Eating our way through Rawai, Phuket

Apparently Phuket Province is not known for its culinary creations.
However some of the best food we had while in Thailand was in Rawai. There were so many great spots to eat, I thought we’d break them down here.

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Anywhere along Rawai Beach

There are a string of restaurants,  many family owned, along the eastern side of Rawai beach road. The seating is along the water side, while the restaurants are across the road, so the waiters run your order over. The menus are huge, and we didn’t once order something we didnt like. Besides the food, the sea view is awesome, the breeze is cool in the evening and there is people watching on the street side, too.

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Gypsy Alley
At the very Easterly end of Rawai, next to the Pier, is a Gypsy fishing area. The fishermen display their catches for the day, you pick what you’d like to eat, and the restaurants across the alley will cook them for you. We picked up squid, clams and scallops. Each were cooked in different sauces or bbq’d according to their menu.

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Rawai View Café and Bar
This spot is a little off the beaten track, but worth finding. It is perched on the hill overlooking Rawai. The views of Rawai beach and surrounding islands are spectacular. The decor has a beach-hut vibe with a thatched roof and driftwood furniture. We ordered the curried beef and it was divine.

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The Flipside
I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention this restaurant.  It’s a chain, but is a great place to get delicious twists on burgers, fries and nachos. The staff are the friendliest we met, and it was a nice occassional break from Thai food.

Au Four et Au Moulin
Again another departure from the typical Thai fare, this French restaurant had excellent food. We ate here a few times,  ordering 4 cheese pizza (great), and lunch of sandwiches (excellent on baguette bread). They were also one of the only restaurants on the strip with a proper highchair that fit Evey, which was a relief from constantly holding her at dinner time!

What if

As Christmas nears
This year much more quickly than the last
It’s hard to get into the spirit
Somehow the world seems upside down
So close, yet so far, from so much sorrow the world over.
Feeling my privileged guilt
That I’m not supposed to feel
Or that I can feel but must follow with some action.
Yet I feel frozen into inaction.
Overwhelmed by all the need.
As though I can’t focus on every need,
And so I focus on none.
What if I fundraised?
What if I donated?
What if I gave some time?
What if I dedicated my life to activism?
But yet the fear of somehow abusing my privilege has me frozen once more.
I fear screwing things up with good intentions.
The self-righteous saviour.
But won’t I look back and wish I had done more?
No one knows that I am frozen due to too much caring (whatever that means).
What will be remembered is how we acted in these times (or didn’t act)
While others suffered so.

While others suffered so
And I’m frozen in inaction.
Compassion overload, compassion exhaustion.
And I haven’t even gotten started yet.

Memories

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Playing Piano with Nana

What defines a memory for a child?
Is it just the things that the child can recount or remember?
I choose to think it also includes experiences, moments and activities of all kinds.
Like my child is a piece of dough that is kneaded, formed and sculpted with every touch.
Are we not all a result of the many years of experiences we’ve had, remembered clearly or not?
Why play with a child, if that toy will not be remembered?
Why chatter endless conversations with your toddler, answering ‘why? why? why?’, if those conversations won’t be saved into long term memory?
Why read that book, again and again, until you’ve saved it to memory?
Because, I think, experience and character is formed in many ways, and when you’re young, memory isn’t even the most important one.
How will your child know the world, and the people in it?

How does your child grow, learn, explore and experience, if not by a million tiny moments that are both immediately forgotten and yet remembered forever.

Jet lagged baby: 6 days in

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We’ve been home from Thailand for 6 days, and I think we have finally overcome (the worst of the) jet lag with the baby. It seems that Westbound was even more difficult than going East (which took about 4 days).
With a baby as young as 8 months, it really isn’t possible to do anything differently but let her sleep when she needs to. There’s no keeping her up a few more hours so she meets her regular bedtime. There’s no waking her up at a particular time without epic tears. There’s no reasoning, and daylight doesn’t seem to influence her.
So, we’ve been going with the flow.
As we’re staying at my parents house (re: we sold our house and have nowhere else to go), we holed ourselves in a hotel for the first two nights to avoid major disruption.

Night 1: Absolutely no change from our Asia schedule. We were awake all night and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant in time for ‘bed’ at 7am. Then we slept ALL day, waking up around 5pm for dinner.

