Thursday, July 31, 2014

Better

Hi,

It feels good to be back in Chiang Rai after our short trip to the big city.  We handled our business and enjoyed the day.

Well, only one person recognized this 'Zany Day' song.  It's from an epic LP ironically, from the dark side.
"I'm in the hi-fidelity first class traveling set, and I think I need a Lear Jet.  __, it's a crime.  Share it freely, but don't take a piece of my pie..."  Hint:  Oh, come on now. A one word title.  It's said to be the root of all evil.  What more can I say?

Going to the U.S. Consulate office in Chiang Mai is always an experience.  Before we went inside we had to present our passports and appointment reservation to a guard on the sidewalk.  While standing in line we read what could not be taken inside.  When it was our turn to go through the thick glass door, we put everything in baskets for x-ray.  We made sure we'd turned our phones off.  After the metal detector walk-through, our bags were searched and things like our phones, memory sticks, and headphones were put in a plastic bag.  That was phase one, we still had another area to enter.  Business at the Consulate mostly seems to center around citizens having the proper documents in order to deal with Thai immigration.  There are also things like passport renewals and adding extra pages to passports.  Sometimes immigration wants proof from the U.S. government that what we say is true.  The Consulate can only verify that what we say is true under oath, so a form is filled out, a hand is raised, and it's done. Oh yes, there is also an exchange of money for this service.  We accomplished our mission and returned to the front window, where we were given our 'devices' that were being held.  

To get back to our hotel, we hailed a Song Taew (pick-up truck with two rows of seats).  We were the only passengers and in a way, it was kind of fun.  We rode passed the flower market and through parts of town we were vaguely familiar with, and then the final, narrow road to our hotel.  

The middle part of the day was spent at Central Festival, a huge, five-story mall.  We strolled up and down on a few floors checking out the layout.  There is one floor that is mostly spas of every description.  One place had the phrase 'perfectly white' in it's name.  It was a skin whitening spa.  You can also get facials, body sculpting, weight control, and hair growth treatments right there in the mall.  While we were eating lunch I noticed that 'Mr. Bun' was right next door to 'Auntie Anne's, with made me wonder if they were a couple.  (555)  Eventually, it was time to hit the road.

Today's photo was taken at the entrance to the parking structure at Central Festival.  It speaks for itself.


Winding our way through the countryside we saw many dogs.  One dog sort of popped out of a corn field and we named him 'Corn Dog'.  Then there was the dog strutting along the side of the road with a purpose.  His name is 'Road Dog'.  Nothing like a little fun on the highway to pass the time.  In an effort to get back home we drove right by Charon Gardens.  That's right, didn't stop for pie.  Hmm.

Tomorrow we will begin what is to be a three day fast.  Nothing but water.  What?  I guess you could call it a detox.  I'm going to give it a try.  Boot is still not convinced that we can do it.  She said, "You will get hungry".  Yes, this is true, and then we will drink water.  Hmm.  I'll let you know how day one went.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                    Peace,
                              Danny

"The less I needed,
the better I felt."
~Charles Bukowski

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Good

Hi,

Today I'm coming to you from the 18th floor of our hotel, where the WiFi doesn't dare go.  I'm using my phone to power the internet on my laptop.  Ain't technology grand.  Chiang Mai seems so busy and full of everything compared to Chiang Rai.  

The 'Easy Monday' song was "You Keep Me Hanging On" by The Supremes.  If you need a little 'Zany Day' craziness, try this:  "__, get away.  Get a good job with more pay and you're OK.  __, it's a gas.  Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.  New car, caviar, four star daydream, think I'll buy me a football team."  Hint:  Some say it makes the world go 'round.  Hmm.

This morning, after our usual routines, we hit the highway for Chiang Mai.  We made a stop at Charon Gardens for lunch and pie, of course.  The various 'views' on this road are spectacular this time of year.  One minute we're seeing wide expanses of green valleys with tree-covered mountains in the background, and then it's a mountain road with thick, dense jungle on either side.  It certainly helps make the trip more interesting.  

This evening I went to a meeting near the Ping River.  It's not far from the hotel so I took a Tuk-Tuk there and back.  Both drivers tried to entice me into everything from a massage parlor to an evening with young girls (his words).  Single men are targets here, since so many come to Thailand to 'play'.  It's unfortunate that such a large segment of the tourist industry has accepted the negative reputation and embraced it as a legitimate asset.  Hmm.
Anyway, I just laughed them off as we raced through the streets, happy to get out safely.

The photo for today is an entry we were happy to see, and yet a little surprised.  This group of kids made a real statement by dressing in drag and promoting identity 'freedom'.  I wonder if their school knew about this in advance.  It was bold move, especially in a small city like Chiang Rai.  


