Thursday, July 31, 2008

I have been collecting snake stories for awhile now. Not intentionally. I just keep hearing them. I would have blogged about these, too, but I am well aware of how much time I devote to animals on this blog, so I have refrained. I could have told you the one about the 10 foot python in my father-in-law's yard that he clubbed to death (he thought) only to find him missing the next morning and then spotted by 2 others later. I could have told you how my aunt had to call the zoo to get another large snake out of her tree. Or how about the cobra my neighbor found in his yard, or the viper in my other neighbor's yard. These are all recent. In the not too far past, my father-in-law had to deal with a king cobra at his ranch. No worries, though, that is a good 2 hour drive from here.

I now have another story to add to my collection. Yesterday, on the day Pun stayed home because he was sick (Thank you, Lord!) we had our own visitor. I looked outside, and there he was! Chills went up my spine! Of course, I alerted my whole family. I really wanted Pun to come immediately. He came several minutes later.


The kids and I enjoyed all the drama of it. Pun finally caught him under the wheel of the car. Before it was all over, the poor thing lost his tail. Pun called security to help. He must of crawled up into the car because he was being spotted on all sides and never appeared again.


No worries, though. He was just a common (non-venomous) rat snake.

Helen and Daniel decided to plan a snake trap. Here is what Helen came up with, with Daniel's suggestions at the bottom.




Pun was proud...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lazy Days

**** Dear Reader: This blog contains and inordinate amount of pictures. Really, I tried to edit them; I could have added so many more. So here is our vacation in pictures!

Last week, we went back to a resort (of sorts) which we had visited once before and fell in love with. I meant to blog about it at the time, but, well, you know me. So when Pun had a day off for a national holiday, we took 2 more and a weekend and spent 5 days there. Ahhh... so relaxing. And to top it off, our very good friends came along for the first 2 days.
I am not sure what to call this kind of resort. It is very simple, yet charming, somewhat like camping, but luxurious, quiet, but personal and inviting. You really just have to experience it to understand.

Each room is decorated in a different theme. Here is our room:


And here is one of the bathrooms. Actually it is more of an outhouse. A really nice one.
Several of the bathrooms are rooms with open ceilings with the shower hiding behind a tree.

The first morning we were there, our kids played outside for hours with their friends that came along with us. We sat to the side visiting and enjoying watching all the creativity in their play.

One thing we love about this place is the animals. Last time we were there they had a horse, baby chicks, rabbits, a bull, and a dog. This time they didn't have the rabbits or chicks, but they had guinea pigs, or as we know them--skinny pigs.

Of course we spent time admiring insects and lizards, and listening to geckos. If you have never heard one in real life, it is really a bizarre noise they make. Almost sounds unreal.

Here is a cute little "patter-killer" we watched for awhile:



Apparently, and I didn't know this before our trip, some caterpillars can cause nasty stings if handled. Others can give you quite a rash if you touch them. On the last day, Daniel got a hold of one and half his face broke out in hives.

So what else did we do?

Well, be lazy of course! After our friends left, we spent an entire day parked by the kitchen/dining area (which was so beautifully decorated) just visiting with other guests and getting to know the owners better. When guests arrive, they are served a beautiful blue tea drink. P'Nok, the owner, took a special interest in our kids and taught them how to make it. She showed them how she steeped the leaves to make the tea. Then they helped her put ice in glasses and pour some for Pun. Then they poured the lemon juice into it which turns the blue tea into an amazing purple color. So delicious!




P'Doi, husband of P'Nok, found out I like iced coffee. He spoiled me! He kept making me iced caramel coffees. Yummy! I made Pun pose for a picture with my coffee. He thought it was too strong!


Here I am after I finally got Sam to take a nap in the hammock. Doesn't it just look blissful?


Sam--vacationing at 8 months. I could just kiss those cheeks off!


We went to a nearby national park where we saw many things like waterfalls...


monkeys watching the traffic,


and this sign...I made Pun stop the car on a busy mountain street to take this picture, so sorry you can't see it well. If you can't read it, it says "Beware Cobra Crossing". I kind of wanted to see the real thing, but I had to settle for the sign.


