Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jan 26, When in Chiang Mai, You Do Elephants

Chiang Mai is all about elephants. They are highly
revered and a source of pride. There is quite a lot
of controversy over they fact that since they are
no longer needed in the obsolete logging industry,
their livelihood has turned to entertaining -- it's
not the best of all possible worlds, but there seems
a sincere effort to provide many with a good and
healthy place to live as well as a means of self-support.

Ok, so teaching an elephant to paint for tourists may
be a bit of a stretch, but it could be a LOT worse. And
this guy has some talent.

They seem affectionate and it's hard not to anthropomorphize
that that is really a smile when their mouth corners turn upwards.

Each elephant gets his own lifelong mahout, who in
turn is truly proud of his charge. I've never seen
a female mahout . hmmmmm.?

Here is a very female and very pregnant female.
Gestation is some 22 months. Yes, the babies are cute!
They had better be after 22 months.

Jan 25, 45th Anniversary Serenade & Walk-About

After ice cream, it was the Sunday Street market
which we prefer to the Night Bazaar because it is
attended by more locals, the vendors are less
aggressive and food shops seem fresher.
Here a farang practices bargaining for a Hmong
stitchery piece that caught her fancy.

Later at our regular Sunday afternoon Jazz in
the Park, Keith let it be known that today was
our anniversary for which we got a spontaneous
rendition of "Happy Birthday" It was great fun!
Then we went out for ice cream with a group of
Canadian visitors from our condo.

This was the house. We spent an hour lounging on
the deck in fascinating conversation about his life,
and future plans.
Keith promised to help him advertise to other
farang who would be staying longer and wanting
to be near nature.

We met a man who had a house to rent. He was a
teacher of English, a collector of antiques, a player of
tennis, and a singer of karoke. Quite a guy!

Walking in the neighborhood south of Wat U Mong, there
are no shortages of interesting sights. This hedge (and
garage covering) was vibrantly blooming.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jan 22 A Few of Our Favorite Things About CM

One of these wires is our internet connection. This
little office runs our unlimited high speed internet system at
a charge of 300 baht per month. (about $8.50)

Across town for a 60 baht song teaw ride, we can
enjoy these great musicians on Sunday evenings
during Jan. and Feb. They do a pretty good rendition
of "Ain't Misbehavin'"

Finally got a good light angle to get this of the entrance
to Chomdoi Condo (Interior view at this link) I've
already posted the sunrises. Despite the concrete
nature, we have been here nearly 6 weeks now and find
it just too convenient to move -- or NOT move asthecasemaybe.

Try not to look too closely at the green yolks and the
transparently brown whites, it TASTES really good.
These are the pink shelled fermented (30 days) eggs.
The ginger and shallots are an added treat.

Jan 22, Graduation Week at Chiang Mai University

Something kind of cute about Purple and White as
colors of the university. The street vendors of floral
and stuffed animals were making a fortune.

The ever-present presence of this essential and
sometime elegant transportation was particularly
fun to watch this day. Often there were huge
floral bouquets clasped in the arms of the passenger.
You just had to smile! (tricky to photograph tho)

Poor photograph, but important to Thai people. The
Princess had come to hand out diplomas to the
graduates. That's her beige car in the center.

This was only one of hundreds of proud photographs
being taken at Chaing Mai University this week.

Wow! Fluttering flags, pretty girls, gorgeous flowers --
what a happy day for the eyes!

Jan 21, A Bit More of Phayao

Well, not ALL the signage is Thai. And I guess there
IS an attempt to woo the tourist. Here I am all

As we walked the lake edge on this morning after
our new president is official, these two young,
monks-in-training have come to watch the local

This lovely carving fragment, sitting among many in
the shadow of a venerable old tree, near the center of the
friendly wat previously mentioned, echos the
theme thereabouts -- the fish of Lake Phayao.

Our lunch! the local lake fish, stuffed with wads of
lemon grass, covered with coarse salt and bar-b-qued
over a roadside grill. Yum!

Jan. 20, Checking Out Phayao

We made some kind of promise to ourselves to explore
a few of the more rural/remote corners of northern
Thailand as potential retirement settlements. However we
have begun to realize the merits of city living, possibly
because we do "rural/remote" in our other life in California.
Regardless, we take a 3 hour bus trip over a mountain and arrive
at Phayao for a looksee.

Phayao has much to commend. Here they have chosen
an especially good name to bestow upon this fine
soi of teak houses and a friendly wat.
To all my Susan friends: Gordon, Kohl, Kosis, Rogers, Hill,
and the list goes on . . . If you'd like a street named after
you, this is a good one.