Tomorrow we do the Consulate thing, visit Central Festival Mall, and proceed back to Chiang Rai.  It will be good to get back.  I guess we really are turning into 'small town' folks.  (555)

It looks like a Wacky Wednesday.

               Peace,
                         Danny 

"Do your little bit of good where you are.
It's those little bits of good put together
that can overwhelm the world."
~Desmond Tutu

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Light

Hi,

The weather in Chiang Rai was the same as before.  Daku got a special bath, there was thunder lightning and rain, and  we planned a little trip.

"You say although we broke up, you still wanna be friends.  But how can we still be friends, when seein' you only breaks my heart again.  And there ain't nothin' I can do about it.  Set me free why don't cha babe.  Get out my life, why don't cha babe.  You don't really love me, __ __ __ __ __..."  Hint:  I would be supremely happy if you remembered this song.  

The ticks are still with us.  Whatever they sprayed on the lawn was not the answer.  Today we decided to give Daku a bath with the special 'tick shampoo' to see if it might repel them.  He was a real trouper, standing there with the saddest look on his face, but staying still and cooperating.  Fortunately, it was a warm day so we left him in the pen for the initial drying.  He didn't like being left alone.  It's evening and he's almost dry.  Here's hoping the ticks don't like the shampoo.

The storm for today was a little different than usual in that there was a lot of thunder.  We had one big event that 
felt like it was right above the house.  It was that house-shaking, ear-splitting thunder that sounds like the sky is being ripped open.  Hmm.  Heavy rain followed, then it passed, then a small rain later.  

There was more movement in the corn field next door.  Today they actually chopped down the stalks that had been picked.  I'm so glad they didn't decide to just burn it off.  

The second largest cement company in Thailand is teaching villages how to be more environmentally aware, and helping them to go 'green'.  This could be a great trend if it catches on, and could possibly create a cultural shift.  There are signs that the conscience of the people is moving toward action.  Plans for some industrial plants along the Mekong were halted due to protests from the local communities.  The river is already seeing signs of pollution from industrial dumping in China. 

Today's photo is another from Saturday's parade.  This is one of the 'Zany' crews that showed up.


Day one for Cat and her braces turned out to be less painful than predicted by the doctor.  Eating during the first week is the hard part.  A diet of soft foods is not the usual teenage fare.  She told us that two more of her friends are getting braces soon.  I guess the dentist was right about it being a 'trend'.  There will be some very straight teeth in Chiang Rai's future. (555)

Tomorrow morning we will drive down to Chiang Mai for an overnight stay, so I'll be writing you from the hotel overlooking the Night Bazaar. We're going to the U.S. Consulate to verify some papers for immigration.  Oh, the details.  We'll be back for dinner on Thursday, 

Have a Happy Tuesday.

               Peace,
                         Danny 

"If you want light to come into your life,
you need to stand where it is shining."
~Unknown

Monday, July 28, 2014

Marksman

Hi,

Chiang Rai had another rainy weekend.  It didn't rain for the entire weekend, but we had enough to discourage any afternoon and evening outdoor events.  We went to a parade and Cat got her braces.

The 'Old School Friday' song was "The One Who Really Loves You" by Mary Wells.  Time for some 'Easy Monday'.
"Set me free, why don't cha, babe.  Get out my life, why don't cha, babe. 'Cause you don't really love me, __ __ __ __ __ __.  You don't really need me, but you __ __ __ __ __."  Clue:  The title is actually 5 words, sung by 3 young women who had numerous #1 hits.  

Saturday morning I took Cat and Fern to school for a 7am staging of the crosstown parade.  Later we went to the high school near us where the parade ended.  We couldn't believe how many students there were.  Some of the schools were from outside of the city and the students came on busses.  Many of the students were dressed in their school uniforms, and others were allowed to wear anything they wanted.  There were some who marched in costumes that were everything from cute to zany to outrageous.  The host school's marching band made an entrance and later gave a concert.  The kids were there all day, watching a huge variety show on a big stage.  When we asked what the celebration was about, Cat told us it had something to do with the community seeing all of the students, but our guess is that it was a way to celebrate the end of mid-terms.  Either way, they had lots of fun.

Today's photo shows the host school band in their sharp black uniforms.  More pics to follow this week.


While having lunch at Doi Chaang Coffee, we took a chance and had the van washed.  Between the rain and the puddle splashing, it was a mess.  Besides, it didn't look like it was going to rain (555).  That evening I drove into town to pick up Cat from Walking Street and just as she got in the van, a storm hit.  At least it was clean.  Two days later, it still looks pretty good, but in a few days it will look like we've been on safari.

