Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Zazen restaurant and boutique hotel

Zazen restaurant

Was visited by us yesterday because of my wife's birthday. In my opinion it's one of the best restaurants on Koh Samui, although by no means one of the cheapest. It's a also a Boutique Resort & Spa and well worth checking out


To concentrate on the restaurant part, it has a very nice menu which consists of a Western and a Thai section. We went with two friends and our children, and they also have a children menu!
Our starters ranged from a half lobster tail with a salad, a fried goat cheese to tuna and white snapper carpaccio.

As main I had a delicious tuna with a fantastic sauce. My dessert was a Zabaglione which was outstanding!

They have a Belgian chef and the place is run by Alexander, a Belgian guy who married Thitima, the daughter of the original owner of Zazen and they made it what it is today.

Here's a shot of the entrance from the ring road, the entrance will lead you to the resort / restaurant. It's located almost next to World Resort, where I conduct my IDC's. Only Sandy resort is in between them. The location is between Bophud (aka Fisherman's Village) and Maenam in the north of the island.

Here's an impression of part of the restaurant, what I especially like is the lightning of the place.

Here's the same picture without a flash and hopefully it gives a better impression on what I meant with the lightning. It's very intimate almost to the note that it's too hard to read the menu!

There's also a kind of patio facing the beach, shown here, with very intimate one on one hamlets.

Zazen supports a very nice wine menu and on their menu is a very nice selection of aperitifs and digestives as well as cigars and Belgian beers!

For a meal with starter, main and dessert, easily calculate on 1.000,- to 1.500,-Baht per person not including drinks.

I really wish I could afford to go there more often!

Enjoy and bon appetit,

Camille

Goodbye to July 2007

July 2007

Weather wise not one of the best July's I've experienced on Samui in the past 7 years. There was more rain than usual and I can only hope for better weather in August.

Thanks for reading posts and I'm looking forward to your comments!

Camille

31st July, 2007

Today's weather;

It was grey this morning but slowly blue patches are breaking through, current temp is 28C.

Yesterday was on and off a bit of rain, some sunshine and sometimes even getting hot. Max temp was 32.3C

Camille

Monday, 30 July 2007

30th July, 2007

Today's weather;

It's grey and overcast with the sun struggling to come through. Current temp is 27C

Yesterday it was a mix of sun and clouds with in the early evening some rain. Max temp was 30C

Camille

Sunday, 29 July 2007

29th July, 2007

Today's weather;

It's a blue sky with scattered clouds in it over land and it seems there are more clouds over the Gulf. Current temp is 25C.

Yesterday was wet in the early morning but than the sun broke through. Max temp was 30.4C

Camille

Saturday, 28 July 2007

MK Suki Restaurants

MK Suki Restaurants,

Are located all over Thailand and most of all in shopping malls http://www.mkrestaurant.com/. In Samui there's one located at Tesco Lotus. It's not the most usual choice for a restaurant recommendation, but Thailand has lots of 'chain' restaurants and MK is one of them and a very popular one as well, especially with the Thais. So, in due time I'll tell about the various chain restaurants in Thailand, and MK bites the bullet.


The MK restaurants have an easily recognisable logo, you can't miss it.

Their menu is in two languages, English and Thai and each dish has a photo of itself. One can order as much as he wants, vegetables, pork, assorted fish, all pre-fabricated and refrigerated and they bring it out on small trays which you dump in a hot water cooker and than you wait a few minutes for the food to get ready and you dig in and take the food out of the cooker. MK's main winner in my opinion is their excellent sauce, which makes the meal.

The sauce comes with a small tray which contains garlic, green chilies and lime.

The Samui entrance to MK.

They also serve a lot of side dishes, from green noodles to excellent duck. The duck I can highly recommend. Various drinks are on offer as well but free cold tea is served during the whole meal.


This is how a typical table looks upon entry and clearly visible is the big hot water pan in which the food is cooked. Children plates are available.

This is the battlefield after we're done.

Now it's time to clean our hands and pay the bill. Oh, it's cheap as well, with 4 persons, 2 adults and 2 kids I paid about 400 Baht, not including drinks.

A couple of times per day, the staff is required to perform a little dance, when we entered today at 11.30am it was just on and it's rather funny to watch.

All in all it's a recommendable experience, not necessarily for the top quality food, that's decent but rather for the whole experience in itself, the ordering and the cooking of the food.

Enjoy,

Camille

28th July, 2007

Today's weather;

This morning it was raining and there's overcast right now but it's dry. Current temp is 26C.

