Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Life Aquatic

I recently picked up a hobby that has appealed to me for a long time.  Scuba diving.  Thailand is a great place to learn about diving with a huge quantity of great dive sites available at relatively low cost.

I got my PADI Open Water certification at the end of July. The PADI certification process in Thailand is high quality, safety focused, and valid anywhere in the world.  I used Mermaids Dive Center in Pattaya for certification.  They were wonderful and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to get certified in Bangkok or Pattaya.  Open water certification involved 12 hours on online pre-work followed by three days of instruction and exercises in the water from native English speaking instructors.

I have been diving as often as possible since getting certified and now have 14 dives completed.

Mary has zero interest in scuba diving, but I have found a good diving buddy her in Bangkok.  The PADI certification course and most of my dives have been with a friend our ours that we know from high school who also lives in Bangkok.

Rather than continuing to write about diving, I'd rather just show you.  I recently bought a Olympus TG-4 underwater camera, so it's easy to share photos of my underwater adventures.

First a few shots with my wonderful dive buddy, Quyen.

I've seen things that range from colorful...

To potentially deadly...

To stunningly beautiful.

And of course one of the best parts of diving with a friend is having someone to take pictures of you! I am in the two on the right and the one of the bottom left.  Quyen is in the top left and bottom center.

Mary, Lily, and I will be traveling back to the US soon for Christmas, so it looks like I likely will have to wait a while for more diving. I am already excited for more underwater adventures next year though!  God's aquarium is an amazing place!

And if you were wondering, the blog title is in fact a reference to a film by my favorite movie director, Wes Anderson.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dear Lily, This is the USA

When Lily was nearly 6 months old we took her on her first big trip to the USA. I (Mary here) did the first leg of the journey by myself with Lily in late June after I was done with school. The 26 hour journey wasn't fun, but we survived. Bangkok-Tokyo-Minneapolis-Cedar Rapids. By the time I saw my dad I wept in exhaustion and joy.

The top left is the only picture I took while we were flying. It was our first flight and everyone was happy! We had a bulkhead seat with a bassinet. Lily didn't sleep in there, but she did enjoy sitting up to watch everyone. When we arrived in Iowa the first few days she fell asleep a bit early and where ever she was laid down. Uncle Zach loved when it happened to be on his shoulder. 
Our trip stateside was great. Lily and I enjoyed the first week and a half in Iowa introducing Lily to lots of new people. Many family members from Michigan, Missouri, and Illinois even made the trip to Iowa to see her.  To our amazement Lily handled the jet lag pretty well, adjusting to the 12 hour time change faster than me. 

In Iowa Lily met so many people for the first time including many of her family! She enjoyed playing in the grass and breathing in the fresh air.  She loved watching her cousin's play soccer out Grandpa Schuett's during a big BBQ.
On 3rd July my dad drove us north to Eau Claire, WI. The drive from Iowa to Wisconsin along the Mississippi is gorgeous and I enjoyed daydreaming out the windows as the cornfields passed by.  I kept an eye out for trains because I knew Greg would ask if we saw any. We did. We stayed with our friends the Fromm's who have become foster parents to four children since we last saw them, so in addition to their two dog's Lily got to experience what a full house feels like. It was great to catch up.

Enjoying some time in the grass out at a really cool pizza place.  
Greg flew into Minneapolis on the 4th of July and came to pick Lily and I up by early evening. We celebrated the Fourth of July with our friends Eric and Melanie at Eric's parents house out in the country. Lily especially enjoyed the labradoodles that were running around. Staying at a house with a cat and a dog enabled us to discover Lily is not allergic to cats and dogs. 
Lily loved the dogs! She would even let them lick her in the face. It was great to hear her laugh!

On the 6th we ran errands all around Eau Claire, which included a drive by our home (looks like the renters are treating it well), getting Lily's picture taken for her visa, a trip to the new post office to drop all the visa things off, a stop at our favorite burger joint, and the DMV to name a few of them. Then we headed up north, to No Manners II- my family's cabin.

Even though Lily didn't sleep well at the cabin, she sure had fun. 

If you know me at all, you know that Atkins Lake is my favorite place on earth. I've been coming since I've been about Lily's age and I hope she's still coming when she's my age. We stayed 17 nights in row, which may be a record for a family member other than my Grandma. We weren't alone for most of them, we had visitors from Iowa, Chicago, Michigan and Washington. Who are we kidding, most of them came just to see Lily.

