Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Big Shaker!

It has been six days since the big earthquake here on the Myanmar (Burma) border. We experienced the strongest earthquake I have felt, including the Northridge quake in California. Everyone in the family is okay, our three story building is standing but tile has come off the walls and lots of big cracks in the concrete. Everyone around us here in Mae Sai, Thailand was okay although scared as Daeng told me northern Thailand doesn't get earthquakes. I am told there were two, one was 7.0 and we are in the epic center. Here is a link of the first news coverage. CLICK HERE We are told that it was actually 6.8 but because it was so close to the surface it was originally thought to be bigger. It was still scary! With all the aftershocks this is an 'E" ticket ride. If you don't know what an "E" ticket ride is just ask an old person that has been to Disneyland. After we were sure everyone in the immediate area was okay we hopped on our motorbike and drove to the city part of our 25,000 population town to see if we could help. We were surprised that there was very little damage and no one seemed to be hurt. We had the poo-poo scared out of us when we stopped in an area by the border bridge were the buildings are made with corrugated metal, shanty stile. All of a sudden, an aftershock came through and these tin buildings all started shacking, making this terrible noise. It lasted about six or seven seconds and then stopped. We had to change our underwear. (I'm kidding because I don't use underwear.) All through the town, people were camped out in front or back of their buildings as they were afraid of another quake. Some have even pitched tents as they were all afraid to go back in to their homes. The only damage we saw was a lot of cracks in the concrete buildings and a statue had fallen from one of the building. We decided to go home and do some of the clean up. I ate some comfort food, ice cream from the 7-11 and went home to take a shower, then go to bed in my own bed. I had to talk Daeng into that as she was still scared. The rest of the family slept outside for the night. The next day Daeng cleaned up all the concrete and tile that had fallen off the wall. I slept most of the day as I was emotionally drained as we had just finished the new master bathroom and master bedroom. Now we need it repair it. The government in Myanmar (Burma) seems to be keeping the news coverage of damage done by this earthquake to a minimum. Here is a YouTube video taken by our friends at 891NanaStation (Childlife) of some of the damage on the other side of the border. For the 10 minute video: CLICK HERE. We are keeping busy repairing the cracks in the walls so we can repaint. We are looking to find a good tile setter but if we can't find one we'll try to do some of the tile repairs ourselves. Everyday we are still getting small aftershocks which keeps everyone afraid of another big one. Although we are writing this with a light heart many people in Myanmar (Burma) were killed, their homes lost and families separated. May God bless them all!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Thai Way

Daeng and Boonreang went to the Police Station in Mae Chan today and met with the family of the lady that died in the accident along with the Mother and Father of the boy who's motorbike Boonreang was driving.

It turned out that the Mother and Father would not help out with anything and were complete ass holes about the whole accident. They would have let Boonreang go to jail rather than help even though his son let Boonreang drive his motorbike.

One thing I have learned in the last 69 years is: "Never fight with pigs. You just get muddy and the pigs love it!"

Daeng called me and told me she had made arrangements with the family of the lady that was killed and ask me to transfer money into an account so they could be paid 200,000 Thai Baht today. If we did that Boonreang would not have to go to jail and would be put on a kind of probation for the next two years.

I transferred the money she needed and said a little prayer thanking God that the rest of us were safe and that the other family was so kind.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We made it to our Thailand Home Safe

We made it safe to our home in Mae Sai, Thailand.

I am writing this post with a heavy heart.

We are also very sad to read and see the news of the earthquake that has caused so much suffering in the area of Japan.

On a lighter side, before we left California we had a little get together with some of the family members. We all did a little crackin at Joe's Crab Shack in Newport Beach. It was nice to see most of the family before our three month trip.

We arrived in Bangkok a week ago and spent the night at a new guest house on Soi 4 in the Sumhamvit area. I stayed up for the eighteen hours flying time and watched movies. Of the six I watched, I was impressed with "The King's Speech". I understand why it won so many awards.

Daeng slept most of the afternoon the day we arrived and then in the middle of the night she went shopping. She went to the wholesale market in Bangkok that opens at midnight and sells to most of the store and shop owners. She bought shirts and jeans for the family members in Mai Sai.

It is also wonderful to have fresh fruit for about 60 cents a serving.

When she came back about 8:00 AM on Thursday morning we got into a taxi and went to renew her Thai Passport. When we arrived at the government office she was told that it would take until Monday. She explained we were leaving for northern Thailand on Sunday. They told her she could renew it in Chiang Rai which is about a four hour bus ride from us in Mae Sai.

Now for the really sad part, on the way back to our room Daeng's son called to tell her he had been in a motorbike accident last night and the lady that was driving the other motorbike died. He was okay, just a little skinned up as he had a helmet on. His friend, who's motorbike Boonreang was driving, was a passenger and had broken his arm but was okay. The young passenger on the other motorbike had slight injuries but was going to be okay.

The taxi driver also played a little game with us as the meter stopped working along the way and we had to bicker about a fee for the trip. We did pay more that we should have but we just wanted to move along, under the circumstances. The difference was only about 90 Thai Baht ($3.00 USD).

When we got back to our room, I got onto the Internet using WiFi and my netbook and changed our reservations from Sunday to that night. I don't like to travel at night but we don't have much choice. We had called Pastor Lota and ask if he could pick us up at the Chiang Rai Airport at about 9:30 PM.

We arrived, got our bags and he along with Nuy, Daeng's niece and Hlong, Daeng's sister-in-law, were waiting for us. On the way north, Pastor Lota dropped them off at the ladies home to pay their respects and start the process of settlement. I could tell that things were done differently here then the way we would do them in America. I went on to our home, unpacked and waited for Daeng who returned around 1:00 AM.

It seems that the lady who was 73 years old turned right in front of Boonreang. His motorbike hit her and knocked her to the pavement. She was not wearing a helmet so she died of head injuries. Boonreang was driving without a drivers license. According to the police, everyone was at fault. The lady driving the other motorbike was not wearing a helmet. She, according to witnesses, turned right in front of Daeng's son without signaling and was driving a uninsured, unregistered motorbike. In turn, Boonreang was driving without a motorbike driver's license.

I am told that under the circumstances everyone would have just taken care of their own expenses and that would have been that. But, because the lady died the other driver, Daeng's son, is responsible. For the last few days, Daeng and Boonreang have been visiting the family and trying to help the deceased family members.

The cremation was Monday and now Daeng and Boonreang must meet Friday with the Police and Judge to see how this accident will progress. The range of events could be anything from Boonreang going to jail to Daeng paying money to the family and any charges being dismissed.

More will be revealed!