A Tale of Two Waterfalls

It’s a bit unbelievable to me, but I’ve now been living in Thung Song for 15 months. At face value, the town seems a bit dull. When I speak to old friends about my temporary home, the question always comes up: “So what is there to… do in your town?” And yeah… we don’t have a cinema. Or a bowling alley. Or even a proper mall (sorry, Sahathai…). Allegedly there’s a driving range somewhere, but we’ve yet to pay it a visit.

We don’t have any of those things, it’s true. But what we do have are waterfalls. If you’ve been with me for awhile I know this isn’t news to you: I’ve already blogged about Klong Chang waterfall, Yong waterfall (our resident national park!), and Plio waterfall over the course of my time here. But we have a whole slew of new friends in town, and the weather’s been great, so the past two Sundays have been designated waterfall days.

First up, another visit to Plio:

so this was an excellent way to start the day… driving along the path, what do we see but an elephant! and what do we see next but two fallen trees (and all their branches) completely obstructing our path. we sat, perplexed, for a moment, wondering just how to handle the situation, when the man gave the elephant a subtle sign. the great beast began to walk into the woods, pulling the trees with him and completely out of our path. though it’s a little sad for me to see elephants in chains, it was difficult not to be totally awestruck by the strength (and intelligence! there was such an obvious bond between the elephant and the man) we’d witnessed.

collette basking at the first level (there are 5 levels at plio waterfall)

usually plio’s all but deserted, but there was a whole cache of little thai boys hanging out at level 2!

and they showed us a new spot from which to jump.

and wouldn’t you believe it? people just started falling from the sky.

chris takes the plunge.

wayne preparing himself.

claire, gettin a bit crazy…

now at level 3. looking (and, in claire’s case, climbing) up to levels 4 and 5.

This past Sunday saw a few of us taking another jaunt to Klong Chang. This one is about 30 minutes away by motorbike, but getting there is half the fun, especially on a blue-skied sunny day like we had. The palms, rubber trees, and stretches of grass are just the most amazing shades of green, and Klong Chang mountain soars up majestically on the periphery for the majority of the journey. Of course, the other half of the fun is actually being at the waterfall, and making one’s way through the jungly paths to reach higher and higher points on the mountain, some with the most breathtaking of views. Not something you generally would think to be doing in a bikini, but how else are you meant to plunge into the roaring stream at a moment’s notice?

the girl in the che shirt and the potbellied, stern-faced boy at your friendly waterfall ice-cream trolley. cute to me.

and wouldn’t you know, people started falling from the sky again.

lolz

seems the rocks were hot.

hanneke needs some help.

survivor-mode

mating butterflies.

natural waterslide (until he sprained his fingers…)

mountaintop yoga!

jean’s acrobatics.

After we were all waterfall-ed out, we thought a beer and a meal at the Khao Men Viewpoint Resort was just the ticket. We were… almost right.

chris showing just how enthused we were with the meal… spiderwebby cashews, six tiny pieces of calamari, a cucumber salad that was decent but that hadn’t actually been ordered…

the deep fried leaves we were served when we ordered vegetable tempura. ay ay ay. but the beer was good!

saw some guys with sick bikes there! 150K (Baht) for this baby!

sunset journey home

standard.

And… as I’m writing I’m actually on Koh Tao (again!), and though I’m much enjoying overhearing Collette and Wayne’s charismatic instructor brief them on EFR, the sun has just come out and I’m going for a swim!

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Thai Crash Course Part 3: 7 Commonly Used Adjectives

course: thethaireport.com

Welcome to Week 3 of the Thai Crash Course series! I thought it might be useful to introduce some oft-heard adjectives.

1. Dee (ดี)

“Good

You’ve already seen this in the question “Sabai dee mai?” (“How are you?“). It means “good”. It gets thrown around a lot. It also gets paired with other (positive) adjectives to intensify them sometimes. (“Sabai dee” is actually a prime example of this; literally it would translate as, “Comfortable good”).

The way to say “no” or “not” in Thai is mai” (ไม่). Therefore, the way to say “bad” (or literally, “not good”) is mai dee”. (I’m sure there’s another way to say “bad,” but I don’t know what it is and thus far have gotten by just fine with “mai dee“.)

