China Buffet is now Yummi China Buffet - East Meadow, NY

I have written about China Buffet in East Meadow, New York a number of times. The last visit was not good as I wrote in this article. About two months ago we drove past the restaurant and it was closed. It appeared to be closed for good. Any time then that we past the restaurant it was dark.  A few weeks ago we drove by and the restaurant looked open again. We wondered what went on. There was no

Sin Sot, To Pay or Not To Pay …

No, I have not lost my mind, or decided to take this blog down a different path.  This is not a history lesson on the origins of Sin Sot, or a laundry list of how much to pay for what.  That kind of thing has been done to death elsewhere.  VF doesn’t tell people what to do or how to do it.  I would much prefer being seen as motivational rather than instructional.  One additional disclaimer for those who don’t know me well, I did not pay any sin sot when my wife and I were married nearly fourteen years ago.  I guess you could say we eloped, as we got married first and told our families about it after the fact.

When it comes to things like Sin Sot, in my opinion it doesn’t matter what is written in some book or on some blog.  That won’t change how your partner feels about it or how their parents view the custom.  There can be vast differences based on region and class, with your arguments about the "true" meaning of Sin Sot, having no bearing on the beliefs and opinions of others.  I am not going to tell you how much you should pay or how to negotiate paying less.  I am not going to suggest you should be confrontational and refuse to pay.  I am not going to suggest that everyone, could or should, follow my example of no Sin Sot and no wedding party. 

Cross cultural issues like these are only complicated by language and ignorance on both sides.  It is so easy to project onto the other person what we want to see in them, with very little understanding of who they really are.  Just because a person can’t express their deepest hopes and fears in your language doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or that you can disregard them.  Communication in relationships, is a two way affair and any time it seems to be too one-sided, one should be asking why and looking for remedies.

Perhaps surprisingly, I do come from a traditional family in some respects.  There is no history of divorce, with my parents and both sets of grandparents staying together throughout their lives.  The man always provided financial support and the woman took care of the family and the home, though my mother did work before marriage and actually met my father because of her job.  These days it seems more common to divide things into, yours and mine.  People have separate bank accounts and what often looks to me like separate lives, with more time spent apart than together, but that is a separate discussion.

I always expected that I would take care of my partner and if I were not able to do so, then I would simply have to wait until I could.  That was one of many reasons I waited until I was 45 before getting married.  Too often people just don’t seem to consider the consequences of their choices, like who they marry and when.  Finding a partner is often just the beginning of your problems, not the end of them as so many fantasize.  It may be fun and romantic, but hitting the accelerator, closing your eyes and hoping things will workout for the best, has never been my style.

I find it disturbing to hear talk in some expat circles, about how cheap their wives are, and how little they cost to maintain.  Wives end up sounding like commodities or livestock possessed by the husband.  Sure, sex and money have always been major choke points in relationships.  Too much or too little of something, combined with different wants and needs, can lead to conflict and even separation.  Still, I find the monetization and predatory search practices of relationships these days distasteful.

In the past people met their partners while pursuing a normal life, where it now seems common for people to shop for a partner online.  I have my suspicions, that it makes it somehow easier to objectify the opposite sex.  In Thailand, expats discuss endlessly how much women cost, in terms of gold and Sin Sot before marriage, and maintenance after marriage.  It is like they are checking on the Kelly Blue Book price for a car they are interested in buying.  This is perhaps more common in the older, divorced and retired crowd, due to the baggage they carry with them, but it is not entirely limited to them.

I am not bound by tradition or dogma, and it matters little to me what others do or have done before me.  What matters is what my wife and I want as a couple.  I was not about to force someone to do things my way, so I waited until I found someone who was on the same wavelength and wanted the same things.  If you want a partner who will be interested in your athletic pursuits, for example, why choose someone who doesn’t have an athletic bone in their body?  If you don’t smoke and find it distasteful, why choose a smoker?  I am not traditional in my views on most things, so I knew I didn’t want someone with ridged and traditional beliefs.  That is exactly what some people are looking for it seems, though for the life of me I don’t know why.

When I hear expats making declarations about Thai Women, it tells me more about the man and where he is looking, than it does about Thai women in general.  There is endless dialog on what the hunter wants.  The guy often wants cheap, young and hot, while the woman often wants kind, generous and wealthy.  Neither side asks the most important question, “Why would a person like that, be interested in me?”  The trick as I see it, is not to focus so much on your checklist but to have a look in the mirror and turn your attention to making yourself desirable to someone you might like, and to possess the attributes you look for and admire in others.

