Wednesday 21 January 2009

The End

Well, it's been a hell of a two and a half years!! We've had an absolute ball and met some life long friends along the way but nothing stays the same forever so.......

It is now time to announce the winners (Yes, I did say winners - they both made the same suggestion on different blogs) to the 'Name the new blog' competition

and the winners are

Drrruuummm roll please

Spiral Skies and Sue Guiney

with their suggestion of

Not Only In Thailand

Ladies, please go to my website and select the picture you would like

to everyone who entered the competition

Please pop over to the new blog so I don't look like Billy no Mates :-)

The last few days

It's not easy trying to cram everything you want to do into the last few days and I didn't manage to do half the stuff I wanted to!! (I didn't have time to do my last minute handbag shopping (I know.....I was horrified too but JJ said that she will do that for me) which was probably a good thing as I don't think we could have fitted one more thing into our suitcases!! What we did manage to do was to have a very boozy farewell get together!!

We decided to have it in The Bull's Head as it's close to the Skytrain so easy to get to and Louise sent out an invitation on our behalf a few days before it. I was thrilled (was going to say over the moon but I don't think she would have been happy if I'd jumped over her!!) when sixteen people came back to me to say that they were going to come along!! I was organised (for me anyway) and went in the day before and told Billy, who manages the place, to reserve a table.

We were good and actually managed to arrive before anyone else but after about 10 minutes (and much gaffawing from Louise when I told her I'd booked for 16 people) it was clear that the table was not going to anywhere near enough!! We actually took over the next floor up and Billy ended up having to open another bar for us.......there were about 60 people....I couldn't believe it!!! I was doing really well (not red faced and snottery at all) till Louise gave a speech and presented us both with a big card signed by everyone along with John Lewis vouchers and a gorgeous necklace (for me not Chris) chosen by JJ......after that I struggled!!! (To be honest....I sneaked off to the toilet and had a good cry).

The following day we met up with Moon and her sister Mai for lunch. We went to Crepes and Co and had a lovely time hearing all about her new job. She's working for Sven one of Chris's old colleagues and is aparently causing much hilarity because she can't pronounce his name and is now calling him Seven!! She also told us that his two boys (7 & 9) have discovered that she is really jumpy and are constantly thinking up new ways to scare her (I can't tell you how pleased I am that she's would have made leaving ten times worse if she'd not been settled....saying goodbye was hard enough!!)

We had a lovely night at Louise and Gordon's for our last night in Thailand. It was absolutely perfect....good food, good wine and good company. Louise had prepared an Indian feast (I've got the recipes) and we had a lovely chilled evening....although in hindsight staying up till 1.30am when you've got to be up at 5am was probably not the wisest thing in the world to do but hey.....

In the morning their driver picked us up and took us to the airport which was a godsend!! We were very very concerned about the weight of our luggage so I decided to distract the check in guy by pointing out the torn ligaments in my ankle. It was just as well I did....both cases were over 30 kilos and I don't even want to think about how heavy our hand luggage was!! Anyway, we got away with it and all too soon we were sitting on the plane watching Bangkok get smaller and smaller then finally vanish beneath the clouds.

Friday 9 January 2009

Kanchanaburi & Sangkhlaburi

We had a lovely few days away...not sure if they were particularly relaxing (We did a lot of travelling) but they were fab!!

We got the train from Bangkok Noi up to Kanchanaburi on Sunday.....I do love taking the train (You can read about the first time we took the train here) and arrived just in time to get checked in at our hotel and to have a beer whilst watching the sun set. It was stunning.... blue/purple mountains silouetted against a red and gold sky with the Bridge over the River Kwai outlined in black....what a view!!! Whilst we were sitting there we got chatting about what there is to see in the area and what we might do the following day (we're not the 'sit by the pool all day' type) and as we flicked through the guide book we realised that, besides a couple of waterfalls (we couldn't go there because the torn ligaments in my ankle have STILL not healed), we had seen everying that was recommended. So we had a look at what there was to visit slightly further away and came across a page about a small town called Sangkhlaburi which we had actually talked about visiting before. It's off the beaten track so not something we would do when back here on a holiday so we decided 'what the hell'. The following morning we were up bright and early and headed over to Kanchanaburi bus station were we discovered that we could jump on a mini bus up to Sangkhlaburi for the grand total of 175 baht (£3.30). I am so glad we was an amazing place!!