Now, not to totally confuse you, but I have another “mai” to introduce. “Mai” (ไหม), also as seen in “Sabai dee mai?”, which is the question tag used at the end of yes/no questions in Thai.

2. Ron (ร้อน)

“Hot”

This is a good one to know because Thailand is, well, hot. And relying on the weather for small talk is no Western-specific phenomenon. On any given day it’s not uncommon to overhear people whimpering to their sweaty companions as they fan themselves lethargically, “Ron…” The word alone can serve to mean “It’s hot,” or “I’m hot”– no extra grammar necessary.

It’s also quite likely that you’ll be asked, “Ron mai?” (ร้อนไหม), which, assuming you’ve been paying attention and that I’ve been clear, you’ll understand to mean, “Are you hot?” To answer in the affirmative you just repeat the adjective: “Ron,” (with the appropriate “ka”/”kap” ending if necessary). If you’re not hot, you say, “Mai ron.” If you’re very hot you say, “Ron maak!” or maybe even, “Ron maak maak!” Since I know you’re all very clever I don’t suppose I need to define “maak” (มาก) as “very” or “a lot.”

3. Pang (แพง)

“Expensive”

This is a useful one in any of those inevitable situations in which someone is attempting to rip you off. Thai people can be very blunt and straightforward themselves, so especially if you approach the situation in a light-hearted manner you shouldn’t have to worry about offending anyone by telling them their wares are expensive. And as they almost always appreciate someone taking the time to learn even a few words of their language, if you make the observation in Thai you have a good chance at earning yourself a discount.

The use of both mais and maak applies here as well:
Pang mai? (แพงไหม) Is it expensive?
Mai pang! (ไม่แพง)[It’s] not expensive!
Pang maak! (แพงมาก) = [It’s] very expensive!

4. Soo-ai (สวย)

“Beautiful”

Though “beautiful” is probably one of the mostly commonly known English words amongst Thais (just don’t ask them to spell it), it’s not a bad idea to be familiar with their word as well. They’re very free with their compliments (and have a bit of a nationwide obsession with white skin) so chances are that as a foreigner you might get this one tossed at you a few times by males and females alike. It’s also a good one for buttering up the vendors. Now you should not only be able to tell them how beautiful the dress you’re attempting to buy is, but also complain about its pricetag. Perfect. Haha… just realized how female-oriented that paragraph was… Boys, you might be called “Lor” (หล่อ) (as you might have guessed, “handsome.”)

(And, of course, “Mai soo-ai” is the way to say, “Not beautiful,” which is useful when ensuring that your girlfriend doesn’t get a big head after a few Thai guys have told her she’s beautiful. Next lesson: How to Joke About Selling Your Girlfriend for 1000 Baht, a guest entry by Wayne de Villiers.)

Oh, and one more note… the “ai” sound as I’ve written it here is a long “I”, like the word “eye.” If you mispronounce it you might end up saying something that resembles our word “sway,” which is a Thai word that means “unlucky.”

5. Sanook (สนุก)

“Fun”

(Wow, I’d never heard of the band fun. before but in the course of finding that photo I’ve discovered they’re headed up by a former member of the Format, a band I used to love in my high school days! Can’t wait to give them a listen. What an exciting find!)

If you’re planning a vacation to Thailand, you can see how this would come in handy. If you want to tell someone to have fun you’ll say “Hai sanook!” (ให้สนุก). It’s also okay to say “Mee sanook” (มีสนุก) for “to have fun,” as that’s what it literally means.

6. Aroi (อร่อย)

“Delicious”

If a Thai person catches you eating, I give ten-to-one odds that they will ask you “Aroi mai?” (“Is it delicious?”). As with the responses to “Ron mai?”, you will answer either by repeating, “Aroi!”, “Aroi maak!”, or the highly unlikely (since Thai food is so notoriously delicious), “Mai aroi.”

And, going along with the claim I made earlier about “dee” being a postitive-adjective-intensifier, “Aroi dee,” is also a common thing to say about your food. It’s also the basis for a spoonerism that will definitely tickle a Thai person should you choose to drop it: tell them your meal is “Aree doi!” and you’re bound to get some giggles. Not because you’ve said anything wrong, it’s just not something a foreigner would be expected to know.

