Who’s got milk?

After having milked a cow on Sunday, the thought of ‘milk’ has been lodged in my brain like a recurring theme that won’t disappear no matter how much you try. So tonight, as you have probably already guessed, my topic will be about “milk” and its many health benefits.

We drank milk when we were young because we were told it’s good for you. As we grow older, we substitute milk with coffee, tea or other drinks. Mostly likely, we just have milk with coffee or cereal which isn’t always enough.

How is milk good for you? It is a good source of protein and 9 essential nutrients such as calcium which are essential for keeping your bones strong. In case you have forgotten, your bones store calcium like a bank. After a certain which is now believed to be 30 (previously 35) you no longer store the calcium but use them. Daily consumption of calcium therefore is to replace the calcium you use daily. If you don’t want bone fractures easily when you get older, I recommend you keep drinking milk or other calcium rich foods like yogurt.

Another great thing about milk for those who want a healthy diet is that it keeps you feeling full. Whenever I felt hungry mid-morning or mid-afternoon during my weightloss, I’d have a glass of zero-fat milk and it will instantly fill me up for a couple hours. (Note: 0% fat as you don’t need the extra calories anymore)

Not only does milk fill you up so that you don’t snack unnecessarily, milk can also keep your hair looking healthy and beautiful. How? In an article in the economist in May 2003, the American Dietetic Association say that “According to research, cow’s milk contains the ideal mix of essential nutrients for beautiful healthy hair. The proteins and lipids in milk work to strengthen hair, while the calcium promotes hair growth and aids in preventing hair loss. Milk also contains other hair-friendly nutrients like Vitamins A, B6, and biotin and potassium all ofwhich work together to keep hair soft and shiny.”

In addition according to research, the protein in milk can help build muscles , calcium and vitamin D can help decrease symptoms of PMS, as well as induce sleep for those who have trouble sleeping. It also helps prevents against cavities. The list is endless.

With all these benefits, how can you resist a glass of fresh milk? Drink milk! (0% fat please)

The Secret Garden

Another newly discovered attraction I stopped by yesterday was called “Talad Nam Klang Dong” which literally translates to a “Floating Market in the Middle of the Forest” and that is exactly what it is.

Hidden not too far off the main road, I walked into an unexpected space. It took me back to the “Secret Garden.” A hidden space that is known only to those who enter.
The area was lush with vegetation, flowers and offset by souvenir and coffee shops. The shops were on the artistic side, selling unique design peices. A great place for those who like things a bit on the creative side. Wooden painted signs showed the way. Most importantly, even during the mid-day sun, it didn’t feel hot at all.
We were short for time so we just had a quick 15 minute tour of the place but I like what I saw. It’s somewhere you can just go for a relaxing afternoon away from people. Different types of sitting areas for you to choose from, food for you to eat, and even a little thai massage area for you to relax.

They even have a resort in an adjacent area which is supposedly very nice too, but I have yet to go see it.

Another nice little spot for you to stop by if you happen in the Khao Yai area 🙂

Farm Girl for a day

Back in Bangkok now I already miss the cool breeze that flows through the trees and the sounds of nature. Nevertheless I had a marvelous time today on the way back. We stopped at Chokchai Farm which opened its gates to visitors over ten years ago, but for some reason I had never thought of stopping by. I stopped to get some ice cream, but that was about it.

At first impression, when I think of a farm visit pictures of cows roaming about in pastures fill my head. We would probably just have to walk around looking at the cows, perhaps get to touch them a little, and take pictures. It’s hot in Thailand, so when I think of something outdoors I tend to just want to do everything in winter. Farm visits weren’t exactly a priority.

The Chokchai Farm tour surpassed my expectations by far. We started out the tour with a video background of the farm, telling us how it evolved from the seventies, through the oil crisis, survived the Asian Crisis of 1997 before becoming what it is today. A successful farm in the mountains outside of Bangkok, famous for its milk and dairy products.

Well-trained and articulate guides showed us around the farm, pass disinfecting sprays and solutions (to ensure that we don’t contaminate the farm with all our bacteria) , through the making of milk, as well as through farmland and a number of attractions along the way.

It’s an experience you have to go through yourself. It can be a lot more fun than you imagined. At this farm, you get to really get a go at being a farm girl. I’ve never milked a cow before and always wondered what it was like, so I jumped at the opportunity to milk a cow when it was offered after the demonstration. It was a lot harder than I thought. Milking a cow requires strength and finger power!
Loving horses, I also loved the stop where we could take horse rides around the field, or take carriage rides. A show followed showing us what was necessary to be a real ‘cowboy.’

Another stop I also particularly enjoyed was the “Petting Zoo.” Deers roamed around freely waiting for you to feed them, baby cows waited for milk, sheep for long beans and rabbits for carrots. You really got to be upclose and personal with the animals. You got to actually interact with the animals instead of just watching them. It was great. I enjoy being with animals. They are really good for the soul. You forget all your troubles and worries.

