, ,

Where to Go to Bite ‘N’ Eat Traditional Indian Food

 

Butter chicken, tandoori and naan. Three of the most common dishes you’ll find ordered and served in Indian restaurants in the Western world. Back home, we have been to numerous Indian restaurants and inevitably we, and those we are with, revert to the same familiar foods with perhaps some kind of masala thrown in to feel adventurous.  During our travels, our culinary knowledge has broadened and our palates have become more refined. While in Thailand, we were able to try some authentic Japanese in Koh Samui at Kobori Restaurant, some Canadian and Western fare in Koh Phangan at Crave and some Thai-fusion in Bangkok at Rock Restaurant, but we never truly explored the depths of flavours and spices available within Indian cuisine. That is, until we made our way to Malaysia.

With the Indian population comprising the third largest in the country, Indian culture and cuisine is a large part of Malaysia. Not only can you find traditional dishes from India, there are various versions that are only found in Malaysia. Malay-style Indian food is quite common incorporating the roti, chippatis and meat dishes representative of North Indian food and the fish, veggies and rice that are more prominent in the South. We had the chance to try some of the Malaysian style Indian food while we ate our way through Penang in 48 hours and we were actively looking for a chance to try out some authentic dishes.

Being exposed to some new Malay-Indian dishes was a great experience and the type of culinary exploration we are always looking for but we still did not know enough about Indian food, be it traditional or Malay style. So, when we had the opportunity to visit Bite N Eat, a restaurant in Penang, Malaysia that prides itself on providing traditional Indian food, we were very excited to see what we could learn and explore the flavours and foods we had yet to discover. We ended up learning a lot and tasting traditional dishes we never would have known to order before.

An Education in Indian Cuisine in Penang

Bite N Eat Restaurant Penang Malaysia Dindigul Biryani

As we walked up to the restaurant, the bright sign signaled we had found Bite N Eat Dindigal Biryani Restaurant and the outdoor grill with fresh roti being made was a wonderful welcoming sight. Seated indoors on the main floor of this UNESCO certified building we were presented with a rather extensive menu. Quite innovatively, Bite N Eat offers its patrons a centralized television and individual tablets with photos of their various dishes to help those who are new to the cuisine determine what to order.

Opened just seven months ago, in May, 2014, the main goal of the restaurant is to bring the exact taste of India to Penang where often times, Malay-Indian style dishes dominate the culinary stage.  Bringing in a chef, as well as a large majority of the serving staff, straight from India, the menu offers traditional dishes from both the North and South of India and hopes to bring true Indian cuisine, not only to those who are familiar with it, but also to those who are unfamiliar, with the food.

mint julipe drink and ginger delight bite n eat

We started with two drinks made in-house: Mint Julipe & Ginger Delight. The Mint Julipe had a strong flavor of fresh mint with a refreshing burst of lime balanced with sweetness from the sugar encrusted rim of the glass. The ginger delight was balanced in its own way between the sharp bite of cinnamon and the softer, creamier ginger flavor.

bite n eat penang malaysia indian restaurant

Bite N Eat Restaurant Penang Malaysia INdian food

The first round of food was ordered and we were excited to try the variety of Southern and Northern Indian dishes. When the plates of food and bowls of sauces came we had amassed a plethora of spice infused experiences our palates were anxiously awaiting. Onion pakkoda, chicken 555, fish curry, jolly gosht, set dosai, Chicken 65, prawn biryani, and paneer butter masala arrived in two waves and left us incredibly satisfied and had us advancing our knowledge of Indian cuisine and spices.

Bite N Eat Restaurant Indian Cuisine Penang Malaysia

Bite N Eat Penang Malaysia

Bite N Eat Restaurant Penang Malaysia best indian restaurant

The entire feast was delicious and while we were quite full, we were still excited to have the opportunity to try some more of the homemade drinks and traditional desserts. Our nutmeg juice drink was a great after-meal drink and complemented the desserts: fragrant coconut and carrot halwa both of which were warm, fragrant and rich in flavor.

Bite N Eat Penang Malaysia

By the end of the meal, we had tasted quite a variety of different types of food with many different spices and flavor combinations and were thoroughly thrilled with the exploration into Indian cuisine from first bite to last.  Bite N Eat is definitely the place to go to learn about traditional Indian cuisine and venture into the world of spices and flavours these dishes have to offer.

