FISHING TRIP AND PINIC WITH FRIENDS



















My friend Jerry bought a new to him pick-up , on his try it out trip , he went past Erawan Water Fall to the dam and across a lake to a little cove , Soooo this week was time to take Me his friend on a fishing trip to see if this was indeed a great fishing spot. We left at 7 am and drove to Kanchanaburi, turned left and headed toward the falls, pass the falls we came to a road that goes on the other side of Srinakharin dam and lake and made our way about 25 kl. to a little turn off that took us down to this little cove . The road looked more like a trail and would have been a good place to go 4 wheeling , but Jerry being the expert driver that he is, he manuvered that pick-up this way and that way and what do you know, we were there at one of the most beautiful picnic, camping , and hopefully fishing spot I have seen in a long time.We made a lean-to for protection from the sun and put down mats for the girls to sit under the shade (both Thais) and talk a lot and fix the lunch from all the food we had brought , you would have thought we were going to stay a week ha ha , while the men folk fished . The weather was great for the first half of the day , Butttt then the wind really started to blow and almost blew our shelter away , we tryed to wait it out , but it was a big blow and rain was in the clouds coming in fast. We packed up and said our good-byes to the fishing place (no fish ), but promised to return another day to give it another try with maybe a little different bait . All in all we had a great time , and if we were there only for a picnic , we could'nt have found a prettier place and hopefully next time we'll land a big fish or two. When you take a good look at the pictures you'll see another reason why I'm Retired in Thailand and Loving It. Malcolm

Khao Sok National Park - Cliff and River Jungle Resort

Holidays! By the end of April, things are pretty quiet in the dive shop, so I took a holiday starting April 29th, allowing about 10 days with the family before the kids went back to school after the "summer" break (Thai schools have summertime sensibly from March - May which is the hottest time of year). We decided to stop in the Khao Sok area for a night on the way to Chumphon. The chosen accommodation was the Cliff and River Jungle Resort, which had been recommended by friends. Looked great on the website, but don't they always?... For me, a personal recommendation is far more important.

Cliff and River Jungle Resort Online Booking

The drive from Phuket took around 2½ hours via Khao Lak. I half thought of stopping in Khao Lak to look at the boats that had been carried inland by the tsunami. Saw the famous police boat from the main road. But really, I don't want to be a "tsunami tourist". Have written about my tsunami thoughts several times on this blog, most recently in December 2008. Just North of Khao Lak, there is the small town of Takua Pa. We somehow managed a wrong turn and found out that near Takua Pa is a beautiful looking old town called Sri Takua Pa. Like old Phuket, but with no cars. I want to go back and look around some day. From Takua Pa to the Cliff and River is only around one hours drive, although we stopped a couple of times for the views. It's all hills and valleys around here and very rural. The main entrance to the Khao Sok National Park is on the North side of the road, and the entrance to the Cliff and River is on the South side around 10km after the park entrance.

Our room

Before saying anything else, I'll say this - we'll be back. Location, WoW! Well, check some of the photos below. Nice people... and having been there once, we know exactly what room numbers we want next time :) No, not going to mention that here. We checked in after midday, and were given a "River" room with an extra bed. The room was quite a walk from reception. I could park the car near the restaurant, also by the river, but still a bit of a hike to carry bags. The room was decent, maybe a bit "jungly", a balcony outside by a small stream. Aircon, fridge. There was a TV, not sure why, could only get a few Thai channels. We did not use it. And a great outdoor shower for that true jungle experience. Used it quite a few times - this is a HOT time of year here!

The restaurant is great, by the river, in the jungle, I liked the wooden furniture, food was good (not super cheap, mind you), beer was cold :) We had lunch there after checking in. The curry my wife ordered (Gaeng Phet Gai) was superb.