People seem to be looking for an instruction manual for life, and there seem to be an abundance of blogs out there claiming to fill that need, but I am afraid it isn’t that easy.  I for one, wouldn’t want it to be as simple as following some list.  It doesn’t mean that life is all that difficult or that you should be afraid to try things.  Just look at each thing you do as preparing you for what comes next, not as an end in itself.

Anyway, that is the Village Farang take on Sin Sot and relationships in Thailand.

Khao Lak Tsunami Memorials

Update 26th December 2014. 10 years since the tsunami. I was thinking of writing a new blog post, but words don't mean to much. Last year we visited the tsunami memorials in Khao Lak and it certainly was a time for reflection and remembrance. Today also.

It's been a long time since I mentioned the tsunami on the blog. Seems like a very long time ago. Our son was born 2 weeks after it happened, and he's a big boy now! We do occasionally pause to think about what happened on December 26th 2004. Was certainly an emotional time for me, although we lost nothing and I personally did not know people who died. Actually, Phuket suffered a lot less than Khao Lak (or Phi Phi Island). The number of deaths in Phuket was less than 300. In the Khao Lak area along the coast, the official number was more than 4,000. This is mainly due to the topography of the land and the sea floor - very flat, so the wave could just keep going. In places, the tsunami reached over 1km inland. In other areas where the land rises away from the sea, the damage was a lot less. One of the worst hit areas was the fishing village of Baan Nam Khem which is north of the beaches, close to the larger town of Takua Pa. We've driven this way quite a few times in the last 8 years, on the way to visit places like Khao Sok National Park and the old town of Sri Takua Pa. And each time we passed through I thought about stopping at a tsunami memorial, but at the same time I really did not want to be guilty of "tsunami tourism". But on our recent holiday, since we were staying in Khao Lak, we decided to visit the memorials, pay our respects to those who died. Quite a sombre holiday activity, but after all these years, it was something I wanted to do.

We visited 2 different memorials on different days. The first was the Baan Nam Khem tsunami memorial park. Just to the west of the village, right by the beach. The park looks to be well kept. There's a small museum with lots of photos, and several small stalls selling food and drinks. The main memorial consists of 2 long walls. One is bare concrete and curved like a big wave. The opposite wall is covered in name plaques, some with photos, some with fresh flowers. A long wall full of people who are gone but not forgotten.

Tsunami Memorial at Baan Nam Khem

I let the kids walk at their own pace, reading names. They know about the tsunami of course, but visiting this memorial at Baan Nam Khem made them stop and think. We stopped by one plaque showing a photo of a young European boy, age 10. Seeing a face and knowing his age really hit home with the kids. "Did he die?" my son asked. He knows that he was born just after the tsunami, but it's hard to grasp what "it" really is. He watches videos on YouTube showing the tsunami. I've told them how lucky we are. We were all at Kamala beach on Christmas Day 2004. next day Kamala was hit hard.

Tsunami Memorial at Baan Nam Khem

Another who died that day in Khao Lak was a young man called Bhumi Jensen. The tsunami affected a great many families who lost loved ones, and even the Thai royal family was not spared. Bhumi was the son of Princess Ubolratana, the eldest daughter of King Bhumibol. There is a small shrine to him at the memorial park, and also a large Buddha statue right by the sea.

Tsunami Memorial at Baan Nam Khem

A few days later, and only a short drive from our hotel, we visited another memorial site, one of the symbols of the tsunami, demonstrating just how powerful nature can be. Police patrol boat number 813 was anchored offshore from La Flora resort, on royal protection duty looking after Princess Ubolratana and her family. The force of the tsunami was very strong at this point. The hotel was heavily damaged, many people lost their lives and the 80 foot long police boat was carried over 1km inland by the tsunami. Nobody ever moved the boat. It was decided to leave it as a memorial, although over the years the site had started to get developed. Shophouses line the main road nearby. In 2012 work started on creating a memorial park around the boat with a museum. Work is still in progress.

Khao Lak Tsunami Memorial

As you can see, it's a big piece of metal. And (I just checked on Google Earth) it's 1.2km from the sea. When the museum is complete, I imagine we'll visit again. We liked our days in Khao Lak, very relaxing and the hotel prices in low season are very low (see Khao Lak Hotels), although Khao Lak in low season gets more rain than Phuket and if the wind blows strongly, the waves just about cover the whole beach.

Khao Lak Tsunami Memorial

Khao Lak Tsunami Memorial

For the moment, it's just the boat, a completed but empty building, a wide open park area and a museum under construction very slowly - just a few Burmese construction workers on the job. I imagine they know that quite a lot of Burmese died in the tsunami too - not in Burma, but in the Baan Nam Khem and Khao Lak area - many Burmese work on fishing boats or do building in Thailand.

