Posts Tagged With: thailand

FLAT STANLEY EXPLAINED

When I blogged my exotic trip to Thailand in January, I inserted pictures here and there with Flat Stanley and promised to explain Flat Stanley later. Aha! A reader reminded me I failed to do that so here goes. In the picture above he greets us from a hotel in the Golden Triangle.
In Bangkok, he attended a marvelous puppet show with our OAT travel group.

Earlier in the day, we watched as Thai’s made unusual (to us) flower arrangements in the bustling flower market there.

Later, Flat Stanley was photographed on a very exotic flower arrangement.

Flowers in Thailand are omnipresent. This guardian of the Khantoke garden is festooned with flowers.
The Khantoke garden was our lunch stop on the road between Chaing Rai and Chaing Mai. Flat Stanley got to ride a bike rickshaw.
And below, he consorted with the school children from Bankhonsung School in Phitsanulok.


Flat Stanley is a geography lesson for school children. A printout was given to my grandson, Austin, who colored Flat Stanley to resemble himself with red hair, his favorite color shirt and pants. Then, Flat Stanley traveled with me, was returned to Austin at the end of our trip, and his travels followed by the children in school who, I hope, learned something about Thailand.
Of course, since I lost the last half of my pictures, Flat Stanley’s return to Austin isn’t in my blog. Darn!
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I feel like I’m a…

a tour bus driver for a famous movie star! That’s what I told my jet-setting sweetheart when I met her at the Tucson, AZ Airport yesterday afternoon. Did I tell you that we laugh together a great deal?

Here’s her dialogue about 40 days ago…”I’m soon off to spend a couple of weeks in Thailand…meet me with the motorhome in Tucson, AZ on January 9th. Bye…”

Picture
The world traveler arrives in Tucson, AZ!

She said other being tired from her busy life-style, she was feeling fine. She’ll have lots of time to rest and relax on our forthcoming trip. It sure is nice to have her back by my side.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.com

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FRIED RAT AND OTHER TREATS


On the road again today to Phitsanulok. Panu, man of many talents, teaches us about the National Anthem and the Kings Anthem, but we especially enjoyed his demonstration of traditional Thai clothing both male and female. He teaches us how to tie the sarong and why it holds up. Clothing so cleverly useful and cool, we all want one. One of his jobs is to find rest stops along the way which isn’t quite as easy as in the U.S. But our first stop on this trip was non parriel. I loved this wonderful black sticky rice cooked in a bamboo stick so much, I found bamboo sticks to take home and try it.

Here Susan kind of trepiditiously tastes a spoonful of the sweet concoction made with black eyed peas, black rice, (we know the sticky comes from tapioca flour) and coconut milk.
Equally fascinating was the special grill used to cook these bamboo tubes of rice over coals. The operator, wearing thick gloves, would turn them from one side to the other as they cooked. An amazing treat.

I mentioned roadside rests and here we stopped at this rock quarry because they have a bathroom, that is, a “Happy Room”. We all loved this pose of Adria with camera and cousin Wendy still dressed in Thai pants that she modeled on the bus. Pants with no buttons or ties, just a simple, single piece of cloth. Can you tell we are having fun?
Our next roadside rest brought us to a fried rat stand. Gophers or some other larger rodent with buck teeth was also for sale along with small hens. And, yes, several of us agreed we wanted to taste fried rat so Panu bought one for our lunch.
Soon we arrived at a quaint and lovely market that has just been issued its UNESCO credential. The town is Uthaithani and the market is superbly clean and picturesque. The picture below shows the town from the bridge.
This is a rural town and the market is not so hectic as others we’ve visited. The woman below quietly sews on her wares while people browse.
The fish and vegetables and fruits are beautifully laid out. We find soups and rice dishes and what looks like coconut ice and milk shakes. Wood carvings, steel knives and tools; musical instruments and toys. Silks and rugs and wall hangings and purses. It is instantly evident why it received the coveted UNESCO rating. For those unfamiliar with UNESCO, these heritage sites are considered historically unique and worth saving for all mankind. And, collectively, many nations contribute to keep these sites for posterity so they don’t fade away with progress and social change.

