Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Rocking the Daisies Part 3!!!

Jenty tagged me for this competition, which seems quite cool because you can win an i-pod from Digicape, and tickets to the event. It’s worth a try!

So here’s the deal… write a blog post about what 5 things you’d just HAVE to take with you to the music festival, and then tag some friends and then register your post HERE to win.

Unlike many of the entries I have seen so far, I am actually IN Cape Town, and not only that, I have actually been to the event... not once, but twice. Only because there have only been 2 so far.

As mentioned I have been to both previous ones, and blogged about it here, here, here and here

Rocking the Daisies is now in it's 3rd year, and I am very excited to hear it is happening again, and I will absoloodles be there and dragging as many folks as I can along with me. It is always a literally rocking event.

Rocking the Daisies ROCKS!!!

It has also totally opened up the SA music scene for me. I mean I hear a lot of the stuff on 5fm, but actually seeing the guys live on stage is awesome, and as a result of RTD my fav fav bands and artists now include: The Parlotones, (Stealing) Love Jones, The Dirty Skirts, Cassette, Max Normal, Louise Carver, The Finkelsteins and many more.They also always have kick-ass comedy sets. All round it's just a phenomenal and fun-filled week-end. Be there or be BORED and BORING.

Ok, so what to take???

Seriously folks, pretty much everything you need can be found there, you don't need to take much at all. There is plenty of delicious food (biltong, schwarmas, wraps, pizzas, curries etc), copious drinks (even cappuccinos and hot chocolates for the early morning), ATMs (for when you run out of cash), even hat, badges, belts, shoes, clothes and other cool hemp products are on sale. What more could you want or need!? I mean really? You can even hire ready built tents!

The event really is what you make of it. It can be a hard-core balls-to-the-wall drink-fest student week-end. A more mellow hey-shoo-wow hippie hang out, or even a good clean fun family week-end.

You'll see all types from goths, to models, to average joes, to oldies, and young nubile babes, babies and children, and even dogs. It's a very accessible event. The only pre-requisite is that you like SA music, and are prepared to camp with just the basics (and use port-a-loos).

I have taken my kids both previous times and I think I will again. They have had an absolute ball both times ... and learned some valuable (and rather handy) entrepreneurial skills along the way. They figured out that they could collect the plastic wine glasses people discard around the stage area and return them for a R10 deposit. Next thing my kids had more money than I did! Score!

So here's my list:

1 - my kids - Quinn & Griffin.

Here they are at RTD in 2006

and in 2007

2 - Something warm. The first year it rained most of the time, last year it was just BRRR at night. So definitely a warm jacket and blanket - also good for inconspicuous snuggling ;)

3 - A lilo and or armbands. There is a gorgeous dam, and I intend to float around on or in it at times when a bit of a nap or chill out is needed.

4 - A mallet. We destroyed the kid's cricket bat trying to use it as a mallet to hammer our tent pegs in. They were not amused! Ooops. So a mallet is needed. I may even rent it out. 5-ront a pop ;)

5 - Either ear plugs, or a 'pick-me-up' substance. To be able to cope with 'the fucking trance DJs' as they were dubbed last year. After being rocked out from around 10am right through to 2am, some of us want a bit of sleep before starting again the next morning... but no the trance DJs start up and DO NOT STOP. So you got to either escape or go join them! I'll see which I am up for closer to the time! ;)

And I’m tagging Tertia, Mel, Tessa, Lindy, Jonathan, Dave, Other Dave

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Kill

30 Seconds to Mars - The Kill

What if I wanted to break
Laugh it all off in your face
What would you do?
What if I fell to the floor?
Couldn’t tell this anymore
What would you do, do, do?
Come break me down
Bury me, bury me
I am finished with you
What if I wanted to fight
Beg for the rest of my life
What would you do? (do, do)
You say you wanted more
What are you waiting for?
I’m not running from you
Come break me down
Bury me, bury me
I am finished with you
Look in my eyes
You’re killing me, killing me
All I wanted was you
I tried to be someone else
But nothing seemed to change
I know now, this is who I really am inside
Finally found myself
Fighting for a chance
I know now, this is who I really am
Come break me down
Bury me, bury me
I am finished with you, you, you
Look in my eyes
You’re killing me, killing me
All I wanted was you
Come break me down
Break me down
Break me down
What if I wanted to break?

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Shit.

My mom is in hospital.

She has had an op to remove a section of her bowel and has been diagnosed with colon cancer. She starts chemo treatment next week.

It is her birthday tomorrow.

I have not seen her since her birthday exactly 2 years ago, when she behaved so atrociously (long long long story) that I decided not to see her again.

I have not spoken to her since the February after that, after she behaved even more appallingly in front of my father, step mother and sister - I am talking psycho sociopath behaviour here - when I told her never to contact me again...

My life has been much better without the stress of her in it... she never was a mother to me, and all of her children have issues of self worth and feelings of 'motherlessness' (and not in a drunk funny way either). I don't think it is any coincidence that all 3 of us had eating disorders and never ever feel good enough or really happy.

I have worked on myself, slowly but surely, and healed this on my own, with my children, and with some counseling, and through my doula work & 'mothering the mother'.

I prefer to live as if I do not have a mother.

Now THIS.

Fuck. I do not want to see her, but I feel obliged. FUCK.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Girls Night Out! Just what the doctor ordered.

With the recent stressful and traumatic goings on in my life I have not had the opportunity - nor inclination for that matter - to go out much. Ok AT ALL in the past few months, (Despite a fabulous holiday to Thailand, but I was in mom mode 24/7 there and had no time to revel alone.)

But last night I went out with the BN girls and had a fab time - I even met a few new people. I ordered a bottle of wine and delicious (blue cheese, pear, mushroom & rocket) pizza. It was just what the doctor ordered. I really needed that. :)

Here are a few photos:
Thanks again ladies. It was great!

