It was last November when I first found Dutch-Way Family Restaurant located on the far end of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Like Yoders, this is another restaurant that is part of a supermarket. Also like Yoders, the restaurant is in the same building but separated by a hallway, and in this case, that hallway has a snack bar with some very tempting treats. But it is wise to pass the snack bar

Phuket FC - Come and Watch the Football!

Football is very popular in Thailand, although the national team has never done anything much though they have won the ASEAN football championship, but have never qualified for the world cup finals. But the TV in Thailand shows English, German, Italian, Spanish football and more. As in many countries in the world, football is a good conversation starter. You'll find plenty of Man Utd or Barcelona fans in Thailand, but the Thai league is also popular. I mean, not in the same league as big European countries, but popular nonetheless. Thai Premier league games can get crowds of over 20,000.

Phuket FC play in Division 1, which is a step below the Premier league. I went to watch Phuket a couple of times when they were in the regional Southern league, and blogged about it a couple of years ago - see Watching Phuket FC. They got promoted to Division 1, but last season was a bit of a mess, Phuket seemed to run out of money and supporters turned against the people who run the club. Now there is a new sponsor, who also owns the big Kata Group of hotels. And so ... we went along to a game last weekend, mainly because our son plays football with the "Kata Group Academy" and for this game he was going to be one of the kids walking out with the teams before the match :)

Phuket and Chanthaburi Teams Enter the Field

Thanks to Dane, who was there taking photos for The Phuket News, for taking some pics of our son. You can read a match report with Dane's goal action photos here.

Phuket fans were hopeful of a win here, against bottom team Chanthaburi FC. A win would lift Phuket out of the relegation zone. I would like to think that our presence helped, as part of a crowd of just over 2,000. Our son enjoyed his moment in the spotlight and our kids enjoyed the party atmosphere at the game as Phuket ended up with an 8-1 victory, which I believe is their best ever win! We attended with some friends whose son also plays weekend football with the Kata Group kids team. Of course at such a young age, it's just for fun (our son is only 7) but hey, he might end up in the Thailand team one day! Or maybe the England team, they could do with some decent players! We sat in the main stand, and I wandered to the end of the stand with the kids to join the serious supporters. Here's a short video I made ...

They were silenced after about 2 minutes of the game when the other team scored .. However, did not take long for Phuket to start knocking goals in, and it was 4-1 at half time. The stadium does look a bit empty with only 2000 fans, it can hold way more. If you like football, come to a game! You can find info on schedules on the Phuket FC Facebook Page. Home games normally start at 6:30pm, which is just before sunset at this time of year.

I do enjoy the crowd almost as much as the football. It was great to be here on this evening with Phuket doing so well, and with a new sponsor investing money it was easy to feel a sense of optimism in the air. Next home game on July 7th against Krabi FC. A local derby, should be good!

Phuket FC Supporters

Phuket FC supporter with giant flag

Fun for all the family. At half time, it was beer o'clock! A few drink and snack vendors wander around the stadium selling things like chicken, orange juice and dried squid on a stick .... For anything else, well, you can quickly exit the stadium and there's a minimart just over the road. I ran over there to buy some beers for myself and our friend who's a hotel manager with the Kata Group. The squid on a stick seller made several appearances during the game. I did not buy any, it's not my thing. Very popular Thai snack, but I reckon it stinks! Here's the dried squid man ...

Squid seller at Phuket football game

We sat right behind the Phuket FC bench nearer the goal that Phuket were attacking in the second half. 8-1 could have been more than 10 easily, Phuket even missed a penalty. We had a good view of the goalmouth action in the second half. My kids now had little flags to wave (bought at half time, 40 Baht each) and put them to good use :)

Phuket FC Bench

The supporters club just kept on singing ... with a little help.

Phuket FC Cheerleaders

The girls were there selling an energy/health drink "for men" but joined the Phuket FC fans for a while to add some colour (red) among all the Phuket FC green shirts. I should get myself a team shirt before attending the next game. Entry fee is 80 Baht, games are played at the Surakul stadium on the edge of Phuket Town not far from the Central Festival mall. I would not be expecting any more 8 goal drubbings, but the team has some new impetus and my family wants to see more games now! Looking for something different and 'non touristy' in Phuket? Get to the football!