I think the whole family was glad to visit these memorials. Kids learned something, we got to pay our respects or say a prayer in our own way. Everyone living in this area had their life shaken up by the tsunami, and especially here everyone hopes it will not happen again although, if it did, the loss of life would be a lot less. People know what to do now, and with warning systems in place, such a disaster just could not have the same effect again. Certainly I have no worries about being on the beach, what happened on December 26th 2004 was absolutely a freak of nature. Not to be forgotten, but not to be feared either.

Places to visit near Khao Lak

Tachai Island
Similan Islands
Ton Prai Waterfall
Takua Pa Old Town

Khao Lak Tsunami Memorials - Location Map

View Khao Lak Tsunami Memorials in a larger map

Back to Golden Corral, Hagerstown, Maryland

I was first at the Hagerstown, Maryland Golden Corral when it had first opened. I was impressed them with this Golden Corral, and I still am. We recently went back for dinner on a Friday night.

The restaurant is in the back of the Valley Mall parking lot in Hagerstown. This was one of the Golden Corrals that started putting out the plates in racks for customers to take without relying on a

Do You Miss Your Ninja 650, Dear? …

When my wife asked that question of me, on a recent drive to town, there was little hesitation before my answer.  I had been mulling over a similar question of why I didn’t seem to miss the Ninja at all, so was ready with a reply.  She was a little surprised, I think, when I quickly answered “no” to her query.  As a supportive and caring wife, I believe she was just checking to see if I was still okay with the decision I had made.  At least that was my take on her question, as she really didn’t seem to like riding two-up, so had no personal investment in the bike.

I like to think I don’t make impulsive decisions.  I may appear to pull the trigger and move on, but by the time it gets to that point, I have thoroughly vetted my options and made a choice.  I prefer to look forward, and don’t as a rule, spend time missing things from the past.  One exception might be that I miss being able to walk to a high-end health club and enjoy all their wonderful facilities.  I would no doubt be in better shape than I am presently, if that could somehow be combined with my rural lifestyle.

So my three year biker experiment appears to have run its course.  I went to bike shows, bike shops, road in groups and with a partner for a while, but mostly I preferred solo rides.  Northern Thailand has some really great roads for riding and I have covered them all, as both a cager and a biker.  Along the way I discovered some things about myself.  I don’t posses the rough edges and careless abandon that seem to be a biker prerequisite.  I like to be comfortable and clean, indulging my love of nature in perfect conditions.

I couldn’t get behind the whole live to ride and ride to live thing.  For me transportation takes me somewhere.  Armored up in my riding gear, I found it awkward at best, to get off the bike for a hike or a little photography.  Long rides were fatiguing but hardly a form of healthy, beneficial exercise.  I found that four wheel drive not only took me to places the bike could not, it delivered me in comfort and with toys and accessories to better enjoy the destination.

Though I did not so much as drop my bike in all my outings, that is not to say there were not a number of close calls, on Thailand’s notoriously dangerous roads.  I was helped by the fact that most of my driving experience was derived on Thai roads.  What others complain about as being unusual, unreasonable and unacceptable, I see as simply normal and expected.  Reacting early definitely helps.

With all the accidents I have witnessed and all the wounded road warriors I have met, it became clear that it was simply a matter of time before I was injured or perhaps worse.  For me the idea of living the rest of my life physically impaired was just not very appetizing and I am not yet willing to leave my wife alone.  I know people who have seemingly adjusted to their situation but I question my own ability to do so.

Then of course there is the Mt. Bike which takes me to remote locations while bestowing important health benefits.  Usually I ride from home but in combination with the SUV the options are nearly limitless.  The Trek can pretty much go anywhere I can hike to and covers much more ground in the same amount of time.

To bring you up to date on my Trek upgrades, I finally replaced my seat post which was the last remaining original part.  I had seen Thompson Elite posts online, and they came highly recommended by Lloyd, one of my longtime readers.  Enquiring as to what was available in my local bike shop, Northern Bike, Peak’s wife started digging about on the lower shelf where they keep some of the high-end stuff which is not on display.  Sure enough they had one Thompson that was the right size for my bike.  Comparing it to other brands on offer it seemed much lighter in weight.

Due to extremely hot weather my bike was on the trainer again so I fitted the new Thompson Elite and played with the adjustments.  I was really impressed with how light it was, and minus teeth or grooves, it was infinitely more adjustable.  It felt good on the stand but yesterday was my first chance to get out to test it on the trails and roads.  Rain the night before made for improved riding conditions, in the low 30s instead of the high 30s.  It was amazing how much better the position felt throughout the entire 40 km ride.