My stupid hair

This happens to me EVERY time....

I start hating my hair, thinking; 'Gee, it really needs a cut'. Until I can not stand it and book an appointment.

Then as soon as the appointment is booked, it starts looking ok and I like it again.
Then I have it cut and hate it...

GAH.

Friday, 25 July 2008

I'm about to be a Battery Chicken


So I wrote about registering as an egg donor back in April.

Well I got the call that I was SELECTED. The call came in on Friday the 13th of June, on day 2 of a new job, about 2 minutes after the call from my lawyer that she had finished drafting my Consent Papers, and while Quinn was in surgery having his ear issue operated on. So in other words perfect Murphy timing!

To say I was freaked out and rattled is an understatement.

My first thought was my GOD. NOOOOOOO! Stop the world I want to get off already...

But even 2 seconds later I knew I couldn't say no, and really didn't want to. It is something I really want to do, and it really is now or never. By next year it will be too late. (My eggs will be past their 'sell by date'). I really really want to be able to help someone achieve their most yearned for dream, and they chose ME. How can I say no? And cause more heartbreak.

So against my own better judgment, I said yes. I mean my life is already totally in chaos, why not add mega-doses of hormones into the mix and really temp fate? I like living on the edge ;)

So the first hurdle was a psych assessment. I went to the session, and despite the psych (who I really liked, what a cool person she is! And a doula too! Was very drawn to her and her mesmerizing eyes.) admitting that the timing is really far from ideal, she says I am sane (who knew!?) and that I am mature and have good coping mechanisms, which I have had to draw on in the past, and have done so successfully. So she said that if I am keen, she thinks I am a good candidate, and she will support me. In fact in talking to her I realised that I was actually looking forward to having something good and positive to focus on during this time of heart break and turmoil. It will be good to look back on this year and have something good and meaningful to remember and to be proud of. Tick.

Second hurdle was meeting with the gynae to see if I have all the right bits and that they are all working as expected. So off I went. This gynae works in the same practice as my regular gynae. It's quite ironic actually that my gynae is a fertility specialist (which I originally did not know as I was referred to him by a midwife) which I totally didn't need, and that I am now using their practice for fertility treatment. I also know one of the theatre sisters very well - though our children. And I have been in contact with my gynae a lot in the past year via doula clients. Anyway this other doc is wonderful. Very friendly and so gentle - unbelievably so actually. Makes everything painless (literally), quick and easy. So I had a scan and was found to be functioning. Tick.

Third I had to get blood work done. Which was done, and I have had no news of having any dreaded diseases, so it seems I am all clear. Tick.

Forth, was getting my Mirena contraceptive removed. This was done yesterday. I bumped into my regular gynae while I was in the waiting room. I actually felt a bit guilty and so I felt compelled to tell him that I wasn't 'cheating on him'. He was interested in why I was there though, and when I told him he mocked me saying 'Is there something wrong with you!?' He is such a sweet man though. I adore him. anyway, again the procedure was quick, easy and painless - even though a dreaded speculum was required. The good doc warmed it first (I told you he was great! I am so rude I have even asked the donor coordinator if he is married. Teehee!). Tick.

So all the hurdles have been jumped and boxes ticked, and now I am on the pill so that I can synchronise my cycles with that of the recipient, and then once she is at the right point in her cycle, I will be called in to start the hormone jabs. I will need to administer most of these myself for about 10 days or so until the eggies are ready for 'harvesting'.

I am expecting to go a little psycho then so: *Disclaimer* I will not be held responsible for anything I do or say while I am on these hormones. I am going to be pleading temporary insanity.

Then I go in an have the eggs retrieved - the hardest part, and then I'll be done, and then the recipient gets them and hopefully at least one decides to become her child.

I am actually quite excited about this now. Yay me, I am doing something good! Strength through adversity...

So please think warm, happy and healthy thoughts for me, my eggs, and my dear recipient couple, that all goes well and that their dreams are fulfilled.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Rage rage!

DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light....

My tattoo catalogued

There is a Tattoo Encyclopedia blog HERE

My tattoo has now been listed


Oh and Quinn's henna tattoo is there too - go take a look ;)

Friday, 18 July 2008

Decrepit shoes


Should I laugh or cry???

My first thought was that the universe is conspiring against me... because my life is just turning into a comedy of errors. But then I thought, dammit I will not be cynical, nor fall into the trap of negative and self-fulfilling thought cycles,

And so I am seeing the humour in this situation and laughing it off.

Today I put on a pair of shoes I haven't worn for ages, possibly 2 years. I used to wear them often... They are black leather closed shoes with a buckle on the side. (I could probably wear them when I am flying on my broom-stick). I looked at them and thought "hrm ... do I even like them any more? Should I wear them, or give them to my domestic?"

I decided to wear them, and then thought I'd decide later if I am going to keep them.

As I dropped G at school I noticed my foot felt funny. I check my foot and about 1/3 of the right hand side sole in the front was gone! Yikes. So I thought I would just go about my day and then ditch the shoes once I get home. So I nonchalantly walk into work pretending everything was fine...

About an hour later I moved my left foot under my desk and realized that the heel felt weird. I look down and half the left sole is hanging off, with the whole heel! Shit!

So I get up to walk somewhere and realize that wasn't going to work. So I decided I'd just have to stay at my desk all day. Damn and I was so busy too.

At 9:35 I walked 2 meters to my colleague's desk as I stepped away a huge chunk of shoe stayed behind... *blush* So embarrassing!

My shoes were literally disintegrating around my feet. All I can think is that the sole got really brittle since I last wore them and as I was walking around it was just crumbling off. So at 9:45 I hobbled out, literally flew to Access Park, galloped into a shop bought the first pair of shoes that fitted and was back at my desk before 10am, and just before my manager arrived. WHEW. I am good hey!?

