Sunday, October 22, 2006

And a few more unrelated pics

Since we have been going to ECB church I have made friends with another "newbie" and we have been spending some time together. She has 3 children roughly the same ages as Helen and Daniel. Here is Helen with her new friend Kira. She is really having fun playing and swimming with Kira. They other day I caught her on the phone pretending to talk with Kira. She was saying "Oh, Sawadee ka, Sawadee ka Kira!" (which means "hello, hello!") Cracked me up! (sorry about the glare!)

Here is a view of our front yard. It really is a jungle here! I told Pun we were basically living in a jungle where people decided to build a metropolis. He laughed and said he had never thought of it that way. We hear the bugs, frogs, and lizards at night and the beautiful songs of the jungle birds during the day. The amazing thing is that I never hear any city sounds (no sirens, cars, or street noises). You wouldn't know you were in the heart of Bangkok if you were in our front yard. It really is a little refuge.

You will never guess what building this is! Pun and I found it on an outing one day. This is where my husband was born 34 years ago!! We were told they will be tearing it down soon. I had to take a picture!

This next set of pictures was taken at the park. Helen was helping Daniel on the slide. They had fun doing it over and over and over...

Daniel is doing this thing with his tongue now. So funny looking. I think Helen did it, too. Must be a teething thing.

Making up for missed time....

This is Pun's Great Grand Aunt (that makes 5 generations from her to Helen and Daniel!). She and Pun really love each other. We have been hoping and praying to make it back to Bangkok to see her and the Lord has given us that gift. We spend lots of evenings visiting "greatgrand aunt!" Helen especially loves going to visit. She is blind and spends all of her time on her mattress on the floor. When we first started visiting her, Helen was afraid to hold her hand or give her a kiss. Now, when we go over to see her, Helen goes in right away with Daniel and kisses her and holds her hand and then helps Daniel to hold her hand. Very sweet.

We are praying for opportunities and have begun to share God's love with this very dear woman. Pray with us...

I know this has been full of kid pictures. Consider it a post for Grandma in Utah!!

Next post will be more "cultural." And if there is something in particular you would like to know about, let me know. I love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Very Thai

The other day a friend of mine from church recommended a book to me called Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith. She said when she saw it she thought of me. As I thumbed through the book, I felt as though I was looking at my life. It was filled with pictures of everything I had been seeing and experiencing since arriving here in Bangkok. Not only were there wonderful pictures on every page, but they were accompanied with 2-3 page essays explaining the meanings of things I have been witnessing but not understanding. I knew I had to get a copy.

So Pun took me to the store, we bought the book, and all I want to do now is read it.

Here are a couple shots from the book:

This is a picture of a child's table that shows all the Thai alphabet characters with their corresponding pictures. Pun had the same one growing up and it is still in the backyard!

This picture is not so clear, but it shows how the wiring is done around here sometimes. It caught Pun's attention, he started laughing and said he had seen this before, and he didn't know why they did it this way.

The book explains why drinks are served in bags and not cups, why Thai napkins are so tiny and pink, and a hundred other mysteries surrounding daily life and religious practices.

Pun's cousin said she had read parts of it as well and thought it was really a neat book. She said if I read it all I would know more than her about Thailand! I thought that was sort of funny. There is so much in our own cultures that we take for granted and really don't fully understand.

Really, if you are desparate from something to read, and want to get a feel for what we are experiencing, you can see our life in this book. Maybe you can check it out at the library?? :)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Part 2...Hua Hin and Misc Pictures

A few weeks back we were able to spend some time at a condo Pun's uncle has in Hua Hin, a well known tourist spot south of Bangkok and right on the gulf. We really had a great time. The pool was the best! We went swimming nearly everyday. As you can see it overlooks the gulf. Since it is the rainy season, flooding can be a problem so very few people come at this time. We always had the whole pool to ourselves.

Pun would take the kids down to the beach when the tide was low and they would look for crabs and all other forms of sea life. They would bring back a big bucket of shells and crabs to show me. Then we would get the crabs out and let them walk all over.

