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.

Visiting Rai Chun Tawan ...

Rai Chun Tawan is a Buddhist meditation center or I believe they call it, vipassana center, associated with a very famous monk.  Since I don’t believe monks actually own things, I chose the word associated as being more discrete.  Located on the backside of Huay Sak reservoir in Chiang Rai Thailand you are not going to stumble across it if you are not looking for it and know where it is.  I have been to Huay Sak reservoir before but didn’t know Chun Tawan was there and had never traveled far enough down the dirt roads leading past the dam to find it.

It was a religious holiday and my wife thought it might make for an interesting outing to try and find this place she had read about.  Huay Sak is a small town located on the road from Chiang Rai to Thoeng but we took a shortcut from our house by cutting through the 1306 at Baan Don.  The 1306 comes out right at the Huay Sak intersection and shortened our trip considerably.  We followed some small Thai signs which brought us in what I assume is the main entrance.  In the mood for a little more exploration upon leaving, we headed further into the mountains instead of retracing our path.  Eventually to my surprise and delight we passed the dam and came out at the main intersection in Huay Sak.  Like many reservoirs at this time of year, the water level was quite low with water being released for the rice planting.

Maybe it is just me but my pursuit of inner peace and tranquility is a solitary undertaking and not something I would find possible surrounded by hundreds of other people.  Then again as long as I have lived here, I am not Thai.  Don’t get me wrong it is a lovely place.  In fairness I suppose religiosity has always been very social and cultural at its core.  Accommodation seemed to cover upscale bungalows to tents spaced around a grassy meadow, with some rather nice locker and bathing facilities.

As an interesting side note, one of my wife’s Facebook friends mentioned that she was among those we took to be sleeping under the rubber-wood trees.  With claims that she heard snoring around her, we should give her the benefit of the doubt that she was indeed awake and meditating.  If you are really interested, my guess is that Googling Rai Chun Tawan Vipassana Center should give you more detailed information. 

I just wanted to share some photographs I took of the lovely grounds during our little outing.

Route 68 Restaurant and Bar in Phuket Town

Update June 2014 - sorry to say that Route 68 has closed down ... but the old town area has plenty more restaurants, cafes and pubs!

Update 2015 - 2 new bars/hangouts were opened by the owners of Route 68 - one was called The Route, and was on Phang Nga Road in Phuket Town .. and it closed again. The other is Baan Samran on Krabi Road near the Chinpracha House in the old town - see them on Facebook @ facebook.com/baansamranphuket!

Phuket Town has a lot of options for restaurants, many of them small and interesting, especially around the old town area. Now, we're not big on night life, and we normally go out with our kids so we're not out late. Every now and then I make a vow that we must try some new restaurants to keep life interesting ... and to make sure there's something new to blog! We do eat at home most of the time - remember we live here, we're not on holiday! And we are often a bit lazy with regards to eating out, we have our favourite places to eat and don't want to "risk" trying a different place. Yeh, getting old. I know.

Last week, we had an evening stroll on Thalang Road in the heart of the old town. It's pretty quiet down there most evenings, as mushc of the street is still occupied by old businesses such as printers, fabric shops, hardware stores - this was the center of the business district 100 years ago and some of the stores such as the Nguan Choon Tong herb shop have been run by the same families since they were built. It's not really a party zone. There are a few livelier bars within a couple of blocks such as Roxy, The Mine, Timber Hut and Rockin' Angels are all close by. Thalang Road stays nice and quiet. This time, we decided to try Route 68, which I must have walked past 30 times. It does have live music sometimes, but we were there early, around 7:30pm.

Route 68 Restaurant

It's built into an old shophouse, though the external facade of the shophouse looks rather different to the Sino-Portugese style that most of the buidings in the area retain. Route 68 has been modified with a retro 1960's look which fortunately does not spoil the view of the street as a whole. Would not be allowed to - the old town is well looked after by the local people who want to keep the old town looking old. Thalang Road and the little side street called Soi Romanee (directly opposite the entrance to Route 68) are the jewels in the crown, having been rid of overhead cables back in 2010. There is work on-going to remove the overhead cables from several other streets in the same area (see Phuket Town getting a facelift). The photo below shows the full front of Route 68 (picture was taken in October 2011).