7. Pet (เผ็ด)

“Spicy”

On the topic of food, this is definitely a must-know in Thailand! Thai people love spicy food, and often they either don’t care or fully grasp the meaning of the request, “Not spicy.” Still, on the off-chance that they are willing to satisfy such an outlandish desire I’m sure by now you’ve caught onto the fact that “Mai pet!” is the way to say “Not spicy.” If you want to tempt fate and ask for something to be just a little spicy, you’d say, “Pet nit-noi” (เผ็ดนิดน้อย).

But really though. Sometimes we think people make things extra spicy to spite us, or just have a laugh, when we ask for it not to be spicy. Better to just adjust your taste buds before you come!

Alright… well in the course of writing this many more things came to mind, but I do want to keep things in small digestible (no pun intended!) doses. See you in a week!

Other lessons:

Thai Crash Course Part 1: 6 Useful Expressions | Thai Crash Course Part 2: 5 Useful Questions | Thai Crash Course Part 3: 7 Commonly Used Adjectives | Thai Crash Course Party 4: 5 Useful Verbs | Thai Crash Course Part 5: Numbers |Thai Crash Course Part 6: Question Words

The Haps in Thung Song

So maybe I had you worried that this was becoming a boring language blog. (“Becoming?!” they think to themselves…)

Nope! I thought it was high time for a quick update of what’s been going on in Thung Song, as it’s been months since I’ve documented any of the happenings in our dear hamlet. So here you have it, latest headlines from around town. Roll tape.

man drives around with three children on a bike, says baseball caps are appropriate substitutes for helmets.

police get taught by local farang.

yes, his name was pink. i think he only showed up for 1 day.

p’sila and p’tim, supervising.

i’m not sure how effective 5 english lessons per year end up being, but we met some nice fellas anyway.

poker night one of two. yesss that’s my pile of moneys next to henk!

a cat scaled a organizational rack in my office to get food.

ollie got a new bed…

glen has a beautiful atrium in his house.

kellie invited me to the wedding of a friend of the woman who sold her her motorbike. makes sense.

henk got a cat (‘meow-chelangelo!’), lost him, and found him again.

this dog is dying for some chicken.

these two gorgeous coifs got guillotined…

i voted for him to keep this look.

eating it up.

jean’s turn.

Most importantly, we’ve feasted like kings:

balsamic glazed salmon steaks with roasted vegetables and garlic bread. don’t remember the occasion. not sure there was one.

From my friend Jess’s recipe!

black bean burgers… still have yet to perfect these; haven’t got the patties to hold together perfectly yet. but still delish!

Annie’s Eats Patty Recipe

Creations by Kara Bun Recipe 

And one memorable Friday night, we had a big vegetarian/vegan cooking bonanza! I made bread, ricotta, and arugula pesto (essentially the pesto recipe found here, substituting arugula for basil, leaving out the parmesan, and adding a roasted yellow pepper); Collette and Claire made pumpkin soup and vegan chocolate chip cookies, and we had ourselves a right good time doing it!

prepping onions for the soup.

collette and claire’s visiting friend, mattias, from chile. assisting with the cookies!

i still need to get the full recipe from collette. i think to veganize them they just left out the egg and substituted sunflower oil for butter… i can assure you they weren’t missed!

blending up the pesto.

mashing up the soup. (homemade vegetable stock [simmer the leftovers from chopped up veggies, accumulated and frozen til there’s enough, with a bit of salt and strain to make veggie stock. thanks for the tip, girls!] plus pumpkin, onion, and curry powder. boil til the pumpkin’s soft, and puree. so easy and so delicious.)

cookies coming together

ready to blend

too full!

almost ready to have our dessert first.

yum!

of course.

Then the very next weekend Collette and Claire had us over for vegan spring rolls. Whoa.

i also attempted a pumpkin dessert that didn’t go as expected (an error with the gelatin substitute, you see). on a good note, i had leftover pumpkin puree and made delicious pumpkin pancakes the next morning!