As I got back I noticed a piece of my shoe in my parking bay... it is everywhere.

Anyway, I didn't manage to slip the attention of my all-male colleagues. So I tried to impress them with how quick I had fixed the situation - it was basically the time of one of their smoke-breaks. But they teased me about 'typical woman, your shoe breaks so you rush home to get more'. I protested 'No, no! I went to the shop and bought new shoes, look how quick I am! It took 10 mins there and back' and they were like 'Har har we would have just gone barefoot for the day!'.

They were impressed at my speed though. I told them I took my broom! :P

So I have new shoes, and the old ones are DEFINITELY getting thrown out.

Old shoes:

New shoes:

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Weezer - Pork And Beans

I am loving this song at the moment (watched it on the music video channel on TV in Thailand)

They say i need some rogaine to put in my hair
Work it out at the gym to fit my underwear
Okaley makes the shades to transform a tool
You'd hate for the kids to think that you've lost your cool

Imma do the things that i wanna do
I ain't got a thing to prove to you
I'll eat my candy with the pork and beans
Excuse my manners if i make a scene
I ain't gonna wear the clothes that you like
I'm fine and dandy with the me inside
One look in the mirror and i'm tickled pink
I don't give a hoot about what you think

everyone likes to dance to a happy song
with a catchy chorus and beat so they can sing along
timbaland knows the way to reach the top of the charts
maybe if i work with him i can perfect the art

Imma do the things that i wanna do
I ain't got a thing to prove to you
I'll eat my candy with the pork and beans
Excuse my manners if i make a scene
I ain't gonna wear the clothes that you like
I'm fine and dandy with the me inside
one look in the mirror and i'm tickled pink
I don't give a hoot about what you think

no, i don't care
i don't care
i don't care
i don't care
i don't care
i don't care

Imma do the things that i wanna do
I ain't got a thing to prove to you
I'll eat my candy with the pork and beans
Excuse my manners if i make a scene
I ain't gonna wear the clothes that you like
I'm fine and dandy with the me inside
one look in the mirror and i'm tickled pink
I don't give a hoot about what you think


Watch the video and see all your fav YouTube videos featured in cameo roles HERE
Or listen HERE

You can read more about it HERE

Sing along now!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Thailand: Rest of Phuket & Back to Bangkok

Day 9 - Saturday 5 July 2008
Phuket - Karon Beach

On Saturday we had a slow lazy breakfast and then just lazed around our hotel, looking at the photos we had taken, swimming, playing cards, watching TV and just being. It was great having nowhere to go and nothing in particular to do.

At around lunch time we strolled down to the Internet cafe to check mail, upload a few photos, blog and browse for a while. Quinn took a walk to the 7Eleven while Griffin played on the Classmate PC. After that we took a walk into Karon to get more Yu-Gi-Oh cards, since the boys have been getting into their 'dools' (duels).

While walking around town we found a lady with a young elephant, so we bought a bag of bananas for 20Bht and Griffin fed them to the ellie. The lady could tell the elephant to make a little high-piched squeal and pose with his trrunk and or leg lifted up. He was very cute. We also had a look around a local theme-park/putt-putt course called Dino Park.

Then we took a scenic walk to the beach via another hotel's grounds and beautiful gardens, where I took many photos of the stunning flowers and plants along the way. The new camera is working out really nicely and I can take photos of all sorts of things which I couldn't before. It does quite well at macro shots and even gives me some depth of field too :). Then we made our way down to the beach in time to watch the sunset. We spent about 2 hours on the beach as the sun dipped further and further and the light changed. I took loads of photos... becoming quite silly and zoolanderish in some of them. ;)

Once it was dark we walked to a beach front Thai restaurant and had a delicious meal and then followed it up with some seriously yummy street-side Thai Banana & Chocolate pancakes. Then we had a long swim in the hotel pool, and then watch the Nelson Mandela 90th birthday 46664 concert on TV and then went to bed.

Day 10 - Sunday 6 July 2008
Phuket - Karon Beach

Another lazy day on Sunday (I could get use to this), starting with breakfast, photo editing, and swimming at the hotel, then we went down for a walk around town.

After a while the boys wanted to go back tot he hotel to swim and play and so I went to a nearby massage parlour for a Thai massage. This time I had a lady masseusse, and she was very good. I just LOVE the tingly electric feeling I get when the top of my spine and into the base of my skull is rubbed. That's the best part. I left feeling completely relaxed, stretched out and just fantastic. Ahhhh. It's almost like a passive yoga class.

Later in the afternoon we talk a stroll to the beach where we set up camp for a few hours swimming, lying in the sun, listening to music on my iPod shuffle, watching a beach soccer match and seeing the people coming and going. It was really lovely. I was eating loads of fruit, especially watermelon & pineapple, and picked up a half pineapple to snack on at the beach. All the fruit is always cut & presented very attractively and looks really pretty. In fact everything in Thailand is decorated and has an extrav touch to make it look nice. A lot of care is taken with things and it shows. It makes everything that much more special and yummy too. We also got into the habit of buying little jelly-cup drinks for 5Bht each, I got Litchi flavour and the boys liked the Orange one. They are really cool and refreshing and although the cup is small, they last a long time as you have to suck the jelly through a straw.

The boys were playing in the sand and sea and collecting bits and pieces along the beach. They ended up befriending some little Thai girls (of about 4 and 6) and were walking right down the beach with them collecting tiny crabs and putting them in a polystyrene bowl.

As the sun set we started drawing in the sand and writing messages - and of course taking lots of photos. (It is so nice to have a camera that not only has enough memory to take more than 30 photos but also enough battery life too. I previously had to stress over running out of battery and/or disk space all the time.) I don't think I have ever spent that long on a beach before. Although it is warm here, the sun doesn't seem as harsh as the SA sun, and I seem to be able to tolerate it better. It's really nice.

