Back on the Writing Bandwagon

Waking up to cool breezes and sunshine without having rain pour down is heavenly.  Suddenly it’s November and year-end is approaching. I realize I haven’t written since January and I hit myself on the head.  I have so many stories I’d like to share with you. So many stories that remain swirling around in my head like dreams floating around in a cauldron.

I say this all the time and I’ll say it again, time flies. Time waits for no one, and each second, the clock continues to ticks on. If you’ve been following me, you know I’ve a big thing for “Time.” The fact is we all have 24hours in a day. The question is what are we going to do with those 24hours in a day?  What are some goals you would like to achieve? What are some places or things you would like to do? What do you want to do before you die?  I’ve been working on a few of my personal goals this year, but that is still no reason. There’s always time, you just have to allocate it well.

Today, I wanted to thank a dear friend (you know who you are) for pushing me back onto the writing bandwagon by recommending me to write for Urban Affairs, a new and upcoming magazine for Bangkokians. You’ll find it distributed at Villa supermarket and a few other places in Bangkok.  My first article will appear in the December issue and I’m excited.  Reading and writing have always been my passion and I’ve always loved and thoroughly enjoyed sharing my experiences with my readers. I hope to be able to keep doing this for a long time.

I promise I’ll write more often from now on. See you again soon my readers. Now it’s time to go out and enjoy the awesome Bangkok weather. Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

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Lunch with Chef Cayito

Living in Bangkok, I am fortunate to have so many options for good food.  From street food to the fanciest restaurants, you can find almost anything to your taste and budget.  A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to be invited to savor delicious food by Chef Cayito and days past the taste still lingers on in my memory.  Having good food served beautifully whilst chatting with good friends is an experience all in itself. Experiences to be enjoyed, cherished and memories formed.

What did we have?

We had so many dishes, I had to look at the photos to remember what we ate.  The menu offered us a variety of tastes leading us from one dish to the other.  The first dish was a mix of yogurt and granola with some fruit sauces. ( I didn’t ask what sauces they were, I was too busy eating). It was just lovely and light enough to get your taste buds ready.  French onion soup was next with just the right amount of crunch and flavors. There’s something about warm soup that just seems to soothe and relax the soul. Trained in French cooking in Spain and coming from Mexico, our dishes were a mix of French and Spanish influences.  Grilled octopus and mussels in marinara sauce reminded me of our trip to Spain many years ago.  The sauce was so good I requested extra bread to dip into the sauce.

Main dishes arrived with a light tomato salad to accompany the grilled lamb with raspberry sauce and duck confit.  The grilled lamb was tender and melted in your mouth whilst the duck confit was divine with crispy skin and meat melting off its bones.  Duck confit has always been one of my favorite dishes when dining at French restaurants and Chef Cayito’s version was so good I would have more if I weren’t afraid of rolling out the door.  In case we wanted some more accompaniment, gratin dauphinois followed. A lover of cheese and anything creamy and hot, no matter how full I was, I had room for gratin dauphinois.  Our dessert was a wonderful surprise of light pancakes with strawberries and blueberries to end the meal. Perfect.

There’s something about having European food that always makes my heart smile a little more. It’s perhaps because it reminds me of growing up in Europe and the many trips we’d have enjoying the good food. If you want to sample Chef Cayito’s cooking, you’lll have to find him at charity events.

Sweet dreams readers. I now have to get myself a snack.

To Love or Not Love the Rain

It’s been a long time since I last wrote and what better time than to write on a lovely cool morning after the rain has stopped. How I love the rain varies from time to time.

Most times I love the rain when it’s just light rain or drizzles. I love it for the greenery and freshness that comes with it when it stops. Lawns become so green and life beckons. Birds chirps and splash around in the puddles that form along the driveway. Snails and slugs appear along with other types of insects moving about slowly in their slow way of life. Toads hop around in my garden and give me a surprise everytime one unexpectedly moves in a dark corner. My dogs equally like it (I think) as they lie happily on the porch with the cool breeze that passes through.  I practice my guitar, and life is just wonderful.  I feel calm and settled.  I feel home like when I grew up in cloudy, rainy Brussels.

Other times, I feel less tolerent of the rain especially when it’s pouring down hard coupled with thunder and lighting.  The heavens roar and you wonder if Thor was having a fight up there.  On Earth, the grass grows at exponential speeds and if the rain is follwed by the sun, ticks and fleas re-emerge.  Roads get flooded and commute to and from work takes a couple hours.  The light reflecting on the road makes it harder to drive and accidents happen.  You see news of people’s houses with roofs broken and neighbors with water pumps working to drain water from their houses. 

In the end, do I love or not love the rain?   It depends on how much rain there is. I love it when there’s just enough of it to cool the skies and make pitter pattering sounds on the window pane. I don’t particularly love it when it’s accompanying by thunderstorms and lighting and comes in such large quantities that it floods. 