Here's a video showing the goals from the match Phuket v Chanthaburi. Also briefly shows my son and other kids coming out onto the pitch with the players before the game. He was a very proud boy. Hope they can do it again!

Surakul Stadium - Phuket FC - Location Map

View Surakul Stadium Phuket in a larger map

Update October 2012 - Phuket had a so-so season, but survived in the 1st Division after a couple of wins in their last 2 games. Hurrah!

Planting Rice 2012 ...

It is that time of year again and our neighbors are very busy planting their fields.  Rice is so much a part of the fabric of village life, yet so foreign to most outsiders.  Things are changing for sure as everything becomes more mechanized but on days like today one can glimpse the soul of village life, the way it was in simpler times and sometimes still is.

Some may see only dirty backbreaking work but from my house I can hear their laughter and friendly banter.  Taunts of going “inter”, as in international, and perhaps finding a farang were heard as I walked among them.  I assured them they would indeed be gracing the pages of my blog as they had in the past.  Have a look at these photos taken this morning, as I mingled in their midst managing just barely to stay out of the mud.  Take a look and see if you can see what I see.  At posting they are still out in the field, spirits still high, undaunted by the task at hand.

Another day another field.

Retirement----Why Thailand

 Me and my Valentines Girl
 Our home after  remodel
Ciejay and baby elephant
 Taking it easy
 A visit to a Thai Temple ---- Lots of them in every village
 Me taking a swim with Moll-Lee
Train Station 4 blocks from our home
 Fresh (and I do mean fresh ) fish
 Me and Bok taking a nap
 Sue and Alex

When we travel on vacation or we are out and about one of the most ask questions is "Why Thailand."In order to really answer that question , First, you have to know that I am married to a Thai lady , and one of my main concerns in my marriage was what could I do to make her happy .We came to Thailand in 2003 on a vacation and a chance for me to meet her family and kids. I saw at once ,how happy she was to be in her home country with friends and family , and yet have the security in knowing that she had a husband who could and would do anything she needed , with-in reason to make her happy. Not only could I see how happy she was , but I at once fell in love with Thailand , there was lots of things that attracted me to the LOS , BUT the most important one was how happy Ciejay seemed to be .
I knew it was about time for us to start thinking seriously about where we wanted to live out out retirement years , I had always thought about somewhere close to my Brother and Sister, out Tenn. way , and we went for a visit to check things out before coming to Thailand the next year on Vacation , and somehow it just didn't feel right to both of us. Before we came over to the LOS we had mentioned to each other if the opportunity and time arrived that we would look around and maybe think about Thailand (of course  it was my first visit ,so much of the decision would be on my shoulders. We looked around and then on the last day when we came to Kanchanaburi and our small village of Whang Pho  , We looked at each other and smiled, and knew this was the place. We had little daylight left for this visit to her Older Brother and the next day it was off to Bangkok to catch the plane and head home , Would you believe we found a little house and piece of land and bought it in the dark of night , saying that we would be back next year when I retired and make it our home , Everyone laughed and thought to themselves  that they would never see us again, but we fooled them all and you can read about the move and remodel and moving , in a older post , just go back and start from my first ones .

Now that was a long story to tell you the main reason  for choosing Thailand. Some of the others are as follows and in no order of importance , all of them to us are important reasons for choosing the LOS.
1.--My small SS check is enough for us here in Thailand.
2.--We were able for Ciejay to buy a house and small piece of land  with what little money we had in savings.
3.--The weather is the kind of weather I always thought I would like about a place, when I retired.
4.--The food is out of this world tasty, healthy (spicy mind you )  but plenty and fresh, and growing everywhere , even in your own backyard.
5.--The Thai people, even tho it took a while to get use to their way of life and culture and their way of thinking .
6.-- The almost crime free village and area we live in .
7.--Lots of things to see and do , and a lot of it not far from where we live .
8.--Our Thai family
9.--Our dogs(our kids )  that can run free and wild .
10.--Our home and little piece of paradise.
11.--Our village and the town folks .
12.--And our neighbors
13.--Our Drs. and health care
14.-- Our church and church family
15.-- The difference in my health since moving here to Thailand
16.-- And the difference in me and my thinking about life and living.
That's not all the reasons , I could go on and on , and you might say "well couldn't you find that in your own country ", maybe so , But we didn't. and we have found it here in what we call our little piece of paradise, that , we believe the Lord had saved just for us and all the blessings  that go along , with being Retired in Thailand and Loving It .                                                                          Malcolm