Night 2: When we got back from dinner, we slept again, hoping our exhaustion would allow us to sleep through. We were mostly right, but Evey was up for the day at 3am.

Night 3: Back at my parent’s place, Evey went to sleep at 3pm. This was fine, except she then woke up from 10pm – midnight (Chris’ shift), then again 2am – 4am (my shift). She then slept until 6am, and was up for the day.

Night 4: Back to bed at 4pm, with a wake up from 11pm – 2am (Chris’ shift). She slept until 6am. Despite the long shift awake, we start to feel she is getting back on track!

Night 5: This might have been the toughest daytime. Evey had many meltdowns and inconsolable tears. This is either a result of the jet lag and not sleeping properly, or teething, or both! We tried to push her bedtime to 5pm, but it was hard earned as she had a fit and cried alot. I didn’t even manage to get her into her PJ’s, just straight to bed. She woke up for about 30 minutes at 3am. We thought she might stay up at this point, but then slept until 7am. Consider this a huge success!

We’ll see if we are back on schedule now. Evey generally is a very scheduled child, and even in Thailand she took to her home schedule once she adjusted to the time change. The last 6 days have been very hard for all of us, with a combination of sleep deprivation and a frustrated baby. It really does make me think twice about travelling that kind of distance again! But we seem to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s hoping tonight will continue to follow a more ‘normal’ schedule.

A Few Home Comforts

Now that we’re home from Thailand, we’re realizing that there were a few things that we were missing from home (aside from the obvious things like family and friends!). They are the simplest things, but we are relishing having them again. Here is a list in no particular order:

– a soft bed: beds all over Asia are typically quite hard. We got used to them, but must admit it is nice to be back in the land of pillow top!

– Peanut butter: We are unashamedly peanut butter and toast eaters. We didn’t find this is Thai restaurants, and only got to indulge when we stayed with my cousin for a few days.

– Coffee with cream: Most places we visited had creamer, and only occasionally milk. Chris is more of a cream drinker, so he is happy to have that again.

– Paying for things with debit: few places we encountered in Thailand were equipped to accept Visa or Debit aside from hotels. Carrying cash and being aware of cash flow became necessary, which we aren’t used to anymore in Canada!

– Seasons: Ok, we weren’t away long enough to see a change, but it was hot in Thailand and doesn’t get much cooler. Ever. We came to appreciate the varied seasons we have in Canada, even if it does hover in the cold longer than we’d like.

– Napkins: Many restaurants had either very small Napkins or simply toilet paper for Napkins. I found myself using tons of little pieces to clean up. It’s just nice to have full-size Napkins again. (Seriously, the little things!)

– High chairs for baby: I’ve mentioned this before, but high chairs are seldomly found in average restaurants around Thailand. This means eating with a baby on your lap, or trading-off who gets to eat while the other entertains baby.

That said, we’ve come back to Canada in December. In Montreal it is on average 8 degrees right now, and we are wholly underdressed for the weather. I can tell you the first thing we are missing from Thailand is the ability to go to breakfast in flip flops and shorts! Also, our breakfast at the airport hotel this morning cost more than a whole day worth of food in Thailand.
So, we win some and we lose some!

Heading home

We go home today, and I wish I could say it’s bitter sweet. In fact, we find ourselves very ready to go. It probably has a large part to do with having gotten colds, food poisoning and an overall exhausted feeling in this past week. Chris is still fighting the cold, and I can’t seem to kick my uneasy feeling with food. We’re sort of just hoping that this will be better in time for our trip home tomorrow morning. It’s going to be a long one!
But despite the exhaustion and illnesses, we can’t believe this adventure is almost over. We’ve had the special opportunity to travel slowly and get to know the places we visited. We got to know the areas, but also met all types of locals and tourists, to the point that we felt a little sad each time we had to say goodbye.
Travelling with baby introduced us to a different type of travel, as well. Evey opened conversations for us, and softened even the hardest looking people. We definitely got to see a different side of Thailand,  from the perspective of a parent. Yes, there were few sidewalks, and only about 30% of places had high chairs (maybe less). Yet it was still amazingly easy to travel with baby in Thailand. People here love babies, and take time out of their day to entertain them, fawn over them, and be generally accommodating. I’m not sure we could have done 6 weeks quite as easily anywhere else.

