Every new year, January rolls around and it feels like a fresh start. We feel the desire to spring clean, tidy up our spaces, and try out new habits. 2020 is no different than previous years. As I look back … Continue reading
After our cooking class on Saturday, we went back to the hotel to snag our bags. We took a taxi from the hotel to the airport. Due to the storm and the traffic we wanted to get there a little early to make sure we didn’t miss out flight. As luck would have it, traffic was easy and we got there a little too early. We decided to walk around the airport, and after that took some silly photos.
Our flight landed in Koh Samui and we took a taxi to our hotel The Kala. We were pretty tired at this point, as it was just after 11 our time. Annie and I had the lower floor of the villa, right by the pool. Her parents had the larger of the two rooms, taking all of the top floor.
We crashed and woke up pretty early the next morning to check out our gorgeous view. We had a tasty breakfast at the hotel, and then were off to our private tour with Nong and our driver. We started with a tour of a coconut farm, where the coconuts are harvested by trained monkeys. Annie and her mom were brave enough to allow the monkey to sit on their shoulder, but I was a little shy after the monkey made a pass for Nancy’s sunglasses.
From there we drove up the hillside to a gorgeous secret hidden garden. Built by an artist for himself and his wife, they enjoyed it until their death around forty years ago.
People soon knew of this hidden gem and would sneak onto his property to look at the waterfalls, and pay their respects to the statues. Eventually it was opened to the public and there’s a little shop at the road entrance. It started pouring at this point, so it was a little harder to explore with slippery steps. Even still it’s a stop you must make if you go to Koh Samui.
From there we drove on to a temple surrounding by water. It was serene and gorgeous. Apparently they had to create the road out to the temple out of sand and put pavement on it to little town on a former island, which still stands today as a big tourist attraction.
We stopped by this amazing pottery place where I picked up a few gifts and Annie’s mom got two gorgeous vases. It also rained a bit more.
From there we relaxed at our hotel for a bit, before heading into town for the local food festival (which is every Sunday) where we gorged ourselves on everything delicious.
All in all, a great first day on the island!
On Saturday we woke up bright and early and took a uber to our cooking class at Maliwan. It was truly a hidden gem in an alleyway, and to this day I have no idea how Annie found it a few years back all by herself. We had a great menu planned: pork phad see ew, yellow chicken curry, cucumber relish, emerald chicken with a sauce, and mango with sticky rice. We started by taking tuk-tuks a few miles down the street to yet a different market. We picked up a variety of different things as our Chef Mae explained about various Thai foods.
Mae described a green plant called morning glory, which is often pan friend in oil and eaten as a common Thai side dish.
We saw a banana flower, which as 10-15 mini banana seedling hiding behind each leaf. They are often eaten as a palate cleanser after greasy food, although Annie tried them and didn’t care for them. We also saw baby watermelon, which has a thick skin of multiple inches and is often cooked and used in curry’s similar to potatoes.
After picking up our groceries we headed back to the cooking school. Chef Mae had prepared a majority of the spices for us, but we were able to watch her explain a few steps of the recipe and then make our own exactly how we liked it.
We started with chopping up some onions and garlic and mixing it with some spices to add to our chopped chicken. We mixed it, wrapped them all up in leaves and left them in a bowl to marinate while we worked on other things. We came back later and cooked our chicken in oil for just a few minutes until browned.
Next we worked on our yellow curry. We diced onions and garlic, cut up a chili (you can add more if you want more spice). We sauteed our spices first, then added oil, chicken, coconut cream and coconut milk. I added sugar to make mine a little sweeter and salt for flavor. Yum.
Next we worked on the various sides: emerald chicken sauce, cucumber relish and the sticky rice. The emerald chicken sauce was pretty easy, as was the cucumber relish (mix up vinegar, sugar and salt with diced cucumbers, peppers and onions. We started the rice cooking in a double boiler as we worked on the creamy sweet sauce in a different pan. Chef Mae had already pre-rinsed and soaked the rice for us, so cooking of all the sides went quickly.
Our last dish we made was the phad see ew with pork.