Route 68 on Thalang Road in Phuket

I think Route 68 will be a place we visit again. Small and friendly, decent prices, great location with a view of Soi Romanee outside, and like many of the small cafes in town, it's decorated in an original style. There are old pictures on the wall, colourful mirrors, diner style booths, old clocks and lighting that makes the place feel homely. And then at the far end you have musical instruments, sheet music and old records on display. And there's a pool table.

Route 68 Restaurant in Phuket Town

Route 68 Restaurant in Phuket Town

Route 68 Restaurant in Phuket Town

Actually, we only popped in for a snack but the kids asked for spaghetti. My son said the spaghetti with beef was "the best", my daughter had spaghetti with tuna, said it was not better than Dairy Hut, but it disappeared pretty damn fast! My wife and I just ordered some snacks and drinks. Here comes my Chang beer!

Route 68 Restaurant in Phuket Town

Route 68 Restaurant in Phuket Town

We're not too strict with kids bedtime especially if there's no school next day, so I fancy we'll be back at Route 68 sometime soon and hope to catch some live music. On the same street a bit to the west you can find Kopitiam, which is a regular favourite of ours. There is sometimes live music on Soi Romanee at the Glastnost Cafe. There's also a place called Rockin' Angels nearby and another one called Rider Cafe. It's only a 15 minute drive into town for us, so we go quite often, even just for a walk and a drink. We joke about buying our own shophouse in the old town, as it's our favourite part of Phuket! Maybe there will be a Jamie's Cafe one day!

Music at Route 68, Thalang Road, Phuket Town

(above) Some gentle live music at Route 68

Route 68 Restaurant - Location Map

View Route 68 Restaurant in Phuket Town in a larger map

UPDATE 2015 - Route 68 is not there now. It closed and is now a souvenir shop. Shame!

Dark Sky...

Sometimes there can be found a stark beauty in a menacing dark sky.

Another day and an approaching storm.

Yet another day.

Here are a couple more recent shots.

More recent updates.

A Busy June in the Rai...

Birthday, anniversary, driver’s license, vehicle registrations and insurance, 90 day report of residence, the wife enrolling at a local university and various projects around the house.  I have also had several blog posts floating around in my head but have been unable to focus on any one of them long enough to get anything published.  There is method to my madness, however, so allow me to elaborate.

As a child I always felt blessed to have Christmas and my birthday evenly space across the calendar, unlike my brother who had them both crammed into the same month.  By the time I got around to getting married, at 45 years of age, I was astute enough to see the advantages of having birthday and anniversary on the same day.  Birthdays are hard to forget, no matter how hard you try.  As perfect as that would have been, we didn’t have all the required paperwork prepared on that day and had to come back later in the month.  At least we managed to get our anniversary is in the same month as my birthday.

As a matter of practicality we have tended to make major purchases around our birthdays, which are only a month apart, and designate them as birthday gifts.  For me that included things like my mountain bike, motorcycle and truck.  My wife’s list is too long and unmanageable to cover here.  Okay not particularly romantic but it works for us.

So here is the rundown for the month of June.  I turn 58 this month and have long since ceased to recognize that person in the mirror.  Though we have been together for 15 years, we have been married for 13 as of this month.  Wonderful and happy years I might add.  My driver’s license needed renewal after 5 years and we have been thinking of replacing our 5 year old truck with something new but there is still a backlog of vehicle orders due to last year’s events in Japan and Bangkok.

My wife enjoyed her recent volunteer teaching, so has decided to go back to school herself, which I support as a good idea.  With the rainy season upon us it is a good time to plant trees in the front field we had filled in earlier this year, so that project is ongoing.  With the air again breathable I am trying to get out a bit more on the mountain bike and walking more with my wife and Cookie but I still find it a little too hot to start running again.  I will have to get back to that soon.

On a not so pleasant note, I had a couple of basal cell carcinomas removed last month with a note from the lab that they were fully excised.  With my family history there are sure to be more in my future.

Surely I am forgetting something but I will stop here and submit this as my excuse for not doing more on the blog this month.

