Saturday, August 30, 2008

Weekend Buffet at Cafe G

We had a farewell at Cafe G, Holiday Inn (next to Intercontinental Hotel), along Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok.

This is our first time there.

I was personally amazed at the spread of the buffet. Well, so was Ivan and Joel.

Japanese food

Italian food

Quiche and more food...

Fresh oysters.... my favorite!!!!

Absolutely heavenly desserts.... ice-creams are stored in a fridge so that it doesn't melt...

They even have clowns to play with the children

A magic show

Children can make their own pizza and cookies... part of the activities for the children

The play area prepared for the children while parents have their meal

I did not finish taking photographs of the whole spread... there were leg of lamb, ham, tandoori, Arabic, Chinese dim sum, Thai dishes & noodles, etc.

I honestly did not get to try all of the food.... There was just too many!

The cost was about THB777++ (RM77) per person and children pay 50%.

My friend had a discount card, so we paid THB700 (RM70) and the children was free. Sometimes Mastercard holder gets discount dining at this place, I was told.

It is definitely worth trying ... especially when they have babysitters and activities for the children while you eat your heart out!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Double Portion

One plate of Korean Pork rice

Two plates of Korean Pork Rice

That is how much my 6+ years old son ate for dinner last night

Did he eat his lunch?

Yes, he did.

Did he eat his dinner the night before?

Yes, he did.

Was he doing some very tedious and hectic sport just before dinner?

No, he didn't?

Why the enormous appetite?

I have no clue!

But I suspect he keeps a pet in his little tummy....

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

TL & Family .... Goodbye for now...

TL & family are the first few Malaysians we met when we arrived in Thailand.

Like how they say about first love, first friends are also difficult to forget.

We attended the same church for a whole year, their daughter and Ethaniel are around the same age and they are avid travelers, like us.

In fact, they are our inspiration, motivation and role model to travel around Thailand in a car.

TL, PP, JW, Ivan & me

A nice smiley photo of JW & LW

TL, PP, JW & LW, you will be missed and thank God for allowing our path to cross. Look forward to seeing you again.... Singapore or Malaysia!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mission Trip: Stuck At The Village

After dinner we rested while waiting for the truck to pick us up so that we can go back to our motel. Unfortunately, the Pastor had gone to another village to ask for a young lady's hand in marriage on behalf of his son. That's the tradition of the Palong tribe. A little like the Malays "meminang".

We felt really tired, so, we went upstairs to lie down. In fact, all of us went upstairs. We sat around and talked but most of us just lied down. It's been a long day.

The children is not used to sleeping without a fan or in their going out clothes and I was not prepared. I didn't bring any extra clothings... just a towel, by accident.

Ethaniel was still running around playing with his new friend, Nong Sa.

All of us fell asleep waiting....

By the time Ethaniel finished playing and was ready to lie down to rest, it was almost 11pm. He complained that his whole body was itchy... So, I had to take him for a shower. A freezing cold, mountain water temperature shower. It was hilarious looking at him jumping around like a live-prawn-out-of-water (I had to keep a straight face) to keep himself warm but of course it didn't really help.

Anyway, the shower was short and sweet. Soapless. Shampoolee. Wearing the same shirt. He was happy and felt clean enough to sleep.

Everyone was already asleep.

The truck came back at 1am but it was still drizzling, so, we still could not go back to the motel.

So, we all slept there that night.

Sometimes when we go on trips like these, we have to learn to be flexible. It was not easy for the children to be sleeping without fan or air-cond (me too), dusty wall and floor, no proper pillow or bolster but we just have to adapt. Its called flexibility, adaptability and sacrifice.... for a greater cause than ourselves.

Then again, we were in the middle or no where.... so we couldn't get a taxi or 'song taew' or 'motor sai'....

Later we discovered that the Pastor of the village was so happy that we stayed back.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Conversation With Joel

Ethaniel always comes over to me for hugs... he doesn't even ask if I want it or if he can have it... Just do it! (Nike style).

While Joel is the opposite.... So, I wasn't sure if he has enough of it....

Mommy: Do you want to give me a hug?

Joel: No *busily doing his work*

Mommy: You know where to get hugs when you want one, right?

Joel: Yes. My bolster.

That annoying smart aleck.

Mission Trip: At The Palong Village

It takes 1.30 hours to get to Chiang Dao on a local non air-conditioned bus from Chiang Mai. The bus is reasonably comfortable. The seats are uniquely catered for 3 persons. The cushion of the seats are not bolted, therefore, if the bus is crowded, the Conductor will pull out the cushion to accommodate 3 persons. I was sandwiched between a soldier and an old man.

The children are the Palong village are very keen for their photos taken. They sit quietly and stare into the camera. So cute.

Nearing Chiang Dao we were required to produce our Identification Card. I am glad I brought a copy of my passport. This check-points are to deter the Myanmar people who are illegal to travel around.

Upon checking into the motel... yes, yes, a motel. You heard me right. We are not going to rough it out at the Palong village. We are going to sleep on clean white sheets and comfortable mattresses, have warm showers and walk on tiled floors. After leaving our luggage behind, we headed towards the Palong village.

