Bold print again for anyone preferring a quick skim…

Summary of our route on this 6 week trip – mostly in India and Sri Lanka

Canberra – Sydney (30 min flight); Sydney – Bangkok (9.5 hours); next day…Bangkok – Delhi (6+ hours); Delhi – Sri Lanka, Colombo (3.5 hours); Colombo – Singapore (4 hours); Singapore – Sydney (7.5 hours).

Recipes at end of post as usual:

Thai Sticky Rice with Mango…perhaps one to try with children? (Photo below)

We tried this at Bangkok airport last week

The other recipe suggestion is from Northern Thailand (similar in some ways to Indian food eg. Use of turmeric) is Khao Soi Gai (recipe link at end of this post).

NOW TO OUR CURRENT ADVENTURE!…

It’s been such an eventful week with our travels through India for the first time (more on India in future posts) and once again we had a brief but very pleasant stopover in Bangkok – just 1 night on this occasion at an airport hotel . Well they call it an airport hotel but it’s actually 15 min in the hotel shuttle service from airport exit to hotel (Amaranth Suvarnabhumi Hotel).

Another photo children might like to talk about…good that BKK airport has more Asian outlets

The price of the hotel has increased considerably over the years (now owned by Best Western) but still comparatively quite good (“4 star”) and a lovely place to rest up after a long flight; on this occasion for us from Sydney – Bangkok…approx 9.5 hours.

Amaranth Suvarnabhumi Hotel near Bangkok airport
We love the bar at this hotel in “airport” hotel in Bangkok + food is reasonably priced too…
Tasty fresh food…comparatively good prices for a 4 star hotel as well

A stopover in Asia (sometimes even a week or so) is something we’ve tried to do when travelling to/from Europe, especially since retirement eg. Japan; China (see blog posts if interested). However, we have had a few trips where we stayed in Thailand for extended periods and travelled to different regions, including Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand.

Here are a few photos from our 5 nights in Chiang Mai in 2008...when we were both still working so it was just for a few weeks; we took Long Service Leave…an Australian working condition which we enjoyed toward end of our careers/once children had grown up too!

In Chiang Mai there are many Buddhist temples (we climbed lots of stairs to look at them!…some in partial ruin as they’re so old), but if you’re into more active pursuits, there are lots of adventure/trekking tours that start or finish in and around Chiang Mai.

We enjoy staying active but with my back problems, I like a comfortable bed and a hot shower most nights! A couple of years after this trip, my lumbar spine needed major surgery (28 screws/2 rods etc) despite all the swimming/yoga etc. I tried over many decades…

Swimming and yoga did help with back problems/pain management for many decades

The photo above was taken at the Chiang Mai hotel where we stayed…when we return home from our current trip in India, I’ll note the Chiang Mai hotel name (noted in our journals). Not sure what it’s like now of course but in 2008 it was lovely + comparatively well priced for that region (room photo below)…

In Chiang Mai we also visited an orchid and butterfly park which was beautiful and recommended if you enjoy visiting gardens and peaceful places like I do; at these places I sometimes spend some time alone doing my own very short meditations. I’ve found that helpful with pain management too…I’ve been seeing a Pain Management Psychologist before/after my spinal surgeries – highly recommended as well if going through tough times like many of us do in one way or another.

Back to the butterflies!…some we had never seen before…

For garden lovers…

There were also a huge range of orchids of course…I never realised that orchids came in so many different shapes, sizes and colours. Whenever I look at orchids they remind me of our late oldest sister, Laurel…she had many orchids in her beautiful little courtyard in Sydney. Sydney (and the NSW South Coast) has a temperate climate so during winter, even though the temperatures are mild compared to say Canberra a few hours inland, orchids do need some overnight protection – either under cover or indoors at night.

Our sister had a range of different orchids…it’s a few years now since she died (from melanoma)…here’s a photo in memory of her + remember to slip/slop/slap on sunscreen everyone especially if you’re very fair skinned like she was…

Laurel was also enjoying retirement and lots of travel to parts of the world she was too busy to see when working…will always remember our catchup in Paris as well

Back to travels in Thailand…

While in Chiang Mai we also went to an elephant park well known for it’s conservation work…

although we recently heard that some of these tourist attractions aren’t what they pretend to be so we’ll probably avoid them when we’re in Sri Lanka next month. The elephants at the park in Chiang Mai all looked healthy and well cared for by their mahouts (for children…”person who works with elephants”).

One of the highlights for us on the trip to Chiang Mai was a cooking course we did…

Trying new flavours…

The day of the Chiang Mai cooking course started early at a local market where some street food was already being cooked up for the locals…it was a bit early for our Aussie tastes to get into roast chillies, roast garlic etc., but over the years I’ve tried to experiment with different foods and flavours for breakfast eg. Here in India I’ve tried some traditional Indian baked eggs in a mildly spiced, tomato based sauce…photo at end of this blog post. Yum! ๐Ÿ˜‹

Strolling through the market before the cooking course

It was interesting to see the ways many of the locals transported their shopping from the market to restaurants….

