Road Trip Part 3, Nong Wua So …

First order of business upon arriving, was to get a room at Nong Wua So Resort, the only place close to where we wanted to be.  We stayed there a couple of years ago but that time we made the mistake of not getting a room early in the day and had to settle for the last and least desirable room they had available.  The room and bed were not as nice as the White Inn Nong Khai but the wooden standalone bungalows were rustic and more interesting to look at.  Being able to park by the front door was a welcome convenience, as well.  In the morning light I was able to capture a shot of the pond at its absolute best.  Believe me it doesn’t usually look that good.

After seeing the nephew, and meeting the new Swedish husband and luk-khrung baby, we walked to a nearby temple compound with the ex-sister-in-law and the kids.  It was a huge area with old growth trees and a large pond with equally large fish and at least one good sized turtle.  Even the temple dogs were huge and their greeting echoed through the forest of trees, like the sound of thunder. 

The extensive temple grounds seemed to serve as a community park, at least for the ex-sister-in-law.  The fish and other wildlife entertained our five year old nephew, while the infant slept in her arms.  I wandered around taking pictures, generally doing my own thing, as usual.  On our walk back to their home we passed through the Nong Wua So Market, around sunset. 

While my wife did the shopping, I managed to capture my first passable iPhone 5 image.  I was lamenting not having my camera on me, and the numerous obstructions blocking my view of a very interesting sunset and cloud formation.  The best of the clouds had passed by the time I realized I had a camera in my phone.  Still I did compose one decent shot combining, the dramatic yet peaceful sky, with the vibrant and colorful market.

Sleep did not come easily, nor in adequate quantity for either of us that night, but soon enough it was morning and time to gather up family to go visit the grandmother in another village.  While the women folk lavished their attentions on the half-farang infant and the five year old played with friends, I occupied myself with the camera searching out interesting angles and portraits.  When I tired of that it was time to focus my attention, once again, on the writing of this blog post.

I tire quickly of the incessant questioning about why we don’t have, or want children, so I have learned to separate from the group and entertain myself with hobbies more to my liking.  My wife runs interference assuring others they need not be worried about me as I am quite capable of taking care of myself.  I forgot all about the Swedish guy finding out only later, he had gone off to visit friends in the village and to enjoy some home cooked Swedish food.

As I sat writing, there was a constant din of village talk in the background, in the Isaan dialect with which I am not fluent.  Still I understood enough, but I chose to focus my limited attention more on their emotive style of presentation which I find entertaining, or at least I did on this particular day.  Village people have an earthy, expressive way of communicating in general, but there are also distinct regional differences which I took note of.  It was all just background noise, really, while I sat writing with the laptop.

At some point my attention shifted to the route we should take the following day and I began looking at Google Maps on the iPhone.  This trip was my first encounter with GPS and I was learning as I went.  In the car I had to turn the navigation lady off, as she kept telling me to go in a direction not of my choosing.  I must admit, marking where I was occasionally, did make reproducing a Google Map for this blog a little easier in the end.

Later the second day after leaving the family, my wife thought it might be a good idea to have a massage in Udon.  She found a place on her iPhone which sounded like it would do.  We have massaged together many times over the years but this was the first time we ended up in separate rooms, as well as the first time I had been offered a special or what is sometimes refer to as a Happy Ending.

The girl seemed unfazed by my somewhat parochial suggestion that her offer might not be entirely appropriate considering my wife was figuratively, if not literally, in the next room.  I did sense a little disappointment at the loss of a bigger tip but that was all.  When I asked about her standard procedure she casually offered, she was required to ask but it was no big deal.  I just couldn’t get over her casual naïveté, unusual questions and limited insights.  She was young, however, so perhaps she was representative of modern girls in her profession. 

The wife and I had a good chuckle in the car on the way to dinner.  We had clearly chosen a place that specialized in sensual, as opposed to therapeutic massage.  Speaking of dinner, we had both noticed a nice modern looking restaurant on the highway and my wife suggested we try it out.  Surely we couldn’t be wrong twice in one day. 

She was eager to eat something other than village food for a change, feeling the need for something more substantial in a nicer environment.  Considering the number of patrons, both Thai and Farang, we had high hopes for the food at Faroh House, but we were sadly disappointed.  The best part of the meal was the garlic bread and desert.  Nothing tasted anything like what we expected.  Everything was too sweet and there were strange fillers, like peas, in my lasagna.  Her fish was not much better.