The golf course on the military base near our house is a beautiful carpet of green.  It seems a shame that no one gets to play on such a pretty course.  Such is the way of things right now.  There are other places to play, but this is the one in town and not too expensive.  In a way, it might be a blessing since the weather changes quickly and we do get lightning.  Yeah, that's it, it's closed for the protection of the golfers.

This afternoon was the culmination of all the tooth pulling dramas.  We went to Cat's school and she took us to the office.  This is the first time we had been there and they wanted information as to who we were, what we do, and what were we to Cat, etc.  It began rather sternly, but soon became cordial and now we're on the books.  We took a fruit basket with flowers for Dr. Nan, as a thank you gesture, and while the braces were being installed we went for coffee.  For the next two years or so, Cat's diet is going to change since she was given a list of things not to eat while wearing braces.  Oh no, no more spicy food, no more sweets, no more apples.  The list goes on and on, but she's committed.  She was told that tomorrow there will be some pain that may last a week.  A new adventure begins.  Our regular dentist, Dr. Upra, told us that the orthodontia business has been booming.  No only are there teens that want to have straight teeth, braces are also seen as a status symbol.  If you have braces, you must have money.  There is also another group of older clients who feel that wearing braces makes them look younger, which has led to 'snap-on' false braces.  What?  There used to be three clinics in Chiang Rai, but now there are about eight.  Dr. Upra told us that because Dr. Nan has additional training as a specialist, she is seen as the 'top' of the heap, with about a year wait for new clients.  They are trying to keep it at 500 patients.  Oh my.

Have a Great Week.

                Peace,
                          Danny

"The marksman hitteth the mark
partly by pulling, partly by letting go."
~Egyptian Proverb

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Funnies

Hi,

Today was a beautiful day in Chiang Rai, even with the clouds.  A morning swim and evening laughter made it a great day.

This week's 'Zany Day' song was "I Want A New Drug" by Huey Lewis & The News.  That means it's time for another dose of 'Old School Friday'.  This one is from 1962 by a motor city artist.  "Some other girls are filling your head with jive.  So now you're acting like you don't know that I'm alive.  Love, you better wake up, yeah, before we break up and you lose me, look to me, __ __ __ __ __ __."  Clue:  She's trying to beat them to the punch as she proclaims that he is her guy.

This morning we tried something a little different.  We went for a swim while the sun was shining.  The water is cooler than the last time we swam due to all the rain, but it was very invigorating.  Swimming in the morning also makes for better sunbathing.  The only downside is that it left me feeling very laid back.  Oh well, we had nowhere to go today.  (555)

This evening, Cat's friend Fern joined us for dinner.  While talking about their English teacher they mentioned that his favorite football team was 'Asanon'.  We were sure that wasn't a team and kept asking them what they were saying.  Finally, after clues about big guns, I figured out that it was 'Arsenal'.  The four of us broke out in laughter because we all knew why there was a misunderstanding.  It was that 'L' sound at the end of the word that always turns into 'Un'.  That led to a discussion about language and listening.  Later we all went to the dentist for Cat's teeth cleaning before Monday's braces.  Fern will spend the night and tomorrow morning they go to school early to prepare for a parade from their school to a high school across town.  Big stuff in a small town.

One way we gauge the growth of Chiang Rai is by the products that become available.  Some time ago, we thought it might be a good idea to put some solar patio lights around the yard.  They were not to be found.  Recently, they have popped up at all of the home improvement stores.  The amazing light-bulb changing pole is another example.  Which reminds me, I have two lights to change in the dining area.  Hmm.  When it comes to tech stuff though, there seems to be no 'lag' time as far as arrival to Chiang Rai.  

There are some things that may always be the same.  The small farms will always harvest by hand.  No fancy machines to pick the corn.  Today's photo is the corn field next to us during the partial harvest the other day.  In the center of the photo you can see a bag that is being carried by one of the pickers.  


Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.   It's an Formula One weekend so don't forget to set your devices.  Time for the 'Funnies'.

              Peace,
                        Danny


Thursday, July 24, 2014

See

Hi,

Chiang Rai had a dry day, all day.  We've been waiting for this for a week.  With lots of blue sky peaking through, it was a good day.

The 'Zany Day' song this week has a lot of fans.  If it's right on the tip of your tongue, maybe this will help:
"__ __ __ __ __.  One that won't make me nervous, wonderin' what to do.  One that makes me feel like I feel, when I'm with you.  When I'm alone with you..."  Clue:  I think today's lyric should help a lot.  

All eyes were on the sky this morning as we looked for any patches of blue.  With the spray man scheduled to come and treat the lawns, rain would have cancelled the visit.  When he didn't arrive at 9am we got worried.  Boot called him and found out we were next.  Whew. 

