New Places in Surat: Mouth2Mouth

The first time I heard about Mouth2Mouth, I actually couldn’t believe my ears. A place in Surat where you can get good draft beer? Nice wine? A large selection of imported bottled beers and ciders? In Surat?! Two years ago when I moved to Surat if you had told me that there would soon be a place in town to get all those things, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, times are a changin’ here in Southern Thailand and it seems like things are getting a little bit more modern and westernized every day.

You’ll find Mouth2Mouth on Amphur Rd. If you drive down Amphur from Talad Mai, it is just past the Chalokrat intersection and Good Health restaurant on the right. The whole place has a really modern feel to it, with fake grass outside and cute patio furniture. Inside you’ll find glass walls, a sleek bar, and modern decor and fixtures.

Some drinks are priced a bit high, such as imported bottled beers and ciders at 150-250 baht for a small bottle, but you’re paying for something that you can’t get at almost any other bar in Surat. Other items are more reasonably priced, such as a pitcher of Carlsberg for 100 baht, a pint of Hitachino for 150 baht, and wine for 100 baht and up per glass. One of my personal favorites is the Hoegaarden Rosée on draft for 150 for a pint or 250 for a liter.

If you want to read more about this new bar, you can follow them at facebook.com/Mouth2Mouth. As far as places in Surat go, they definitely have an unbeatable selection of draft beer, bottled beers and ciders, and wine. You’ll surely come across other fellow expats and English teachers here splurging on a taste of home.

 

 

 

 

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Rabiangsai Appreciation Party

Back towards the end of October, Peter threw a big party for all of us at Rabiangsai Resort in Khanom, a nearby beach town about an hour from Surat. It was the end of the first semester for those of us that teach at Thida and it was also an appreciation party for a few of us that have been with SE for a few years.

We all arrived Saturday morning and spent the day relaxing on the beach. In the evening, we had the party and Peter provided everyone with nice rooms (A/C!!), an awesome Thai dinner, and lots of drinks. The appreciation part of the party was especially memorable for me. All of the other teachers performed skits about us, ran trivia games, and talked about memories we’ve made working and travelling together. Some teachers that worked for SE last year even sent in raps and letters to read which made for a really special night.

Peter and all the other teachers really took the time to make the appreciation party special for us and I definitely had a lot of fun. It is definitely one that I will remember for a long time!

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Mai Sai Toong

Last year, Eric and I were travelling through northern Vietnam in March when we met a guy that was riding his bicycle all over Asia. He was doing a themed ride with 3 rules, one of which was that he tries not to create any trash on his journey. No single-use containers, no food that comes in any packaging, no plastic cups, no plastic bags. He only buys food that is not packaged, such as fresh fruits, veggies, and nuts. We talked with him for a while and he really got me thinking about how much of a problem waste is in many parts of Asia.

I only know a bit about environmental issues, waste disposal, and the sort, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Thailand has a pretty big waste problem. Not that Thailand is alone in this problem. Maybe it is just more visible here because you see trash everywhere. In my rural jungle neighborhood, the “trash can” is a large pile of stinky garbage near the road that is visibly polluting the local area. Almost all plastic bags end up in a landfill at best and are not recycled.

Recently, I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of waste I create. I’ve started by cutting out all single-use containers from food and not purchasing any pre-packaged food products. To do this, I’ve been bringing my own reusable containers when I get food or drinks for take-out and making sure to avoid those plastic bags that are around every turn. Whenever I cook at home, I’ve been purchasing fresh food at the market, where I put everything in a reusable cloth bag.

When you don’t want a plastic bag, in Thai you say “mai sai toong.” I can’t count the number of shocked, confused, and absolutely bewildered expressions that I’ve gotten in the past few months when I say I don’t want to put my reusable container in a plastic bag. In fact, half the time the Thai person responds by saying “mai bpen rai,” which basically means “Oh, don’t be silly! No worries, you can have the bag.” Since I don’t know how to explain in Thai the many reasons that I don’t want the bag, I usually have to say “no bag” a few more times followed by a polite “mai ou,” which means “I don’t want it.” Sometimes people still say “mai bpen rai” over and over and give me the bag anyway. It seems that many people really have no idea why I wouldn’t want a bag. It’s definitely been an interesting experience so far.

 

 

 

 

New Places in Surat: Jam Bar & Restaurant

Within the past six months or so, a few notable watering holes have sprung up around town. When I moved here just over two years ago, a good beer was hard to find in Surat. Heineken or Carlsberg weren’t too hard to come across in nicer places around town, but when it came to finding anything a step up from those at a bar or restaurant, there weren’t even a handful of options. Now though, a few new bars have joined the ranks in Surat and they’ve both quickly become two of the most popular spots in town to hang out and get a good drink.

