Chris has said that we can keep the cat but on the condition that we change his name!! The main reason for this is that Moon can't pronounce it (she calls him cat)
I'm issuing you a challenge - what do you think we should call him? (Chris has the final say)
So far we have got Gai (cause Gai means Chicken and Chris thinks he looks like a plucked chicken), Kebab (cause he's lucky he didn't end up as one) and Kao (which was Moon's suggestion because Kao means white in Thai). At the moment Gai is the front runner............
Look what we're looking after!! Isn't he beautiful!! (actually he's not but beauty is in the eye of the beholder). He is five weeks old (was found when he was just one day old) and weights only 220 grams. He's has just learned how to play - which I think is the funniest thing I have ever seen!! I'm looking after him for two weeks on behalf of Soi Dog Rescue (I thought he had a home to go to - turns out that he doesn't!! Oooooooohhhhhhh I'm not sure I'm going to be able to part with him!!)
We went out to the Bulls Head last night with our friends Bob, Susan, Hannah and Allan - they regularly host stand up comedy nights so we thought we would give it a go. We had dinner first in the bar then headed upstairs to hear the performers. There were three acts - Mark Billingham who hosted the evening and was absolutely hilarious!!, Sugar Sammy who was mildly amusing and Paul Thorne who was also absolutely hilarious!!. It was interesting to see how their comedy went down with the international crowd and I have to admit I cringed a couple of times when Sugar Sammy was doing his bit but the other two went down a storm!! (I can't remember what on earth they talked about but we all laughed a hell of a lot). We went through a vast quantity of wine, Chris and I won a nights stay in a posh hotel in Bangkok (we're doing quite well for getting free hotel accommodation) and, when the comedy was over, we then headed over to Bob and Susan's apartment for a night cap. I have no idea what time we went to bed but laughed my head off today when Bob and Susan walked into the Dubliner about 10 minutes after we did for the fry up!!
Yesterday there was a Children's Day celebration party for 1,600 kids from the orphanage of Wat Sakeaw which is in Angthong just north of Ayutthaya. It is held every year and is organised with help from most of the women's groups here in Bangkok. (The BWG donated 20,000 baht from the welfare fund so that every kid could have a present to open on the day). There is food, ice-cream, a magic show, a clown, sports, face and nail painting, hat making to name but a few of the activities that are provided. With my new BWG Welfare Volunteer Co-ordinator role (Impressive title eh!!) I managed to get nine people to volunteer to help out.
So, yesterday morning at the ungodly hour of 6am Chris, Moon and I dragged our weary carcasses out of bed and down to Phrom Phong BTS Station where we met up with Sue Tedd (You might remember her - She's the lovely lady who helped us find our apartment) who was giving us a lift. What a laugh.....just getting there was a little adventure. (I can tell that you are sensing a rant coming.......and your spot on!!). Thai road signs!! Thai road signs......they might as well not have any at all for all the sense that they make (and that's when they are written in English!!). We had a map - it looked very straight forward.....go to the old airport (yep we know where that is) then follow road 32 heading for Bang Pahan straight up past Ayutthaya then turn right onto road 347/329 (Ok not sure why there are two road numbers there but if we just go straight I'm sure we won't miss it.....Ha) then turn left and the Wat will be on your right (Brilliant - that looks easy!!). Oh my God.....it's a miracle we made it there at all!! We got to the airport ok, got onto road 32 fine, followed road straight on then noticed a sign on the road next to us saying Ayutthaya!! (We were up and down that stretch of road twice because it wasn't clear which junction you had to get off at to get on that road!!). We got to Ayutthaya and couldn't find the Wat for love nor money so ended up paying a motorcycle taxi to drive there and we followed behind him (Actually - Sue completely forgot we were supposed to be following him, got fed up because he was going so slowly and as she was overtaking him Chris said 'Erm, Sue. Aren't we supposed to be following him?'). We would never have found it on our own!! We got there in the end....it had only taken 3 hours!! (We bumped into Claire and Rodger who proudly announced that it had only taken them an hour and 15 minutes - harrumph!!).