Family at the restaurant, Cliff and River resort

Afternoon was so darn hot - we all chilled in our aircon room for a while before hitting the pool. What a great pool. Not large - we were of course staying at the hotel out of high season. The only people using the pool other than us were 2 German couples.. I vowed to beat them to the best seats next morning... If the resort was full, that pool might be rather crowded. Sometimes, I do like the low season :)

Pool has a view of the huge cliff that towers 1000+ feet over the resort, has a jacuzzi, a shaded sala and chairs to hang your towel at 7am to beat the Germans :) The kids loved it right away. Now, Khao Sok has all kind of activities like rafting, canoeing, hiking, elephant trekking.. maybe next time we'll do a canoe trip on the river. This little trip was all about getting a feel for the place. We stayed in the pool for a couple of hours.





Kids in the pool at Cliff and River

We did get out of the hotel for a couple of hours, drove back to the main national park entrance in the late afternoon. Lots of small hotels there and jungle huts and small restaurants where we ate, as the kids said they were starving. I think the threat of a jungle walk made them hungry! From the entrance there are hiking trails of 5km or more. You can pitch a tent in this area too, we saw some people doing that. There are some bathrooms provided by the national park. We did not see much, as really, if you want to see Khao Sok, you need to hike or do a boat trip. Here's a new post from 2012 - we stayed at Cliff and River again, but also did canoeing, a boat trip on the lake and tubing - Khao Sok National Park 2012.

River near the Khao Sok national park entrance

On the way back to Cliff and River we checked out another place to stay called Khao Sok Treehouse Resort. Very jungly! We climbed steps and crossed walkways to a room in the trees. The room was amazing, a huge double bed, a tent for the kids, wireless internet, aircon, satellite TV, a wonderful treetop bathroom.. they offered us the room for 2500 Baht. The website has prices up to over 5000 Baht. We did think about staying a night on the way home, certainly a unique place - had a pool too on the jungle floor.

The night at Cliff and River was very peaceful, insect noises, we slept very well. I had to catch a fair size "tookay" lizard in our room, as my wife said it might bite us. I planned to wake early - we'd been told the place looked great with the early morning mists over the mountains. I did wake before the rest of the family and went on a wander around the hotel grounds. The mists covered the cliffs, the only people awake at 7am were some staff cleaning the pool.

7am - mists over the mountains

Took until about 7:30am for the mists to start to clear...

7:30am - mists clearing

Waking up early is not my favourite thing to do, but sometimes an early morning is worthwhile. I watched as the mountains appeared and disappeared in the low clouds, giving sneak previews of their full power...

Mountain tops in the mist

I went to wake up the rest of the family for breakfast. A breakfast is included in the room price - the normal kind of Thai style English breakfast.. something in the belly at least! Again, loved the restaurant location. Photo below is my wife on the way to eat...

Walking to breakfast, Cliff and River resort

We just about managed to beat the Germans to the pool. Figured we would as we beat them to breakfast by about 15 minutes. We planned to check out before midday, but I certainly planned to enjoy the pool for a couple of hours! Views in the morning around 9am, great - blue skies and a great view of the cliff that gives the hotel (part of) it's name.





Could stay there all day with a break for lunch! Hiking? You are welcome to it! We came for the scenery :) A drive around this area gives endless views. I am sure hikes would too, but our kids really don't want to go trekking and I don't plan to be "Outdoor Dad" - hey kids, let's do a 10 mile mountain hike! We do plan another trip on the lake/reservoir sometime and for sure will be back at Cliff and River, probably in September when we have some more school holidays and my parents are visiting from the UK.

Khao Sok mountains, jungle and blue skies

We paid 2,000 Baht for the night for the family (2 adults, 2 kids)... there are actually some family rooms that are a bit bigger too. A big lunch including a few beers was 750 Baht. We'd plan to stay 2 nights next time to allow more time for maybe a canoe trip or elephant ride or just more time in the pool! This place was a welcome rest. Easy to do as a weekend trip from Phuket too - we might even do that before September.

Cliff and River website is here, or there is easy to use online booking at Agoda.com.