So as we pack-up and prepare for the grueling 20 hour flight home, we are satisfied and ready. Our wanderlust has been satiated for a while, I think. We look forward to our home comforts and enjoying Christmas with our family.

Food Poisoning While Travelling with Baby

Well, we’ve finally done it. We’ve been travelling Thailand for 6 weeks and have only now gotten food poisoning. It’s surprising,  really. We’ve been almost foolish with our food choices. Once, in Rawai, Chris ate crocodile meat from a place by the sea that was in such poor shape, it was difficult to see the stove under the junk. Plus, there were no customers around, which is always a bad sign. Still, we haven’t gotten sick until now.
This time, we discovered a strip of restaurants on the beach, up from our hotel, in Railay. Little, open air places, but well attended and cheaper than the hotel restaurants. This place appeared to be even more credible as it advertised as a cooking school.
We were planning to have a large dinner, so we just ordered snacks: fresh spring rolls and 6 chicken wings. Both were quite spicy, so, thankfully, we didn’t feed any to Evey. I only managed to feed her some cucumber from the rolls.
As we went along our day, I gradually felt worse: growing headache, light fever. I chalked it up to my worsening cold, as I had been dealing with a runny nose and headaches for a couple of days. I was irritable, and Chris took care of Evey. By 8pm, I was completely sick. Evey woke up, needed nursing back to sleep. She really doesn’t go to sleep without nursing, so I had to work through that. At this point Chris felt fine, so he offered to go see if the pharmacy was open. I still thought I had the flu. Chris promised to help me the next morning by taking Evey and letting me sleep.
By 11 pm, though, Chris was sick too. And it went on all night. Neither of us could sleep. We tried our best to let Evey sleep. Food poisoning alone is horrible.  Turns out caring for a baby while both parents are suffering from food poisoning is pretty much the worst!
By morning, we dragged ourselves to breakfast,  hoping that toast would help settle our stomachs. We didn’t manage much, and our appetites didn’t really come back for 2 days.
We were fragile, feeling poorly, and dehydrated. However, we were happy above all that it didn’t happen to Evey. It would have been so much harder on her.
We were given the opportunity to be more strict about the types of foods we eat. Our need for food adventure extinguished for the time being! We head home in 4 days, so we will focus on being strong for that journey.

Arriving at Railay island, Krabi province, Thailand

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We’re into our last week of our adventure through Thailand.
We settled on returning to a beach location, escaping the congestion of both Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Further, we feel the heat less when we can dip in the sea or the pool. Evey appreciates it most.

We flew from Bangkok to Krabi town, where a van met us and transported us to a longtail boat off the shores of Krabi town. We had to climb onto a barge from the beach, then over a longtail to reach our designated boat. We were glad to have Evey’s lifejacket as we climbed over.

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The longtail carried us and 2 other guests at our hotel. One man was coming to Railay from Houston, Texas to go rock climbing with friends. As we approached the island, rock climbing seemed like a terrifying, though probably wonderous activity.

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The longtail pulled up to a beach area next to a long pier. A tractor with a trailer attached pulled up next to us and we unloaded. We had heard we might have to get wet climbing out of the boat, but this was not the case. The longtail comes as close as it can, and the tractor comes the rest of the way. We were delivered directly to our hotel entrance.

Our hotel is on Railay East, the pier side. The other side of the island is Railay West, where swimmming and the beaches are. The 2 sides are connected by a pathway with a concrete walkway, fully accessible with the baby stroller (a lovely relief!). The pathway is scenic, with limestone rockfaces, caves, and wild monkeys.  Plus, it’s only a 5 minute walk to the beach.

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The beach: how to even describe this beach? Limestone mountains, aqua blue waters,  and patches of shade for comfort. We didn’t actually swim in the sea today, but will head back there tomorrow.  We’ve been told that further up the beach there are longtail boats serving food, so we will check that out.

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This afternoon we settled for a dip in the hotel pool with infinity pool and even more breathtaking views.

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I can already feel that we will thoroughly enjoy our last week in paradise.