Fishing for Fun and Family

One of my Favorite past times, now that I am retired, and for the most part, all my life has been fishing . I grew up fishing with my Dad and Grand-pa.  Fishing every week-in on the Broad River in S.C. and my Grand-pa's favorite past Ben Adams fish pond was a way of life and a real treat and a right of passage as a young boy, you paid $2.00 for adults and kids were free under 12 , for all day and the pond was stocked with catfish and carp . On Broad River we fished for fresh water turtles and catfish and I can remember some of the cooters (another name for the turtles) , being as big as a wash tub and big enough for us to get a ride on it's back before it became cooter stew , for which my Grand-pa was famous in our town for making and he also made the best catfish stew you ever tasted , folks use to come to his back yard when he was cooking catfish stew and they bring bowls to take home to eat. Have you ever ate cooter or catfish  stew?? I quickly learned as a young boy that fishing was not only a lot of fun, but it could provide a lot of food for the table. Growing up in the south that was a real plus. Well-- enough rambling about my childhood,I could go on all day about fishing and my adventures fishing as a young boy , and I could fill a volume of books about my fishing days as a grown-up and especially fishing with my boy's when they were growing up , they are fisherman now too, and love it as much as their Dad. Maybe one of these days I'll just sit down and write at least one book on the subjects.
  Today's story started with me mentioning to Ciejay that it looked like a good day to go fishing , and to my surprise she said "let's go", WOW  so it didn't take me but a minute or two to throw everything in the truck we'd need for fishing , and Ciejay quickly packed us a lunch and off we went . We decide to go to a little lake that we had pasted a hundred times on the way to and back from the Bamboo School and each time we pasted  I would say " I'm going to go fishing here some day " and today was the day . The lake sits at the bottom of a huge rock  mountain  with a few small huts around it , and a real nice place to stop the truck and a good place to throw out your line and just sit and enjoy the scenery and peace and quite and hope you get LUCKY and catch a fish , well we saw lots of scenery and enjoyed the peace and quiet , BUT!!!!!! no fish, even tho ,we did see some jumping , way over on the other side , which of course we could not get to. It was a beautiful day and we just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves and our time together ( fishing and spending time with Ciejay ,my sweet wife)  It don't get any better than that.

Just as we were getting ready to go , (I had drowned all my worms )  lol , we saw some folks over on the other side of the lake splashing around in the water and looking like they were having a fun time swimming . Ciejay said she saw them put in a net and look like they were herding the fish into it , well this got my attention, because in all my fishing days young and old , , I had never heard of HERDING fish into a net . I told Ciejay we just had to go take a look and see what they were doing and if it was working for them. . They were in the water when we got there , they had gallon jugs tied with ropes around their waist to  keep them a float, and each had a bamboo stick in their hands, and were beating the water as they swam. I just stood there in amazement watching  this family catching fish to feed themselves and  their neighbors as they said they were all related ,so they would share the catch with all. After swimming  a couple of times around the small pond , cut off from the rest of the lake and feed by a small canal, they had dug they came out of the water and Pa got back in and started gathering up the net , then up came the kids Mom and Dad and I was now witnessing  three generations , fishing together for fish to last them a week until the next week-in  and a time to repeat it all over again. I couldn't believe it but that net was full of fish . To me it looked like fun , but I'm sure to them it's just a necessity  of life. To keep from going home with no fish of our own ,I ask Ciejay to ask if they would sell us a couple , and they said they never sold any, they just shared them with friends and family so we ask again how much for 4 nice ones and they said the old Thai  thing "UP TO YOU ". Well ,Ciejay and I agreed that 60 baht( about$1.70 US)  would be a fair price and they were happy to sell them .  Well we were on our way home ,happy and with 4 fresh fish , and Ciejay said "what you want for dinner tonight?". To that I replied "Fried Fish and cole slaw and french fries and a Coke Zero." It don't get no better than that. Hope you enjoyed my rambling and my fish story , and again with all the lakes and streams and rivers here in Thailand , fishing is  just another reason why we're "Retired in Thailand and Loving It."


Indy Market in Phuket Town

The 'Indy Market' in Phuket Town is a place we like to visit now and then with our kids. It's only existed since late 2010 and was set up as an outlet for young people to meet up, sell handmade goods or clothes, have a snack and a laugh, listen to some live music .. and it's all very wholesome and clean. It's very popular with teenagers, all trying to dress to impress. It's not a big market, just one street called Limelight Avenue on Dibuk Road in Phuket Town next to the popular Lemongrass restaurant, and it's open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings from late afternoon until at least 10pm. In Thai, the market is called "Lad Ploy Kong" (หลาดปล่อยของ) - which means something like 'Market to get rid of things'. The Thai word for market is 'talad', but the South Thai dialect misses off the first syllable, so you have 'lad'. They do the same with other words, for example 'sanook' (fun) becomes 'nook'.

