100430 Thaikarl - a little road trip on the old motorbike

friends, we stayed at our little house in ban chang, last night.  when we got there, there was a vine growing across the porch.  it not only grew across the porch, but a tendril had sneaked under the front door, split in two and went clear across the living room floor and was starting to head up the stairs.  tok said it was a vegatable we could eat.  we've got plenty of it.
this morning, tok got up early, went to the post office and got the old motorbike which had been shipped down here, went to the store and got breakfast, washed the cloths, cleaned the house.  and i was still in bed.  got my ass up, made coffee, packed a small bag, dressed up and headed for chantiburi.  tok wasn't sure about taking the motorbike vers the bus.  i was all for it.  it's about 150km to chantaburi, maybe more, i never saw the signs till later.  took us all day, cause we stopped to eat, stopped for gas, stopped to get some circulation going in my butt, and made a side-trip to goto the aquarium by the ocean in rayong.  the aquarium was really nice, they had some giant tank displays, lots of tropical fish, and it only cost 30 baht to go in.  less than dollar.  we drove along the ocean side for quite a ways, very nice.  you really have to pay attention on a motorbike - there's other motorbikes going different speeds, cars, trucks, divots in the road, gravel, dogs, people going the wrong way, cars parked on the motorbike lane, berms where they laid down new asphalt on the road but not on the bike lane and we drive on the left side of the road.  all good.  then the rain started.  that made it interesting.  then it got dark.  even more interesting.
but we are here.  tok knew of a hotel from the days when she used to live here.  she lived here for 14 years.  her daughter was born here.  so she knows the area well.  the hotel is 200 baht per night. 
6.25$ USD.  not real fancy, fan- no aircon, but good for us!
tommorow some sight seeing, fruit festival/fair, visit some (more) of toks relatives, visit a few temples, forts and waterfalls.  nice to have a motorbike to get around on.  when you take the bus, you're kind of stuck u nless you pay for taxi's, and know just where you want to go.


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100424 Thaikarl - with nothing to do, we're still busy.


i was privileged to attend a most interesting event the other day.  i'm working on the write up and uploading video (which takes for-ever).  you'll get that posting tomorrow probably.  my blog site was hijacked for a few days by some Chinese website.  bastards.  but it seems to be okay now.  we've been doing so many things, i can't keep up.  going to a 5 day funeral- the pre-cremation event today at the temple took 4.5 hours - been to the post office a few times. you can "mail" a motorbike here! we're sending the old motorbike down to our house in Ban Chang.  we just took it to the post office, parked it around back and they'll take it to the post office down there.  neato.  going to see my dentist tomorrow, been to the meeting markets, shopping at the market in Lom Sak, over to relatives houses... working on the house (but only a little, i need batteries for my cordless drill - coming from the states) and... taking lots of photos. 

i noticed today at the funeral, where there were several hundred people sitting on plastic chairs, that thai people rarely cross their legs when sitting on chairs. feet on the ground almost all the time.  sometimes they will tuck a leg back to the side, but rarely one leg over the other.

we had some rain yesterday.  which brought out a minor bloom of flying termites and other bugs. which brought out a bunch of frogs, hopping all over the porch. while we were eating dinner at the table, there were 5 frogs skittering around, snatching up the winged termites when they would crash into the ground and stun themselves momentarily.  and the gekko's were running up and down the walls and ceiling sharing the feast.

there is a tokay gekko back in our house.  i like that.  he seems to be up in the roof near the bathroom.  and when he calls,in a few minutes there are answering calls from the other tokays nearby.  such a cool sound. you can hear it here.  hey cool!  when i played the tokay sound on the computer to test the link, the tokay at the neighbors called back a few seconds later.

there's a bug on the desk that looks just like an american cockroach.  except the damn things fly!

toks already in bed sleeping. it's 10:22 and i haven't had my evening shower yet.  off to do that now.  in the moonlite.

Gorgeous the life!


*$@*&#*$ chinese site hajacked me!

friends... one of my readers sent me an personal email and told me they went to this blog and were redirected to some crap-ola.  i think i got it sorted out, but if you come here, and the first post is internet ad-speak garbage, hit the "STOP" button in your browser - the big "X" in the firefox toolbar - and then write a comment on one of the entries below that.  i'll get your comment in an email.  but i'll just have to keep checking this page like crazy.  GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!


