Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Return to Paradise - Neung

August 29 - 30, 2017

A bright and happy spot in our final days of goodbyes, we were blessed to have our three boys back for one more visit.  This time they brought along their lovely ladies, as well as a good buddy and his new wife, for a total of eight guests!

Logistics for a group this size had to be taken into consideration.  We rented a fourteen-seat van that would fit our eight guests, Tim and I, and our driver.  Tim accompanied K. Mick to the airport while I waited excitedly at home.  Ted and Hiustyn arrived around ten p.m., with the rest following close behind at eleven.  It was nearly one in the morning by the time they made it back to Pattaya.  I took four of them over to the Suites next door, and we settled the other four in our spare rooms.  Feels so right and wonderful to have us all together!

Lots of shoes at the door!
Their first morning here, I dragged half of the group out on my morning walk.  Nice to have such excellent company!  Even the "Mayor of the Hill" noticed my entourage.  He said (in his simplified English many of us westerners fall into when speaking with Thais) - "Oh, today have many people!  She usually come alone!"

Our condo in the background
 When we returned to the condo, the other four had appeared, and we all walked next door to the Intercontinental Hotel for a lovely welcome breakfast.  The grounds of the hotel are lovely, and we all went for a stroll down to the water.  When we all gathered on the lower level, we noticed that Tim and Chloe were not with us.  We were confident they could find their way back to the condo, and headed that way ourselves.  They were waiting for us in the hot and humid stairwell.  We all decided this would be the perfect time for a swim!

Koh Larn in the distance

Infiniti restaurant on the gulf

the "Blues"

We threw on our suits and migrated down to the beckoning pool.  The never-cold water was still a refreshing relief from the heat.  Tim had his waterproof GoPro and told everyone they had to enter the pool as an animal.  You can imagine the crazy iterations this creative bunch came up with.  Tim's flying squirrel and Evan's rhino were especially memorable.  We stayed in the pool way too long, and I got a pretty good sunburn.  But it was so enjoyable.

In the evening, K. Mick and his wife had us over to their house for a farewell party.  They went all out with many tantalizing dishes.  They were very thoughtful and conscientious, keeping the usual Thai spiciness to a minimum for our western palates.  I'd ordered some chicken wings to supplement, but there was more than enough food already.  K. Mick cooked his Coke chicken he'd been raving about for weeks - he told us we wouldn't want to leave Thailand once we tasted it!  Their friend helped prepare pork, fried fish, fried rice and beautiful crabs.  K. June showed us how to crack open the crab and just eat the legs.  Our guests sampled some rambutan for the first time.  Everything was so delicious.

Seen on the way to K. Mick's - that looks safe, doesn't it?

Feel like someone's looking at you?


Coke chicken
We enjoyed playing with their friends' little ones - so cute.  The three-year-old girl passed out candies to each of us when we arrived.  In honor of Ted's return to Thailand, K. Mick gave us a framed picture of our ATV trip from his last visit.

Jet lag was setting in, so we bid our farewells and piled into the van for the drive back to the condo.  What a lovely evening, shared with our favorite people.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Long Goodbye

August, 2017

When we first arrived in Thailand for our three-year assignment, it seemed like an interminable amount of time to be away.  I remember when we counted our time here in weeks.  Now, suddenly, the end of our assignment is imminent, and so begins the long goodbye.  Tim spent a week in India, at two different plants in two different cities.  And in each city, his colleagues celebrated his contributions and wished him well, Indian-style.   This was no simple "cake in the staff room" good-bye.  Group photos were taken, dinners were held, speeches were made.  Tim was expected to talk at length about his time working in India.  Team recognition was the order of the day.  (This message has been approved by the candidate.)

Tim came back with armloads of gifts (and a chest cold, which he kindly shared.)  The teams were very generous and thoughtful with their gifts.  With so many people moving in and out of the region, they have the routine down pretty well.

"Lion Capital of Ashoka" - the official emblem of India

Beautiful brass bell with "Om" symbol

Indian Elephant
Light-up cube with Tim's picture (taken in Tibet!)

The group pictures are quite homogeneous, save one.

didn't fare so well in Tim's luggage

He arrived home on a Friday morning, and then Friday evening was another dinner, this time with the Thailand team.  I got to tag along to Moom Aroy, a lovely outdoor venue in nearby Sriracha, about a forty-five minute drive from Pattaya.  I enjoyed meeting Tim's team, many for the first time.  We dined on traditional Thai food as we watched the sun set over the gulf.

"Moom Aroy" (tasty corner)

Thais traditionally dine out "family style,"
with many dishes in the middle for everyone to share

Ghin Yang Nai?  "How do I eat these?"

The Thai team had a caricature drawing done of the team in the style of the Chinese Three Kingdoms.  Very cute, although I think Tim looks a bit more like Billy Crystal in a graduation cap!

It is going to be so difficult to say goodbye...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Big Sky

August 22, 2017

I have been enjoying all the excitement about the total solar eclipse from afar.   I spent a fair amount of time perusing everyone's Facebook posts and pictures, and tracing everyone's travels to obscure locations - places that I imagine don't get many tourists: Carbondale, IL, Glendo, WY, Princeton, KY, Beatrice, NE, somewhere south of Ashville, NC.  As it set yesterday, I told the sun it was going to be the center of attention on the other side of the world.  (I really did...I hope the neighbors didn't hear.)

I remember being a somewhat unimpressed ten-year-old when we had an eclipse in Michigan.  Since we couldn't look directly at it, we put pinholes in paper plates and looked at the image on the ground. Eclipse glasses were not widely available in the seventies.  It was quite anticlimactic to my young mind.  "That was it??"  I am sorry to have missed this one - I'm sure I would've appreciated it more.

The idea of everyone looking to the heavens prompted me to share some slightly less spectacular pictures of the Thailand sky from the past year.  These images are certainly "eclipsed" by the rare phenomenon enjoyed by many Americans yesterday, but you may find them enjoyable all the same.

In January, a rainbow spanned both sides of our building

Awesome summer storm

Another rainbow

I think our proximity to the equator makes the crescent moon lay on its back?

Looking up...through the branches of a coconut tree.

Another amazing storm out over the water

Congratulations to all of you who were able to witness the amazing eclipse of 2017 - hope the clouds didn't get in your way!