So it appears we are indeed capable of being wrong on multiple occasions, all on the same day.  Chalk it up to experience and try not to be too disappointed, I guess.
The pond at Nong Wua So Resort.

Our bungalow.
The poser.

Facebook time again.

The temple lake and buildings.

The temple grounds.

The temple turtle.

Sunset at Nong Wua So Market.

Ex-sister-in-law and new mother, again.

Nephew and friends
Grandmother weaves straw mats with this stuff.

Little boys and their ice cream.

Karte Merci

Schon wieder Freitag und die Woche ist eigentlich schon gelaufen. Wo bleibt bloß die Zeit?

Nichts desto trotz möchte ich euch heute wieder was Kreatives zeigen. Eine Dankekarte.
Danke kann man doch nicht oft genug sagen oder?

Nun wünsche ich euch ein wunderschönes, erholsames Wochenende.

Bis Montag
Für den Moment
liebe Grüße

Road Trip Part 2, Na Haeo, Chiang Khan, Nong Khai …

The road from Na Haeo to Chiang Khan moved prominently to the top of my list of the worst roads I have ever encountered.  Dirt, mud, broken asphalt, major roadwork, and a moonscape of potholes left me rattled and the car looking like a chocolate covered ice-cream sundae. 

Sorry I didn’t get any pictures after the initial construction area but I just couldn’t see getting all muddy to get an ugly picture, of an ugly road.  We did stop at a dilapidated roadside park.  It was terribly overgrown but you could just catch glimpses of some interesting rock formations in the river which must have been the motivation for developing this little park in the first place.  I tried to get down to the waters edge for a better shot but the closer I got the less I could see.

As we limped into Chiang Khan my wife was in dire need of food, nothing unusual about that I guess.  Asking around we were advised to drive a few kilometers further down the road to Kaeng Khut Khu, a riverside market and dining area that looks out over the mighty Mekong River.  This was a great find and after a quick bite, I went for a walk down by the water’s edge to stretch my legs after a day and a half of driving, collecting a few images along the way. 

From there we went back into town to see what all the fuss was about in this modern must see riverside destination.  Though midday, and nearly deserted, it was not hard to imagine the area as a bustling hotbed of nightlife reminiscent of Pai, with a walking street that seemed endlessly lined with quaint wooden shuttered shops, bars and guesthouses.

With our main goal of this trip being to visit our young nephew we hadn’t seen for two years, it was decided we were too far behind schedule to spend the night as we had planned.  Soon we were back in the car and heading to Nong Khai, again snaking our way along the river road but at a much fast pace.  Every once in a while there would be an opening in the roadside foliage and I would think to myself, that would have made for an interesting photo, but I had fallen in behind a couple of Bangkok drivers who were making good time and I was enjoying driving on a much better road, at a much better pace.

My wife had drifted off to sleep again and I didn’t want to wake her by stopping, so I never did get a record of that section of the river.  When we did finally pull over it was not at the most scenic of stops.  Continuing along the river we arrived in Nong Khai late in the afternoon.  A carwash was the first order of business in this expansive Isaan outpost on the Mekong River. 

From there we looked for and found a hotel for the night.  The White Inn Nongkhai didn’t look like much from the outside but we opted for one of their more expensive rooms at 800 baht and found the room quite spacious with a huge wonderful bed and a large glass enclosed shower with a large rain-shower style shower-head similar to what I use at home. 

Daeng Namnuang Vietnamese Restaurant, prominently situated on the riverside promenade was a must for my wife as it came highly recommended by friends.  Stepping out of the hotel on our way to the restaurant, we traversed a gauntlet of those stereotypic roadside bars, with their equally stereotypic punters, gracing barstools and eyeing us as we walked by.  The restaurant was only a few blocks away and we needed a walk, so there was nothing for it but to soak up some local color as we offered ourselves up as fodder for their evening gossip.

My wife was very happy with the restaurant, so I was too, if you get my drift.  She made plans to return the next morning to checkout the promenade in the light of day and get some takeout to share with others at her nephew’s home in Nong Wua So.  It was divided highway all the way from Nong Khai to Nong Wua So and it took us past Udon along the way.  We arrived much quicker than we had expected having become accustomed to slow mountain roads over the last couple of days.