100417 Thaikarl - a short day


lazy day today. went by quickly.  worked on the computer for hours answering emails, setting up web pages.  it rained a few times today, which cooled the air off quite a bit, and cleared the dust and haze from the sky which made for a nice sunset cloudview:

a few people have asked again why i'm not living here in thailand.  the short answer is of course, i have a family to support, and it's not easy for me here, as i don't speak the language, and most of the skills i have don't translate to well paying jobs here.  english teachers  make enough to support a family.  as much as i complain about the states, i don't dislike america - i just like  thailand more.  if i could understand more about the government and things here, i'd probably complain about here also.  americans - of which i am one and will always be one - are great complainers.  i try to keep it to a low level tho, as generally my outlook on life is positive, no matter where or what i'm doing.  so while i'm here i enjoy it immensely.  when i'm in the states, well, it is familiar, and i can work there - which supports the family.  but believe, as soon as i can figure out something that will enable me to live here permantly, here is where i'll be.  tok has no interest in living in the states.  she would like to meet my family, and see some of the country, but not to live there.  i'm sure she would hate the food. (i do)

i found an interesting observation about thailand in one of the blogs i follow:
Next, Richard comments, "What's up with all the violence in Thailand? I thought it was an idyllic Buddhist country. Now it seems like they're more prone to violence than the good old U.S.A. Even with our budget issues and governator, I'll take southern California anytime."
I like southern California too… but don't be too quick to judge Thailand based on an anomalous incident in which 21 people died. Statistically, violent crime is much, much worse in southern California.
In Thailand, violent crime, particularly against foreigners is almost unheard of; the worst thing you have to worry about there is corruption, not getting your head blown off.
relevant, as i have received a number of caring concerned emails about being here in thailand when there is news about the red-shirts demonstrations getting out of hand in bangkok.

the rest of the day was lax. made a new cable for my guitar amp and played guitar, ate dinner and maybe we'll watch a movie.
or not.

gorgeous the life!


100415 Thaikarl - another day, more adventure


tok woke me early today.  "wake up, take shower! eat breakfast! we must go!"  arrrrgh. but wake up i did, took shower, ate breakfast, got dressed.  we motorbiked a ways up the road to a relatives house.... and waited around for an hour.  that happens alot.  tok likes to get ready and go so WE aren't the one holding up the program.  even if it means we wait around an hour at someones house.

eight of us got in the back of the pickup, and 7 more in the cab - tho some of that number were small kids and a baby.  more than two hours drive up into the highlands west of where we live.  it's the last day of songkran festival, so allong the way we got doused, dumped, on, hosed, splashed and deluged with water by crowds and sometimes gangs of people waiting by the side of the road for people to come along.  no going around them either.  soaked over and over.  but it's warm as usual, and the hot air blasting past the truck feels like sitting in the face of the furnace outlet.  just when you would get dried out almost, we'd go thru another little village and get doused again.  wee hee!  the really heinous tossers use ICE WATER.  that gets your attention as it soaks thru your crotch.

we disembarked at toks grandmothers sisters house.  she's 96 years old, blind, can't hear well, and so skinny you'd think she'd blow away.  but everyone talked with her and handed her babies.  we ate food (8 different dishes on the floor, plus sticky and regular rice).  i chilled in the hammock for a while, and tok came to get me to go fishing.  that was interesting.  they netted hundreds of little fish from the water hole left in a nearly dried up water course.  when we got back, they cleaned the junk out of the nettings, wrapped handfuls of the little fish in leaves and roasted them out back.  tasty with sticky rice.  i napped on the floor for a while with six other people.  hot part of the day indeed. (photos in the gallery here)

they had a water ceremony for the old ladies, and for some of the not-so-old people.  more food and ice water, and we were back in the pickup for the long drive home.  it's a bit hard on the body being folded up in the back of an open pickup, with hot wind blasting you, a young girl full of energy singing and playing with everyone.  and of course, getting soaked again along the way.  the ride back seemed a lot longer than the ride up.

tomorrow, i think i'll just hang out.  Hah!  hopefully the shops will be open and i can get the tubing to finish my shower plumbing - pictures to follow.

gorgeous the life!


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100414 Thaikarl - all in one day - amazing thailand


tok and i went to town for songkran day yesterday.  the usual parade, beauty contests, and mass throwing of water. the photos are in my picasa gallery.
today was eventful.  if i don't tell you now, tomorrow will fill up with more things and i'll never get caught up.

early in the morning, tok got me to get out of bed, saying something about putting out food for her father. (?) her father died many years ago, so i wasn't sure what was going on.  around the side of the house, she had a tray with food on it- rice, chicken, water, vegetables.  she lit a candle and incense, said a few words and we set the tray on the ground next to my plum tree.  songkran is a time to honor the ancestors also i learn.

i read my book and laid around in the hammock most of the hot mid-day.  then a whole bunch of people showed up, kids and neighbors and a few old people. we did a songkran water ceremony to honor the old people right off our porch.  photos of that are in the gallery here.

the men hung around for a while drinking whisky and water, so i went around back. 27 years i haven't had a drink and sometimes that brown liquid still looks inviting.  jeez.  healed, never cured.  i worked on putting together the PVC pipe for my new shower.  we bought a big submersible pump in bangkok and i'm looking forward to getting it all in place.  but most of the hardware stores are closed for like 5 days for songkran, so i'm lacking a few parts.  more to come on that.

