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One thing I really wanted to do in Thailand was take an online cooking class. I had found Sammy’s Organic Thai Cooking School via a blog review before we arrived in Thailand and after looking at some brochures, and reading more reviews I decided that this was the one I would book into. The school takes place on Sammy’s farm which is a short drive out of Chiang Mai. Sammy picks up the students from their hotels and stops at a traditional market on the way to his farm.

We arrived to find the large under-cover cooking area set up ready for us to start cooking.

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We had a brief lesson about local ingredients.

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Everyone got their own station. There were two students from Belgium and one from South Africa in addition to Gorgeous Girl and I from Australia/South Africa/Papua New Guinea (answering the question “Where are you from?” is kind of hard for us).

Gorgeous Girl had her own station. First we made a curry paste from scratch. I opted for a red curry while Gorgeous Girl made a yellow curry paste.

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The two dishes.

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I made my red curry a little too spicy for my taste, but Gorgeous Girl’s yellow curry was fabulous. She did it all by herself too.

Next we made dishes using the wok. Gorgeous Girl opted for her favourite dish, cashew chicken.

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While I made the best pad thai I’ve ever eaten (good recipe, not my exceptional skills).

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All up we made 5 dishes each including one dessert. We got a recipe book to take home. I’ve tried one of the recipes so far – it wasn’t a huge success because I didn’t have all of the ingredients. But I will be working on incorporating more of our day out into the regular home menu.

 

Chiang Mai

From Bangkok we travelled to Chiang Mai. Once again we rented a house through Airbnb. This one was easier to find than the one in Bangkok. One thing we really wanted to do in Chiang Mai was to see elephants, but we didn’t want a place which gave elephant rides or forced the elephants to do tricks for tourists. Riding is bad for the elephants’ backs and we wanted a more natural experience. After reading numerous brochures at the local coffee shop (best coffee I had in Thailand – actually probably one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had anywhere), we settled on Dumbo Elephant Spa. We were picked up from a hotel near where we stayed and driven out of Chiang Mai into the mountains. Once there we were given traditional Karen clothing to put on.

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There is a family group.

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The baby one was really cute.

Then the guides brought out fruit to feed the elephants. I have to admit that I found the elephants rather huge and intimidating. Gorgeous Girl had no such inhibitions.

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Elephant hug.

They have a mud pool that the elephants like to swim in. On the day that we visited the elephants didn’t want to mud bathe. Gorgeous Girl and the two other children who were on the tour made full use of it though.

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The elephants also used this as a toilet…

After a while the elephants wandered down to the river so we all followed them. The elephants went swimming and were scrubbed down by the guests. In return they sprayed the swimmers with water. I stayed dry taking lots of photos.

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This was a real highlight and well worth a visit.

More Bangkok

I think I mentioned that Gorgeous Girl had the chance to catch up with a friend who used to live in PNG. She was invited to his birthday party and got to experience the magic of laser tag.

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She had a great time.

One one of our trips down the river we got off at the stop to see the Wat Traimit – the Golden Buddha. My advice is to walk out of the car park by the mall to hire a taxi or a tuktuk (you will save yourself several hundred baht) to take you to the temple. The Wat houses the largest golden buddha in the world. For most of its history this magnificent statue had been hidden by a layer of plaster.

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Around 40 years ago it was dropped while being moved and the plaster cracked revealing the gold underneath.

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The story goes that it was originally covered up to protect it from invading armies during the Sukhothai period (1238-1438).

We also visited some night markets and partook of some delicious food. I’m a terrible blogger and forgot to take a picture before I started eating.

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I did get a shot of Gorgeous Girl’s though. Thai food isn’t usually eaten with chopsticks, and this was kind of like Thai/Chinese fusion street food.

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There were also delicious little snacks eaten on the go, but no pictures of them.

After a several days in Bangkok it was time to fly to Chiang Mai.

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We took a tourist boat up the river in Bangkok. It was a lovely trip to take.

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Gorgeous Girl was a bit over the photos at this point.

We were visiting Thailand only two months after the king had passed away. The country is observing a year of mourning. There were large signs around the city offering condolences.

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As a sign of respect the people of Thailand are wearing black or dark colours for the year of mourning. We tried to respect that by avoiding bright colours ourselves.