Attempted Custard Recipe

Pumpkin Pancakes Recipe

Alright, sorry for cramming about 10 stories into one but it feels good to have all this behind me. I think I might finally be all caught up… Amazing.

Thai Crash Course Part 2: 5 Useful Questions

In Part 1 I introduced  a few must-have Thai phrases. Here are a few questions that can also be handy to know or at least understand if you are new to Thailand.

1. Gin kao reu yang? (กินข้าวหรือยัง)

“Have you eaten yet?” (Or literally, “Have you taken/had rice yet?”)

2. Pai nai? (ไปไหน)

“Where are you going?”

so they do something similar in mandarin… the graphic was too cool to pass up though. (the mandarin, if you’re curious, is “chi [fan] le ma?”) source: http://www.asiaarts.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=26485

Quiz time! Do you remember how to say, “How are you?” (Hint: It rhymes with, “A tidy guy…” Your blank expression indicates you need another hint… How about, “Shmashmai dee shmai?”) What’s that I hear? “Sabai dee mai?” Good job! Except, as taken from a conversation with Wayne today:

Me: So in my blog today I think I’m going to teach some useful questions.
W: Like, “Gin kao reu yang?” and “Pai nai?”
Me: Yeah… I just feel like those are actually way more commonly said than, “Sabai dee mai?”
W: Yeah… I’m pretty sure we’re the only ones who actually say that.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. It is indeed way more common to have someone ask you whether you’ve eaten or where you’re going. In a way I kind of like this… they lend themselves better to conversation than the standard how-are-you-I’m-fine-thank-you interaction that’s shoved down the throats of Thai learners and much seem far more boring to them (though in my classroom we generally have a “No ‘Fine’!” policy). It also explains why a Thai person who wishes to practice their budding English may come to you with the otherwise-seemingly-strange questions, “You eat rice?” “You have breakfast?” or “Go where?” I’ll admit it took me a while to get used to in my office…

Acceptable answers to the questions, respectively:

“Yang,” or “Yang mai gin,” for “I haven’t eaten yet.” “Gin lay-o,” for “I’ve eaten already.”

“Pai baan!” or “Glap baan!” (with a verrrry soft ‘L’)=”I’m going/returning home.” “Pai gin kao!”=”I’m going to eat [rice].” “Pai rong-rian!”=”I’m going to school.” And to keep with the theme of my photo… “Pai hen peun!”=”I’m going to see my friend!” (As a literal translation… I can’t give you a 100% certain answer as to whether that’s actually an acceptable answer.) I’ll do a places lesson later…

3. Pai nai ma? (ไปไหนมา)

“Where have you been?” 

Though not as common as the straight-up, “Pai nai?” this is also something you’re likely to hear when you’re clearly returning to a place. (And no, it doesn’t come with the same connotations as it might were it coming from an angry mother or lover. Thais are just curious people, I guess!)

Acceptable answers:

“Pai ran-ahaan ma,” for “I was at a restaurant.” “Pai tam ngaan ma,” for “I was at work.” “Pai baan peun ma,” for “I was at a friend’s house.” “Pai Krung Thep ma,” for “I was at Bangkok.”

[Note: “Ma” (มา)is not a past-tense indicator. It means “come,” making “Pai nai ma?” kind of an awkwardly-structured, “You’re coming from where?” (Literally, “Go where come?”) The previously-mentioned “lay-o” (แล้ว) can mean “already” and thus act as a past-tense indicator, in addition to many other things. However in many cases context is enough to demonstrate when something has happened in the past, and no additions or modifications of the verb are necessary.]

4. [Koon] Poot pasa-Angrit dai mai? (คุณพูดภาษาอังกฤษได้ไหม)

“Can you speak English?”

Hey? Am I making any sense at all? Does anyone here speak English? Cuz everyone’s acting like I’m crazy… Is this thing on?!

Yes, always a good one to know, and a funky jam to go with it. Also a good place to point out that, like tense-markers, personal pronouns are often optional. “Koon” means “you,” but “Poot pasa-Angrit dai mai?” is totally acceptable, provided the person to whom you’re speaking wouldn’t have a reason to assume you were referring to anyone else.