We went to immigration again today to do a 'check-in' and then went to the vegetable market.  Things had changed since the last time we were there.  The first thing we noticed was lots of produce on all the tables.  There is another vendor that has taken a big space that had not been used.  Now there's even more to chose from, we think.
It's that time of year when the mangos are not around.  What ever will I do.  Well, the pineapple was like candy so I'll just have to eat that.  (555)

We were invited to dinner tonight by our friend Pay, the nurse at Overbrook Hospital.  Her boyfriend, Boy (his play name) has an aunt who owns a restaurant.  It's called Tohng Tueng Kitchen and it's a big place.  When we arrived there was only one couple there, but by the time we left, one wing of the place was full.  During dinner we were entertained by two young women who did Thai Lanna dancing.  They are students from Maefahluang University, where the owner's son teaches traditional dance.  We had good food, good company, and a great new restaurant.

Today's photo is one of the dancers.  I'm still amazed at the way her fingers bend back to make the beautiful shapes.  Cat told us it takes lots of stretching and muscle control. 


When the dancers finished for the evening they came to our table and gave us these tiny little flower cups.


Yesterday's mystery of the Black Chicken was revealed by our friend Blue.  It is a type of chicken that is used primarily in a soup that is said to have many health benefits.  There are recipes dating back 1000 years in Chinese lore.  On the other hand, our friend Claire wrote and told me they make good pets.  They have white feathers and black skin.  Hmm, how can I possibly eat the soup knowing that?

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

               Peace,
                         Danny

"Learn how to see.  
Realize that everything 
connects to everything else."
~Leonardo da Vinci

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nothing

Hi,

For most of the day it looked like we might get rain.  We did get a small shower and lots of threats.  Our day was spent behind the walls of the Big Brown House.

Well, the 'Easy Monday' song was "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.  Not many of you got this.  Hmm.  Maybe the 'Zany Day' song will strike a chord somewhere in your 'Oldies' memory.  "__ __ __ __ __, one that won't make me sick.  One that won't make me crash my car, or make me feel three feet thick.  __ __ __ __ __.  One that won't hurt my head, one that won't may my mouth too dry, or make my eyes too red..."  Hint:  The singer is looking for an alternative inebriant without side effects.  Is there such a thing? 

The system at Cat's school still has us baffled.  The students are in mid-term week and they take exams on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Cat has a total of 12 tests to take.  Today she had 5 and Friday she has 5 more.  I remember high school and we only had 6 classes, which meant 6 finals to study for in most cases.  I guess when you have 3 English classes, Thai language, 2 math classes, and all the science, it adds up.  The real question is just how much knowledge is being absorbed.  At any rate, she's studying hard and hoping to pass, to quote a famous song.

We are really hoping for a dry day tomorrow so the spray man can return and treat the lawn.  We are in 'tick hell' around here.  Daku is a pretty easy patient when it comes to going through his fur and picking them out.  The only place he doesn't like us working on is his tail.  With his long coat, it's a very difficult job.  We're just glad he's a light color, which makes them easier to see.  If he were black we'd probably miss half of them.  The battle continues.

While shopping at Big C the other day I was checking out the packaged meats and ran across our photo of the day.
In the cooler I saw chickens that were different colors.  This photo is a bird that was labeled 'Black Chicken'.  That's all I know about it.


Boot made me a special dessert today.  It was served hot, and had pieces of what seemed like squash in it.  It was very sweet, in fact it was too sweet.  I had a little and politely told her to save the rest.  She served the rest to Cat and me at dinner.  Cat asked her about the mystery vegetable and it turned out to be sweet potato.  So, I have now experienced 'Sweet Potato Soup'.  It would probably be a bit hit in certain quarters.  

Today was corn harvesting day in the field next door.  When I first looked out, I only saw a couple of men and it looked like a huge job, then I saw corn stalks waving and realized there were other people in there working.  The corn is so tall that I didn't see them.  They ended the day with two pick-up trucks full of bags of corn.  I'm guessing they'll be back tomorrow.  

It's time for a Wacky Wednesday.

                   Peace,
                             Danny

"Nothing is permanent in this world,
not even your troubles."
~Charlie Chaplin

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Run

Hi,

We almost had a day without rain.  Late in the afternoon it happened.  It wasn't a storm, just a light watering, but wet anyway.  Tell me where you live and we'll send you some (555).

It seems that those memory banks need a recharge.  'Easy Monday' has slipped through your grasp.  Here's something that might help:  "I see a little silhouetto of a man, scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango.
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening to me.  Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo Figaro, magnifico..."  Clue:  This group comes from across the pond, very theatrical lead singer who pranced around with the microphone.  The song has many parts that create a little opera of sorts, about a man who believes he is possessed.

