Zoey, hunter. James, cute.

There are many stories, reviews of travels and eateries waiting to be told, yet tonight I feel like writing about dear James and Zoey, my two dogs.  It’s been roughly three months since we’ve had James and four months since we’ve had Zoey. Time flies happily when you have dogs and I have to say they really are good for the heart and soul. I smile whenever I talk about them and if you talked to me about dogs, I could spend a long while discussing them with you.  Make sure you have a chair. There’s something about dogs that is good for the soul. Its no wonder they have been man’s companions since times past.

James the labrador is a heart breaker.  He has one of the most innocent looking faces especially when he is sitting quietly looking in quiet anticipation of a treat or snack.  He doesn’t jump, nor does he offer his paw, he just sits quietly looking up (for that’s how he has been trained) at you hoping that whatever you are doing will provide him with some snack.  Labradors have a voracious appetite and James is no exception.

If you are a bit late with the food, he doesn’t complain but just quietly goes and sleep by the food box, just “in case” you forgot.  He would do anything for a snack so training him is easy. All I have to do is have a snack in my hand and go through the motions together with the words.  Apart from sitting, rollover, heel, fetch and a few other tricks,  my favourite is “Bang bang” where James temporarily acts dead.

I make my hand into a gun, point it at James, and he falls on his back with his paws up as if he were dead. After awhile his paws fall down and if you go “bang bang” they go up again.  It makes me laugh just thinking about it.  It’s incredibly cute especially with his big paws.

James’ babyish charms also get to me.  When he was a puppy, I’d let him crawl onto my lap and sit on it looking out at the garden.  Now that he weighs 18kgs he still attempts to climb onto my lap like a baby wanting to be hugged, only to be turned down because his head alone is as large as my lap.  He hasn’t realized how large he has grown.  It melts my heart.

Zoey, by contrast is a petite, light weight and delicately built Thai dog with a small little face and two black patches that give her a distinct look.  She came together with the house is what we like to say. A sort of “free gift” that popped along with the house and we didn’t have the heart to just throw her out.  She was a mere puppy with a wagging tail and two beady eyes.

Unlike James who runs through water and jumps in whenever he can, Zoey is a clean and polite lady.  She dislikes water and rain and if the grass is wet, she’d walk on the stone slabs we have laid out.  If she wants to walk around the garden, she’d jump onto the little ledge we have along the fence and tiptoe along its walls.

She is also easily distracted living in her own world like a little girl chasing butterflies.  Once let into the garden, she’d run from back to front in a speed that’ll make you wonder if she was a tiny replica of a horse or maybe some sort of greyhound.  She also jumps high.  Sometimes just for the sake of it, she’d jump over James while running as if he were some part of an obstacle course.

Oh and yes, she can also play “dead” with the “bang bang.”  Her tiny legs come up into the air. She too can be cute when she wants to.

Don’t be fooled though by looks and behaviour.  Amongst the two dogs, Zoey’s function in life is to be a guard dog.  She instinctively barks at any strangers with a bark that’d make you wonder how it could have come from such a small dog.  She doesn’t trust people easily and is a fearsome hunter.  My garden has no lizards or crawling insects.  She kills them all.  Sometimes she jumps up in the air to snatch a flying insect.   In the mornings, she looks up into the trees longing to get that squirrel by the mango tree.  Zoey is a hunter.  She lives to hunt.

James’s purpose in life?  His purpose is to just be cute.  He melts your heart into a soft gooey slush and puts a smile on our face.  He fetches balls and frisbees, acts dead and do rollovers.  Nothing useful, nothing with a purpose, but just pure FUN!

So that’s Zoey and James.  Two dogs, two characters. Two different barks. Wolf! Wolf!

 

 

 

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You say “Normal” ?

It’s now April and the weather has gone all awry. I wonder if sometimes there is ever a “normal.” Perhaps we just adjust and what is awry now will be the new “normal.”

On some days it is so hot you would think you could fry and egg on the scorching cement ground. Hot air rises from the ground and at ten at night, the walls to my house are still warm despite my having the air conditioning on.

The past two days it has been cooler after thunderstorm rain poured down last week and a summer storm is now blowing through Bangkok. It’s cloudy and windy. Leaves flutter in the hot wind and paper fly through the air. It conjures up images of mid western towns in the middle of nowhere where the wind blows through every nook and cranny. Only we aren’t in the midwest, we’re in Bangkok.

I say this weather isn’t normal for Bangkok. It started to be hot with temperatures in the mid 30’s Celsius even before March started. It rained in January and February when usually it is dry, cool and sunny.

How will it be next year? Will it go back to how it once was or shall will we all have to accustom ourselves to this crazy weather pattern? Maybe future generations will only know this weather.