Their answer would most likely be one of the following:

“Mai dai!” if they can’t.
“Dai,” or “Dai neet-noi,” if they can. The latter literally means, “I can, a little.” Thais can be very modest, and so will probably give this answer even if their English is quite good.

5. Cheu [len] arai? (คุณชื่อ[เล่น]อะไร)

“What’s your [nick]name?”

In an ages-old post I spoke a bit about the whole nickname ordeal in Thailand; most everyone has one, they’re assigned to children by parents at a young age, from what I can tell they’re generally employed because Thai names on average have at least seven syllables. If you simply ask someone their name (“Cheu arai?”) while, say, making conversation at a bus station, chances are your bus will be halfway to its destination by the time your new friend has finished his or her answer, and you wouldn’t be able to repeat the half of it back if you tried. In my experience I’ve never felt rude by or been reprimanded for asking anyone their nickname, young or old. Definitely the safer bet, in my opinion.

If you’re the one being asked you can respond with, “[Chan/Pom] cheu ______,” with your name right there in that little blank. “Chan” is the personal pronoun for female speakers (“Dee-chan,” if you’re in a formal situation), “Pom” is for males (who, confusingly enough, are actually permitted to use “chan” in an intimate situation); but again, their use is optional.

[Fun language note (if you’re a nerd like me, anyway): “Len” (เล่น) literally means, “to play.” So your “nickname” is really a “play name.” When you make a joke (“puut len” [พูดเล่น]), you “play talk.”]

That concludes today’s lesson, y’all! For assistance with pronunciation you can always turn to the trusty Thai-Language.com site.

Other lessons:

Thai Crash Course Part 1: 6 Useful Expressions | Thai Crash Course Part 2: 5 Useful Questions | Thai Crash Course Part 3: 7 Commonly Used Adjectives | Thai Crash Course Part 4: 5 Useful Verbs | Thai Crash Course Part 5: Numbers |Thai Crash Course Part 6: Question Words

Thai Crash Course Part 1: 6 Useful Expressions

For a while now I’ve been meaning to do some work with Thai Language on my blog, for a number of reasons. First, I thought it might simply be of interest. Second, I’m hoping at least some might stumble upon this (these! It’ll be a series!) and find it useful. And finally, obviously, I wanted to show off my skillz. Haha… jokes, jokes…

But really, largely through Wayne’s particular dedication to picking up the language, we’ve really made an effort to become more familiar with and adept at speaking Thai. Our first attempts came in the form of Pimsleur: audio files we’d heard about from a friend in China. The tracks focus largely on learning through repetition, and use loop methodology to incorporate past phrases and vocabulary into later lessons to assist with memorization. These were actually quite useful as a jumping-off point and there are many languages on offer. For a full list (and free lesson for each!) click here.

Shortly after arriving I decided I’d also be interested in attempting to become at least partially literate; to be able to make some sense out of the strange squiggles of which the written language is comprised. I discovered this site (LearningThai.com), and more specifically this reading resource that uses a real Thai children’s book (Manee and Friends, evidently long since out of print in Thailand) to teach the characters and some basic vocabulary. I actually found it very useful, and after only a few lessons was already able to start picking words out of signs and sounding out unfamiliar words. (The Thai writing system, though obviously very, very differently structured than our Latin alphabet, is also phonetic.) That being said, I haven’t really bothered to master my writing in any sense of the word, so don’t be fooled by the actual Thai you’ll come across in these posts… it’s all taken from Thai-Language.com, a most excellent online Thai/English dictionary. (Thai2English.com is another one I like.)

Then there were a few books (the one from TeachYourself being my favorite) and the fact that for a few weeks (months?) last term we were getting lessons twice a week from a lady in town. All to bring my Thai to the level of, well, as I’ve said before, “That of a Toddler, on a Good Day.” But strides are strides and here we are!

Okay, so now that the overture is… over, onto the phrases! In the future I’m thinking of just doing one or two “Words of the Week,” and they may be chosen more for their amusement value than usefulness. But for the first post of the “Crash Course” I thought I’d rather choose a few phrases that could be a bit more necessary.