Phuket Indy Market (หลาดปล่อยของ)

You enter at the enrance gate above where I always see youngsters snapping photos of each other with their iPhones and no doubt uploading direct to Facebook! This is a very different little market to the larger Weekend Market (which is open Saturdays and Sundays). It's almost all teenagers, the odd family here and there and I have never seen too many tourists. I mean, it's not a huge attraction, but certainly worth a look if you are around Phuket Town on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. We combined our last visit with a walk on Thalang road and a meal in a small restaurant nearby. You may also be able to pick up some reasonably priced and original Phuket souvenirs or artwork. But mostly it's clothes, shoes and local teens trying to look cool :)

Girl and guitar

At the 'Indy Market' Phuket Town

Nail painting

(above) Girls get their nails painted at the Indy Market.

You can walk around the whole thing in 15 minutes, longer if you are interested in shoes and clothes - and it's mostly girls stuff. There might be some live music going on, normally just local kids who want to take the stage. And there are quite a few snack and drink stalls. One popular stall does some very tasty deep fried pork which is served with sticky rice. And our kids like these crepes (see below) onto which can be added a variety of sauces and toppings. Since the market is mostly for teens, most of the drinks for sale are non-alcoholic, though I did see one stall selling cocktails. Anyway, we just got some orange juice.

Snacks at the Indy Market, Phuket Town

Grilled squid for sale

Deep fried pork

Oh, and this is a No Smoking market. Good!

Indy Market - Entrance

Phuket Indy Market

Update 2015 - the Indy Market is a little smaller now, as a new mall opened on the same street. The area is called Limelight Avenue. The new mall has a food court and lots of small fashion shops and cafes. And also a branch of Tops supermarket. And a pub called Pint Factory. And it's airconditioned, which is a nice thing if you are walking around the old town and need to cool off!

Phuket Indy Market - Location Map

View Indy Market in Phuket Town in a larger map

Kaffeeklatsch (Nr. 101)


wie schön, dass ich heute Kaffeeklatsch Nr. 101 übernehmen darf - ich freu' mich schon so darauf, demnächst wieder einen glücklichen Gewinner unseres Kaffeeklatsch-Giveaways ziehen zu dürfen. Ach ja, offizielles Glücksbringerbärchen auf diesem Blog zu sein, ist schon was Feines. *schmunzel*
... it's so nice that it's my turn today to host "Kaffeeklatsch" No. 101 - and I'm so looking forward to drawing the official winner of our "Kaffeeklatsch"-Giveaway soon. Well, it's a great thing to be the official lucky charm bear of this blog. *smile*

Etwas ganz, ganz Feines hat gestern auch der Turnverein Hassee-Winterbek vollbracht - und da möchte ich bei dieser Gelegenheit mal ganz herzlich gratulieren. Zum einen, weil es eine wirklich herausragende Leistung war, zum anderen, weil wir natürlich etwas lokalpatriotisch sind, schließlich ist Birgit geborene Kielerin und dort auch aufgewachsen. Tja, liebe Fußballfreunde, davon könnt Ihr nur träumen: Triple gewonnen (Souveräner Deutscher Meister, Pokal und Champions League) und in der laufenden Saison nicht ein Spiel verloren. Eine makellose Bilanz von 68:0!!! Deshalb: Herzlichen Glückwunsch an den THW Kiel für eine Saison, die Sportgeschichte schreibt!
Something great was done by "Turnverein Hassee-Winterbek" yesterday - and I want to take this opportunity to say my congratulations. On the one hand because it was an outstanding success, on the other hand because we're local patriots with Birgit being born and raised in Kiel. Yes, dear Soccer-fans, you can only dream of something like this: Winning the Triple (German Championship, Cup and Champions League) and not one lost game during the whole season. A clean balance of 68:0 points!!! So: Congratulations to the THW Kiel for writing history in sports! (And for all our foreign friends who don't know what I'm talking about - it's about our local Handball-team, probably the best at the moment to be found anywhere *grin*)
Aber nun genug mit Sport, viel wichtiger ist es doch, einen schönen Sonntag zu genießen - und was wäre dazu besser geeignet als nachher ein schöner Sonntagsnachmittagskaffeeklatsch mit ein, zwei Tässchen leckerem Sonntagsnachmittagskaffee und ein, zwei, drei, vier Stückchen leckerem Sonntagsnachmittagskuchen. Dabei wünsche ich Euch nachher ganz viel Spaß und natürlich auch eine ganz tolle Woche. Morgen werden wir in Gedanken bei jemand ganz Besonderem sein und uns die Pfoten bzw. in Birgits Fall die Daumen wund drücken...
But now enough talking about sports, I think it's more important to enjoy a beautiful Sunday - and what could be better for enjoying than a nice Sundayafternoon-"Kaffeeklatsch" with one, two cups of tasty Sundayafternooncoffee and one, two, three, four pieces of yummy Sundayafternooncake. Hope you'll enjoy it later on and of course I'm wishing to all of you a great week. Tomorrow our thoughts will be with someone special and we will all cross our paws or in Birgit's case the thumbs...