A bucket of treasures...

Here is Helen holding an unsual beetle we found. She really seems to have no fear of bugs of animals unless we tell her they might hurt her. I think she is turning into a tom-boy!

Another highlight for the kids and me was our first hamburger. We (especially Helen and me) have a weakness for all that awful American food, namely cheese- burgers and fries. On our way to the airport in Salt Lake, we even stopped to pick up one last greasy burger. I thought that might be the end of them for us, but I am happy to say, they taste the same here!

This is a lady we met at a foodcourt where we were eating lunch. She began talking to the kids and then feeding them her fried bananas (which they devoured!) You can see she and Daniel got real close. He likes anyone who will feed him. People here are very friendly, especially to our children, and are always giving them food and little gifts.

Helen and Daniel riding in a car.

This was in another foodcourt that had an arcade geared towards very young children.

And for one final picture, here we are at the supermarket. We are standing in front of a fresh seafood display. I'm no seafood expert, everything looked unique to me. Pun thought you might like to see this. At the back of the table there are several kinds of fish and at the front right is a display of large crabs. Daniel's face says it all!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

High Tech Kids and Other Stuff Part 1

Our kids are getting a little tired of the few toys we were able to bring with us. Our container hasn't arrived yet so I was getting a little desparate for something to keep them busy. I set up the word processor on the lap top and let Helen type. It kept here entertained for quite awhile. At one point I turned around to check on her and saw Daniel next to her pretending to talk on the cell phone. They look so serious. Pretty funny.

I just had to show you some lizard pictures. We really have fun finding and watching them. This particular night we found 5 or 6 on the outside of the screen door. Usually we only find a few every night.

We find this one every evening in the kitchen it seems. They really are great to have around. They eat bugs, stay high up on the walls and are very fast. The kids try to catch them sometimes.

In our previous post, I mentioned that the typical Thai house has an outdoor kitchen. Here is Pun helping the maid cook outside. She was shy and I couldn't get her to face the camera for a picture! You sort of feel like you are camping out when you are cooking out here.

One last picture for now. There is a Thai desert called rhotee-saimai. It is a crepe filled with fibrous sugar strings and tastes really good. This morning we happened to see them making it on the TV. It really is quite a process. The man who was making them said he had been perfecting his technique for 44 years! We decided it is much easier to buy it from the street vendor (8 servings or so for 50 cents). The fibers inside look like coarse blond hair and taste like cotton candy in your mouth. Very good!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Thai Home

What does a home in Thailand look like? Even since I wrote the last post my ideas about houses here have evolved. I visited a new friend's home Thursday. She and her husband are Americans. It was a beautiful apartment and looked much more familiar to me, so I now know there are more options available. The catch will be the cost involved.

To live Thai=cheap.
To live American=expensive.

Not that I want to live completely American, but it is amazing how quickly we miss the luxuries we take for granted in America.

I do not want to be negative on this blog, nor dishonest. So understand when I write these things I am myself am in the process of adjusting. I have been convicted lately about being content where I am. And I pray that God will make me so.

Wherever you live, homes our usually built with considerations of the climate, the enviroment, the available materials, etc... Eskimos don't have air conditioner, jungle homes don't have heaters; you get the picture.

In Thailand, heat, burglars, and wildlife are the main concerns when designing a home.

Heat: Bangkok is the hottest (or the 2nd) city in the world on average. No need for heaters here. Also, no water heaters either. Some people do heat the water electrically as it comes out the shower head. Kitchens used to be outside. It definitely helps with the heat and the mess. More modern and well off people have moved their kitchens inside. Ovens are not in the typical Thai home. Pun's parents bought one just before we arrived, but I feel guilty using it because I know it will heat up the house. Windows are left open continuously for air flow (unless it is a bedroom that you use an air conditioner in). No one has carpet here. Wood and tile floors are cooler and healthier (we heard of a man who died from mold in his lungs that had built up in his carpet!)