When travellers dream of Thailand, they picture verdant jungles, sparkling temples and the exotic charm of its rural villages.....Sangkhlaburi is home to all this. It's only about 25km from the Burmese border and is really quiet secluded...but boy is it worth a visit (the views as we drove along were stunning). There are two really fasinating things about the place.....the first is that it is home to the largest handmade wooden bridge in the world built by the Mon people in the area (The Mon, like The Karen Hilltribe, are an ethnic group originally from Burma who have been displaced due to years of fighting and unrest. They were one of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia and were responsible for the spread of Theravada buddhism in present day Burma and Thailand) and the second is that the original town has been completely submerged in water.

We stayed in a basic but lovely little guest house called The Burmese Inn which had a fantastic view over the reservoir and the Bridge. We checked in, booked a boat tour of the reservoir just before sunset and headed off to have a look at the bridge. Just look at this.....isn't it absolutely beautiful!!! I have never seen anything like it and I was just blown away that the entire thing was built by hand with no help from engineers or anything (actually when you looked at it from a certain angle it did make me think of the game Kerplunk but I tried to put that out my mind when we were walking over it!!). Having had a meander across the bridge we then got on our wee boat and went for a trip over the water and again, I have never seen anything like it!! As we neared the middle of the reservoir we saw the top of a temple sticking out the water!! You know I said that the original village was suberged well, depending on the season and the water level, you can still see some of the original buildings. It was amazing scooting across the water and watching as the top spire of the temple came into view and we got some fab photo's of the buildings with their reflections....eerie but beautiful!!

The following day we got up early to make sure that we had enough time to visit the Mon village across the bridge before travelling back to Kanchanaburi. I'm not a morning person (I know you are all gasping in disbelief!!) but was very glad we made the effort as we were in time to catch the early morning mist over the bridge.....if I thought the place was magical before it was nothing compaired to seeing it shrouded in soft grey mist!! We crossed over the bridge and then got a motorcycle taxi to take us to the two Mon temples on the island. Chris was slightly gutted as he thought he had successfully managed to avoid ever having to go on luck!!! The first temple was very like the Thai ones although they were doing some restoration work to one part of it and we managed to get this lovely shot....illustrates Thai Health and Safety rather beautifully!!! The second temple was stunning....a real mixture of Thai, Burmese and Indian influences and made me think of egyptian pyramids.....Chris got this stunning shot of one of the small Buddhas (I think we will get it blown up and framed once we're back in the UK...I love it!!). All too soon it was time for us to head back to Kanchanaburi where we spent the night and then it was back to Bangkok. A lot of travelling in just a few days but completely worth it!!

Saturday 3 January 2009

Blog Friends....I have a challenge for you

We have one week to go and one of the things that is occupying my mind is my blog. I don't feel like I can continue to blog here when I will no longer be living in Thailand so obviously I am going to have to start another one....the problem is I have no idea what the hell to call it!! I mean 'Only In Swindon' doesn't have quite the same ring to it does it and I can't help but feel that the title should be something generic (not place based) so I don't need to change it again if we move. I'm feeling a bit sad to be parting with this blog....I'm not going to delete it or anything but I won't be adding to it once we leave.

So back to my challenge, we are going away to Kanchanaburi for a couple of days (I think fresh air, mountains and some relaxation will do us both good) and I was hoping that you clever lot out there might be able to come up with some blog title ideas whilst we are away. I even have a bribe...did I say bribe...I meant incentive - the winner can tell me which one of my scribbles they like and I will send them a signed limited edition print. So get your thinking caps on.....

Thursday 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!!!

I can't believe it's 2009 already and that we only have 10 days left in the land of smiles!! (where does the time go??). It's been a slightly strange festive season for us to be honest.......highs and lows.....

We had a lovely time on Christmas Eve....met up with friends at our local pub on Soi 8. It was supposed to be for just a couple of drinks but erm 7 hours later we finally emerged slightly inebriated but in fine festive spirit (we spent the entire evening laughing....don't know what the hell we were laughing at but we laughed a lot!!). Then on Christmas morning Moon arrived and we all sat down to open our pressies.....awww, she is sooo sweet.....she bought us both Chinese ornaments - one which brings luck and weath for Chris and one that brings health and happiness for me (Oh dear lord they are hideous but the sentiment behind them is really sweet so they will be displayed somewhere in the new pad...although perhaps not pride of place!!). She was absolutely delighted with the hand embroidered pashmena and the silver bracelet we bought her - she put the bracelet on immediately and beamed from ear to ear!! Chris got me a couple of pashmena's (I think he's hoping they will stop me moaning about being cold once we get back....ha, no chance!!) and an absolutely stunning handmade metal tree (I've been lusting after them for a couple of years now but had no idea he had bought me one....I did a happy dance!!) and I bought him a film camera with a fish eye lens which he's had great fun with!! We went downstairs to Marisa's to meet her family and watch her two nieces open their Christmas presents then jumped in a taxi and headed over to Claire and Rodger's for Christmas dinner. (We had Christmas with them last year can read about it here). There were eight of us in total and we had the full was fab!! (Although I am happy to say that I didn't end up fully dressed in the pool again this year!!).