Here Panu slogs through the various patterns to keep all of us happy as we choose a sarong. Our group sort of overwhelmed the proprietor who was trying to keep up with our choices.

We then board the Khiri Nava, a large traditional rice barge and cruise past peaceful scenes of river life while enjoying lunch.
Fish is often served whole with head and tail intact.
The buffet lunch was delicious, and, for a few of us, the fried rat was an experience. For my taste, though it resembled crispy fried chicken, I would have preferred it to be stewed. But, hey, you don’t get fried rat everyday.
A typical house along the Saekaekrang River. This is rice farming country and like our own rural areas, people live more simply.

Another rest stop as we push north. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this wonderful wooden stump faucet for washing hands. The Thais wash hands continually, provide anti-bacterial lotions and stress cleanliness. No one got sick on our trip and our tour leader also provided hand wipes every time we re-entered the bus.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to stop at a roadside rest with these beautiful dragon benches? Amazing place.
Simcha and Phyllis enjoy sweet treats. Personally, I would choose black sticky rice any day.
We arrive at Leelawadee Hotel in Phitsanulok with the traditional refreshing juice greeting. Here Flat Stanley gets a close up of our drink. The waitress looked at us a little strangely as we pulled him out for a picture, but we didn’t know enough Thai to explain to her.
P.S.
Tomorrow I travel to Tuscon to meet my ramblin partner. I’ve had the luxury of uploading many pictures, full size, from home. On the road things change. Signals are iffy at times. I can’t always use so many photos and/or I must reduce them in size so you cannot click on them for a close-up view. In any case, more of Thailand coming. Chaio!
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DRAGON TAIL MARKET AND ATONEMENT

Many years ago, the King wished to make a European style road. A straight, modern boulevard right to the palace. The clever Chinese and French purchased Thai Homesteads and when the King wanted to buy them to build his road they asked an exorbitant price. Instead, the King purchased properties around them and ended up with a twisted road that resembled a dragon. Thus the Dragon Tail Market, And Dragon Tail Temple. The temples used to be a place where all social activity and business took place. But, you cannot lie, so they removed the business from the temples. Hmmm! Sounds familiar. Buyer Beware! The Dragon Tail Temple was a very small affair. Later I will present a slide show of Temples and another of street scenes of interest and so on.

This bustling market had foods we could not recognize, but fascinating all the same. Panu said these are sweets.

Wah?

This little boy eats his lunch while his parents ply their nearby wares, a tub of sticky rice cooked in banana leaves.
This woman is just removing a duck, with head intact from the fryer. They also have black skinned ducks here and bright pink eggs.

Motorcycles compete with human traffic in the narrow aisles, but no gets hurt or gets angry as we jostle for space to move.
We left the market for a stop at our first look inside of a temple, Wat Kaniga Phol, where you have to remove your shoes before crossing the threshold. It is a significant place because it was built and funded by prostitutes. At first, the Thai kept it a secret, (like most secrets are kept-hah,) then later they openly commended the idea that this temple was an inspiration to turn your life around and do good by your fellow man.

Wat Kaniga Phol has a replica of the famous Jade Buddha shown above. We’ll see the real thing later in the trip. At this temple we also learn about a stupa, a conical shaped edifice that holds the ashes of the deceased.
In the market, Panu bought a selection of foods to carry to our next destination, Tai Hong Kong. It is a prayer day and we participate along with the Thais in this ritual at an outdoor shrine.

First, they make their food and flower offerings and place them on the shrine. They kneel or bow and make three wishes. Most remove their shoes.
Then we purchased six candles and six sticks of incense. Above Mason and Sheila Yavari can be seen lighting the candles from a firey vat of burning oil.

The candles are used to light the incense and are placed around the shrine in these sand pits.
You then pray that your wishes come true. The offering of food that Panu brought was receipted and entered in a book. Below, a Thai woman burns her receipt and places it in the tub. Its a sign of faith not to use your receipt for a tax deduction and to burn it instead. Make points with Buddha.

