Monday, December 22, 2014

What's been happening since the last blog

on our way to Krabi on board the ferry
Well, its been a while since we posted anything for you patient reader/readers out their (actually not that long ago it seems) so this will be a what's been going on, catch up blog thingy. OK, lets start at the very beginning.
The house in Khok Kloy blog Diana assures me, she is half way through so I will leave well alone....but add simply that it was a good idea at the time and that living alongside a fairly substantial creek/river is not as romantic as you might think.

We'd only been in the house a few hours when I opened my emails to read the breaking news that my Mum had taken a fall on her cruise of the Kimberley and had been evacuated back to Fremantle Hospital with a broken hip. A real bummer as she had been so excited about this adventure and at 89 years of age, these trips were bound to become more problematical. I rang daily and it sounded like she was in for a longish period of rehab so I decided to fly home and help her through it. I was due back in a month or so for another gastro check up so it wasn't a major upheaval. I spent about 3 weeks as a live in carer and it was a useful time on a number of fronts. It meant she could rest up and let the healing happen. It was also good to be able to help out with the insurance claims and associated paperwork which became quite involved. Peg mended very quickly, being ill or in anyway incapacitated does not sit gently with this lady and a fierce independence was probably the best medicine she was ever going to get.

When she was suitably mobile and good to go back driving, I took my leave and headed off to Anchor View in Busselton. Diana flew down from Phuket about a week later and we had planned to spend about a month in Perth catching up with family and getting my next all clear form Spiro. Sounds like a plan I hear you say but wait.......there's a twist. Our place in Freo had bookings (3 days max) scattered throughout September. It meant we were forever packing up and cleaning one house, and then doing the same 5 days later in the other. Add to that the interminable driving we always do in Perth it made for a taxing few weeks.

So we are now on board flight VA 234 Perth to Phuket with check in luggage full of cat grass, tomato chutney, seeds, lemon butter, fig jam and other items of huge interest to the baggage scanners. It was school holidays so imagine a flight full of families all excited to be on their way to Phuket for their 5 days in the sun. We had seats in the aft section of the plane, very close to the one and only toilet in cattle class. The toilet was hardly used before the mid-flight meal and things were pretty cosy. Once they had all eaten it was like the boxing day sales were on and it was first to the toilet gets the biggest bargain. I was in the aisle seat and due to aircraft designers brief to fit maximum number of human cargo into an inhumanly allocated space, they did away with the aisle. That's right, no aisle. I'm joking, there was an aisle but it was some kind of design joke wide enough for stick figures only. Maybe they had stick figures on the drawings and someone took it seriously.

Anyway, upshot was that it was like being in the middle of a wallaby v all blacks scrum with the all blacks, probably Richie McGaw using his elbow far too much. What is it with toilets on a plane and why do people need to go 3, 4 times......I was counting. Add to this a screaming infant with a register close, but not close enough to the sound barrier and you have life at 30,000 feet. There was a news item recently about some guy on a flight who was trying to open the main door only to be subdued by other do gooder pasengers. Buddy, I know what you're thinking!

Oh, before I forget, Diana also had pneumonia. She copped a cough in the face from our youngest grandson and it just got worse from there. The Doc had given the all clear to fly but it was an arduous flight. Her recuperation was therefore carried out in the aft bunk with Motley curled around her python like while I carried on normal duties. She recovered within a week and it was time therefore to head to our favourite spot in Phang Nga, Koh Yao Noi.
The floating Krathongs

We had a couple of weeks here hanging off a big mooring just outside Thakhao pier and spent the time really getting to know the island. On the first full moon in November Thai Buddhists have a ceremony called Loy Krathong. They make little floats called kathongs, using 8 inch thick slices of banana tree stem and then decorate them with shaped banana leaf and bright yellow flowers. In the middle sits a special long burning candle and the idea is that when the tide turns you push the float out to sea and it floats off carrying with it all the negative stuff we accumulate. It's a  beautiful idea and typical of Buddhist thinking. We made our krethongs and took them back to the boat to be sent off from the swim platform at the turn of the tide. Mine only had a tea candle which lasted about 5 seconds before the wind blew it out. Still, it floated off in the night and with it some of the stuff I'd like to be rid off. There is one thing about tides though that we forgot. They go out and they come in. Next morning floating around us were out floats gratefully returned on the incoming tide. Finding Nirvana maybe isn't so easy after all.