On Boxing Day the cats had to go to the airport to be checked over by the airline's vet (they had a health certificate from our vet but needed to be checked again by the airlines vet before being given the all clear to fly) so we had an anxious few hours waiting to find out whether they would be able to fly or not. Thankfully everything was fine and they were delivered back to us slightly grumpy but with a clean bill of health. Later that evening we headed over to another friends house for her 'Pot Luck' evening.....basically, everyone brings whatever wasn't eaten on Christmas Day and you all dig in. It was a great night!!

The following few days were tough (much crying was done on my part....actually I'm getting a bit teary as I'm writing this...) as the cats left and the last of our things were packed up into two suitcases. On Tuesday we had a last look round our apartment and handed back the keys *sigh*
But.....onwards and adventures and all that!!! The cats arrived safe and sound and are settling nicely into their new temporary accommodation and we are currently having a lovely time over at our friend Caroline's Apartment (They are away on holiday at the moment so we have the place to ourselves).

We had a wonderful New Year's Eve...just what the Doctor ordered!!! We went over to Claire and Rodgers (It was just the four of us and it was just perfect!!) and had champagne and salmon at their house before going to a fabulous restaurant called 'To Die For'. It was hilarious....I think the entire gay population of Bangkok either works there or dines there!!
The restaurant is built in a rectangular shape and has large floor to ceiling windows which look onto an open air courtyard which is full of double beds that you can recline on once you've eaten. When we arrived they had classical musicians playing outside, the restaurant was heaving and the atmosphere was just wonderful. We had cocktails to start (I had something called a Bling Bling which comprised of champagne, raspberry, vodka and was sublime) followed by aromatic crispy giant prawns, roast turkey dinner and a small chocolate cake which was crispy on the outside but gooey in the middle......Ooooh, my mouth is watering at the thought of it!! The meal was lovely and relaxed and then just before the bells we were all ushered out the restaurant into the courtyard, given free champagne and sparklers and then we counted down to the New Year. There was an amazing firework display and we spent the next couple of hours celebrating the start of a new year whilst listening to every gay anthem you could possibly imagine!! It was a good, if slightly surreal, way to start the New Year.

Happy New Year to you and yours Mmmwwwaaa :-)

Monday 29 December 2008

Pfftt - We've had a computer virus

Which is why my wee blog has been neglected (and I've got loads to blog about!!). I think I shall start by wishing you all a (slightly belated) Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year.

Oh, and if anyone knows where I can buy a mirror that does this then perhaps I can ask Chris for one for my Christmas next year :-)

Right, I'm off to see what you've all been up to.....

Thursday 11 December 2008

All about H

The lovely JJ has tagged me with the letter H (I did ask for a letter so brought it upon myself...well, I thought you needed a break before I finish the Mae Hong Son trip) so I now have to blog about ten things I love beginning with the letter H

Here goes

1. Husband - I adore him...he's the only man I have ever met that can make me laugh so much I get belly ache and I wouldn't swap him for the world!! (Awww....kinda makes you want to go running for the nearest bucket doesn't it!!)

2. Handbags - (Chris you came before Handbags....that's true love for you!!). This is a recent discovery for me....I always liked them but they didn't have my heart till JJ introduced me to the joy that is Mulberry Handbags....I shall never be the same again and it's all her fault!!

3. High Heels - I really did wrack my brains to find a way of including shoes on this list!! (Handbags and High Heels - That almost makes me sound like a classy lady....those of you that read this blog regularly will know that I'm not but hey....I can dream!!)

4. Holidays - I love going on holiday (who doesn't??). I get excited just thinking about all the amazing places I want to see and, sad person that I am, I regularly look on the internet for interesting places that I could visit one day. (Yesterday it was Machu Picchu....I soooo want to go there!!)

5. Hotels - I have no idea why but I love staying overnight in hotels....I think it's something to do with the clean crisp white sheets that they have on the beds.

6. Home - I love going away but I love coming home again too!! Home is where Chris is and that changes as we move around but in terms of an actual place.....well, it would have to be Glasgow. (The picture is of Glasgow School of was built by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and is absolutely stunning!!)

7. Hugging - There is nothing quite like a big hug when you are feeling blue!!

8. Herbs - Cause I love cooking and have a weird and wonderful collection of herbs!!

9. Hiccups - They make me giggle!! (Can you tell I am now struggling for words that begin with H?)

10. Hchocolate - hehehehe

If you would like to do this alphabet Meme then just let me know and I will give you a letter :-)