Bite N Eat Penang Malaysia Staff

There were so many dishes to choose from and we were unable to try it all. Have we missed something that you would consider a key dish in Indian cuisine? Comment below and let us know!

 

 

, ,

What’s Beneath the Surface in Koh Tao

Scuba Diving in Koh Tao through Photos

It was one of the most amazing experiences and it was a totally unexpected and unplanned adventure. Although we knew Koh Tao was considered one of the places to get certified for scuba diving, we hadn’t seriously considered doing so. As we mentioned, we thought it would be a great way to celebrate our anniversary, and also learn some new skills we could use while travelling to different places.

scuba diving in koh tao

Learning to dive up to 18m in depth, we are now certified open water scuba divers and hope to take our training to various places around the world. While we started out wanting to see as much of the world as possible, we’ve discovered a whole other universe under the water just waiting for us to explore.

scuba diving in koh tao one modern couple

 

We shared our 8 tips for beginners when learning to scuba dive when we discussed our open water scuba certification training in Koh Tao with Scuba Shack and we even added some amazing photos and an underwater scuba diving video taken by Fat Fish Movies. What we didn’t do was share the remainder of the photos and point out some of the amazing underwater life to be found when diving in Koh Tao. The dive sites there are veritable playgrounds for those looking to spot beautiful and different underwater creatures and habitats.

Running, Or Diving Rather, Into Dangerous Creatures

coral scuba diving in koh tao

Since we had an underwater photographer (another shout out to Charlie!!) from Fat Fish Movies taking photos and videos, we were able to relax and enjoy the dive and the sights around us. On the first dive with Charlie, he was equipped with his video gear and was the first to notice we happened to be swimming with a handful of box jelly fish. Those of us learning to dive were completely oblivious to the fact that box jelly fish are considered one of the deadliest creatures in the world. Some of us attempted to get a closer look! With Charlie’s and our dive instructor, James’, sharp eyes, we descended out of range and made our way down. If you are interested in seeing just how close we were, take a look at the video footage of that day and the box jelly fish taken by Charlie and see if you can spot us amongst the divers. It should be noted that there was a strong current that day that had brought the jelly fish to the dive site and that, while box jelly fish are sighted off the islands of Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan, they are not overly common.

What You’ll Find Underwater in Koh Tao

twins koh tao thailand scuba diving

Charlie managed to capture some pretty incredible shots of our dive, enabling us to take you on a brief photo tour of the amazing sights to be seen underwater in Koh Tao, Thailand and bring you along on one of the most memorable moments of our journey thus far.

Angelfish

angel fish koh tao scuba diving

Banner Fish

Banner Fish Koh Tao Scuba diving

Giant Clam

giant clam koh tao scuba diving

Butterflyfish

butterfly fish koh tao scuba diving

butterfly fish koh tao scuba diving

Blue Spotted Sting Ray and Squirrel Fish

blue spotted sting ray koh tao scuba diving

blue spotted sting ray koh tao scuba diving

Nudibranch

nudibranch koh tao scuba diving

Grouper

grouper koh tao scuba diving

grouper koh tao scuba diving

Wrasse

wrasse koh tao scuba diving

Trevally

trevally koh tao scuba diving

 What’s at the bottom

coral koh tao scuba diving

coral reef koh tao thailand scuba diving

scuba diving koh tao thailand coral

 

 

koh tao scuba diving

Do you know what this fish is above? We’ve been searching and can’t seem to identify it! If you know, comment below and help us end the mystery!

In addition to those that were captured on camera, Koh Tao hosts a variety of other species – some we managed to see, and some we didn’t – including barracuda, triggerfish, sea turtles, whale sharks, moray eels, seahorses, sea snakes, snapper, batfish, and parrotfish.

We can’t wait to continue our scuba diving adventures and explore more of the hidden world underwater. Where will our next dive site be? You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out!

 

, ,

When We “Crave” A Taste of Home

Crave Koh Tao Restaurant

Crave Restaurant & Lounge – More Than Just A Great Burger in Koh Phangan

We initially passed it. Driving at night on our scooter we were distracted by the lights of the 711 across the street and missed the sign pointing the way to the restaurant and its entrance through the walkway between two buildings. Once we had backtracked and parked we made our way through the dim lit pathway that lead us up a set of stairs to the dining area and were struck with a feeling of home.