Yesterday there was rain and drizzle all morning, until about noon. In the early afternoon the sun came through again and it was a lovely afternoon with a max temp of 30C

Camille

Friday, 27 July 2007

Temple party at Wat Plai Laem

Temple party at Wat Plai Laem from 26th to 30th July 2007

It's time for another party at the local temple, the by now familiar Wat Plai Laem, for my regular readers, or have a look here. The 29th and 30th July are Buddha days (respectively Asarnha Bucha Day and Buddhist Lent day). All public buildings will be closed and bars are closed as well. Restaurants are allowed to open though and funnily enough are also allowed to serve alcohol.


It's not a big party and we were a bit early, so not all stands were open yet.


The kids had a field day however in this play ground, filled by air and they had a lot of fun.


For the older kids, the boys, there was an electric racing circuit and I had a walk down memory lane to my Scalectrix days.


Gosh, I wish I was 8 year's old again. My friend Dave in Okinawa has gone past those days I guess, he's doing this with his own car

A few meters down to the beach, this spectacular sun set was unfolding.

Very nice view over the Bang Rak and Bophud bays.

Near by where also some fisherman's boats moored.


In the meantime, back in the boonies, the obligatory open air film screen, where open air movies are shown later at night.


Our big man is doing fine as well, in the early evening, with a full moon soon rising


Here's a picture of a room with illegal one armed bandits, oops, I mean, Buddha statues to give merit to each day of the week.
If you visit Thailand, there's similar parties on all the time, mostly in Temple grounds but sometimes just along the road. If you have the time, stop and have a look, they're interesting and a lot of fun to check out.
Camille





27th July, 2007

Today's weather;

Some overcast and small patches of blue sky. It just rained a tiny little bit for a few minutes. Current temp is 26.3C

Yesterday was a nice day, warm with sunshine and no rain.

Camille

Thursday, 26 July 2007

26th July, 2007

Today's weather;

Over land a lovely blue sky with scattered clouds but over the Gulf more clouds gather. The current temp is 25C

Yesterday was a nice day with plenty of sunshine and a max temp of 31.3C

Camille

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

25th July, 2007

Today's weather;

It's a nice morning with lots of blue sky and sunshine. Current temp is 24.6C

Yesterday it was a nice day after a cloudy start with lots of sunshine after noon. Max temp was 30.7C

Camille

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Aux Amis, Restaurant in Bang Rak

Aux Amis, Restaurant in Bang Rak

Aux Amis has relocated to Bophud/Fisherman's village

Since a while I'm thinking about including reviews from restaurants and possibly hotels and other places of interest on Koh Samui, that I personally like and therefor want to recommend on my blog here. More and more I'll try to not restrict myself on the weather part of Samui, but give you some more information on good or fun places to visit, restaurants that do it for me and so on.

The first restaurant to bite the bullet is a long time favorite in Bang Rak, Aux Amis.
Me and family and some friends just visited it tonight again.


The restaurant is located in Bang Rak, facing the Ghost Road junction, at your right hand, maybe 500 or 600 meters, towards Bophud (aka Fisherman's Village).
The place is easily recognisable by it's sign, the French version of a smiley. It's run by three French guys and they enjoy doing it. They have a nice menu which contains French and Thai dishes. Prices start around 100,-Baht to 250,-Baht, so all very reasonable.


One of the owners sings every Tuesday and Friday some French chansons during a couple of sets. Lots of locals meet here and not only French. Opposite them is a very popular English pub located but they still attract English folks, almost every night.


One of the best nights to visit them is on Tuesday night, when they have a special deal on Moules Marinieres Frites or Mussels with French Fries (am I glad they're not called Freedom fires anymore! Who came up with that anyway, one of GWB's buddy's?) for just 150,-Baht. On request they also have home made mayonnaise.

One gets a massive pan filled to the rafters with mussels! Enjoy it!

Every Friday they serve freshly made Paella (one of the three owners is French with Spanish parents). Once more, a giant plate of Paella is served for just 250,-Baht.

Besides these two days, they're worthwhile visiting just for their regular menu.

Bon appetite,

Camille

24th July, 2007

Today's weather;

Overcast again this morning, with varying degrees, some places just a thin milky layer where the sun wants to break through and in other (unfortunately most) places a thick layer in varying shades of grey.
Current temp is 26.4C

Yesterday it turned out to be a lovely day after a wet start. It was sunny and hot in the afternoon, max temp was 30C

Camille

Monday, 23 July 2007

23rd July, 2007

Today's weather;

It's raining (drizzling) this morning. Current temp is 26.5C

Yesterday it was so hot all day, that any activity was almost burdensome. Hot and sunny it was. Max temp was 33.2C

Sunday, 22 July 2007

22nd July, 2007

Today's weather;

A blue sky with clouds in it but it's hot this morning. An hour ago it was only 25C, it feels very hot already right now.