Burglary: It is a huge problem. Most everyone has a tall concrete fence with metal spikey things on top and a metal gate protecting there property. All the windows have bars on them. It feels a little like prison to me, but I see the necessity. Everyone has one or two watch dogs. There are dogs everywhere in the streets as well. If someone comes to visit you, they just yell at you from the fence. When we first arrived, I thought it was funny that Pun was in the bathroom helping one of the kids shower and at the same time was yelling out the window to the maid to order our breakfast. I felt spoiled!

Wildlife: Ants are a constant problem for everyone. I asked Pun if maybe we could make a peace offering of food for them outside and then they would leave us alone. He doesn't think it will work... Cockroaches come for food as well, and they are rather large. Then the lizards come. We really enjoy them and they feast on flying bugs. We are not sure there is any way to bug proof a home here.

It seems most houses are built out of concrete and cinder block. I suppose the reason is because it is cheap. The other side of that is once it is put in place it is difficult to work with (ie. hanging a picture or curtain rods). Also electrical wiring gets a little tricky, also. Many people use wood for the flooring. The wood floors and staircases are beautiful!

While we are waiting to build our own home, Pun and I are helping his parents remodel/redecorate their home. Though we are just beginning I think it will be very educational process as we learn what materials are available and how things are done here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wecome to the 21st Century

We now have unlimited access to the world via internet, thanks to Pun's dad and brother. It felt like Christmas morning after Pun had it all set up and we got on-line. I couldn't stop grinning all night. You just don't realize how disconnected you feel without it until someone pulls the plug... Now, as long as Helen and Daniel cooperate, I should be more regular in posting.

By the way, for those of you who make comments--thanks so much! I love the feedback. And I do try to respond to all of the comments on the same page where you leave them.

Home Sweet Home?

Since we have arrived in Bangkok, we have been on the lookout for a place to build our home. We have taken a couple of survey trips to look at various pieces of land that Pun's dad owns. To be honest, it has been a difficult process, and I know it is only beginning. It seemed like everything we looked at was lacking something really important like a church nearby, phone lines, or was not in a safe area. Not to mention, I am learning that I have to readjust my idea about what a home will be like here. It's not necessarily bad, just different. I keep trying to picture my kids growing up American in a house like I am familiar with, and forgetting we now live in Bangkok. Things will definitely be very different, but they can be very good, too. Pun and I have alternately been encouraging each other that God already knows the perfect place for us to live and the job He wants Pun to have, and when the time is right, He will reveal it to us.

Sooo, Monday when we went out to look at land again, I tried to prepare myself with different expectations. And here is what happened.

We looked at 3 pieces of land. The first one was in a good residential area and not too crowded. When we got there it looked as though people had set up makeshift homes on the land and moved in. As we got closer, we realized they were on the access road and the land was surrounded on all sides by houses of wealth and poverty with only a tiny access road out of the property running by the little makeshift homes. I was able to picture our home there, though. The neighbors who greeted us were very friendly and although it is a residential area, the traffic did not seem to overwhelming (more on Bangkok traffic soon). The only draw backs were no public transportation, no church remotely close, and no major shopping areas nearby. Above is a picture of it.

I was even more excited about the second piece we saw. Although it was flooded and filled with banana trees (yum--I was already plotting to keep as many of those as possible), it was even less crowded with even better access in and out. It is a developing area as well.

But the third piece.... it stole our hearts. It is currently a the rice patty! But it is beautiful land, about 3 acres Pun says, and has palm trees lining one side and bamboo trees on another. We can have a phone line ( a must!), get to a major department store and grocery store within 10 minutes, and they are building a major freeway that will come right by the land. As we looked at the land, we saw a building right across the field with a red roof and a white cross on it. It was too good to be true. It really was, because it turned out not to be the kind of church we are looking for, but that's ok. Pun thinks the new freeway would get us to church quickly.

Could this be the site of our new home??
Only the Lord knows...
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