As night fell we tried another restaurant near our hotel. The boys had wanted to try this one as they had professed to give children free ice-cream one night when we walked past, but sadly none was forthcoming after our meal. But we did get paper and crayons so we all drew and coloured in and then the boys got balloons. To make up for the lack of ice-cream we hunted down a pancake vendor where we got some more decadent chocolate (and condensed milk) pancakes before heading back to our hotel for a final long late night swim, to pack our bags, and then go to bed.

Quotable quote:
Me at bedtime: 'Griffin did you like those little girls on the beach?'
Griffin: 'Yes, and they even gave us crabs!'
I suspect that's quite common in Thailand and I hope I don't have this same conversation with him in 15 years! ;)

The only things I didn't get around to where having a cocktail and/or fresh coconut juice straight out of the coconut shell. I also didn't spend any time in the pubs, because I couldn't really take the boys there, and I didn't really want to go alone...

I decided not to bother with the Fantasea show this time because although it is nice, it is horribly over-priced and a complete tourist trap and I didn't think the boys would really appreciate it. They enjoyed the simplicity of our days. And being able to watch TV, have ice-creams, swim as long as they liked and just having time together playing and being silly. So we mostly stuck to our beach and local area and just enjoyed ourselves. Last time I was wanting to see and do as much as possible, this time the focus was to be BE.

It was a pretty perfect holiday. I already want to start planing my next visit!

Day 11 - Monday 7 July 2008
Phuket - Bangkok (Shanti Lodge)

Despite setting my alarm for nearly an hour earlier. And actually half waking up several times waiting for it to go off, we actually woke up half an hour later than usual. I was having some unpleasant dreams, and I have no idea why the alarm didn't go off, or maybe it did and I switched it off in my dream? I don't know. (I worked it out the recurring alarm was not set for that ONE day! *roll eyes*)

But I was so glad I had done all the packing the night before because I had less than 2 hours before we had to leave for the airport and I had not arranged a taxi yet! I settled the boys into the breakfast area and then trotted down the main road to negotiate and everyone wanted to charge 1000Bht! No way. The hotel said they had a taxi service for 800Bht, and then on the way back I stoppped in at the travel agent who booked our island trip and she said she could arrange a taxi for 700Bht. That seemed to be the best deal we'd get so I took it. Whew, at least that was sorted.

We got off to Bangkok without incident and then landed just as the skies opened to a massive downpour of rain, to the point that we had just boared the bus with about 25 other people when the rain hit and they had to close the bus and plane and we sat waiting for the rain to abate for about 45 minutes. Then once in the terminal we had to wait another 45 minutes or so for our luggage to appear - soaking wet!

Finally we were back in Bangkok and in a taxi making our way to our new lodgings - Shanti Town. Shanti Town is a rustic back-packer type lodge. It is in an older part of town in Bang Lumpoo - near to the Dusit Zoo and about 2km from the infamous Kao San Road.

After checking in, we walked around our neighbourhood and took in the sights & smells. I love the smell of Bangkok. It is a heady, hot, scent of cooking food, spice, chilli and drain, but it's intoxicating. The boys seem to love the vibrancy of the place too.

This part of town is not very English at all, and many of the people don't speak much, if any English and many of the road side vendors don't even have English (or even English numerals on their signs). So we were a little unsure of the food on offer from these people. We did however decide to sample a roadside cup of coconut ice-cream, which the boys enjoyed until they found suspicious bits of green & yello fruit in it. I realised the yellow bits were durian, so quickly ate those out before the boys got freaked out by them.

After some more walking around, where I was kind of ambitiously trying to walk all the way to Kao San Road, we found a stinky river canal and fresh produce market with all sorts of weird & wonderful meats, fish & vegetables. They were just closing for the night and their were cats milling around and general choas and stink. We did make a fun and interesting discovery of an Insect Vendor selling fried critters. Locusts, Crickets, Cockroaches, Worms, Grubs etc. I tried to be polite, but the boys were going 'Euuuw, eeeeurgh, OH SICK ' etc ;)

Realising we were at the further canal and not as close to Kao San as I had thought we decided to pack it in for the night, since it was almst 8pm, and headed back to our hotel - while I still more or less knew where it was! I found I felt completely safe being in Thailand - both in laid back Phuket and the craziness of Bangkok. There is no feeling of threat from being out after dark, or that you will be mugged or robbed or pick pocketed etc. I am not paranoid about these things in general anyway, but in SA you do have to be that much more aware and concerned for your saftey and you simply can't leave bags unattnded, or flash money, cameras and wallets around. But I could walk around with my camera around my neck, with a small purse attached to the outside, and a back pack on my back, and there never seemed to be a risk of anything being statched or stolen off me, it is great. Our biggest 'threat' was the people holding Griffin's hand and delaying him keeping up with us as we walk, because they thing he is cute. ;)

Once back in our area we selected a restaurant below one of the guest houses and had some very tasty and very reasonably priced food, and then settled into bed - with no TV for a change - to read and then sleep.

It was good to be back in Bangkok, but the feeling of our holiday drawing to a close was starting to settle in. *sulk*

Day 12 - Tuesday 8 July 2008
Bangkok - Dusit Zoo & Kao San Road

Our guest house did not include breakfast this time, so we decided to set off quite early and walk down to the Dusit Zoo, and find something to eat en route. As it turned out suddenly we found what must be the only few blocks in Bangkok without 7000 food vendors and 7Elevens in them! Murphy's Law I guess.

