I know it's been forever... I keep meaning to write up a huge story of my adventures but there havent really been any since i've been back from Malaysia. My mother forced me to go with her to a Sisters on Samui luncheon (some women's club thing) which was held at an British Pub. Nice powdered soup and roast pork with 47 kinds of boiled veg on the side. Yuck. Anyway, I did meet the manager of "Poppies", one of the best established restaurants on the island. She managed to arrange for me to go in and do an observation in the kitchen. It turned out to be quite an experience. The Chef is an American guy who has worked all over Asia for the last 17 years. The kitchen had at least 12 thai staff and it wasn't all that big. The kitchen was divided into two sides, the European and the Thai. The Thai food only takes about two minutes to plate since its all done in a wok or deep fryer... it's quite an art to time it with the Western food. It was by far the quietest kitchen ever... no talking at all. The temperature was un believable. It must have been at least 40 degrees. I dont' know how they can do it. They have a separate little air conditioned room for plating the salads and desserts, but the Thai's find it too cold in there and prefer to stand in the hot kitchen when they aren't plating. Thai garnishes are quite fancy... crazy intricate carvings out of vegetables. It was great to watch but I can't imagaine having to work in a kitchen that hot. I will never complain about the Culinary kitchen again, ha ha.
In other news... I've been spending a lot of time at the beach (duh) drinking coconuts and swimming. We go to quiz night at the pub every week (and we so-nearly win). Our house is very nearly finished. I have been using the kitchen up there for quite some time now. We should be moving in in a week or so. My sister had a nasty motorcycle accident in Vietnam... she had to get stitches in her head and stuff so she's cutting her journey short and coming home on Friday. It will be nice to have someone my age to hang out with. As much as I love my parents I could use a little break from them every now and then. I have decided to spend a few days in Hong Kong on my way home... I want to meet up with my Nanny from when we were kids and revisit some old places. Should be fun if I can avoid spending too much money. Anyway... I've got to go assemble beds up at the house. Things should get more exciting once my sis gets here...
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Well, my busride back home was... interesting to say the least. I caught a mini-van to Hat Yai (near the Thai border) within half an hour of recieving my visa. The ride was long and soooo hot. When we got to the border the immigration officers were on a mission to make life difficult. They kept making us give them bribes to let us in... so annoying. We eventually had to leave some guy at the border coz they wouldnt let him through. So I arrived in Hat Yai quite late and checked into the ghettoist hotel in all of Thailand. It was soooo crusty with a squat toilet. But they booked me onto a big bus back to Samui so I could be back in time to meet my friend Vern at the airport. The busride was almost disastrous. I very nearly missed it because my motor-taxi driver dropped me off at the wrong bus company. Then I had my own two seats and some woman chose to sat next to me, in spite of the fact that the entire back half of the bus was empty. Then she took her baby from her husband and spend half the journey pointing at me and calling me "farang" which made the baby cry.. awesome. Then she left and I put my feet up on the seat next to me so I could sleep, only to have some new guy actually sit on my feet. I made a dramatic act of looking at the empty back of the bus and flailing my arms about to show my distaste but to no avail. To make matters worse the woman behind me started throwing up in a plastic bag and her baby was sticking its head between the two seats and coughing violently on the side of me face. Sick. Then I noticed that the dude next to me was acting very suspicious with the plastic bottle he was holding... he kept looking inside it and kept it in a horizontal position the whole time... then I noticed that it had been cut in half and sewn back together... what the hell?It was some time before I figured out that he was smuggling a bird in a water bottle. The poor thing was tweaking out. He eventually went to go sit behind me but then had a violent phlemy coughing fit all the way to samui. Yuck. Caught the ferry on time and managed to make it back to the Island with plenty of time to spare.