Sunday, November 29, 2009

Good Luck & Protection


For Good luck and Protection….is the standard answer for “what is this used for? “ or “what does this mean?”

Yesterday morning we got out of bed at 7:00 AM to witness 10,000 Monks receiving offerings. The posters in the city announcing this massive event indicated the magnitude we were to witness.
When one offers food, money, incense and flowers to Monks: it is referred to as “merit-making” . This is not a charitable activity but  the effort is accumulated in your file in the sky and will help one return a tad better then a dog when this life is complete.

The Chedi Hotel encouraged all guests to participate in this event. And was ready with freshly prepared food from the culinary team along with crisp apples, lotus flowers, 20 baht bills and temple incense.

With cameras in hand Amy and I head to the street. As luck would have it, my camera battery failed to charge and Amy’s camera was behaving lazy too….not to worry , you didn’t miss too much. 5 Monks showed up…where oh where were the other 9,995?

 I am back to using 4 leaf clovers and life insurance for luck and protection.


On our way to having our, laundry done we found the “Just Khoa Soy, (the art of the noodle) …as the name indicates: they serve just noodles….but the most delicious noodles in the world or at least in Chiang Mai or at least on the street we stay on.

The menu and presentation is quite clever. One chooses the protein: chicken or beef, the shape of the noodle: round or flat, the spiciness of the soup and with or without coconut milk…served on a wooden board representing an artists paint pallet (thus the art part) with condiments  of pickled cabbage, shallots, chili, vinegar, fish sauce, and bananas. All used to adjust the broth to your taste buds…We may have to stop again when we pick the laundry up today.  Check out Amy looking thrilled to be eating noodles!



 A  small trash can size plastic bag full of clothes cost us 110 B: wash, fold and iron, equating to just under $3.50 Gotta love Thailand. Noodles and laundry cost about the same. Life continues to be good: beer is only 60 baht! And banana rotis every night.....



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Elephants!!

In the midst of shopping for new silver style samples our supplier insisted we go see the elephant show. We drove an hour north of Chiang Mai to an elephant park/sanctuary where we found out the show was already over. Instead, we got to go on an elephant ride!





We road the elephant down the river and then up into the hill tribe village of the Lisu.  We surveyed all of their wares, walking down the line of huts before purchasing 1 item from each villager.  My favorite was the 5 year old boy. We bought 2 friendship bracelets from him!



After bargaining, or really failing to bargain with the Lisu women we got to drive an ox cart back to our supplier and her driver.  She could not ride on the elephant with us because she has a bad neck. (Or at least that is what she told us - We are pretty sure they had a good laugh at us being silly farongs but we enjoyed it none the less.)




Salai is working on our blog about the 10,000 monks that were in town this past Saturday on their traditional Merit-Making activity.  We leave for Bangkok this evening and then onto Bali early Monday AM. I am trying to find a way to post video. We have a great one of us feeding the elephants bananas and sugar cane!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

happy thanksgiving!


Woke up in Chiang Mai on a perfect Thanksgiving Day. Our hotel is so peaceful it will be hard to leave to go look for beads…harder yet to leave the breakfast buffet.

We have made progress in the shopping arena: spent most of Wed in Hang Dong (wood working town about 30 min south west of Chiang Mai,) viewing every craft that was ever made in Thailand for the past 1000 years. Did you know Thomas the Engine was first developed in Northern Thailand?

This was not to be a container trip but as usual one finds something they can not live without….this time cool d├ęcor items with a Burmese flair. Heading back to negotiate on Sat afternoon. I’ll buy the collection piecemeal and when I save enough I can ship it all home ….Or if everyone reading this blog sends $1.00 we can ship sooner.

The night Market has been a source for true inspirations….finding the gal that has a “Sundance style” and a guy who does leather bracelets and our favorite Tee-shirt so far. Can’t tell you what it states ‘cause it will wreck a gift or two and possibly offend you. We are not offended, but we are from New Jersey.

Forgot to mention from day one….waiting in Tokyo to board the last leg  of the trip, an elder gentlemen sat down next to us …we struck up a chat and it turned out he raised his family in Pitman, New Jersey…Amy and Sally’s home town. Small town and small, small world…he was on his way to Burma to help with building a school. Very cool. He would be offended by Our new favorite Tee-shirt.

