Here is Huan Hin reflections

In the luxurious resort called the Boathouse, we are spending the first day lazily reading, meandering along the criss-cross of pools that lead to the sea. A superb labyrinth of immaculately maintained crystal clear pools. Each house on the property has a ramp that unfolds into the pool. Impeccably blue, beautifully kept gardens sprinkled with coconut trees, palms, local trees offering colours, scents and a touch of Japanese influence. A delight to the eyes and the senses. At the end of the myriads of pools lay an infinity pool made of salt water. Warm, inviting and a view onto the ocean where the waves rhythmically break onto the small stone wall separating the pool from the sea. Idyllic indeed. All created for total well being and relaxation and big wallets.

We have been very fortunate to come here. A friend invited us to use her flat in this lovely setting. How could we refuse? The days so far have been spent just reading, eating, talking, exploring the local eateries, breathing the fresh sea air… A real change from the farm and all that it entails. Thanks to Tum!

In the end, walking around the luxurious condo, admiring the beauty of it all there is a feeling of “so what”? Doing it once or twice is fine, but the thought of doing it every day could become very quickly not only boring but sterile, even futile. One is sheltered from the outside word like in a cocoon. Yes, the blue limpid waters of the labyrinth pools are magnificent. At first there is certainly astonishment, awe, admiration in front of this super architecture, this feast of engineering and implementation. Somehow I feel a little out of my league in there.

But one thing is sure for a holiday it is just fine. Living here on an everyday basis ( the thought has crossed our mind) is definitely not our cup of tea. If everything is done for you what have you got left to do? Gossiping, spending money in shopping complexes, pedicure, manicure, hairdresser, massage, dancing, drinking, dinner parties and cocktails at someone’s place and endless chatter about nothing. Not my dream living. I would be missing the gardens, the cows, the animals and the mountains.

Everyday we taxied to Huahin to eat. So far, we discovered a great family restaurant called Deya Deli and we had the most lovely home cooking for quite a while. In between showers we get to visit the local supermarket and get a few provisions for dinner.

Deya Deli, was really nice but the waiter was too overbearing. Could not stop talking and his laugh sounded so fake with his contorted lips and and white teeth that he seems just out of a comic Thai film or some canned laughter from a sitcom. Jamie was relentless…that is what his mum called him. With is posh English accent and his perfect Thai he came straight out of boarding school into the restaurant business…not quite but almost. Spoke too much and invaded our little corner with his views of the world. Nice for a little while to exchange points of views, but he did no know where to withdraw gracefully and let us eat.

But the one thing that bothers me in this trip is the boredom. The boredom of seeing the world. It seems that I am not interested in visiting places, admiring temples, checking museums for the latest painting or work of arts, meandering down Oxford St, Sukumvit, Rue de Rivoli or the newer streets of Huahin to witness the same brand names, the same shops, the same opulence and affluence.

Down the streets of HuaHin the myriads of little shops selling the same colourful plasticky items made in China and the open drains filled with blue, yellow and white plastic bags. The cars with tinted windows splashing rain water onto the pedestrians and the little pavements full of misplaced tiles or holes. Traffic jams, clogged streets, fumes spurting out of buses, horns from impatient drivers, helicopters hovering over the town every 10 minutes, aeroplanes landing in the nearby airport, scooters two or three abreast at times race about with exhaust opened. I have a sense of deja vu. The layout of the town, the people, the smell, the buildings, I find myself in Phnom Penh. I know some of you will say: ” no way” – that does not resemble Cambodia at all. On the outer it does, but it is a fact that Khmer people are much poorer than Thais.There is not as much misery here as I have seen in my 5 years in Phnom Penh. That was many moons ago…some 15 years. But according to some friends still living there, poverty prevails at an alarming rate. I have not seen this in Thailand. But that is out a little out of my sphere right now.

One thing is certain is that in my experience the Thais that we have encountered are just lovely and easy to be with. Quite a contrast with the Vietnamese where one could feel the harshness that they have endured over the years of wars and occupation. Thailand has never been occupy by a foreign country for long. Except in the last World war briefly by the Japanese.

Where does this leads me in terms of my own feeling in these travels? Seeing family, yes always wonderful to be with them all. Sharing thoughts, food, excursions and some precious moment together. That is definitely a big plus. And that is what we have done.

