We went to Chiang Mai via bus with many a free treat. Most of our time there was spent getting lost, even though this is the first place where we’ve had a map (we actually had about 7). I think our map reading skills leave something to be desired. In the evenings we wandered round the night bazaar and fully used our haggling charm.
One of the afternoons we went to a cooking class with the most eccentric Thai lady called Mam. She took us round the market to buy all our ingredients, then we went back to her house to learn loads of Thai dishes. We each made spring rolls, noodles, curry paste, curry, soup and puds. Downside was Emma nearly fainting mid coconut soup.
We found out later that Emma actually had a hook worm (Harold) within her foot, making its way to her lungs, which was making her queasy. We did a classic google diagnosis after we questioned the first pharmacist, who labeled it as herpes which “came from the air”. It’s dead now.
Another highlight was a days leather workshop with a local man. We made so many leather goods. Apparently we were super fast so we got to be creative and make our own designs at the end. We’ve both been craving creativity but he made us jealous
when he told us his leather course had cost him 2p per hour when he was training.
He charged us a lot more.
Low lights: Walking round for over an hour for a bagel and ending up having one right where we started. Having no water in our bathroom for hours, but the ceiling leaking from the people above having a shower.
We flew down to Bangkok from there, meeting and greeting Rog at the airport who has come to join us on our travels for the next month. Bangkok wasn’t all that, other than the really friendly church we went to on the sunday – Grace City church.
During our time in Thailand we have consumed many a fruit. Absolutely delicious is all I can say. No but seriously they have been amazing. We saw an article about Thailand’s best fruits, whilst cowering from the rains, and realised we had tried a fair few. We then made it our mission to source out all the others on the list before we left the country.
Rambutan – This looks fairly like a monster from Monsters Inc. it’s red with green spikes. Texture of a lychee, a slightly annoying peeling stone but tastes sweet and way more flavoursome than a lychee.
Mangosteen – Emma is forever calling these mangroves, which never sounds appealing but these are our favourite so far. They’re round and purple but the inside is white and fleshy and super juicy. They taste incredible, a definite tangy tropical taste. We wish we could get these in England.
Pomelo – Like a giant grapefruit but less bitter. The size of a newborns head (we couldn’t think of any other fitting measurement), green outside and light pink inside. The segments are massive and the rind and membrane is ridiculously thick.
Mini bananas – We’ve tried quite a few types of bananas (including red ones) but we a raving about the mini ones. Emma came out with a hatred of bananas but is now loving them, it’s probably because they taste nothing like bananas. They taste like a greengage and you can eat them anywhere between green and mouldy looking brown and they taste the same and don’t go squishy inside. Winner.
Longan – We love these. They look a bit like mini new potatoes on sticks with rough skin like pears, you shell them and the inside is also like a lychee texture but they taste exactly like a cantaloupe melon. It’s like eating melon without the hassle of a big melon.
Langsart – Look fairly similar to the Longan but slightly bigger and not on sticks and actually more new potato like. Once you peel them they have tiny segments. It’s hard to describe the taste but they’re a good mixture of sweet and sour.
There’s also ones we didn’t much like.
Durian – Bleugh. They are banned on public transport, that says it all really. They literally reek like mouldy onions. It’s a marmite situation some people love them (everyone out here apparently) and some people hate them. The closest we’ve come to eating one is in an ice-cream form and even then it was foul.
Rose apple – They look a bit like a small pink pepper. Apparently they are sweeter than apples but the ones we had were very sour. They grow everywhere but we’ve kind of gone off them.
Jack fruit – The massivest fruit ever. It looks a bit like Styrofoam inside and to be perfectly honest doesn’t taste much better. It’s so dry and doesn’t have much flavour.
This is the end of our fruit summary.
We have had a change of pace this week as we headed up north to Mae Sot to stay with David and Swee Moy Tan- the parents of a couple of Emma’s good friends from home.
We spent our time going around with David and Swee Moy on their usual weekly activities, most of the work they do is with a charity called Life Impact. The main focus of which is on Burmese refugees crossing the boarder to escape extreme poverty and difficult situations caused by war and corruption in their own country.