So “normal” is really just a word we use to describe what we are used and accustomed to. Soon I bet this now “strange” weather will become “normal.” Normal therefore is in reality constantly changing depending upon your definition.

Same applies to everything else in life. What do you think ?

Congratulations. You did it!

A few days ago a student of mine discovered that she passed the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand written exam.  Sounds of happiness and excitement echoed in the air.  The results came unexpectedly early and that made it all that much more exciting.  At that moment, I couldn’t be any prouder.  I too, was happy and extremely proud of my student.  My heart beamed and smiled as if it were the moon were smiling down upon earth.  To see a student’s progress is indeed one of the most rewarding factors one gets from teaching.

I am proud because she had pursued her dream.

I am proud because only a few months ago, I remember talking to her about this Aeronautical Radio exam and how it was completely in English.  It sounded like a distant dream for she feared anything with English and doing an entire exam in English seemed far from reality.

Congratulations my dear student. 🙂  You can accomplish whatever you set your heart on. 🙂

Japanese Sweets: Maple Snaffles from Hokkaido

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I wake up in the wee hours of the morning (4.30am) for no apparent reason today with the thought of Maple Snaffes in my head.  The thought of it won’t go away, my brain wants to have some, but helas we don’t have any and so I will just have to write about it instead.  Continuing from my previous posts on Snaffles from Hokkaido, where I talked about the original cheesecake flavor and chocolate favor, I have to say that my new favorite one is the Maple Snaffes Cheesecake.

The Maple Snaffles cheesecake have the same soft and feathery texture of the original cheesecake flavor but it has an added tinge of maple syrup.  The great thing is that you can taste and smell the maple syrup but yet it does not overwhelm the cheesecake.  It makes the cheesecake aromatic (I like the smell of maple syrup, don’t you? )  Too much of the maple syrup would make it too sweet, too little would not be enough to make it aromatic.  The Maple Snaffles, have the amount just right.

If you’ve never tried the Maple Snaffles, I think you should try it.  The chocolate cheesecake one is for chocolate lovers and if you don’t like the smell of maple syrup, then the original cheesecake one is good for you.

I suddenly have a craving for some rich maple syrup now writing about this.  Maybe today I shall go buy some and make some pancakes!

Have a good weekend everyone! 🙂

Bangkok Dining: Sendai Ramen Mokkori Silom @ Narathiwat Soi 1

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I love it when friends take me to off the beaten track eateries.  Little treasures that just make you wonder what other secrets lay hidden waiting to be discovered.   This latest discovery came quite unexpected for it was a chance meeting and we took the opportunity to go grab a bite to eat.  In search of somewhere not too far from Silom, Narathiwat and the Rama IV area my friend navigated me to this little japanese eatery called “Sendai Ramen Mokkori Silom.”

Don’t ask me what the name means. I only know “Ramen” and “Silom”(road name.)   It’s one of those eateries you find in the least expected places.  It’s at the base of an old-fashioned condominium at Narathiwat Soi 1.  It seems to have been around for quite some time and probably well-known to those who go to that area, but for me it was an area I hardly go to and a street I’ve never driven into.

What’s surprising is that walking out of the condominium parking (you can get your parking ticket validated at the eatery) you do not see the eatery right away.  I saw another Japanese place and almost went there, but lo and behold suddenly this one appears.  It’s surrounded by a lot of things, and it the daylight it’s not easy to spot, but when the lights come on, you see it clearly with the red lanterns and the lights shining from inside.

It’s small and simple inside.  A wall full of photographs of the owner with celebrities and well-known people decorate the shop and japanese writings also adorn the walls.  I always wonder if they have something unique that’s not on the menu.

The menu is dizzying.  The large B5 sized menu is filled with pictures of many types of ramen, rice dishes and other japanese favorites.  Too many makes it hard for me to choose and so I go with my favorite Mabo tofu with ramen. (It’s ramen with tofu sauce) and of course the tonkatsu (fried breaded pork) with japanese curry.    The portions are HUGE.  Not somewhere to go if you are on a diet, but a great place to go if you want to just eat and enjoy.

I liked the fact that the atmosphere took us out of the typical restaurant vibe we get in downtown Siam.  It’s less hectic and probably because it was a lazy Sunday evening one could just chill and relax without feeling pressured to give up our table to the waiting customer.   (I don’t know what it’s like on weekdays since it’s near to the business district)

The food was good and delicious for its price even though the ramen noodles were not made in-house. It wasn’t the best ramen I’ve ever had, but I think it is not too far off from the authentic ramen noodles I’ve had in Japan.  (The owner is japanese and appears on the menu cover and on the photos on the wall) The tonkatsu was crispy and lean. However if you ask me to compare the tonkatsu to that at Saboten (another japanese eatery), I have to say Saboten still wins.  The thing is, food at this eatery is roughly half the price of Saboten.