We visited again in September - stayed 2 nights, enjoyed a very relaxing time even with the heavy rain most of the afternoon on the 2nd day, I mean, it's rainforest, so you have to expect rain! The jungle looks great on a rainy day!

khao-sok-morning

Some friends came along too, and we had a little party. The photo below taken in the morning, my daughter went to visit a friend's daughter at their bungalow. I look at the photo and can feel the peace.

Bungalow

Some more photos from our September visit to the Cliff and River Jungle Resort on Flickr.

Cliff and River Jungle Resort Online Booking

Update July 2012 - we did another Khao Sok trip including canoeing and tubing on the river - see Khao Sok National Park Trip 2012.

The Whanganui River

Day 1. I had to go on to the river with a guided group of five people because getting to the river required carting the canoes and the kayak down an unsealed road. They were a family of for from Auckland (German mum, English Dad, 10 year old boy Christophe and 12 year old girl Yasmine) and a middle aged woman called Pip, also from Auckland. Their guide was a Welsh lad called Dave. Once on the water I was free to paddle off and explore the river and some side streams but I had chosen to stay the first night in the same campsite as the rest of the group. On the river the scenery was once again beautiful, steep cliffs on either bank coated in thick vegetation and rainforest, see pics, I won't drivel on, and it was unbroken for the whole of the 5 hours of paddling it took to get me to the first campsite.

Each of the campsites along the river have a small shelter over a picnic bench, rainwater tap and a long drop toilet. I pitched Frank, my tent, whilst the rain just about held off and soon after the rest of the group arrived. We had the campsite to ourselves as most people choose to stay at the DOC huts that are along the river. The others in the group had paid a fair bit more than me to have a guide who cooked their meals and also they were spending one night in the only hotel down the river, giving them a night with a shower and electricity.

The kids built a fire unsupervised (I like this attitude to growing up that is common to all Kiwis - Let them get on with it - if they set fire to themselves, well they'll only do it once), I ate my dinner of crackers and peanut butter then we swapped places and the others ate a proper meal of pasta with chicken and vegetables whilst I tended to the fire, not an easy task in the rain.

After the family, Pip and Dave had had their fill there were leftovers and they insisted on me having some, I felt a bit guilty as they'd paid for it but later on I earnt it by entertaining the kids in good humour. Christophe was a big fan of the 'copying everything Glyn says and does' game as well as the 'how long can you hold on to Glyn's leg' game. Two of my personal favourites, obviously, but they did get slightly annoying. After about 30 seconds. To distract from the fun I produced marshmallows from my bag and we went down to the fire to melt and drop most of them in the fire.


Day 2. Paddled further than the others to Mangaparua campsite and I was the only one there. Because of this it seemed appropriate to get naked and build a fire because it had been raining it took me 2 hours to get a fire burning properly. I was dressed again by this point and started pounding my chest shouting fire like Tom Hanks does in Castaway. I managed to heat soup and a packet of noodles over the fire which was enough to make me feel like Ray Mears. Then it got dark. I saw a rat. I heard strange noises. I was scared, only a bit, but I realised I'd never been alone in the wild before. I got more scared when inside my tent I heard an animal run past, it was definitely bigger than a rat and it took me a few minutes to reason that it was probably a goat as I'd seen a few along the riverbank earlier. I didn't go and check I just put my headphones in and tried to ignore the noises of rats and goats.

Day 3. Crossed the river to the bridge to nowhere walk - the bridge is strong enough for large vehicles and it connects two patches of rainforest that have no roads. It really is a bridge to nowhere. I then paddled to Tieke Kainga, arriving at 1:30.
It was just me and a Maori woman called Leslie with tattoos from her bottom lip down to her chin. Leslie looks after the place which has a beautiful Marae (Maori meeting place) and a large carved totem pole along with a hut for sleeping in and a hut for cooking. Leslie explained that the land had belonged to her family but the Department of Conservation illegally built a hut on the site. The Maori didn't like this much so they threw the hut in the river. This happened three times before the DoC came to an arrangement with the Maori that they would build and maintain huts on the site but they would belong to the Maori people who would welcome visitors. More people arrived, one of whom was a river guide with a passion for the great kiwi sport of possum bashing. I saw two and showed them to the guy but I missed the one that he did get. In hindsight I'm quite glad I didn't see it because although they are a pest they still look deceptively cute.