This morning we took Cat and part of her crew to school for their presentation.  Then it was off to run errands.  One of the nice things about living in a relatively small town is that nice feeling that comes from seeing the same faces and getting warm greetings.  Today we passed a bakery and saw a friend of ours inside with his toddler daughter.  We went in and had a brief conversation and continued down the street.  Got a smile and a wave from a cafe owner, a big smile from the lady at the herb shop, and a warm welcome at the health food store.  

There is a big intersection where the police station sits, and the traffic lights have been out for days.  I found this odd, since they had to notice.  Today we saw the reason: Brand new lights are being installed, with what looks like enough lights to control many directions of traffic flow.  Hmm, progress?  In the big market in the center of town there is a one-way street that used to flow into the market.  Now it flows out, which means access is more difficult.  Hmm, progress?

I find it curious that sometimes when we're out with Cat, people will ask if she is our daughter.  There is an expression that Cat told us that describes our relationship and that seems to clear things up.  In a way, it's rather flattering to think that we could be her parents.  Especially since I don't think either one of us look Thai in any way.  

Today's photo is another view of the giant Buddha being built north of us.  Next time I'm in the area I want to go right up next to it.  


Have a Happy Tuesday.

              Peace,
                        Danny

"Run mad as often as you choose,
but do not faint."
~Jane Austen

Monday, July 21, 2014

Good

Hi,

It was a rainy weekend here in Chiang Rai.  It wasn't constant, but enough to label it 'rainy'.  

The 'Old School Friday' song was "Up On The Roof" by The Drifters.  I'll try to be kind since it's 'Easy Monday' time.  "Is this the real life?  Is this just fantasy?  Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.  Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see.  I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy... Any way the wind blows, doesn't really matter to me, to me."  Hint:  Mama mia, it's an operetta fit for a King or..., well, that would give it away.

Our Saturday morning adventure didn't happen.  We drove down to Wat Rong Khun for the big event, where local artists were presenting banners, and a fundraiser for earthquake relief was being kicked off.  When we arrived the police had blocked the access road due to a huge procession.  Cars were parking on the highway and it started to rain.  We called a friend that was there and she said it was so crowded she couldn't breath.  That called for a U-turn and a return to the city.  

Cat had two more teeth pulled on Friday night, and by mid-day Saturday she was bouncing around like nothing had happened, almost.  This time it was a much faster recovery, which made us all happy.  

At Cat's school each class has 'groups' of students who work together on various assignments and projects.  This weekend Cat's group had to put together a presentation on the Clarinet for the younger students.  This meant having a meeting to work things out.  Sunday morning I drove her and a friend to Pawn's house which is north of us and in a little neighborhood off the beaten path.  I'd been there once, at night, with Pawn directing me.  On Sunday Cat and I couldn't remember exactly how to get there, but her friend Pim knew the way.  We traveled up a few one-lane muddy roads until we found the house.  On my way home I had to reverse the journey so I wouldn't get lost. 
I made it back safely and Lisa and I went to Art Bridge for a nice lunch.  I discovered a new favorite drink.  It's called 'Mango Pun' and it's basically a really thick mango slushy.  Yum.

For as long as I've been driving here it has amazed me how many drivers don't use their wipers when it's raining.  If the rain is light to moderate, you see cars and trucks with no wiper action.  There might be an occasional wipe, but they just drive along with wet windshields.  While talking about this the other day, Lisa noted that most drivers begin on motorbikes so they may be used to having a distorted 'rain view'.  Hmm, something to think about.

Today's photos were taken in Mae Sai, just south of the town.  At a big intersection there is a hotel and the entire corner is adorned with these huge images of mythical gods.  A great landmark.
 


Have a Great Week. 

                 Peace,
                           Danny

"A good head and a good heart
are always a formidable combination."
~Nelson Mandela

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Funnies

Hi,

Chiang Rai got more rain today.  As we recovered from yesterday's adventure, ticks got picked, and teeth got pulled.

The 'Zany Day' song was "Mellow Yellow" by Donovan.  Time to visit 'Old School Friday' and see just what you still remember (555).  "When this old world starts getting me down, and people are just too much for me to face.  I climb way up to the top of the stairs and all my cares just drift right into space.  (__ __ __ __)  __ __ __, it's peaceful as can be.  And there, the world below can't bother me... __ __ __ __."  Hint:  What is on top of a building?  I wonder if this group could see Broadway from their vantage point.  