Someone from our resort who knew the park rangers took us to their station and introduced us. The rangers showed us their bull like animal they keep as a pet (can't remember the name)


and then invited us to go up into the restricted land to look for more animals like tigers, bears, these bull like animals, elephants and deer. We were escorted there by the ranger with an M-16 in hand. They say they nearly always see animals at dusk (we went at dusk as well) but we weren't so lucky. Maybe it was the 6 children that scared them away.


On one of our last days we decided to go take a look at a little shop down the road. We had heard that the lady their had every species of orchid in Thailand. She also collected and sold pottery. I could have hung out at her place for hours. She was a collector! And she had an eye for beauty as well. She and her architect husband had built a little home/business in the mountains and it was stunning. Unfortunately for us, it was not the right season for the orchids (the picture from my last post was one of the only flowers blooming while we were there), but everything was lush and green. The more we enjoyed looking at their collections of pottery, the more they showed us. Eventually they took us into their home for a tour. We saw pottery from all over the world, seashells with natural colors that I was sure had been painted on, and Thai antiques that even my husband was unfamiliar with. Everywhere we looked there was something unusual with an interesting story about it. I could have been looking at the pages of a National Geographic magazine. Of course, by this time my flash card was full and I was searching for pictures delete so I could take more. Here are a few shots of the pottery pieces.






So now, if you are still with me this far, we are home, and back into our routines. Pun just finished another weekend away. I think he will be home now for awhile. Our house is still under construction, but they say it should be done soon. We will be spending August (hopefully) hanging curtains, organizing the last unpacked boxes, and pulling out pictures and decorations for the walls. Maybe we will even get the rest of the painting done. I will be finishing up preparations for Helen to begin school Sept 1. I am not at all excited. Wink. Talk to you later.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Coming soon...


...vacation pictures.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Did It!

It is 10:48 a.m. and I am not typically blogging at this hour, but I just had to tell you -- I did it! I have pressed forward in yet another area of dread and fear on to greater freedom and independence! You ask what area is this?? Well, driving of course!

Pun is leaving for the entire weekend, as in we won't see him after he leaves the house Friday early a.m. until Monday sometime, which leaves me alone in a foreign land with my 3 very young children. So I need to be prepared. We could order out McDonalds everyday (yes, they deliver here--amazing, huh?). But I would like to do a better job than that, and since we have been on vacation all of last week, our cupboards are pretty bare. And since P' Gate, my inlaws maid, graciously helps us every Thursday and she was willing to watch the kids, I decided that today was the day.

So you know, the grocery store is less than 2 miles. No big feat, but I did it!

Yeah for me!

I told Helen that I was going to the store this morning. The topic of mom being unable to drive is an ongoing one for my toddlers. Her question was, of course, how was I going to get there. Was I going to walk? "No, I am going to drive." Utter shock on her face. Her advice to me? "Mom, make sure you don't bump anyone, or else they will bump you!"

Thanks, Helen.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bathroom Science

I love Pun…he is so cool! Today, in the midst of trying to get a hundred things done, he came in the house with another exotic find. A frog with unusual markings (apparently, they are all over our yard, hiding under bushes). This is not the first time he has done this. Actually, just before he brought the frog in, he found a lizard tail freshly dropped from its body. If you don’t know this already, when a lizard loses it’s tail, the tail continues to flop around for a few minutes. The kids were walking around with a wiggly tail. Pun is always bringing “nature” inside. So, back to the frog. I actually didn’t even notice it at first. I sent him outside to get a chair. He came in with the chair and Sam in one hand the frog tucked into his other.

Of course, I ran to get the camera and while I did, he threw the frog into … the shower! I love to look at critters up close, as long as I can be sure they won’t jump on me! So I carefully opened the shower door and the little thing began to pose for the camera. I shot several pictures of him as we all watched him walk right up the wall. Amazing…

video

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Little Rambling, A Little Culture

When I started this blog 2 years ago, my intent was to keep in touch with friends and family and to “show” you Thailand. I had all kinds of ideas about what I would post. It was going to be a class in culture. Then we moved here. For quite some time, life has been just about all I could handle. Call it culture shock or whatever you want, I just wasn’t able to process my new life and share it at the same time, as simple as that should have been. Someone told me before I moved here that I should give myself 2 years to adjust. They were so right. Twenty-two months after moving to the Land of Smiles, my smile is feeling more and more natural and less forced. There is, to be sure, so much more that I don’t even know that I don’t know, but I am more or less at ease here. I suppose ignorance is bliss. While visiting Utah, I worried that I would dread returning. But it wasn’t like that. Of course, I was sad to leave everyone, but speeding around the streets of Bangkok again felt familiar and even a little comfortable.