Day 4. I didn't have far to paddle so I spent the morning waiting for the rain to clear, reading and chatting to Leslie. For all Leslie's pride about her Maori heritage it turns out she used to be a pole dancer with a pet yellow python called Willy.
I cruised down to the next campsite at 2pm and a few hours later was joined by the others that had entered the water with me. Christophe greeted me by shooting me 3 times with a stick then hugging me. We built a campfire and everyone insisted I have a portion of their dinner - beef curry - for happily putting up with Christophe constantly talking and shooting me. The truth is I quite like kids really and I also like curry so it was happy days, especially as I had run out of my own food earlier that afternoon. Marshmallows were toasted for pudding, chatting and drinking in the last night of the trip over-looking the river and so to bed.

Day 5. This was the most fun day of paddling and I did most of it with the group. There were some decent rapids that I went through twice as well as a mud cave that we wallowed in up to our knees follwed by a cave housing a waterfall to clean off the mud.

The whole trip was probably the best thing I have done in New Zealand and thoroughly recommended to anyone that visits. Perfect end to a perfect country. Just on to Auckland for a few hours before my flight to Australia. Too easy.





Northern Circuit

Thursday 18/3/10. Went for a walk around Lake Rotorua, taking in more bubbling mud and sulphurous gases seeping out of the ground. I'm sure I'd been transported to another planet. After that I got on a bus back to Taupo and spent the remainder of that day and Friday 19/3/10 planning my last week in New Zealand. I wanted to do the Northern Circuit great walk and the Whanganui river great walk (not a walk at all, kayaking but it's part of New Zealand's great walks network). The Northern Circuit is a recommended four day walk, I had one and a half days because the only way I could do the kayaking was by starting on the Monday.

The Northern Circuit is a circular walk that includes the Tongariro crossing, regarded as the best one day walk in New Zealand if not the world. According to the leaflet's estimated times from hut to hut for me to complete the route in one and a half days meant I would have to walk for about ten hours on day one and possibly eight hours the next starting at 6am in order to catch my bus to Ohakune for the Whanganui.

Saturday 20/3/10
Up at 6:30 for the bus to Whakapapa (pronounced Fakapapa). Everybody except me got off at the start of the Tongariro crossing, I dropped some bags at Whakapapa and got walking at 9am. I can't put how good the walk was in to words so look at the pictures to get some idea of how incredible the scenery was. Even they don't come close to doing the landscape justice though. In one day I went from bushy scrubland to the top of a red cratered volcano, past turquoise lakes, a blue lake and on to a volcanic rocky desert before entering a forest where the Waihohunu hut I was staying in was sat overlooking a pretty river. I'd covered 30km of tough terrain by the time I got to the hut at 5:30 so when some of the seven people tried talking to me I struggled to give more than monosyllabic answers. The next morning it was an easy four and a half hour walk back to Whakapapa. It had been yet another unbelievable experience. Just another day in New Zealand.

I was left with three hours to kill and in this tiny village there was only one place to kill time. It was pub o'clock. I'd earnt it and a couple at lunch time doesn't count as drinking so I was doing well on sober day 6. The girl putting out tables opened the bar early for me and gave me drinks at local's prices. A lot of tills in NZ have two prices. She also only charged me for two of the three drinks, apparently because she was leaving soon and didn't care any more. I had a good chat with her and her boyfriend before catching the bus to Ohakune. At Ohakune I had a dorm room all to myself, it occurred to me that I hadn't slept alone for nearly two months so I celebrated by getting naked and farting. Adventure complete (the walk not the fart) and tomorrow it would be the start of another great adventure - The Whanganui River.

N.B. I have breasts in the picture of me in front of the old red hut. I don't know where they came from or where they went but I wish I knew they were there so I could have had a go on them.