1. Sawatdee ka (f.)/Sawatdee kap (m.)! (สวัสดีค่ะ/สวัสดีครับ)

source: applause-voice.com

“Hello!” (and “Goodbye,” for that matter)

I suppose this is as good a place as any to point out the “ka” (“ค่ะ“) and “kap” (“ครับ“) particles that come after many Thai sentences and expressions. They are gender-based politeness particles; when speaking in formal situations or with someone unfamiliar to you, females should end nearly every sentence with “ka” and males should do the same with “kap,” (also seen written “krup” or “krap,” and indeed there is a Thai “r” [““] in the word. However, with most Thai speakers I’ve come across the “r” in a “kr” combination is hardly pronounced. Plus “krap” just makes English-speakers giggle). In informal situations this can be left off, though in certain expressions (such as “Hello” and “Thank you”) it is almost always heard regardless of the relationship of the speakers. “Ka” and “Kap” also serve as the words for “yes” for their respective genders, again, regardless of the formal or casual nature of the conversation.

When an older person addresses a younger person (especially if he or she feels particularly endeared to that person) he or she may substitute the particle “jia” for “ka” or “kap.” (Though I swear I was once told this was the particle used by ladyboys, and the first time I heard it in real conversation found myself thinking, “That old lady really had me fooled!”)

2. Kap koon ka (f.)/Kap koon kap (m.)! (ขอบคุณค่ะ/ขอบคุณครับ)

source: israellycool.com

“Thank you!

And I suppose this is a good place to point out that you might end up seeing a lot of the “same” words (ie, “kap” and “kap”) pop up with different meanings. There are a few reasons for this, but the most important is that Thai, like Chinese, is a tonal language. Unlike Chinese, which has four tones, Thai has five. I won’t claim to have made any attempt at mastering the tones. It’s a really hard thing for native speakers of a non-tonal language to do, but in theory they are really important. That being said, context can be of great assistance when determining the meaning of words. “Gai” in one tone (“ไก่”) means “chicken” and in another (“ไก”) means “latch.” If your tone’s slightly wrong, and you’re in a restaurant, chances are your waitress will know you’re not asking for some latch in your fried rice. (Though we have come across some pretty daft waitresses…)

For the record, the potential “kap”/”kap” confusion in an expression like, “Kap koon kap!” isn’t actually even tone related… the words are spelt completely differently; the vowel sounds and final “p”s actually differ ever-so-slightly, but to an English speaker, at least initially, they’re relatively indistinguishable. Just remember the “a” is pronounced as “ah.”

3. Koh tot (ka/kap)! (ขอโทษ [ค่ะ/ครับ])

“Excuse me!” [Whoa… a Google image search for “Excuse me” kicks back some really braincell-killing results, though this almost made the cut. Take it away Chris Brown…]

From here on out we’ll just assume the “ka”s and “kap”s are optional (but when in doubt, err on the side of caution and use them). In addition to a simple “Excuse me,” Koh tot can be used as “I’m sorry!” (as an apology, not to express sympathy) and to get someone’s attention.

4. Sabai dee mai? (สบายดีไหม)

source: virtualtourist.com

“How are you?”

Literally, more or less, “Are you well?”. Sabai is a very versatile word in Thai… “comfortable”, “okay”, “relaxed”, and “fine” are among its many meanings. You’ll see many bars/bungalows/restaurants in Thailand called “Sabai Sabai” (doubling an adjective can intensify its meaning), a popular Thai phrase that illustrates Thai mentality to a large degree.

“Sabai sabai” also makes an appropriate response to the question. Others include, “Sabai dee!” (“I’m well!”), “Sabai dee maak!” (“I’m very well!”) and “Mai sabai…” (“I’m not well…” This is also a way of saying, “I’m sick.”). Again, “ka” and “kap” are optional endings for any of these statements.

5. Mai kao jai! (ไม่เข้าใจ)

source: memecenter.com

“I don’t understand!”

