On the way to Bansko

I just realised that winter starts officially only on 21.12. – and I am already fed up with it now!

What always used to be a major complaining point about South-East Asia for me, that it turns dark all year around 6pm, has turned around into something very pleasant.  Here in Germany it has been dark grey like on the verge of getting dark basically all day. And at a quarter to five pm it really got dark completely.

And on my way from the airport my beloved green valley just before my village in the Taunus hills near Frankfurt has turned grey and dark also. No more leaves on the trees. I am surrounded by pure misery! And unpleasant temperatures. Too cold to feel comfy in a leather jacket and too warm to wear a down jacket. In addition it rains most of the time.

Sh.t, why did I have to come back now? To make sure that Pirin Lodge is in perfect condition, that we have enough logs for the fireplaces, that our services are up to level and…and that we are ready to greet our apartment owners and their families and friends like our own family…

And I wish a lot of them will come – but there will be only few. At least I hope they appreciate what I am doing and how much I care. Because I certainly don’t make any money out of it. So, appreciation is the only satisfaction I am getting out of being the “janitor” at Pirin Lodge.

OK, we will see how things go in Bansko. At the moment, however, I would much rather fly back to Vietnam than to Bansko but… I never run from reality. In fact, I am the one to shape it around myself :)…

I will be in touch 🙂

Back in Europe

Back in Europe! After a 26 hour journey I arrived in Frankfurt/Main on Monday afternoon. To be greeted by rain and lousy temperatures. And, at my apartment in the Taunus hills, outside Frankfurt, by a cable break, meaning I had no telephone and no internet. Just what I needed – as I have about 4 million tasks to accomplish before I go back to Bansko on Friday. Well, the German Telecom fixed it on Tuesday afternoon – and now I am trying to catch up.

I bought myself some Munich “weisswurst” after my arrival, the speciality that cures every Bavarian’s homesickness immediately, when eaten with sweet mustard and Bavarian pretzel and a “white beer”. Guess what: I did not like it much.The next morning  I bought at the local butcher another thing that I usually adore for a late breakfast: a juicy slice of warm “Munich leberkaese” in a bread roll – and, guess what: I did not like it much.

I am doomed! I will starve to death here. Or is it maybe just the change in climate? Recently I had to have the air conditioning on all the time because it was too hot and now, like with the flick of a switch, I have to have the heating on all the time because it is so cold.

So, on Tuesday I went shopping to find as many ingredients as possible to, guess what: a Vietnamese “pho” noodle soup. Seems, I am hooked and addicted! Could not find the right beef so it’s a chicken “pho” – and not from any cookbook.

Everything is ready, pre-boiled, chopped, marinated.
The stock in the pot: boiled with 1.10 kg chicken thighs and roasted onion, garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon and cloves (and salt and pepper, of course). At the left back: champignons de Paris (can’t remember their English name at the moment), boiled in the broth, then (down) chopped green salad hearts, bean sprouts, spring onions. To the right: rice spaghetti (the reason to take the thin ones was that a package had opened inadvertently – my standard choice for “pho” is the 3mm rice noodles. These ones are sold as 1mm noodles – but every eye can see clearly that they are at least 1.5 mm) –  and a lot of chicken meat – some already in a big bowl (not on the picture), set aside and loaded with all soup ingredients, missing only the hot broth to be poured on. The smallest bowl (front centre) is the crucial one for me 🙂 – thinly sliced HOT chillies (with their breath-taking seeds), ample smelly fish sauce added, then chopped (Bulgarian) garlic, rice vinegar and some shaved palm sugar (stirring vigorously every time after adding an ingredient)…
…that was not what I expected to do upon my return to Europe, really!
I just realised that winter starts officially only on 21.12. – and I am already fed up with it now!What always used to be a major complaining point in Southeast Asia for me, that it turns dark all year around 6pm, has turned around into something very pleasant.  Here in Germany it has been dark grey like on the verge of getting dark basically all day. And at a quarter to five pm it really got dark completely.

And on my way from the airport my beloved green valley just before my village in the Taunus hills near Frankfurt has turned grey and dark also. No more leaves on the trees. I am surrounded by pure misery! And unpleasant temperatures. Too cold to feel comfy in a leather jacket and too warm to wear a down jacket. In addition it rains most of the time.