Road out of Na Haeo.

Beginning of the road work.
Neglected Park

A glimpse of the river.
Walking street area of Chiang Khan midday.
View from Kaeng Khut Khu
Looking back up at the market from down by the river.
Market at Kaeng Khut Khu.
A little lunch, a little Facebook.
Temporary dinning area during the dry season at Kaeng Khut Khu.
White Inn Nong Khai
Daeng Namnuang Vietnamese Restaurant
Another view of Daeng Namnuang and the riverside promenade.

Naowarat Restaurant in Phuket Town

I think the blog makes it clear that I prefer good local food, local style rather than fancy food with descriptions in French and drizzles of sauce. I like food. Good, simple food. Now, partly this may be due to my upbringing, and I am happy that my wife totally agrees .. she knows what she likes and likes what she knows! While my tastes do change and I have temporary favourite dishes, I try to find restaurants that serve Thai food without fancy embellishments and don't ask me about "fusion" food, please. I also prefer to eat good local food that does not cost an arm and a leg. In Phuket you can find lots of fancy restaurants, the same ones seem to be listed on many websites. The kind of places where you are likely to spend 1000 - 1500 Baht per person, and yeh, I know some people have loads of money and like to eat fancy food, but is that food really better than what you can get at a much simpler restaurant? Certainly for Thai food... I have seen restaurants which have something on the menu like green curry, priced at 600 Baht! Would that be better than a 90 Baht green curry? Ha!

So anyway, we're not rich or fancy or even pretend-fancy. We like good food at a good price, preferably a restaurant with some style or history, friendly staff and hopefully a nice location! If our bill for 4 people approaches 1000 Baht, that's expensive. Sure, we don't order lobster and tiger prawns, but just about anything else goes and we often over-order and leave stuffed full having spent 600-800 Baht for the family. Those are the kind of restaurants you get on this blog. I often don't blog the really cheap local places that we kind of use as back-up when we can't be bothered to cook at home. In non-touristy areas you'll find plenty of small roadside restaurants or noodle shops where a family of 4 can eat for 200-300 Baht, and there are several of these that we often use within a couple of km of our house. The Naowarat restaurant is one that has become a favourite recently. We first ate there just a few months ago, as they were doing good vegetarian food during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Many restaurants in town are either closed or serve only vegetarian food during the festival, as most are owned by locals who will observe the correct diet during the festival. We have been back to Naowarat half a dozen times since, and now they serve all kinds of tasty food.

Many choices

It's a "ready food" restaurant, like the Thai equivalent of fast food. You see a lot of this kind of restaurant around, but some do look a bit lacking in the hygiene department, and I leave it up to my wife to decide which ones are clean enough! Naowarat is a good one, and has a great choice of meat dishes, fish, curries, vegetable dishes, some spicy, some not. We just ask for this and that (whatever looks good to you), along with a plate of rice per person, then find a table. I'm not sure of opening hours. We only ever go in the evening for dinner.

Restaurant in Phuket Town

(above) Ordering dinner. I'll have one of those and one of those, please. And rice.

By the way, no beer or coke here, just iced water with your food. Plates will all be on the table in a couple of minutes. If anyone does actually read this and eat here, order a few things, test your taste buds! It's going to cost you 35 - 60 Baht per plate depending what you order and 10 Baht for rice. I love "Pla Pad Pet", a spicy fish dish, and my wife says the "Gaeng Som" is great - that's a really typical south Thai style curry. Our daughter is now eating the spicy stuff too, she's also on the gaeng som, and our son loves Kai Palo, a dish made of eggs and pork with a non-spicy sauce.

Our table

(above) Some of our food - we were with another family on that day, altogether 4 adults and 5 kids and the bill was just over 600 Baht. My favourite fish is in the middle of the table there next to some tasty fried veg that was so good our friend's healthy son asked for another plate. The restaurant is built into an old shophouse with all kind of decorations around, a display case full of amulets, Buddha images, photos of kings, it's a bit of a treasure trove in there!