When travelling at length, there are times when we yearn for it, look for it and sometimes even forget exactly what it feels like. Fortunately there are those moments, whether it be a smell, the place we are in, a moment in time, where we get that feeling again. That comfortable, warm, embracing feeling of being somewhere familiar, somewhere that feels just a bit closer to home. That’s exactly how we felt as we sat down at Crave Restaurant in Koh Tao, Thailand and looked around. It probably looked anything but like someplace from home – The dark wood, dimlit decor with rice steamer light fixtures and bench-like seating surrounding the edge of the dining area was brightened with strings of dancing lights along the railing. The treehouse-like feel of the restaurant matched the hot tropical climate but it had that comfortable and inviting feel of being home.

interior Crave Restaurant Koh Tao Thailand

 

 

crave restaurant koh tao interior

What we especially loved about the interior was the bench seating where we each were able to recline against a triangle pillow beside the table rather than the traditional table and chairs that were present in the centre of the restaurant. We ordered a glass of their homemade iced tea and one of their homemade lemonade and settled back to peruse the menu. The sound of blocks crashing on a nearby table and the call of “Jenga!” alerted us to the games provided in the centre of the restaurant. Games such as Jenga and dominoes were up for grabs and added to the casual atmosphere of this otherwise trendy looking space.

Games at Crave Restaurant Koh Tao

The iced tea was, truly, homemade with a bold orange pekoe flavour and a hint of mint. The lemonade was refreshing and had a perfect sweet and sour balance even with the tartness of the added lime. The really interesting and surprising element was the subtle cinnamon that coloured each taste. These were two great drinks to start the meal. Although we opted for two non-alcoholic beverages, Crave has a happy hour from 5-7pm for select cocktails and their drink menu includes homemade Sangria and homemade marinated spirits.

homemade drinks crave koh tao

With the rich, mouthwatering smells eminating from the kitchen, we were salivating before we could even decide what to order off the menu, and that decision proved harder than we expected. Each dish described sounded so good that we enlisted the help of one of their incredibly friendly waitresses. With her guidance and further explanations of each dish, we made our choices and anxiously awaited the first course.

Yummy Hummus Crave Restaurant koh tao

We started with an appetizer of Yummy Hummus. The garlic-toasted slices of baguette with tomato, carrots, beans and cucumber were presented cleanly around a bowl of homeamde hummus. The hummus was smooth with flavours that were not overpowering but instead were well-blended. It also did not have that sour bite that one usually finds. It didn’t take us long to finish off the hummus with the veggies and bread and although the portion was a good size, it was so good we were still left wishing there was more.

As we waited for our meal to arrive, we were fortunate to have the owner, and head chef, join us at our table for a chat. Fellow Canadian, Valerie, hails from Quebec and while she’s lived in Thailand for several years, she retains her Canadian roots in some of the food she serves, such as poutine. Although not formally trained, Valerie has established a pretty impressive menu with a majority of the fare, down to mayo, being homemade. We chatted for quite some time, discussing her migration to Thailand, opening the restaurant and about her life back in Canada. It felt as though we were catching up with an old friend.

Deluxe Burger Crave Restaurant Koh Tao

We were incredibly excited when our main dishes came. The deluxe burger looked and smelled amazing. In Thailand, the beef is relatively difficult to work with as it is pretty much tasteless. Typically, if you are getting a flavourful burger, it’s made with beef from New Zealand but this burger, made from Thai beef, was delicious and packed full of flavor between a fresh, toasted bun. The brie cheese, bacon and homemade mayo were a great combination and the side of poutine was a perfect complement. True, it’s difficult to get the proper tasting components for a good poutine in Thailand. The cheese is much different and the potatoes are often watery, but this Thai-style poutine worked incredibly well. The side of coleslaw was another delicious and welcome addition to the meal. This burger was so good we had to include it in our top places to find a burger on Koh Phangan!

Beef Kabob Crave Restaurant Koh Tao

Our other main was the beef kabob wrap with a side salad. Sliced beef, hummus, mayo, veggies and fresh coriander came together in this truly tasty wrap without one of the ingredients overpowering the other. The balsamic dressed salad was a nice zesty pairing and the dish was thoroughly enjoyable.

