Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thailand - Part II

 So, this is going to be mostly pictures, because I'm too busy to have time to write much, but I thought I should at least post something so you can see what it's like here.  And what it's like is ... just beautiful!

These are the hotel grounds where we're staying - the landscaping and color are amazing.

 Only in SE Asia would you get a sign like this - NO DURIAN.  (Durian is a popular local fruit, which is forbidden in a lot of places because it smells horrible).

 On the subject of funny signs, though, I prefer this one.  His special powers include the ability to kill bad guys with a pure concentration of smell - he's known only as:

 Anyway, these are some shots from some of the walks around the city.  They have a lot of really ancient architecture in Chiang Mai, including the old city walls and some of these old monument things (I guess; maybe I should have read the guide book closer).

The street food, as you saw in the last post, is amazing, and all pretty cheap.

The Sunday market even has stalls where for about $1, the ladies will give you a 15-minute foot massage.

These were weird; sort of a banana cake roll.  You can see the finished product there in the back, like a banana rolled up in a sweet pancake and covered in chocolate sauce.  I didn't try one, but they looked tasty.

A guy selling some handcarved wooden dishes.  They were a little pricey, though.

Quite a number of Buddhist temples around the city.  They decorate them very lavishly, and the effect is really pretty.

I did meet some folks some of you might recognize here in town.  It was great to catch up with them, and enjoy a burrito at a Mexican place together.

This is the "Night Bazaar," sort of a nighttime tourist market where all the vendors come out and try to sell you fake Rolexes and Thai silk scarves and the like.  I bought myself an "authentic" Liverpool jersey to wear when I support the Reds for about 1/10 the price of the real ones.

The temples are decorated really exquisitely.  Some of the detail in these things is quite amazing.

And of course, there are smaller versions too, as seen here.

Unfortunately for me, it's about time to wrap up my Thai adventure and head home, but I wanted to give you some more pictures to enjoy while I'm on my travels.  It will take me 4 days to get home, but I'm starting to really miss my family, so I'm anxious to make the trip, even with the accompanying temperature drop.

It has been a very profitable time here, though, with lots of good meetings with new and old friends and coworkers.  We found out lots of news that relates to our work and how we can improve things, so now we just have to implement those things in T-land!

Thanks to all of you who were thinking of my wife and children back home while I was traveling; from all reports they're doing well (and hopefully looking forward to me getting home as well?).  Please continue to do so as I travel, and look for more news in a week or so on here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thailand - Part I

So, as you remember if you read this last week, I (Jesse) am now in Thailand.  There is a conference here starting on Monday that I'm supposed to go to, so I made the arduous journey.  Totally worth it, though - this place is amazing!

But more on that in a bit.  First, this is where I left from. More precisely, this is the KFC in Novosibirsk along the way, but it's still an illustration of the cold and misery that I left behind in Siberia.  Although, can you ever be miserable if you have KFC and free internet?  I spent a whole afternoon here just killing time before my flight.

Leaving the -40 weather behind, I then flew to Bangkok.  My first order of business was to get through Thai immigration, which had one of the longest lines I've ever seen (it goes back beyond this picture for about another 40 meters).

With that (finally) accomplished, it was off to the train station!  Bangkok has a really nifty airport rail link, and then you ride the subway a few stops down to get out right at the train station.  I was impressed, but also roasting.  It was definitely time to take off a few layers of coats.

Just to prove that I'm not lying; that really is the Bangkok train station up there (I know, you thought I was being sneaky, didn't you?):

After buying my ticket, I went outside to get something to eat.  There were a lot of stands like this:

and this (where I bought enough watermelon and mango to choke!  I miss fresh fruits as we don't see them in Siberia much):

Finally I found this lady making food for another older Thai lady, with no foreigners around.  I thought to myself, "Now there's the place to get real Thai food!" and waited.  I couldn't really talk to her, but I knew enough to ask for "pad thai" which she understood.  It was really yummy, and only about $0.90 American.

Edit: I got the video to load!  Here is a video of the lady preparing my evening meal for me, so you can see how a real pad thai is made.  I managed to turn it off before you got to see me pantomiming "I will eat here" for you, much to your disappointment I'm sure :-)


It looked like this when all was said and done - delicious:

Anyway, after I ate I went to get on the train to Chiang Mai, my ultimate destination.  The train accommodations were super nice; there was even a curtain for each compartment to have its own little private spot!

It was an overnight train, but I woke up the next morning to some beautiful views of Thai countryside:

Once in Chiang Mai I took a tuk-tuk from the train station to downtown.  If you look out the window you can see another one of them in the picture; sort of like a three-wheeler with a roof bolted on.  Pretty nice, and cheap as dirt.

I wandered around the market some, and eventually found another good place to eat.  (Bobbie wanted pictures of the food I was eating, so sorry if there are more of those than you want to see.) The lady recommended a half-and-half split of these two dishes, so I have no idea what the names are (she just pointed at them).  The left is some sort of nutty-flavored bean sprout salad - decent.  The right is a very spicy pork curry - amazing!

I found another girl outside selling strawberries in a cup for about 50 cents, so I treated myself.  At this rate, I'm in real danger of overdosing on fruit before I head home!

For the final leg of my trip, I went to the airport to watch the sunset and catch the shuttle out to the hotel where the conference is being held.  If I get a chance I'll post a video of the lady making the pad thai later, and the next installment should feature more from the conference itself.  Edit: Done; see above.

Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please remember to lift up Bobbie and the boys while I'm away!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Video Post

Well, I (Jesse) am leaving in a couple of days for Thailand, so the next post will hopefully have something different going on, but this update we didn't have much.  I decided to post a couple of videos for the grandparents of the boys doing random stuff.  The first one is of them dancing to a Veggie Tales movie someone sent us:

Bobbie's been doing "English school," as he calls it, with Steven when he gets home every day, and he's getting pretty good at reading.  Again, this is mostly for the grandparents, so they can see how he's doing:

I'll leave you with a picture of Matthew wearing his great grandmother's apron.  Bobbie's family sent it with some other family stuff in a package last month, and the boys love to cook, so occasionally one of them gets to wear it as he helps Mommy make dinner (even if it does look like a dress):

And that'll do it, I guess.  Sorry about the short post; not a lot going on other than the usual language and culture study these days.  Hopefully, the next post will have either a picture of me enjoying some delicious pad thai or my wife bitterly bemoaning the fact that she has to stay in Siberia where it's -40 ... On second thought, hopefully it will just be the pad thai.