Finally near the zoo we found a trust 7Eleven and the boys got some custard buns etc and we walked on to the zoo. We ended up staying there for about 5-6 hours, walking around looking at the animals, talking to the monkeys and crazy parots, having lunch, cruising the lake in a pedal boat, playing in the park and generally just milling around and walking up and down. I also saw several monks browsing the zoo and snapped a few sneaky pics of them... I don;t think it's really polite to opening take photos of them... We were actually all a bit exhausted by 3pm when we decided it was time to leave.

Just as we stepped outside the rain came pumelling down, so we ran back into the zoo and for some cover to wait it out. It rains almost every afternoon in Bangkok at this time of year, but it usually passes pretty quickly. So we watched the rain and the black monitors swimming in the lake and once it slowed to a drizzle we walked on.

We made a pit-stop at the Vimanmet Teak Museum where we walked around the grounds a bit and the walked on. I again found a banana vendor, but this time instead of fritter the banana were grilled and coated with a toffee syrup. YUM. Then we found some waffles for the boys and then I found a coconut vendor selling whole coconuts. So I got one to drink the juice and then eat the fresh and soft coconut strait out of the shell. We ended up taking a bit of a scenic route back. I have a generally excellent sense of direction, so I never actually get lost and pretty much always know which direction I am heading, but in Bangkok you can't see very far, so even if you are 50m from where you are going, you may not be able to see it. Just when I thought we MIGHT be lost and asked a traffic director it turned out we were literally about 50m from our street!

The boys were thrilled to be back as they were about to collapse from exhaustion, but of course the minute we got into our room, they perked right up and wouldn't be quite or still. *sigh* I told them if they didn't act tired and REST we would go walking again ;)

After we (well me anyway) rested we headed out for the evening. To Kao San Road. I spared the boys the pain and we caught a taxi there. Kao San Road despite it's infamy is only one little road about 300m long, but is the 'Back-packer Mecca' of Bangkok. It is like Hilbrow. Bustling with manic activity of every kind you can imagine and everything is offered cheap and 24-hours a day. You can get anything there: clothes, music, braids, tattoos, cocktails, souvenirs, DVDs, visas, even fake Degrees, Licenses and Press Passes etc.

We had Pad Thai from 2 different street vendors and then the boys had choclate pancakes (yes AGAIN), and we walked up and down taking in the sights and vibe of the area. It is totally touristy and has no authentic culture at all, but it/s really fun and 'happening'. I was tempted to try the cocktails, clearly aimed at the budget conscious student traveller and advertised only as 'Gauranteed very strong cocktail only 80Bht' but I decided to refrain and remain sober... next time.

Griffin started fading and even a 'special super-engergising foot-empowering toffee' (I have to get creative sometimes ok?) We headed back to our hotel via another taxi.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Thailand Days 6 7 & 8

Day 6 - Wednesday 2 July 2008
Phuket - Karon Beach

We woke to a gorgeous temperate Phuket day. After breakfast, where you go through the charade of ordering and making several selections, and then something totally different arrives (we all got the exact same thing, even though we all made different selections!). LOL, we took a walk down to the beach. It was not looking as pristine as last time, I asked a local about this and she said there had been some stormy weather recently which washed a lot of debris ashore. Still the beach, ocean and view are beautiful. We walked along the shore-line, and I pointed out the hotel I stayed in last time (the Andaman Seaview) to the boys, and we walked into the main Karon Beach town area and did some window shopping and browsing. We eventually bought another deck of Yu-Gi-Oh cards for the boys to play with. We also found a really cute kitten in one of the shops which Griffin cuddled and played with for a while.

We walked some more and then stopped at a hair-dresser and got Griffin's hair cut - by an actual hair dresser. I did not do it myself this time. *bow* After that we walked back to the beach and had our first swim in the sea. The water is probably 28-32 degrees and really lovely, so even I went in and had a good swim around and then lay on the shoreline like a beached whale letting the small waves break over me. I could really feel myself starting to relax!

The boys found a cage (lobster net?) and were playing with that and dragging it around the shallow water. Really having a good time. They were also relaxing and it was lovely to see them playing together and along side with little or no bickering or irritation :)

After our swimming we went back to the hotel to swim in the swimming pool and rest (it's tiring all this relaxing!). We then found a travel agent (they are EVERYWHERE) and booked a trip to Raya Island for the Friday. Then we went for a long walk down the beach front in the other direction all the way to the night market. We browsed around and then decided it was time for dinner. Sadly this part of Thailand is VERY touristy and full of foreigners. So many of the clubs, pubs and eateries are run by foreigners. So the number of Italian, German, Swedish etc restaurants is shocking. They do all serve Thai food too, but it's just not the same as the rustic and authentic road-side Thai places. But those are a fair distance from where we were and not easy to get to at night with the boys. Anyway we walked back to our street and then chose a reasonable looking place and the boys chose pork fried rice and I ordered Pad Thai. It was good, but not as nice as the Bangkok meal. Afterwards a plate of beautifully presented fruit arrived (Litchis, Banana, Naartjie & Pineapple) and then a bowl of chocolate ice-cream served with cream & strawberry syrup for the boys. All this for only 190Bht! Wow. Unfortunately the boys are not the best dinner companions so I got to eat virtually alone, while they sat with eyes glued to the TV. The other thing is that at meal times they kept being 'not hungry', but then at bed time at 11pm or after I get asked if there is anything to snack on. ARGH! So I bought a few Noodle cups to keep on hand - just add boiling water. They are actually pretty tasty.

Day 7 - Thursday 3 July 2008
Phuket - Phuket Town & Aquarium

We decided it was time to get out and about and explore a bit more of Phuket so we caught a local bus from Karon into Phuket Town. Once we arrived a few taxi drivers were on hand to offer their services. One in particular got talking to me, and we negotiated a mutually beneficial deal, he'd drive us around to several places we wanted to go, for a discount price of 200Bht and we'd let him take us to the tourist trap 'Duty Free' and Gem Shops so he could get his fuel stamps (they get rewarded for bringing tourists in) whether the tourists buy anything or not. So we got driven to the Phuket Aquarium (or 'Afarium' as the locals pronounce it) where our driver sat and waited for us for over an hour. It's not as nice as the Cape Town V&A aquarium, or as big, but there are some beautiful and amazing sea creature to see there.