I felt like a child again, but hey sometimes its good to go back to being a child 🙂 Who enjoys being an adult?
Later, a herding dog demonstrated to us how sheep were to be rounded up and pushed onto a truck. Wow, its amazing how you can train a dog so well. It brings me back to the movie “Australia.” Vast open spaces require you to be able to round up all the cows on horseback and with the aid of dogs.

Wonderful. Who knew a farm visit could be so enjoyable and educational? I didn’t, but now I do 😛 Who’s got milk?

Horses fear not

Oh it feels wonderful to be surrounded by nature.. The air is fresh and you can hear the sounds of nature. Birds and wildlife going about their business. Frogs croaking, insects calling out each other. No sounds of ambulances rushing by nor skytrains rolling past. No one misses them.

Most wonderful of all, you can hear yourself think. Your senses are rejuvenated.

This morning I went for an early morning horse ride around the countryside. We rode pass corn fields, potato fields, yellow dalia flowers… The view was to die for. The horses brought us a step closer to nature.

We don't have to rely on oil to travel. All we have to depend on is loving care of these horses. Horses that are smarter than you think.

Horse riding is a great sport for knowing and exploring your own mind. It enhances self awareness. How? For one thing, horses have a sixth sense. They can sense how you feel.

Fear is instantly recognized. If you fear, you lose control of your horse which has a mind of it own. If you are easily surprised or scared, your horse will be likewise and could jump from a little bit of unexpected noise. To ride, you have to overcome your own fears.

Fears that may be stopping you and your horse from getting to your destination. Fears that hinder your path. Instead, enjoy the breeze flowing through your hair as you ride by golden fields surrounded by deep blue mountains. Yeee ha!!!

Back to Nature

Today I left the hectic bustle of Bangkok to relax in the mountains of Khao Yai. Only around 140km from Bangkok I wonder why I don't take short trips more often. It feels wonderful to just leave the concrete jungle and immerse yourself with nature.

Trees line the road to the Kirimaya Resort and once you enter, you feel like you are in another world. The place is so peaceful and the interior in tune with nature.

Wooden doors and a beautiful wooden walkway above water features greet you. Water plants of different varieties emerge from the water swaying in the wind. A cool breeze from the mountains makes the leaves rustle. Ripples flow across the swimming pool. Birds chirp high up in the trees.

I love it here.

Soft sofas on my personal balcony make me want to just lay there and unwind with a good book. I can stay in my room all day. No need to go anywhere.

I explore the hotel, but that's all I can see for now. It's nighttime so I shall have to wait until tomorrow to see the view.

Peace and quiet is definitely good for the soul.

Practice makes perfect

Last night I was browsing around YouTube and couldn’t stop myself watching “America’s Got Talent” and especially Kaitlyn Maher. (Ok, I’m 2 years late….but she is still awesome.) What amazed me was that she was only 4 years old at the time of the contest and yet she knew what she was doing.

Unlike other kids I see who are pressured into singing and dancing on stage by their parents in pageants or other contests, Kaitlyn really did like to sing. She was so natural and you could really sense that she was a young girl who loved to sing. When she sang, she sounded much older than she really was.

Something she said though really stuck in my head. She said, “I love to sing, and I practice hard.”

At only 4 years old, she made the final top ten of the contest. It wasn’t out of pure luck or chance that she made it, but she “practiced hard” to be able to sing so well.

I think that is the most important element to achieving anything. If you want to do something well, you have to practice. There is no short cut, there is no magic bullet. Practice can only make you better. Simple isn’t it? Hardest part is doing it 😛 (Gotta go kick my lazy me out the window now :P)

Precious..

The other day I managed to make myself sit still and watch the movie “Precious.” It’s a sad and stressful movie yet at the same time full of hope.

It portrays the life of a teenage girl who has had an abusive childhood and is again pregnant with her second baby at the young age of 16. Illiterate and obese, she doesn’t seem to have much of a life ahead of her. Her mother lives on welfare and despises her. Her father is a painful memory she wants to forget. She gets kicked out of school for being pregnant.

My goodness, it’s a depressing life. I can’t imagine what it must have been like growing up as she did and experiencing all those abuses. It requires strength. It makes me feel so happy and grateful for everything I have. A place to stay, food in the fridge and people who love me.

What I do like about the movie is that the girl “Precious” overcomes all these obstacles no matter how grave they are. She dreams of one day being successful and well-known. Of being a Star. Despite her mom’s objections, she pursues her dreams and continues on with her education.

At an alternative school, she meets friends, gets pushed to learn how to read and write, and expands her horizons. She gains courage to stand her ground and seek a better life. She evolves as a person and is no longer just that “abused” girl. She is on the path to being the “Precious” she wants to be.

