Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’
The last year we have been travelling a lot. We have visited Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, The Netherlands and Spain and even managed to stay a few months in our home country Denmark as well. In that time things have been crazy busy (but then again – everybody seems busy these days to a point where it doesn’t mean anything to say you’re busy).
Travelling takes a lot of time, but we have also found time to start up our own business, Monzoom, doing consultant work for a couple of Danish companies (e.g. internationally known Danish toy company known for “blocks” – you know who I mean, right?) and we have found time to make our first product xiive. I’m really scratching my own itch with xiive – it’s a social media filtering site with special emphasis on how much a topic is mentioned (seen over time) and comparing these numbers with those of other topics.
There are already many such sites, but the special thing about xiive is that we did not follow the traditional model of letting the user choose x topics (usually 3) to track in private. We have chosen instead to make all the data public so it can be shared, embedded, compared and discussed.
We are currently in private beta, and I can’t wait to show the site to the world. You can sign up for an invite here if you want, but I have to warn you – we don’t really like those “viral” beta invite sites, so you will not get in front of the line by inviting your friends. We think you should only call on your social network if you really mean it and not to get special treatment.
Today we launched a new landing page and I think it is quite the improvement, but you be the judge of that. Here is the old landing page and the new landing page:
Right now we sit in a hotel apartment in Bangkok (no flood in sight here, but some areas are badly hit). We have just been in southern Thailand for a month and we are going to stay in Bangkok for a month and then go home to Denmark for Christmas.
Life is good!
When we found out that my dad was going to spend his Christmas in Thailand, we immediately jumped in; suddenly we had an opportunity to see some family even though we were so far away from home.
My dad has a house in Sangkha where he and his thai wife along with her family are staying while in Thailand. Sangkha is a small city located quite close to the Cambodian border – almost 500 km east of Bangkok, so going there takes most of a day. We decided to go by bus and didn’t regret it.
There is at least three kinds of busses between the east and west; A very cheap one which features only natural air-conditioning (all windows opened), a relatively cheap one, which does have real air-conditing but not really anything else, and then the expensive one which has both air-conditioning, onboard toilet and where food and drinks are served by a nice thai girl in uniform.
We took the latter one and it made the trip a breeze. Once there we booked a room at a nice motel close to my dads house. The room was quite spacious with hot shower, fridge, king bed and very cheap; 350 baht pr. night (about 65 DKK or 12 USD).
Before we went, we’d already talked about making a traditional Danish Christmas dinner and in one of the big Bangkokian malls we’d found red cabbage in a jar and brought along – and my dad had already purchased a duck, which left us only with one problem – how to cook it? Normally in Denmark the duck is roasted in an oven, but at my dads house there were only two gas cookers and a small open barbecue. So we went to Surin – a larger city only 45 km from Sangkha to look for duck-roasting-appliances.
Unfortunatly we were unable to find one of those half-sphere charcoal grills – we’ve been using those for ducks with great success before. Instead we settled on a big bowl-like owen which we quickly christened ‘Otto’ – I think it was the brand name, but we used it in lack of better term. It works almost like a convection oven except the heat comes from the lid and it only barely fits a whole duck. It ended up working very well – since the heat came from above, and the rest of Otto is really just a bowl, it leaves plenty of room for the juices to gather at the bottom; a good basis for the traditional Christmas gravy.
The traditional Danish Christmas dinner dessert is risalamande/ris à l’amande – not nearly as french as it sounds but very good. The basis of this dessert is rice overcooked in milk. Now we could have chosen to cook the rice in a pot as we’d normally do it in Denmark, but since rice cookers are so widely used here, we opted to use that instead, not really knowing if it would work. It turned out to work beautifully; a typically problem when cooking this dish is that the rice and milk quickly get burned on the bottom of the pot – the rice cooker on the other hand is build for this, and as soon as the rice is boiled, it changes to keeping-it-hot-mode which turned out to be a perfect temperature.
After all the eating, my dad surprised us when he dug out a Christmas tree for us to dance around (probably one of the weirdest Danish Christmas traditions). The Thai part of the family even joined us, and politely hummed along to our Danish Christmas songs.
The Christmas celebration turned out to be much more fun and traditional than we could have hoped for; before even going to Thailand, we’d talked about how Christmas would be with an average temperature of 25 degrees and how we would miss the family and the food. But to us it turned out to be a very good Christmas – although next year I think we’ll spend it in Denmark and maybe go for the warmer territories between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Merry Christmas everyone and a happy New Year.
Going out for lunch one day a couple a weeks ago we noticed that there were a lot more people out on the streets including a lot of street vendors selling flower arrangements with candles. The restaurant we had lunch at was in the Emporium Shopping center with a view out over Benchasiri Park and from there we could see that the park was especially busy that day. Deciding to investigate we visited the park and we certainly didn’t regret that decision.
In the park there were several families and couples that were there to let a flower arrangement float on the lake dominating the park. Very beautiful.