I suppose this is much like human emotions. Sometimes you like something but if you have too much of it, you might not like it so much anymore. For example, I love choux cream but I wouldn’t be able to have it everyday.  Emotions, like the rain, has ups and downs.  It all depends. What do you think?

Wishing everyone a wonderful Sunday ahead.  Have some ‘me’ time. 

Our Journey Together:  Join our “Having Me Time” Community 

It’s a lovely cool day in Bangkok today after a blistering hot few weeks.  It’s 25 degrees celsius  outside, lovely breezy winds and just heavenly.   Perfect for reflecting and today thinking about my life journey these few years. Its been a little over five years since I lost my unhealthy me and 15kgs worth of weight.  That 15 kg was a big part of my life and I’m still adapting to my healthier body.  Being healthy and fit comes with a completely new lifestyle. It requires an altogether different frame of mind that often wants to get bumped off track tempted by all the junk food advertisements.

It’s amazing how many advertisements for burgers, ice creams and deliciously devilish desserts are around.   It’s amazing how much sugar is in everything and how much Thais love sweets.

The healthier lifestyle means having more balanced diets with vegetables and fruits.  Good food and quality now prevail over quantity.  Of course, the old fatty me would say, “Hey have both! Have both good food and in high quantities!”   Now, before I indulge, I wonder if it’s worth the calories and the exercise that follows.

Five years on, I still get my lazy days and weeks when I don’t feel like going to the gym. Sometimes I feel like just having lots of processed foods and ice-cream.  What keeps me going and motivated though is when I hear from readers of “Having Me Time” who are now pursuing healthier lives and on their new journey to a new and healthier person.  A few days ago, I heard from a reader who completed her first triathlon and is now signing up for an olympic length triathlon! Congratulations!  You did it!

You definitely are an inspiration. (You know who you are)

To my readers, my proposal is this:  Let’s all continue to inspire and motivate each other so that we don’t get bumped off track to the unhealthy life.  Together, we’ll embark on the second part of our journey that works best when we have a community of people helping each other and sharing our stories, and our journeys.  If we could each support one another, we would all be on the healthier and happier track.

Please feel free to share your stories on our wall or if you would like to share your personal story on Having Me Time, please email me your story  🙂

I’m excited, are you? 🙂 Let’s do it!.

Bangkok Activity: Snowboarding @ Ski365 Future Park Rangsit

It’s been a busy busy year and am glad to have a few days off year end. It’s amazing what just a few days off can do to your soul.  It’s wonderful to wind down and hear yourself think for a few days. It’s wonderful to have ‘me’ time.  Today, I want to share with you this new place Alex and I just discovered. It’s an indoor skiing and snowboarding training playground.

Yes, in 35 degrees celsius Bangkok we now have an indoor skiing and snowboarding training place. I couldn’t quite believe it when Alex sent me the website.  We plan to go snowboarding in March and having never snowboarded before, we wanted to practice. Alex and I last skied many years ago.  We decided to check out Ski365 on Christmas day.

It opened in late November so parts of the facilities are still under construction They are, however, open for skiing and snowboarding.  We booked for the 1 hour trial lesson and had a slope all to ourselves with an instructor.  Equipment (snowboard, helmet, boots) are all included.

The lesson was exactly what we wanted.  Having read and studied about snowboarding, we haven’t had the chance to put one on and try it out. This place allowed us to do just that.  We got to practice heel slide and standing up on the board from a seated position. By the end of the lesson, we could both slide down the slope and stop fairly well.

Will we go back? Yes we will.  We want to be able to master a few basic techniques by the time we get to Japan so we can enjoy ourselves in the snow.

How was the overall quality of instruction? It was okay.  The boards were not customised to height and the instructor seemed a bit timid. To get information, you had to actively ask, which is great because we prefer instructors who don’t talk to much.

What do you wear? Wear comfortable clothes that dry quickly because you will get wet. I wore my yoga pants with a lose top. The slope is infused with water so when you sit, fall over or roll over, you get wet. Bring clothes to change, but their changing rooms are not finished yet so we had to use the mall bathroom.

What is the slope like? The slope is like a giant treadmill. There’s no ice involved and no fake snow. The slope is covered in synthetic material infused with water. They can keep the slope moving so you never get to the end of the slope, but being beginners we didn’t get to try the feature yet. We liked being whisked back up to the top of the slope once we’ve gone down the slope.

How does the slope feel? It feels like packed snow that is starting to melt. It’s like snow when you go skiing at the end of the ski season.

Overall, I think it’s great if you plan on going skiing or snowboarding for the first time and you want some basic training.  It saves practice time in the snow so you can enjoy more of the slopes when you get there. If you already know how to ski or snowboard, I think it would be a good place to brush up on your skills before you go.  My recommendation for now is that they get rid of the mosquitoes in the facilities.

Ski365 is at FuturePark Rangsit on the 3rd floor by the new Zpell mall.