Dishes were around 140-250thb each which is a pretty good deal compared to other japanese restaurants downtown where a medium pork loin at Saboten can cost you around 290thb.  The portions are large, the flavor authentic and the atmosphere unique. I could be somewhere in Soho.

Would I go back again? Yes I will.   It’s one of those places that isn’t pretentious, the food good and a nice hideaway from the crowds of Bangkok city.  Itadakimasu.

Bangkok Dining: Pizzazo Bistro


It’s been awhile since I reviewed any restaurants or travel places and my brain tingles thinking about all the different options I have available. There are many new and good places to write about and thinking about them is making my stomach growl. (My brain is literally sending eating signals to the rest of the body.) Tonight, Pizzazo Bistro wins. It’s a French and Italian casual dining place that offers both french food and pizzas.

It’s a fairly new place that opened towards the end of 2011 and I have to say that even though it was new, service was already good. I didn’t have to sit around and wave my hands looking for some service or note how they were new. The service was well trained and they stood at just the right distance waiting to be called, but not to make us uncomfortable. Wonderful. There are not many casual dining places that offer good service. Oh, I have to mention that even though we had brought along a birthday cake from elsewhere, the restaurant put it on a lovely plate for us and even decorated the plate! That is what I call good service. Thank you. It’s these little things that matter.

What about the all important factor to a restaurant..the food? The food was as the description calls, a mixture of French and Italian casual dining. They had a wide variety on the menu ranging from cheese salads to pizzas, calzonies, and risottos. My favorites I have to say were the black squid ink spagetti, risotto and cheese. The pasta was done al dente, the sauce just good, and the presentation beautiful. The pizzas were good also if you like thin crusted pizzas and are health conscious (they have whole wheat options), but I have to admit nothing yet beats the pizzas at Limoncello or the truffle oil infused mascarpone foccacia at Biscotti. Those I have to say are the best in town.

Ambiance? It’s a renovated house from the 1960’s so you have the lovely home atmosphere but with the added modern kitchen outfront that lets you see the food being cooked. I went there during lunch and I found it very relaxing, especially if you want a quiet restaurant away from all the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. They have outdoor seating also if you like the outdoors, but I think that better be saved for cooler days. I haven’t been in the evening, but some friends have and I they seemed to like the atmosphere. I suppose with the big trees in the garden and the lighting, it must be a cosy restaurant to go to. Maybe a nice romantic quiet dinner this Valentine’s 🙂

What about price? The pizzas were around 300-400 baht, and the spaghetti and risotto I think around 200-300 thb. The price nowadays at most italian dining places.

So if you want somewhere relaxing to stop by for a dish of spaghetti or pizza, then go to Pizzazo Bistro. Here’s their website: http://www.pizzazobistro.com The great thing is that they also have some parking so its quite convenient for get-togethers. Buon Appetito!

Words & Power

This year has started out in a storm for many people I know. Even the weather gods are thinking that too with thunderstorms roaring across Bangkok when usually it is dry, sunny and cool. Nevertheless, let us not keep us from enjoying the wonderful year ahead of us. 🙂 Today I want to write about something that sometimes we forget. We use it everyday, we use it all time and yet we forget to think about them. (I do forget often times) What am I talking about? Words. Yes, words like the ones you are reading now.

Words to me are powerful and should be used with care. Words spoken or written have enormous influence and have resulted in either love or wars amongst men. It is with words, that people communicate and it is with words that others sometimes feel love, compassion, sympathy and understanding. Used otherwise, they cause others to feel anger, resentment or even sadness. Words can sometimes be therapeutic and healing, yet words of angerness, bitterness, judgement can also invoke within others pain and destruction. The words you hear, you say, you read affect and influence the person you become. Sometimes decades later, you hear people talking about words that were said. It can be that powerful.

For example think of children being bullied in school. Words from bullies can break down children’s confidence, wreak them emotionally and years after some may continue to remember those painful words. Yet at the same time, words of tenderness and love may keep many going on and on for years. (I’m thinking of those movies where the girl waits for her man at war.)

Words are powerful, so use your words with care this year. Becareful of what words you use. Remember to be aware of your words when you speak for that is when we often slip. Positive words generate positive energy whilst negative words generate negative energy. The world is stressful enough. Why not make it a little more pleasant by watching what we say for words form who we are and form those around us. 🙂 If you want it to be positive, use postive words! Kill those negatives!