Sh.t, why did I have to come back now? To make sure that Pirin Lodge is in perfect condition, that we have enough logs for the fireplaces, that our services are up to level and…and that we are ready to greet our apartment owners and their families and friends like our own family…

And I wish a lot of them will come – but there will be only few. At least I hope they appreciate what I am doing and how much I care. Because I certainly don’t make any money out of it. So, appreciation is the only satisfaction I am getting out of being the “janitor” at Pirin Lodge.

OK, we will see how things go in Bansko. At the moment, however, I would much rather fly back to Vietnam than to Bansko…

Thank you all for following some of my experiences in Asia. There will be a summary, eventually. And it will be ground-breaking for a new understanding of Vietnam, of course.:))) So, don’t turn your back to this blog-site (yet) 🙂 Short term, things will revert to Bansko, Bulgaria, the hottest spot in Europe…

Goodbye Asia

This will be my last blog entry from Asia. In about an hour I will drive to the Phuket airport from where I will fly to Bangkok and later via Dubai to Frankfurt.

The last few days were devoted to relaxing and eating. Unfortunately, it has been raining quite a bit (like it is raining also now).

But it is still very pleasant. I am sitting on a little terrace in front of my room door and see the pool.
Despite the rain I feel good just to look at it – in fact, I was just swimming in the rain in it 10 minutes ago.
I am very happy at this hotel. It’s not so big – and the people who own it are very nice and run it very properly. They also offer eating here – and it smells very nice – but I need the seafood!
The nearby Surin beach is small and not too crowded:
Someone asked me if I prefer Vietnam or Thailand. My tip of the tongue reply was: both countries are different. For me Thailand is like an old lover. I know her for so long. We meet occasionally and I feel at home and comfortable in her arms. And the passion she shows to me in the way of her foods turns me on. Vietnam, on the other hand, is a completely new experience – and alone because of this is more exciting for me. Vietnam is not as charming and seducing as other SE Asian countries when you meet her for the first time. But that holds a certain attraction too.
Well, all things good or bad come to an end. So, I am bracing myself for cold Europe. We will see what it holds in store for me…

Surin Beach, Phuket Island

Last night there was a very heavy thunderstorm that continued a long time. But my last sunrise in Phuket Twon was beautiful:

Instead of fiddling around I left the town already at 10:30am and drove slowly to my last destination: Surin Beach, one of the first two “beaches” on this island, visited for the first time by king Rama VII in 1928.

This being the end of my holiday, I decided to spend a bit more on my last hotel. It’s not a luxury resort – but a local  version of Pirin Lodge, with caring owners where attention to detail is paid. If you want to see it on tripadvisor it’s: Pen Villa, Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand.

Here is the view from my room:

After settling in I went to the small crowded but somehow charming beach. Alas, I forgot to take my camera. Which may have been a fatal mistake because the weather forecast is worse than bad and it may have been my only chance to take some pictures there.

I was a bit worried what food I would be able to find in that tourist area. But the owners of the hotel shared their favourite local restaurant with me –  only a few kilometres inland from the sea. And my concern turned into enthusiasm! Exactly my Thai cuisine! A terrific discovery! They know exactly what they are doing.

Every table well set-up:

And the food? Simply gorgeous! For me it was the first time in the last three years in Thailand when I did not have to add ANY spices etc to the dishes!!! Look at this “crispy catfish in spicy chilli sauce – with the green pepper, the lime leaves and the rest! A “burning delight” 🙂

It’s rare to find the combination of green pepper and chilli in a Thai fish restaurant. But for me it’s the best. One of the reasons why I would always include Hua Hin in my Thai travel plans was because I had this one restaurant where the chef stunned me without end – and she used a lot of green pepper with nearly everything fishy. In fact it took me years that she was indeed a man…but that’s Thailand, no problem. Two years ago he/she disappeared from the restaurant and the owner’s explanation was more than vague. Tonight was the first night since then that I experienced a similar cuisine!!! Shit! I should have come here earlier!

Especially since they are only open for dinner – and I have only two more nights here.

When I ordered what on the menu was called “head fish soup” and quite expensive (5 Leva) the boss told me that it would take a while (it least that’s how it came across with my limited Thai) No one is speaking any English in this restaurant but they had one to translate at least part of the menu into English 🙂  And the menu is very limited. Which I like a lot!This soup was so hot that sweat was dripping off my head and hair onto my ears, neck and shoulders – but it was also so rich in concentrated taste that I could not put my spoon down for a second! Like a drug.