The only remaining upgrades that need to be made, are to me.  Fitness and weight are the only things holding me back from being a better climber over the rough bits.  I continue to learn more about riding and more importantly continue to find it enjoyable.  Riding takes me places that recharge my soul, provides me with photographic opportunities and gives me great exercise at the same time.  At some point I may need to try riding with others to get a read on where I am and where I might be able to improve, but I have yet to reach a wall that I can’t get past on my own, thought that day may come sooner than I think.

Koh Tachai Island - Day trip from Khao Lak

On our recent holiday we spent a total of 4 nights in Khao Lak, and we'll be going again next time the kids have some school holidays. It was very relaxing, much of the time was spent in the pool, or walking on the beach, or having breakfast, lunch, dinner and sunset beers! But we did have one day trip planned and booked in advance. Koh Tachai is a small island about 50km north of the Similan Islands, out in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of Thailand. We had heard that the speedboat tours left from Ban Nam Khem, a small fishing port and village north of Khao Lak, and from there it would be about 50km to Koh Tachai. I have been to Koh Tachai many times in the past for diving on liveaboard boats and have had some great dives there with manta rays at a dive site called Tachai Pinnacle, but I had never set foot on the island before! Over the last couple of years Tachai has been becoming a popular alternative to the Similan Islands, which get a lot more visitors. Thai tourists especially seemed to be heading to Tachai, I saw lots of lovely photos on Thai websites and also on Thai TV channels. I knew my friends at Easy Day Thailand could book us on the tour, so we signed up and were ready on a warm but hazy morning on April 25th. Minibus pick up was on time, but we headed south towards Thap Lamu port, not north to Ban Nam Khem. Looked like we'd be leaving from Thap Lamu which would mean a 70km speedboat trip. We had a wait of about 20 minutes before boarding the speedboat while the tour operator sorted out various groups heading to different islands. Coffee, tea and toast were provided (self service) and then we headed to the speedboat. Aside from our family of 6, all other customers on the trip were Thai.

Boarding the speedboat to Koh Tachai

We sped out of Thap Lamu, the sky cleared up a little, the sea was flat calm, looked like a perfect day coming up! I had been a little worried about my parents doing a long speedboat trip out in the sun all day, but with mirror-like seas and a bit of cloud cover, we all sat in the front of the speedboat while all the white skinned Bangkok Thai people hid in the shade :)

Family trip!

It was going to be quite a long ride, about 90 minutes to Koh Tachai. Would have been less from Ban Nam Khem, but departure point had been switched due to the tides - Thap Lamu is a deep water port used by dive boats, fishing boats and the Thai navy too. Well anyway, as the sun came out and the sea was so calm, a longer ride did not matter. My daughter enjoyed being right in the bow with the wind in her hair ...

Calm Seas

Unfortunately ... things then went a bit pear shaped. Some dark clouds ahead. Surely just hazy skies? Maybe a light shower? We sped onward. Very dark clouds. Lightning. Are we going through that? Well, the sea was still calm. I sent the family "inside" and took a quick snapshot with the phone before the rain bucketed down...

Storm Approaching

Well, the next 30 minutes were very very wet. Everyone was soaked since the roof of the speedboat had a gap all the way around, and in came the rain. My poor dad was not feeling too healthy, and I was just cursing our luck! The speedboat carried on, sea was a little bouncy but there were no big waves, but at the same time, there seemed to be no let up in the rain and no brightening of the sky. We arrived at Koh Tachai in the rain, left all bags and cameras under cover on the boat, then off into the treeline to find some shelter. Must have carried on raining for another hour, time we would have spent snorkeling or walking on the beach, instead of hiding and drinking tea!

And then, as if by magic .. within minutes (so it seemed) the rain disappeared, the sky cleared and it was suddenly the perfect day! Everyone was stripping down to swimwear and hanging up clothes to dry in the trees. And then we could all see the attraction of Koh Tachai island! Our guide decided that the 'jungle walk' that should be part of the day would be cancelled to give everyone plenty of beach time after the rains. I went climbing back on the speedboat to look for everyone's bags and cameras which had been stored in a dry space when the rain started. And then the photo-shoot could begin!

On the beach at Koh Tachai

Much of the next couple of hours was spent on the beach, playing in the water with the kids, doing a little snorkeling (but not much to see right by the beach, you have to swim out further) and taking photos. The tour operator provided drinks all day (juices, sodas, tea, coffee, drinking water) and snacks like nuts and biscuits. The actual lunch was a bit disappointing for me, though I think the rain meant that the staff had a hard time getting everything ready. Anyway, why waste time eating in the shade when you can jump!