Website: http://www.ski365.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ski365.zpell?_rdr

Places to Donate in Bangkok

Last week I wrote about cleaning up and purging things.   The next question then is always where should I donate the clothes I no longer where or other stuff I no longer need?  Below I’ve compiled a list of places you can donate your things to for reference.

  1. Pankan Society: www.panakansociety.com .  They accept almost everything that is still in working condition, resell the things for a very reasonable price and use the funds to for educational scholarships.  If you have large pieces such as furniture or large quantities of donation stuff, they will pick it up from your place for free.  I’ve used their service before to get rid of old tables and shelves I no longer needed and although it’s around a two week wait, they staff were extremely friendly and even came on a Sunday for me. Call 02 301 1096
  1. Mirror Foundation, Bangkok : http://www.mirror.or.th/mirrornew/#item8 Founded over twenty years ago the foundation has a number of local initiatives such as helping villagers affected by flooding, helping the homeless, or orphans,  any many more.  They accept all kinds of things still in working condition as well as books.  If you have old computers you no longer use, they also accept it.  They offer pick up  service as well from your place, but you may be asked to email them photos to show that it is still in acceptable condition.  Pick up costs THB 200 to help with transportation costs. Tel. 02-973-2236 -7
  1. SuanKaew Foundation : http://www.kanlayano.org/info/info_map_02.php  Founded by Monk Phra Payom Kallano almost thirty years ago, the foundation accepts everything from broken down furniture, electronics to old clothes.  Basically anything that you no longer want.  The foundation will fix the furniture or any electronic and resell them.  This provides work for the jobless, and also gives them a way in which to make money.  The money helps those in need and is even cycled to a number of other projects such as housing for those with AIDs, food for the hungry and other projects.   Oh, and if you would like retro furniture at reasonable prices, you can also go shop at their outlets!   I saw pictures of old school desks which are perfect for those with children. Tel.  02 595-1946 , ext 113-119, 135; 02-595-1444, 02-921-5023, 02-921-5602-3
  1. The Thai Red Cross Society:  http://www.redcrossfundraising.org/th/html/merit.aspx; You can also donate things to the red cross society and they will resell it at their shop.  Tel. 02-256-4622; 02-256-4440-2
  1. Foundation for Children: http://www.ffc.or.th/info/lack.php; This foundation focuses on helping children who are our future.  They provide housing, education and food. Donations accepted run from foods to other necessities.  So if you stocked up on years worth of shampoo or toilet tissue and want to declutter your house.  These children would be more than happy to accept your oversupply.  They also accept educational toys, school materials and sports equipment. Tel. 02-814-1481-7 Donations can also be sent by post.
  2. Foundation for Slum Child Care: http://www.fscc.or.th/eng/index.html; This foundation helps children who live in slums have a better life. They accept both monetary donations as well as donations for all things children related from old toys, mattresses, pillows to food. They also have corporate programs or can help you organise lunches for children.  Tel. 02-249-0953-4 ; 02-541-7991, 02-541-6092-5

There are many more foundations and if you have any particular one you would like me to add to the list, please let me know! 🙂 Let’s help us make this world a better place for everyone. If we don’t help, who will? 🙂  Your excess is someone else’s treasure.

Bangkok Sweets: Strawberry Daifuku

It’s hot in Bangkok. Temperatures run up to 36 degrees celsius and on some days it feels like 44 degrees celsius. Everything slows down in Bangkok. This weekend is the start of the Thai New Years or “Songkran” Festival where people everything slows down and people go home to the provinces or take holidays abroad. I personally love being in Bangkok this time of year when the roads are clear. The only problem is. It’s hot. I need food that is cool and refreshing. A few weeks ago, thanks to a dear colleague who gave me one, I discovered the Japanese confection of “Strawberry Daifuku.”

It’s cool, refreshing, and melts in your mouth.

I’ve only ever had daifuku with red bean, chestnut fillings or other sweet fillings. With fresh strawberries, this strawberry daifuku has since become my favorite. You get to get mochi with less guilt. I also particularly love the green tea filling and the freshly made mochi. It’s thin and melts in your mouth. Just like the ones I’ve had in Japan.

The website says each piece is made my a Michelin Star chef. I can’t say I know the difference, but I do know I like it. If you eat it right away, it’s even better.

I stopped by their stand at Central World by the supermarket the other day and there wasn’t any queue for it. Great for me. Not sure if its great for the owner though. I have to admit I personally think it tastes much better than the new hit Croissant Taiyaki which is all the fad right now and has long lines. But that’s for another post.

It’s a bit pricey, ranging from 50baht to 90 baht per piece, but then you get what you pay for. Large juicy strawberries surrounded by melt in your mouth mochi. Hmm.. I better stop before I start dreaming about it. O

h, and no, I don’t know the owner nor do I get paid for writing this. I just like it and wanted to share this little treasure 🙂 Itadakimasu

They have a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/strawberrydaifukusweet as well as instagram.

Green tea strawberry daifuku
Green tea strawberry daifuku

Half strawberry daifuku

Inside the strawberry daifuku
Inside the strawberry daifuku