It turns out the ritual is part of a celebration called Loy Krathong. To cite one of the sources I could find explaining it:
People look forward to going out and launching Krathongs together to predict their romance future by the direction the Krathongs float. However, this season is also good for strengthening relationship in the family.
The floating of a Krathong is signifies floating away ill fortune as well as expressing apologies to Khongkha or Ganga, the River Goddess.
Realising that this ritual would be even more beautiful at night we returned to the park after dark. The crowd didn’t disappoint us – they launched thousands of “Krathongs” (as the floating flower arrangements are called).
First of all: I’m not really the backpacking type. The reality is that I’m going travelling for what right now looks like a year, but as my husband says: “Don’t put an end date on it. It will just confuse people if we decide to come back after 3 months or 3 years.” And he’s probably right.
Secondly, I’m too old for budget backpacking and cheap hotels. I like a comfy bed and running hot water IN my hotel room. I like to dress up to go out in the evening and I can’t live without WiFi and my computer. I’m probably a “medium” budget traveller: no 5 star hotels for me unless they are really cheap, but I’ll prefer a 3 star minimum and I love swimming pools.
We have decided to tour a bit of Asia with stops in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and maybe more but we really like the thought of just “winging it” as we go along, so nothing is set in stone. We need to keep expenses at about 3500 USD/20000 DKK a month to be able to stay for 12 months, that is if we do not produce anything of value as we go along. (The plan is to code up some of our own projects, that we have been neglecting and if some of those projects produce an income that would allow us to tweak the budget. Of course this blog is also a very small source of income through Google Ads.)
So… what to pack for such a trip? I found inspiration in this video:
As Nick mentions:
A security pouch, passport, copy of passport, credit card, cash, comfy shoes, clothes (in his case mens clothes), underwear, a first aid kit, medicine, sun screen, sun hat, a flashlight (head lamp), an iPod, travel alarm clock, light towel, rain jacket, rain poncho for you AND backpack, water bottle, a backpack with a day bag, camera and sunglasses.
As a girl (geek) and a more luxury traveller I will also bring:
3 dresses and a skirt,
duct tape (and I really think Nick forgot this or maybe it is in his first aid kit),
a computer (and all the computer cords that comes with that),
a computer sleeve,
an extension cord,
an external hard drive,
an external computer battery possibly with solar panel,
my idea book (long story),
makeup and other beauty products (in DK the chemical levels are closely monitored and regulated – I don’t know if that is true for products bought in Asia).
But I will leave (with a heavy heart) at my parents house:
my wedding ring and all my real gold and diamond jewelry that I can’t bear see lost or stolen,
All my other shoes and clothes,
my library of great books and
all gadgets, computers and consoles not fit for travelling.
Of course there is probably a few things on my list that I could buy during my travels instead of packing them, but these are the things I like to have with me from day one. Can you help me tweak this list? What have I forgotten? What would you leave out if you were taking this trip?
Last winter we visited Thailand for the first time. We have recently extended our family with a branch in Thailand (long story) and we wanted to see their country and learn about their history and culture.
Our trip started out in Bangkok. The city is, as all big cities, crowded, busy and sizzling. We loved it from Day 1. From a Danish perspective the prices seems ridiculously low with an hour of foot massage for 200 Bath, which is about 30 DKK or 5 Dollars and you could probably find it even cheaper. Shopping in Bangkok is an incredible experience and I bought so many books, some clothes, bags and gifts for the family back home.
We visited at Christmas time and the decorations was tacky and beautiful all at once. You can’t help but smile when you see how far the Thai people will go to mark a holiday that is not even celebrated by the majority of Thais. The dominant religion in Thailand is Buddhism but they do a lot for the turists at Christmas. The Christmas decorations on the big photo of the Bangkok traffic is the same as the one at the header of this blog.
Even in winter Bangkok is hot, hot, hot and a whole day walking around the city can be hard work. A great break is a trip on the river with one of the fast boats. We chose the biggest turist boat and regretted it.
After New Years Eve we decided to find us a deserted bounty beach and we rented a car (driver included) and headed south to a place called Blue Beach Resort near Pranburi. The only thing we knew about the place was that they had a website, free internet and free kayak’s. The place was a mixed experience. We stayed in the cheap rooms at first but had to move to a better room because the beds in the cheap rooms was really only a wooden board with a blanket over. On the other hand we found our deserted bounty beach. It was beyond words.
The Blue Beach Resort was a nice place but a bit plain and simple, so we decided to explore some of the other hotels at the same beach. We found a great place with a pool just up the beach. They served the best food, drinks and even though they had some problems understanding and speaking english the service was great. They brought us towels so we could use their pool even though we weren’t guests at their hotel. We ended up hanging out for a couple of days at this hotel only returning to our own to sleep at night.
We had 10 beautiful, happy days at that bounty beach with just a few days on tours to Hua-Hin and it was almost perfect. We returned to Bangkok a few days before we had to fly home and did some more shopping. Both of us were sad to leave Thailand.