Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Day in Ayutthaya – another blog by Greg’s Parents

On Thursday of our second week in Thailand we visited Ayutthaya.  We were driven there by Greg’s driver, Puk (pronounced Pu), who is from Ayutthaya.  It’s about an hour from downtown Bangkok, where Greg and Mary live.  Puk first drove us to Hutchinson Technologies Overseas (HTO) to see where Greg works.  After Greg showed us around the plant, we went to lunch at a local noodle restaurant which, like many restaurants in Thailand, is totally outdoors (the cooking, seating and dishwashing – totally outdoors).  We had soup of rice noodles with pork and bean sprouts – very good – and we think we managed well with chopsticks and a noodle spoon, even though after a few bites the owner walked over to our table with a fork and spoon and handed them to Cathy, saying, “For you.”  She didn’t use them, but she was seen sponging a few small spots off her shirt in the car.

After lunch Puk drove Greg back to work, and then spent the afternoon showing us around Ayutthaya.  It was the original capital of Thailand, which was then Siam.  There are many temple and royal ruins there, and we saw quite a bit of it.  Though more primitive than the Grand Palace and temple we saw on Tuesday, it was equally impressive, just different.  These ruins were the remains of a defeat in a war with Burma in the 1400s, yet it is amazing what remains today.

It was an interesting day spent with Puk, who speaks very little English.  He was a gracious host despite the language barrier.  Every time we were in his car he played his American CD, which Greg is pretty sure was just for our sake.  It was all remakes of American hits from the 60s and 70s by the likes of John Denver, Charlie Rich, Olivia Newton-John, Glen Campbell, the Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Anne Murray, etc.  We’ve heard this sort of music in a few other places – all remakes of old tunes.   
Puk also just called us “Mom and Dad” all afternoon.  He did a good job of showing us around and making us feel welcome.  The afternoon went by rather quickly, and soon it was time to go “pick up Boss” – that’s Greg (whom Puk obviously enjoys working for) and head back to Bangkok.

Thailand, Land of Smiles

Today, a blog written by Greg’s parents about Thailand through their eyes:  Thailand is known as the land of smiles, and we think it’s fitting.  We’ve found the people here to be friendly, welcoming and polite.  Thai people want foreigners to like their country.  We’ve also found many reasons to smile during our visit.
Smiles of happiness (and parental pride):  It’s good for us just to see Greg and Mary in their present environment, and we’re proud of their adjustment to significant cultural changes and obvious embracing of their adventure.  They have done well with finding what there is to enjoy about life in Bangkok, even though they do miss comforts of home, a shorter commute to work and seasonal changes.  They look forward to enjoying those again someday, but then they will miss parts of life here.

Smiles of wonder:  From the lizards ambling around Lumpini Park, not far from Greg and Mary’s apartment to the gorgeous flowers blooming there and in other places like the beach resort we went to last weekend, to beautiful beaches, and a wide variety of colorful, tasty fruit, there is much in nature to entice the senses here.

Smiles of amazement (times three): 
1) There are unbelievable historic sites here with superb craftsmanship.  The Grand Palace, temples, museums, etc. are filled with beauty we find hard to imagine artisans creating today, much less hundreds of years ago. 

2) The market culture on the streets.  Many, many food, flower and clothing vendors line the streets in downtown Bangkok, small towns, and some even right next to the highways.  They are everywhere.  Our favorite has to be the small town market,  where they have to move all of their wares back to let the train through the market at least four times a day.  It’s truly a sight to behold.  It takes about five to six minutes to go from business as usual, to moving everything out of the way of the train, to the train moving through, and setting right back up for business as usual.    

3) The traffic.  As if learning to drive on the right side of the car and the left side of the road isn’t enough, the traffic is so congested and the rules of the road so different from any we’re used to.  We’ve seen four lanes of traffic squeezed into the three lanes painted on the road (Greg says he’s even seen five), and the ever-present motorbikes just zoom right in between the lanes.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday at school we celebrated Chinese New Year. Before you run to the calendar and double check when Chinese New Year was this year and realize it wasn't Friday, I'll tell you that Friday also marked the end of the first half of our second term. To coordinate the two events, the New Year Celebration was delayed but still very festive! Actually, by delaying it one week we had more students participate as many were away with family last week for their own celebrations. The morning was complete with costumes, a parade, and finally a Big Assembly with songs! Here are some pictures to remind you just how cute the kids at my school are!

Ms. Pu and I before the kids arrived
My two Japanese students, Riri and Ayako.
Inside our room with table activities, waiting for the parents to move cars and get ready for the parade!
The parade!
Rehaan showing me his year of the Rabbit shirt. My students thought it was pretty cool that it was the Year of  Rabbit and we are the Rabbit Room.
More Table Top Activities
Not my student, but she's still adorable. I think her name is Ing Ing.
Ms. Katherine talking to Charlotte and Alexander. Behind in the stiletto  heals  and Ray Bans is their mom. I'll give her some credit, it looks like she's on her phone, but most likely she's looking at all the photos she just took her two kids.
After the Big Assembly, Hannah, Izzy and Me. Annika in the background.
Lily and her mom (who always dresses up for  the occasion!)
Again, not my student. But isn't Mui Mui adorable?
The youngest class singing their songs!
The Kangaroo Class singing!
Ms. Pu fixing up Riri's hair. Without Ms. Pu the girls in my class would have very messy hair. 
Happy New Year Everyone! Now it's time to get ready for the MacLeods (Doug and Cathy) to come!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

An Update

My mom recently asked me, "Why haven't you updated the blog lately?" The answer to that is because we haven't done anything too exciting lately. After Hong Kong, we stayed in Bangkok for the month of January and now we are getting ready for Greg's parents to come in about a week and a half.

We have recently made plans to go to Finland and Sweden in July/August. We will be meeting my sister and brother in law (Emily and David) there for a few days before all heading back to Bangkok. Other things before that will include our Malaysia/Kuala Lumpur/Singapore train trip in April and hopefully include a trip to Angkor Wat, Cambodia in May.

Of course we are both still working and things are busy! While Greg can't share many details about work he is planning on posting a blog soon to share what he can including some interesting photos!

I have been taking some photos though, and using those I can update you on our very exciting life here!

I don't cook much, but I recently made spicy potato,pork, and kale soup. I even picked up some bread bowls. Yum!

Out for food and drinks a few Fridays ago with people from work. Katie, Abby, Tara, Pu, Oi, and Aell

A new fruit, can't remember it's name right now. 

Part of a bouquet I bought on the street last weekend. I still have them too!

Happy Chinese New Year. Lanterns hanging up at Witches Tavern.

Greg and Erik at Witches. Friday night they have free pizza! Yum!

Katherine (friend from work) at Fat Gutz listening to a great blues band from Chicago.

Outside on of the malls. It's the year of the Rabbit, so the Rabbits they had up for Christmas and now ready for Chinese New Year!

Coffee shop sign I pass every day on the way to the train. Don't you want to stop and get a cup of coffee and a side of ants? 

Men doing work on the wires. Yes, that's a bamboo ladder  :-)

Graffiti on the wall outside our condo.

The wires I have to duck under everyday right outside our condo.