Lily enjoyed playing with everyone who came to visit us at the cabin.  She had lots of play mates and enjoyed skinny dipping in the lake in lieu of her bath a few times. We didn't get a picture of was Greg's good friends Josh and Bryan who traveled up from Iowa for a quick 2 day visit or our friends Eric and Melanie from Eau Claire. 
Our last night in the US was spent in Minneapolis and we squeezed in one last breakfast with friends before boarding our first flight west. It was an amazing trip back, albeit a bit tiring at times, but a trip to remember for sure. 

Our time at the cabin was filled with good food, good drinks, beautiful nature, and wonderful people. Greg smoked ribs, a turkey, chickens, a variety of vegetables to put food on the table. Everyone caught fish off the docks and enjoyed the loons calling. A few took bike rides and even saw a bear cross the road!  It was what summer at the lake should be; wonderful!

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I was looking back at some old blog posts this weekend and realized what a great way this blog has been for us to document our adventures living in Thailand.  I also realize it has been 9 months since we last posted anything.  Time to fix that little problem.

As you might imagine, we have been rather busy learning to be parents since Lily came into our lives in January.  Life has become a whole new sort of adventure.  It seems like every few days Lily comes up with a new way to keep us on our toes.

We're going to try to start better documenting what's going on with our lives in Thailand for our friend and family back home (and anyone else who wants to read since this is a public blog).  I'm going to start out with an update on the biggest change to our lives in the last nine months, Lily.

Being a parent is both exhausting and wonderful. Seeing your child grow and develop is an amazing process.

A little about Lily:

  • Lily has been crawling for about a month and has just recently started pulling herself up on things.  She's still a little ways from walking, but it that is coming soon enough.  
  • Lily is a talker.  She speaks her own language, but speaks it almost constantly.  She even talks in her sleep sometimes.
  • Lily loves making friends.  She waves, smiles, and talks with almost every person we see.  This is a lot of work on Bangkok's crowded subway trains.

Below are a few of our favorite pictures from Lily's first 9 months.

We've had quite a few visitors since Lily was born.  All the grandparents have made it over, plus a number of friends from the US, and a few co-workers have even stopped by to meet her.  We're always open for more visitors, so let us know when you'd like to stop by!

We'll post additional updates in the coming days and weeks.  There are plenty of topics to visit:  
  • We visited the US in July and plan to visit again in December
  • We still live in a developing country ruled by a military junta
  • Greg has a new hobby of scuba diving
  • We've visited more of Bangkok's rooftop bars in the last few months than the whole rest of our time living in Thailand
  • We are traveling to Indonesia in a few weeks
  • Plans are in the works for trips to a few more Asian countries while we still live in Thailand
Lots to talk about!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Kimballs Came to Visit and Lily Came to Stay

From 30th December-3rd January and then again for one night on 9th January we were so blessed to have some of our best friends visit us from the states. Steph and Danny Kimball even got to meet our daughter, Lily Skye when she was 6 days new.

Here are the highlights from their visit.

Day 1 30th December:  Wat Pho and Wat Arun
On their first full day in Thailand, I (Mary) took Steph and Danny to see two of the best well known temples. Located right by The Grand Palace- Wat Pho (with the reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (across the river, Chinese temple that offers great views of the city and The Grand Palace) impressed them without being overwhelming. We ate lunch at a local pork restaurant and traveled by train and river boat taxi for a great introduction to Bangkok!

Surprise Baby Shower!

On their first night here, I came out of the shower and walked into a surprise baby shower. Steph carried gifts, cards, and even cookies with her all the way for the US. Greg and I both felt very loved and special. If you were someone who helped Steph prepare- Thank You!
Day 2, New Year's Eve, Day Trip: Maeklong Train Market and Amphawa Floating Market

Even though we had just done this day trip with our family, Ann and Andrew, it was still fun to do again! We saw the train come back through the market after being in the station JUST in time and explored the floating market sampling lots of food. Steph and Danny enjoyed eating Pad Thai that was prepared on a boat and eating fresh coconut ice-cream from a coconut. We were there for sunset and it was so pretty!

Happy New Year's Eve 2015!
On New Year's Eve headed out to a local restaurant for our NYE dinner. Steph, Danny, and Greg shared 3 Liters of long island ice tea along with some of our favorite Thai food. Indy Tree's is one of our neighborhood favorites and it didn't disappoint- the live music and relaxed atmosphere was a great way to spend the night. We made it home to watch fireworks from across the city right out our windows. Happy 2015!
Day 3, New Year's Day, Exploring Lumpini Park
Steph and Danny were here during Thailand's "winter". It was really just lovely weather where it wasn't too hot and actually quite cool during the day (80's to lower 90's) making it great to walk through the park. It was an excellent outing to spot the park's monitor lizards and turtles. We even saw a lizard in a tree!
Tea Tasting in China Town
After the park we took the underground train to China Town where we met our good friends Sam and Jamethon. Jamethon took us to a tea tasting shop that he likes to take visitors. We picked out many to try at their tasting table and bought some to bring home. It was a really cool experience that we hope to share with other visitors as well.  On the way back to the train we all got ice cream from a cart- The Kimballs fully embracing how Thai's like to eat it--- on a bun and topped with sweetened condensed milk. 