I feel like I am witnessing a bird being freed from its restrictive and suffocating cave. Precious is liberated from her abusive childhood.

Like Precious, we all have our cages. Our cages or “comfort zones” are where we are comfortable being, and believe that is our life. We do things a certain way because it is “comfortable” and is what we are used to doing or believe it should be. Sometimes though, a venture out of that “comfort zone” can reveal to us wonders. If only we dare let ourselves leave that “comfort zone” for awhile we might discover a new freedom, a new life we never expected.

Try doing something outside your comfort zone ..Go sing in the rain… it’ll twinkle your brain 🙂

The Thing About "Perception"

“Perception” is a word that I find fascinating. I truly appreciate the ancient philosophers who came up with this word. They really knew what they were talking about. (Socrates and his Allegory of the Cave, Descartes…)

Our “perception” of things undoubtedly are influenced by our experience and our beliefs. We “perceive” things according to information we readily have. We make sense of things according to what we already know. For example, we perceive that a cup can be either half full or half empty. We perceive that we are healthy and fit from past experience. We are fit because we can do more than we could before.

However, perception isn’t always reality. I remember my perception of myself during my extremely chubby days. I perceived myself to be fit, very fit. I could walk hours on end exploring a new city. I moved around quickly. I never perceived myself to be big and chubby at all. I perceived myself to be healthy and “fit.” I was just slightly overweight that’s all. No big deal.

Then things changed.. I decided I wanted to lose weight, be really, really healthy before I got any older. My “perception” regarding my level of fitness changed drastically.

I came to a realization that what I had “perceived” to be fit, was nowhere near an average level of fitness. I gasped for breath after about a minute of fast running. The auntie next to me ran further and faster. My former “perceived” notion of fitness flew out the window. Reality had set in. My “perception” of fitness had to be redefined. What I had “perceived” to be true and trusted no longer held true.
“Perception” is therefore really your mind trying to make sense of all the information you have. Until you really “experience” or “sense” it, until you experience “reality” would your perception of things change. “Perception” is therefore formed, in-part, from your experiences.

It’s funny how perceptions change overtime. What “Perception” do you have of yourself?

Belts, I understand…

As I put on my jeans this morning and grabbed a belt, a thought flashed across my mind. “I now understand and really use belts for their original purpose.” I use belts to keep my jeans and pants up. I never had to before during my chubby days.

In my chubby days, belts were just an accessory. Something I put on for colour with my clothes and to keep my outfit looking professional. I wouldn’t tuck in my shirt, (No, we must not show that flabby stomach) Belts would be around the waist, and over my shirt, never inside. I had many colours, many sizes.
However, when wearing jeans I never needed to wear belts. My jeans were always so tight that they stayed up and in place without ever needing the help of a belt. If you can imagine a bag that is bursting from being over stuffed. That was me.

Plus, an added belt to an already tight pair of jeans felt uncomfortable. It would be all tight around my waist. As a result, I hardly ever ever wore belts with pants.

These past six months though I have finally discovered the proper usage of belts. (Of course we all know what belts are used for, but chubby people use them differently.) They have become a necessity to keep jeans and pants looking great and up. Without belts, I feel lost…

It’s a funny realization really. Who would have thought that little things like belts make all the difference when you are chubby and not? They really do. I’m happy to finally be able to use belts for their intended purpose. 🙂

Pork Satay like no other..

Today, I had what I consider the most delicious pork satayin recent memory. It came in a pack wrapped in banana leaves with peanut sauce and a side dish of cucumber, onion, chile and some vinegar. They all go so well together. A Thai traditional snack or appetizer.
For the benefit of my foreign readers, pork satay is what I call the asian version of shish kebab. Different kinds of meats are thinly sliced, marinated in mix of tumeric and other spices, and then grilled over a charcoal fire. It is served with peanut sauce and a cucumber side dish. I’m not sure where the dish originates from, but it can be found easily in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. In Thailand, chicken and pork are most common, but in Indonesia and Malaysia, satays are also made with mutton and beef.
The satay was so good, I couldn’t stop myself from having them, and neither could my friends. We all gathered around the pork satay, our hands holding onto the bamboo skewers whilst we bit the pork off the skewers. The number of skewers I had jumped from lucky 3 to lucky 7, good number 8, lucky 9 (in Thailand) and ended up at the nice round figure of 10.
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Of course…I didn’t eat it all in one go, but it was more than enough to leave me feeling full for the rest of the evening.
What was so good about it? The pork was really soft and juicy without the fat. Apparently this vendor had sliced the pork into smaller pieces and wrapped them around the bamboo skewers in such a way that it retains its moisture. It was soft and tasty. Just heaven for people who love to eat satay like me. I love eating meaty meats.
Of course, it won’t be worth sharing all this lovely info if I don’t tell you where you can find it. I post their contact info below (in Thai). You can just give them a call.. 🙂 Now I feel like ordering them for the weekend…