Falling Skies Season Two Premiere Review (spoilers)

10 months ago, Season One ended on quite a cliffhanger. Tom Mason agreed to enter the alien ship and allegedly talk with the alien masterminds behind the invasion (who are dubbed 'Overlords').  What did they want to tell him?  Is it possible they want to negotiate a truce?  Will we learn more about the aliens?  Speculating about all of those questions was good fun, but now it's time to get some real answers to these questions... or at least some of them.

Tom saying goodbye to the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment is a huge deal.  He's placing his life on the line by walking into the unknown and he's putting the safety of the people he loves in Captain Weaver's hands - and let's face it, Weaver has almost always needed Tom to serve as his voice of reason.  Thankfully, the premiere wastes no time reuniting Tom with the militia and does an excellent job showing us what happened on the craft.

Just like Season One, the show kicks off with a bang.  We're treated to another resistance versus alien encounter, except this time around the humans finally have the upper hand.  A handful of skitters and a mech walk right into an ambush, and the fight is anything but fair. Pope (who has some Spider-Man level reflexes in one moment), Weaver, Ben and Hal lay waste to the alien invaders as they unload clips and clips into their enemies and set off explosives.  I immediately noticed the improved visuals, and that's a huge plus since this show relies on a host of CG heavy scenes.  More importantly, the encounter gives us a quick recap on the cast without any forced exposition.  Pope is the traditional anti-hero in the group, Weaver is in command, Hal is now second in command, and Ben is chugging some serious haterade.

Previously "harnessed" by the aliens, Ben is driven by revenge and wants to kill every skitter and mech he sees.  While the harness was removed, parts still remain and he continues to change.  Luckily for the resistance, these changes have created their very own super soldier.  He's faster and stronger than regular humans, and with a bloodlusted attitude, he's definitely going to become one of the most interesting characters this season.  

Unfortunately for Ben, he was a little too trigger happy and puts a slug in his father's gut.  Thankfully, the lights going out for Tom means we get insight on what happened to him while he was away.  As he dreams, we see he was kept in captivity for some time before finally getting some one-on-one time with the Overlord.  The alien using Karen as a puppet for his voice helped make these moments especially enjoyable.  It presents Tom with an offer: an alleged safe zone for the remaining groups as the aliens go on to wreak havoc on the rest of the planet.  As expected, Tom refuses and equates the offer to a prison.  The Overlord fires back, rubbing humanity's lowest points in Tom's face (the holocaust, trail of tears, etc).  Tom retorts, saying he expected such an advanced species to be better than us, but the massive alien shrugs off the insult.  This is without question one of the standout scenes of the episode.  Tom has the brass to hold his own in a conversation with a creature that towers over him, it sheds new light on the attitude of these mysterious figures behind the attack, and to top it off, we see Tom electrocute the fool.  This segment also has the luxury of introducing what appears to be an reoccurring skitter with half of his face deformed/injured.  His eye is bright red, so it's easy to give a nickname based off of that, but I'd rather call him "Alien Two-Face" from now on.  

The Overlord claims the resistance doesn't pose a threat, but this conversation makes it pretty transparent that we pesky humans are proving to be quite then nuisance.  Tom gives the extraterrestrials a piece of his mind with what appears to be a giant cattle prod before ultimately being allowed to leave.  As Tom exists the ship, it's surprising to see he's with a large group of resistance leaders.  Based on a short conversation, it seems like the Overlord offered each human the same deal.  However, this conversation is cut short when a mech opens fire on the crowd and Alien Two-Face is by its side.  Tom is the only one to escape, and soon we'll see why.  I can't help but wonder if this means several other resistance groups are still fighting the good fight, and if so, if the 2nd Mass will bump into them.  Regardless, it was nice of them to let Tom go, but they dropped him off over a hundred miles from home and without any cab fare.  Not cool.  

