Make it Rain: Bagan, Myanmar

I love it when it rains somewhere in Asia. It’s hot and humid and the sudden downpours are refreshing. They don’t usually last too long. When it rains in Bangkok, I like to duck into my favourite Chinese -Thai dumpling shop and sip a cup of ginger and lemon tea while grappling with chop sticks over a bowl of slippery dumplings. By the time they are scoffed, the rain has passed.

Rainy day fun, Bagan, Myanmar

This love of a good passing storm did not prepare me for the frequent downpours during our travels through Myanmar. I spent more time than usual meditating in golden pagodas due to heavy rain. On this occasion, we were tucked inside a restaurant in Bagan, watching the young lads outside having a ball.

Rainy day in Bagan, Myanmar

And my favourite rain song? Ed Sheeran’s Make it Rain. I sing this song often during Australian summers. For Ailsa’s travel theme, rain, on Where’s My Backpack.

Chatuchak Market, Bangkok. A Good Match.

A trip to the weekend Chatuchuk market is one of the highlights of a Bangkok visit. The 35-acre market site is home to more than 8,000 market stalls. The market seems overwhelming at first and it’s easy to get lost. Make a plan before you go and stick to the areas that are appealing rather than wasting time in the general furniture, hardware or pet sections. Below are a few scenes from the market, included in this week’s wordpress photographic challenge, A Good Match. I have chosen these photos mostly due to colour matching or the juxtaposition of coordinated elements in the displays.

Beautiful matching blue and white ceramics.
Beautiful matching blue and white ceramics. Boring alone, great when massed together.
more antique matching cermanics
More antique matching porcelain.

You can get to the market by taking the sky train. Hop on at BTS and get off at Mo Chit station, then take exit no. 1 and follow the crowd until you see rows of canvas stalls selling clothes. Turn right while continuing to follow the crowd and you will see a small entrance that leads into the market (clothing section). You can also get there by taxi. It’s a great day out, with plenty of interesting options for resting when you get tired. Little cafes are sprinkled among the stalls and good restaurants can be found around the perimeter of the market, as well as fast food within it.

Stalls dedicated to home dyed indigo scarves and clothing. I love Indigo.
Matching Indigo dyed cloth, hand-woven and expensive.
some well matched deep fried items ready to go.
Some well- matched deep fried items ready to go.Not so appealing to eat, but visually well balanced.
A chance for a quiet drink within the bowels of the market.
A chance for a quiet drink within the bowels of the market. Nicely matched decor.

Bangkok Coup and You

I keep meaning to learn more Thai language but my repertoire is still quite basic, extending to ” good morning, thank you, excuse me, the bill please”. In my defence, I try to say these phrases as often as I can over a day, and with a few polite bows, seem to get by well enough.

Mr T has begun to cart around a Thai phrase book in the hope that we might extend our vocab. We ponder some ridiculous phrases over dinner. I fancied ” This dog is a ridgeback”,  but then we found ” You’re only using me for sex”, listed under the romance section, and later we found a really useful phrase, ” I’m a soldier” (ผมเป็นทหาร ), so handy in a coup, since everyone on the street last Sunday seemed to be a soldier!


The street closures were announced in the newspapers early on Sunday morning, giving citizens plenty of opportunity to re-plan their Sunday travel and driving route.  The military had prior knowledge of planned demonstrations thanks to social media, such as Facebook, and informers within the world of texting. Nearby, in our quiet precinct, soldiers blocked the main routes to Victory Square and the Democracy Monument, making the inner city traffic absolutely horrendous. It turns out that some of these protests were poorly attended, with more soldiers on the scene than citizens. Image

Observations from a farang’s ( foreigner)  point of view.

  •  what role does social media play in social unrest?
  • under a ‘silencing’ military coup, are opponents able to express their opposition in any form, including Facebook?
  • would you really like to have a ‘selfie’ taken with a soldier toting a huge gun?
  • a coup is not a benign thing, unless you happen to be on the side that benefits from such a move (yellow shirts) in which case it might be.
  • life continues as usual for most folk: shooting and violence have been eliminated from the streets. (for the time being).
  • will an election in one to two year’s time solve this nine year old problem? ( doubtful )
  • foreign interference is not appreciated. American and Australian political intrusion is unwelcome and is seen as naive, arrogant and misinformed. Certainly, simple slogans or principles like ‘restore democracy’ fail to properly appreciate many complexities and subtleties.  Sophisicated Thais are aware of the defects, inequalities and contradictions found in most western democracies, particularly in the USA.
  • foreign media is prone to sensationalism. The Bangkok press seems to offer a balanced view, at least in the Bangkok PostRead it on line here.  The journalism in this newspaper is remarkably sophisticated and engaging, making me wonder about what ever happened to intelligent reporting at home in Australia  and to what depths our newspapers have plummeted.Image


Bangkok Cheap Eats. 2014


There are over 7,000 restaurants in Bangkok listed on Trip Adviser and there are probably another 10,000 or more that aren’t, not counting all the street food stalls. Temptation is everywhere in this glorious city of food. I am always plotting my next meal adventure, which can involve great hikes in the heat or elaborite map making exercises to explain the directions to a taxi driver.

We also have a few little eating rituals. Lunches come in cheaply at a dollar or two per head and then we lash out at dinnertime. We rarely go into the big business centre, home to some glorious ( and expensive) restaurants, preferring to support those in our own neck of the woods. Image

An early lunch at my favourite little Chinese place is essential, especially if it’s teeming with rain outside. Located opposite the Fort in Banglamphu, it is not listed anywhere and doesn’t have an English name. It is spotlessly clean and reminds me of Old China town shops in Penang and KL before they all disappeared. A bowl of prawn wonton soup with or without noodles is 60 Bhat ( $2.00) and with a big glass pot of iced tea with lemon, 30 Bhat ( $1.00), this will keep you going until you are tempted by a second lunch. There is something about wontons, tropical rain and tea, or am I strange?


Another little place nearby, but in the backpacker area of Rambuttri, the Gecko Bar, an old timer, whips up a a generous plate of vegetarian Pad Thai, studded with egg, tofu, greens, nuts and lime, which will set you back 35 Bhat- $1.00. Just perfect with a pot of Chang beer on a hot day ( which is every day here). Chang beer- large bottle for two people- 80 Bhat.Image

And something sweet to share? These caramel peanut biscuits are cooked on the street in a big oil filled wok. They are irresistable. Six big nut filled bickies for 20 Bhat or 70 cents. Are they healthy? probably not. Do I care?


Next instalments- the Coup d’etat, up market Bangkok restaurants, street food and Indigo shopping.



My Bangkok. Travel Themes. Cities.

Direct from Bangkok.

Bangkok, a megacity of 22 million, is a comfortable and relaxing place to re-visit, once you drop the compulsion to visit the major tourist spots. Like all big cities, Bangkok has its precincts and the area I love is residential and quiet, alongside a tree lined canal, with no passing traffic.

Quiet public spaces are everywhere- just drop into a nearby Buddhist temple. Walk the local streets and seek the shady side. Take a break from the heat and duck into a Chinese- Thai teahouse. Observe the detail of life. Show respect- a Sawadee kha/kap said with slight bow goes a long way.

This week’s travel theme for Ailsa’s Where’s My Backpack is cities.

Below. Start the day at a city Buddhist temple. Lotus buds are available as offerings.Image

Pink taxis and buses brighten the busy streets.


My favourite Chinese tea house


Sleeping dog with mobile phone. Phone home!Image

Lady making floral offerings.Image


“I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine” 

Quote from Murray Head. Do you know the song?