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Well.. here I am in Malaysia, on the island of Penang. It took a long time to decide where to do my visa run but I finally conluded that it was better to come here to do to the Thai Embassy to get a 60 day visa, rather than just hop the border and get only 30 days. Now I don't have to worry about leaving the country until it's time to go home. Its pouring rain outside, which is an absolute relief considering how hot it is here. It doesn't seem to dip below 30 degrees, even at night. It's honestly killing me. Malaysia itself is not really a suprise. It definately has a "blending" of cultures here... Chinese, Indian and Malay.. not unlike Vancouver, ha ha. It reminds me of Cambodia in that all the buildings here in Georgetown have seen better days. They are colonial style but haven't seen renovations since. The shops dont have doors.. or air con.. or much of anything in them for that matter. It smells like Hong Kong.. sewer and smog. My busride from Koh Samui yesterday was hell... not coz the bus was bad but because it took 15 hours to get here, much of which was wasted sitting around in stupid restaurants in the middle of nowhere or shitty little travel agent's offices, waiting for the connecting bus to come get you. I left at 6:45am and got here after 10pm. I was so tired, all I wanted was a bed so I took pretty much the first one I could find. Big mistake. I spent extra money for an aircon room because it was soooo humid, but the stupid thing was broken so that was a total waste. I spent the night soaked in sweat, plastered to a nasty stained matress, listening to the worst bar band in the world and the rats scurrying around in my bathroom. Yuck. So first thing after I hit the visa office this morning, I found a new room without rats and air con that works ( and an incredibly cute front desk guy, heh heh). And it costs less than the room last night, go figure. So after wandering around for a few hours (couldn't check in until noon) I decided that there really wasn't anything to see or to do. Nothing. It was too hot to be outside and I didn't want to pay money to go on a tour. I decided where I would be having dinner tonight, checked into my new hotel and slept for the rest of the afternoon in my blissfully cold room. I'm really excited to go to sleep tonight.. how lame is that? Malaysia is very Muslim so I feel kinda weird walking around in shorts and a tank top. The mosques broadcast their prayers at sunset... it's actually quite cool to listen to. Foodwise, things are good. I've been enjoying the Malaysian version of fried noodles.. skinny little ones that are quite dry by comparison to phad thai. Good all the same though. Tonight I headed to this open air food forum that had everything you can imagine.. Chinese, Indian, Malay, Philipino, Thai, Japanese... I decided to try the classic Malay dish Laksa. Its a sour soup made with tamarind, deep fried fish, shallots, pineapple, onion, shredded lettuce and fat white udon-like noodles. It's quite strong but really tasty.. especially when accompanied by Tiger Beer. So my visa will be ready tomorrow... then I catch the 3:00 bus to Hat Yai. Hat Yai is a Thai town 50km from the Malaysia border that is famous for duty free shopping and prostitution. Yay.. my favourite. You can pick your woman from a group of about a hundred who are seated behind a glass window. Why am I going there? To start the wretched journey home. I can shave off four hours of my trip to Samui on Saturday if I can get to Hat Yai by tomorrow night. 7 hours by bus is way better than 15. So that is my plan.. can you tell that Im bored. I think I will go drink more beer.. then go to bed. Peace out.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Well.. back in Samui now, after several days of drunkeness and debochery. No really, it was fun. We had a great little room with a blacony and we were just seconds from the beach. We spent every day sleeping in late, sunbathing, drinking beer and buckets and partying all night long. The beach at Haad Rin is absolutely gorgeous. Turquoise water and white sand. It's suprising considering that it all gets trashed nightly by the people partying on the beach. They do a good job of cleaning it up each day though. It has changed so much since i was there last. Prices are on the rise... there are tonnes of modern shops. The clubs are still the same though, right on the beach, which mats and chairs for people to lounge around and drink on. You dance in the sand and when it gets to hot you can run straight into the ocean (which is warmer than anything). I've become obsessed with fire throwing.. I really want to learn how to do it. The only disappointment is the lack of good food. The island has totally given into catering to western tourists.. .the food is CRAP. Even the Thai food is seriously lacking in quality. I will probably try and get to the next full moon party, if I can find someone to go with. For some reason my parents don't want to join me, ha ha. Back in Samui I have moved into the house on the hill, which is still under contstruction. My room is done, so I've got water and electricity but the rest of the building is still in shambles.. and I get to listen to the musical sound of hammers and drills in the early morning. Yuck. So I'm heading to Malaysia on Wednesday. I have to do a quick visa run so if all goes well I will be back on Saturday (I've got a friend flying in to Samui that day). I've posted some more pics on my photosite so check em out.