On his walk back home, Tom encounters a girl struggling with a large man.  Always the hero, Tom saves her and eventually convinces the girl to let him use her motorcycle.  While the survivor is terribly obnoxious and defensive, the character does a good job reminding us that the resistance militia actually has it easy in comparison to the other survivors.  They've lost all hope and have been reduced to only looking out for themselves and their immediate family, without a care in the world for their fellow humans.
We're shown a decent chunk of Mason drama as Ben and Hal go at it over the chain of command.  Hal's pissed at Ben for going on a killing spree after he was told to cease fire, and to top it off, Ben went behind his back and started teaching their youngest sibling, Matt, how to use a firearm.  It isn't exactly the most original feud around, but it absolutely beats hearing Matt always whine about how he's being treated like a child.

The highlight of the first hour has to be when Dr. Glass and a few others hide from a passing mech.  The few stayed behind to finish up medical work on Tom, and as they focus on digging a bullet out, the flashes of lights and thunderous stomps of the mech get closer and closer.  The noise these giant killing machines make is awesome and would definitely make any survivor wet their pants.  It's almost like a T-Rex with a sore throat.  Despite that, a decent chunk of the first hour was dedicated to the theory of alien ships tracking heat from vehicles.  A plot device or two later and the problem is solved.  It honestly felt like filler to me and I'm shocked the aliens didn't think of using this method sooner.  The first hour ends on an important note I've been thinking of for at least half of the episode now... why aren't they more concerned on how Tom made it back to them?

Tom is concerned over blanks in his memory from his time with the aliens, and it looks like his fears are justified.  The second hour delivers one of the creepiest moments you'll see in recent TV history (it'll be familiar if you watched Prometheus) as we discover the aliens did indeed put something in Tom.  What can only be described as a mechanical bug slithers around the hero's eyeball before being gruesomely ripped out.  Was this a tracking device?  Can it control him? Are there more inside him?  We won't receive any answers in this episode, but it's likely we will next time around.  Regardless, Tom has always been the wisest among the bunch, so he immediately knows that he needs to be restrained.  Despite this, Weaver still demands for Tom to be his second in command, and frankly, we can tell if it's because he needs Tom.  When he has a foolish plan prepared, he knows Tom is there to point out all of the flaws and even suggest something superior.  I can't help but feel as though Tom will eventually replace Weaver during this season.  We'll just have to wait and see.  
In spite of Pope serving with the group for months now, he's still being treated like a man they can't trust and they constantly give the dude a hard time.  Every now and then it's cool to play on that if he's being an overly sarcastic jerk, but when he's questioning their safety over Tom's mysterious return, I'd say it's a perfectly legitimate question to pose.  I really hope they're not going to play the whole "he's a bad boy and we can't trust him" card this entire season.  The man has had their backs for at least three months now.

We also see that Ben is getting hardcore headaches every time he approaches an alien base, but he's hiding that information from Weaver and his peers.  I understand he's likely concealing this information because he's insecure about his slow mutation or fears they'll treat him differently, but the pros massively outweigh the cons.  It seems painful for him, yet tolerable, and can provide a key tactical advantage in the war.  Getting a headache again?  Heads up, it means there's a big ole' base nearby!  At any rate, there has been a key focus on Ben, so I'm certain we'll have a chance to explore why he's hiding that from the humans.

The final action sequence of the two-hour premiere must have cost them a pretty penny or two.  There's plenty of gunfire, explosions, and more mechs and skitters than I recall seeing in any other scene so far.  Once again there's a scene where Pope is treated as the sketchy guy even though his decision to blow up the bridge was completely rational. 