Liebe Grüße / Hugs
Euer Lucky

Willkommen im Juni


nun ist es so weit - der Mai ist vorbei und der Juni ist da... Nun gut, der Juni ist der Rosen- und Erdbeermonat, das ist schon was Feines... (Ah, Erdbeeren... süße, rote, aromatische, leckere, köstliche Erdbeeren... äh... wo war ich...), aber auf der anderen Seite ist das Jahr bald schon wieder halb rum und die Tage werden ab 21.6. auch schon wieder kürzer.
... and now May is over and June arrived... Well, June is the month of roses and strawberries, that's quite great... (Ah, strawberries... sweet, red, aromatic, tasty, yummy strawberries... äh... where am I...), on the other side the year is nearly half over now and after June 21st the days will be shorter already.

Aber zunächst einmal ist ja wieder das allmonatliche Kalenderumstellungsritual angesagt. Gentlebär Flutterby ist natürlich wie immer zur Stelle, um Birgit bei der Aktualisierung des Sprüchekalenders zu helfen. Für diesen Monat kommt uns der Kalender mit einem wirklich tollen Mohn-Bild und einem Spruch, der beinahe für meine Birgit gemacht sein könnte: "Fantasie ist die Fähigkeit, Dinge zu sehen, die es noch nicht gibt." Oder in Birgits Fall, Dinge, die andere so nicht sehen... *grins* Leider wieder mal kein Verfasser dabei...
But first it's time for our monthly actualizing of our calendars. Gentlebear Flutterby was right at hand... eh... paw to help Birgit with actualizing our wisdom calendar. For this month it shows a gorgeous pic of a poppy and a saying that could be made extra for my Birgit (As always I'm saying the German quotations in my own modest words): Fantasy is an ability to see things that don't exist so far. Or in Birgit's case, to see things others don't see... *grin* Sadly there wasn't again an author named...
Zum Thema Fantasie hat der Schriftsteller Gabriel Laub folgenden schönen Gedanken formuliert: "Fantasie ist etwas, was sich manche Leute gar nicht vorstellen können." Und für den Fall, dass der Weg von der Fantasie in die Realität etwas holprig sein sollte, gibt's eine hilfreiche Sichtweise von Benjamin Franklin: "Ich bin nie gescheitert, ich hatte nur 10.000 Ideen, die nicht funktionierten." Genau, immer nur eine Frage des richtigen Blickwinkels! *zwinker* Und für alle Kreativen noch ein Tipp von James McNeill Whistler: "Das Werk eines Meisters riecht nicht nach Schweiß, verrät keine Anstrengung und war von Anfang an fertig."
On the topic fantasy the author Gabriel Laub formed a lovely thought - he said fantasy is something some people can't even imagine. And in case the way from fantasy to reality might be a little rough, here's some helpful point of view from Benjamin Franklin who said he never failed, he only hat 10.000 ideas that didn't work. Yep, everything just a question of how you look at things! *wink* And to all creatives a little advice from James McNeill Whistler who said the work of a master doesn't smell like sweat (or Teen Spirit... *giggle* sorry, couldn't hold that one...), doesn't show any effort and was ready right from the beginning.

Ich wünsche Euch einen fantasiereichen und fantastischen Juni!!!
I'm wishing to all auf you a fantastic June full of fantasy!!!

Liebe Grüße / Hugs