Old decor in the old restaurant in Phuket Town

The ladies who run the place are always smiling and always seem to have friends round for a chat. It's an old local restaurant which has plenty of regulars, the food has always been tasty and as you can judge the food from the photo below .. all the plates are empty as we are leaving! All finished! And the owner always has time for a laugh and a chat. Phuket Town is the place to be for good local food!

A laugh

Naowarat Restaurant - Location Map

View Naowarat Restaurant, Phuket Town in a larger map


Heute möchte ich euch eine Schokoverpackung zeigen. Meine Tochter hat diese gewerkelt und wollte sie euch gern zeigen.

Die kleine Krankenschwestereule hat es ihr besonders angetan.

Für den Moment
liebe Grüße

Road Trip 2013 Part 1, Home to Na Haeo …

One could say our trip really began the night before, as an unseasonal deluge continued unabated into the night and we found ourselves questioning the wisdom of beginning a long road trip in that kind of weather.  We continued with our preparations, however, deciding to wait and see what the next morning would bring.

While we had discussed an early departure around 7am, and thought we would be awake well before then, somehow it was after 7:30am before we began to stir.  In the end it was 9am before we got everything sorted and were able to hit the road.  It was dark and grey even at that hour but at least the rain had ceased.  A quick look at the weather forecast and we decided it was a go.  We encountered nothing but perfect weather on our trip but received frequent updates from home of rain and even hail.

We had some wild-eyed notion of making it from Chiang Kham to Chiang Khan in one day, which did not come to pass.  This was not to be a high speed highway cruise but rather a backroad mountainous adventure that also snaked along tortured riverside byways.  As the sun began to set we found ourselves far from our destination and still in the midst of high mountain switchbacks.

I almost never drive after dark but on this occasion we had no choice but to drive well into the night.  Ten hours of hard driving, not including breaks along the way, put us a mere 500 kilometers into our trip and far short of Chiang Khan were we hoped to spend the first night.  It hadn’t helped that I got lost at least once, missing a turn, but my wife also got carsick along the way further delaying our progress.  Thankfully that is not a regular occurrence.

She fought it as long as she could but finally said I should pullover, which I did immediately.  At that point she lost her breakfast, and everything she had eaten since, right there on the side of the road.  Not long after we got moving again, she feel fast asleep and awoke feeling much better.  From that point on she was fine, and her normal wonderful self.

Sometime after 8:30pm we arrived at Na Haeo which looked like the only possibility of finding accommodation in the area.  Sure enough we stumbled onto the sign for a guesthouse and pulled in to check it out.  Fortunately the gate was open and as we drove in the owner, a lovely well spoken lady, came out to greet us.  It ended up being well worth the 500 baht she asked for, even if the bed was a bit hard.

My wife was starving and there was a roadside vendor just across the road in this sleepy little town, who served up tasty stir fried dishes.  To our surprise we were not the only ones who were hungry after a long day.  There was a Norwegian couple who had peddled over 100 kilometers from Chiang Khan that very day.  Waiting for our food we shared a pleasant traveler’s exchange which left us quite impressed with their fitness and sense of adventure.  This was before we realized what kinds of roads they had covered.  Lets just say our admiration was turned to absolute awe not long into our drive the next day as we traversed the same roads they had traveled.

As this was a long trip, it is also a long trip report so I have divided it into four parts, so as not to overwhelm my readers.  Stay tuned as the best is yet to come.
Classic view of highway 1148 from Chiang Kham to Nan.

Closeup from above.
Nan River

Backroads out of Nan
Pit stop along the way

Guest House in Na Haeo


Hurra, ich kann wieder Fotos machen und hochladen..... Ihr könnt euch kaum vorstellen wie ich mich freue.

Als Erstes möchte ich euch meine Tauschkarte vom letzten Monat zeigen.

Mir gefällt diese neue Wabenprägeform ausgesprochen gut. Sie ist vielseitig einsetzbar und das Ergebnis sieht in natura so viel schöner aus, als auf den Bildern. Unglaublich.

Nun schaue ich mal, dass ich so nach und nach die inzwischen entstanden Werke ablichte. Aber dazu brauche ich Zeit und Zeit ist im Moment bei mir mal wieder absolute Mangelware....