Today is silver sample day. Silver is hovering at $18.50 an ounce, which means you all pay more. All the same we’ll see what styles are available. One of my suppliers that I have worked with for the past 20 years has opened a restaurant….guess you can’t eat silver. We are to have dinner there on Friday evening. …more on that later.

Our new favorite way to get back and forth from the breakfast buffet (and one morning the gym!) is to play ninja behind the giant ceramic pots in the courtyard.  If you are lucky we will post the video!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

some photos


 Reclining Buddha

length of buddha. Love the pedicure!

Buddha's Nipple












See Jane - top hats are all the rage! 



scene from grand palace. their arms are very strong!



















mean lady who would not give Salai discount.  See Salai's calculator. She never leaves home without it!






















what Salai was wearing when lady was mean to her. hmmm...... wonder why she didn't want to give discount! 

tattoos


we got tattoos. Sorry mom!!

loose ends in bangkok

Breakfast! love the buffet. Do you think they count how many times one returns to the buffet? Amy was distraught looking for the smoked salmon. I was satisfied with noodle soup,pad Thai,sauteed vegetables, sliced papaya, pineapple, watermelon, watermelon juice, poached eggs, bacon, cheese, salami, pastries and coffee. We needed to be fortified because it was amulet market day and a tad of site seeing to make the trip a true cultural experience.

Crossing the river we picked up the express boat not to be confused with the tourist boat or the boat that takes you to the Peninsula or Oriental or Ramada (how did the Ramada get in that mix?, probably 'cause it sounds like the Islam holiday Ramadan.

Off and running to the reclining Buddha. No wonder he is reclining. He is the length of a football field, ok each toe was a foot...thing is huge. I took a photo of his nipple and it took up the entire frame.

Headed down the block to the Grand Palace...doesn't have a lot of stairs so next trip I can bring Craig. It is an awesome architectural wonder and so glad it is not my responsibility to clean the tiles which decorate every surface. Ya gotta see it to believe it. I have been to the Grand palace more times then I can count and it still amazes me. The King of Siam had it good and at 350 B entrance fee( $11.00) a person, he still has it good!

We then headed over to the amulet market, finding unusual malas and Buddhist accessories. How do Monks hold up their safforn colored robes? Well, as it happens they have a wide selection of belts...and velcro.

We picked out tons of fun things,the shop will organize a cargo company to pick it up and ship it to Chiang Mai, my trusty agent organizes the loot and some how it arrives to the states.

It was now time to head back to the hotel, grab our bags and head to the airport and Chiang Mai....but there on the street I spotted a vendor selling the "penis amulets," which I had an order for.

The old gal wasn't up for discounting dick, so I paid what she asked but firmly asked her to take out the amulets she was sneaking in my package and trying to charge me for...one never knows what is really behind those Thai smiles.

Monday, November 23, 2009

boats, sky trains, metros, cabs, feet

Spent sunday with Lawrence - an agent for us from Bali via The Netherlands. Started the day off by enjoying the most amazing breakfast buffet I've ever seen. And therefore we ate and ate and ate. Love the watermelon juice. Quite refreshing.

After we stuffed our stomachs and made up stories of all the people sitting around us, we met up with Lawrence and took a combination of boat and sky train to the Weekend Market. Incredible place which words really fail to describe. People, smells, and crap to buy. The animal section made me very sad and I got yelled at for petting a puppy. Thank god there were not too many cats to be seen or we would have been bringing them all home!

Made some good deals (we hope) on old beads and the proceeded to wander around following Lawrence for the entire afternoon. Salai met up with some old vendor friends and I walked away with a beautiful new silver cuff. (because one can never have too many.)

Late afternoon we took the metro (underground) to Lumpini park, largest park in Bangkok, and wandered around till we found Suan Lum - a night market where vendors sold much of the same crafts as the weekend market.

Took a taxi back to Silom village (to complete our exploration of all ways to travel in Bangkok) where Salai negotiated further for more old beads. (because one can never have too many.) Heading home we lost the sky train so we wandered until we found the river and took our boat home. "Where did the sky train go?" was Salai's constant question.

I keep asking myself - how has Salai managed to get around all these years?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

losing track of days

Had a "busy" day yesterday that started by leaving the hotel room at 4pm and seeing that we missed the boat heading back to the "Club" room to drink our free cocktail. Free cocktail (warm bloody mary - which was actually pretty tasty) turned into free food too. We filled our bellies then casually left to enjoy the last 15 minutes of sunlight with a ride on the river taxi into town.

