Saturday, 9 April 2011

A Week of Firsts in Thailand

Well hello there and Sawatdee to all my thousands of followers! This is the first (of many) installments of Stroudy's Adventures in Thailand. So where to begin? After some very last minute packing aided by my trusted side-kick Leigh, I managed to end up with a large back pack, x2 day packs, a hand bag and a very heavy Laptop- it's fair to say after carrying that lot on my back I have entered Thailand 2 inches shorter than when I started! I have been here a week now after a straightforward journey from rainy, cold England to humid, hot Thailand (Via clean, airconned Dubai!). Although I've been to Bangkok before, the sights, sounds and definately the smells, overload your senses from the moment you arrive. I had two days with the very welcoming Fucella family to find my feet and have an introduction to the realities of engaging with Thai, Karen, Mon and Burmese peoples and also some more insight into what might be some of the opportunties for me to be invovled with.

Other than the multiple NO PROSITUTION signs throughout the place (advice noted I may add), the little guest house I stayed in was as expected-pretty functional, although it did take me a hot restless night to work out how to turn the aircon on! I did seek refuge from the heat in the cinema with Aylie (the youngest Fucella) and found it strangely disconcerting to be hearing Russell Brand's voice which was #1 coming from a bunny and #2 being laughed at with great hilarity by the Thai audience...

So main things to be logged in my brain for immediate use 1. Cover your shoulders up, good from a sunburn point of view and also to prevent any offence or misunderstanding with the locals 2. It is almost impossible to get cheese where I will be staying in Sangkhlaburi (guess what my backpack will be full of next time I return from Bangkok to Huay Malai?) 3. Thai people really love their King (even more than we love Will and Kate) 4. There will be bugs, lots and lots of them and some are very nasty and Mozzie's can bite anywhere- even the sole of your foot- I have one to prove it! (thanks for the top tip Rach- DEET really is my friend) 5. The proper greeting is "Sawadekha" and reciprocating the wai with full clasped hands is essential- even if your hands are full! 6. Eat everything you are offerred, better to take two bites and leave the rest then offend through rejection (please God no Tripe!) 7. Chopsticks are for noodle dishes only, the rest of the time you use a spoon and fork and you have to use both for the whole meal or else you can offend 8. Everyone drives a motorbike... and in all probability I will have to as well (with closed toed shoes I promise, but not full leathers... sorry mum) 9. The fighting and systematic ethnic cleansing of tribal peoples is really happening across the Burmese border areas and the world remains largely ignorant in its silence. 10. Don't eat Thai chocolate because its some weird waxey sustitute for the real thing... I'll wait until I'm really deperate for a choc-fix until I test that one out.

I arrived in Huay Malai on Sunday 3rd of April having taken a breathtaking journey from Bangkok in a taxi. it really is beautiful up here... and remote! It's very hilly and covered with jungle. The main town of Sangkhlaburi is about 15 kilometers or so away from the village of Huay Malai where I will be based for the main of my visit. The Kwai River Hospital is here and is a bustling hive of activity that I will gradually become a part of and on my return from language school, I will also live in their on site staff accommodation. But for now I have been living with three other OnTrackers in a missionarie's house. At points it has a Dr Dolittle feel to the place with four dogs, four cats, fish, turtles and many other random beastie lodgers. but at in all this place has been a blessing as there is a reliable water and electricity supply (other than in storms) and internet access! I don't want to peak too early so I'll introduce you to life in Huay Malai over the coming months...

So before I take up too much time for my first post, I'll summarise my other firsts of the week, My first Pomelo- the largest fruit of the citrus family and Jack fruit- a large spikey yellow fruit that has a latex barrier to get through before you get the prize flesh- YUM. My first motorcycle ride- where we failed to reach the top of one of the steep hills and I had to get off and walk, much to the amusement of the locals! My first night of sharing a bed with a colony of ants- little itchy but surprisingly not enough to stop me sleeping. My first attempt at some Thai language- the less said about that the better. My first tropical rain storm, My first face-to-face encounter with a Du-gkai - a large spotted lizard that you have to kill if it bites you as it will not release its jaws once its bites- on the up side if you manage to kill one you can sell it for medicinal uses for up to 10,000 bhat! My first use of breastfeeding advice - I just can't leave it alone! My first few hundred bites and random strips of sunburn are developing nicely and of course completing My first Blog....

That's all for now, next installment this time next week, until then thanks for all your continuing thoughts, well wishes and prayers...


  1. Jack fruit and pomelo?! Oddly enough, Tim and I first had those in England! It's weird, the things you can find at the commissary....

    Thanks for the update. I look forward to reading many more updated as you experience dogs, cats, fish, turtles, ants, lizards, jungles, motorbikes, tripe (!), and everything else in store for you (or not!).

    Love you!

    ~ Reese

  2. MMmmmmmmm...Pomelo!

    When I lived in Huay Malai, we had pomelos quite often, my favorite recipe was peeled pomelo sprinkled with sugar, salt, and chili powder.

    I stayed at the home of Nan Doe and Paw Lu Lu, and if you are in Huay Malai, you will meet them at some point and Paw Lu Lu can tell you how to find a vegetarian store/bakery in Sangkhlaburi where they sell some awesome cheese and/or cheese bread.

    Also, make sure to reserve some time for the Thursday morning market at the Buddhist wat near KRCH, a good place to get salty snacks like Lay's potato chips, as well as sweets such as the palm or coconut sugars known as "jaggery".

    The "Blue Eyed Cat" restaurant, named for its resident siamese cat and located in a hut on the road in front of KRCH, is a good place for iced coffee (cafe chien) or fruit smoothies as long as the fruit and ice hold out.

    And finally, you will see the locals smearing lime paste (mineral, not citrus) on the leaves they wrap their betal nut in, this paste is an excellant treatment for insect bites, as is the "Tanakha" paste many people smear on their faces.

    I really miss Huay Malai, and I think of the village, and pray for its people every day.
    However, I do NOT miss the roosters at 3 AM.

    I look forward to reading about your adventures.


    PS. Add to the list of critters the huge flying Rhinocerous Beetles which will not fail to get your attention, watch out for scorpions and centipedes, and remember that the geckos of all sizes are your (sometimes noisy) friends which eat flying and crawling pests of all kinds.