Koh Tachai Island

The kids wanted nothing more than to swim, snorkel and play in the shallow waters by the beach. It certainly is very beautiful and you can't really get colours like this so close to Phuket, although Racha Yai island is pretty good. I just wished the weather had been like this ALL day, although considering that I got a pretty good sunburn anyway, maybe that was enough sun. The kids can normally be out all day without feeling the sun, though my daughter has fair skin which can get quite red, and it did on this day. For a couple of hours, kids were in their own private paradise!

Kids paradise. My paradise.

OK, not quite private, there were about 6 speedboats there on the same day, but as with most tourist locations, if you walk a couple of hundred meters you lose 90% of the people who just plonk their lazy behinds down on the first available patch of sand. The beach on the east side of Tachai is about 700m long, plenty of room to spread out. Tommy the guide called it 'Paradise Island', which I guess is the tourist name or the name his employers tell him to use! There are plenty of paradise islands around these parts! Koh Tachai has no development save for a ranger station, some toilets, a couple of covered areas with a concrete floor and some thatched bamboo gazebos. Hope it stays that way.

Koh Tachai "Paradise Island"

Days like these are more for the kids than the adults! I am happy that our kids love the outdoors, swimming, boat trips, and don't complain too much when we do other things like visit temples. On this same trip (to be blogged) we visited a couple of tsunami memorials and I think the kids learned something from that. But the day at Koh Tachai was certainly more fun! Here's the boy, mask in hand, skipping his way through the shallows...

Koh Tachai

A word about our guide on the trip, Tommy - nice guy, very friendly. We met him the next week on our return to Khao Lak, on the beach with his family and we stopped for a chat. If you are on this tour, leave him a tip! When it was time to get back on the speedboat he wandered up and down the beach to find everyone, ukulele in hand ...

Our guide Tommy with his ukulele

Took a while to get off the beach, as the tide was low. Everyone had to get onto a national park flat bottomed boat to transfer to the speedboat. For a moment I was worried that we were heading straight back to port, and with the rain we'd really only had a couple of hours of beach time, surely we could not be leaving already? No ... we headed along the east coast of the island for some snorkeling. The kids and I joined most of the Thai folks from Bangkok and Tommy for about 20 minutes, and there was some good fish life on this part of the island. My son was quite proud of the distance we swam during this snorkeling session. The kids love the water, I guess I'll have to be taking them diving soon!

How much did you enjoy the day, son?

Gangnam style jump at Koh Tachai

In the end a very good day out. With the rain, and then the sun, everyone was cream crackered by the end of the day. It is actually possible to do the trip if you stay in Phuket, but that means a pick up at about 6am. Certainly this is a better option if you stay in Khao Lak. Now, until last month I did not really care for Khao Lak, but I can see now why people like it. If you have a 2 week Phuket trip, then a few days in Khao Lak is a good idea, but the day trips to Koh Tachai and the Similan Islands only operate in high season November - April.

Ask my friends at Easy Day Thailand to book trips to Koh Tachai, Similan Islands and just about anything else!

More Information about Khao Lak
Khao Lak Hotels at
Phuket Hotels at

Koh Tachai - Location Map

View Koh Tachai Island in a larger map

Mango Season is Here in Thailand

More mango's are eaten fresh all over the world than any other fruit
I thought that was quite a statement, but after going on line and checking different web sites about mango's , I now firmly believe it to be a somewhat true statement

This is mango season in Thailand and almost everyone I know has a tree or two in their yard . We wait for the winter season to end so that the trees will flower and then watch, with amazement and anticipation as we see the fruit develop from a little pea size, to a full grown ,baseball size, ripe fruit ,to be relished and enjoyed . I say relished and enjoyed because since moving to Thailand I have come to love the flavor and smell and taste of this fruit. It starts to get ripe about the middle of March here in our village and around the area , tho some parts of Thailand have Mango's growing all the time and you can really enjoy them year round , But they do get pricey when out of season in our local area. I really don't care how pricey they get I have to have my Mango Fix as many days a week as possible . We here in Wang Pho are in the middle of our Mango season now and the folks that eat theirs green and in green salads and with sugar,chili peppers crushed, and a touch of salt have already raided the trees and what they couldn't reach or left on the trees are for us folks who like ours ripe and juicy. We have 4 mango trees (3 different varieties ) in our yard and get lots from them , and the neighbor has about 50 trees that they sell the green mango, every year to folks from Bangkok and they tell us to eat all we want once they have moved on. They have a couple of different varieties that I don't have , one being a mango called black gold and the fruit inside the green peel is as golden as can be and the taste is to kill for . The season here in Wang Pho starts in mid March and will run till April end, with a few varieties that hang on till May or mid May , we have a tree with a mango called a Gaull that will last clear up till mid June , they are a last resort mango for me as they are not as sweet as most . But they are better than no mango at all . And as my Mother use to say "beggars can't be choosy."
I only knew of the great taste of the mango and never really thought of the health benefits , till I did this research , and now I know that they are not only good to eat -- but they are Good for you and your body and can promote good health
The follow information was Googled and gleamed from the net and as far as I know is not copyrighted , so I am going to copy and paste for your reading enjoyment and enlightenment . I hope you enjoy the read .
I know I always say it, BUT!!!!!! this is just another reason why we're "Retired in Thailand and Loving It."