If you were familiar with any of my China blogs (or at least the last two: the ting bu dong diaries and the ting bu dong diaries 2) you’ll know that I become reliant on expressions that indicate my linguistic ignorance to the point of blog-title-worthy infatuation. And for good reason! Though it’s generally pretty obviouswhen there’s a lack of understanding, what with the blank stares and nervous giggling that accompany the condition; I think locals do appreciate you being able to express the fact in their native tongue. As a teacher, it’s also a good one to know as students generally aren’t shy to blurt it out after you’ve given what you thought was a very simple set of instructions at a slow pace in graded English.

6. Mai pen rai! (ไม่เป็นไร)

source: soundcloud.com/orila/maipenrai

“No worries!”

I really wanted this to be a five-item list but “Mai pen rai” could simply not be left off a bare-essentials Thai list. It’s like Thailand’s “Hakuna Matata“… a problem free philosophy indeed. Much like “Sabai sabai,” “Mai pen rai” captures the easy-going Thai spirit very well. “No problem,” “Don’t worry about it,” “I don’t mind,” “Whatever!”… or anything of this nature could serve as a translation given the situation. For the most part, it’s a really great atmosphere to be in the midst of. Of course there are those moments (like when your drive to work would be much improved by the completion of a repaving of a significant section of the road that’s been “in process” for three months) when you think maybe there are some things some people should worry about! (Ugh! What a downer thing to say! Nevermind all that, I’m loving it! Mai pen rai, baby, mai pen rai!)

Other lessons:

Thai Crash Course Part 2: 5 Useful QuestionsThai Crash Course Part 3: 7 Commonly Used Adjectives | Thai Crash Course Part 4: 5 Useful Verbs | Thai Crash Course Part 5: Numbers | Thai Crash Course Part 6: Question Words

Ollie in die Swembad (Part 2)

Day 2 of our tale is one of spontaneous island getaways… or rather, one spontaneous island getaway. After getting our feet wet in the early morning high tide, Wayne posited the idea to hire a longtail to take us to Koh Kradan. He said it would be 2500 Baht between us for the boat ($80, give or take; between 10 people, not too bad), it was about a 40 minute journey, and that we’d need to leave soon-ish because the swells get too big in late afternoon to make a safe passage. We thought it sounded great.

at the pier

puppy’s first boat ride!

ollie’s face actually represents about how i was feeling at this point… turns out the swells were already pretty big, and there were noticeable exhaust fumes making their way around my respiratory passages, and it was sooo loud… nice scenery though!

we made it!

I’d say it took a little longer than 40 minutes, but eventually we did make it. Koh Kradan is known to be a bit of a sleepier island, and as it was low season anyway we knew it might take some searching in order to find a restaurant, or any sign of civilization. The first thing we noticed was an advertisement for a resort on the Sunset beach, which was allegedly 5 minutes away in the direction of an arrow pointing us towards the island’s interior. So we set off.

ollie the trailblazer

hard to see, but the sea is right there past the trees. the trail took us to a dead end; there wasn’t even a beach but instead rocks that dropped off straight into the water. turns out we’d passed the resort without even realizing because it was very much closed.

so we headed back. did i mention that the advertised ‘5 minutes’ were also a bit of an under-estimation?

back on the original side of the island, now with 20 minutes of our allotted 2 hours gone, walking the shoreline to find a restaurant. again, at least there was phenomenal scenery!

We finally found a restaurant, as part of a gorgeous resort. This was the closest Ollie came to actually being in a swembad; there was a swimming pool there but though we were arriving with clear intentions of eating in their restaurant, we were informed that the pool was for guests of the hotel only. This sat especially poorly with us when we discovered the prices on the menu to be around 10 times, in some cases, what would normally be spent on a meal. (No really… fried rice, easily a 30-40 Baht dish on menus we’re used to, was going for 280 Baht! Daylight robbery!) Alas, we were most of us famished and had to take it on the chin.

uncle and nephew. hahaha! favorite.

Turns out the way back was even worse, from a sea-sickness perspective, than the way there. The exhaust fumes seemed to be hovering around us for the entire journey, and though we were riding with the waves (“longtail surfing,” as it were) the motion had us all feeling a bit queasy. But we were determined not to lose our $10 lunches, and so resorted to a lot of breathing-through-various-forms-of-cloth and even to rubbing a bit of my peppermint lip balm under our noses. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory I was sure I’d heard that the smell of peppermint fights nausea? Anyway, mad props to our driver… he was clearly an expert in his field.

almost back

chris has found his happy place: playing FIFA with the local chillins.

walking back from the pier to our campsite

nearly-full moon at the mediocre seafood restaurant at the pier.