There’s a community of people that live on the rubbish dump in very basic tarpaulin tent/shacks. They spend their days sifting through the rubbish to salvage anything they can sell for recycling. The charity helps these people by bringing them food, befriending them and sharing the Gospel and their faith with them.
We visited a family of Burmese rice farmers who were extremely welcoming and excited to see westerners. We spoke with them, shared testimonies, had a little bible study and ate a delicious tea leaf salad.
We made a couple of visits to the hospital to visit sick patients whose treatment was being paid for by Life Impact. We also visited the children’s ward which was very difficult to see; exactly like on the adverts of third world country hospitals with as many kids on the floor as on beds. We went with a group of women from the church who went around to every family and prayed with them. The parents were all so willing to hear about the Gospel and seemed so appreciative of a loving interest in their situation.
There are several schools in the area set up for Burmese children which get a delivery of food from Life Impact to enable them to give the children lunch. They were all fairly basic one roomed schools but the children were all so keen to learn. I’m not sure how much we impacted them with our impromptu teaching on various subjects we aren’t really that knowledgable on. We also sent a group of 50 children into mayhem trying to teach them a classic pat-a-cake song.
The main work of Life Impact is as an orphanage, they have a plot of land where they are building houses for the kids to live with ‘parents’ in family units to give them as much of a normal life as possible. They go out to school when they are old enough and a lot of them seem to be doing incredibly well considering the horrendous circumstances they started life in and all are extremely thankful to God.
We helped out with daycare a couple of mornings and it was the cutest thing. We were basically climbing frames for a couple of hours and we definitely left more exhausted than the kids but we had a lot of fun.
On the friday night we went to a church service with the older kids who were amazing, so eager to be worshipping God and reading the bible, it was inspiring to see.
Unfortunately we couldn’t take photos of the children at the orphanage for child protection reasons so here are a few pictures from the market we visited a couple of times. We ate a lot of amazing fruits while we were here and also saw some incredibly unappatising deleicasies including bugs, ducks heads, chicken feet and live toads.
Koh Lanta – We realised once on the Island that we had little to no plan but out of nowhere the lady sitting next Rosis made friends with us, gave us the low down on the Island and where to stay. She then got her husband to drive us there and reluctantly almost sold us their tuk tuk.
It was very blustery and rainy so it wasn’t quite the beachy vibes we’d planning. No matter though, we hired a couple of mopeds and whizzed around the whole of the island, loving life. We spent most of our time navigating to a waterfall we’d heard of which turned out to be hilariously underwhelming.
We stumbled across a great restaurant where we were initially taken aback by a selection of raw meat available at the buffet. Turns out it was a cook-your-own kinda deal and we had our table equipped with a boiling saucepan and hot plate. We’re not entirely sure what we ate.
Koh Phi Phi – The island that is always in the idyllic pictures you see of Thailand is Phi Phi, probably the most famous of them all.
We were shocked by the hoards of white people flooding off the boats at the harbour and were surprised to feel ourselves, after having craved a bit of culture comfort, a little disgruntled. This feeling continued for the rest of our stay as we realised that we had landed on party island where people started on buckets of spirits at midday and continued til the earlier hours.
We enjoyed a couple of days on the islands beautiful beach but quickly longed for a bit more authenticity than being lumped with European tourists on holiday.
Koh Yao Noi – Billed as one of the last Thai islands not to be overtaken by tourism, this is exactly the kind of place we love.
Despite the very temperamental monsoon rains which got the better of us on more than one occasion, Noi was by far our favourite Thai island. With the beach a few meters from our door, insane views of the surrounding islands and the most delicious Thai food, we stayed for a full five days.
We explored on foot, on kayak and on motorbike and loved feeling like we were in a part of a real Thai community.
Stories of the week – Roseanna lost all our money, bank cards and driving licences (then found it again after borrowing a torch that didn’t really work), Emma spent two days arguing her passport back from the motorbike man, Roseanna sat in a faulty hammock and got her butt wet, Emma stole a bike that was impossible to cycle, A bat flew into our room whilst we were reading Dracula and a noisy gecko lived in our wall and woke us up at regular intervals every night.