Part 1…Exotic foods and shopping in Cambodia and Vietnam…Did we eat insects? An issue in Phuket?

Kong took this photo of Tom and a tarantula!

First, we begin our post with a few points regarding our stay in Phuket.  With 37 remaining days on the island, we want to make the very best of our time here considering my current circumstances. 

After analyzing the higher cost of taxi service here, we reconsidered the possibility of renting a car.  As it turns out a short trip for shopping will cost approximately THB (Thai Baht) $700, US $20 with more for sightseeing and dining out.

The kitchen is spacious and relatively well equipped.  We certainly appreciated the size of the refrigerator, the drip coffee pot and the double sinks.

As a result, the kindly local owner of this house, well aware of high taxi fares, offered us a rental car for the balance of our stay for a total of THB $9000, US $256.  Gregory will deliver the car on Thursday morning, the first day we’ll need to use it.

Its an older car but has AC, seat belts and works well which is fine.  For our local exploration and shopping this will be fine regardless of how old or worn this car may be.

As for our past day, we were a little worried when there was no running water yesterday afternoon.  Within minutes of reporting this to Gregory, two workers arrived at the house spending several hours repairing the issue.  This reminded us of similar issues we’ve encountered without water and electricity in less developed countries throughout the world.


We dine at this table.


There’s a bottled water dispenser here which would have seen us through the night if necessary. Unfortunately, the water quit while Tom was in the shower after soaping up. 

When he appeared in the living room, covered in soap, I suggested he take some bottled water to get the soap off until we had water again.  He did so but felt dirty and sticky until hours later when the water was working and he was able to finish his shower. 

We won’t be using this sofa, preferring to spent time in the living room.  Photos will follow tomorrow.

We postponed dinner when the workers were attempting to resolve the issue right outside the dining room door.  Finally, they were done. The water was running again and we were able to quietly enjoy our meal, most of which we’d prepared earlier in the day. 

Here are a few more photos of the house taken from the listing here.  We’ll be back with Phuket photos as soon as we get out and about later this week.  Thanks for your patience.

_________________________________________
 
Back to the Mekong River Cruise:  With all the heart wrenching photos we’ve shared over the past many days, we decided to lighten it up a bit and share some food photos we’d taken over the 17 days we spent in both Cambodia and Vietnam.
 
First off, I must espouse the virtues of the popular Vietnamese soup, known as “pho” which is pronounced as “fuuuuur” in Southeast Asia not the commonly pronounce “Foe” in Vietnamese restaurants in the US and other countries throughout the world.

Delicious pho without noodles.

In my old life before my special diet, pho was a favorite Vietnamese soup which I often enjoyed with son Greg at a local Minneapolis Vietnamese Restaurant.  At that time I was able to have the wide noodles added to the delicious broth along with the vegetables and basil. 

 
In Cambodia, they don’t use basil but other types of greens.  In Vietnam, depending on the region, basil is an available option to be added to the delicious soup at one’s option. 
 
Everywhere we traveled in the 17 days, I tried the pho, (without noodles) often for breakfast instead of eggs or as a first course with dinner.  I was never disappointed although the flavor of the broth varied from region to region.  Many other passengers raved about the pho along with me anxious to try it at each new location in our journey.
The server passed this plate of appetizers…tarantulas, tiny whole frogs and crickets.
One night at dinner on the cruise, we were served insects as a first course.  Unfortunately, to add to the less than desirable taste, we discovered that such creatures are usually marinated in a sugary broth to enhance the flavor and/or dipped in flour before frying.  Had this not been the case, I’d have happily tried any of these.
 
Tom, on the other hand, took a few small bites making some awful faces after doing so.  Many passengers opted for the full experience eating some of each of the items presented. 
 
Eating a variety of insects including grasshoppers, crickets and small frogs is an inexpensive source of protein for citizens throughout the world.  Of course, it was the tarantulas that captured our attention the most.  We were only served these items on one occasion on board the ship during our travels.

I made up this plate for this photo although I never took a bite since they’re soaked in sugar to make them more palatable.

The remainder of the meals on both on the ship and at a number of restaurants included in the cruise/tour were varied and overall excellent.  Most of my meals were good, especially on the ship although, a few restaurants had a more difficult time often presenting me with overcooked steak, boiled fish and steamed bok choy for a bland and unseasoned meal. 

We had such a great time dining with our co-passengers, food became of little importance to me.  Tom, on the other hand, fully enjoyed most of his meals, especially when they included bread, potatoes and sweet desserts.

Tom took a few small bites.

Tom gained back 10 of his recently lost 20 pounds in Bali but now since our arrival in Phuket, he’s already rapidly dropping those pounds by eating homemade meals befitting my way of eating based on what we were able to find at a local market.

Even I had gained a few pounds since I wasn’t used to eating three times a day. I’m feeling good to be back to my regular intermittent fasting regime, no longer hungry all the time from eating too much, too often, although I totally stayed on track of acceptable foods during the 17 day period.  I’ve since lost the few pounds.
 
Food is a huge appeal for travelers, many who dine two to three times each day.  Most parts of the world offer their own unique style of cuisine that makes dining out irresistible. 
A tarantula leg was resting on my tooth making me look like I was missing a tooth in this goofy photo.
Being able to experience tastes of the spices and methods of cooking becomes appealing and interesting for me as well.  Southeast Asia provided a number of options that fit my criteria at times with some adjustments by conscientious chefs and cooks who made considerable efforts to enhance my dining experience.  Kong took personal responsibility for each of my meals to ensure they were properly prepared.
 
Tom ate his fair share of local meals along with “western” options found on many menus.  With warnings from Kong about street food, we stayed with the foods offered on the ship, the three hotels and the several restaurants where we dined.
 