a new piece of deck going in

We are now back in Yacht Haven getting some jobs sorted on the boat and also fixing Diana's retirement visa. This is like home for us now and our evening meals up at Penns are like family gatherings as various yachties gather to eat her famous Thai food, drink the ice cold Singha and talk  of things that go wrong on boats. There is never a break in the conversation, believe me. Till next time. Rob


The house in among the trees
With The Doctor safely moored at Yacht Haven Marina at the top end of Phuket, and the wet season ahead of us we thought some time on land would be interesting. Nick, the marina manager mentioned that there might be a house available right on their street near the small town of Kok Kloi.
Before we knew it the front door was swinging open to an amazing little house in the jungle  overlooking a babbling stream. It certainly had the wow factor with a huge western style kitchen and comfortable living room all opening up with bi fold doors, to a big shaded veranda.

Best spot in the house

Terms were negotiated and we packed up the cat and a few clothes and moved in on a Saturday. Before we had even fully unpacked Rob checked the internet connection and our email. Bad news completely took the shine off the day. Rob's mum had taken a fall and broken her hip while on a trip to the Kimberly in far north Western Australia. She was being airlifted by Flying Doctor back to Perth and her condition was uncertain. After many emails to and fro, Rob decided that he needed to get back home to support her when she was discharged from hospital.

The swimming pool

Our stay in the house changed from a few months to a few weeks while we waited on news about Rob's mum's recovery. She was discharged in record time and Rob went home to ease the transition home. She is an amazing 89 year old who's determination to get well again meant that she was back on her feet and walking in a very short time.

The bustling town of Kok Kloi
In the mean time we made the most of our jungle house. It was situated only a short five minute drive to the typical Thai town of Kok Kloi. It has a reasonable Tesco super market and fabulous early morning and Sunday morning markets. The women sellers at the markets were friendly and helpful and very patient with my poor efforts in their language. We had fun going to the markets and getting to know life in a typical Thai town. The joy was the authenticity of a town that was free of tourists and we found we soon got into the rhythm of  the place.

I love tropical fruit! 

Future chicken roasts

Rob had a craving for a real western style chicken roast one Sunday. Only a little perturbed by the chickens with their feet doing a Mexican wave, we selected the plumpest looking specimen. Back home in the kitchen, Rob quickly slipped into the well oiled (excuse the pun) routine of rubbing the chicken with butter, peeling the potatoes and readying the roasting pan. Curiously the chicken seemed to lack the cavity where you usually put the stuffing or herb.
 "Aaargh! This chicken still has its gizzards" yells Rob as he does a chicken run around the kitchen.
"All you have to do is split it from its bum to its chest and get them out" the veteran chicken plucker (me) says.
"It's got poop in there!!!" cries Rob as his face turns ashen.
"I'm not eating THIS!!!"
We did, but our heart wasn't into the idea any more and what's more, it was so tough and rubbery any remaining enthusiasm was lost by the relentless chewing required to get the poor foul down..

Elephant going home after a day's work. Khao Sok National Park

We rented a car as well as the house so had time to explore the local area with its beautiful Wats (Buddhist temples) and national parks. On one drive we were lucky to see some elephants out with their keepers. The country side is stunning with lush jungle and towering mountains.

The block
We were so taken with the house and the general area that we started looking at land. This one was nearby and had its own little stream. We had the house designed in our heads, but the owner wasn't ready to sell.

There was a bit of a down side to the picture of the beautiful house near the trickling brook. Being the wet season, it rained and rained and then bucketed down! The beautiful babbling brook became a raging torrent that spilled over its banks and instead of tinkling, roared day and night. It was so loud we had to close the windows at night.

The stream after wet season rains.

We had a great few weeks in our jungle house and made good friends from neighbors living nearby.
Next wet season we might do something similar, but on the nearby island of Koh Yao Noi. We love the idea of slow travel. I you like a place, stay a while. Breathe it in, learn the codes, live the life.