The party itself was brilliant fun. Sue and I were put on make up duty and were instantly surrounded by 100's of excited little girls - they got to choose what colour of eye make up they wanted, what colour of blusher, which lipstick and then we had glitter which we put on them as well. It was absolutely hilarious - we got frowned at if there was not enough glitter!! Moon was crowd control......after the girls got their make up done they had their hair and nails done and then they got dressed up to have their photo taken. Moon was stopping them all diving head first into the dressing up box (Which was quite an achievement let me tell you!!). Chris, who had originally been assigned face painting duties, ended up playing football with the boys. I looked up and there he was - a good head and shoulders above everyone else running around in the sun. He very quickly gave up trying to play properly and resorted to cheating - this involved picking up the boy that was in front of him and moving him out the way so that he could kick the ball!! It was really good fun and I was astonished at how well behaved the kids were - lunch was held in a huge room (actually I want to call it a hanger) with no tables or chairs or anything. The kids got metal trays out their bags (You know the kind that you see in American movies for school dinners) got their food and then they sat in rows and ate their dinner - it was really quite amazing.
So, having had the sign disaster (and a map that didn't actually tell you where the Wat was) we decided that we would ask Claire and Rodger how to get back. It sounded so simple (What we should have done was wait for them to leave and follow them - but that would have been too easy!!) and it's not going to be any surprise to any of you that two hours later we were relying on Moon to find out if we were even heading in the right direction!! We were driving along this road (The signs to Bangkok which we had been following had helpfully disappeared) when we spotted some skyscrapers in the distance (Thank God for that) ahh little did we know!! Four maps and lots of discussion later we worked out that we had actually driven round the city, were now on the south side and that we would have to cross a bridge to actually get back into Bangkok. So we saw signs for Rama Nine bridge....followed them.....only to discover.....that the bloody bridge has not been built yet!!! (I should have known!!). We finally found one and as we were crossing I said 'I really think that the clouds should part, a ray of sunshine should shine upon us and there should definately been a host of angelic voices going ahhhhhhh' - Moons comment was 'Oh. Signs Thailand no good!!' (I think that about sums it up!!)
Well, we've made it to two years without Chris killing me or me killing him - It's a minor miracle!!
We had an amazing anniversary!! As you already know we had decided to use the vouchers I won and go to Hua Hin so at 10am on Sunday morning, having had croissants and coffee for breakfast (Yes....that well known traditional Thai breakfast!!), our car and driver turned up (and before you have a canary it's not expensive here to hire a car and a driver - our trip cost about £30 each way) . Mr Sam was lovely and we'd been in the car about 30 minutes when he handed us over a CD and asked if we wanted to listen to it.....we had a quick look and then a laugh about some of the old songs that were on it so said yes. We were then a bit confused when a screen appeared on the dashboard of the car and Mr Sam plugged in a microphone - it was Karaoke!!! The car had Karaoke - I don't think I have ever laughed so much in my life!! We declined to sing as it may have put him off his driving but every time either of us looked at the screen we started giggling!!
It takes about three hours to get from Bangkok to Hua Hin but the journey was more than worth it!! The hotel was absolutely stunning - on one side you had the beach with the sea stretching out as far as the eye could see and on the other side you had the most amazing mountains. We got checked in (The room was lovely) and then went for a romantic walk along the beach (ahhh!!). Lunch was fab - we sat at a table actually on the beach and had a glass of wine (Oh my GOD it was good.....well actually it could have been crap but I was so happy to have some wine that I thought it was the nicest wine I've ever had!!) whilst we ate lunch looking out over the ocean. I promised Chris I would write about this (I am doing it under duress) - I had a donut moment!! I couldn't figure out why, when I looked through the binoculars, everything appeared smaller (Stop laughing.....It was definately the wines fault - my story and I'm sticking to it!!).
We then headed along to the swimming pool bar (It was one of those ones that is in the middle of the water and you sit in the pool on stools whilst you have a drink) and I actually managed to persuade Chris that it would be lovely to have a drink there. So, we spent what was left of the afternoon in the pool drinking champagne (which sounds very romantic till I tell you that I spent the time laughing at Chris as he wiggled his legs about in the water saying 'This is weird!!' and he spent the time tipping me in the water for laughing at him!!).
That evening we got a taxi into Hua Hin and went round the night market there (It's nowhere near as good as the one at Chiang Mai - I think we've been spoiled) then had a nosy round the streets. Hua Hin is quite different from the other places we've visited here so far and I liked it but not as much as Chiang Mai (and I have to say that I have never seen so many German tourists in one place in my life!!). We found a lovely little bar called the Monsoon Bar where we had a drink and then we continued to wonder round Hua Hin till we found an Italian restaurant that looked nice (We weren't looking for an Italian we just happened to see one that looked nice) where we had some dinner. When we got back to the hotel we had a night cap in their open air lounge whilst listening to a Thai couple sing opera (which was a bit odd but actually very good!!).