Then our driver, Som Chai, took us to the cashew nut factory, which while interesting is also a rip off and the factory shop is more expensive than buying the same items in the local convenience stores! However there are samples of everything to taste and we virtually ate lunch there trying everything out. I tried a few of the durian fruit products, and one in particular - a thick tube of durian pasty gloop - was very strong and repeated on my for the rest of the day. Bleeeeurgh. The coconut toffees were delicious though. I finally bought some sesame & honey coated cashews and some banana chips. There was also some weird fermented cashew juice, which I thought was awful but the boys drank several glasses of the stuff.

Then we went to the Gem World where after a perfunctory look around were ushered into the complimentary coffee shop with tea, coffee, soft drinks, iced coffee etc on tap. So we got a free refreshment stop again.

Finally and after about 3-4 hours we were dropped off at the markets where we did some browsing. Phuket is much more expensive than Bangkok with all starting prices at least 2-3 times those in Bangkok. The foot massages are 250Bht, which although still reasonable is nearly twice the Bangkok price too. So we decided not to do too much actual shopping, except for getting the boys a katie each.

We found an Internet cafe and the boys played quietly for a full hour (wow!!!), while I checked email and posted the first update on my blog. Once the hour was up I asked the cafe owner where the bus stop was and he indicated it was pretty far, and the last bus would be leaving in around 10 minutes. Oops! He suggested we catch some motorbike taxis. So we zoomed across the road negotiated with 2 motorbike taxis. I got the boys onto one and I got on the other and off we went, weaving through the streets of Phuket Town. We soon got separated in the growing rush hour traffic though and I was starting to have visions of not finding them again. Oh crap! I wasn't even that sure how well the 2 drivers knew each other or whether they had any way to get in contact. My driver arrived at the bus. And we sat and waited, and waited, and waited. And sure enough the boys pulled up a few minutes later. Full of smiles. How exciting!

We found our Karon Beach bound bus, got on and waited. Suddenly there was a distinctive DING-DONG. Quinn grinned and said 'There's a 7Eleven! Can I get an ice-cream?!' Sure enough there was a tiny 7Eleven well hidden behind the general pavement mayhem. So off Quinn trotted to get refreshments for the bus ride back.

Once back and rested in Karon we chose another restaurant for dinner. I had Thai Green Chicken Curry and the boys had sweet & sour pork & rice. They were very unimpressed that this restaurant did not give them free ice-cream - the first place obviously knows how to win customers!

Instead we got ice-creams at 7Eleven and then I found a pancake vendor outside and just had to get a banana & chocolate fried pancake. Decadent in the extreme but soooo delicious!!!

At 9pm the boys were in bed and I was feeling decidedly bloated. The boys started calling me 'blobby mommy'. And just really wanted to get out for a bit, so I donned my running shoes and went for a run along the beach front for an hour. I got back feeling much better, and had a good sleep, after watching shockingly bad but mesmerizing TV shows.

Day 8 - Friday 4 July 2008
Phuket - Raya Island

We had to get up early to be ready in time for our Island trip. We were collected at our hotel and taken to the pier to catch our boat to Raya Island. We managed to get seats right in the front of the boat, and it was an exhilarating 45-minute ride flying along over the waves, and passing nearly all the other boats we encountered. We arrived at one of the little Raya Island beaches where we stopped for 30 minutes to swim.
The water was warm, calm and azure blue and full of fish. I found a big dark blue star fish in the shallow waters.

Then it was time to board the boat again and go around to a quieter cove where we donned masks, snorkels and life vests and jumped into the sea to snorkel in the coral with the fish. It was amazing, it was like being in the aquarium. There were loads of breathtakingly beautiful fish swimming all around and I was mesmerized looking at them. So much so that I sort of forgot about the boys for a bit (Ooops. Bad mom!) I suddenly remembered and raced back to the boat and there they were swimming and snorkeling and having a marvelous time. They had also befriended the lady leading the tour and she was chatting to them and playing with them.
Then we all hopped back on the boat for drinks and fruit, and moved around to another cove for some more snorkeling. Here we were allowed to throw bits of the remaining fruit into the water for the fish. The boys had a blast doing this and watching the ensuing feeding frenzies which followed. It was pretty cool being in the water while a piece of fruit was lobbed nearby and seeing dozens and dozens of topical fish teaming around to get a nibble.

All too soon the snorkeling was over and we headed back to the beach area and onto a tractor which took us to the centre of the island for a delicious lunch. Tom Yun soup, Chicken & Cashew Nut, Sweet & Sour Fish, Stir Fried Vegetables & Crispy Coated Chicken & Steamed Rice. It was delicious. This was followed by more succulent and sweet local fruit.

After lunch we had 2 hours free on a private beach to do as we pleased. I napped in the shade of a palm tree while the boys swam and played and looked like they were on the show survivor - digging in the sand, collecting coconuts, trying to catch fish etc. It was really perfect and so relaxing. The weather was great and it was turning out to be a perfect day.

Again too soon it was time to wash off and head back to our boat and zoom back to Phuket mainland. The island trip was wonderful and very worth while.

Once back at our hotel we all had a swim in our hotel pool, and then the boys went off to 7Eleven alone. The nice thing about Thailand is that no one is aggressive or threatening. The roads and traffic can be crazy, but no one curses or is rude and although everyone vies to get in front no one gets annoyed, so if you are ahead right of way is given, there seem to be surprisingly few bumps or scrapes even though people pass within millimeters. Also while stall holders will glad rip you off if you are dumb enough to pay too much, no one will steal from you. So there is no feeling of fearfulness here at all. The boys have been getting quite independent and apart from making sure they check the roads carefully before crossing, and making sure they know where they are going and how to get back, they have been able to go to the shop and back etc a few times on their own now.

