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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Day Three, Pattaya & Rayong: It's even better.

Dear Matt and Mar,

The drive took us further east, Rayong is the neighbouring province to Cholburi (Pattaya is a city within Cholburi province), from one hotel to another, the drive took around an hour and a half of blissful drive, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and our stomachs were full to the brim, the drive could have taken five hours and there would be no complaint, lol.

Going from Pattaya to Rayong is like transitioning from a crowded bus to a tranquil cruise ship, haa haa haa haa haa, suddenly the air one breaths hadn't just come out from someone else's lungs, lol. The scenery became spans of tall trees, green and healing, leaving behind the excitement of playgrounds, bright artificial colours and dare I say, 'fun'? Haa haa haa haa haa. Slowly your mother’s and my nerve began to ease, as this was our preferred elements.

The hotel was also several steps up from the previous couple of nights stay in Pattaya, kind of understandable really, totally different base of investment (land cost alone in Pattya must be several times more expensive than in Rayong). So the second phase of our holiday had truly begun.

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It was around 14:00 when we had finished unpacking, first thing was to fill your stomachs, instead of driving off, the decision was made to take our late lunch at the resort, much to Mar's approval, haa haa haa, in a huge (high ceiling) dining hall we were only the second table there, the silence, the space, the serenity of it all was fantastic.

Lunch was scoffed down in record time, then it was a fairly long walk to the long awaited Kids Club, and it was amazing. Usually at the other hotels, Kids Club is nothing more than a good size room with a couple of PCs and a few toys, but here and in particular for this hotel chain, their Kids Club had been beyond our expectations, and it isn't just the facility, the amount of staff dedicated to this, shows that they care (haa haa haa haa haa, actually it just shows that they are making money from this, at the end of the day it is business, as not all activities were free).

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After an hour or so, it was time for a swim, here there were 2 fantastic pools, the only complaint we had was the lacking deck chairs, in my opinion they were several hundreds short, haa haa haa, well not quite. The sea and the beach weren’t half bad either, lol.

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I've been trying ever so hard to keep the diet on course even throughout the holiday, and due to the rather large brekkie, I had decided to really be strict during lunch, meaning by late afternoon I was famish, but everything was under control, as soon it would be supper.

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Unfortunately, things didn't go as plan, by the time you two had left the pool and dressed, it must have gone past 18:00 before all of us were in the car heading and toward the restaurant, and this is where my temper got the better of me (for about 5 mins).

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As we drove, it became apparent that all of the beach side eateries were eerily empty, although the lights were on but there was no one, we couldn't even see the staff. Your mother decided not to try any of the restaurants, by that point I was ravenous, and finally the hunger got the better of me, I went into silent mode but you can call it a-hole mode, lol.

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Finally we made it back to the resort, my mind was in the midst of animosity, I was being short and snappy. But just by luck the resort had arranged an outdoor event where they were serving street foods, simple, fast and Thai (and a giant screen of the latest film), so your mother took charge and organised everything. I knew I was being an arse, so I'd excused myself and took a long walk back to the van to tidy up, coming across my bag of nuts (emergency stock), after a handful with a large gulp of water, it literally took one minute to change me back to Dr. Henry Jekyll.

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Now walking with tail between my legs I went back to your mother, kind of said sorry, and got her a glass of wine.... haa haa haa haa haa, finally the food started arriving and so the rest of the night went swimmingly

Apart from the outdoor film screening, there were several stalls of traditional Thai fairground games, after paying a bunch of money to play, I'd walked away empty handed, whilst your mother came away with 2 cuddly sharks! Haa haa haa haa haa, and of course I was never going to hear the end of this.

It had gone way past your usual bedtime by the time we'd decided it was time for bed. The rest of the evening I had decided to spend time researching for good restaurants in the area so not to waste time endlessly driving around in circles. It had been a wonderful day, and spoiler alert, tomorrow will be even better and a chance to test your new toy :-)

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Day Two, Pattaya & Rayong: Almost too much lol.

Dear Matt and Mar,

Shall we just jump in... lol, after breakfast you two were absolutely focused on visiting the Teddy Bear Museum (still don’t know why :-), lol), and I was hoping you two would have forgotten about the museum, even though I was struggling to come up with something fun to do, surely anything was better than a Teddy Bear Museum… and I was wrong once again, haa haa haa haa.