While we had two meat dishes, Crave definitely has vegetarian options and Valerie is working on a new menu incorporating more meat-free options! Check out Crave’s Facbook page for the new menu!

We do not have any photos of the carrot cake we had for dessert. As we took it back to the hotel with us to save for later, we had every intention of taking photos but as soon as we opened the lid, the smell of the cinnamon had us thinking only about tasting the sweet treat in front of us. We were told that if we liked carrot cake, we would like this one and we were definitely in agreement. Freshly baked, moist and with a slight taste of cinnamon, the cake with cream cheese frosting was probably the best carrot cake we have ever had.

Crave Restaurant Koh Tao Thailand

Leaving Crave that night, we stepped onto the streets of Koh Phangan, Thailand and realized that for a short time we were transported from this country to a place that felt like home with an owner and chef that felt like an old friend. We were left feeling grateful for finding such a restaurant and regretful that we hadn’t found it sooner.

Crave Restaurant

56/7 Moo 8

Haad Yao West, Koh Phangan

Surat Thani, Thailand

84280

Tel: +66(0) 89 2116923

Crave is located across from the 7/11 and is open from 5pm-11pm everyday EXCEPT Tuesdays. Be sure to check their website for their annual closures which generally occur a few weeks in October and again in April.

, , , , ,

Leaving Us Wanting More – Scuba Diving in Koh Tao

Our First Scuba Experience with 8 Tips We Gathered For Beginners

Banner Fish Koh Tao

18m deep. Colder than the rest. The only sounds are your steady breath in and out through the regulator and a tapping sound from a nearby fish pecking at coral. Visibility is much less now but you can still see large schools of fish circling above and many others swimming calmly around you. The anemones, coral, and Christmas tree worms present a beautiful, waving display on the ocean floor below even though some of the colour is lost at this depth. Finding a clearing of sand, you finally stop and kneel at the bottom of the ocean.

You look down at your depth gauge and then up towards the surface and realize just how deep you are; the surface seemingly further in reality than any number on a gauge could ever suggest. At that moment it’s as if your mind has decided to depart from your body and head up to the surface, but you swiftly catch it and bring it back. 

Moving through the water now, concentrating on your breathing and the amazing marine life around you, you start worrying that your air pressure is lowering and you’ll have to end your dive and surface soon. You don’t want to. You never knew how awe-inspiring it was, never knew what was truly under the sea. But now you do. Now you see. Now you want more.

Scuba Diving in Koh Tao Wasn’t Part of Our Itinerary

learning to scuba dive

While scuba diving isn’t for everyone, we found it to be an absolutely incredible experience. It was a chance to explore a world unseen by most and we relished having that opportunity.  Until we made our first dive, we had no idea what we were missing.  Of course we had heard what people would say about scuba diving: “It’s amazing!” “ You have to try it!” “It’s so addictive!”. We heard what they were saying, but we never believed the hype. Now we realize that these people, crazy about scuba diving, were right. We’ve become one of those people.

Believe us when we say it is an unforgettable and truly amazing experience and one we hadn’t planned. While visiting Koh Tao, a small island in the Gulf of Thailand, we ended up walking past Scuba Shack and a sign advertising their options for scuba diving and certification. We hadn’t given it much thought and weren’t sure if we wanted to dive, but we opted to get some information anyways. After all, we were told that Koh Tao is the place for diving and diving certification and since our anniversary was coming up we thought it may be a great way to celebrate even though the voters had not chosen Koh Tao as our anniversary island in our poll. So changing our plans a little, we decided on Koh Tao and diving for our second anniversary celebration

Finding The Right Dive Shop For The Job

scuba-shack-logo

Walking up to the large, wrap-around patio of the small dive shop just metres from the beach, we noticed people were milling about, sitting and chatting, most with smiles on their faces. We found the people at Scuba Shack to be very informative and helpful and discovered that a portion of those on the porch were students who were invited to stay and drink water, or tea and relax after their dives.

scuba diving equipment check

After a thorough rundown of their dive packages and courses, followed by a couple of hours to explore our options and soak it all in, we decided to take the open water diving certification course and since we felt most at ease with Scuba Shack, we headed back to book our course. We felt this was a great option to take should we want to go diving in the future as the certification would allow us to go on our own and dive as deep as 18 meters.

While this is the first and most basic course available, there are many others that we can upgrade to in the future, like wreck diving, night diving, navigation and deep dives of 30m.

Scuba Diving: An Experience Like No Other

scuba diving gear

We were incredibly lucky. Not only were we impressed with Scuba Shack itself but our instructor, James, was awesome. Friendly, funny, professional and incredibly knowledgeable, he eased any qualms we had and was just generally a great guy to be learning from and leading our team.

Our ‘in-class’ training was conducted with another soon-to-be diver from Holland and covered everything from safety to equipment to techniques while under the water. Once that was completed we moved to a contained dive where we practiced the essentials of diving but in shallow water.

learning to scuba dive koh tao

Learning to empty our goggles of water once we were submerged was probably the most difficult. It’s a weird feeling once you start breathing with a regulator underwater to then remove your mask. It’s like your mind says “since your breathing you might as well do it with your nose!” Meanwhile your instincts are screaming for you to hold your breath and your brain is reminding you that the worst thing you can do is stop breathing through that regulator.

scuba dive team

The contained dive was where we built a bit of confidence and worked on our skills in preparation for the real dives the following day  It was during the dives that we were especially thankful for James’ experience, knowledge and even humour as all of us were a little bit nervous, and a little bit unsure, of what to expect and how we would react.

Taking That First Dive

learning how to scuba dive

Our dive team was joined by an American who had completed the written portion back home and was looking to finish his certification. With two pairs of dive buddies and James leading the way, our first descent was filled with anxiety (at least for some of us) and anticipation.

scuba diving team

There really is no way to describe those first few metres. we descended that first time with the assistance of a rope. The frayed, moss-encrusted hovering piece of entwined rope strands were the only visible thing, besides our fellow divers, as we slowly dropped down through the water. During this portion of the descent was where we discovered a slight disorientation may occur.  With no visibility to what’s below, it becomes an eerie float downward, several moments of uncertainty and relative internal disquiet.

scuba diving certification

On that first dive, when James told us to let go of the rope and follow him, we’re pretty sure we all hesitated but once we gave ourselves over to the moment and the water around us, we instantly fell into a trance, a kind of meditation. The constant worry about breathing washed away, our sense of sight overwhelmed the rest, and the ocean had us so relaxed the only thing we could do was enjoy what it had to offer.

scuba diving in koh tao thailand

That first dive was without any tests or practice of techniques and allowed us to get comfortable with swimming at such depths, maneuvering among the coral, fish and other underwater creatures (such as the nudibranch) and working with our buddies. In the end, that first dive also allowed us to fall in love with scuba diving itself.

We were fortunate to have someone from Fat Fish Movies (hey Charlie!) videotape one of our dives! Watch ours below:

 

We’ve put together a photo tour of our second dive with Charlie from Fat Fish Movies who documented it all in photos this time!! You can also check out some more amazing videos from Charlie and the team at Fat Fish Movies’ YouTube page. The box jelly fish one is particularly interesting to us since we were on the dive in which that was shot!! Yup, we swam with some box jelly fish unbeknownst to us the possible danger and the fact that we were swimming with one of the world’s deadliest creatures!

Now that we’re certified we are constantly keeping our eyes and ears open for great diving spots. We’ve already made a trip to Key West, but we hope to go back and add one more – scuba diving at the reef! With so many places to visit, we’re excited to be able to expand our adventures to the incredible unseen world underwater.

8 Tips For Those Considering Scuba Diving For The First Time

Learning to scuba dive in koh tao certification

We’ve put together a list of 8 tips for those who are considering scuba diving for the first time. If you’re looking for a spot like Scuba Shack to learn to dive, or if you haven’t gone diving for a while, we think these tips will help put your mind at ease and help you get the most out of your diving experience:

 scuba shack koh tao thailand

1. Do research to choose a good diving school. Make sure the group is small and that they are PADI or SIS certified. Even though they were the first dive shop we talked to, we were so comfortable and at ease with Scuba Shack that, although we looked around and did our research, there was really no better option for us. They were professional, had good quality equipment, knowledgeable instructors who were actually pretty fun to spend time with and came with a recommendation. Ask around and do your research.

2. Do not dive past your certification. It’s dangerous to dive without the right training, so if you want to dive in that cave or through a ship wreck to try and find some treasure, get certified first. Along with this, do not dive without certification or without going through a well-researched (see tip #1) dive shop for a fun dive (A dive with an introduction to the equipment, techniques and safety but with no certification)

scuba diving buddy teams

3. Value the Buddy System. We are fortunate in that we were able to learn together and thus develop our “buddy skills” together. It became another type of partnership as the responsibility for your partner and their safety is ever-present 18 meters below the surface. Always dive with a buddy, make sure they are doing okay throughout the dive and remember to ask where their air supply is at, once every 5-10 minutes. (Carolann obsessively asked Macrae this question about 30 times in a 45 min dive). With deeper dives and as air gets lower, ask them a little more often.

4. It’s normal to feel nervous before your first dive. In fact, several of us on the boat  were nervous for all of our open water certification dives. It can be helpful to know you are not alone in those worries and fortunately with an instructor like James, our minds were put at ease fairly easily.

learning to scuba dive

5. Some things don’t come naturally or easily. Clearing your goggles of water when submerged or equalizing your ear pressure is not always easy but that’s why there are contained dives to practice and drills throughout the regular dives. It may feel repetitious but it definitely helps in making them feel more natural. It’s a good idea to practice or brush-up on things like clearing your goggles and switching from regulator to snorkel to breath at the surface if you’ve been away from diving for some time.

6. It’s okay to take your time, to equalize, calm down.  Your instructor will wait, no one will mind, and in fact chances are someone else is thankful for a bit of a break. Don’t feel compelled to keep up as you have a buddy to stick with you and an instructor who should be patient. The pace is so much slower then you would think so taking your time is generally not an issue.

Scuba shack boat

7. Hiring a photographer/videographer is worth it! If you don’t mind the extra cost, and are able, hiring someone to take video footage and photos with you on your dive leaves you with an incredible documentation of your time under the water. We were fortunate to have someone from Fat Fish Movies dive with us and take some incredible photos of one of our dives. The video found earlier in this post was also taken by them on the previous dive.

8. Remember to have fun!! This is perhaps the most important point but one that is hard not to do once you are amidst the aquatic life below. The time goes by faster than you expect so enjoy!!

Comment below and let us know what locations are your favourite for scuba diving. Or, if you’ve never been, where would you want to start?

one modern couple email sign up ad

, ,

The Day I Paid For Torture in Thailand

My Thai Massage: A Lesson In Pain

By Carolann

It started with pain. With each cracking sound of my back I grew more concerned and within 5 minutes of the hour long torture session which, for some reason, I was paying for, I questioned exactly what I had said that brought me to this point and to the discomfort I wasn’t positive was going to end.

I’m sure I pointed to, and asked for, the neck, back and shoulder massage with coconut oil NOT the traditional Thai massage which was advertised with terrifying photos of women being held in ridiculously uncomfortable looking positions. But maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t clear.

Crack, crack-crack-crack. I hear the masseuse giggle at the constant noises coming from what I assume is the joints of my ribs and spine. “It’s a good pain, yes?” she asks after noticing the grimace on my sideways-turned face. I attempt a smile and close my eyes praying this is just the prelude to a relaxing back rub. It wasn’t.

I thought back to the naive me of 10 minutes prior, walking through the curtains separating the front area from the four massage tables clustered to one side. That ‘me of the past’ was excited to be getting a back massage after months of riding on the back of a scooter, curling up in airplane seats and stiffening up during long bus rides.

Added to the body punishing travel, each place we stayed had a different version of what a comfortable bed should feel like, with very few matching my own. So it was only natural that I would be eager to get some of the knots worked out and for $13 per hour I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity.

As the masseuse climbed on the table and hovered above me I was brought back to the present. The smell of the menthol oil, the thin sheets above and below me, the silence from my friend receiving a massage on the table beside me. Wait! Surely she should be experiencing a similarly painful massage? But there were no noises that would indicate any torturous activity was occurring and certainly no giggles from her masseuse in response.

Positioned over top, leaning all her weight onto her hands as they pressed down on my back, the masseuse pushed harder forcing my rib cage walls together, leaving my breath to escape in a whoosh-like sound.

A few more cracks of my back with the whole of her weight pressing down and she steps down from the table and starts a more gentle exploration of the numerous knots around my upper back. It was in that moment that I found some hope that the massage was turning tide and would morph into the relaxing event I had in mind when I stepped into this den of pain.




Unfortunately, that was just before I felt her elbow dig its way underneath my shoulder blade.

Started From the Bottom… Cracking the Joints
ckassical thai massage

Photo credit/model: Sophie Oliver

Needless to say, the remainder of the back massage was as painful as it started and when she asked me to flip over I no longer held on to any false hope of gentleness to come. This time every crack was intentional as she endeavoured to workout each joint in my body from my little toe to my neck, the latter being the most horrifying and unexpected part of the entire procedure.

The quick snap of my head to one side had me letting out a yelp of surprise and fear. Laughing at me again, the masseuse told me to relax and not to tense – as if having one’s head rapidly snapped to one side is a commonplace occurrence not warranting the extreme fear that was now coursing through my body. Slowly twisting my head to the other side, she patted my shoulder and I tried to relax for what was to come, knowing that it could not be good to be braced tight. With one final motion she had cracked the other side of my neck leaving me wondering if paralysis was instant or if I could expect it to kick in at any moment.

I didn’t have too long to contemplate as what followed was a series of stretches even more uncomfortable and awkward than the aforementioned photos of the advertised Thai massage had portrayed. Legs, back, arms – no joint was left un-cracked, no muscle un-stretched, and all the while my tormentor was obviously enjoying the gasps of surprise and grunts of pain as she went.

An hour after it began, cracked, twisted and stretched, I was informed that the massage was over and I was allowed to dress in relative privacy as I attempted to regain my composure and keep my mind off of the unpleasant sensations now distributed, fairly equally, throughout my body.

As I left the curtained-off area, I was offered a seat, given some hot tea and told that since I had so many knots in my back, and she had to work them out so much, that I would most certainly feel pain the next day and concluded that I would benefit from one more session before I left the island. Luckily I was leaving the next day so that wasn’t even an option.

Leaving the spa with my friend, who looked far more relaxed and comfortable than I did, I debated whether it was the massage itself that was painful or my obviously knotted and apparently decrepit body that was the real source of the pain. Never in my life had a massage given me so much discomfort or so much fear and I reminded myself that I had paid for it. Sure, only $13, but perhaps that was the going rate for a session of torture?

As this was my first massage in Thailand, I’m certain it isn’t representative as the vast majority of people with whom I spoke, claim only good things. Perhaps the massage was beneficial, perhaps the pain served purpose but for the next few days I definitely felt the pain she spoke of and unfortunately was left to try and ease the discomfort on a 3 hour ferry ride, followed by a 2 hour bus ride, a 5 hour wait at a train station, the 11 hour train ride to Malaysia and the hour or so it took by ferry and foot to get to our hotel where I could finally lie down straight.

If there is a next time, I’ll make sure it’s not before a long day of travel and should I smell menthol oil wafting my way, I’ll probably decide to make a mad dash out the door.

 

, , ,

Visiting the Faroe Islands with MappingMegan

 

This photo is of a traditional wooden church in the small village of Giljanes on the island of Vagar in the Faroe Islands and was graciously provided, along with the below, by Megan from MappingMegan.com as our first guest blogger post.

The Faroe Islands are easily the most beautiful in the world. Between inspiring scenery, untamed nature, and dramatic landscapes, the islands are unspoiled, unexplored and absolutely unbelievable. Every scene is spectacular, and every view takes your breath away.

Faroe Islands is a small archipelago of Islands in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. The islands are some of the most remote in the world, and as such, have remained largely unchanged by time, and uninfluenced by modern societies.

The islands are made up of small villages with beautiful traditional buildings, some of which date back to the Viking age. Traditional wooden churches are constructed across the islands, with each more beautiful than the next. One other particularly noticeable feature of Faroese architecture is the prevalence of houses with grass roofs. Look very closely at the picture above and you will realize many of the homes have green roofs. These are made from grass for insulation during the winter months. 

This is one of just many photos which will make you want to jump on a plane to the Faroe Islands

 

mappingmegan

 

About The Author: Adventure traveller and blogger Megan, is travelling, writing, photographing and experiencing the world with her husband Mike whom she met while in Africa. Together they showcase the best of adventure travel from around the globe. For more about their adventures, check out MappingMegan.com