Yesterday was a sunny day without rain and max temp was 32.8C

Get the sun lotion out!

Camille

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Saunthamma Temple at Hin Lad waterfalls

Saunthamma Temple at Hin Lad waterfalls

Part of a nice day trip around the island can be to visit the above mentioned temple near Nathon.
If you're coming from the direction of Maenam, it's at the red lights, about three kilometres outside Nathon, to your left, or if you're coming from Lamai, at the traffic lights before you enter Nathon, to your right.


The location of the temple is most amazingly located in a lush jungle setting and there are beautiful Buddha statues hidden everywhere. Above is the entrance sign to the temple.


Here is the actual entrance gate to the temple complex, just before you hit the waterfall, it goes off to your left.


At the actual waterfall there's lots of places to sit, hang out, eat (like all the other Thais) or swim as shown above.
A simple but beautiful Buddha shrine with an amazing background. The temple grounds are very peaceful, just wandering around and following the small paths makes your pace drop a bit.


A three headed Buddha statue with colourful guirlandes or 'Puang Ma Lay' (see my article about the school party in Wat Plai Laem

Next to the three faced Buddha is this Buddha statue with a spectacular rocky background.


Strewn around the whole temple grounds one can find these 'words of wisdom' by Buddha.

Another statue with amazing light falling through the surrounding trees.

Time to ring the bell. This can be found on a small open ground.



Another word of wisdom by Buddha, although with a slightly older piece of iron as a background.

I can highly recommend this rather lesser known temple on Samui, since it's set in beautiful and lush jungle surroundings with not too many people visiting the place.

Enjoy your trip around the island.

Camille

21st July, 2007

Today's weather;

It's a milky sky and the sun is starting to heat up and beam through it. It's currently only 25C.

Yesterday was a lovely day and the sun shone pretty much all day, with a max temp of 31.5C.

Last night we went out for lunch with some friends and at 9 pm we were in Chaweng having some ice cream at Swensen's (highly recommendable and yummy) when the flood gates crashed and it started to rain very hard for about half an hour. During this downpour we drove home and there was flash flooding all around on the roads. I had planned to see my friends later on in Chaweng again but decided against it, happy as I was to be home again and not wanting to drive through the flooded roads.

Today looks great though, so, have fun and see you tomorrow,
Camille

Friday, 20 July 2007

20th July, 2007

Today's weather;

It's a milky white sky with the sun struggling a bit to come through. It's 27C right now.

Yesterday it stayed dry all day although it wasn't full on sunshine all day. Last night we had rain since everything is wet this morning.

See you tomorrow,
Camille

Thursday, 19 July 2007

19th July, 2007

Today's weather on Koh Tao;

It was raining this morning! Current temp is 26C.

Yesterday, during the day it was partly overcast and towards the evening sunshine and dry all day. Later, it was a beautiful evening and the sky was cloud free which opened up a lovely sky with massive amounts of stars.
Max temp yesterday was 31C.

Here's some pix from Koh Tao this morning, taken from my room at Sea Lodge;


Koh Tao harbour at Mae Haad, loaded with dive boats.


Mae Haad harbour, the night ferry which also brings loads of other things to the island, including lots of building/construction materials.



A view on the hills overlooking Koh Tao, from Mae Haad, unfortunately covered in clouds.

Have a good day and I'll see you again tomorrow, back from Koh Samui,

Camille

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Impressions of Koh Tao

Pix and impressions of Koh Tao

Here are some pix and impressions of Koh Tao, where I currently am, giving moral support during a PADI IE (Dive Instructor Exam http://www.idcthailand.net/inexam.html) for my candidates.
My candidates passed their Classroom and Open Water presentations today successful, which only leaves their Confined Water Presentation tomorrow and they'll be PADI OWSI's (Open Water Scuba Instructors)!

I visit Koh Tao several times per year and it has grown on me over the last couple of years. During a typical visit for an IE, I stay 3 days and two nights. I always stay in Mae Haad, the main town where also the harbour is located and the ferries arrive/depart.

Koh Tao has grown over the year and a lot of construction is and has been going on and currently some high end resorts are opening their doors. It's a very nice and relaxed island where diving takes up the majority of activities and in general there's a very young crowd on Koh Tao, however that's slightly changing, note slightly!!!!