The pride of the district is the fresh water lake, rather
large, full of fish (also rather large) and water hyacinths
from which the local handicraft product is made. There
is also a partially submerged temple ruin some
distance from the shore. You can take a leaky
boat out to it. We didn't do that.

There were plenty of good sitting rocks along the
shore among the shade trees.

Playing with the camera sighting through a hole in the
cement wall, you get an idea of the native flora.
Phayao is a town where tourism is only a distant concern.
Most of the signage is completely in Thai. We
kind of like that ---- until we need to communicate.
There was a very decent hotel just a block from
the bus station. The hotel was where we would watch
the inaugural address of President Obama.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Bicycle Ride Through Some Residential Neighborhoods.

Here is an ingenious use of recyclable bottles. It rather
looks like it has been here a while. Good on 'em!
We'd never have been able to see this kind of thing
on foot. Keith's sciatic nerve had been acting up so we
hesitated to rent the bikes, but it turned out to not be
a problem for his leg and a big help in getting to outlying
areas which we are so interested in doing. We need to
do it in Chiang Mai as well.

one of the bridges over Mae Wang was a "no automobiles"
bridge which made it nice for us timid bicyclists.

Crossing a bridge on our bikes rented from the
guesthouse, we came across this little scene where
the farmer was giving his livestock either a break
or a bath (or both) It was a cool day, but perhaps
they had been working hard.

These midget dragons were so cute, they were
almost cuddly.

Just a fun little arrangement somebody took
the trouble to do. Even corrugated
galvanized walls benefit from a little greenery.

Lampang's Market (One of Them)

If you like curry, this would be heaven.

Ah, lemon grass! I wonder if it would grow in Mad River.

And there are stacks and stacks of eggs. There are
almost always brown. Later we learn about pink
(fermented 30 days) and white (salted 30 days)

These guys fit cozily in their little steamer boxes.
I've been noticing this arrangement at several other
towns in Thailand this trip. I'm not sure how they
are prepared or how they taste. They seem popular tho.

Realizing I hadn't taken my requisite "fish market
photo" in Thailand yet. It all started in 1999 in Tokyo.
Then of course: Bergen, Norway, New York, San Francisco,
Dubai --all those fishy places. Here we are eyeing
the squid (pla mouk) At least they don't "eye" back.
Maybe we can find a restaurant that will serve it
later that evening -- stay tuned.

Jan. 13, Lampang - a Smaller City Day 1

A section of the old town has a street with these
architectural prizes -- a mix of old Lanna and Chinese.

A REALLY yummy Thai restaurant -- also called
Riverside. I don't think they share anything with
the guest house other than the name and a good
reputation -- earned and deserved. I was enjoying
probably the most tasty mushroom omelet in the world:
just FULL of my favorite Thai flavors --
lemon grass, lime leaves and basil!

A view of Riverside Guest House from across the
river. You can't miss the wildly blooming bougainvillea.

The view from our veranda of the river over
the wildly blooming bougainvillea. The weather
was lowest in a decade. Keith had to buy a shirt
with sleeves and we needed that extra blanket.

Was glad I had phoned ahead for a room at this
popular guesthouse. It turned out to be rather
full and busy. We met some very interesting
folks. Fellow travelers do tend to have interesting

First Week of 2009 - Small Things We're Getting Used To

The best mornings begin around a Skype conversation
with our 3.5 year old granddaughter. She usually shows
us her guinea pigs and her latest drawings.

What has come to be our favorite lunch spot. "The
noodle shop in the soi" He cooks, she washes dishes and
they seem to have done alright for themselves. Witness
the rather nice (by our standards) little house.
With a half dozen tables and a tasty product, they are
seldom without customers. But at less than a dollar
per serving, one wonders how they do it.

A Sunday afternoon Jazz in the Park led to this
encore Christmas program across town. Many of
the Payup University Jazz Band members had to
leave early for their commitment with this event.
We went also, catching the last of the mass at Sacred
Heart Catholic Church. I chose the harp pictures
for our Bridgeville friends and devoted harpists, Lynne
and Michael

At the zoo, the ever graceful giraffes are my favorite. Probably
because they are Anya's all-time, very favorite animal.

We had been telling our granddaughter, Anya that
we would be going to the zoo soon. Chaing Mai has
a pretty nice zoo (as zoo's go) For more photos, see
our Picasa web page. I paid 10 baht for some carrots
and sweet potatoes which quite interested this beastie.

I am able to get up enough nerve to approach an
optical shop for an exam and new glasses. It was
a very pleasant and easy experience and of course
the best part was the price. The exam, new frames
with progressive and chromatic lenses for under
$140US. The real treat was that the prescription
had changed enough since my last pair 7 years ago
that I can now see distances a great deal better.