After a sub-par dinner at the restaurant on the pier (in fairness, the American guy we’d met the day before had recommended that we not eat there, suggesting another place instead. Alas, we could not remember how to get there and went against his good advice.) we had another fun night around the fire. In the morning we had another breakfast of runny eggs before beginning the journey home.

look who got the toast that fell on the floor!

‘i am ready to return.’

Ollie in die Swembad (Part 1)

When Wayne and I took our trip to Pak Meng back in March, and discovered the near-by beach of Haad Yao (literally “Long Beach”), we just knew that at some point in the future it would need to be a venue for a group camping trip. Talk began amongst the farang in Thung Song a few weeks ago, but it was the three-day weekend that fell last week that finally provided the opportunity for the trip.

A big group of us went down Saturday morning: five in Henk’s car, five in O’s car, and Jean and Jahan on their motorcycles. Sorry, did I say only five in Henk’s car? Looks like I’m forgetting one very important addition to the trip…

me, claire, collette, and our furry companion in the back of henk’s car.

that’s right! mr ollie got to come along too.

Thung Song has recently come into many a South African and American resident; with the exception of Kellie-the-Irish-Girl, Jahan-the-Persian-Swede, and two Thai friends, the campers all hailed from the two countries. As a result, there was a lot of Afrikaans to be heard over the course of the weekend, either in the form of real conversation between native speakers or of the occasional curse word finding its way through the unsuspecting lips of a giddy American (I’ll let you guess which American). At some point or another an idea for a children’s book based around our weekend, entitled Ollie in die Swembad (Ollie in the Swimming Pool) was voiced, and while the chances of this work ever being published (or completed. Or even started, for that matter) are slim at best, I thought at the very least my blog title could be an homage to the idea. (Spoiler alert: Ollie never actually found himself in a swimming pool in the course of the weekend.)

There were actually only four campers: Wayne and myself in one tent; Collette and Claire in another. The rest hunkered down into the clean and comfortable bungalows available right there on the beach. This provided a touch of luxury to the camping experience; we were able to use their bathrooms/showers/storage capacity during our stay as well. It was definitely low season; even the one restaurant that had been open for Wayne’s and my last visit was closed, but the owners of the bungalow were happy to whip up some fried rice for us when we got hungry, and some breakfast in the morning (though the eggs were generally either burnt or completely runny, with no middle ground).

Soon after our arrival we met yet another American, who was living in the area with his Thai wife and their two gorgeous daughters, Winnie and Lily. He invited us to a barbecue at the pier that night where there would be many other foreigners. We appreciated the gesture, but as it turns out we’d already been planning on our own cook-out. Plus Henk and Jean had a fire-building competition we were all eagerly anticipating, so we were happy to remain at home base for the night.

collette and lily

papa jahan was very proud of the FBI status his shirt allegedly entitled him to. he swore to protect us all.

haha… we heard a drink drop, and then an, “ollie! why you do that!” we really do think ollie’s a big scapegoat, but this picture does suggest he might have been just a tad complicit.

bungalows and backdrop

turns out the moments following a rainstorm make for an excellent time to walk up and down the beach.


my amazingly pigeon-toed footprints…

boys stoking the fire.

wayne and winnie

preparing the vegan veggie skewers (haha, redundant perhaps?)

boys being boys

papa’s big catch.

the only way to bake a potato.

chris is having the THAIme of his life! (true story; chris had come across my blog when he was still in south africa seeking information about thung song. he didn’t realize this was the case until the first time he came to our house and met ollie, who was recognizable to him. it stands to reason that neither wayne nor myself left much of an impression on him whatsoever.)

also having a great THAIme.

those who find themselves in early slumber acquire strange bedfellows.

everyone gets a photo with the fish!

haha… family portrait!

The next day brought even more excitement in the form of a random trip to Koh Kradan, but you’ll have to wait for Part 2 for that.