What a great conclusion of a holiday! The next two nights I will be eating there for sure.

While having dinner another thunder-shower set in – fortunately, there was a rooftop – and even right now back at the hotel it’s still raining…

Soon, when they will switch off all the exterior lights I will sneak to the pool to skinny-dip 🙂 Does not make sense to wear any swimming trunks if it is raining 🙂 Or what do you think?

And if the weather gods permit I will share some photos of that lovely beach with you tomorrow.

Good night…




Last day in Phuket

Time for a change – my last one before going back to Europe. Time flies when you are having fun…tomorrow I will be moving to Surin Beach.

At 7am I had my rice-soup breakfast (with pork today), afterwards I idled around because it poured heavily.

My “Chinese” lobby 🙂

…and the dining area:

When it stopped raining I engaged in driving slowly through the non-touristic areas of Phuket Town, without a goal, stopping here and there, getting out of the car here and there, walking around, watching, registering. And you know what: after my shocking start on this island in one of the busiest tourist centres I have ever been to in my life this Phuket Town is growing on me. No beach, no fuzz – and many areas with only local life.

My roaming around also brought me to the food night market – surprisingly at lunch time 😉 And there were even a few stalls working. Not that I was hungry in any way. But out of curiosity I looked at a menu that an elderly lady presented to me. There were some interesting things on it. Well, maybe a light snack would not hurt. So I sat down inside the deserted market and the woman brought me a chair with arm rests.

…and a little later some raw prawns with chillies and fish sauce with some shredded cabbage and carrots. These are “white prawns” from Australia – and nowadays very successfully farmed in Thailand. Two years ago they were not on the Thai market yet.

The red stuff you see on the photo is NOT carrot (that’s underneath the prawns) 🙂 Such a light snack – better even than to be on a diet – no calories whatsoever…

My plan was to drive all the way over to Patong tonight to the restaurant where the first two nights on Phuket I had had the best seafood so far on this island. Until today! So, I won’t drive but will go back to this “restaurant”.

They are not really modest at “Goheng”:

“Thaifood – Seafood – Bestfood – Deliciousfood” – and “We are Best in the area”. Hehe.

And they really have interesting seafood preparations on the menu that you cannot find everywhere. And, even better, they have small and big portions of everything. I love that. It will give me the chance to try more different things. Just the way it should be.

So, the plan is to take a little rest now (it’s 3.30 pm), then go to the pool – and then at 5 pm to go for a 2-hour Thai-massage to a spa near the food market that I checked out today. Where the ladies are not beautiful but seemingly experienced masseurs and prices rather reasonable. That should make me fit for a long seafood session at 7pm…

I will save this now without publishing and continue tonight…

Just back from a successful mission at 9.15 pm. Everything worked out perfectly. My two-hour Thai massage (20 Leva) turned out as good as I had expected and I can still feel some muscles that I had forgotten that I have,

The seafood “mom”  from lunch saw me coming with her hawker’s eyes when I was still a mile away. And her smile was broader than an elephant’s ass. Obviously she had hope that I would make her family’s day 🙂

As I did not want to disappoint her believe in me I immediately ordered something light. According to the menu: steamed squid in lemon soup. Small portion and no rice, please.

Followed by something even lighter: green mussels steamed with Thai basil, lemongrass and galangal.

..small portion, of course. This is my first trip to Thailand where I  have come across green mussels. Checking wikipeda I found out that they originated in New Zealand. They look (and taste) nice:

After a little break I ordered some shrimp in roasted chilli paste:

That was the moment when the whole staff started to glance at me sneakingly.

Since after the shrimps I still had too much beer left to leave I ordered a Tom Yum Talay (a spicy mixed seafood soup – and as Tom Yum Gung (with prawns) one of the most famous Thai dishes around the globe. With an amazing aroma. One has to try it to understand what I am talking about.

By now I was the centre of attention for the whole restaurant (staff and guests) 🙂 What can I do? Do you think I do this for fun, eh? It’s all part of my research into the effect of different seafood on the shape of people’s bellies! Serious scientific business!