But I am not any more into sightseeing. I think we we do not have the stamina anymore. And the thing that is really hard on us is the food. So many temptations, yes yummy! But after a while we just crave some simple food. Tired of French food, or English pub food or Thai curries and soups full of MSG. Home food is best and that is what we looking for right now. I think that we are ready to go home now after all this ranting.
Till next time.

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Up Up and away

On our way up… up and away,

This morning after getting up a little earlier, we pressed on to have breakfast. Tea first thing then my favourite Piccolo coffee… and Peter is the best coffee maker I have ever come across. ( of course I had to say that did not I ?) What a delightful brew he makes. Everything studied to a T. The right amount of coffee, the right grind in the grinder, the right amount of milk, the right heat under the little Italian Expresso machine and with all this attention he obtains a super coffee. I must this is my favourite time in the morning. I feel privilege to savour such a lovely made coffee.

The suitcases were ready from last night, the chickens were out early today, the dog was lucky to have a fresh bone before we went and Fripouille the cat also managed to get a big hug and a big feed.

Kylie and Angus arrived on time to pick us. Ready to go… with lots of eagerness we jumped in the car and off to the Station to drove. Arriving there we found out that the train was to be delayed at least an hour due to some road work on the tracks. We started to panic a little, but we had given ourself a good margin. In spite of the longer trip we had plenty of time to spare.

The plane was perfectly on time for a change. Left at 14h on the dot. We should be in Bangkok in good time.

High in the air the topography of this continent is just amazing. Arid, bleached, parched, sparse forests, but more dry that is what it looks like from above. Skies are clear and a deep blue fading to whitish in the far distance. A sort of haze envelops the horizon and everything fades away in a blue hue. The difference is hard to tell between the sky and the earth just at the zenith. It blends and melts. The grounds underneath my feet is just mosaic of rivers, estuaries, low mountains and as we just cross the gulf of Carpentaria, the water shines an uneven blue-green. Tiny boats can be seen down below. But the parched earth underneath makes you really see that Australia is a land of deserts and dry earth. Scare homes even in these remotes parts can be seen peppering the landscape. Just a few nautical miles after the shores of the Gulf, islands upon islands are scattered all around the path of the plane. They can be seen in their entirety or little bits of some and then the plane arrives again onto dry mountainous landscape. Miles upon miles the earth shows us her beauty and her uniqueness. Rugged, dry, rivers winding along it like giant snaked slithering along difficult terrain. Patches of green forests, dry lakes or salt lakes which appeared totally bleached from 10km above its surface.
It is scary and at the same time quite exhilarating to be able to witness such spectacle. But also what a privilege to see the planet from that far above. Of course, I have seen it countless times but it is always awesome to be reminded of your place in the universe.

It is not the first that we cross these magic landscapes, but every time it is an absolute delight to share such a wonderful and unique beauty.

With every mountains, rivers, oceans, cities or villages glittering in the day or night and you are leaving behind you know that you are a little closer to your destination. It is amazing how the world looks so small from the plane high above the in the sky. It is amazing how such an engine loaded with hundred of passengers, cargos and God knows what else can take us so far above the surface of the planet. it never stops to surprise me or enchant me and like a little girl I am ecstatic and truly in awe at modern man capacities, ingenuity, and amazing engineering to be able to make me witness such a kaleidoscopic sceneries.

So here we are in this Boeing 777 transporting us from Brisbane to Bangkok in 8h. All the magic of lying is laid bare at our feet. Just 10 km down. Just incredible! Even though we have made this trip countless time, from the seat on this plane there is always the feeling that the earth is for everyone. There is not a single nation that owns this. Yet, we carve the planet into tiny little pieces representing this country or that. From above for me these distinctions do not exist at all. I do not see pieces of delineated compartments belonging to this group of people or another. I do not see a carved up territory, i do not see races, I do not see colours, I do not see religions, I do not see any of that. I just see just a vast expansion of land, of earth, with its own typical mountain or rivers, with its own typical forests or plains, with its own sea or ocean and the billions of microbes, insects, birds, animals of every shape and sizes in fact the whole spectrum of life on earth all roaming upon it and above all that every human being is sharing.