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As it turned out, it was well executed, the exhibits were well constructed, super colourful, fun, entertaining (for kids), and for parents endless opportunities for photos. The whole place was super clean, it was super cool (I mean aircon cool, lol), apart from at the very beginning where they were explaining the origin of the term ‘Teddy Bear’, the rest was a bit lacking in knowledge, haa haa haa, but who wants that in 2016 anyway (Trump will be the President of the most powerful country in the world soon).

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After being surprised once, I was not expecting to be surprise again, but I was. On the way back from the museum to the hotel, your mother picked up a leaflet advertising ‘Harbor’ (yes they had spelt it wrong... haa haa haa). Habor was another shopping mall, at first I wasn’t too keen, but from what we’ve read, several ‘anchor’ tenants were geared towards children and family entertainment, such as trampoline park, games arcade, play park and so on.

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There was no harm in trying out this new place, as it turned out the play park at the very top of the mall, ‘Harborland’ was simply ‘Funarium’ but much better. The tickets allowed us to be there for 3 hours, the plan was only to spend an hour here then leave for a very late lunch (it had already gone past noon when we walked to Harborland).

Of course that never happened, we simply never left, it was like the place was run by Sirens (if you two wondering what Sirens are, please go and read Odyssey, you’ll love it), haa haa haa.

006Thirteen hundred hours came and gone but you two were having so much fun, so we gave it another hour, by the time fourteen hundred hours came by, both of your were rounded up and was told to get ready to leave for lunch... Matt looked at us and his eyes began to welled up... and without you two uttering a single word, your mother and I decided in unison to take lunch in Harborland, which in a way was great for me as they didn’t have any salads so I had to eat real food for once, haa haa haa.

So we stayed there for the entire of our time allotment, after which we walked around the rest of the Harbor grabbing the much needed coffee for your mother and I before heading back to the hotel. You two love to swim at the hotel, but for me it would have been more fun to walk barefeet over superheated metal Legos than to jump into the pool you so much loved, because that pool is always cold to the point of cruelty, lol.

Matt’s favourite was the cliff jump (probably around 5 metres) into the super deep part of the pool, from one of his many, many jumps he’d noticed someone’s room key card was at the bottom of the deep pool. I was going to sneakily dive down but the lifeguard caught me, lol. So I’d climbed up, did the jump, but instead of coming up, I’d went down to pick up the card and gained about a billion daddy points in Matt’s eyes, haa haa haa.

Another thing about this pool, is the water slide, and I am not kidding here, if you go down this slide and somehow managed to come out alive at the other end, you ended up a slightly younger than when you sat down at the top of this water slide. This is just simple physics, because when your toosh travels faster than the speed of light, which you are when coming down this slide, time stops and goes backwards. Come to think of it, may be I should get your mother to spend more time on the slide, lol. This time to my amazement, Mar was not afraid to go down this death slide!

009Supper was a bit of an affair, decided to visit one of uncle Chat’s fav but only to find a very darkened, empty place, and instead of running around Pattaya we’d decided to eat next door, well, the place has a very big neon sign and this is their 3rd branch, so it can’t be that bad then right? Haa haa haa, and we were absolutely wrong, a nice enough restaurant, great view, great staff, it was a shame that the food was below par, way below.

Before calling it a night, we had just one more stop, the one we can never miss, of course a visit to our best friend, yours one and only uncle Chat. You two love to play with his kids and vice versa, and it gives us a great chance to catch up with him and his wife too.

At the beginning of the day, I wasn’t expecting much, just a gap day before we move out to Rayong… but by far this has been the best day so far :-) The next morning everything ran like clockwork, all packed and loaded, and all wheels were turning around noon... Rayong here we come :-)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Day One, Pattaya & Rayong: Knocked out.

Dear Matt and Mar,

You two have been so much looking forward to today, and it all started off swimmingly, lol. Your mother had quite a tiring day the day before, so the morning of the 26th started quite calmly, haa haa haa, rather than the usual hectic rush to get out and onto the road. Both of you had already packed, and for us with all the travelling we had done in 2016, packing for the four of us is now a cinch.