Day 4, 2nd January, Bowl Game Watching!

After getting massages the night before, we headed to an American restaurant, Bourbon Street, for some breakfast and to watch the Ohio State vs. Alabama bowl game.  The afternoon was spent relaxing at our place and Greg took Steph and Danny to Fatty's for some Wisconsin food. After having contractions all day, I spend the evening alone at home.

Day 5: 3rd January

After my contractions picked up and intensified all night/early morning, we headed to the hospital around 5am. We first said goodbye to Steph and Danny who were going to be headed to the airport for their week in Cambodia and then northern Thailand.

That morning, before their plane even left, Lily was born! Lily Skye MacLeod, 7:24am, 51cm, 2.5kg

 9th January: Meeting Lily at 1 week old

It was so special to have Steph and Danny meet Lily! 

Isn't she precious!?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong is an annual holiday in Thailand. It's not one that people get off work, but it's one that is widely celebrated here and in other Buddhist countries. As with any holiday anywhere, you can ask people what it's about and you'll get a range of answers.

Most Thai holidays fall on a full moon, which is an important part of the Buddhist Calendar. 
Loy Krathong falls in November (this year it was 6th November) and is near the end of the rainy season/beginning of the cooler dryer season (winter). People celebrate by floating (Loy) a decorated boat (krathong) in a body of water. It's a celebration to thank the water gods for the rice season and  a chance for Buddhist to repent/float away their sins, and make wishes for the next year. Also similar to many holidays, it has become very commercial, adapting an almost Valentines Day meaning- something you do with your sweet heart.

We joined thousands of others at  Benjansari Park right downtown. With easy access from the sky train, this was a very popular destination for people living downtown. 

We've been in Thailand for three different Loy Krathong celebrations. At my schools we take time to part take in the celebrations which also include Thai dancing, singing, and games. This year Greg and I joined a group from church (and thousands of other people) to float krathongs in a local park. For us, it took on a different meaning.

My students' krathongs ready to go! 

A few friends from church and our krathongs. 

Enjoy our pictures below, along with handout we read during our experience.


John 1:1-5 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

As you look upon all the lights. Remember Jesus who is the light of the world. How has Jesus provide light in your life? (Optional: Share 2 ways he has done this with a partner)

Light Your Krathong.

Remember that as a Christian you are part of the body of Christ, called to be part of Christ’s light in our world. Think of one way you can bring the light of Christ into someone else’s life this week. Now commit to doing it.

On top of every kratong is a candle and incense. 


1 Kings 8:46-51. 46 "When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; 47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, 'We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly'; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy; 51 for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.

Take a few minutes while looking at your lit Krathong to reflect on your life. Is there anyone with whom you are angry? Are you holding any grudges? What are some things you are involved in that you shouldn’t be? What are some things you are not involved in that you should be?


Here is how the book of Matthew describes the birth of Jesus. Referring to Mary, Matthew says, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Place your Krathong in the water and watch it. As you watch it, thank Jesus for overcoming your sin with his death on the cross.

We really enjoyed the celebration. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Websters Came to Thailand

Over Thanksgiving we were very blessed to have Greg's sister and our brother and law come to visit us. They were in Thailand from the 26th November through the 9th December. Andrew had just finished volunteering for 3 months in the northern UK for a mission's organization. Ann also joined him for the majority of the time and volunteered in the community as well. After their time here in Thailand they returned back to Michigan and their jobs- but we were so happy they decided to swing by on their way home.  To learn more about them, check out their blog at:

Ann and Andrew are excellent bloggers and facebook updaters while traveling. The majority of the pictures you'll see here are taken right from them. We really really enjoyed showing them Thailand. We showed them the beach, two unique markets, and of course the big city.  During their time up north by themselves they saw the mountains, spent a day with Thai elephants and enjoyed the country side. They really saw the best of what this country has to offer, which right now includes US!

Happy Thanksgiving! Ann and Andrew met about 30 of our friends from Bangkok for a Thanksgiving Feast at a local hotel. Yum Yum!

Greg and I both took the day after Thanksgiving off and we took the Websters down to Koh Samet. We enjoyed the island life of laying on the beach, snorkeling, eating seafood and getting massages as they recovered from jet-lag. 