then tok came and got me to go have dinner at her uncles house.  (pictures here) wow, what a spread!  20 people sitting on tarps on the ground. chicken, noodles, vegetables, fish balls, sausage, fish, drinks, cabbage and a few bits of mystery foods, all cooked on charchol stoves korean Bar-B-Que style.  YUM!  they are all so nice to me, even though i can't talk to them.  welcoming me to sit down, offering me drinks and putting food on to cook for me.  everyone there was related by family or marriage.  everyone there lives there or nearby.  nobody had to drive to dinner, everyone lives close enough to walk.  i asked tok if this was common in the villages and she said it was.  they say what ever words of english they know "you happy?" "anukhun! you like?" and laugh and laugh.  i feel so fortunate to be sitting there with these good people.  eating food with them, and totally accepted as a mute part of the big family.  i was thinking of bar-b-ques in the states and there's little comparison, beyond it being a family get-together.  they asked me for a show, so i went back to the house and got my guitar.  the first song i sang was all the phrases i kniow in thai. made it up on the spot to three chords:  "1,2,3, 1,2,3, thank you, thank you, how are you, how are you," "Nung, Song, Sam...kap khun kap...sabai dee mai"  that was a hit.  then i badly played a few neil young songs and a couple of beatle songs.  totally forgot the words, but it didn't matter, i just made them up to fill in the gaps and nobody knew the difference! 

10:20 at night now, cooled down to 85 degrees and time to go shower and get to bed.  another day beckons.  hope to find a shop open tomorrow to buy the PVC and hose i need to finish my shower.

amazing thailand!  onward!


100413 - Thaikarl - more things under the sky than i can tell


trying to convey the things i see, feel and think about after just five days in thailand is like trying to pass on the entire contents of a magazine when you only have time to flip thru the pages standing in line in the grocery store.  events and information flys by with each page you flip thru, but you can only catch snatches of text, and glimpses of photos.  it's like trying to tell someone the scene by scene contents of a movie while walking back to the car.  best i can give back is little snippets.

leaving bangkok was a bit of a struggle.  the red shirts had the main road all blocked off.  the taxi's couldn't get thru to take us to the bus station.  we had to take all our kilo's of baggage up to the sky-train and take the train to Mochit- the end of that line.  then taxi to the bus station.  since then, the whole red-shirt thing has turned violent, with many dead.  i haven't followed the story, tok just comes and tells me "21 people killed today" after hearing it on thai tv.  whew. dodged that mess.  as my wife says "no red-shirts in Lom Sak" which is where we live.

a few things are different around the neighborhood. there's a nice new house next to ours on the formerly vacant plot in front of tai and sai's house.  it's owned and was built for Sai's nephew and his wife and baby.  young couple who worked in bangkok, saved their money and borrowed the rest to build the house.  they have a business they work under the house makeing sticks for umbrella's.  of all things.  they buy bundles of wood that come from a kind of palm tree, split them into thinner sticks with a machette, and a worker chucks them in an electric drill and shoves them thru a die that carves the spinning sticks into neat round shafts that will make the ribs of an umbrella that the monks use.  so there is the whirrrrrrr whirrrrr whirrrrr sound of the drill going all day.

the back neighbors fighting cocks crow morning and night, their dog barks, and the small deisel pump in the field runs all the time... chuckachuckchucka. since it's sonkran holiday time, they boys next door crank up the stereo and sing out loud to all their favorite rock songs.  and of course, the cars, motorbikes and trucks that motor by on the big road in front of the house keep the sound field fresh. quiet in the country it is not. 

there is a tree six feet tall and quite full beside the house that i was excited to believe is my plum tree.  but to the amusement of tok and mama, that tree is more like a weed (they use it in the curry).  my plum tree is behind that.  not quite so big, but bigger than it was last year.  it's summer season here, hasn't been rain for a few months tok says.  all the fields and ditches are dry and brown.  looks like california.  one of these times i'm going to be here after rainy season, which is august and september, when everything is massivily greened out.  one of these times.

i'm very happy to be home, very happy to see teri and mama and the kitties, very happy to be around thai people again.  already dreading going back to the states.  but such is life.   for now.