We started with chopping up everything, and from there it all went into the pan with a little bit of oil. We had to keep stirring it in order to prevent it from sticking to the sides of the wok.
From there we put it all together and sat down to eat! There wasn’t much talking as we were all quietly eating! I really liked being able to personalize my curry to be milder, sweeter and creamier. It was interesting seeing the different colors of curry everyone had as they had added 1,2, or 4 chilies to their curry’s. Yum.
Have you ever made any of these dishes before? Or tasted any of them? So good!
On Thursday Annie and I got up determined to not fall into the absolute deliciousness that is the buffet. Instead we had a tea/coffee along with a small pastry in the cafe in our lobby. From there we lounged by the pool and got a little bit of writing done. This was our view, and surprisingly enough we were very productive.
From there we gathered up her parents and decided to walk to a small section of town we had explored for just a minute the day before. We had passed some great street food but hadn’t tasted it. Annie was determined to try all the street food she could before leaving Bangkok and this was a goal I was willing to assist in. 🙂
We walked down a street and basically anything that looked even the slightest bit tasty we purchased. One of the things that has made me so willing to try anything here is that the street food is so tasty. 20-50 baht is the going rate for street food here, which is roughly 50-1.5 US dollars. So we would get one of everything and share it amongst the four of us. We were getting hot at this point (96 with full humidity) so we stopped for another snack at a place called the Lighthouse. Annie had had a bingsoo on her trip to Korea and suggested we take a break at a dessert cafe.
We got smoothies and a kiwi bingsoo, which is cut up fruit, with ice cream and ice shavings. It was delicious. Totally the right call to cool down.
From there we went back to the hotel to have a little bit of quiet time before our tuk-tuk tour. We knew we were going to be up late so we took a mid-afternoon nap in our quiet little rooms at the hotel. It was totally the right call after walking in the hot sunny Bangkok heat for a few hours. I snoozed and felt like I could then handle an evening out.
We took the BTS over to the meeting point for the tour. We had a few other people in our group, some Americans, a couple from Sydney and one British man. Our tour guide was called Net, and we had 5 tuk-tuk drivers. Tuk-tuks are three wheeled open air taxi’s. Annie and I jumped into what we dubbed “the party bus” with pink and yellow striped seats and pink and purple lights.
We started at a small market called Klong San Market that had fresh fruit, prepared foods, some clothes and other odds and ends. Net told us about the Thai’s devotion to King Rama and how they are in mourning for his death this past October. She showed us a small prayer room, and various alters where people leave things as gifts to the Gods.
We stopped at a temple called Wat Prayoon, and then hopped back into the tuk-tuks to speed towards the Giant Swings. A religious monument constructed by King Rama 1, was used until 1935, when it was retired due to the fragility of the pillars and to fatal accidents during the ceremony. It has been renovated and is a big Thailand attraction. It was located at the center of a busy cross-street so it was hard to take a good photo.
Net explained that Bangkok is a name that Americans and other tourists have for the city, but it has a much MUCH longer name, that natives will only use in conversations with other natives.
We took some silly pictures with the tuk-tuk’s and then we were off to dinner at a famous pad-thai restaurant on Ratchadamnoen Avenue. The tour guide had a guy stand in line for us for about forty minutes so that when we arrived we had a table. The line was out the restaurant and down the block. I took this video to show how many people were waiting just to order and then had to wait again for an open table.
There were six or 7 chefs cooking outside the restaurant and a few more inside making endless rounds of pad-thai. They even offered one with pad thai wrapped up in an egg omelet. Net helped us order and then we sat down at a table inside. Clearly this tour group had done this before as it was a smooth transition for us luckily! Our food came and it was delicious!
After that we hopped back into the tuk-tuks and were driven to Wat Pho, a large royal temple where some of King Rama 1’s ashes are enshrined. Wat Pho is one of the oldest royal temples in Thailand, as each King Rama has added on to the temple grounds. There were four main structures for four of the kings, although there were much smaller structures built by wealthier families in a different section. There are also two different schools there, one of medicine and another of massage. It was much cooler at night, and easy to walk around the temples although we couldn’t go inside of them.