Here's picture of the Seatran ferry at the pier on Koh Samui. There are several companies running ferries between Samui and Koh Tao, the two main ones Seatran, which leaves from a custom build concrete pier near big Buddha and the other company is Lomprayah, which runs next to temple grounds in Maenam.

I prefer Seatran, not only because they depart/arrive almost next to my house but mainly because they have more comfortable seating arrangements for the one hour and 15 minutes ride. The ferries stop in Koh Phangan, either way. The cabin's are air conditioned and video's are shown, but one hardly gets to see the end of the movie, since they last longer than the trip!


This is a picture from Haat Sairee (Sairee beach). A nice and wide beach but only in this spot, at the Mae Haad side, there's no coral at the beach, so one can easily swim and fool around in the water here. Further down the beach, snorkeling it's excellent for snorkeling with all the coral and fish, within a few meters from the beach.

A monument opposite the beach with a very nice scenery and a small wooden bridge.


Mango Bay, a bay at the north western part of Koh Tao, outstanding for snorkeling trips and a lovely view of the mountains that litter all over Koh Tao (Koh Tao is also known as 'The Rock') . Mango Bay is also a well known, shallow dive site.


The water at Mango Bay, very clear, loads of coral and tons of small coral fish. This photo has been taken from a boat and it shows the clarity of the water and you can make out the coral and some fish.

If you visit Koh Samui, it's a worthwhile and nice side trip to Koh Tao, either for a day or for a couple of days. Koh Tao supports now good accommodation in various price ranges and loads of very, very good restaurants, for each budget.

Hope you enjoy the pix,

Camille





18th July, 2007

Today's weather on Koh Tao;

It's sunny with scattered clouds. Current temp is 26C.

Yesterday it was sunny and max temp reached 31.2C

At the PADI IE things went well yesterday and the exam part of the IE has been dealt with in a positive way. One down, three to go.

Camille

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

17th July, 2007

Today's weather;

There's overcast but not as heavy, the sun may burst through and the wind seems to have died. It's currently 27.5C

Yesterday it was mainly overcast with not really a lot of sun but it stayed dry all day with a max temp of 32.3C.

Today I'm off to Koh Tao for a PADI IE with my candidates, so I'll be reporting from there.

Koh Tao is only an hour and 15 minutes away by ferry from Samui.

Camille

Monday, 16 July 2007

The various fruits in our garden

Pictures of some of the various fruits in our garden;

The IDC has finished today, freeing me up a bit and giving me more time to write in the blog again and here's some pix that I was planning on showing for a little while already.

All year long we have various fruits 'in season' in our garden and I'd like to share some pictures of these fruits, since some of them are very rare or even unknown to some of the non Asian readers of my blog. I know that I didn't know some of them when I came to Thailand and it's neighbours for the first couple of times.


No article about Koh Samui would be complete, if one talks about fruit, if coconuts wouldn't be mentioned. Coconuts used to be the main source of income for Samui and it's inhabitants before the tourist industry came up and Samui was more or less responsible for keeping all of Thailand supplied with coconuts.
Sure enough, our garden has plenty of coconut trees, this is just one of them. The Thai word for coconut is 'Maplau'.


Here's a picture of probably a very familiar sight, a banana tree, well, at least the banana's will be familiar. We have a few of them throughout our garden and let me tell you, those trees grow like there's no tomorrow, not that necessarily have banana fruit all the time, but the trees do grow very hard!

The Thai word for banana is 'Klu-ay'.


Here's a picture of something a little bit more exotic, a papaya tree (Thai word 'Malako') with papaya fruit. Again, we have a few of these as well in our garden.


In this picture it becomes even more exotic, here we can see Jack fruit or 'Ka-noen' in Thai.


Also very common is mango, here's a picture of our biggest mango tree. They're not in season right now but we have a few of these trees in various sizes and also some of them have different mango's.. The Thai word for mango is 'Ma-muang'.

Here are two 'Shom-poo' trees next to each other, again, not in season right now but very lovely fruit. Not too sure what their name in English is.

Here's a picture of a Guava fruit, in blossoming. In Thai they're called 'Farang', the same name the Thais call us Westerners. The plastic bag is to protect the fruit from small flies and the like.

The last two pictures are just shots from some of the flowers we have in our garden. At the moment, these are the only two blossoming right now.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures, I surely enjoyed posting them and talking a bit about them, it has been a while.

Stay tuned and let me know if you have any questions regarding Samui or Thailand.

Camille