At the beginning we were just going to go to Rayong (28th - 31st), but that would meant trying to entertain you on Monday and Tuesday in BKK whilst your mother had already taken leave on those days. What else was for me to do, so I took those days off too, but then why should we be remaining in stagnant BKK? After some frantic search, we’d managed to find a hotel available for a couple of nights in Pattaya, before driving further east to Rayong.

I thought we were going to chill and hangout in Pattaya, the hotel we’d found is one of your favourite, so at least you two would have fun in the pool and the tiny water park :-) but once again Pattaya came up with something new for us to do, lol.

Unfortunately as soon as we had arrived in Pattaya my body just conked out (thus for the first time in a very long time there will be no photos on a post, lol), haa haa haa, probably just old age, lol. So your mother stepped up and took you two to swimming, after an hour or so I felt two pairs of tiny freezing hands on my face, those hands were cold enough to wake up the dead, lol, so I arise from comatose and was once again standing proud like a sunflower staring up at the sun.

Supper was taken very nearby, a couple of pizzas were on the table after about ten minutes of waiting, I never knew you two liked pizza (come to think of it, who doesn’t, lol), and for me was my old pal, salads... haa haa haa. Mar kept wandering off to speak to the pizzaiolo, literally telling him the story of our lives, haa haa haa (well not quite), and he was super nice to have kept you entertained.

After supper we took another short walk to the nearby small hotel/arcade, only to be confronted by the ‘Teddy Bear Museum’, I never knew there was such a thing :-) obviously it was closed by now, but you two wanted to visit it (and I have no idea why, have I grown so old to have forgotten what matters to children? Haa haa haa), well, tomorrow we’ll see what is inside that Teddy Bear Museum, lol.

What a whirlwind of a Christmas day lol.

Dear Matt and Mar,

I was getting worried as Crimbo day was approaching fast, for some reasons there were so many things to do on Crimbo day, and it had nothing exactly to do with Christmas, lol. Officially Christmas doesn’t exist in Thailand, the 25th is just another working day. But with today's globally mixed culture, and your mother being Catholic, 25th of December means quite a bit in our household and to some extent in Thailand.

Luckily this year, 25th of December fell on a Sunday (no need to take leave, lol). Normally you two are up and about pretty early anyway, but on Crimbo day you two were up even before the moon went to bed, lol.

Is there a better start to a brand new day than to wake up, and seeing a pile of presents, all waiting to be opened, haa haa haa. Suddenly I was seeing 2 cartoon Tasmanian Devils whirling about the presents, small pieces of wrapping paper flying out in all directions from a cloud of smoke, haa haa haa.

Among all the presents, the real walkie talkie was by far the most favoured, Father Christmas (wink wink) for some reasons thought that you two would need these prior to the long drive tomorrow, lol. Eavesdropping on the local security guards team was fun for a while, lol, but I had a purpose for these but it will have to wait until the holiday.

But at first we had to set our own handle, Matt wanted to call himself 'Sponge Bob', at first Mar had chosen 'Pony', then (obviously) it was later changed to 'Elsa'. Your mother was 'Pretty', lol, for me, this was most difficult, at first it was 'handsome' to follow your mother's direction, but that was such an exaggeration I just had to change it, eventually it was transformed to 'Photo' (still don't like it).

Anyway, we had a long and busy day ahead, all the packing still had to be done, this time we were going to be away for almost a week, the longest time being away for all of us, just imagine all the dresses we had to pack for Mar, lol. Then your mother will have to attend the late King's funeral (more than greatly honoured, see the previous post 'Greatly Honoured').

001Dropping off your mother was another tense affair, your mother had to be at the meeting place (this is a proper, extremely strict affair) at precisely 16:00, although she would not be ushered onto the temple's ground until 19:00. For the normal people like you and I, one can start queuing as early as 03:00.

I was in my of panicking mode, as firstly we had left it quite late before leaving our apartment, and today of all days, we should not be late, lol. Secondly I had decided to blindly trust Google Map, haa haa haa, and at the first intersection, I would have turned right but Uncle G told me to turn left, and thus soon finding myself on some unfamiliar roads. Sweat was starting to pour down my face and suddenly after an unfamiliar left turn we were about 700 metres from where your mother needed to be and with plenty of spare time. However the road was blocked, the only option was for your mother to jump out (continue on motorcycle taxi, actually there are volunteers who would provide a ride for free around the temple area because of the late King's funeral, the amount of people arriving each day is totally incredible, even till today) and us three went on our way.