From there our final stop was the 24 hour flower market, which sells flowers all the time but 70/80% are sold as gifts for the gods. It was amazing to walk through the seemingly endless stalls with colorful flowers. Net told us that yellow and red flowers have special significance as the flowers that are most often given as gifts at the alters.
Prayer garlands were made of a small white flower called popcorn flowers, which cost roughly 20 bahts for 1 kilo.
My favorite is the unusual colored orchids we saw in the last stall.
We went upstairs where they had prepared mangoes and sticky rice for us to munch on as we tried our hands at folding flower leaves. Mine was not the prettiest, so Annie helped me improve mine.
The tuk-tuk’s dropped each of us off at our respective hotels and we crashed hard. I think the tuk-tuks were my favorite part of the tour, as it was a nice and breezy way to zip around the city.
Have you ever been in a tuk-tuk? Would you ride in one?
Hello Friends, On Thursday Annie and I both slept in. For once jet-lag didn’t wake us up too early. I showered and we wandered down to the breakfast cafe in our hotel where we both got the buffet. It was … Continue reading
After our canal tour, we rested for a bit at our hotel. We ended up walking down along the river to a small touristy attraction called Asiatique, where there was a ferris wheel, shopping and food.
We were so hungry at this point, we basically were getting cranky. We stopped at this place called the Dishes and the parents said it sounded good. In we went. We ordered a soup and pineapple fried rice.
We walked around the outdoor and indoor stalls and explored what they had to offer. We wanted something sweet to finish off our dinner, so we stopped by a dessert place, where I got a coconut popsicle and Annie got the mango dipped in chocolate with almonds. The parents got a strawberry toast.
On our way walking back out to the street, we saw this amazing wall of locks, very similar to ones hanging on the Pont des Arms in Paris. We walked all the way around and it was very charming.
Our second official day in Thailand dawned bright and early thanks again to jetlag. I was up at 4:30 and really really needed a cup of coffee. I got dressed and Annie and I went downstairs to check out this buffet that we heard about from one of Annie’s friends. It was pretty tasty. So tasty in fact that we ate there again today. But after eating the buffet and feeling very full, we decided to lounge by the pool for a little bit.
Armed with sunglasses and sunscreen we made our way to the 6th floor, where there’s a lovely view of the river as you sit poolside (see below photo from our balcony). Both Annie and I blogged and then popped into the pool to cool down. It’s been around 85 with full humidity and only an occasional wind, which was stronger by the pool, less so in the city.
From there we stopped by the hotel cafe to fuel up on quiches and tea before walking to a Thai massage place. Despite the unique name, it was a good place.
Annie and I walked back to our hotel where we freshened up for an evening out. We called an Uber for all four of us and off we went to Nahm, which is in the Como Metropolitan Hotel a few miles from our hotel. Nahm had recently been named the 5th out of the 50 best restaurants in all of Asia by the S. Pelligrino.
Annie and I ordered six dishes for the table, and man was it good! The flavors were great, and there was only one dish that was on the spicier side. We all agreed that the pumpkin curry was the best dish there.
We ordered dessert, one I was familiar with (mango and sticky rice!) and one new one with corn, rice, mangosteen and coconut cream. Our service was great, and the whole restaurant was very modern and elegant.
As we arrived and still as we left it was raining hard. We were lucky enough to have covered entrances or else we would have been soaked! We all were pretty tired at this point so we called it a night and went to bed.
Our first day in Bangkok we rose early thanks to jetlag. Bangkok is 14 hours ahead of California, so our bodies hadn’t quite caught up yet to our location here halfway around the world. 5:20 am my brain was wide away, so Annie and I showered and got ready for the day. Luckily there is both a Starbucks and a 7/11 on the same corner as our hotel, so we popped down for coffee after getting dressed. I tried to order my usual, but I’m not sure that the barista understood my order as I got some fruity green iced tea instead of my normal chai. It was tasty though not what I expected.
We had a teak boat tour scheduled for 8:30, so we left the hotel and took the river taxi down to the local metro called the BTS, and our stop was the #7 Saphan Taksin Station. Each station was labeled by numbers as well.