When I paid my bill and left, the whole crew was lined up to greet me good-bye. Hehe. I am sure they would recognise me even some years from now should I come back. Not too many clients like me. Also very few long-noses that would soak up all the chilli supplies on the table in zero time and ask for more 🙂

Another excuse for going a little overboard was that I will be moving to Surin Beach tomorrow and I don’t know what food will be expecting me there…

Good night, my friends, I have to take my digestion break now 🙂

Still in Phuket Town

My biggest accomplishment today was a leisurely stroll along Rawai Beach

This is a typical Thai spirit house that are located on nearly every property in Thailand. They are not like the shrines in Vietnam to worship the ancestors. They are “dwelling places” for invisible important spirits that are supposed to protect the property. And you better always put flowers, food and drink there – not to make the spirits angry as they are supposedly very capricious.

I also had a beach-front lunch at a place where staff was even more relaxed than I – and it took them quite a while to notice that a new guest had arrived…

All I had was a plate of clams. With a fishsauce-chilli dipping sauce. Now, if that’s not health (and body-shape) conscious 🙂 !

I nearly felt a little guilty that I had nothing for this beach-guard that watched over me while I was relaxing…

Back in my hotel I had a bottle of Chang beer and a little snack with the baguette from yesterday and other food that had accumulated in the fridge.

Then I watched the latest James Bond movie “Skyfall” – but not till the end as I became pleasantly sleepy.

Later I had a disturbing experience. I woke up and my watch showed 6.44. I assumed it was morning and noted that I could have breakfast in about 15 minutes. Hmm. Then I somehow noticed that it was still pitch-black outside. Strange! Maybe something wrong with the watch? I crawled out of bed and turned on the laptop to verify the time. It said: 6.44pm. It took some seconds for the truth to sink in: It was not time for breakfast but I had had an afternoon nap and it was early evening! What now?

After the nap not tired enough to go back to sleep. But also not hungry and definitely not in the mood to go out. So, maybe I’ll turn on the telly and watch some silly films. Or do my favourite crossword puzzle, or finish reading today’s Bangkok Post?

Well, maybe some “Hong Thong” with coke will enhance the decision making process…




Phuket City continued…

That’s a picture of the pool, taken last night from my balcony. Not so big but quite pleasant – and no people…

Also forgot to post a photo of the crab with young mango that I took home from the weekend market and had as a snack at midnight (this is only half of it):

Spicy, spicy…

And here the surprise package. It contained fermented sausage (like I also had it in Vietnam) – a great snack with a beer (also not so bad with Mekong Whisky)…

That concluded a heavy evening – and when I went to bed I did not even switch off the lamps…

Today I stayed in Phuket town all day. After some soaking in the pool and reading the papers I ventured out to find the fresh produce market in the old part of town. That was a task as the market was hidden away on some back streets and the sun was burning down. The assumption was that around that market would be loads of food stalls where I could buy a little something for lunch. When I finally found the market I realised I was not hungry at all (after last night and the pork/rice soup for breakfast), so, the only thing I bought was a bunch of tiny bananas for 1 Lev/DM.

Here is the ice-man, delivering ice cubes with his motorbike truck to some shops:

And here an impressive business-building from the old days (Chinese architecture, of course):

Oh, I also picked up some aloe vera juice for detoxing and refreshing my body…good boy!

I promise, this won’t become a habit 🙂

I had some more soaking in the pool and even a nap 🙂

Earlier on I had checked the internet for more info about Phuket City and found out that they have a food night market not so far from my hotel. After waking up from my nap at 6.15 pm I felt capable of a small dinner. The food night market is in “Chinatown” – I do not know if they have such a thing but I call everything Chinatown where you have to pass through such kind of gates, no matter where in the world it is:

I walked around the whole place to check out the different stalls. A lot of chicken and pork around but not so much seafood. I settled for a place where the stuff on display looked rather fresh and staff was not too aggressive touting people.

What did I have? Squid, of course. Like every day…

…and it was so tender that it nearly “melted” in my mouth – like the shishcheta I had bought on the Nai Yang market the other day.

