Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Red curry paste

I've had a great day today, Jenni got me a surprise early birthday present and organised a cooking lesson at our favorite restaurant here. it was really great, the chef doesn't normally do lessons but he did for me which was really great as it was one on one instruction. in the morning I made red curry paste with lemongrass and galagal (Thai ginger) that we picked from his back garden. It was really interesting to see what goes into the paste and what each of the roots does. He doesn't speak English that well so we have had a few strange conversations during the day, including quite a few about kiwis, which I thought was a bit odd, it was only very late on that I realised he says kiwi instead of heavy/thick, made a lot more sense then!

In the afternoon I came back and cooked red curry soup with chicken for Jenni and my lunch, it was really gorgeous and he taught us all his secret extras that he adds to make it so good. I forgot to say that this is the best Thai food we have had here by a long way, a lot of the food is so flavourless here as they think that is what foreigners like, but he has managed to make really really tasty food. i have had to promise not tell everyone as it is his special recipe and he only shares it with special customers! So I can't put it on the blog but if you ask me nicely I might make you some when we get back!

He has now said that we can't order off the menu anymore and that we will now eat his special food and different traditional dishes that will only make for certain people, he also threatened to get me took cook our own dinner tonight, but I'm not sure that will really happen! He wants to teach us as much as he can while we are here so we are going to make the most of it.

On a very different point I just got stung on my lip by some plankton whilst swimming in the sea, it really hurt, it is amazing something so small can hurt so much!

Thanks again for the comments, and the bookshop people win the lizard knowledge award, well done!

Dan & Jen

Thursday, May 24, 2007

To infinity pools and beyond

We are now on another island just south of Koh Tao called Koh Phangan, which is very beautiful and hot and full of coconut palms, there is some fact about there being more coconut palms here than somewhere else or something, it's quite impressive if you can remember it!

We are still having the usual computer problems, we have been foiled a few times trying to add to this but we have finally managed. Jenni just spent 30 minutes writing a lovely long email to all the Finnish lot just to have the whole thing thrown out by the computer for no apparent reason, she is sitting next to me just a little bit angry...

It is low season here at the moment which means that the accommodation prices are really low as they are desperate to have anyone in the rooms, so we are staying in this amazing place overlooking a beautiful palm fringed white sandy beach. we are high up on the rocks at one end with this amazing infinity swimming pool overlooking the sea, it is gorgeous. The pool we have found is essential as it is super hot here now, even Jenni is hot! The sea is really shallow too, so you have to have a pool to cool off. it is a very strange sensation walking into the sea and the water burning your ankles! the only down side of the low seasonness is that there are always twice as many staff as guests where ever you go, which can make things feel a little weird!

We have been doing lots of sitting and swimming and snorkelling which has been really great. we had foot massages last night too just to get us really relaxed. We saw a huge lizard about 1meter long the other day swimming from way out at sea into the beach and then ran off up the beach, it really confused us as we were pretty sure lizards don't swim, so if there are any budding biologists out there that might know what it was, we would love to know.

We had a cool day yesterday we went to a herbal sauna which was run by monks at their temple, it was really ace. A bit weird going to sauna in this heat but it was more like a steam room and smelt nice too. We were given herbal tea as well with some special leaves in that are good for the heart apparently. We also did a trek in the rainforest to two rather unspectacular waterfalls. It was a great walk though through dense rainforest and up steep rock faces to this look out point over the island. They aren't that into making actual trails or using signs and things here so you kind had to just go for it and hope there would be signs of other people soon! we made it though so we were quite pleased with ourselves.

We are planning to go to a half moon party tomorrow, the full moon parties are the famous raves, but this is a shameless cash in for those of us who aren't there at the right time of the lunar month, so we'll see how good it is tomorrow.

Lots of love

Dan and Jenni

Friday, May 11, 2007

Coconuts on Koh Tao


We're in Koh Tao now having an amazing time - white sandy beaches and coconut palms all over the place, plus lovely lush rainforest in the middle of the island. It's been so hot, and the humidity is incredible, but I, true to form, have been needing jumpers in the evenings, which I think have been a bit nippy (at least 30 degrees).

We started the diving course on Sunday, and Dan is just a genius - he got 100% in the final theory exam! Our instructor bought him a beer for that, as he was only his second ever student to have got it! I would have only got 1 question wrong, but I didn't - I got 3. I blame the exam ;)

I couldn't actually complete the course because they couldn't let me in the sea because I can't stop breathing through my nose, which meant that when we were doing the practice in the pool and you have to take your mask off and breathe just through your mouth for 1 minute I kept inhaling the water into my lungs and choking. How annoying! Dan's now got his PADI certificate and he's planning all sorts of exciting night dives, lucky boy.