The boat we took was a hop-on/hop-off. Since we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to on one trip we did this twice. While wandering the streets we found the most amazing food in a little hole in the wall restaurant that I’m not sure I’d be able to find again.

I was very taken with the glimpses of life along the river. Houses over the water.

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A petrol station.

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There was lots of construction (as you can see from the crane in the background above) and new sits alongside old.

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A building erected by some of the earliest Europeans in Thailand.

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And the royal palace.

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I have a few more holiday posts (mainly so family can see what we did and where we went) and then regular crafting content will return.

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Did I mention that in addition to working full-time I began my PhD this year? Life is kind of hectic at the moment, but I am going to make a concerted effort to blog more regularly. I missed it last year.

I’m getting projects done slowly. A few minutes here and there. I try to spend at least half an hour doing something crafty before going to bed at night. Today I dyed some fibre for spinning (pictures of that when it’s dry).

Anyway, let me tell you about our holiday. At the end of last year we travelled to Thailand. We started in Bangkok. We booked all our Thai accommodation through Airbnb which was much, much cheaper than booking a hotel room. The added advantage was that we got to live like locals and Gorgeous Girl got her own room rather than sharing with us.

The downside was finding the first house. We arrived in Bangkok late at night and took two trains to get to the station nearest the house (we had to change lines – we didn’t get lost). Then we decided to follow our host’s instructions and walk. Unfortunately, through no fault of the instructions, we missed the turn off. When it became apparent that we had overshot our destination we flagged down a taxi and got dropped at the point where we could pick up the key. Then we walked (with our suitcases) to the house. Unfortunately, we overshot the lane we were meant to turn down.

This image may show you why.

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It was a very small narrow road, now imagine that in the dark… I was so proud of how Gorgeous Girl travelled. She pulled her suitcase along, and carried her back pack without complaint. She rolled with the punches when we had to back track and didn’t really start to complain or get anxious until the second time that we missed our turn and had to ask for directions.

We stayed in a typical Thai apartment for the area.

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The front door. Downstairs was kitchen and living area.

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Second floor was the bedroom that Gorgeous Man and I stayed in and the bathroom and Gorgeous Girl had a bedroom at the very top. I suspect that one would develop excellent leg muscles if one lived in Thailand for any length of time. The steps in the house were very steep!

This was a good base, we could order breakfast from the house directly opposite. It was walking distance to the MRT station, there was a small 7-11 nearby as well as some restaurants and a park where Gorgeous Man did some bird watching while Gorgeous Girl and I checked out the playground equipment.

One of the highlights of Bangkok was being able to spend some time with one of her former classmates from Papua New Guinea who had relocated to Thailand a few years ago. It was so nice to see the two of them pick back up where they left off and Gorgeous Girl was able to attend A’s birthday party and meet all of his new friends which was really lovely.

Last year as we were travelling on the New South Wales north coast we took a detour off the highway though a little town and we discovered a treasure trove. A second-hand book store and a craft cooperative shop selling spinning fibre, finished knitting and other beautifully made objects. We now make it a point of stopping in Ulmarra and visiting the bookstore and Fibre Delights whenever we are passing by. On our January visit I picked up two complimentary braids of merino fibre (very reasonably priced). With the idea of plying them together. This was so soft and spun like butter, and I seem to have neglected a picture of the braids in my eagerness to start spinning…

I spun for a traditional three-ply and split each braid into three and spun one bobbin light to dark and two bobbins dark to light. I then wound them off into a cake ready for plying.

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Several plying sessions later I had 472 metres from 179 grams.

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I wasn’t convinced.

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But then I wound it into a cake.

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I upcycled an envelope to use as a tag with the yarn details on it…

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And found myself very happy with the yarn. I think it’s going to make a great pair of socks.

Another pincushion

While Gorgeous Girl was busy stuffing the pincushion she claimed for herself I returned to the machine to work on a pincushion that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. This year I’m trying to spend some time sewing up some of the smaller items that I’ve pinned rather than just storing them in Pinterest. The pattern is from Crazy Mom Quilts.

It’s a bit wonky, but I like it.

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It’s teeny tiny.

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I’ve forgotten how nice the instant gratification of quick sewing projects is.