I have been eating squid nearly every day – I also ate it a lot in Vietnam. Boring you might think. But there is some reasoning behind it. OK, I really like squid – obviously. But the other reason is that Thailand is the biggest producer of farmed shrimp, prawn and whatever you want to call this shellfish stuff (followed by the Mekong delta in Vietnam) . So, the shrimp you get in any restaurant are most likely (98% likelihood) farmed. Much the same applies to fish. A lot of farmed fish around. Only in the South of Vietnam there is more farmed fish than here.

Squid, however, to my knowledge, is not farmed yet. So it’s real and from the sea. That’s why I like it even more…Bansko peasant attitude…

The only exception on this trip was the central Vietnam coast (Hoi An)…where there is no breeding but only “honest” fishing and the supply of seafood is limited…and “real”…

Having said that I felt like having another one of those expensive Thai beers and walked around some more. To be lured by a Malaysian looking tout who looked at my swollen belly and said: “OK, maybe just have a drink”…hehe.

I had another Chang beer – and a portion of raw prawns in fish sauce to go with it:

Pure fire and brimstone! Difficult to decide whether it was purgatory or purification. Of course, it turned out to be purification 🙂

After these encounters I strolled back to my car and saw a “Coffee Lovers” local coffee shop. And decided to try the ice coffee in Thailand. In Vietnam I paid anything from 0.75 Leva/DM to 1.50. Here the cheapest price for iced coffee is 70 Baht= 3.50 Leva!. I had checked other places in Phuket before – and 95% of the ice coffee here is made with instant “Nescafé”. Anyway, at the “coffee lovers'” it was made from real coffee and cost 80 Baht (4 Leva). But, as expected, it had nothing in common with the gorgeous Vietnamese version.

To my big pleasure I met a lady in the café that heard me talk to the waitress/shop owner. She came to join me at the bar and it turned out she was Vietnamese from Saigon, working in one of the most expensive hotels here. We had a great conversation, both of us feeling like stranded Vietnamese and talking about the virtues and good things in “our” country 🙂 Hehe.

All in all I had a VERY relaxed day – as it should be towards the end of a holiday…the plan for tomorrow will hopefully come about during breakfast – which will be rice soup with fish. Funnily enough the staff in my hotel is very keen on finding out the day/night before what you are planning to have for breakfast 🙂 Chinese hotel, as I said! I noticed that immediately. They just do not want to spend money unnecessarily.

I think at the moment they do not have more than 20 guests. And they offer 3 or 4 breakfast options. And they want to know in advance how many people would want toast or/and eggs etc. to buy the precise quantities necessary. This morning I noticed that they had prepared the exact number of coffee/tea cups to match the number of guests.

Yesterday afternoon I watched one girl in the lobby re-filling their little plastic amenity bottles with shampoo and shower gel from two big containers with a syringe 🙂 That’s 200% Chinese! Not that some of my hotelier friends in Bansko would not do that also 🙂

Here I have a big fridge – and it’s full with the things I acquired: bananas, a big pineapple, still some crabs, milk, coke, Mekong Whisky, limes, and on top of it a big sour-dough baguette I  bought for crazy money today. Most likely I will never eat those things as I am not that hungry when at the hotel. Maybe tomorrow I will have to sport a “day at home” to eat the many things and drink some beer and have those funny fish snacks I bought recently…

But now it is 11 pm – and very late for a Bansko/Vietnamese country boy and I should go to bed. But then: I would like to have a swim in the pool before breakfast – but the pool opens only at 8 am – and I wake up at 5.30am and have to force myself to stay in bed till 7am. But longer I cannot endure…And then breakfast and the pool later…Life is tough!

Do utre!










Phuket City – not bad!

After some swimming for breakfast and some noodle-souping I slowly got my act together in Nai Yang and left for new shores around noon. It turned out that Phuket was not a bad choice. By far not as touristy as I had expected by now. They are all out there in Patong.

Phuket has business and local people and everything else it takes to have a life on your own.

I am staying at a charmingly old fashioned Chinese hotel and at least today there is no other foreigner here.

And I was at the weekend market! Quite an experience. The third biggest market in my experience after Chattuchak in Bangkok and the weekend market in Chiang Mai.