After Ann and Andrew returned to Bangkok from their trip to Chiang Mai we took a day trip to Meklong to see the train market and toured through the nearby Amphawa Floating Market. It was our first time to the floating market as we didn't realize how close the two were located! 
Another day in the city was spent getting massages (boys) and pedicures (girls), going to a movie, venturing up Bangkok's tallest building for sunset and eating dinner at a mall on the river.  Since the King's Birthday- also Father's Day, a national holiday is 5th December was during their stay, we saw plenty of photo opportunities for dads and the Baiyoke Tower was no different!  I had Greg stand by the Daddy Engineer display :-)  (middle right)

Other adventures with the Websters included a bike ride through Bangkok's Green Lung, dinner at our favorite Thailand Wisconsin dive bar Fatty's, putting up our Christmas tree, going to worship with us and ordering dinner afterwards from our favorite kebab vendor Jack.

Ann and Andrew also spent time in the Bangkok exploring the Grand Palace and partaking in a cooking class, "Cooking with Poo" as well as just relaxing before heading back to their home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can read all about it on their blog.  We feel so blessed to have now had a majority of our immediate family come and see us here in Thailand. Thanks for coming!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!

It's been awhile, a LONG while, since we have updated The MacLeod Thaimes. Instead of trying to update it all now... let's just start with where we are... Merry Christmas!

While people know what Christmas is in Thailand, people don't really know what it is about. Sure, it's about Santa and gift giving, putting lights on trees, decorating things with snowflakes and snowman, and eating yummy food- but Jesus is usually left out.  Just take a look at every mall in Bangkok and you'll see evidence of this.

Some of the pre-Christmas traditions that we participated in this year included caroling and cookie making- albeit Thai style.  Caroling was organized by our church and was on a river boat up and down Bangkok's Chao Phraya (we did this a few years ago with my mom as well). Cookie making was done at a co-worker's (who happens to be from Milwaukee) apartment that has an oven (we don't have an oven).

After the hours of baking we delivered cookies to our school and also kept plenty for ourselves. Greg and I provided platters for our building staff as well as his co-workers. 

Setting off around 4:30  on a Saturday afternoon we enjoyed being on the river at it's prettiest time: sunset. We were led by a worship team to sing church classics such as Silent Night and kid's favorites like Frosty the Snowman. My favorite time was when families/groups from different countries came and sang carols in their home language. We heard songs in Thai, Japanese, Persian, Tagalog, Spanish,  a few different African languages, Malay, Urdu and plus a few I think I'm forgetting.

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year were very different. On the 24th we enjoyed a dinner out at a favorite local restaurant.  Because of Greg's extra long commute we did not make it to church. We then opened just one gift each from our stockings. On Christmas Day Greg went to work and I spent the day with a few groups friends eating too much. Greg joined in the second gathering which included eating roasted turkey, turkey enchiladas, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, carrots, stuffing, and a choice between pumpkin or pecan personal pies from a local Mexican restaurant. It was a modest gathering and our eyes were bigger than our stomachs when ordering- so we all even took home large plates of left overs!  I even snagged the turkey carcass to make some homemade stock. We just finished opening gifts today (27th) and somehow even though they aren't even here in person Baby Mac got the most...I wonder if this is how it will always be....

My morning at Sam and Jamethon's home was just lovely! Their friends Zach and Neung (in the picture) also joined in a relaxing morning of eggs, bagels, fruit, moneky bread, and even egg nog! I especially liked their poinsettia Christmas bush!

From Sam and Jamethon's I traveled by taxi to my friend Chris's house for another gathering. Our meal was catered by a local Mexican restaurant and was just fantastic. Chris lives in a house with yard just north of downtown in quiet neighborhood so visiting him really feels like going over to someone's house in the US. The top left photo shows the day after stock making with the turkey carcass. My plans for that include making a turkey and bacon split pea soup.  

Even though Greg had work this week, he said it was fun time to be there. On Christmas Day he wore his light up Santa Hat (see middle bottom picture taken by our tree before heading to work) and brought chocolates to give the guards and toll booth workers on his commute.  He participated in the office Secret Santa festivities that accumulated with the New Year Party on Friday night with  dinner and bowling. He was on the blue team. 

Of course all of our Christmas activities have been planned tentatively because we are anxiously awaiting Baby Mac's arrival. Their (we don't know if it's a boy or a girl) arrival date is scheduled in just 10 days! We are also anticipating the arrival of our lifetime friends Steph and Danny Kimball in a few days.  They will join us for 4 days around Bangkok and then travel to Cambodia, then Chiang Mai Thailand before spending one last day with us (maybe the 3 of us!) before heading to Japan for some more traveling.

We hope this blog post is the first of a string of them to help keep you (and document for ourselves) what we are up to over here in Thailand. Merry Christmas!