Complaint time.  What really killed the adrenaline heavy moments for me was the hero-factor surrounding Tom.  We know skitters have us completely outclassed physically, yet he decides lunging and trying to grapple with one is a wise idea.  When said skitter decides to effortlessly toss him against the wall, tis but a scratch!  Later on, he'll evade gunfire from a mech that mowed down 6 or so gunmen.  That same mech was smiling in the face of .50 caliber bullets, but when Tom decides to man the turret, it's serious business time and that huge robot takes some damage.  I found this especially peculiar because Dai (who has a shining moment with a RPG) previously revealed the pick-up truck mounted guns were packing the anti-armor rounds.  It's unclear if it was just one specific truck of if they ran out of the ammunition, but I imagine if they have the ammo, each one of those heavy weapons will be equipped with the special rounds.  Matt also has Hawkeye-like accuracy as he saves his father from a close range skitter attack.  Recoil be damned for a child who apparently trained with a gun once!  Overall, these are all pretty minor complaints and I must admit I'm excited for the next episode.  

For me, this show isn't even close to the quality of hits like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, but I'm a sucker for a good alien invasion and it's keeping me thoroughly amused.  It's cheesy at times, but they've created the groundwork for some interesting topics during this premiere and hopefully they'll continue to do so.  The main cast does a solid job and I was happy to see they're beginning to expand on the secondary characters.  Hopefully Season Two can continue with this kind of momentum.


Krua Guilin Restaurant in Khao Sok

We first ate at the Krua Guilin restaurant a few years ago on a visit to Khao Sok National Park. It's located at the eastern end of the lake / reservoir close to the golf course and the boat jetty from where you can hire longtail boats out onto the lake. A bit too far from Phuket just to visit for lunch, but we have stopped here a few times when driving between Phuket and Chumphon. Normally takes around 2 ½ hours from home to the lake. We stopped here recently in April for a late breakfast with a view. The restaurant is inside the park entrance, up the road that leads to the reservoir just east of the small town of Phanom. Once inside the park, follow the signs! The road winds around, up and down hills and there are some nice views to be found.

Krua Guilin Restaurant

Looks like a fancy place, and the carpark is huge - the restaurant caters to big groups sometimes including weddings. We've only been there when it's quiet. On this last occasion there was only one other car parked and one other table occupied. Mind you, we were there at 10am, not really meal time for most people. We had no plans for a huge meal, just a little break in the 5 hour drive from Phuket to Chumphon.

Krua Guilin Restaurant

Well the secenery around the Khao Sok area is great of course. The better views are a bit further west and out on Chiew Lan reservoir. We did another boat trip in early May which I'll get blogged soon also. The Krua Kuilin restaurant would be ideal for a meal before or after a trip out on the lake. Anyhow - the views from the restaurant are not bad at all!

View from Krua Guilin

(above) Part of the Rachaprapha Dam and the reservoir, view from the Krua Guilin restaurant.

View from Krua Guilin

(above) Looking south from the restaurant over the golf course. The land to the east (left side of the photo is pretty flat across to the sea at Surat Thani, and to the west you have the hills of Khao Sok.

Aside from the views and fresh air, we will revisit this restaurant for the food. Despite the fancy external appearance, the prices are good, and I reckon this is the best wingbean salad I have had (in Thai : Yam Tua Pu - ยำถั่วพู). So tasty, and a big plate too, only 80 Baht. I'm going back just for that!

Yam Tua Pu, Wing Bean Salad (ยำถั่วพู)

And as well as a plate of Pad Gaprao, a side dish of Gaeng Jood which is a soup normally made with minced pork, vegetables and bean curd, can be rather plain, but here at Krua Guilin, it was good. Don't forget - not all Thai food has to be spicy!

Gaeng Jood (soup)

The restaurant is too new.. it's not on Google Maps / Earth, as the maps in that area are a few years out of date. If I see an update, I'll add a map here.

Hotels in the Khao Sok National Park area

A Quick Post of Yesterday’s Ride ...

Hit an old trail yesterday under an overcast sky.  The guy’s eggplant patch seems to be progressing nicely and the corn in the next field is doing well.  Four dogs ran me down on the trail so I got off to say hello.  I needed a drink anyway and I was at the beginning of a very steep section.  Got the leader of the pack to come over and sniff my hand before proceeding on.

Two and a half hours later I returned home exhausted but before the rain really hit.  Got a couple of nice shots while it was still raining lightly and before it got too dark.