The problem with human is that we want to possess, to acquire, to say that it is MINE. Just that little bit of paradise is mine. Is it? We fight for it, we kill for it, we conquer, mutilate, assassinate, ,torture, rape and pillage. Or the fun part, we pretend that we are descendent of some Gods and assume the role of King, Prince and all the tittles that go with the charade. We take it so seriously that we prolong this myth for centuries.

I am always amazed that folks actually venerate the queen of one country or another. Watching the news at times makes me cringe. What draw these people to this figure head? Why are they so attracted to some royals? I do think that there is some sort of mystic feeling or envy of the good old days. Days of our childhood where we have been told or read myths and legends, fairy tales and stories and we fantasise about our prince charming coming to take us away into a magic castle and we live happily ever after.

These fantasies are kept live through the press and media in general and revive in us a sort of flame of better times: Ha! the good old days! But in these good old days you could have been a destitute peasant begging his lord for mercy or some slave totally enchained to his master. But obviously, we do not want these sorts of image at all do we? We prefer to continue the myth that all is rosy and that we are neither beggars nor slaves but some knight in shiny armour or some princess being rescued from poverty and marrying a rich prince. Oh boy! Is that why we venerate some how the Kings and Queens of this world and entertain in our petty mind all sorts of totally erroneous images and connections? In other words a total illusion.

Forgetting in the identification of the moment that these royals are leeches on the public purse, parasites, pay no taxes, live in great pump, flicker their hands to wave to the proletariat as if some Gods, oh and please do not touch them…no, they are not humans and to touch them would be blasphemy I suppose.

One day one our prime Minister committed this horror, Prime Minister Keating had the audacity to touch the queen of England in one of her tours. The newspapers were full of it. Outrage burst out and it was a scandal for days on end. Yes, they are some Gods and to even think of touching them would be committing a crime. In the olden days one might be hung I suppose or decapitated. But that is not that bad today. Only the newspaper get outraged on behalf of the ruling class.

And my next question is: who had the audacity and authority suddenly to elevate themselves to some status.? Were not they some highway robbers amassing wealth, conquering, submitting people to their rule? They invented a word or 2 or 3…King, Queen and all the affiliated pompous followers were given some tittle.

What brought me to talk about all that? What distraction? Oh, yes flying over the earth brought about all sorts of connotations in my head. The vastness and the immensity of the earth made me realise how small we are as human in the scale of things. Very small indeed! We are a funny ( not many would laugh tho) race of creatures, I would keep the word funny but I find it not that inappropriate , better say weird, unique, bizarre, great and also so cruel. I guess the two sides of the coin are represented in what we are. The Ying and the Yang. It looks like on this earth everything seems to have an opposite to counterbalance it.

Night approaches as we near Bangkok. Distinct lines rise in the horizon. Pink..fading away fast as night settles in and the rain is lashing at the plane’s windows. The engine is roaring louder and louder,the altitude is almost nil, and what is comforting is that the usual ear pop just did not occur…modern planes are getting better. The wings flaps have started to fold from the main wings, the brakes are out with a great swooosh, just a few bumps and the mass of steel has touched the ground and it feels like the plane is purring down the runway to find its place in the allocated bay. The very last rays of light can be seen so faint and try to peep through, but the night has already engulfed us in a flash as we land into Bangkok sticky and humid air clings to your clothes. But the last sentence is only a reminiscence…been there so many times that I already imagine what it might be like at that time of the day when the door of the mighty Boing open and a blast of warm air invades your lungs.

But Bangkok is already far away as the Airbus transports us over half of the earth to England.

Till next time.

Back to the ranch

We have been back 2 weeks now and the first week was spent in bed recovering from a heavy cold. Both of us got it pretty bad. Not had a cold in such a long time!

I guess the travels added to a lot of fatigue. It was a great holiday in all. Visiting the family and also friends in London and south of France. Enjoying good food and wines…maybe a little too much I guess. The extra kgs are showing it at the moment. But having just recovered from this cold I feel right now is the right time to get back into shape.