Overall, it was a great dining experience and look forward to our readers enjoying the many photos we’ll share over the next few days.  Our list of future stories and photos will continue in days to come as an adjunct to our daily quips on life in Phuket, Thailand.
 
Be well.  Be happy.  Eat insects when available.  I guess.
_____________________________________
 
Photo from one year ago today, July 26, 2015:

A beautiful bouquet already made by nature at the Cairns Botanical Garden in Australia.  For more photos, please click here.

Attempting to avoid “whinging”…A tiny annoyance…




Ants carrying off a dead gecko.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Last night’s sunset.

Chere Bork, a dear friend of mine from Minnesota with whom I’ve stayed in touch by email on almost a daily basis over these past 44 months of travel, reads our daily posts reveling in our travels along with us. 

As a busy and much sought after full time registered dietician, national speaker, life coach, consultant and blogger, Chere has all-encompassing experience and knowledge in the field of health and well being. 

Our online conversations are lively and animated not only centered around our mutual beliefs in living a healthy life to the fullest, each with quality of life and husbands/family we love and adore. And, also we share in the challenges we all face regardless of any degree of joy we experience in everyday living.

Dragonfly on our chaise lounge.  These eat mosquitoes. 

Regardless of the gorgeous beaches, exquisite scenery, interesting worldwide environment we explore and embrace, some days are better than others, some experiences not worth repeating and others that grip our hearts and minds longing for more.

From time to time, my friend Chere suggests a subject for a story that we take seriously following suit within a few days on her suggestion.  Other readers have suggested content through an email or a comment at the end of a post. 

We welcome such suggestions and if befitting our site we look forward to the next opportunity to incorporate their ideas into a post.  Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and suggestions with us at any time.

Snake run over by a car or motorbike.

A few days ago, after a comment I made to Chere in an email, she suggested I be more explicit on this topic in a story for our readers.  “Hogwash,” I said.  Our readers don’t want to hear us whine (“whinge” in Aussie or British speak) anymore on this topic.

Chere went on to explain, that our readers may prefer to “Hear it like it is, the good, the bad and the ugly.”  And, folks, at times, I’ll admit to avoid mentioning a lot of the ugly because, a) I’m “overly bubbly” attempting to look on the bright side and, b) We’d prefer our site not to become a deterrent for future renters for our thoughtful landlords and property managers who make every effort to create as perfect an environment as possible during our often lengthy stays.

Chere‘s preferred topic for today?  Ants. Yep, ants.  Those measly annoying, crawling relentless worldwide buggers…ants.  They’re everywhere, especially here in Bali. (We’ve included no photos of ants today.  Everyone knows what they look like).

Some type of cocoon we spotted in the ceiling of the cabana. 

Perhaps you aren’t interested in hearing about ants.  We had enough ants in Fiji to last a lifetime when on the first night of our arrival, zillions were living in the mattress and bedding.  Yikes!  What a night that was!  Read here for details.  There have been no ants in the bed in Bali, just everywhere else.

Its not as if we didn’t write about ants earlier.  However, we’ve been avoiding too much discussion on ants since our arrival in Bali, feeling as if our loyal readers may have had their “fill” during our four months in Fiji.

OK, Chere. Here’s our Bali ant story and then we’re done with ants until the next ant infested society in which we’ll live.  For easy reading of Bali ant experiences, I’m listing few here in bullet points for your perusal, or not, whichever you prefer.  Here goes:

  • Although we don’t cook, nightly I toss our coleslaw salad with dressing I’ve made.  When tossing the salad using the cut up veggies the two Kataks have prepared, I have to hurry to avoid ants crawling into the bowl.  They don’t like the cabbage and carrots but they love the dressing.  While I’m tossing the salad hundreds of ants are running all over the granite countertops.  They crawl up my arms.  I don’t scream.
  • When showering in the very clean en suite master bath, there are hundreds of ants running up and down the shower walls.  Tom can’t see them when he’s showering while not wearing his glasses.  I can and I do.  I don’t scream.
  • Last night when I opened my contact lens case there was a red ant inside.  I didn’t scream although a little moan escaped my lips.  I must have left the lid slightly ajar during the day.  That won’t happen again.
  • On numerous occasions while lounging in the chaises by the pool, its not uncommon for either of us to jump up and start brushing hundreds of ants off our legs.  They crawl up the legs of the chaises and for some reason love nibbling on dead skin on our legs.  Yuck.  We don’t scream.
  • Ants on our keyboards and monitors which we clean daily.  They still come to call.
  • Ants crawling up the side of our plates while we’re eating (lots of flies too).  Ants on our food.  Flies on our food. If there’s more than one ant in on my food, I don’t eat that bite. We no longer comment during these incidences.
  • Red ants crawling around the cabana and the cushions.  Each day, we ask Ribud to spray the area but, by the time we use it in the afternoon after time in the pool, they’re back. 
  • Ribud cleans the pool six days a week.  Its impeccable.  By the time we go swimming each day there are lots of ants gathered along the edges and in the corners.  We rescue the drowning grasshoppers but not the ants.

You get the drift, right?  Chere, here’s your ant story.  Oh, there’s probably more we can tell but I need to get the disgusted scowl off my face and get back to staring at today’s high surf, blue sky, warm weather, pristine infinity pool and the cool guy at my side, who for the moment is enjoying an ant-free zone.

We save several grasshoppers from drowning in the pool each day.

May your day not include ants and other such annoyances!

______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, June 13, 2015:

As we settled in to our new home in Trinity Beach, Australia, we were thrilled to see the pool.  For more photos of our first home in Australia, please click here.