As I said, life's been pretty rosy here on the island, and we're living in this cool bungalow right by the beach, with a lovely verandah shaded by palm trees. Tonight we're going to a beach BBQ. They've got these bars/restaurants right on the sand, where you can choose which of today's fish you want them to prepare for you, and you sit there lit by candles and look at the gorgeous sunsets.

The more I write this the more I think we might just stay here!

We'll have to put some photos up soon so you get even more jealous.

Love to all, thank you for the comments and emails, they make you feel a lot closer to us!
Jenni & Dan

Friday, May 04, 2007

weird writing everywhere

We are in Bangkok now and all is well. We had slightly interesting time trying to find our guesthouse on the first night, I called ferom sydney to book a room which was fine but when we tried to find the place it turned out there were 4 hotels with the same name and none of them had a clue who we were! we got a room in one of them though so that was all good. We are staying in a lovely place now with a swimming pool and things which is very refreshing after walking in the 34C city. It is very hot and very different here (except that it still rains a bit, we take it with us it makes us feel comfortable!), very cheap for everything which is great. all our meals cost about 30p! we are eating lovely pad thai noodles, firey red curries and really sweet fresh pineapple and stuff it is brilliant. We are off to an island called Koh Tao to learn to dive tomorrow on an overnight sleeper train that will get us to almost there at 4am, the first ferry doesn't leave till 7:30am so we have to stand in the dark for a few hours under a big roof apparently!

Lots of love

Dan and Jenni

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Big hairy animals

Yesterday was another exciting day for us. One of the highlights was the fact that Dan's had his first travelling haircut. We have gathered from others' experience that the men who are off travelling tend to either grow their hair until they get back and have a normal haircut, or they choose to experiment with the local hairdressers. That's what Dan decided to do yesterday, and because we're still safe and sound on Australian soil, this should have been a safe option. In theory that is the case, but what actually happened is that we managed to choose a hairdressers that was run by Japanese people, and the whole thing was quite hilarious. I was sat there with Dan waiting for him and this may have lead his hairdresser to think that he may not have spoken a great deal of English, and that I was there to interpret on his behalf. When he was about to start cutting his hair he called me over (not having said anything to Dan), and asked me how he should cut his hair. He then had a discussion with me about how we think his hair should be cut and how it should look like, ignoring poor Dan altogether. It was a bit of a shame, because Dan would have been good at telling the man to leave his sides a bit longer, and cut a bit more off the top. Well, because he didn't have a chance to do that, he's not got this ultra hip and trendy hair that's hyper short on the sides and really quite long up top, making him look really tall! I'll put up some photos soon for you to see (we've bought an adaptor so we're back taking photos).

Another exciting thing yesterday was that we went to Taronga Zoo, and saw lots of kangaroos and wallabys and koalas and a Tasmanian devil, and all sorts of great Australian special creatures. The best thing was that we managed to stroll through this area where kangaroos were just hopping about amongst visitors, and there was a zoo keeper there who picked up one of the smaller kangaroos, it was only 9 months old, and we were able to stroke it! Its fur was incredibly soft, and they're such cool animals, totally ridiculous to look at as you all know, but spectacularly muscular and cute. To my excitement there was also one kangaroo mum with its baby looking out of its pouch - so sweet!

On Sunday evening we went for a couple of pints (or schooners as they're known here) in this karaoke bar next to Chinatown. It was such a cool place, it felt like we were in a wedding because it was a complete mix of these cool young things in sparkly tops, and also people their parents age, and the oldest person was a 82 year old man who did a brilliant karaoke song. The atmosphere was brilliant, everyone knew each other and it seemed they all went to the karaoke night every week (we had seen them all there the previous Sunday night as well) and everyone was just having amazing time and drinking and singing and dancing along to this mix of good songs and some just dreadful ones which I guess is the norm with karaoke. Anyway if you are in Sydney on a karaoke night (Thurs - Sun) and want to have a weird evening, go to the Covent Garden Hotel for a sing along. You'll be amazed to see this lady in her seventies who did a couple of songs, and she had created a dance routine for each number to go with her singing - everyone thought she was hilarious and great. Apparently she auditioned for the Australian pop idol but didn't get through, what a shame, she was brilliant!

Today we went to the Blue Mountains and had a great time doing walks and enjoying the views of the mountains, which by the way do look really blue!

We'll fly off to Bangkok tomorrow, and we'll be there about 2am. We don't yet have anywhere to stay for the night and neither of us have ever been there before, so keep your fingers crossed we'll find a bed for the night.

Lots of love and hauskaa vappua to all the Finnish ones!
Jenni and Dan