Shape it is! I spent all morning cleaning the curtains and behind the sofas. In spite of having a charming lady looking after the place, the mice did not ask permission to their right of abode in our house. They were quite a few. The first thing was to get rid of them. After all they are not paying rent and were not asked to come in. So, right now there are little corpses to be picked up and buried far from the house. The chicken coop also had their mice number up. It was a real invasion there. They were scattering everywhere. They had the time to multiply with all the good grains that were fed to the chooks. What the difference now is that our beloved python is no more to keep them in check. And of course they had the chance to nest around the coop and had a ball. Yes, had. Because now the poison had the opportunity to work its miracle and I am pretty sure that they are not going to stay that long. Revenge! yes, they managed already to eat all my melon seedling that I painstakingly planted the other day. Yum! Melon seeds. But that will be dealt with shortly.

The cows have made it back today. All in form and are looking fabulous. Nice to have  our little troop back in the paddock. I did miss them. When they entered back in, I called them and they picked up their head and look at me. “Haha , you are back, I am sure they were saying, so are our treats ( I do spoil them rotten with special lucerne hay…nice and green). So, they came rushing back to the edge of the fence expecting but looked puzzled that I did not have it ready. Yes, girls, it will come. give me a minute!

Little butcher bird greeted us by coming straight into the kitchen demanding its ration, and that was on the first day! Lucky I had kept some meat in the freezer for him…sorry her. I just found out it was a female. I fed it and it did not want to move at all. In fact she remained there for quite a while on the sofa, its usual place. Welcome home little bird.

As for our fat Labrador it was such a rejoicing for her,  she could stop wagging her tail, but with her it is hard to know if it is the tail or the body that wags. That night she climbed up the stairs and onto her favourite place, beside us at the foot of the bed. Not on the bed mind you that would have been impossible. She did not wake us that morning to go out. She waited patiently till we got up which was quite late. She went for a little walk  but came straight back inside. No, I am not going to let you out of my sight right now she must have said to herself. And the whole day she followed us around keeping an eye, making sure we would stay put. And put we stayed indeed with that rotten cold.

Spring cleaning is under way. Washing all these dirty curtains scraping the dust from winter as well as the smell of burning fires of these cold winter months. Rugs got a heavy pounding and they are soaking the spring sun at the moment. Behind the fridges and the furniture with the vacuum and a good disinfectant.  It smells wonderful and ready for these balmy evenings where the breeze is caressing softly the top of the bamboos which sway gently. against the backdrop of the mountains.  It is a delight to feel the gentle warm evenings, the calm and serenity after busy London, Paris and Bangkok. The superb sunsets, the tweeting of the birds, the swamp hens that have taken refuge and settled on the edge of the dam, the rails that have had babies running around everywhere foraging, the magpies still shy  but ready to be fed if I called them, the mudlarks dirtying our windows as they see their reflection on the glass and peck it. What a mess they make! The wallabies hoping around the fields at sunset. A delight to the senses!

It is hard to reintegrate into the routines and the mind wonders about living somewhere else. Having another dog, living in Thailand where it is nice and easy, fantasising about all sorts of possibilities, hard to get re acquainted with friends and even forgetting some of the names. I always do that, finding it hard to remember names when I get back. Ready to take off again! dreaming, yes. But that was when we were in bed sick and lamenting about our health. So, the mind goes to find dreams and projects.

We are back on our feet and getting back into our routines and all these fantaisies have disappeared …almost …for the time being. It  is back to the ranch and back into our lovely setting and breathing fresh air and eating our garden produce. It was great to go and travel to see especially family, friends and relatives but it is even greater to be back and we settle into our home.  Comfort you might say, yes, there is something to be said about routines and the feeling to reintegrate what you know. We are creatures of comfort. A bit like a cat that loves the plushy sofa and stretches lazily. That is what I feel right now that lazy feeling of being back home.

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Oh! and also the fact that I am going to loose these extra kgs . I have started already. No more rich sauces, wines, cheese, heaps of cakes…tho I am not so much of a sweet tooth, but I had a bit of Peter’s all the time and my own to be honest. These lovely buckwheat pancakes, with Calvados/cider from Brittany, these rich butter cakes called Kouing Aman warm and so easily tucked into! That delectable EDDU, a whiskey  made from buckwheat in Brittany…These oysters and mussels accompanied with french fries. No, my mouth is not watering right now, but I am happy and fulfilled to have indulged in these delectable specialties. Again? yes, but not so soon! Now for some more sober eating.

Till next time.

Coffee, scones and clotted cream at Selfridges, London

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Mussels again and fried potatoes. Yum!