Mango trees are evergreens that will grow to 60 feet tall.

The mango originated in Southeast Asia where it has been grown for over 4,000 years. Over the years mango groves have spread to many parts of the tropical and sub-tropical world, where the climate allows the mango to grow best. Mango trees are evergreens that will grow to 60 feet tall. The mango tree will fruit 4 to 6 years after planting. Mango trees require hot, dry periods to set and produce a good crop. Most of the mango's sold in the United States are imported from Mexico, Haiti, the Caribbean and South America. Today there are over 1,000 different varieties of mango's throughout the world.

A comfort food. Mango's really can make you feel better! Beyond being delicious and rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, mango's contain an enzyme with stomach soothing properties similar to papain found in papayas. These comforting enzymes act as a digestive aid and can be held partially responsible for that feeling of contentment we experience during and after our daily mango ritual. Yes, it is quite natural to crave those mango's!

Mango, both in its green and ripe form is a very good tenderizing agent due to these same enzymes, therefore ideal to include in any marinade (see Mango Marinade under Sauces category in our Recipe Guide). In India they use a sour mango powder containing ground up green mango's called Amchur, both as a seasoning and tenderizing aid.

We all know the importance of fiber in our diets. If you are eating your mango-a-day, irregularity is not a problem for you and so we'll spare the gruesome details regarding constipation, piles and spastic colon. Research has shown that dietary fiber has a protective effect against degenerative diseases, especially with regards to the heart; may help prevent certain types of cancer, as well as lowering blood cholesterol levels. An average sized mango can contain up to 40% of your daily fiber requirement. For those of you who are physically active, whether working out or constantly on the go, mango's are also a great way to replenish that lost potassium. Deliciously rich in anti-oxidants, potassium and fiber - the mango is the perfect fruit! Truly 'the king of fruit'

Back to Ryans Buffet in Hagerstown, Maryland

A year ago I was at Ryan's Buffet in Hagerstown, Maryland and things there were marginal in terms of the cleanliness of the dishes, and a few other things that you can read about here. I ended that article saying that if I got back there, I would try it again and recently, I was in Hagerstown. I was reluctant to go back but decided that maybe it did improve in a year's time. We went and for the

Ton Prai Waterfall near Khao Lak

We've all just had a little holiday, and life is now settling back to normal with work and school and blogging! While on holiday I took plenty of photos and posted updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but couldn't face a whole blog post and was trying to keep off the computer as much as possible and spend more time with the family. Mum and Dad were here from England, kids had school holidays and I had a couple of weeks away from the dive shop. Much of the time was quite relaxed, nothing too strenuous. We did 2 separate trips to Khao Lak and I will write more about Khao Lak sometime soon. We'd not been to stay there before, and we liked it. Khao Lak is less than 2 hours drive from our house, about 100km north. On the way home from the second trip, we stopped off at Ton Prai waterfall, which is about about 30km south of Nanthong beach in Khao Lak where we stayed, or 30km north of Sarasin bridge which joins Phuket island to the mainland. It's then another 6km down a small side road which gets narrower and more jungly as you approach the hills. It was clearly signposted, easy to find. We had stopped last year one time, but on a rainy day and we did not fancy a walk in the jungle! This time the sky was blue with some fluffy cotton wool clouds floating around. We stopped at the entrance / visitors center where you have to pay an entry fee, currently 100 Baht for a tourist, cheaper for Thai people. My wife negotiated a group price for 6 of us :)

Entrance and Visitors Center

There are some clean toilets at the entrance. Nowhere to buy a drink, though .. we should have stopped at a 7-11 or local store to get a few bottles of water along the way. Hot day, walking in the jungle, need drinks! There's a sign at the visitors center explaining that it's a 650m walk to reach Ton Prai waterfall. There's another sign too ... Conserve nature. Do not leave anything here. Good. And then a wonderful mis-spelling or mistranslation ... Accept your Footprint. Should say "Except" but actually turns into a Buddhist concept. Accept your footprint. I like it!

Accept your Footprint

The walk to the waterfall was quite easy, the path is well made, up and downhill sections mostly have steps rather than rough ground, not too many loose stones, it was no bother for my parents who are not as young as they used to be :) The walk is very jungly and I do like a bit of jungle in small doses, though prefer sweeping views. Big rainforest trees with buttress roots are a favourite of mine. The roots are mostly above ground because rainforest soil has most of it's nutrients near the surface, and buttress roots are there to soak up all the goodness!