Can you guess where we went? Haa haa haa, of course when I find myself alone and having to look after you two the only port of call would be... my parents place, lol. But this time I came prepared, in a bag next to me were your pajamas and toiletries because I had no idea when your mother would finish. By the time you were fed, washed and changed it had gone past 20:00 and not long after your mother arrived, tired but very contented.

By the time we got home, both of you were in lala-land, and it was impossible for your mother to carry Mar whilst wearing her special dress, so I had to do a couple of trips, and oh boy, you two are getting heavy. Worst of all, we still haven't finished packing, haa haa haa.

It was a long but a wonderful day, and even a longer night, just a perfect day before our holiday begins tomorrow.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Greatly honoured.

Most honoured-02640Dear Matt and Mar,

Today, your mother was greatly honoured to be a part of the host congregation for our Great late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, which happened to be on Christmas day. There will be another post about all the events leading up to today, so many important things were on the card today, and it turned out brilliantly :-)

Like most of the Kingdom’s subjects, the passing of our Great late King had hit your mother rather hard, so today was super important and meant so much to her.

This photo was taken after a very, very long day, especially for your mother, but you could feel that your mother was contented.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Going the wrong way.

Dear Matt and Mar,

Now that you two are on Christmas holiday, meant I can leave for work much earlier (not having to drive you two to school), but who on earth would want to do that? Haa haa haa haa haa.

IMG_20161220_084500So instead of jumping on the MRT (undergrounds) and heading East each morning, instead I would head West for a couple of stops and get off at Sam Yan Station, to visit Wat Hua Lumpong (Temple). Today is my third day in a row, and I think I am going to do it everyday from now on (if I can), well until you two go back to school.

It isn’t particularly a long visit, around thirty minutes or so, just a serene way to start off the day, don’t really know how else to describe it, lol, before heading back and getting onto the MRT and this time heading the ‘right’ way to the office... boo hoo hoo, haa haa haa.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Too far away :-)

Dear Matt and Mar,

Haa haa haa haa, because I’d vowed not to make the same mistake as when Mar had her singing event, then not having my main camera in hand was ever so difficult, so when it was time for the end of year Christmas concert, where Matt was a participating, I took the whole kit.

IMG_20161215_150843Knowing the environment that  you are going to be in helps ever so much in taking better photos, and I knew the main auditorium well, well enough to know where to sit and what lens to have in hand. Obviously the 70 - 200 f4 on the A7 and the wider 16mm (24mm effective) on the Nex 5.

On the main stage itself, there were easily at least 100+ students, all bright eyed and ready to sing their heart out. At first I’d thought it was going to be difficult to find Matt in that crowd, but it really wasn’t, lol.

Matt was next to his best friend, Sofia, who is probably the tallest one in her year, so it literally took 3 seconds to pick the two of them out in a sea of students. Unfortunately the two of them were at the very back of the stage, if you two were anywhere further back you would have been in the Chao Phraya river, lol, and now I was at least a good 7 - 8 metres too far back... haa haa haa.

Managed to capture a few good shots, but I was too far away to make it interesting, haa haa haa, will be better next year :-)

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A few sections stood out in my mind, the 12 days of (Thai) Christmas was brilliant, the acapela song was fantastic, but the most fun of all was the ‘Frozen’ section. As I was sitting away from our group, auntie Tip, auntie Ward, your mother and Mar were all here, I’d thought that Mar would have been over joyed to hear the Frozen songs sung live on stage, and it was beautiful.

When I’d came out after the concert, what did I see? Mar fast asleep, apparently she had slept just a moment before the ‘Frozen’ piece, lol.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Quick fix :-)

Prepping-02586IMG_20161218_122915Dear Matt and Mar,

Time to stock up again, I am now stable at –10 Kgs, and to be honest doing quite well, mostly thanks to your mother, lol. During the past 3 months I don’t remember having any cravings, and certainly no binging, I think it does help living in a country where really vivid spices help to compensate for the need to consume bulk and bulk of fantastic starch, haa haa haa, oh, I have pieces of bread here and there… how can I not, your mother is making bread herself.