If a Thai misses work, or drinks too much and scolds his children, he makes atonement. He must make offerings in one day at nine different temples if the infraction is serious. And, not just any temple, the main temples. Below is the temple with the largest sitting Buddha, Temple Wat Sutat. This Buddha with canopy sits on an ornate, beautifully carved base 8 meters high and 6.25 meters wide. It was built in 1807 and is the oldest and largest cast bronze Buddha in Thailand. Story art work covers the walls. I’m guestimating the building is about 5 stories high. Thais throw coins into 108 pots around the perimeter of the temple and ring the bells for their atonement. Some make atonement once a year on a festival day.


The story walls are undergoing restoration. The entire temple is painted with these stories and are an amazing work of art as well as the edifice that holds the Buddha.

Our next stop on the way to another temple was the Buddha store. Most of these Bhudda are commissioned sales, but many smaller ones can be purchased by anyone passing by. They have a variety of Bhudda and statues of generals, or famous people, their Kings, elephants, and so on.

Here a workman with a steady hand scripts his recent masterpiece.

Wat is the Thai word for temple. Wat Po houses the famous reclining Buddha and if memory serves me he is 127 feet long. Tough to get a picture, the post cards do a better job. He is a fine figure and this is the oldest temple.,

After lunch we visit the home/museum of Jim Thompson, a man who fell in love with Thailand during WWII. He returned and opened a silk factory and revitalized the Thai silk industry and expanded it to international markets. He had several typical open style teakwood houses. Thompson took a trip to Malaysia and vanished. His body, nor any trace of him was ever found. His houses were all moved to this spot and are now a museum. No pictures were allowed inside but we were allowed to take a picture from the outside. The grounds were beautiful as well as the antiques inside.
After respite at our hotel, we attend the Puppet Theatre. A nearly lost traditional art revitalized by a man called Joe Louis. This puppet show has won several international awards.

The Puppet Theatre is also a dinner house. The puppets each require three handlers and they visited our table. Mason was obviously enjoying himself.

As was Simcha Saul above and Wendy Aisley below.

Flat Stanley also attended the show and sat on the knee of a puppet master with a puppet king.
The costuming was fabulous. The show itself was in Thai with English subtitles on very visible screens.
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EXCITING, PULSING BANGKOK

Do I even recognize the 14 year old I took with me to Thailand? After 16 days of a venerable, ancient, culture we were both changed. Mason, above, is my grandson and traveling partner. We squeezed in a lot of life during our 16 days. He is holding Flat Stanley against a waterfall in the Tawana Hotel, Bangkok on our first day. (I’ll explain Flat Stanley later.)

From our hotel, we set out for the flower and produce markets. We viewed the miasma of traffic, strange vehicles slipping past our bus window. Life swirls through the streets, shopping stalls crowd man and beast and machine for space. Its vibrant, exciting and such a contrast to suburban and big city USA.

We found Thai people, happy, friendly, clean, and a fascinating mix of old culture and new democracy. Third world, no doubt, but life is lived in the streets. Families run their shopping stalls, kids play around the street markets when not in school. Vendors eat on the street, socialize and nap in their stalls.


The snarl of wiring above this street reminds me a bit of India, yet you could plug in your computer, or phone chargers in any of our hotels.

Thai people love their flowers and you see them gracing their motorcycles, boats, buses, houses, temples-everything.

Fruits and vegetables and flowers are part of every celebration in Thailand. It was love at first sight.
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RV Industry Turns 100 In 2010!

Here’s a video that provides a brief look at the history of the RV Industry.

On another note…my jet-setting life partner Mary has arrived back safely in The United States after a two week trip to Thailand with her 15 year old grandson. She telephoned me mid-afternoon yesterday. After a brief stay at her home, she flies to Tucson, Arizona to meet me on January 9th.

Happy New Year everyone!

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.co

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