Ich wünsche euch einen schönen Tag
Für den Moment
liebe Grüße

ich will Sommer

Das driste Grau geht mir allmählich an die Substanz. Ich will Sonne, Frühling, Sommer. Und was verbinde ich außer Sonne und Wärme noch mit Sommer? Erdbeeren.
Aus diesem Wunsch heraus ist diese Karte entstanden.

Frei nach dem Motto: "die nächste Erdbeersaison kommt bestimmt" wünsche ich euch einen schönen Dienstag.
Für den Moment
liebe Grüße

neutrale Karte aus Resten

Wieder ist Montag. Ich hoffe, ihr hattet ein wunderschönes, erholsames Wochenende und könnt nun gut in die neue Woche starten.

Heute möchte ich euch eine weitere Karte aus Stanzteilresten zeigen. Sie ist unheimlich schnell gemacht, neutral als Grußkarte oder neutrale Glückwunschkarte. So wie man es eben gerade braucht.
Ich wünsche euch einen tollen Start in eine schöne Woche
Für den Moment
liebe Grüße

Making Bacon

One of the things I love most about being retired is that I have time to do the things that I only could think of doing before retirement , Now that I am Retired and Loving it ,I have time to not just think about these things but to DO them and not have to get in a hurry and think I don't have enough time to finish  So why start , Now it's start to finish in my own time frame , and when I feel like doing it , and when I can pull myself out of the hammock , to do the thinks I always wanted to do  LOL .
One of those things was to learn and do , the art of curing and preserving food for our self to eat and enjoy, especially  meat , and one thing I wanted to really do was to make bacon at home in my kitchen and cure and smoke and slice and cook and enjoy and be able to say " I cured and smoked this." Well ,with permission from Ciejay ,to make a little mess in the kitchen("ok if you clean when finished) and a few hours watching video's and reading recipes on the web and U-tube , I gave it a go and I must say I was really pleased with the end results , much tastier than store bought and I could slice it as thick or thin as I wanted , YUM YUM  is all I've got to say about that.

This is one of the best advice sights and recipes I found for me on the web , I have left a few of his recipes and steps out of my post , to make it simple and easy to understand and do , If you want to learn more you can go to Dave's web sight  for lots of good stuff.

Hope you enjoy this rather long post and that you will give it a try , if you do come back and leave me a comment .  Thanks

 From Dave's cupboard

For the past couple of years, I've been making bacon at home. I don't do it to save money; by the time I've bought the pork belly, seasonings, cure ingredients, fuel and chips for the smoker, and so on, I really haven't saved all that much. No, I do it because I love the different flavors I can achieve with different cures and because I like the results better. Commercially-made bacon's are often injected with their cure - pumped up with moisture and extra sugars that make for a wetter, sloppier product. You've probably cooked bacon like that. It leaves puddles of salty white water or sticky residue in your frying pan, but before now you didn't really know why.
Making bacon at home is a time-consuming process, but not a very hard one. The steps are simple:

Cure the bacon

Dry the meat off so the smoke will "take"
Smoke the bacon

Chill the bacon so it's easier to slice

Starting the Cure

1 lb chunk of pork belly (or larger)   go for the larger  you'll be glad you did , then double the amounts--- no problem--  remember it's the salt that cures and everything else just adds to the taste
3/4 cup of  white or brown sugar ---  I liked the brown
2 ounces honey---
2 tablespoons (or more) coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup salt
Pepper if you want---a good amount

 Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels, then rub it all over with the honey to form a thin but uniform coating on all sides. Next, roll the coated pork in the black pepper until all surfaces are covered with pepper. Finally, rub the entire surface well with salt tThe pork belly should be covered with a nice thick layer of salt.

This is what the pork will look like when you have the cure properly packed around it. The pepper will be showing through the salt layer, and the honey will be seeping though a bit. If you have a vacuum sealer, put the bacon along with all the salt sticking to it (and whatever of the salt/honey/pepper mixture you can gather up with your hands from the cutting board) into a vacuum pouch and seal it tight. If you don't have a vacuum sealer, use a heavy-duty zipper-closing freezer bag. Try to press out as much of the air as possible from the bag as you seal it up. Refrigerate while curing for five to seven days.