Hopefully less plastic is being used these days like has happened in many parts of our home, Australia.

Before I end by typing up some Thai inspired recipes, I’ll pop in a few photos from our first travels to Thailand in 1981 in our mid 20s (photos below), to remind our kids that we were very young once!…years fly by fast so make the most of them and notice the simple pleasures that often cost nothing or very little.

Bridge on River Kwai…1981…setting for Academy Award winning movie…

Above photo:

Bridge on the River Kwai there’s an old movie (“Drama/History”) that tells a story of this bridge during WWII…although much of this story is fictional as is noted on https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/history/conflicts/thaiburma-railway-and-hellfire-pass/locations/australian-prisoners-asia-pacific. The movie won the Academy Award for the Best Picture of 1957. However, it is based on some fact ie. how terribly those captured by the Japanese military were treated during WWII. One of my uncles had friends who were imprisoned near here in a Japanese prisoner of war camp (see image below). We also went to one of the cemeteries not far from the bridge…

Australian soldiersโ€™ graves…many from starvation/hard labour in prisoner of war camps during WWII
From the ANZAC portal site noted above…WWII POW camps

Many young Australian soldiers who survived the ordeal of these camps never recovered – Tony’s great uncle was one of those soldiers. His wife, Tony’s Aunt Jeannie, told us that he struggled with life after the war and he died at quite a young age.

On a happier note…Thailand is generally a very safe and peaceful country now and here are a few photos from a more recent Street Food tour we really enjoyed during one of our longer stays in Bangkok (more information in an earlier post too)…

Our St Food tour guide explaining how some of the foods are used/cooked
Tony with the friendly group on St food tour…people from all over the world
Our shared lunch at a little restaurant – at the end of the St food tour

RECIPES FROM NORTHERN THAILAND…

One of the very well known dishes of the region is Khao Soi Gai – a northern Thai coconut curry noodle soup with chicken recipe. There are authentic recipes on the Net as well as simplified versions eg. Seriouseats.com and the BBC food site…

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/chiang-mai-curried-noodles-khao-soi-gai

Some recipes also pop a boiled egg onto the plate – I liked that as can then be a complete meal especially if you top with extra fresh herbs…

On a Saturday we often go to our Canberra fresh food market and try the more authentic recipes ie. making the spice pastes ourselves but when time was limited eg. When we were both working full time, we would use store bought pastes etc. like many busy working people do. We’re still busy…just doing what we want to do a lot more than what we are expected to do ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s a recipe for Sticky Rice which children love...especially when they can help make it too…

from https://www.superhealthykids.com/mango-sticky-rice/

โ€ข 3 cups sticky rice, soaked overnight in water and drained

โ€ข 2 cups coconut milk

โ€ข 2-3 Tbsp brown sugar (or Turbinado?)

โ€ข 1/2 teaspoon salt

โ€ข 3 ripe mangoes

Method:

Steam the sticky rice until soft; Meanwhile, place the coconut milk in a pot and heat over medium heat until hot. Do not boil. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve completely; When the sticky rice is cooked, turn it out into a large bowl and pour 1 cup of the hot coconut milk over; reserve the rest. Stir to mix the liquid into the rice, then let stand for 20 minutes to an hour to allow the flavors to blend; Peel and chop the mangoes; If you want to serve individually, place a round mound of rice on a plate and top with chopped mango; Stir the remaining sweetened coconut milk thoroughly, transfer to a small serving bowl and pass it separately, with a spoon, so people can spoon on extra.

An old teacher’s tip๐Ÿ˜‰ for parents/teachers??…try to involve children in the Maths side of cooking eg. Basic counting and measuring for very young children; for older children measuring of capacity/mass using measuring jugs/kitchen scales. As they get older, try to spark their interest in money by encouraging role play in “shops or cafes”…I often used play money in my classrooms + in more recent times with my grandchildren.

I occasionally talk with our older grandchild about the different currency of various countries eg. The price of the mango/rice in photo above…how much would that be in Australian currency?

However, learning like that doesn’t mean a great deal to most older children until they have an opportunity to do some real shopping themselves. So if travelling with older children, it can be a great learning opportunity for them, like it was when we travelled with our sons to Pacific and South East Asia a few times. When 15, our son Joel loved bargaining during our holiday to Indonesia – a decade++ ago now…photos in previous post. We encouraged him to save up his own money as well before we left…important for them to learn financial literacy/independence too.

One last photo from Thailand (Bangkok airport) that children might like…some of the children near this giant statue were rather mesmerised by it and a little scared!…

My next blog post (in a week or so) will be on our travels in India…first stop was Delhi last week (now in Agra seeing the Taj Mahal) – here’s a glimpse of a couple of delightful moments!…

The Red Fort, Delhi

Baked eggs at the Oberoi Hotel New Delhi last week…delicious!