Thailand is a wonderful, interesting, amazing place to be. I haven’t been able to truthfully say that until recently. I want to share it with you. Living here is changing me. It is changing my thinking. Culture is such a funny thing. I don’t think you truly understand your own until you have been taken out of it. Even then you still may not. It is so inherent in us that we have trouble separating ourselves from it. So as I learn about Thailand, its history, culture, values (on and on it goes) I am seeing my own American culture in a new light. I am comparing the two. I am questioning both. It is unsettling and enlightening. And then I begin to think about how Christianity should look in this setting so that it is truly Biblical and truly Thai at the same time. I have more questions than answers but once again I find peace in knowing that God knows how it all works together. I have been reading along these lines lately. It has given much food for thought.

Boy that was heavy! I didn’t intend to go there, but now you know what is on my mind. On a lighter note let me introduce you to the King and Queen. Of fruit that is…

Durian

If you have ever seen it you probably wouldn’t forget it. And if you ever smelled it you would never forget it. It has the most intense smell. That would be because it is full of sulfur. It is so bad that some hotels place signs around their grounds restricting it.

But if you ask any local, they will tell you they love it. Pun has nostalgic feelings when he smells it. To be fair, it tastes better than it smells. It is incredibly rich, and if I have to eat it, I prefer it to be boiled into soup and eat it over sticky rice with coconut milk. There is no other taste that I can think of to compare it to. Really, it’s not too bad, if you can get past the smell.

It is rather on the large side of fruits and you wouldn’t want someone to throw one at you. Maybe this is why it is known as the king of fruit.

Mangkut….ahhh…good stuff. Also known as mangosteen or the queen of fruits. When I was pregnant with Sam, this was one of the things I craved. Every bite leaves you wanting more. Not only does it taste wonderful, it is delicate and pretty to look at. The leaves on top look like they are straight from a Mary Engelbreit drawing. The outside of the fruit is a deep eggplant color. On the bottom is a cute little pattern that I am sure could be turned into a stamp by some crafty person. You can use your fingernail to pierce through the skin into the meat of the fruit. The inside is fuchsia purple until you reach the edible part which in contrast is bright white. If you ever get the chance to try one, do. It’s yummy!

(I apologize for the terrible pictures of the mangkut. I have a new camera and I promise to read the manual on how to take better pictures soon! So I found some nicer pictures to show you here where you can also see what Queen Victoria thought of mangkut, and here. Apparently, mangkut, has its own website. Who knew??)



Tuesday, July 01, 2008

My Husband the Photographer, My Daughter the Apprentice (or, What I Found the Last Time I Uploaded My Pictures!)




"Gotcha! You can't get the back of my head--I'm too fast!

Thai Funerals

Pun and I had the opportunity to go to a funeral a little while back. Funerals are always thoughtful events for me. In this case where I didn't know the person (the mother of a manager of Pun at work) I wonder what was she like? How are all these people related to her? What is the meaning in all this ritual? Did she ever think about eternity? Where is she now?

This was actually her cremation ceremony. She passed away in April, I believe. At that time they had several days of rituals where people would come to the temple and listen to the monks chant while eating a dinner provided by the family. Usually, funerals appear to be light hearted here especially when the deceased is an older person. People visit, talk on their phones, read the paper. And then as the monks begin their chanting in intervals, some sit up and pay attention. These nightly ceremonies can go on for days, depending on how much money the family can afford for the funeral. The longer, the better. It is part of the merit making system to help the person in the next life.

So she was held until her birthday in June to be cremated. I have no pictures to show you but if you go here you can see how a cremation ceremony is set up. We sat and sat and waited until the last minute when we filed up to the coffin, placed our shaved-wooden flower under it, then walked down some side stairs, and received a book about her life. That was it. People were laughing, talking, visiting. I stood there at the bottom of the stairs awhile longer watching them push the coffin into the fire chamber, seeing it light up with fire, and watching the two monks who sat at the bottom of the stairs look on. I am not sure what their role was, but it was definitely an honored one.

I am not sure what I was expecting. But honestly, when it was all over it was overwhelming to me. It was one of those few moments in my life when hell became so real. I could see it. And all around me were others completely blind to it.
 
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