Photo of the Week: Baskets Full of Freshness

baskets of produce, chiang mai, thailandChiang Mai is the place in Thailand to take a cooking class, and wow, am I glad I signed up!

Every course includes making, and enjoying, a few traditional Thai meals, but the morning half day course also included a tour of the local market – brilliant!

Our guide took us to five different stalls (“shops”) to explain the various staple ingredients involved in Thai dishes and it was quite the learning experience – I didn’t know there were so many kinds of basil!

Being able to see the raw ingredients at a market before we mixed and mashed them into meals was one of the best parts, and integral to the whole experience.

Here, on the way back to class with baskets full of freshness!

Photo of the Week: Boats on Amphawa Floating Market

Sunday seems to be Market Day everywhere you go in Bangkok! From early morning, the streets are packed with vendors selling everything from hot dogs on a stick to freshly caught squid, and by nightfall, the sidewalks are littered with tee shirts and candy and cell phone covers like some exploding sidewalk sale.

The weekend is also the only time that the Floating Market in Amphawa is on, and while not as photogenic as the more famous Damnoen Saduak market, it is infinitely more authentic, and as such, provides its own photo opportunities. Boats at Amphawa Floating Market, ThailandHere, boats gather at the ‘ordering’ steps, each with their own food specialty – just look at the variety!

The Floating Market in Amphawa is in the Samut Songkram area and runs Fridays to Sundays starting late afternoon. To get there from Bangkok, get yourself to the minivan station right by the Victory Monument. Tickets cost 80 baht one way.

Photo of the Week: Longtails at Railay

Arriving at Railay, my first thoughts were OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD!

They were promptly followed by my jaw dropping.

Railay was everything I imagined Thailand to be: the sandy shores and the vivid green jungle were one thing, but the view of the karst cliffs jutting out of the turquoise water was unlike anything I’ve seen.

And the boats? Well, on this kind of backdrop I could barely contain my shutterbug impulses.

Longtails at Railay, Thailand

Accomodation Review: Penpark Place, Bangkok

Penpark Place sits hidden off the main Thanon Sam Sen, about a fifteen minute walk from Khao San Road on 22 Samsen 3, Samsen Road, Bangkok, Thailand 10200.

The rooms range from a standard 1 bed with a fan (฿330) to a 3 bed ensuite with air con (฿1,650) and a 2 bedroom, 1 living room ensuite with air con (฿2,100). These are all fairly spacious and decently clean.

There is wifi that works both in the rooms and outside.

Penparl Place, Bangkok, ThailandLocation

An easy fifteen minute walk to Khao San that passes at least three 7-11’s and quite a few restaurants. I felt perfectly safe the whole time, even walking back past midnight a few times. That said, while there are tourists around, it is a fairly low-key guesthouse – not many chances to meet and greet other tourists if that’s what you’re looking for (which I was).

Samsen 3, Bangkok, ThailandThe Building

There is a reception area that also has computers with internet and houses the tour agency desk. Outside, there are some picnic tables at which you can sit and behind the building is a garden area also with tables and lounge chairs for relaxing.

The building is five floors, and while there was an elevator in the building, it was either not working while I was there or was never meant to work.

The communal bathroom had two showers and two toilet stalls and two sinks. These weren’t the ultimate in clean but were totally survivable. Most of the time there was soap and toilet paper, and two out of three nights there was scalding hot water.

I didn’t take too much notice of the building’s condition, except I did notice a cockroach scurrying across the hallway my first night there.

My Room

My room was B31, a private room on the 3rd floor with a fan but no bathroom. There was one double bed, a small square table with a chair, a small side table, and a sort of wooden clothes hanger.

The door locked via a doorknob lock and a sliding lock, which felt safe enough, except when there was a rowdy and drunk guest the room over knocking and yelling and spitting and I was actually a bit afraid he might try to break my door down by accident.

Also on that note, the walls are paper thin – you’ll need earplugs if you get woken up easily.


Generally nice and attemptively helpful. They didn’t have a map of the area, and the tour agency lady essentially ignored me but they were able to tell me where the post office was, so there was at least that. The young boy that works there spoke the best English (along with the tour lady) but most people could communicate somewhat.

Getting into Penpark Place, Bangkok, Thailand

So Basically…

I’d give Penpark a 3/5. I would stay there again BUT I would probably try to stay somewhere closer to So Ram Buttri first, just to be around more people and more atmosphere.

Taxi Teachings: Thai Lessons

I’m in the backseat of a taxi, driving from BKK to what will hopefully be my guesthouse a few blocks away from Khao San Road in Bangkok, when he asks:

“You fir time?”

“Sorry?” I lean in closer, trying to understand through his accent. He holds up one finger. “Fir time? Bangkok?” “First time? Yes.” I say.

“Aah.” He nods and when I ask him if he’s from here, he enthusiastically starts showing me different cities in Thailand on the invisible map that exists in front of all of us.

thai teaching taxi driver on cell phone, bangkok, thailand“Bangkok – here.” He points at the air, and goes on to name other cities in different directions. “Chiang Mai nors (north), Patthalung sows, Pai nors-ess, there.” I nod as he repeats himself, but after he names about nine different cities I no longer know what he’s trying to tell me.

“What is most beautiful city in Thailand?” I ask.

“Yes, yes, very beauteeful. Suwaiee. Beauteeful.” Huh? “Beauteeful. Suwaiee. You – suwaiee.”


Suwaiee is beautiful?” “Yes, but me – no suwaiee.” I laugh, but he says, “Lady – suwaiee. Man – low. Handsome.” He pats his chest to point to himself. “Chan low. Lady – suwaiee.”

Score! Thai lessons!

“You say hello: Sawatdde-KHA – hello!” he waves at no one in particular and repeats until I get it right.

Sa-wat-dee-KHA.” I hark out the last syllable. “Yes!” He laughs. “Sawatdeekha. Hello. You say good morneen, good afternoon, good eveneen – all same same: sawatdee-kha.”

“You want buy.” He hold up his bottle of water. “You want buy, you say: Tau rye HA? How much? Tao rye ha?” He’s so excited I can barely keep up typing it all on my phone.

En route to Penpark Place, Bangkok, ThailandHe goes on to teach me how to say I want to buy water (chan suuh nam noi ha), turn left (leyo sai) and right (leyo hua), ‘I love you’ (chan rak-hon), women’s toilet (hong naam), and ‘okay’ (tok long kha). So, all the basics.

Wait! “How do you say ‘thank you’?” I ask before I leave.

“Tank you. Kop-hoon kha. Tank you. You want say tank you very much, you say: kop-hoon MA kha.” I close the door and he drives off.

Kophoonmakha indeed! And what a great intro to Thailand – I’d recommend it if I could.