And so it has been yet another couple of jam-packed weeks for me. Lots has been going on, with school activities, trips into nature, and also a few days of quiet time at home. To keep you up with where I’m at, here’s a selection of short snippets detailing my adventures:
There is such a thing as a free lunch! I’ve posted a couple of times (on here and on facebook) that I’m a big fan of the Organic Coffee Bus in SanSai (Chiang Mai), also known as Ohkajhu. Recently, the cafe/restaurant has had a bit of an overhaul, and whilst the building was under construction, the place was closed for a few days. On one of these days, I went with a colleague to grab a quick lunch, only to find the place packed full, and the main entrance off limits (in fact it was non-existent as it had been temporarily demolished). Anyway, we quickly realised there was some kind of communal party / group lunch for the staff going on. One of the waitresses came over and apologised, explaining the place was closed for the day. But rather than herd us back out the way we came, she invited us to share in the sumptuous buffet that was laid out. I realised it was all meat dishes (the restaurant serves a wide selection of meat alongside the salads), but I eventually took a few pieces of watermelon and sat down with my friend. Just moments later, another member of staff came over and proceeded to serve an alternative dish, prepared just for me. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but it tasted a bit like Penang Curry with tofu. The guy also brought over a plate of rice with some salad to go with it. I was pretty bowled over by the kindness and generosity shown to us that day. Of course the staff recognised us when we had turned up, as we do go there quite a lot, but to be invited to share in a private buffet with them, not to mention cooking up a sepaarate vegetarian dish for yours truly, was well beyond any of my expectations. What can I say, Organic Coffee Bus (staff!) I love you! Here’s a pic of what I got:
(I say it was free, of course we did leave some money with them, which was at first refused, but eventually was accepted as a tip.)
Oh and here’s another example of the wonderful salads I keep banging on about:
Another favourite spot of mine is the Dairy Goat Cafe in Doi Saket. It’s about 5 minutes from the house, and whilst I have been gradually moving onto a fully vegan diet, I have been making an exception for these lovely creatures and the delicious milk they produce.
Having visited a few times, I have seen that the goats are very well cared for and looked after – they seem very happy to me! I know that this kind of attitude will upset the “vegan / raw police”, but hey this is my diet, my choice – after all, I said when starting out on this blog that I’d be honest, so there you have it.
I particularly enjoy the goat milk version of “Cha Yen“, a truly delicious cold sweet tea. The use of goat milk instead of the usual sweetened condensed cow’s milk gives it a completely different (and much better in my opinion) taste to the regular stuff. On my last visit, I also enjoyed going and feeding the goats (for all of 10 Baht), something I’d seen several smaller human beings enjoying and I just couldn’t resist. Needless to say they were incredibly enthusiastic, and my only concern was them straining their necks to come over the small fence separating them from me. Have a look at these cuties:
Of course I’ve also been enjoying some much needed down-time. Last Friday, I picked up a spicy SomTum (papaya) salad for dinner, and rather than eating at home on the sofa with a movie to pass the time, we set out on the bike in search of somewhere more interesting. We ended up turning off the main highway (just behind the Goat Farm!) into some empty fields, and sat down on the grass with our bowls (which we’d brought with us from the kitchen) in our laps. The views were pretty stunning, and it turned out to be such a simple yet beautiful way to share some quality time together. We got there just before the sun went down, beaming wonderful rays across the fields before setting behind the mountains in the distance. Check it out – not bad for an impromptu picnic eh?!:
I’ve shared with you before a few of the delights to be found in our garden – the latest addition has been an abundance of jackfruit. This is without a doubt one of my favourite fruits, as it is one that I had never tried or even heard about before I came to Thailand. Having it grow right outside our door is a real blessing, and I am truly thankful to mother nature for providing us with such wonderful gifts.
I of course did not climb up the 10 or so feet to reach this beauty, but I did however stand and pose for photos with it afterwards. It was really quite heavy, and possibly one of the biggest jackfruits I have ever seen. The only comfortable way to hold it was by cradling it like a baby, and even that was challenging given its size, weight, and prickly skin! Just have a look:
After waiting for it to ripen fully (you have to wait for the smell, which you absolutely cannot miss!), we broke it open and started the fairly tricky process of separating the fruit pods from the flesh. Jackfruit is actually full of a super-sticky white liquid, a bit like rubber, that oozes out as soon as you start to cut it open (you can see a little starting to come from the stalk at the top). Having learned our lesson before when opening one (and getting covered in the stuff, and not being able to clean it off for some time!), I had researched the best way to deal with this stuff. The solution is surprisingly easy – cover your hands and knife in oil! We used coconut oil, which proved to be pretty effective, though you need to use a fair amount for it to work. It also works really well to remove the sticky stuff from your knife, worktops, and hands after opening.
We also kept the seeds that are inside the fruit pods, as I’d remembered reading somewhere that they were edible too. To my (slight) disappointment, they are not edible when raw. However, they can be boiled (sorry raw foodies) for around 30 minutes, which produces a potato-like consistency. Never one to let things go to waste, I decided to try the seeds in a curry, and ended up boiling, mashing, and mixing them with a little coconut milk to make a very tasty mash. I also used some the next day in yet another curry, though this time I mixed them with the curry itself and served it up with rice on the side instead. Both dishes were delicious, but here’s a pic of the one with the mash:
Love & Share Activity at School
And finally on to something that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!
For a few weeks, the school has been collecting all sorts of donations (toys, food, household items) as part of a “Love & Share” project. As a foreign teacher, I missed what was going on somewhat, as all posters, messages etc. were communicated in Thai. Though for my part I didn’t push too much to find out…. Anyway, eventually I was told that some of my lessons on a particular day would be cancelled, as part of the Love and Share project. The morning came, and I was invited to come and watch the proceedings with the rest of the school. What I saw, and later learned, was truly heart warming. After a short (but oh-so-cute) performance by some of the kindergarten kids, a group of Thai students (of various ages, and in different uniforms) took to the stage. They performed a few songs (in Thai) with some great dance routines, and got the whole school involved with one of them (see below = I was dancing along with the actions, completely oblivious of any lyrics or their meanings!). There were also performances from a group of blind musicians, who belted out some of the more popular songs (a few of which I recognised, but again have no idea of what was being sung) much to the delight of the students. After the performances, there were some official photographs, and eventually we headed back downstairs to witness the giving of all the donations. It was at this point that I learned who these other students were. They came from a school not far from ours, set up to educate orphans in the area. These were children who had been abandoned / given up for whatever reason. Due to lack of funds, their school was struggling to provide them with such basics as daily milk cartons (something that I am led to believe most schools get automatically from the government, so I’m not sure why that was not the case here). I felt a real warmth in my heart when I saw the very students I teach passing along things that they themselves had given up in order to improve the lives of another, someone who was perhaps less fortunate. The biggest highlight was seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces. Students and staff alike were swept up in this wonderful wave of love, each person feeling truly grateful for what they had/have.
And on that note, I thinks it’s time to end this post.
What could you give up to help another? Do you “believe” in charity? Perhaps you regularly donate to such causes. Regardless, there’s no getting away from that sense of well being when you see the difference that can be made in other people’s lives, by something as simple as giving up a “luxury” of your own.
With all my love, and wishing you all a wonderfully happy week/month/year/lifetime,
Almost Fruitarian x