100405 Thaikarl - Korea rocks!

flight over was pleasant, except for being stuck in a window seat.  i much prefer the aisle so i don't have to wake people to get up, and the food carts don't go by me cause i'm sleeping so far away.
took the airport bus to town, followed the directions i was given, and arrived at amiee's apartment for my couchsurf for the night.  she was very nice, quite personable and a good conversationalist. she told me down the little streets to a small restaurant and ordered these kimchi cake things that were awesomely delicious!  food suddenly becomes exciting, interesting and desirable here.
i slept nicely on some pads on the floor, got up when she had to head off to her english teaching job.  she waved me off, and i was free to wander.  which i did.  just walked around the neighbor hood for a while.  i really wanted to goto a Korean bathhouse she recommended, but i knew i'd spend all day there and see nothing else.  i wanted to figure out the subway system, so i went underground.  the system is quite extensive, and fortunately the stations have the english name on the signs, so i figured out the smart card machine, got on the green line and got our where i wanted to go. and there wasn't much there above ground.  did run across and old palace to visit, took a few pictures, had my picture taken with several gangs of shy school girls.  they are so cute.  a man with purple hair gets their attention.  had some more espresso in an upstairs shop.  they guy that served me spoke perfect LA english.  cause he's from there.  his name was jimmy, we talked abit, he located the airport bus stop for me.  made my way back to the airport, got another stamp in my passport, breezed security and found the internet place.  free computers, free internet.
man, as soon as i get off the plane and i'm back in a land of mystery i feel myself perk up.  the WONDER returns, the urge to assimilate, absorb, notice, contemplate and just "BE" wafts in on the psychic breeze that rushes in when the door to the plane is opened.  i think its the same reason, for the same feelings you get when you visit las vegas, or disneyland, or yellowstone park.  the ordinary is in-ordinary, the normal there  is an abberation of your normal. what you are used to, what you see everyday is overlaid by a new movie, the sights and sounds and images are HUGE, inspiring, bigger than life. and not like home.  but this isn't disneyland, it's seoul korea.  and i can't read the signs, understand what people are saying, can't tell what is in this can of something to drink.
and i love it.
few more hours and i'll be back with my sweetheart, in another (slightly less) mysterious place and i get to have that "home.....!" feeling.  nice.
(reverting to my thai name for the duration)

visit http://www.thaicountrylife.com

Invitation to view thaikarl's Picasa Web Album - Thailand april - june 2010

You are invited to view thaikarl's photo album: Thailand april - june 2010
Thailand april - june 2010
Apr 6, 2010
by thaikarl
went home for three months.
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all the menu's on this computer are in korean, so i couldn't figure out how to attache photos to my email. but i did get them into picassa. this link will work for photos from this journey. comment and enjoy!
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100404 Thaikarl - departure time!


it's been a frenzied week, as usuall before take off.  when you take a 2 week holiday, if you forgot to take care of something- like putting your netflix account on hold before the send you some new disks, it's no big deal.  but when you're going to be gone for 3 months, you aren't going to be around soon enough.  so i have to take care of all that.  i did send in my netflix dvd's, but i forgot to put the account on hold before they sent the next one out.  so "dead snow" is going to sit in my mailbox for three months.

it's 6 am, the sky is just starting to lighten up.  i've been up all night, storing stuff and packing my bags.  i usually stay up all night before i leave.  when i hit the seat on the plane, i'll be asleep before we take off.  wake up to eat then back to sleep.  all the way across the pacific.  except this time i have a 23 hour layover in seoul korea.  which is kind of weird, but it means i get to spend the night and most of the next day there.  i got a place to sleep on couchsurfing.com.  should be fun, though i'll still be a little fuzzy brained from sleep/wake disruption.  then, then, then... the flight to bangkok and my wife tok will be waiting for me at the exit gate.  joy abounds.

the "red-shirts" are raising a ruckus in bangkok.  they are people who don't like the current government, they want it dissolved and new elections held.  and just so everybody knows who they are, they wear red-shirts.  thousands of them are milling around the major shopping centers in bangkok, causing the malls to close.  last year the "yellow-shirts" occupied and closed the bangok airport for a week.  i wonder what color-shirts will be next.  purple would be nice.  for i while i thought the politics in thailand was pretty wacky.  i've payed a little more attention to american politics  since the last election, and listened to everyone talking about issues like the health-care movement. having listened to americans having their say, left and right.  from what i hear right here in the states, our politics, and the people who talk about it, is just as wacky.  we're a bit different, but just as wacked-out as thailand.  people believe all sorts of crazy things.  tok is worried about getting mixed up in the red-shirt mess.  i told her we'll just go around them.  whull see.

wow, check out the weather near where we live.  pitsanalok is and hour our so away... and it's at up in the mountains, so it's gonna be even hotter in the lower lands where we live.  that's a little warm, even for me.  but after the crappy week of rain, wind and cold we've had here in seattle, it will be high heaven.

i had to drive around and find an open wire-less connection.  probably won't be online again until the airport in korea.  for you all that tweet, i'm on twitter at http://twitter.com/thaikarl more to come. perhaps even a podcast from far away! and more video - now that i have a better camera. what would you like to see and hear about???/

onward! to amazing thailand!