This morning we had a little list of things to do, but we moved them to the afternoon.  After the dog play Lisa started doing the morning 'tick check' on Daku.  This has become a twice-a-day thing that helps, but doesn't eliminate them.  I joined in and about an hour went by.  Just when you think you're done, another tick presents itself.  As soon as we have a weather window and the spray man is free, we have to spray the lawn and wash the dogs.  Welcome to the Twilight Zone.

This afternoon we went for a massage.  About half way through we heard rain on the roof.  It began slowly and then became a roar.  Of course, we had left the umbrellas in the van.  When we were done, Khun See walked us to the van with a large umbrella.  The water from the sky slowed down and stayed around through the evening.

Phase two of Cat's tooth pulling ordeal was tonight.  Since she knew what was going to happen, and she had survived last week, she wasn't as nervous.  Driving through the drizzle to the dentists office on a Friday night was like an obstacle course.  Friday is 'going out' night in Chiang Rai.  In the village where the office is located, the 7-11 was the happening place.  The food stalls on the sidewalk were cooking up dinners, and that sense of neighborhood was very present.  Parking is supposed to be alternated between each side of the street, but tonight it looked like nobody cared.  That makes the street just wide enough for one lane of traffic.  Cars would wait for an opening and then proceed.  It made it look much busier than it was.  Dr. Upra made sure Cat was totally numb before getting to work and that's a good thing.  When it was over, as we were leaving, he offered her some little bags of warm soy milk that another patient had brought him.  He said it would be soothing for her.  This is a far cry from my early dental experiences.  It's really cool to have a dentist like him.  Normally, when we come home, Daku comes upstairs with us, but tonight he is staying with Cat.  What a guy.

Heavy rain has been predicted for the weekend.  We're supposed to go to an event at Wat Rong Khun in the morning, which will be partially outside.  Hmm, guess we'll have to see what the sky has to say about that.

Today's photo was taken last week while riding around.  Cat mentioned a large Buddha and we didn't know what she was talking about.  She said it was up the road from us, so we went looking for it.  It wasn't hard to find, looming above the landscape.  It's a work in progress, but if you look at the car in the foreground, you'll get a sense of it's size.


Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.      Time for the 'Funnies'.

                   Peace,
                             Danny


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Go

Hi,

Today we had no rain.  We did have a major road trip that turned into a crazy day.  Stay tuned as we hunt for our boxes from America.

It looks like a chord was struck with the 'Zany Day' song.  Many responses from a range of readers.  Here's more:
"I'm just mad about fourteen, fourteen's mad about me.  I'm-a just mad about a-fourteen, a-she's just mad about me.  They call me __ __, they call me __ __ (Quite rightly).  They call me __ __."  Clue:  Back in the day, when this came out, bananas were a craze.  What?

As directed, we returned to the Ban Du post-office this morning, hoping to find out about our boxes.  They had heard nothing from Customs and suggested we go to Mae Sai, to the Customs office.  The drive was beautiful, with lush green hillsides and expanses of rice and corn near the road.  When we got to Mae Sai, the Customs office had been vacated.  The people in the empty building didn't know where they were.  Hmm.  We drove back down the highway to the new office for immigration, thinking they might know.  They were as surprised as us to hear that the office was gone.  Next, we drove to the border and asked at the police station.  They didn't know, but one officer drew a map that led us to nothing.  We were about to try going back over our path, thinking we'd missed something  when Lisa spotted a DHL office.  They deliver stuff - they should know.  A young man pulled up Google street maps on his computer and showed her the Customs office at the border.  At that office we were told that we had to go to Customs #2, a new building.  The officer had a motorbike taxi driver lead us to the new office, 5 kilometers out of town.  That was where we were supposed to be.  It was lunch time and we were told we'd have to wait.  Oh no!  Then a young man came out and helped us.  It took some time to determine that what we had was not really taxable and he released the boxes for 50 Baht (about $1.56).  

On our trip we encountered what must have been what the forecasts mean when the call for 'small rain nearby'.  You know, random drops that don't amount to anything.  We also came across a school that is the photo of the day. 
 

It must be said that all along the way, everyone at each office we went to really tried to help us.  They just didn't know, but wanted to offer some kind of assistance.  In the end, we know more than most of the government offices in Mae Sai.  That made us laugh.

Have a Thrilling Thursday.

                Peace,
                          Danny

"Go out into the world and do well.  
More importantly, go out into the world
and do good."
~Minor Myers

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Secret

Hi,

Today will forever be known as the 'day of waiting'.  It was also a day for another storm, and some ground movement.  Along the way we got to visit with friends, and swim under black clouds.

