I was not so much sacred of the elephant, as being scared of slipping off it! Eventually I got comfortable - and in a better position, as initially I was sitting ON the ellies shoulders which was just too rocking and rolling, when I moved back it was much more comfotrable -mand got into the 'swing' of it and then was able to reax and not hang on for dear life anymore. Quinn was completely at ease and was able to ride without even holding on. We took a long walk through a field and over a hill and once we were fully comfortable we walked down the road to the river, were we 'swam' with them. That was totally amazing! These HUGE giants, being so gentle yet playful. We'd climb on them and they'd sit still until the Mahout signaled them and then they'd shake us of until we were flung into the water. It was really fun!

After we were done riding on the ellies we fed them bananas and sugar cane. They were pretty clever too and you could hide it away, in your shorts or under your hat and they'll find it!

We stayed in Pai for 2 nights. The rest of the time we were there we explored the town and markets, went for a divine massage, and enjoyed the hot springs.

More Pai & Elephant photos HERE

Next the drive back to Chiang Mai , the zoo Doi Suthep.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Our Holiday Part 3 - Chiang Mai and I

Chiang Mai was uncharted territory for me, but A had been there before, and since Quinn was not able to swim so soon after his op, we could not do any Thai Island hoping or beach resort this trip. So off we went North to Chiang Mai. I was not really sure what to expect. The town has 2 parts, the old city - inside the wall, and the new city - outside the wall. We stayed at the Eco Resort a few kms outside town. Which was very nice. We stayed in the old school house building.
After settling in we caught a taxi into the old town and walked around (we did a LOT of walking on our holiday). We went to Wat Phra Singh, which is a beautiful temple. In the evening we explored the night market area, which is thronging with life until at least 12am. There are many many cool wares on offer and beautiful handiwork, and lots and lots of great deals and bargains to be had here. It's good fun and quite exciting walking up and down and negotiating and scoring great deals. We again went to bed exhausted after a full and fun day.
On Day 2 in Chiang Mai we rented a car and decided to head out of town for some adventure. We took a meandering drive to Jungle Flight were we had a super fun and entertaining Canopy Tour with our very animated guides... Job and erm... Keto (not his real name but it should be based on the way he looks and acts!) :) They were like a comedy act and were so much fun. We had a blast with them and it was quite exhilarating. Also because we were not afraid they played with us and clowned around more than they probably would have if we were nervous or timid. I totally loved it. The best was when lowering us from the top of the canopy they would let you free fall for a second or 2. Gives you a huge fright that!

More Jungle Flight Photos are HERE

On Day 3 we went in search of Thai silk and Celadon ceramics for A. And thendid another long walk around a town exploring and shopping. We also relaxed at the resort and swam and read books.

In the evening we went to a Thai cooking class at Baan Thai Cooking School which was really awesome! We were taken to a food market and taught what everything is and what it is for and how it is used etc. Then we were taken back to the school and learned how to make some Thai food! We had such fun and the food is surprisingly easy to make and freaking delicious!!!

We made:
Coconut milk, Green curry paste, Pad Thai, Chicken Coconut Soup, Thai Fish Cakes & Green Chicken Curry. Quinn learned how to make spring rolls, and hot and sour prawn soup, Curried Prawn stir fry and a Penang Pork Curry.

We ate SO much we could hardly walk by the end. It was awesome! We had to walk back home just to walk some of it off!

Cooking Class photos HERE and HERE!

More Chiang Mai photos on Facebook HERE

That was the end of our Chiang Mai leg, next up a road-trip to Pai!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Our Holiday Part 2 - Thailand is my land!

We arrived in Bangkok and made our way to our hotel on Sunday morning. Although we were all pretty exhausted - not to mention much in need of a shower, after walking around in the heat of Dubai the day before! So once we had settled into 'New Siam II'. We decided not to sleep but to rather get out and explore a bit. I now know my way around Bangkok pretty well, and realised we were not very far from Shanti Lodge were we stayed last time and the food market near Rama VIII memorial bridge. So I took the reigns as chief navigator and set off walking in that direction. We ended up doing a pretty substantial walk - between 10-15kms! And it was HOT!