After our big lunch we decided not to go out for dinner again, and instead walked down to the night market again. This time I bought several t-shirts etc. Then we walked back had a late night ice-cream (much ice-cream has been consumed) which we ate while walking through the Friday night pub/go-go bar area and then back to our hotel for TV and bed.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Thailand Holiday : Day 1-5

Day 1 - Friday 27 June 2008
Cape Town - Johanesburg - Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

Day 1 of our trip started with us arriving at the airport in the pouring Cape Town winter rain at 8:30am - with the boys and I wearing all (and the only) warm clothes we had with us.

Finally we were checked in, on board and on the way at around 11:30.

The Cape Town - Johannesburg flight was the usual 2 hours long and pretty uneventful. We had a short layover in Johannesburg, which gave us just enough time to gallop around the duty-free shops trying on perfumes, and then to grab a coffee and giant muffin, and then we boarded our plane again - which was now completely full to the brim - for the long-haul flight to Kuala Lumpur.

With a 6-hour time difference, at 3pm our destination time was already 9pm. The boys and I soon got engrossed in our meals, and the in-flight entertainment, and hours and hours went by. I eventually went to sleep at 2:30am Kuala Lumpur time and Griffin was STILL awake. So when we were woken at 5am for breakfast Griffin was almost in a coma and we simply could NOT wake him at all.

Our layover in KLIA waiting for our connecting flight to Bangkok, was spent drinking ridiculously expensive, mediocre tasting Earl Grey tea. We were all a bit tired and irritable, and very ready for the flying to be over, and soon. I had already eaten way too much, but the food on air Malaysia is really tasty.:)

Day 2 - Saturday 28 June 2008
Kuala Lumpur - Bangkok (Thailand)

After our Kuala Lumpur - Bangkok flight, we arrived in the megalopolis of Bangkok. We were all fast asleep and very groggy and tried by the time we arrived. We NEEDED some rest. As we emerged at the airport we got accosted by dozens of taxi drivers and taxi-pimps trying to convince us to use their services to get into Bangkok. I am however wise to the various cons and rip offs, and steadfastly refused all offers of 'help' and made our way to the proper meter-taxis, and into the 35 degrees Bangkok air.

We finally got to our hotel at about 13:30 - and our stupid taxi driver insisted on charging us an extra 50Bht (R12.50), I argued for a minute and then gave in. After all we had only paid R75 for the long trip anyway and were at our hotel door-step pretty efficiently.

We were staying in the Indira Regent Hotel in Pratunum.

It seemed the hotel was fully booked, and we waited in a long queue to check in, and then finally made our way up to our room - only to find it full of maintenance people and `not ready'! So I dragged the boys down to reception to get another room, and when we got up to that one it was not yet cleaned. I kind of lost it at that point, the boys were irritating me, and I was dead tired, and just wanted the traveling part to be finished. I left the boys on the floor on the 9th floor, and stormed down to reception to ask for an actual ready room which we could settle into. By the time I got back our room was ready, but it only had 1 double bed ... for 3 of us!? So I called reception, and they quickly got housekeeping to bring in another bed and so we were able to settle in and finally relax! I was so relieved...

Instead of resting & napping though... we decided to go explore! We checked out the hotel facilities and then started looking around the markets and shops in the area around the hotel. Unbenownst to me the Pratunum area is host to many of the popular shopping complexes in Bangkok. We were right on/near the Pratunum Market and Pratunum Complex and had Siam Discovery Centre & MBK etc a few kms away. While browsing, Quinn found a dragon necklace and decided that would be his first must-have purchase.

After our afternoon stroll we went back to the hotel,... to rest? No, instead we hit... the gym! I kid you not, the boys were keen to gym, and so we did. They stepped, cycled and rowed and played on a treadmill while I ran about 4.5km. I think I sweated about 5l of sweat in the process. The gym is not air-conditioned. It was HOT outside but not unbearably so. Last time I was in Bangkok the daily temperatures were 38-45 deg, this time it was around 35 degrees each day, so not too bad. It was quite nice actually. Still, it is pretty much a necessity to carry a bottle of water where ever you go and to take regular sips.

After the gym session and glugging liters of water in an attempt to not die, we all had a swim in the hotel pool, and then lay on the pool-side loungers. Griffin was ready for bed by then so we ate some of the snacks we had with us, and put him to sleep at around 8pm, and Quinn and I went out again to explore some more. There are 7Elevens literally everywhere - you can easily find 2-3 in one block. I was ordering Big Gulp cups of 1l of Coke Zero for 22Bht, and Quinn was enjoying huge slush-puppies for 20Bht, which we'd carry around an sip on over an hour or so. (Divide Baht by 4 to get Rand value)

We ended up at a massage parlor, where I had a fabulous hour long foot massage for 139Bht, and Quinn ended up befriending the lady who runs the place and got a free massage himself. She refused payment and when I gave my foot rub guy and extra 20Bht tip he gave me a shoulder and back rub too. All for R40!!!

I was half asleep after my foot rub so we went back to our hotel and straight to bed.

Day 3 - Sunday 29 June 2008
Bangkok ((Chutuchuk))

On Sunday, after a good sleep, we woke up just in time for breakfast. The boys were thrilled at having whatever they wanted, and chose waffles, French toast, maple syrup (or marple syrup as G calls it) and bacon for breakfast. After that we decided to head to the Chutuchuk week-end market.

