Monday, February 20, 2012

Goodbye Koh Samet

There were only a couple of black marks on the scoresheet for our few days on the island.
1) One day the water was full of little jellyfish and a few larger jellyfish. We walked to the next beach and found parts of that beach not affected by jellies so we swam there. By the end of that day the numbers in our bay were dropping dramatically and the next day they were all gone.

2) Day tripping Russian tourists.
We were sitting on the deck chairs which had been tidied and umbrellas erected and speculating they were tidying in anticipation of the busy weekend ahead - this was Friday and we had read it gets very busy over the weekend with escapees from Bangkok. Then a boat with 20 partially burnt Russians piled off and immediately stamped the waterside deck chairs. Our resort staff asked us to move to make way for the group...grrrrrr! However we didn't really want to sit surrounded by loud Russians and and moved to the full loungers in a shadier spot. [as an aside there were a number of Russian families at our resort and they were lovely, but this group not so much]

 To return to the mainland we chose the speed boat option available direct from the Ao Cho Grand View resort. Organized it for the next day at 12. We duly turned up at 11:50 to check out and the girl said can we change you to 1pm as the boat is full. Cheeky wench, so we both said quite adamantly No, we HAVE to get back to Bangkok on time. Every day we have watched fast boat after fast boat pass the bay. In the end she organized a boat 20 minutes after agreed time and we were the only passengers.

It was a quicker trip than the ferry across. Of course it would have been faster still if the boat hadn't stopped in the middle of the channel for a couple of minutes because an engine alarm went off. We watched the smoke coming out of the outboard and looked at each other as he tried to restart it a few times and the smell of petrol increased. But eventually it started again, and with no intention of nursing the engine he sped off at full rev toward the wharf.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Alternative to Dental visits

Of course if one did not want to spend all day in a dental clinic there is an alternative...
Sukhumvit 11 @ the Aussie bar

Hello Koh Samet island

What do you do if you have a few spare days and are traveling with Andrew? You head to a beach of course.

We took the bus 200km down to Koh Samet, 3 hours 10 min south of Bangkok and then the ferry across to the island. There we hopped in the back of a ute with about 10 other people for 3km drive to our accommodation, the Ao Cho Grand View. It was the bumpiest ride we have had in a long time. It even made Laos roads look like motorways in comparison.

Transport cost us Bus 157B + Ferry 50B+ taxi 40B =247B; or about $NZ 10 each

Our bay was perfect for us: the beach and swimming were great, there were very few people and the nightlife was ...well the there just wasn't any loud nightlife.

Each evening we wandered along the beach and ate at a beachside restaurant watching the fishing boats with their green lights, night fishing in the distance.
We did walk along the beach tracks to the nearby beaches which were far busier and more developed. Peace and quiet were lovely in comparison.

Dental Tourists

Before heading back to NZ Andrew planned to get some dental work done. A preliminary visit to a well regarded dental hospital before Christmas planned the procedures, and he booked in for mid-Feb. But then they kept changing the appointments and requirements so he changed to another clinic. Since the change it has been smoother sailing, and the dental surgeon turned out to be the one he saw at the dental hospital,as he splits his time between the two establishments.

So we packed full bags - full of winter clothing we used in Europe - and headed off to Bangkok by the overnight train. It was a tiring trip this time. We were in 2nd class as here we no 1st class cabins and the train did seem to sway a lot more. The 1st class are just behind the engine, whereas ours was the last carriage and I think we suffered from swing the tail syndrome. Left sway...right sway...left sway...right sway...shudder...judder... shudder

Saturday afternoon he had an initial examination which resulted in a full day of appointments scheduled on Monday(and I got to spend a lot of time sitting in the dental waiting room)
After a quiet Sunday at 10:30am Monday, he strode off for root canal procedures. About 12:15 he walked back into the waiting room a little less perky than he had been 2 hours previously. I'm not sure if the correct terminology is 2 root canals with 5 roots or 5 root canals on 2 teeth...but you get the picture. A soft lunch of waffles and strawberry sauce helped lift his spirits, before he returned for a 1pm cleaning session.
A bit of downtime back at the hotel then the 5pm implant surgery. Actually this procedure was quick (under an hour) and apparently quite straightforward, and in the end not as daunting as it hard originally seemed.
A relatively quiet Andrew walked back to the hotel, but he managed to show a health interest in having dinner, so we managed to fit that in.

When we come back to Asia in a couple of weeks there is some follow up treatment planned on the root canals and tooth implant - but the hardest part is now over.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Running Amok

This week Andrew has been cooking curry.  This is a man who doesn’t like curry.  A man who had to pant with the heat of a very mild curry we had in Wellington. 

Last week neighbours from Wellington Marcus & Kirsty and their 2 sons were briefly in Vientiane while on a SE Asian holiday and it was lovely to briefly see them.  They had just come from Cambodia and we talked about how much we had enjoyed the Amok curry there.  When we were in Siem Reap we had a fantastic Amok at Le Tigre de Papiere restaurant and had wanted to return for more.  But we were hampered by flooding and were limited to our hotel for the last 2 nights of our stay Flooding Siem Reap

The dish we had enjoyed was fragrant in flavour and not at all hot.

Having being reminded of Amok, Andrew decided we (me) should find the recipe and re-create it.  Since then we have made it twice in less than a week.  Andrew & chop ingredients, he stirs & I direct operations and occasionally yell.

Results have been great, but the 1st version was a little hot for Andrew’s sensitive mouth.  Some panting at the table followed by 4 small bananas. 

IMG_3480x1 IMG_3483x1 IMG_3484x1

Therefore we needed to make it again, with less chilli.

This time it was not hot enough.  But, applying a few lessons learned on the 1st attempt and it was even better than the 1st in terms of flavour. 


So the 3rd time will be the charm! And we will cook it again before we head to Bangkok & NZ.

Recipe adapted from the Official Le Tigre de Papier's cooking school in Siem-Reap

Serves 1-2
Ingredients List:  Prepare and slice all the ingredients so the cooking process can be done in one uninterrupted process

Amok Paste
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 thumb sized piece of fresh turmeric, peeled
2 stalks of Lemon grass
2 Shallots chopped up
1 small thumb sized piece of Ginger root
Small fresh chilli

Slice them all into smaller pieces and grind to a pulp in a mortar and pestle or food processor.

Other Ingredients
1 Onion sliced thinly
1 handful of Oyster mushrooms shredded by hand
1 Chicken Breast, thinly sliced
Slok gno leaves sliced into thin strips (a Cambodian herb, but on various websites 1 large leaf of silver beet or a few leaves of spinach are suggested as a substitute)
1 cup Coconut milk
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Chicken Stock Power
1 teaspoon Sugar

Add 1 cup of coconut milk to a hot pan. Add the onions and amok paste. Soften and melt the onions but do not brown.
Add the chicken slices.
Stir for 2 minutes then add a cup of water if it’s too dry or less if it’s quite wet.
Add the slok gno leaves and more coconut milk for a thickened but light sauce consistency.
Add a teaspoon of salt, stock powder and sugar (do this to taste).

Serve with short grain or jasmine rice.

The cooking school has a video of this process on YouTube Chicken Amok