JACK-FRUIT----(THE LARGEST FRUIT TO GROW ON A TREE)

The heart of the jackfruit is also used to make the yellow dye for monks robes
My computer table and desk , I cut a jackfruit tree down and had the wood sawed into boards and gave to man to make me a table , I love the color . No stain was added to color the wood all natural color

Another shot of my desk or table


I don't know how the limbs can hold these heavy fruits without breaking (some can weigh 50 lbs.)

This is younger fruit

Small pieces cut from the fruit to get to the eatable part of the fruit


These are the small segments or pods that are eatable and contain the seed


The seeds are good to eat , roast them and they taste like a chestnut

These pods are very sticky and you have to be careful not to get on your counter and knife .


This pictures shows the prickly side of the fruit, that you have to cut thru to get to the pod segments inside . These are very sweet when ripe and a lot of folks like to cook them green as a subsitute for meat , and also to boil and put in a Thai soup.


Yesterday Ciejay went in the field behind our house where there is a huge jack-fruit tree and cut off one of the fruits ready and ripe (you can tell by the smell), and you can't believe how big it was , it must have weighted 25 lbs. at least.
I love jack-fruit , but it is really hard to peel and cut and get the fruit out as it is filled with a rubber juice that keeps most folks from cutting and eating them , but Ciejay has a way of doing it and does not get to much rubber on everything .We had it for a fruit dessert after dinner and it was the sweetest one I have eaten in all my 6 years here in the LOS . Not only was there enough for us , but she divided it among all the neighbors and they were all thankful, that they did'nt have to cut and clean out for themselves . Not only is Jack-fruit great to eat but the wood from the tree is prized for it's quality to make musical instruments, the wood has a wonderful yellow color that makes beautiful furniture (see the picture of my table) and the heart of the wood is used to make the dye to color the robes for the Thai monks.
Jackfruit
By , About.com Guide
Definition: Enormous and prickly on the outside, jackfruit looks somewhat like durian (though jackfruit is usually even larger). Once a jackfruit is cracked open, what you will find inside are pods or "bulbs". Often referred to as the seeds, these bulbs are actually a kind of fleshy covering for the true seeds or pits, which are round and dark like chesnuts. The fleshy part (the "bulb") can be eaten as is, or cut up and cooked. When unripe (green), it is remarkably similar in texture to chicken, making jackfruit an excellent vegetarian substitute for meat. In fact, canned jackfruit (in brine) is sometimes referred to as "vegetable meat".
Jackfruit can also be purchased frozen, dried, or canned either in brine (usually unripe) or in syrup (ripe and sweet). If using fresh jackfruit, it's a good idea to oil your knife and hands first before cutting, as the fruit is very sticky.
Jackfruit contains many vitamins and minerals, and offers numerous health benefits. The fruit's isoflavones, antioxidants, and phytonutrients mean that jackfruit has cancer-fighting properties. It is also known to help cure ulcers and indigestion.