On Monday, which was our actual anniversary, we sat out on the balcony of our room and opened our presents (It was very exciting - I love getting presents!!). Chris had bought me some Issey Miyakeperfume which I absolutely adore, some Issey Miyake body spray, a little notepad and a lovely casual cotton bag with a Nancy Chandler design on it. I bought him a snazzy wireless mouse (toys for boys - you really need to look at it before you figure out that it's actually a mouse!!) and a little wooden elephant. Apparently your second anniversary gift should be cotton so I had written him a little message, printed it onto a cotton sheet, rolled it up, tied it, put it into a small bottle and gave it to him. (I thought a message in a bottle kept up the beach theme). He lucked out with the cotton bag and admitted that he had had no idea cotton was the 2nd anniversary gift!!
We then went back into Hua Hin to visit a temple that we had spotted the evening before and then went a trip up to Chopstick mountain (which is also known as monkey mountain - you will see why in a minute). There is another temple that you can stop at on the way to Chopstick mountain so we decided that we would go and visit that as well. We took more photographs of yet another huge gold Buddha and climbed a very steep set of stairs to get to the temple at the top. The climb was worth it (even if I looked like a burst tomato yet again) and we spent quite a while gazing out over the sea - the views were absolutely stunning!! We then headed to Chopstick Mountain where we discovered why it is also called Monkey Mountain. There were monkey's everywhere!! Quite a lot of the females had little ones clinging onto their stomachs which was very cute so we decided to buy a bucket of food to give to them. God, they are not shy and they are also not quite so cute when they decide to stick their bums in your face (I was praying that it didn't need to do a big jobbie!!). We then climbed yet more stairs (I still hadn't recovered from the last lot - to be fair neither had Chris so I didn't feel quite so bad!!) and a lovely lady took our photo at the top.
That night we got dressed up and went and had dinner by the sea. The food was fab!! We had spring rolls filled with beef mince and blue cheese which were served with a honey dip (They looked almost too good to eat - they were served in shot glasses with the dip at the bottom) and lamb kebabs with a garlic dressing for a starter. We both ordered barbecued steak for a main course which was cooked to absolute perfection (Chris said that it was one of the best steaks he has ever had!!) then I had a chocolate mouse cake with creamy coffee ice cream and Chris had Cheesecake. The following morning Mr Sam collected us and brought us back to Bangkok.
Yesterday I took part in a 'Calagraphic Abstractions' art class (Ha, that had you guessing....). It was run by two women, Marianne Hvass Kure who is a Danish artist working here in Thailand and Lucia Nascimento who is Brazilian and also working here. The aim of the workshop was that each participant would produce an abstract painting on canvas using rice-paper, acrylics and Chinese ink.
It was brilliant - we started by looking at various Eastern Calligraphic signs and then each person selected one that meant something to them. (It didn't matter whether it was the actual meaning of the sign that inspired or the sign itself). Then we were given some rice paper, ink and a calligraphy brush and we spent the morning practising producing that symbol or, in my case, attempting to produce the symbol. Chris sent me a text message at lunchtime asking how I was getting on and my reply was 'I'm having fun. Not producing anything particularly pretty but I'm having fun!!' (I tell you....It's a hell of a lot harder than it looks!!). After lunch we were given our canvas, selected our paint and were given some ideas on how to use the symbols we had been looking at and shown techniques on how to produce abstract art.
It was really amazing to see what everyone produced - they were all so completely different. One women had scrunched up her rice paper, stuck it onto her canvas and then painted over the top, another had painted a background and then stuck her symbol on top of it and one of the other women had used her symbol graphically and had turned it into a dancing figure (Actually I thought it looked like an Octopus but she said dancing figure so.....).
I went along to the class because I am slightly afraid of paint - I'm always very controlled when I draw and you can't control a brush the same way you can a pen or pencil which makes me nervous. I figured that it would be a good way to try something new and I was right (am feeling quite inspired and am going to try out a few other techniques). Below is the painting I produced (Chris really liked it) - the symbol means 'a perfect ending'
You are now entering the weird and wonderful world of Carol Burns where flights take you into outer space, DNA floats above your head and people talk in colours.
Carol is an artist and illustrator well known for her slightly strange line drawings, her acrylic paintings using gold/silver/copper leaf and her Illustrated Family Tree/Family Home pieces.