Laurie teaching using pictures

We arrived at about 5.30pm. By 6pm everyone was gathered at the church. We sang some Thai songs led by Hadasah and after that Laurie told a story.

Ethaniel & Joel, joining in the action songs

The Palong people participating in the songs... young and old

This particular Palong village is the only Christian village around.

These people are very participative and responsive. When asked if they would like to receive healing, a whole row of women came out. I sure know what they are going through, aches and pains seem to follow most of us.

The Palong women requesting for prayers

After prayer, I saw a group of women sitting down, complaining about the pains, aches and stiffness they have on their bodies and legs. So, I took out my most favorite tool. I have awarded this tool, The Best Invention In The World. I simply call it The Scrapper. Everyone of us at home uses it, regularly. The Chinese calls it guasa therapy. Very simple. Just put some oil, any kind and scrap it on the aching part of the body. It is great. I don't know what scientific effect it has on the body but it just helps.

The Scrapper. It comes in various shapes but equally useful

The women was obviously grateful to receive such a wonderful tool because it relieves their pains and aches. I wish I had one to give to each and everyone of them but I don't. They just have to share, for the moment.

The service ended and it was time for dinner. We had a quick and simple meal of Mama noodle, rice and stir-fried potatoes. The children was absolutely starving! They gobbled their food. Thank God they are not fussy in their eating habits. Thai, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Western, Mexican, Indian or Malay food, they will eat. Spicy or not. I have trained them to eat all kinds of food. So, once they were fed, as a Mother, I felt much better.

All of us looking for food at the kitchen

No photos of the food, as I was very hungry myself ;-)

Ethaniel sitting on a small stool eating his Mama noodle and drinking water at the same time.... because it was spicy. His normal routine when eating spicy food
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Introduction of The Palong Tribe

Our Mission Trip was mainly to visit the Palong tribe at Chiang Dao, which is about 1.30 hours from Chiang Mai.  A very small town.

To understand  more about the Palong tribe, we have to know their history....

The roots of the Palong people go back to the nation of Myanmar (formerly Burma).  They lived under the rule of Khun Sat, a famour drug warlord and military leader who forced them to serve as soldiers since their childhood.  They fought alongside the Thai Yai against the Burmese army.

When the Burmese army entered Palong villages and saw that the Palong had provided food for Khun Sat and the Thai Yai, they became very angry and set fire to the Palong villages, raped the women and forced the men to carry their ammunition.  The Thai Yai and soldiers of Khun Sat would find refuge in the homes of the Palong creating hardship for them.

Finally, the Palong moved into Thailand along the Thai-Burmese border as refugees because of the fighting.  Immense poverty resulted.

The Palong people began moving into Thailand more than 20 years ago and began waiting to obtain Thai citizenship, which has now been granted.  Although they were able to escape the persecutions of their former country they met other hardships in Thailand.  Because they did not have Thai citizenship they were not able to enrol in school to receive an education.  Initially, they were also unable to speak Thai fluently.  Living without Thai citizenship and lacking in the Thai language made it difficult, if not impossible, to find work to provide for the needs of their families.

Having obtained Thai citizenship there was still another hurdle to cross and that was finding a permanent place to live.  They had no money to purchase land and build homes.  This along with the lack of language skills and education produced poverty once again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mission Trip: Hitting The Streets

Kelly lugged her guitar, Mary holding some paper tracts, Joel, Ethaniel and I walked the street along the famous Night Bazaar of Chiang Mai. Every tourist who visits Chiang Mai will find something they want there, at this Night Bazaar. Its busy, that's for sure!

We found a suitable corner, just in front of McDonald. Kelly began to open up her guitar case and we were ready to sing.  Ahem... *clearing throat* and looking at the passer-by *swallowing saliva*.  Ethaniel and Joel sat on the staircase, just behind me, licking their ice creams. If you were there on 15 Aug around 8pm, you would have seen me. Like tens and hundreds of shoppers along that street.

This is not a norm for me. I am sure you could have easily guessed... such a shy and timid person like me (I can imagine my friends rolling up their eyes upon reading this).

Its not easy to put away pride, timidity, shyness and fear of rejection, in order to stand before an indifferent and sometimes hostile crowd. Walking pass, they turn their heads (mostly just ignore), smiled, *eye brows raised* and moved on.  No one threw any money, maybe I should have taken out my hat.

We finished singing after about 1/2 hour to take some time to share Christ with Keng which lasted till 12am that night.

You can see Kelly's hand playing the guitar

The next day, Mary, the children and I went to a local night market at Wua Lai Road.  It operates every Saturday night, I think.  I am not sure if they have it on normal days.  But this is a good place to go because it caters for the local Thais.  Which means the shopping was really good and cheap.  Much cheaper than the ones at the Night Bazaar.
As we were walking together at about 9.30pm, suddenly, Mary stopped.  She stood still, lifted her right hand and began to say, "Jesus loves you. He came into the world so that you can have life and life abundantly...."
Hmm.... what is she doing???!!!

In the middle of a crowded night market?  

Does anyone understand English?  They are Thai... At least 90% of them are.

She did exactly the same thing for another 2 more times, down the street.

