Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fish Tale

These guys were everywhere. Never could find out the background, not even on the internet.

We visited a free aquarium/hatchery. It was nothing fancy, mostly big concrete holding tanks full of salt water fish but the fish themselves were fascinating. There was a boardwalk which went out over a pond full of fish the length of my niece plus an extra hundred pounds! We heard a large smack in the water and turned to see a large sea turtle surfacing! There was an eel and starfish with patterns we had never seen before.The fish swam beneath back and forth beneath our feet.



Thailand Pics


Friday, February 25, 2011

Back To Work!

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. We ended up our last three days in Bangkok and had no internet access. We had the opportunity to stay at a local school that houses translators, and other volunteers, so we took it. It was a very special experience getting to eat breakfast with them every morning and tour the facilities. Everyone was so nice and there were several people from America working in construction. The grand opening of the new kitchen facilities took place our first day, complete with ribbon cutting! We were treated like special guests and even got a ride to the airport on our last day. There were other visitors there from Norway who also work at similar place, in the management division. We spent one day in the main part of Bangkok after a long boat taxi ride and we walked ourselves to death. Seven hours of straight walking in the hot sun! But, I we both managed to find a few pieces of clothing that we needed and we didn't get too lost. Here are some pics of the new kitchen and sights in Bangkok. I will post pictures of the rest of our trip as soon as possible.




Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who Has Barricaded the Sea With Doors?

This picture reminded me of a question asked several thousand years ago: "Who has barricaded the sea with doors...that this far you may go and no farther?" Unfortunately, events above and beneath the ocean have triggered devastating hurricanes and tsunamis that wreak havoc all over the world. The Asian tsunami on December2 6th, 2004 killed over 220,000 people. 5,000 of those were in Thailand. Most of the damage has been repaired and after 6 years you might never know what happened here. However, on a few of the smaller islands, you can find the skeletal remains of boats that were carried far inland, pushed through forests and left to rot. These below were left as testimony, a reminder to always respect the power of the sea.

A friend here told me that despite the damage, the Thai people kept their sense of humor about them and as early as days after, were making jokes. One man was jogging along the shoreline when suddenly a local started yelling, "Tsunami coming! Tsunami coming! Run! Run!" Then the local burst out laughing. There are now evacuation routes all over the island and even on hiking paths you can find directions to evacuation sites, a cave or a high flat rock to climb to for safety.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Miss Ya Chop Chop!

I finally got to go to cooking school!!! Ok, so it was only three hours long, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Some of the dishes were prepared very quickly and at the same time as other dishes. I was concentrating so hard, Frank thought I was upset and reminded me to smile. My brow furrows when I am concentrating, but I was definitely in my happy place! The recipe book we received with the class is stained and covered with notes and my hands still smell of garlic. I was cooking, writing, taking pictures, asking questions and making videos all at the same time. It's a wonder I didn't catch myself on fire! I had so much fun I had no room to eat what we cooked. But guess what's for dinner tomorrow?

Our teacher, Mrs. Chonloya Laotong (Ya), left a prestigious cooking career to open the first Thai cookery school in Krabi. We got lost (that's when we found the pineapples) trying to find it on our own because it is at her house, a small bungalow on a dirt road that looks like nothing at all. But, walk in the gate, past the palm fronds and birds of paradise and suddenly you are in a cooking class. Open to the tropical breeze with long tables covered with everything needed for prepping and cooking, including plenty of forks and spoons for sampling.

We learned to make the bases for Thai cooking, like curry pastes; red, green and Panaeng (red with peanuts), and a seasoning made of peppercorns, cumin seed and coriander all crushed to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. Traditionally, the pastes are also made this way but a blender makes fast work of it. You just have to add a little bit of water to get things moving. I learned what galangal is. It is the root on the right side of the plate that looks like ginger. It has its own distinct flavor but ginger can be substituted. I sliced lemongrass for the first time ever (that's the white thing that looks like spring onions). The whole class was hands on. I made Chicken with yellow curry, Thom Yam (soup) with chicken and Pad Thai with tofu. We had to prep and cook everything ourselves and at the end sat down to eat it all. Of course, most of it went into take away bags because of all the sampling. I could write a book about those precious three hours when my dreams where coming true. Thanks babe for an unforgettable day! The Packers won and I went to cooking class. We're both walking on air!


"everything, bang! bang!"-Ya

Pineapples Don't Grow On Trees, But Rubber Does!

Did you know that pineapples actually grow on a low bush? As we drive around exploring the island, we pass large fields, like seas of pinapples clinging to the mountainside. Thailand is one of the largest producers and exporters of this golden fruit and much of that comes from the areas South of Bangkok. The varieties here in Krabi are exceptionally sweet. Street vendors and fruit carts everywhere peddle pineapples. They are often sold by size, 5baht for tiny ones and up to 30baht for the largest size.  It takes two years for the first crop to appear but one plant can yield up to three generations of pineapples before the field is turned under and let lay fallow. By using crop rotation, Thailand has pineapples year round! The pineapple fields we came across along a dirt road, were nestled between long rows of rubber tree plants. The setup reminded me of maple trees. The trees have a section peeled back and scored to bring the sap to the surface. The white sap drips along the cut lines into a cup or half-coconut hanging on a nail. When it dries in the cup, it is a solid piece of white, raw rubber. Native fauna and flora have been destroyed all over the island to make way for this cash crop. It seems anyone with land, has it seeded with these thin, tall trees. It's amazing what you can learn trying to get lost on backroads!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Same, Only Different!


I have been finding it difficult to blog this trip. Not just because internet is broadband, one computer at a time but I can't seem to find words. I have plenty of pictures though.  We have been here a week now. The water is much colder than I expected but the sun and wind are wonderful. I was looking forward to the food and we have not been disappointed. Our friends, Jeff and Melissa have been more than generous hosts, showing how to get places, making dinner, introducing us to people. Thanks guys, hope we don't wear out our welcome.
So much of this place reminds me of China. The markets, the noodles, the bargaining, the fresh fruits and vegetables. There are many differences though. Men wear skirts here, the women have prettier smiles, the noodles are covered with curry sauces, the bargaining stops faster even if they don't make a sale and the fruits and vegetables are more expensive. Oh, and the fried chicken is awesome!! Sold on the street for around $2-3 a piece, its juicy and tasty, without the strange sweetness that China gives it.
We are driving a gas powered scooter here. A big step up from my hunk o' junk! Helmets are the law and the police have checkpoints so no worries Mom, we are being careful. I am planning another blog just about the food so you will just have to wait for those pictures. Here are a few random ones :

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thai People


As long as we stay clear of areas with heavy foreigner traffic, we have found the Thai people very friendly. We put our hands together in front of our face, bow slightly, and say:" Sawadee Kah/Klopp" and they light up! Women say Kah at the end of the greeting and Klopp is for guys.

I had the chance to hang out with our friends' friends on Thursday. A bunch of us went for a tour around Krabi and ended with lunch on Ao Nang beach.



I am so happy to be warm!


5 Island Hop


Krabi is in the South of Thailand, 12 hours by bus from Bangkok. Its a very spread out city with many surrounding islands only a boat taxi away. We took a five island hop a few days in. The weather was cool for an island and the water colder. We had a chance to snorkel, swim, eat lunch on the beach and frank got to sleep. The weather is affecting his asthma so he has spent a lot of time in bed. Poor baby. Here are some shots of the islands we saw: