Cooking in Thailand – by Kelly with a little help from Lauren

I think this is one of the best activities we have done as a family and we have been together almost 3 months.  We took a cooking class in Thailand and we all had the best time!  It was something each of us could do, even if the girls hadn’t ever used a full size butcher knife before.  Should I have been worried? Fortunately they came away with all of their fingers. 🙂


Now that’s a knife!

We chose the Siam Rice Thai Cookery based upon reviews we had read, and we were not disappointed.  We chose to do just the afternoon class so that they girls would be able to make it through the entire thing.  It didn’t include the trip to the farmer’s market, but we were okay with that.  We reaped the rewards of those who went and had the freshest ingredients.


We chose our dishes once we arrived.  Each of us got to prepare 3 dishes, one noodle, one chicken and one curry.  We had a combination of the following on our table – Pad Thai, Big Fried Noodles, Fried Holy Basil with Chicken, Fried Ginger with Chicken, Khao Soy Curry and Green Curry.  Because we were not doing the full day class, we weren’t supposed to make dessert, but Dave had to have the chance to learn to make his favorite dessert – Mango Sticky Rice, so we were treated to that as well.

All of the cooking was done at outside work stations.


We chopped and diced each ingredient.  They had plated the ingredients for each of us before hand, so they were all ready for each dish.  Our instructor was great and helped the girls out when they needed it.

Then we took it all to our own individual wok stations.  The girls did a great job stir frying for the first time!  Dave can’t wait until they can cook for him once we get home.

AWESOME LAUREN was the curry master.  She was the first one finished.  She rocked and was very proud!  (By: Lauren)

And pounding the ingredients with a mortar and pestle is no easy feat!


Our curry master


and her finished product


Finally, we were able to taste the fruits of our labor and it was delicious!!!!  Grace’s favorite was the ginger chicken.


Lauren liked the basil chicken.  I have never seen her eat so much!IMG_8046

Claire loved the pad thai.


Dave’s favorite was of course the mango sticky rice!  IMG_8048

Unfortunately no picture of me, just my plates, but I loved the Khao Soy Curry.  And don’t they look yummy?!


We all said we couldn’t wait to cook this back at home.  The great thing about it is that with the food allergies the girls have, peanuts and seeds, it was nice to know exactly what went in to each dish and no one was worried.  And the girls ate it all – well as much as they could because there was so much food – happy to eat what their hands had made.

We are looking forward to more cooking classes on this journey – possibly Spain and Italy.  Bon appetit!










Going Back in Time…Thoughts on Cambodia by Dave

(Disclaimer-This post is out of chronological order but I’m sure you don’t mind)

Siem Reap, Cambodia-This is as close as I’m ever going to get to feeling like Indiana Jones.

Cambodia is probably the poorest country we will probably visit on this journey. Its a country that has been to hell and back, just a brutal recent history. The six days we spend here though-all in Siem Reap-was pretty awe inspiring. We were here to mainly visit the Temples of Angkor and they did not disappoint.

Its hard to convey the scale of it all. Kinda mind blowing to think that this was probably the largest city in the world a 1,000 years ago, with a population close to 1 million at a time when London had a population of about 50,000.  All built without the use of mortar, several stories high, in about 30 years. European cathedrals took hundreds of years to build. What the hell? Then the whole place gets abandoned, the jungle swallows it up, and it’s then rediscovered (by Europeans at least) in the mid 1850’s. Could you imagine stumbling onto this place?

It gets to a point where you just keep taking pictures and everything looks so amazing to you that it gets downright silly. Not that any of the pictures really do it justice.

We hired a great guide named Picheth. The tour guides here remind me of Park Rangers back home, they all wear the same uniform, but they meet you at the hotel. They charge about $40 a day. Having a guide with us made a world of difference. Picheth was great!1  We tried to avoid the mid day head and spend time in the hotel or by the pool. It’s the most oppressive heat I’ve experienced in a while-and it wasn’t even the hottest time of the year. By 10:30am or so you pretty much feel like you are in a sauna. We had plenty of meltdowns due to the heat- I would too if I were only 8. Thankfully our driver had cold water and cold towels at every stop.


Traveling with Kids-Our guide Picheth imparting some priceless knowledge. Girls more interested in a big bug.

We visited the 3 main temple sites- Angkor Tom (lots of Buddha heads), Ta Prohm (still covered by the jungle), and Angkor Wat (the most famous, the most well preserved). They were all cool for different reasons.

Here is Angkor Tom-

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Ta Prohm was my favorite as it showed how the temple probably looked as it was rediscovered by Westerners.  It is also where the film Tomb Raider was shot.

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Angkor Wat (all the pictures on the internet are better)


This is not a river-its a gigantic MAN MADE moat


The precursor to Uber



We also went on a trip to see a floating village. There are two seasons-wet and dry.  When the rain comes, the river gets too full, that it pushes back up towards Siem Reap and floods, making the river a lake for part of the year.  During the wet season they fish, and when the water recedes, they plant rice.  You have to build your house on stilts. It was crazy to see a wooden boat full of uniformed school kids heading to class on the river.

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We also visited an orphanage in Siem Reap. Our hotel arranged it and we brought them a huge bag of rice ($30 worth) and some school supplies (Notebooks, pens, colored pencils). We hung out with the kids (of all ages) for a couple of hours in the afternoon. They all spoke pretty good english. We all sat down with the head of the orphanage to ask him questions. It was pretty heavy hearing about the all the situations that brought the kids there, but it was good for the girls to hear it and see how they lived. It was just one afternoon, but they all seemed pretty happy, they did tons of origami and made paper airplanes with the girls and they played monkey in the middle with them as well.


The girls at the orphanage

We really didn’t wander around the city too much. We were busy seeing the temples and swimming to save us from the heat.

Our hotel lobby had giant lily pads. Go ask Alice….when she’s ten feet tall….


Double Trouble-happy times in an air conditioned room



Local Dance Show

Random thoughts on Cambodia

-Everyone here uses the good ole U.S. Dollar and the prices aren’t as cheap as I thought they would be-probably because it’s the biggest tourist oriented city in the country.

-Every room in our hotel had a copy of Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider.

-Sad to see the decapitated Buddha statues in the temples, a product of foreign demand and people trying to make a living during/after a brutal civil war.

-Our guide mentioned that the global real estate bull market is alive and well in Siem Reap

Siem Reap is a really cool place. Really glad we could see it, especially at this time. With the increase in tourism to the temples you would have to think at some point they wouldn’t just let you walk around where ever you wanted. I hope that Cambodia can continue to move forward.

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Until Next Time Cambodia! From the Funky Pants Club


Thailand Elephant Adventure by: Claire

I want to tell you about an amazing day we had in Thailand.  We were fortunate enough to be able to “own” an elephant for a day. It took place at Patara Farm outside of Chiang Mai, which rescues elephants purely because they love them.  We got to feed them, bathe them and ride them.  All in all it was a great experience. All of the elephants there were Asian elephants, you can tell by their spotted ears and trunks.


To begin, everyone participating got a basket of bananas and sugarcane. Then we got assigned to a certain elephant, based on our age and personality.  My elephant was named Tap Tong.  She had a few spots on her trunk, and her ears.  She was rescued ten years ago from an illegal logging camp.  Our trainer held the basket and handed us the food one by one. I held my hand up high and yelled, “Boon!”  The elephants would lift their trunks, and you would put the food in their mouths. Tap Tong liked to use her trunk to get the food too.


Grace feeding Mae Kaown


Me feeding Tap Tong


Lauren feeding Boon Tong

We learned how to care for our elephants and how to check four things to make sure our elephants were heathy and happy.  If an elephant is happy its ears are flappy and its tail is swinging.  To check if it’s heathy you have to make sure that its eyes are watering at the same rate.  Elephants don’t have tear ducts, so they don’t cry like us so this is a way to be sure their eyes are okay and not too dry.  Another thing to check for is if they sweat. Elephants only sweat on the skin right above their toe nails and it should be a bit damp when you check.  The last two things to look for are their sleeping patterns and their poop.  You can tell if an elephant’s sleeping pattern is regular once she wakes up.  When elephants sleep they sleep for four hours at a time. They sleep on one side, take a break, then sleep on the other side.  So when they wake up, the elephant should have dirt on both of its sides.  You also need to check the poo….that’s right, their poo.  First you check the color. It should be a greenish yellow, because an elephant eats greens and drinks water. 🐘⬅️🌱💧  The second thing to check for is the quantity. Six or seven balls of poop is just right each time an elephant poops. 💩💩💩💩💩💩💩  You should also should check how much water your elephants has been drinking. You can do that by taking a small piece of the poo, and squeezing it, water should drain out of the poo.😬 Another thing to check on is the smell. It should smell like soggy grass, or wet dogs. 🐶 💧🌱 A fun fact is that poo with smaller fiber is from a smaller elephant. 🐘


Yup, I’m holding poop!


It was really fun bathing the elephants.  I was the first one in the water.  You had to take your shoes off and the trainer told me when to wade over to Tap Tong.  When I got over there I was waist deep in water and the trainer gave me a boost up.  When you sit on an elephants you sit atop the head, not the neck bone.  Then the trainer scooped  water up and poured it over the elephant while I brushed its face.  We don’t have pictures of us bathing them since we couldn’t have our cameras down there, but it was pretty cool.

The trainer then pulled on the ear and shouted, “Ma!!”  Which is the command for go.  When we got to shallower water we got off, and brushed Tap Tong’s legs, torso, trunk, and tail.  We also brushed her ears.  Then the elephants stepped over a ledge and we used a kind of weaved bucket to splash them with water.  Then they lined up in front of the elephants with our backs turned, and the elephants sprayed us!!!!  I was really wet, but it was super fun!

When you ride an elephant, you can get up two ways, and you don’t get to choose.  The elephant picks you up, however it was trained.  An elephant can pick you up by lifting its leg like a stair, or by you climbing is trunk.  Then, when you are riding, you put your knees behind its big flappy ears, which are surprisingly strong.  There is also a rope tied around the elephant that you can hold onto if you need to.  You have to wear riding pants, so that the elephant’s rough skin doesn’t scratch you.  Personally, I thought the skin felt like a vinyl chair with hair.  Also, I felt very safe riding an elephant.  You should definitely  try it if you ever have the chance!