Buttress Roots

And here's Mum and Dad enjoying a jungle walk!

Jungle path to the waterfall

Now, there are quite a lot of waterfalls in and around Phuket (see Waterfalls in Phuket), and most are pretty small. The main attraction is the jungle ambience, and maybe a chance to jump in and cool off! I had heard that Ton Prai was worth a visit, and .. yes, it is! Even though we visited at the end of a very dry season, there was still plenty of water. Here's the first sight of Ton Prai at the end of the path ...

Ton Prai Waterfall

Yeh, it's not huge, but I like the water tumbling down the rocks. I guess after some rain it would look better. There's a shallow pool under the falls - often falls have deep pools but since the water is not falling vertically, it's not created a deep pool. My boy was straight in to check it out!

At Ton Prai Waterfall

Is it cold? Well, let's say it's "refreshing"! And even a little jungle walk can make you sweat a little. So I jumped in too for a splash with the kids. It was easy enough to go and sit right under the waterfall. Would that be possible in rainy season? Not sure. Here's me enjoying a free shower ...

Natures Shower

We're thinking of a little trip to Khao Lak sometime in the low season, so will check out Ton Prai again, as well as a return visit to Sri Phang Nga national park north of Khao Lak which features several waterfalls, including Tamnang which is quite impressive. There's also Lampi waterfall, just north of Ton Prai, also worth a look. Ton Prai deserves another look, and is easy enough to visit on the way to Khao Lak or on the way home.

Here's some more of that jungle :)

Jungle at Ton Prai Waterfall

Next few blog posts will also feature the Khao Lak area. We took a speedboat day trip to Koh Tachai island, we visited a couple of tsunami memorials and really enjoyed a couple of easy relaxing days staying at a small resort by the sea. With low season prices, hotels in Khao Lak are a bargain for half the year! Only trouble is that Khao Lak gets very quiet and a lot of things close up. We'll see later this year!

Ton Prai Waterfall - Location Map

View Ton Prai Waterfall in a larger map

Return to Mountain Gate Family Restaurant, Thurmont, MD

We recently went back to the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant in Thurmont, Maryland for their buffet. This was our second visit to this location and as I wrote last week, the Pennsylvania location has closed. Our first visit to the Mountain Gate in Thurmont was one year ago and that article appears here.

We came again on a Saturday night at just about the same time - 6:30 pm for dinner. The

Taking care of the Isuzu (now 10 years old )

With the very hot weather , the long rainy season and the high humidity during this time , it's very important that you pay close attention to the maintainace of your vehicles, so that they don't let you down or break down on a road trip, or the carport (another story for another time ).

After spending two days  long at the Isuzu shop I've got the maintaince and prevention work I wanted do to the truck . the following list is the things I had them do and replace , should do it for a while . Dad always told me to take car of my vehicle and they would not let me down when I needed them , I've tried to follow his advice .

Oil change and filter , fuel filter , auto trans filter and oil, rear end oil or grease , packed wheel bearings , new brake pads , new steering rod end , water pump , thermostat and housing , radiator hose bracket on engine , fan belts,power steering belt, a/c belts , gas for a/c , every rubber hose on the whole engine , flush radiator and refilled with new coolant. rebalanced tires and front end alignment replace dented hub cap , I think that's about it , maybe a few other small things I can't remember , oh ya aim the headlights for the road at night .checked timing chain and it was good to go.

 I think I got all the stuff I could think of , sure I forgot something but as I remember it's easy to make an appointment . Parts are about the same as America, but the labor is a lot less so it makes it affordable to take good care of your vehicles

 It is 10 years old and I think it still looks at least a 9  inside and out

A look at some of the stuff I replaced, lots of other stuff  cleaned and maintained.

hab ich mich gefreut....

Meine liebe, kleine Lieblingshexe, sprich meine Tochter war übers WE bei ihrer Tante. So habe ich die freie Zeit genutzt und war unterwegs. Als ich am Sonntagabend nach Hause kam, hielt mir mein Sohn freudestrahlend eine Plastiktüte entgegen.
Eine Berührung und mir war klar, was da drin ist.

Frische Bratwürstchen.... bevor ich meine Frage, die mir wohl ins Gesicht gemeiselt war, formulieren konnte, bekam ich schon die Antwort.
Von einer supernetten Nachbarin. Als wir uns letzte Woche unterhalten hatten, erzählte sie mir, dass sie für ein paar Tage nach Thüringen fahren würde. Oh Thüringen, original thüringer Bratwürstchen.... hmmm, lecker. In der Art haben wir uns unterhalten.