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Well.. the really fantastic news is that I finally managed to get some decent photos posted. If you wanna see what I've got so far go to http://melinasia.photosite.com . I will put more up when I have time.. it takes forever to upload. In other news... I went to a Ladyboy Cabaret in Koh Samui. So much fun. They really go all out.. definately the best drag show I've ever been to. I felt right at home.. like being back at Celebs, ha ha. I will definately be going to it again since each show is so different. Amy and I arrived at Koh Pha Ngan yesterday. It has quietened down immensly since the Full Moon Party. Seeing it in daylight is a completely different scene though. I can't belive how much it has changed in the last two years. It's so developed now... so modern. Not nearly as grungy as it used to be either. Amy and I found a cheap little room with a nice balcony with a view of the hills and a little glimpse of the sea. U can hear the ocean while u lie in bed (unless the base of the music from the clubs drowns it out, ha ha). U need to stay up late and sleep in late here... everything is open until at least 2am or later and nothing opens till about noon. The food is pretty awful everywhere u go. We pick our restaurants by which pirated movies are playing. The beach is still gorgeous. White sand, turquoise water and huge waves. Nat arrives tomorrow for two nights.. then she's off to Bangkok. Amy leaves on the 12th and I will head back to Samui then. Still have to figure out where Im going to make my visa run. Anyway, I'm sure I will have more drunken tales to tell after tonight... stay tuned.
Saturday, February 3, 2007
The last few days have been a blur.. lots of drinking, dancing and good times. Full moon party was last night.. what a riot. Not a lot has changed in two years but I don't remember my last boat trip over to Koh Pha Ngan being quite so wet. The seas were crazy so we got asolutely drenched. We were freezing cold by the time we arrived and desperately needed to fix our makeup and hair (yes I am a girlie girl). Anyway.. we got to drinking buckets of Samsung Whiskey and coke as soon as we could and spent a large portion of our evening sitting in the sand watch the fire dancers. Check out the photos... I was a bit camera crazy the whole night.. lots of playing with time exposures etc so I have lots of wicked shots. Anyway.. we had this plan to meet at a certain spot should any of us get separated from the group. Good thing too because we lost Amy within about ten minutes. We climbed up to the bars on the cliffs where they sell magic mushroom shakes (no joke). We opted not to ingest illicit drugs and went on a hunt for some good dancing music. Easier said than done. It's all trancy-ravish stuff.. not really our scene. We ate deliciously cold fried chicken.. and sheet pans of pizza... and chocolate banana pancakes. So much good munchie food. The "Shark" company had set up an official sleeping area for drunk people to recover in. There were little mats laid out on the beach and there were security guards watching over them. Glad I didn't end up in there since everyone on the beach was taking photos of the poor bastards. By the time we were ready to head home it was 4am.. we had to catch another speed boat back to the island. Yes another rough and wet ride. People were passed out all over the boat and sleeping on eachother. It was really amusing to watch stangers resting their heads in one anothers laps. I will post more pics soon... almost have internet at home so stay tuned.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Yesterday we went for a trek with my dad to try and find a secluded beach. We eventually did and were enjoying the privacy when along came a dozen or so Thais who were out for a sunday picnic. After awhile we decided to bail but stopped to watch them climbing up palm trees and tossing down some coconuts. The began hacking into them with machetes and offered us some when they saw us watching them. We eagerly accepted and drank up the contents of about four coconuts (they kept handing them to us). Then they cut them open for us and pulled out all the meat. So good. We were absolutely stuffed by the time we left.