Annie had taken the canal tour before and had secured the same tour guide named Nui for a 5 stop tour. We would explore a floating market, a pagoda, a garden temple, the orchid farm, lunch and an artists studio.
Our first stop was at the Wat Sat floating market, that due to flooding in the canals and the consequent building of flood locks was permanently moved to land. We were blown away by the exotic fruits they had: mangosteen, rambutan, pineapple,dragonfruit, lychee, and longan.
They also had people cooking and making prepared foods, like grilled meats, bananas and rice in a banana leaf. There were various rices in large bags and tons of flowers. We tasted the grilled banana wrapped in rice, as well as a freshly cut pineapple.
From there we hopped back on the teak boat and drove through the canals to the temple Wat Paknam, which is a popular attraction in Bangkok. Wat Paknam is a large, royal temple where many come to meditate.
We saw many monks dressed in bright orange as they went about their practices. We saw many golden Buddha statues and one large statue of a former abbot, but my favorite was the 5th floor glass statue and the ceiling. Airy and brilliant with color, you can also walk the balcony’s to get a great view of the city and the various canals.
From there, we jumped back into the teak boat and went to the garden temple. It was a totally different feel, very quiet, but closer to nature. Nui explained the Buddhist principle of karma, which is the closer relationship between cause and effect of the individual.
It was a warm day, roughly 88 with humidity, but the cool air and light spray from the water was great on the boats. Standing still and listening to Nui at each spot was a little warmer. My hat kept me cool and shady, but we had to have covered knees and shoulders for the various temples. The sun slid in and out of the clouds as we tried to stand in the shade of the trees. From the forest temple we jumped back into the boat, and on our way to the next stop, we passed some boats that were cooking food. We stopped and tasted two different dumplings: chive and taro with a chili oil sauce. The dumplings were steamed and then pan friend right before eating to ensure a crispy taste. They were served in a banana leaf bowl and were delicious! I almost wanted a second one, but I knew there was more food coming.
Then we continued on in the teak boat along the canals over to the orchid farm. It was rows upon rows of different flowers and different types of orchids. Apparently the farmer cuts of the top orchid and sells that, and the plant continues to grow more flowers. They had a tiny concrete walkway in between the rows for us to walk on. Nui kindly snapped a few pictures of us among the flowers.
At this point in the orchid farm it was far less breezy and pretty warm. Annie had gifted all of us with these mini fans for Christmas, and us two got them out. They were a lifesaver!
We jumped back into the boat and Nui and our boat driver steered us over over to our lunch spot. We had the best cashew chicken I have ever had in my life along with a tasty Panang curry. I had a pineapple smoothie, but Annie got a passionfruit one which had better flavor. Our coconut soup was delicious.
From there we walked down the walkway and over to the artists studio for a puppet show about Hamuman the monkey king and his love of this mermaid.After that many people took pictures with the puppets, but I was too shy. I instead took photos with the statue by the water. We drank iced coffees and Nui told us about the history of Thailand and King Rama.
From there we went back to our drop off point and walked to catch our train. Nui was absolutely the best! She told us funny jokes, took so many pictures of us, and directed us to all the best spots and food.
Nui handled all the talking, ordering and purchasing of everything. I totally recommend booking a tour with her if you are ever in Bangkok. Also she walked faster than any of us and was the smallest!Love her!
Last summer Annie and I were discussing travel and we decided to plan a trip to Thailand. She is a great travel buddy for me, and luckily enough with both our teacher schedules we have a large block of summer off. We researched flights, hotels and restaurants, and finally in July of last summer we booked flights. The trip was officially on! A few days later she texted me and told me that her parents wanted to join us on the trip. I love her parents, so that was an easy yes!
Annie researched hotels, restaurants and I looked into various activities. She had been to Thailand twice before, so she has some recommendations. She was planning to travel with her husband to Japan before our Thailand trip, so we ended up booking her parents on my flight, and I am so glad we did. It was nice to have a friendly face to sit next to, and to double check all the flight details with!