We went past the markets, Shanti Lodge, the University, the Dusit Zoo, the Vimanmek Teak Palace etc.

View Larger Map
I feel so relaxed and at home in Bangkok I just LOVE it. It is so vibrant and colourful, I really find it energising and quite thrilling.
By the time we got back to our hotel we were pretty pooped, so we had a swim and cocktail in the pool! I had a simply delicious Coconut Daiquiri. We then set off to find Khao San road, which was a few block away but surprisingly hard to find - it is a tiny road which is quite hidden. We of course had to have a foot rub and Singha beer, as well as some Pad Thai. Yum!
By the time we went to bed we were finished. I think we woke up close to 11am the next day! On day 2 we went to the Grand Palace, and then Jim Thompson's House and then the markets at Pratunum and explored up and down wherever we went. We ended up walking back to our area again via  Lumpini Park. Again we ended up in Khao San Road for the evening.
On day 3 we took a Longtail Boat Khlong Tour, which was very interesting and then explored China Town! On the way back we missed our river taxi stop and went back to Rama V bridge and had to walk back from there. Which was interesting at night. Thankfully the 7Elevens in Bangkok are prolific and so the super yummy jelly cups I plied the boys with kept them going through all the walking - well that and all the shopping opportunities.
We ate some delicious street food and had divine foot and Thai massages, and the Singha and cocktails were... well just read the sign! :)

Bangkok rocks!
More photos on Facebook HERE
Also check out the amazing SE Asia Food and Food Market photos I took HERE

After 3 nights in Bangkok, we hopped on a plane for the quick flight to Chiang Mai!

Our Holiday Part 1 - Hello Dubai

So it's 2 months late, but this is the post about our holiday. Finally...

Emirates airlines was running an amazing special at the beginning of the year, and I had promised the boys I'd take them back to Thailand this year (it's become an every 4-year habit for me now, one I am more than willing to keep repeating!), so even though I'd barely paid up the Namibia holiday, I bit the bullet and booked! I had planned to go more towards the middle of the year, but the special required a departure before end of March and so we booked to go between my 2 big races. THE ARGUS and THE TWO OCEANS HALF MARATHON.

So on term 1 break-up day, and Angelique's birthday, we boarded our plane and jetted off at 6pm.
First stop was Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, we landed at 5am. We had decided to spend the day there and delayed our onwards flight to Bangkok till that night. Dubai visas are not cheap. In fact NOTHING in Dubai is cheap, or very friendly either. The airport staff are strict and very no-nonsense.

We caught a train into the city and walked all around. The most interesting and fun for me were the fabric, gold and spice markets. These were quaint and characterful, but not many bargains were to be had. It was also pretty hot and we were quite tired.

We went on to explore the Dubai Museum and the other side of the river a bit and then decided we'd 'done' the old town. So we headed off to the newer city and to the HOOOGE Dubai Mall. Dubai Mall is in the shadows of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. We had hoped to go up the Burj, but at around R800 each (and a looong wait) for a 1.5 min lift ride we decided it wasn't worth it. Especially since it was a hazy day and visibility would not have been great. It was still impressive from the bottom.

The mall really is gigantic and very flashy and commercial. Pricey too. If you are a shopper it would be super awesome. I am not, so it was interesting but not particularly exciting for me. The boys however were super excited about SEGA REPUBLIC. They were instantly no longer tired when we found that, and galloped around for at least 2 hours like enthused maniacs. They LOVED it. In fact we went and had a calm and quite adult coffee while they rampaged around in there.

We had a meal in the giant food hall, where pretty much anything you could imagine was on offer. I was most drawn to the sight and smell of the Thai food, but forced myself to order something else since we were going to be in actual Thailand soon enough. So I had a vegetarian curry with dahl and sambals.

Then we went outside to see the musical fountains. We had to wait about 45 mins for the 'show' to start. Having been up and walking around for over 12 hours, and not really sleeping on the plane the night before we were tired. We nodded off while sitting waiting and within minutes security guards arrived and told us to get up and leave. Nice! We promised to stay awake, and stayed. Dubai is not the friendliest place. I also find that the Arabs don't tend to smile or engage with you at all. You get ignored, unless you do something wrong and then you get told off.