Tormented by my inner drunk in Rotorua

Travelled to Rotorua on my last Kiwi experience journey. Rotorua is situated on a very thin bit of the earth's crust and so has steam coming out of vents, bubbling mud and geysers all around the area. I visited Te Puia to see the biggest of the geysers and also some Maori cultural history then walked back to town for dominos (crap) and a dvd - Iron man, also crap.
I didn't want to go out because whilst away, I hadn't been drinking every day but on my budget I was drinking far too often. I wanted to do a full week sober and this was only day 2. But it was St. Patrick's day so when a slightly punk looking German girl who had just finished work asked me if I fancied a few and offered to buy me a pint of Guiness, I had little choice.
The first of Rotorua's three Irish bars we tried was rammed. I queued up for 20 minutes, 4 rows of people back from the bar, I was surrounded by smashed people and I didn't have a drink in my hand. I had to leave. We walked to the next Irish bar, I half hoped it was rammed so that I could make my excuses and avoid drinking. It wasn't, so I went to the bar and ordered 2 pints of Guiness resigned to the fact that I am a weak willed drunkard.
But wait, it wasn't game over yet, one or two pints of Guiness on St. Paddy's doesn't count as drinking and to my delight the German girl was incredibly dull, there was no way I wanted to spend more time in her company than was necessary so I was in luck.
I had to wait for a second pint because I'd bought the first round and as much as I wasn't fussed about drinking another it went against my principles to turn down a free one. After yet another awkward silence German girl asked 'So what music are you in to?'
'Could you quit the small talk, I've got an empty pint here, it's your round and your bland personality is honestly making me angry' Is what I should have said. Instead I let out an audible sigh and named some bands I hoped she hadn't heard of. Sadly she had heard of Gomez. 'Gomez, I love them' She said without emotion 'What's that song they did?'
I sighed again, where is my pint? 'They've had a few, they've got about 6 albums so you'll have to narrow it down'
'Oh umm, I can't remember how it goes or what it's called, but it's really good'
And my pint? 'They are good.'
'Oh yeah I love Gomez, can't believe you like them too'
Pint? 'yep.'
'Cool'
Silence.
'I need another beer, do you want one?' I said
'Oh no it's my round, I'll go' Thank christ for that!
I drank my Guiness in 4 swigs, apologised that I was tired and left her talking to someone at the bar.
I know it's a poor reflection on myself but I was really proud that I'd gone home after only 2 drinks when there was so much going on in the town. I've certainly never managed it on a Saturday night in Southampton so maybe this was the start of a change for the sober? Well soberer.




FOOD TO GO (TAKE AWAY)

The famous Thailand Binder or Tie-----------------THE RUBBER BAND
Take Away and bring home

Red Curry Pla(fish)--Red Curry Guy (chicken)-- Tai Palo (boiled egg with pork and to-fu )-- Coke Zero---butter rolls--and fresh boiled white corn on the cob

Seems like a lot of my post have to do with food lately , well can I help it that food is one of the favorite things I love about Thailand , and the experts say that the color Red makes you hungry , soooo with all the Red Shirts on T.V. and the Net , I seem to stay hungry all the time . I'm going to miss them when they go, then we will be back to the colors yellow , blue, and pink , and they say these colors make us feel full , maybe that will help this ever expanding waist line of mine , ha ha .
Not only are there little restaurants on ever corner , in our village (and most villages in Thailand) they all have take away as they call it here in the LOS. Whatever you order from the menu they will put in a plastic bag and tie, with a hundred tight twist of a rubber band, and a knot that I have yet figured out how to untie , sooo I end up cutting it with my knife and sometimes makeing a mess of things in doing so . Do you hate the rubber band ties as much as I do?, and every where you look around the kitchen there are rubber bands .

But, take away is very convenient, when it's to hot to cook at home (or to lazy) and to hot to eat outside (or to many bugs) , and it's sooo easy to say "take away ".

I did just that the other day for dinner and was able to buy enough food and drink, for Ciejay and Me for less that 100 baht , now you can't beat a deal like that and a few of the little food tables will even have their kids deliver it to your house on their Honda's or bikes . I love it and thats why I'm "Retired in Thailand and Loving It". Malcolm
AND SEEING RED
What do Safeway, Walgreens, and Costco have in common? The obvious answer is that they are all large operated American supermarkets. But do you think it’s any coincidence that these three grocery stores – along with others like Winn-Dixie, Wawa, Giant, and Supervalu – all use red in their logo?
A color psychologist would tell you that this is no surprise: red is the color that makes people hungry. Red instantly attracts attention and it also makes people excited, energetic, and increases the heart rate.
In the fast-food industry, look no further than McDonalds, Wendy’s, or Burger King as prime examples of this. These massive companies all have a large amount of red in their branding as well, which subconsciously lets customers know that the chain is high-energy, bustling, and most importantly fast.
Red seems to have color dominance with regards to actual food products, as well. If red foods such as tomatoes, strawberries, and apples aren’t a natural part of the product, often times red packaging is used instead, such as with Coke, Skittles, and Campbell’s Soup. Mmm… maybe you’re hungry now?