These bags that you see, are my quick fix (your mother’s idea) of mostly green vegetables (from Broccoli, Cauliflower, to the trusted Celery and many more), on the other side are the fruits (anything from Blueberries, Strawberries, Apples and so on), and only very recently, your mother had added herbs to the mix, I think this batch had a few cuts of Ginger in it.

The bags will then be frozen, when needed one bag would be emptied into the blender (no ice needed), and anything else that was around (banana, other vegs that were getting on a bit) would be thrown in. So each batch would usually make around a pint of smoothie, shared between whoever was around… haa haa haa.

Papa got a brand new toy :-)

Dear Matt and Mar,

By now you should know that your father is a bit of a ‘one thing’ man, a pair of trainers, a pair of work shoes, single colour jeans (black), a watch for work, and an old beat up watch for the weekend, the only thing I have several of, are pens, don’t really know why, and we don’t write that much anymore, haa haa haa.

Now the watch, oh, I have nice watches in my time (Breitling and so on), but none of them hit the spot, until I’d discovered Casio, haa haa haa haa haa, much to your grandparents dismay. It is the Swiss Army knife of watches, why have a boring dual functions equipment (if you have date and day, then the watch becomes a 4 functions equipment, Time, Stopwatch (just use the second hands), Day and Date).

Actually may I add another function, ‘decoration’, haa haa haa, there are some gorgeous designs out there, but it literally costs more than a house, lol. So for the longest time I wore a Casio ProTrek, it was perfect, affordable enough for my very clumsy wrist, runs on sunlight, waterproof, compass, altimeter, barometer, it even let me know what mood your mother is in at any time of the day, haa haa haa (oh I wish).

Then when that watch became too beat up for work (together with your grandmother’s continuous comments) it became my weekend watch and another classier ProTrek took its place, haa haa haa.

But now even the beat up weekend watch is becoming too beaten up (so I was told), haa haa haa, so my weekday watch became my weekend watch, meaning a new opening for the weekday watch... being boring me, my first and only choice was Casio.

It must have been destiny, just as I was looking around, Samsung launched the Gear S3, never ever thought I would have a smartwatch, who would need a phone watch? Haa haa haa, apparently I did, that is the second most used function on my watch (the first being using it to tell time, lol). I’ve found myself talking through the watch more times than I would like to admit, and of course looking absolutely ridiculous whilst talking, but it just came naturally, people called, I would look at the watch and pick up the call with a flick of a finger, the voice quality was good enough even for a business discussion, it is great.

Page 001Not mentioning all the fidgety things you can do with it, this thing is just super, super fun. The first thing I did during the very easy setup phase was to turn off everything, the vibrate, most of the sound, the step counter, the heart beat monitor, turned down the brightness and even turned off the gesture wakeup.

Now after about a week, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a normal watch, imagine in a few years when it runs on solar power, and becoming properly waterproof at deeper depth, please just add a compass then it would be just perfect, haa haa haa, I am just having far too much fun.

Of course one of the main concern was the battery life, I mean for me if it lasts more than a day all should be fine, lol. Of course since this is the 3rd iteration, the battery supposed to last over 2 days (under reasonable use), and for me, I guess I am super duper reasonable, because I barely use 15% of the battery each day.

Yesterday from Aliexpress came the screen protection for the watch, super fidgety to put on though, lol, and all I am waiting for now is the new strap, the watch uses the normal 22mm strap, so virtually all straps with 22mm will fit. The strap that came with the watch was black, and after looking around on the web the white one looks rather dashy, haa haa haa, and as always it will look ridiculous on me, well it is too late now, haa haa haa.

This is how we shop (without your mother) lol

IMG_20161217_150819Dear Mat and Mar,

It is super difficult to be walking around the supermarket with a peace of mind, with 2 very curious children in tow, haa haa haa, and you two have refused to sit in the normal trolley, but on one of these, although looking so much more uncomfortable, you two wouldn’t have it any other way, haa haa haa.

Getting funny looks from other shoppers have become the norm in my life, haa haa haa, and the staff doesn’t seem to be bothered, and at the end of the day we were not harming nor bothering anyone, apart from bouts of laughter, haa haa haa.

Of course if your mother was with us, it would have been a totally different picture (literally), haa haa haa.