Tja und dieses Wochenende kam sie zurück und hatte für uns ein paar dieser leckeren Kalorienbomben dabei....

Von hier aus noch mal vielen herzlichen Dank für diese herzhaft Überraschung.

Für den Moment
liebe Grüße


Versprochen ist versprochen. Und ich habe den Kindern, die an meinem Osterbastelferiennachmittag teilgenommen haben, versprochen ihre Karten hier zu zeigen.

Das ist die Zauberkarte, die ich euch hier schon mal einzeln gezeigt habe. Was ich wieder so erstaunlich finde. Alle hatten das gleiche Ausgangsmaterial zur Verfügung. Doch sind so unterschiedliche Karten entstanden. Auch von den Grüßen darauf. Von allgemeinen Glückwünschen bis hin zu Hochzeitsgrüßen. Leo, der eigentlich überhaupt nicht mit zum Basteln kommen wollte, hat seine Karte als Hochzeitskarte gewerkelt und schon ein paar Tage später verschenkt. Da würde mich sehr interessieren, was die Beschenkten dazu gesagt haben.

Für den Moment
liebe Grüße

Recent Photos of Village Life...

On the way home from town yesterday we took a detour to the top of a mountain overlooking Happy City Golf Course and the fertile plains of Chiang Rai in the Wiang Chai area.

The day before there was a small village parade.  Moo 13 was showing off their rocket and collecting contributions from the households they passed.

The day before that we had a storm which took our biggest tree, just barely missing our house.  I returned from a bike ride not long before the storm hit and had no idea what was coming.

Life is always interesting living in a Thai Village.

Mountain Gate Restaurant in Waynesboro, PA CLOSED

A year ago I returned to the Mountain Gate Restaurant in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania after being away for about four years. As I wrote after that visit, the Mountain Gate Restaurant there never disappoints. We were able to arrange a trip to that area again about a week ago and I looked forward to returning again. About a week before the trip I check the website of the restaurant to see if there were

CD-Karte, Sammelbestellung

Heute möchte ich euch eine schöne CD-Karte zeigen. Diese hat mir die liebe Karolina letztens in den Briefkasten gelegt.

Noch mal vielen lieben Dank dafür, Karolina. Ich habe mich sehr darüber gefreut.

Gern möchte ich euch noch mal an die Sammelbestellung am Montag, den 06.05.2013 erinnern.

Euch ein schönes Wochenende
Für den Moment
liebe Grüße

mein Advent Album

Oh Mann, kennt ihr das? Ihr fangt ein Projekt an. Es ist gut und die Idee begeistert euch. Und dann kommt der Hänger und ob dieses Projekt jemals überhaupt fertig wird, steht sowas von in den Sternen. Das glaubt man kaum.

So ging es mir mit diesem Album. Ich wollte mir ein Album machen für meine Adventszeit. Jeden Tag in Bildern und Worten festhalten. Soweit die Idee.

Das Buch habe ich selber zugeschnitten, die Außendeckel gemacht und gebunden. Hab ich schon mal erwähnt, dass ich meine bind-it-all liebe?
Die erste Zeit habe ich auch zeitnah geschafft, die Seiten zu gestalten. Doch dann.... Immer wieder sah ich dieses angefangene Album. Mein schlechtes Gewissen: das müsstest du noch fertig machen.... half mir nicht wirklich weiter.

Ich war dann schon soweit, dass ich das Album samt ausgedruckten Bildern einfach weg werfen wollte. Doch dann habe ich mich echt durch gerungen. Ja, ich musste mich zwingen. Auch, wenn das dumm klingt. Aber es war so.

Und ich habe es fertig bekommen. Das Cover finde ich noch nicht so dolle. Da werde ich noch was dazu setzen. Mir ist das so zu nackig.

Aber seht selber.


Es gab Zeiten, da hätte ich nicht gedacht, dass dieses Album fertig wird. Nun bin ich froh, dass ich es geschafft habe und freue mich, wenn ich es im Regal stehen sehe.

Als ich dieses Album fertig hatte, habe ich mir ein gleich ein anderes Projekt auf den Tisch gelegt. Herbst 2012. Das Buch habe ich wieder selber gemacht. Die Seiten geschnitten, die Deckel geklebt und alles gebunden.
Dieses Album bereitet mich nicht solche Schwierigkeiten. Die Arbeit geht flott von der Hand und es macht große ´Fortschritte, so dass ich spätestens am WE damit fertig bin. Komisch. Dabei ist es kaum anders als das Adventsalbum.

Euch noch einen kreativen Donnerstag
Für den Moment
liebe Grüße