It's no secret, the 'Easy Monday' song was "It's Too Late" by Carole King.  For 'Zany Day' see if you know this one:  "I'm just mad about saffron.  A-saffron's mad about me.  I'm-a just mad about saffron.  She's just mad about me.  They call me __ __ (Quite rightly)."  Clue:  There's a colorful theme to this title.  If you're old enough, you'll remember a craze it started.  The singer was a kind of superman, in his head.

The mission for today was to renew our retirement visas.  That meant a trip to the bank to verify that we were reliably solvent, and then to immigration to file the paperwork.  When we left the house it seemed like a pretty routine day.  (555)  The bank portion was routine, but longer than long.  We tried to go yesterday, but there was no parking.  Two places one does not go on the day after a long holiday weekend:  The bank and the post-office.  When we arrived at immigration there were lots of people in the waiting area.  Not a good sign.  Our 'friend' at the counter was not busy so we approached him.  Of course, we were told to wait a few minutes.  That phrase, along with 'It's not far' are sure signs that just the opposite will happen.  He assured us it would be better to do it before lunch, but we needed copies of our bank books (book bank was the term used).  I was sent to a building next door, with a smile.  It wasn't far.  Just down to the road, down the road and down another driveway, in the sun.  (5)
Midway through our wait our friend Cornelus arrived with another friend who helps him get around.  That broke up the boredom of sitting around.  It was good to see him and our friend Patricia.  We shared tales of immigration and other expat lore.  When all the stamping and stapling was done we were told to return in three months to actually renew the visas.  At this point we're just happy to be allowed to remain without any problems.

Last night Chiang Rai had another earthquake of 4.3 magnitude.  We were driving home from the mall and didn't feel a thing.  Cat learned about it from her friends on Facebook.  We heard about it at Immigration.  We love earthquakes we don't feel (555).

During our swim this afternoon, the sky suddenly grew darker.  Today's photo is lovingly called 'Do you think it will rain?'.  The rain came down heavy a bit later, and then left.  More of this kind of thing is expected.


Yesterday I mentioned a 'Wacky Wednesday' when actually you were supposed to have a 'Happy Tuesday'.  I guess I was a little distracted.  Hmm.

Today is Wednesday and it's Wacky.

                  Peace,
                            Danny

"The secret of freedom lies in educating people, 
whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant." 
~Maximilien Robespierre

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Change

Hi,

I guess you could call today a 'Sunny Monsoon Sandwich'.  We started out with what looked like clearing skies, then the 'Storm of the Century' followed by a beautiful afternoon.  

It's so nice when an 'Easy Monday' song is one you all know.  I just love getting emails.  Here's the second verse:
"It used to be so easy living here with you.  You were light and breezy and I knew just what to do.  Now you look so unhappy, and I feel like a fool.  And __ __ __ baby, now it's too late, though we really did try to make it..."  Hint:  This is so easy.  

When we travel to America we bring back things we can't get here in Thailand.  On our recent trip we did our usual resupply of vitamins, enough to last six months.  They should have arrived by now, so today we went to the post office in Ban Du to see if they were there.  There was discussion, in Thai, about the Customs office in Mae Sai and a needed invoice.  We may see our vitamins in the next few days.  

As we left Makro and headed south into Chiang Rai, it began to rain with those big drops that mean business.  Looking ahead on the highway I knew it was heavy because everything had a dull gray look.  When we got home and opened the front gate we were greeted by the scene below.


Yes, that used to be our front lawn.  It didn't take long for this to happen.  We read later that a typhoon has had an effect on our monsoon.  It's the season.  The back yard was also flooded, but the water drained from both within a couple of hours, and all is well 'til the next storm.  The frustrating part about the rain is, the spray man came and treated the lawn for ticks right before it rained.  He'll be back on a sunny day.

This evening we went to Central Plaza for some phone first-aid.  While we were waiting we went to Swensen's for ice-cream and sorbet.  While cruising through the menu, just for fun, I discovered a list of possible toppings.  Here are a few things you might want to consider the next time you order ice cream:  Corn, palm seed, green apple, and something called Chocolate Jimmies (looked like tiny sprinkles in the picture).  If your local ice-cream parlor doesn't have corn, tell them they're behind the times.  (555)  Oh, I had the Mango Sorbet with little chunks of mango candy.  Yum.

Time now for Wacky Wednesday.

             Peace,
                       Danny

"Consider how hard it is to change yourself and 
you'll understand what little chance you have in trying to 
change others."
~Benjamin Franklin

Monday, July 14, 2014

Spell

Hi,

Temperatures should be returning to normal as World Cup Fever fades into the distance.  Here in Chiang Rai the temperature has not changed.  It's still hot.  The rain comes and goes at will, but we had some pretty good weather over the weekend.  