Would you be surprised if I told you that I thoroughly checked the 750 or so shops and sales stalls (without spending a penny) in less than 30 minutes – and then spent 3 hours on the food stalls? :)))))))))))))))))

OK, here is the shop business…

…continuation from yesterday…

The food section of the market made me lose control. I pigged out completely and stuffed myself while walking, standing and sitting…

Here is where I started: with a bag of fruit topped with spices and a chilli sauce

These chocolate cakes were easy to resist:

Various sweet stuff:

This crab shop really drew my attention and I passed it a couple of times. When I was so full in the end that I could barely open my mouth I came here to buy about 10 of them to take home…

The sugar cane juice factory. I had a bottle of that as well:

An assortment of Sushi. The Thai really like their stuff colourful 🙂

Meaty business!

I could not resist having a pig snout (in German we call it “mask”), for me a pleasant winter dish with sour cabbage and mashed potatoes, but how would it be here in the Thai heat? They had a seating area which I needed badly by now to have some cold beer…

A little “fatty” – but with the addition of a modest helping of ground chillies and a few Chang beers quite “digestible”, if by far too much…

You name it – we have it!

Now, that’s what I call soup stock! Pork, chicken, beef and fish…you chose your ingredients…

Thai potato “roesti”:

Time for a little snack: rice cakes with crab and fish stuffing…

Ready fish packages. You chose one and they cook it for you…

Something that the Thai call “larb”…minced meat with loads of lemongrass…

Time for another break. More beer and a pork noodlesoup 🙂

…cooked by this fancy street chef…his gold watch and chains and the ring would shame every Bulgarian “mutra”.

Different kinds of sweet “Thai blinis”, made from soy, taro or manioc. Upon recommendation of the young lady I tried one from soy – very good.

This good looking mama made some mean, hot rice – of which she let me try and she and her colleague (who sold loofah sponges next to her) were quite surprised that I did not even blink at the hotness of the dish 🙂

My favourite department: the snack section, with locust, maggots and the works…I got me a bag of crisp locust and a dipping sauce to enjoy at my hotel with a beer. Yummie!

This is something they called “jelly grass drink”. Looks interesting – but I skipped it 🙂

I bought a “surprise package” to take home instead. As it turned out it was spicy minced meat, a little like sausage…

Now I was ready to retire to my hotel.

On the way to the car it became clear to me, once again, that in this climate riding a motorbike is a far superior alternative to driving a car. It’s easy to find parking and, when you are laden with myriads of small plastic bags with food and drinks, the Asian motorbike has sufficient hooks to hang your bags properly without spilling anything.

On my way back I bought my first bottle of Mekong Whisky and some cokes – but I was so exhausted from all the eating and drinking at the market that it took me a few laps (and some floating) in the swimming pool before I could even master to open the bottle.

I like the Chinese hotel where I am staying and told the manager in the morning that I would extend my stay if she would give me a good deal. Which she did. Now I will stay another three nights and will use this hotel as the basis for my activities…the first for the day will be to go to the pool and swim and read the newspaper…

Time for a change…

Two nights and nearly three days at the beach are enough for me. I am getting  restless. Maybe I have become too much like an Asian. You never see any of them at the beaches.

Yesterday was the weekly market of this village. Loads of local producers selling their stuff.

I first bought a cheap plate to be able to dine in style at my bungalow – and then bought at least a dozen different things with different sauces – from fishy, to pork and chicken…

Then it was time to enjoy another romantic sunset:

Now I will start packing up. I will spend one night in Phuket City – mainly because today is the weekend market which starts at 4pm and it’s supposed to be very impressive – and because I got a good deal on a hotel 🙂


Early on the beach…

During the night we had some very heavy rain that woke me up. Amazingly the straw and leaf covered roof of my hut did not leak much.

Here is the beach at 6:30 am, the time of my first swim.

And some of the dogs that live at the beach – and there are quite a few of them…

The female to the right has a big wound on her head, part of her left ear missing and her left eye literally ripped out. As my neighbours told me that was the result of a big fight with one of the other dogs on the beach…

By 7:15am I finally had my breakfast on the beach:

Thai noodle soup with chicken (and the odd chilli :))

Now it’s 10:40 am and I am still sitting at the beach resto of my neighbours (here is their “house”):

The living area is upstairs, downstairs is the kitchen…

What makes my life at the beach difficult is that I should make decisions now with what kind of beverages to start the good life…Uzhas!

And my WiFi extends easily till here 🙂

I am afraid, I have a suspicion what direction this day will take. Well, from time to time one can debauch a little…