Brine will still form in a vacuum-sealed bag, but there's less room for it to move around. Once a day, take the sealed bag out of the

Curing Time

 For dry-rub cured bacon, you will notice after a few hours that the rub has begun to draw moisture out of the pork and form a brine all its own in the bag. If you're using a loosely-fitting sealed zipper bag, you should turn it over twice a day to make sure all surfaces of the meat stay exposed to the salty brine evenly. As the days go by, more brine will form. The picture at left shows the curing pork after about three days in the zipper bag.

Brine will still form in a vacuum-sealed bag, but there's less room for it to move around. Once a day, take the sealed bag out of the refrigerator and gently massage the surfaces of the meat through the plastic. This helps ensure that the undissolved salt and other seasonings stay evenly distributed.

Finishing the Cure

After about a week has passed, the bacon is cured and should be ready to smoke. Remove the bacon from the cure and rinse it under cool running water. You'll only need a light rinse with brined bacon, but if you used a dry salt cure you'll need to lightly rub the bacon under the water stream to remove all the brine and undissolved salt and bits of herb, etc. Ground pepper might still stick to the meat. You can leave that on if you like.

Pat the bacon dry with paper towels and put it on a wire rack, rind (skin) side down, to dry for a few hours. Smoke doesn't adhere well to wet meat, so the pork needs to air until the surface feels kind of dry and even a little sticky. This sticky surface is called a "pellicle" and is formed when surface proteins on the meat dry out and harden.There are many different types of smokers ,  This extra step not only gives the bacon a better texture, but also improves the ability of the smoke to flavor the meat. Don't skip


Remember there are many types of smokers and even your old back-yard grill with a lid , if it does not have one  easy to make one, will work just great , you can figure out how to place the chips (I use corn husk ) to get the smoke .  The most important thing to remember is you're not cooking the bacon , just adding smoke , it's already cured.

This paragraph by Malcolm lol

Smoke the bacon for about three hours. You'll know it's done when the skin has softened and pulled back from the edges of the meat and the bacon feels firm when pressed. The color should be a rich deep golden brown.

Remove the bacon from the smoker and place on a wire rack over some absorbent paper to cool. When the bacon is at room temperature, wrap it tightly in butcher's paper, plastic, or aluminum foil and refrigerate until completely chilled. This will "set" the juices in the lean parts of the bacon and firm up the fat, making the bacon much easier to slice for frying.

Remember also that after smoking, the bacon is fully cooked. That means you can enjoy it like Russian bacon, thinly sliced cold without additional cooking. A friend of mine once said: "Uncooked hot-smoked bacon is one of the great decadence's." I agree.

This moment is what makes it all worthwhile: Beautifully cured, perfectly smoked bacon, sliced and ready to fry or to just eat with some good black rye bread and sliced onion.

Remember those rib bones that were on the belly as it cured? Just before slicing the bacon, run a sharp knife under the bones and remove them from the bacon slab. Briefly fry, broil, or barbecue them and serve them just the way they are. Delicious, bacon-flavored spare ribs! Don't think of them as a by-product, think of them as an extra-special bonus treat.

Don't just sit there  get started , call you meat market and have him or her, save you a pork belly .

Top Buffet of 2012 - Yoders Restauarant, New Holland, PA

There was no question that any list of top buffets had to include Yoder's Restaurant. I have been writing about Yoder's for years and those of my readers who have taken my suggestion to go and try Yoder's have written back to me to say - "Yes!".

Yoder's may not have the ambiance of some of the other buffets but it has what counts - great food, service, and value. Yoder's is one of the

Schönes Wochenende

Nun ist die Woche schon wieder um und das Wochenende steht vor der Tür. Ich freu mich schon sehr darauf.

Heute möchte ich euch eine Karte zeigen, die ich mit allen möglichen Resten gewerkelt habe. Bei der Farbwahl würde ich das nächste mal etwas anderes wählen. Also steinigt mich nicht.

Wenn ich am Basteln bin und diverse Teile ausstanze, bleiben eigentlich immer irgend welche Teile übrig. Zum Wegwerfen viel zu Schade. Also sammle ich diese Teile in einem Schächtelchen und wenn dieses fast am Überlaufen ist, setze ich mich hin und verarbeite diese übrig gebliebenen Teile.
Und daraus ist eben auch diese Karte entstanden.

So nun wünsche ich euch ein wunderschönes, erholsames Wochenende und genauso viel Spaß wie wir ihn haben werden.

Für den Moment
liebe Grüße