The 'Old School Friday' tune was "Stay" by Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs.  It's time, once again, for another episode of 'Easy Monday', and I hope this is easy enough for you.  "Stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time.  There's something wrong here, there can be no denying.  One of us is changing, or maybe we've just stopped trying.  And __ __ __, baby, now __ __ __.  Though we really did try to make it.  Something inside has died and I can't hide and I just can't fake it..."  Hint:  I'd have to get up pretty early to trick you on this one.  (555)

Saturday we had a wonderful time at Doy Din Dang, the ceramic compound north of town.  It was Cat's first visit and Claire had a great time as well.  We explored all of the various shops and work areas.  We got to watch a woman making drinking cups using the pottery wheel and Cat 'interviewed' her.  Lisa had a good visit with Khun Somluk and we think we have a date for an exhibit featuring her and her father.  More on that later.  Today's photo shows work at 'the wheel'.  In the foreground you see the finished product, which began as one of the lumps of clay to the right.


Lunch at Art Bridge with time in the gallery and gift shop made the first half of the day complete.  It's always nice to visit the gallery when we're the only guests.  You can view each work from many angles, talk about them in a normal voice, and generally relax and enjoy it.  

Cat and Claire went to 'Walking Street' and had their own adventures.  Claire had a chance to experience the crush and the crafts with someone who could explain, and translate.  They had a ball and had stories to tell when we picked them up later in the evening.  It was a bonus to have a houseguest close to Cat's age, especially after she went through the drama of having teeth pulled.  Sunday morning we all took Claire to the bus station and said our goodbyes.  

We are in the midst of a heavy tick season.  We have never had a problem like we're having this year.  Apparently it's happening all over Thailand.  On many expat forums people are writing in, looking for solutions.  Daku has very long hair and it makes it difficult to get down to his skin to find them.  BamBam spends a lot of time in the yard and get's infested every day.  Tomorrow we're having the lawn sprayed in hopes that we can solve the problem and give us and the dogs a needed break.  We will have to take them out on a leash and wash their feet when they come inside for a couple of days after the spraying, but it will be worth it.

The yard crew came today and groomed the whole place.  They harvested a bunch of coconuts and left some for us. After dinner Boot poked holes in 3 of them and we drank the water through a straw.  It was a fun change of pace.  I might even get used to it.  The workers said the meat inside is very sweet so we may have to crack a few open.

Have a Great Week.

                 Peace,
                           Danny

"The spell can be broken just by asking yourself,
is what I'm believing true?"
~Byron Katie

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Funnies

Hi,

The weather was good to us for most of the day.  When the sun was not covered by clouds, it was blazing hot.  This evening we're on our second little storm.  More sightseeing was on the schedule for today.

Most of the usual players wrote to tell me the 'Zany Day' song was "Dr. Funkenstein" by Parliament (featuring George Clinton).  This week's 'Old School Friday'song may seem easy for some, but I think it's time for easy.
"__, just a little bit longer.  Please, please, please, please tell-a me you're going to.  Now, your daddy don't mind, and your mama don't mind if we have another dance.  Yeah, just one more, one more time.  Oh won't you __, just a little bit longer..."  Hint:  Should be pretty obvious, but he doesn't want her to go.

The capsule version of the day goes something like this:  I drove Claire to Bus Station #2 where she got a ticket for her Sunday departure, we toured Wat Rong Khun and were thoroughly amazed, had an afternoon swim that was followed by a rainstorm, had dinner at the Night Bazaar, saw the Clock Tower lights, and got home just before another rainstorm hit.  Whew.  

Cat is making a remarkable recovery from her two teeth extractions.  Her spirits are good and the pain is lessening.  Considering that she has to go through this again next Friday, most of the big fear is gone.  She now has a scheduled date for the installation of the braces and has something to look forward to, although that's also gonna hurt.

We are in the beginning of a four day weekend.  Today was a National Holiday, and one of the traditions during this celebration is to return to one's home village.  For some businesses, this means closing, either because the help will be gone, or the owners are going on vacation.  At our usual Sunday restaurant, Sawadee, they are leaving tomorrow and won't return until Wednesday.  Hmm.  

With so much rain, the river is looking healthy again and that familiar sound of the long-tailed boats is once again filling the air.  When the river is very low, there are many places that are almost impossible to pass because the bottom is irregular.  At a medium level it's sometimes necessary for the operators to get out and walk the boat around a sand bar.  Today they could run free.

At the frame factory they are busy building a giant fish for an installation in Chiang Sen.  Today's photo shows a large piece of foam that is being carved into a decorative shape.  It will be sanded and then used to make a fiberglass mold to make the final object.  


Have a Wonderful WeekEnd.        Time for a laugh.

                  Peace,
                            Danny