I stood there staring at her, praying at the same time, (didn't want anyone to start stoning us).   No one ran to us and knelt down with tears in their eyes, repenting *disappointed*

You know, in my heart, I knew God was trying to teach me something.  I always felt that my inability to talk fluent Thai has been a handicap for me to share Christ to others.  Obviously, it has not been a hindrance for Mary, eh?  I later discovered that God was more interested in our obedience to His voice rather than seeing the results.
"Prachau Rak Khun" (God loves you) to this blind man on the street

I have never had a friend who did that.   Mary said that it was a 1st time for her too.

Will it be my turn, the next time? *shaking*  Will God ask me to do it? And when He does, will I be obedient?

How about you? 
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Free Day In Chiang Mai: To Chiang Mai Zoo

Actually, this is a mission trip. Its not a holiday..... But somehow, God was so gracious to bless the children with an opportunity to sightsee Chiang Mai.

Keng, our ex-tour guide (he was our tour guide last year at Pai & Maehongson), took us around Chiang Mai on a personal basis in his car. Eventhough I paid for petrol and most of the stuffs, but it was still so nice and kind of him to make the effort to spend the time with us. Actually, he was so happy to meet up! I know, I know, he just love to see Joel & Ethaniel, not me. He made that very clear ;-) *not offended*  He has such a great sense of humour.  We kept teasing each other.

I was totally impressed with the Chiang Mai Zoo. It was clean, spacious and the animals looked healthy and clean. It was really worth the visit.

The bird show

Lin Hui & friend, the pandas, were really cute.

They have an excellent air-conditioned cage. Happy, contented and well-fed. I particularly enjoyed watching them eat the bamboo. We stayed longer than the rest of the other exhibits because the whole place was air-conditioned ;-). Getting a break from the heat of Chiang Mai was awesome!

Joel, Ethaniel & Keng playing together

The children and I felt pretty tired. Its understandable that we just had a 17 hours journey from Bangkok. So we went off after spending 3.5 hours at the zoo. Unexpectedly enjoyable, I must say. Will come again next time. 
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A Free Day in Chiang Mai: ATV Here We Come!

We arrived in Chiang Mai on 15 Aug, Fri at 7am. Its a free day.

We checked into our very basic hotel. The children watched some cartoons while I took a short nap while waiting for Keng, our ex-tour guide to pick us up for a sight-seeing day of Chiang Mai.

Where to go with the children? We came here but only for a few days at the end of last year. (If you want to read about my trip to Chiang Mai last year, go to Chiang Mai trip day 3 & 4).

Keng took us for an ATV ride. It cost THB500 (RM50 / USD17) for 20 mins. The ones which is from 1 to 3 hours were very costly. So, we opted not to go. Muak Lek ATV is much cheaper.

Ethaniel & Joel absolutely loves riding through mud and water

The ATV track was flooded with water

After that, we went for lunch. Keng said that there is a very famous restaurant which serves Khao Soi. A very famous dish in Chiang Mai and similar to the Malaysia dish i.e. Mee Curry. It has noodles, preserved vegetables, fresh shallots and lime to go with it.

The preserved vegetables, shallot and lime to be put into Khao Soi

Ethaniel enjoying a pork satay and Khao Soi

The restaurant

The name of the restaurant, if you are ever at Chiang Mai. You will enjoy the food.

By the time we finished lunch, it was almost 12pm. We headed towards the Chiang Mai Zoo. We have not been there.  We went to the Night Safari, the last time.
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Friday, August 22, 2008

In The Beginning..... of the trip

We arrived at the Hualampung train station at 1pm on 14 Aug, Thu. Its at least another 1.30 hours before the train leaves.

Joel & Ethaniel in the train

The train itself was a very old fashioned one, maybe 30 years old, I think.

Ethaniel climbing, swinging like an acrobat

For the children, there were very limited things to do in the train but less confining than a bus. Climbing up ladder, moving from ladder to seats and ladder to ladder was the favorite activity. After that, it was doing the dot-to-dot book, drawing, taking photos and admiring the scenery.

Ethaniel & Kelly

Ethaniel-the-extrovert was going from here to there visiting passengers i.e. making friends. There were some foreigners who could speak English in the train other than us.

There were food and drink sellers which come by every 30 to 40 mins with all kinds of cold drinks. The food is pretty standard - "kaprao moo / khai" (Basil with pork / chicken and rice).

Ethaniel & Joel writing & drawing

Mary, the Missionary cum friend whom we are travelling with, started a conversation and started sharing about Jesus with a girl in the train. She is absolutely 24/7 and 365 days an Evangelist! Kelly, a friend of Mary was also sharing and singing. Kelly is a great singer and have recorded her own album. Wow! What talent!!!

Ethaniel and I took a shower before bed. It was a very nice shower. I never knew shower was this great!

The man setting up the bed

We were in the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for a total of 19 hours. Yes, its a test of endurance and patience, for both the children and me. Initially they had some difficulty but eventually on the returning trip from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, they had a great time and even made friends.

A wonderful shot of Mary and the children playing.
I love the candid laugh & it shows of a special relationship which Mary holds in their heart.

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