120126 Thaikarl - 10 Shots

We popped into the shooting range at the Sweet Tamarind Fair and took some shots

that was fun!


120117 Thaikarl - days rolling by like summer


when i was a kid in grade school, the beginning of june was an exciting time.  school would let out for summer!  we had three months of freedom.  it felt like i had forever to be out playing in the sun, staying up late, hanging with my friends.  right about the beginning of august, the stores would start putting out "back to school" displays. oh no!  it didn't make sense.  summer still had a whole month to go, and the best weather yet.  but the shades of impending return to structure, rules, disipline and teachers telling us what to do had started to fall on me. as those last weeks sped by, i felt an anxiety for fun-not-had, explorations-not-done, and then it was "back to the real world".

i have a similar feeling now.  nearly half way to running out of visa time.  we've been busy.  i've been more interested in doing life here than writing about it.  we've had some fun adventures, went to our house in Ban Chang, went scuba diving with a friend from seattle, saw a lot of cool temples.  i've been helping tok around the house, fixing things i can, cleaning up the yard.  her tamarind business is starting to happen, the sour tamarind is just getting ripe, and i get to be the one to buy the fruit from people when the come to the house and tok is gone to the factory or seeing her processing workers.  Mama got a flu, and they put her in the hospital for a week to mind her care, so Tok spent most days and nights at the hospital.  we do errands, go shopping, take care of business.  normal things of life.  but this is life unlike any other i have know before i started coming here.

i have the kind of mind that likes to compare and contrast, i notice differences, similarities, what works here vrs what works there, how it's done here, how it's done over there.  living in thailand after living most of my life in america provides a rich environment for my comparative mind.  since i'm abysmally slow at learning even the simplest thai language, i can't ask about things, i have to observe, and guess.  often the only thing i can say is "amazing thailand"  to my wife, everything is "normal life", so she's not up for answering a thousand questions about such ordinary things.  when we go to the temple for Tam Bun (make merit) she sometimes has me repeat the words after her.  which i try to do, mangling the pronunciation pretty badly.  i asked her what we were saying.  she said she doesn't know.  the words it turns out, are in Pali language, which is the language that buddist canonical texts were written in.  similar to the way the old catholic church used to say mass in latin, like they did when i was a kid.  i'm almost certain that they teach the meaning of the words in schools and such, but like the meaning of the latin i learned as an alterboy, it's just words you say when you are devoting.

i drive her to distraction sometimes with my fascinations.  she's up in the tree whacking away at the diseased branches with a big knife, and i'm taking pictures of the hoards of ants we've disturbed, instead of pulling away the cut branches.  meanwhile, those same ants (red weaver ants)  i'm so fascinated with are biting her ankles, arms and neck, crawling up underneath her cloths before they open their jaws an bite down on her flesh.  she's totally focused on getting the job done and getting out of the tree, i'm wondering where the ants are going to live now.  btw, they harvest the larvae from these ants nests and sell them at the market.  very tasty!

i brought a Nook e-book reader with me this time.  an entire library of reading in one device. so i'm reading jack london's "The Sea Devil" now.  i'm an evangelist for these devices.  since i've had a nasty cold the past few day's i haven't been doing much besides reading.  and web-surfing.  mama isn't feeling too good. tok took her to the hospital today but they don't have any blood to tranfuse for her.  she started coughing up blood, so tok took her back this evening. so it's just me and you tonight folks. hope yall in seattle are enjoying the snow.

cares to you all


120101 Thaikarl - New Years Day visit to a beautiful temple


we visit a lot of temples.  they are everywhere in thailand.  even the smallest village will have at least one.  some are more magnificent than others.  on new years day, Tok says "we're going to the beautiful temple in the mountains"  cool!

we took the motorbike, because Tok said there would be a lot of cars on the road, which turned out to be very true.  many cars from bangkok (the origin of the car is named on the license plates.)  of course it was a pleasant day, warm and sunny.  i miss riding the motorbike.  since Tok got her pick-up truck, we take the car more often. the road up the mountain isn't too steep, but our little motorbike burned nearly a tank of gas getting up there - which is a couple of liters.  it hasn't rained since i've been here, so the forests are turning brown, and very dry.  but still beautiful on the drive up.

the temple was extraordinary.  the entire thing was covered in mosaic.  tiles, broken dishes, glass, jewels, ornate plates; and the top was mirror glazed gold tiles.  and they are far from finished.  the upper floors were still cement walls inside.  and they are building another temple near by that will be covered in cut-glass diamonds.  millions of them.  there is a hospital at the bottom of the hill, for people who come to tam bun (make merit) at the temple and need medical care.  in the surrounding hills were resort buildings where you can spend the night.  Tok said they were in Burmese style.

we had visited this site a couple of years ago, when just the concrete shell was under construction.  amazing what they have accomplished since then.  we both wondered how they designed all the elements- was it all planned out as to color, shape and style before hand, or was a rough drawing made and the individual artists allowed to fill the space to in their own design?  however it was done, it took a lot of careful though and devotion to harmony, color and detail to accomplish.  just gathering the materials was a huge job in itself.  someone had to buy the pottery and dishes and tile, and someone had to break things into little pieces to mosaic with.  we recognized bits that were parts from  colonnades, pots, floor tiles, and cups and dishes commonly sold in the markets in thailand.


there were many people there due to the holiday.  we'll go back again another day when it's not so crowded and look at the details a little more.  Tok told me there had been some local resistance to building a temple there, but the Kings daughter interceded and requested it be constructed.

when my sister and i went to Europe some years ago, we went to major cathedrals in every town we went to.  there were some very impressive ones, especially the one in Koln Germany.  European cathedrals were of course, built for a different purpose, and in a different time.  i find the Thai temples much more resonant with my own spirit.  the cathedrals just felt like interesting old buildings.  Temples feel like devotion and self directed calm, and the artwork is much more impressive to me.  but i am obviously biased.

onward!  Nu