The most recently opened establishment is Jam Bar & Restaurant. If you drive down Chon Kasem from the river, you’ll find it just past the Karunrat intersection on the left. The place has a nice ambiance and the vintage decor combined with the two-level open air setup make for a nice place to grab a few drinks with friends. The best thing about Jam though is that the drinks are tasty AND reasonably priced AND  made with good quality liquor. Most cocktails will only set you back 90 baht and they also have wine for 80 baht a glass. A few of us think that the strawberry margarita might be the best mixed drink in town and I can definitely recommend the white russian.

Their food menu is almost completely Thai dishes and while it’s a little bit pricey, everything I’ve tried has been good. The cashew chicken and fried shrimp are both nice. The food menu is not translated into English, but a few of the waiters and waitresses speak some English and can help you out.

With great cocktails, reasonable prices, and a relaxed atmosphere, Jam has quickly become quite popular among teachers and expats in Surat. If you haven’t been, go check it out!

October Break Travels

I love getting to travel over our school holidays and breaks. Recently, all of us that work at Thida got a few weeks off of work at the end of the first semester. We wrapped up semester one at the end of September and a few days later everyone was spread out across Asia. This time, the destinations among Thida teachers included Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and for me and my husband, China.

Earlier this year, Eric and I traveled Eastern China, but this time we headed a few hours directly north of Thailand to the province of Yunnan. We were in the mountains almost the entire time, which meant lots of cooler weather. It was a nice change from the sweltering heat and humidity of Thailand. We spent a lot of the trip near the Yunnan-Tibet border hiking and cycling in the mountains. The mountains there were massive, some over 20,000 feet tall, and the views were really incredible.

The whole trip was really enjoyable, and probably one of my favorite trips in Asia so far.IMG_2442 IMG_2760 IMG_2858 IMG_3472

Ice Cream Party

Last week, Peter treated us all to a little ice cream party. After school, everyone headed over to Swensen’s, a chain ice cream shop that serves up massive western style ice cream treats. Shortly after arriving, our tables were soon overflowing with waffle cones stuffed with ice cream and syrups, delicious shakes, and I think I even spotted one brave soul testing out the durian ice cream. Most of us don’t go to Swensen’s very often since it is a bit more expensive, so it was definitely a nice treat. It’s always fun to get everyone that works for SE together in one spot to catch up and it was nice to enjoy some tasty ice cream after school.image

Debit Plus Accident Insurance

Sometimes it seems like my life in Thailand is an accident waiting to happen. Back home, I never thought of myself as clumsy or accident-prone, but somehow I am always hurting myself in Thailand. Maybe it’s all the uneven surfaces & sidewalks, maybe I have bad luck, or maybe I’m just a bit clumsy. Whatever the reason, I’ve found myself at Thaksin hospital more than a few times.

After my first few visits to the hospital for a broken foot, I was out 5,000 baht. Visiting the hospital is a lot cheaper here than it is back in the States, but when you are making baht and spending baht, the cost can start to add up. “You should get the accident insurance that the bank provides,” one of my friends told me afterwards. Turns out, I wouldn’t have had to pay a single baht for getting my broken foot doctored up!

A few days later, I left the bank with a shiny new Debit Plus silver card that provides me with 5,000 baht of hospital bills covered per accident. Any type of accident is covered as well: motorbike accidents, broken bones, a cut on a your finger, or even a scrape from falling down. Since getting it, it’s saved me at least 8,000 baht.

I would highly recommend getting this insurance, especially if you plan to drive a motorbike around. Plus, it only costs around 300 baht ($10) for a whole year worth of insurance, so why not?

How to sign up for accident insurance:

1. After a few months in Surat, the Super English staff will finish processing your one year visa and work permit. Now that you have these items you can open a bank account at Siam Commerical Bank.

2. Go with a Super English staff member to SCB bank. Tell them that you want the Debit Plus silver or gold card. At the time of writing this, the silver card costs around 300 baht per year and covers 5,000 baht in hospital bills per accident. The gold card costs around 1,000 baht per year and covers 25,000 baht in hospital bills per accident.

3. Enjoy peace of mind knowing that if an accident happens, you won’t be out any cash and can afford to get it treated properly.

If you need to find me, I’ll be off at my new job as an insurance salesman.