So flights were pretty tricky. Most of the ones we looked at took off in the morning from the US, and landed in Asia somewhere in the evening, with a layover until the next morning for the second leg. After a few hours of looking, we found a flight that left super late from SFO, and a short layover in HongKong, and finally landing in the evening in Bangkok. That was the winner for us. We flew with Singapore Airlines, which was a great experience. We checked into SFO around 9:30pm on Saturday for a 1:15am flight ( i didn’t know they even flew that late!).
The flight was long (14.5 hours!!) but great. The food was tasty and there were so many choices! They had a bunch of great in-flight movies and entertainment, but for the first 6 or so hours I slept. We had a quick layover in HongKong where we got Starbucks and freshened up. I felt like a new person with freshly brushed teeth and hair and a clean shirt. We had a much shorter flight (4hrs) to Singapore where we had our longer layover (4 hours). It was middle of the day when we arrived, so we decided to get some steps in at the airport and explore. I was blown away by how many shops, interactive displays and interesting decorations the Singapore Airport had.
Singapore Airport had 3 terminals: one that had a butterfly garden, one with a magnetic sand exhibit, and one that had these orchid/koi pond gardens. There was lush flowers everywhere! We ended up grabbing some food just before boarding.
We landed in Bangkok around 4ish. We picked up our luggage and met the driver from our hotel. It was rush hour traffic on a work day (Monday) so it took about an hour to get to Chatrium Hotel.
It was beautiful evening when we arrived, as we looked out over the balcony into the city lights. We were finally here!
Have you ever been to Asia or Thailand before?
June has been a month of many small but fun things. Farmers market’s, beach days, birthday parties and visits to SF. With long summer days and early mornings I can fit so much more in. Here’s little bit of what I’ve been up to if you don’t follow along on my instagram.
I went to an alumni picnic at my school and found this blast from the past picture of some of my girlfriends from my middle school. We look so young!
A co-worker invited me to her unicorn birthday party and at the end of it we all walked to 7/11 for slurpees. What a great way to celebrate a really hot day!
I’ve had so many to-do things for my apartment that have fallen off my to-do list (coffee-table, console table, hanging artwork, etc!) that my dad came over a few days after I was out of school and we put up these two great pieces above my desk: a picture shelf and my desk organizer. I’m ashamed to say they have been leaning against my wall since purchasing them this past September.
Two glorious beach days with friends have already happened and I can’t wait for more. Santa Cruz is gorgeous in the summer!
I discovered these great snacks at TJ’s. Yum.
I like to walk to Pier 39 in San Francisco. I went up a few days ago and had the best SF weather I’ve ever had, warm and windy but not too hot.
What all have you been up to lately? Any adventures?
Roughly a week and a half after prom, we had graduation. This year was the 166th graduating class of Notre Dame. It was held at the California Theatre in downtown San Jose, which was a gorgeous historical building. A few days prior we had had baccalaureate mass at the Cathedral Basilica in the evening and it was such a special moment seeing my first seniors in their blue cap and gowns.
June 3rd was a hot Saturday, but the theatre was cooler than outside. This year was my first year teaching almost all freshman, so my few seniors were very precious to me. Most years prior, I taught juniors and senior exclusively. I know they are going on to amazing school, but I will miss these friendly familiar faces. Congratulations class of 2017!
A few days later I was invited to see a few students from my old school graduate at City Hall. It was such a bittersweet moment seeing a few of my juniors as about to graduate seniors! I wish I had been there during their senior years.
A few of my students had selected to finish out their senior year with a combination of online and college course. The above student stuck together in a cohort class. It was fantastic to see Joe, the very man that had hired me to teach at this school four years ago at the last graduation ever for LPS San Jose.
These two students were my most troublesome, and I was very hard on them. I was very hard on them because I knew they could do better, and I knew how smart they were. I didn’t want them to waste their education or their future with silly actions. I am so proud of all their work and can’t wait to hear all about their adventures at Evergreen and Ithaca College!
These five hard working and devoted people brought the 15 students up to the finish line of graduation. I worked beside them for the last few years and I missed them so much during this past year of new experiences and changes as I transitioned to my new school. I wish them all the best as they now go off to new places!
To all my darling students of the class of 2017, I am so proud of you!