The fountain show was good but not spectacular - perhaps I was too tired to be impressed. But by 9pm when we went back to the airport I was pretty much done with Dubai. I am glad I saw it, but I wouldn't go out of my way to go back. We were soon on our plane and off to Thailand... but first we had a much needed nap on the plane!

Dubai photos on Facebook: HERE
Dubai Museum
Burj Khalifa
Spices in the Souk
Browsing the Ware in the Souk in the Old Town
The Burj Khalifa - very very tall!
Next up Bangkok!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Kitchen woes become good fortunes

I have a pretty hideous kitchen. I mean it could be argued that it is bright and cheerful... maybe... but really it is just gross. Picture bile-vomit coloured cabinets, cream floor-tiles, 70s style tiles on the walls, old built-in stove and hob, and a bright shiny yellow and black tiled splash-back... YUCK! And then add to that un-matching appliances and crockery. Not a pretty sight!

Anyway, so since I moved into the house (7.5 years ago now!) I have wanted to redo the kitchen. But kitchens are expensive and once you start you might as well do it properly - right? So I'd need a minimum of R50k to do it even vaguely nicely. Probably a lot more I hear.

When I broke my ankle and was more house bound and had enforced down-time, I decided to tackle home maintenance projects, but then the external work took priority - painting the roof, replacing perished gates and garage doors, restoring window frames. You know he stuff that actually keeps your house in one piece? Nearly R30k later my budget was straining, then a job-redundancy loomed and then happened. So all thoughts of renovating the kitchen evaporated fourth-with and tout-suite! So we have just got by with our gross and run-down kitchen for a further 18-months.

Also, instead of allocating funds for the kitchen, I have opted to go on a few fantastic and memorable and not-for-a-moment-regretted holidays.

So yes the kitchen needs attention.

But you know how every time you think things are going ok and you'll be able to save some money and finally buy/fix that thing... and then something else is broken, or lost, or gets stolen (Yes kids, I am looking at YOU!)??

Well that. So the day after I ran the Two Oceans Half I looked at our built-in glass-top hob and the whole thing was cracked, right across. FARK! I was not amused to say the least. Quinn got the brunt of my wrath about always breaking things and was banned from cooking without permission. Yada yada. I hadn't even paid for our holiday yet and was facing R5000+ to replace something that had been perfectly fine. Not amused I tell you! I left it for a week or 2, moaning all the while (yet secretly enjoying the inability to be able to/have to cook)...

When my assistant at work heard my tale of woe she said, 'Phone your home owner's insurance!'.

HUH, what!? REALLY!??

So I did. And joy of joys it was covered! It cost me R350 in excess to get it replaced. Whoop! The new Defy hob is a much updated and much better version of the old one. I love it! I have even been excited about cooking on it. New toys are great. :)

So my fugly kitchen now has a gorge shiny new hob!!
Now I really need to get the rest sorted to go with it....

Monday, 21 May 2012

What is wrong with me!!??

My life has become rush rush rush rush, and all I dream about is having TIME to do the stuff I want and need to.

But then when I DO have spare time I pretty much waste it doing basically nothing... SO I am either rushing at 200% speed or at a complete stand-still. Where's the in between mode??

Am I tired, lazy, depressed or what? Why do I do that?? What is wrong with me?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Quinn on Beethoven again

I usually listen to 5fm on the Radio, but this evening on the way home from a dinner out I was channel hopping to find something better....

I stopped on FMR which had Beethoven's 5th Symphony playing...

Quinn who has had an opinion on Beethoven before, said: 'This music is so bland.'

I had to stifle a laugh. I don't think many people have ever called BEETHOVEN bland before! And especially not the 5th Symphony, which is about as dramatic as they get! LOL

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Bonkers Russian gymnastics video

These Russian gymnasts are insane. Yipes. It's not the strength. It's not the flexibility. It's the strength AND the flexibility.

You have to watch this!


Happy 14th Birthday Angelique

It was Angelique's BIrthday this year the day we flew out of the country on holiday 23 March. So it was a rushed and busy day.

But I made sure we took the time to remember her and commemorate her as we do every year, as our family's 'Thanksgiving Day'. We use it to focus on remembering her and then being grateful for what we have and what we like about each other.