The express boats don't run often at night so we hopped on the Hilton's boat but ended up on the wrong side of the river. Took this turn of events as an opportunity to explore their hotel and decided we like ours much better. But would definitely stay there if we had enough points. Also now want all Beadniks stores to have infinite pools with fires burning on them. Very cool.

Found a boat to take us to River City, kind of shopping mall area. Took pictures of cool antiques we would like to find reproductions of and bargained for old beads (couldn't get a low enough price) and stingray wallets. Those may be showing up in some of your stockings if we make it back to river city!

Salai's apartment where she lived for 4 months in Bangkok is gone - she was upset and i'm starting to wonder if she did live here. We got lost a lot! (did not)

Walked down Silom road and turned down many lovely offers to see ping pongs on Patpong Road before taking the Sky Train home.(*on Patpong road 1&2 there is a variety of stage shows that may intimidate the average prud...thus the menu of what is available...ping pong balls have been a favorite of mine for years...one must use your imagination: I have always considered it a sport not an activity. Whereas the magic marker would be considered an art, especially if calligraphy is involved. The menu continues but much too long for a blog. I just thought this area of town was part of a well rounded education for a young lass like Amy.

Oh - and we brought home a stray dog. Naming him Jack. He's cute!

“I think the valium kicked In”

November 21, 2009 – Saturday

We woke up bright and early at 2:30 pm when housekeeping tried to clean our room and Salai yelled at them claiming it was 8:30am and we were sleeping. The clock next to my bed said 14:28 but I convinced myself the power had gone out in the night and turned back over to go back asleep. Feeling oddly rested for what would have been 5 hours of sleep if it indeed was 8:30, I got up to check my clock and saw that it was, truly, 2:30 in the afternoon.

Salai declared, “I think the valium kicked in!” and we got up to start our day.

We drank instant coffee, ate green oranges and dressed to look as least like Americans as possible for what we could accomplish in the 3 or 4 hours of sunlight we had left. Apparently I am too tall to pass for Thai.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Enroute

Relieved as the computer glitch was sorted out in Georgia and our plane took off for Detroit….with only an hour to spare till we boarded the dreaded 13.5 hour flight in COACH…..not where you buy classy pocketbooks. It’s actually not that long of a travel day, it used to take me 12 hours to fly from Martha’s Vineyard to Florida. At least when I get off this plane I’ll be in an exotic cultural…

Our first stop at the Modern Detroit airport was the Hudson Newsstand to purchase the whoope cushion that wraps around ones neck. …feels like a dead cat is snuggling up under your chin, at least it keeps the drool in the designated seat and the bobble head look is under control.
Since we couldn’t up grade to business class, (I kept explaining we were on a business trip,) we compromised with paying more to have elite seats, I am staring at the movie screen, one mere leg length away….meaning no one to kick in front of me and Amy is holding 2 passengers hostage across the aisle. We are contemplating the timing of our Valium intake with landing in Tokyo. Thinking a 6-7 hour nap will do.

Brian’s equation: one glass of wine + one ambiem = tomorrow.

Hey, look at that we’re here! That was easy. Tokyo has an unimpressive airport considering Japan’s reputation for engineering and space planning. I’m sure as “they” read this blog they’ll realize its time for an upgrade. Ut oh they are escorting us onto the next flight 7.5 hours to Bangkok…..who named a city Bangkok and what were they thinking….hmmmmmm.?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Here We Go!!!

The Salai Lama (or as I call her aunt sally) and I are getting ready to leave for Thailand and Bali. We'll be gone 3 weeks and will be blogging and tweeting along the way. We find ourselves very entertaining on a day to day basis so I'm sure you'll find us entertaining when we travel together to the other side of the world!

We will both be blogging. Mostly Salai but I'm sure I'll jump in now and then. I'm Amy - the niece. Not sister, daughter, etc. Salai likes to claim me as her daughter and tells people that she gave me to her older brother to raise when she had me at a young age BUT my mother tends to disagree. So I'm just the niece! I do respond to people when they refer to her as my mom. No use confusing people anymore then they already are. We are so alike at times we scare ourselves. We once came out of a dressing room wearing the same shirt and more then not we show up to work wearing the same outfit.

Please follow along on here, facebook and on twitter. Comment, make suggestions, tell your funny stories!

My twitter: http://twitter.com/BeadGoesOn
Salai's twitter: http://twitter.com/Salai_Lama
Facebook: Bead Goes On