We decided to take a taxi there, and had a very reasonable driver who drove us straight there and didn't try to overcharge, or way-lay us at all. so he was tipped accordingly :) The Chutuchuk week-end market is simply gigantic and has everything you can imagine (and some thing you couldn't) on offer! We arrived at 11am and the boys strolled around, mostly coping fine, until after 3pm, before wearing out and wanting no more. I was impressed. It was HOT there too. The boys got a Ben 10 t-shirt each for 100Bht, Quinn got a Che Guevara badge, and I got 5 strappy vests and some knitted pull on shorts for 200Bht, and Quinn got a molded wood pulp dragon figure and Griffin got a Power Ranger annoying talking watch. After we had enough of the market we made our way to Chutuchuk park where the boys played in a very nice kiddies play area and then we sat by the pond and watch some turtles and scary-large cat fish over eating.

We decided to take the sky-train back, even though it worked out the same price as a taxi for the 3 of us, since the boys thought it would be fun. The sky train stop is about a km from the hotel, and we decided to walk back from there via an ice-cream parlor, and then I made an exciting find of a banana-fritter vendor on the side of the road, and just had to get a serving of fried banana. It's one of those things you have to do. YUM!

On getting back we again hit the gym - funny that the boys had said they couldn't walk another step by the time we got back to the hotel, and next thing they were jostling for a turn to run on the treadmill! *roll eyes*

We again enjoyed a sunset swim, and then I lay back and had a Singha (my favourite beer) while reading various gossip mags from around the world as left by other guests - bliss!

That evening the 3 of us went back to our massage parlour where the boys had a 30-min foot massage each while I went up to have a full-body Thai massage. It was GREAT! It was quite firm and strong - I had a male masseuse - but it was really relaxing, and a good stretch.

After that it was quite late, but we still hadn't eaten anything besides snacks. The boys still claimed to not be hungry... in the heat ones does tend to drink more than eat, but STILL. We went into a 7Eleven and I got them a cup of Noodles each which they devoured. I think they were a little scared of the street food they had been seeing ;)

Day 4 - Monday 30 June 2008
Bangkok ((Pratunum))

We had decided to leave the main tourist sights for our second leg of Bangkok, since we'd be staying near to the Grand Palace. So we chose to walk around our immediate neighbourhood and extend further out than before. Quinn found a must-have noisy twisty rolling remote car thing, which I agreed to buy when he'd bargained it down from 650Bht to 400Bht ;) He is quite the bargainer and has learned to feign disinterest until the price is right. ;) We got Griffin a dragon necklace similar to Quinn's, when he decided that's what he really wanted. Then we walked to Siam Discovery Centre. On the way we found a lovely little Chinese temple and various shops and alleys. Griffin seems to really interest the local Thais. They love his cheeks - either because they are red or chubby, and they all smile, laugh and take his hand. It's cute. Although Griffin finds it a bit annoyed by it. I have also taught him to say Hello (Sawatdee) and Thank-you (Korb Khun Krap) and the Thais LOVE to hear him say those :). While we were walking about 100 Tuk-Tuk drivers wanted to give us a lift. Finally we decided to conceed, because Griffin was getting tired. I know all about the Tuk-Tuk scams and rip-offs and adamantly told them we simply wanted to go around the corner, and would only pay 20Bht (it really wasn't far). One guy agreed and so off we went, only for him to pull over a few meters ahead and ask if we have 10 minutes so he can take us to show us something. I said 'NO', we just want to go where we are going. No shopping, no temples, no tailors, no detours, AND we are only paying 20Bht. He was relentless. Eventually he annoyed me too much with his insistence, and so we got off and walked away. Stupid git. The Tuk-Tuk drivers really are the most awful crooks and con-artists. I wonder if any of them are trust worthy!? We simply walked the rest of the way, and it was close.

After browsing the fancy and expansive shopping malls, we found an indoor noodle bar and I ordered spring rolls and sticky pork & rice. The boys were STILL 'not hungry', but once the food arrived and they tried it they ate like starved peasants! ;)

Then we got a taxi back to the hotel, and then did our gym & swim routine again. A huge storm moved in while we were at the pool-side with some spectacular thunder & lightning and giant rain drops. It was quite exciting.

Once the storm had passed we walked down to a roadside restaurant where we enjoyed a meal of spring rolls and Pad Thai Noodles with Chicken. Very nice.

Day 5 - Tuesday 1 July 2008
Bangkok - Phuket

After breakfast, some swimming and a last stroll around the markets near our hotel, it was time to pack up, check out and head to the airport for our flight to Phuket. We got to the airport in plenty of time. After checking into our flight and while waiting for me to come out of the loo, Quinn thought it would be a good idea to push the strap of his backpack into a little slot in an air conditioning outlet. Once in, it got well and truly stuck, and simply could not be pulled out again. When I found him I tried pulling it for a few minutes, and then we attracted the attention of an elderly Thai couple who tried to help, and finally called a security guard for us, who also couldn't get the strap out. Eventually the security guard got a stanley knife and cut the strap to release him. I told Quinn he can tell his teacher he got stuck in the airport, and when she asks if his plane was delayed he can say no he literally got stuck to the air-con vent in the airport LOL ;) I of course took photos as black-mail evidence against him, for whenever I need it.

Finally it was time for our flight and we jetted off to Phuket. We arrived at 17:45. It took a while to get our bags and negotiate a metered taxi for our ride to Karon beach. About an hour's drive. The drive took ages and the boys fell asleep and then our driver couldn't find our hotel. We drove up and down and all over. I convinced him to stop and ask someone and then no one knew where the place was. I was having visions of it not even existing (I booked and paid via an on-line service and it was a pretty budget place!). EVENTUALLY we found it tucked away in a side street. Whew. I think it took at least 1.5 hours to get there from the air port...

We took a stroll around after settling in, and I discovered we are right near to the place where I got my Tattoo done 4 years ago.