Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Harry's Goat Farm

I know, "Harry's Goat Farm" sounds like a funny title for a story here along the Myanmar (Burma) border in Thailand. We met Harry and his family about four years ago. I can't remember if we met at dinner along the main drag here in Mae Sai or if it was at the morning market.

Harry and his family do stand out as he is a large stature Texas man with three blond kids and a wife that looks like she was on the front cover of the Sear's Catalog. At that time Harry was teaching and helping farmers get better yields from what they were raising.

We tried to find the farm that he started about a year ago but never could find it. Yesterday morning, an acquittance of Daeng's pulled up on his motorbike while we were working out and talked with Daeng. He helps out Harry and gave her directions, again.

After he left, Daeng went back to climbing the tree; good exercise.

Later in the day we set out to find him. This time we found the place as he had a new sign, in Thai, at the road. Daeng said is read: "Harry's Goat Milk". We pulled down the dirt drive and there he was waiving at us.

Harry showed us his goat farm and I must say it is the cleanest farm I have ever been on. The goat's fir is clean, the pens are clean, the whole place is clean, clean, clean. As a young man, I was around large farms and have never seen a farm as clean as this. He has even out done our Amish friends farms in Pennsylvania and they are really clean, as well.

The young goats are soooo cute!

We talked for some time about the business of goat milking. We bought a liter (4 - 250 milliliter containers) of fresh goat's milk and wished him the very best.

It was a fun visit. By the way, the goat milk we bought was very tasty. It was more like cows milk than goats milk. I dunked an Oreo in mine.

Harry, we hope to see you again real soon!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Songkran - FUN, FUN, FUN

The last two days have been fun for us and the nice part is I was just sprinkled with water once as we got out of the car at Chan San this morning. Being sprinkled with some water to bless you is a wonderful idea but having a pail of water thrown on you while you are going 30 miles an hour on a motorbike is terrorism.

Yesterday, we got up early and drove to the Mae Sai morning market. At 7:30 AM there were police directing traffic and we had to park about a kilometer from the main entrance to the market. It was crazy!

We did stop and have coffee and Pa Thong Ko by the south entrance to the market, by the pork sellers. That was a pretty busy place and I bought the last two Pa Thong Ko's. Our friends did look happy and they are closing the shop for two days to enjoy the holiday.

We took it pretty easy during the day, worked out a little on the way home and bought some food at the super market for the next two or three days.

Daeng did throw a little water during the afternoon and played ice cream girl. She bought us all ice cream. We even got a nap.

We went out at night at watched the kids on the rides across from the Chinese Temple. It is always great to see the kids having fun in a safe way.

This morning we decided to take Daeng's brother, Tun, and sister-in-law, "Hlong", and nephew, Fook" to Chan San on the Mekong River. It is all part of the "Golden Triangle" area that we live in. One of Tun's friends is working there and invited us.

Around 10:30 AM we hopped into the car and made the half hour drive. When we got there Tun made a call to see where we should turn off the road down to the river area where thousands of small tents and concession stands had been set up.

We made the third dirt turn off and parked close to the line of food concessions, walking to an area right on the bank of the ninth largest river in the world.

Tun's friend met us and escorted us to the #1 table right on the river's edge. The folks take bamboo and build these eating areas right on the river's edge so people can come and eat and watch the kids, older folks as well, swim in the mighty Mekong.

By the way, we are setting on the Thailand side, across the river is Laos and the mountain, way in the distance, is Myanmar (Burma).

We had a great lunch of barbecued chicken, large fish, som-tom salad, boiled egg salad, pork and shrimp fried rice, mango, pineapple and iced coffee. We ate to much as we watched the kids play in the river.

Fook, Hlong, Daeng and I went over to watch the snake charmer for a little while and then Daeng and Fook decided they wanted to go swimming. They just did in the clothes they were wearing. It was over a hundred degrees today so I know why.

Tun and I laughed as we watched them.

Around three o'clock we all decided it was time to go home. It was a fun day with the family.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Death at Thirteen

I do not handle the death of others well so I try to stay away. Maybe that is why I have not written about this funeral. My ScanDisk SDHC Card for my camera is also corrupted so I can not get any of the almost 100 pictures out of it. Daeng had spent two days at the funeral of our friend's thirteen year old daughter. I worked with Mi painting the ceilings of all the rooms on our third floor of the "little house", as we call it.

I am told that she and some other kids went into a pond swimming but there was more water in the pond from the recent rain so she got over her head and was not a good swimmer.

I have know her Dad since 2007 when he advised us not to go up the Mekong River to help build the school. You can read of those stories by clicking on these links: 5-31-07 Addition to the story “Trip up the River- Spring 2007 and 10-27-07 Our trip to Burma(Myanmar) . After you read the stories you will understand why he said:"Don't go!"

Daeng has known the Father for over eighteen years as his situations is a little unusual. He is Akha, a ladyboy and married with a wife and two additional children. He came to Thailand, worked very hard in and around the restaurant/club business, saved his money and took care of his family.

On Sunday we dressed, had coffee and headed to the funeral in an Akha village just southwest of Mae Sai. The trip only took us about 20 minutes and the check point was not stopping anyone.

The service was already in process so we sat in the back. Daeng translated most of what was being said. The Pastors that spoke tried to get the message to the 150-200 people that she was now with the Lord, not to be angry at anyone or anything for this tragedy and to go on with their lives praising God for all our blessings.

After the service, tables and chairs were moved around and we all eat together. It was an Akha meal with rice, fried beef, raw pork sauce, chicken soup and a spicy tomato salad. I had never that the spicy tomato salad and ask about it but no one seemed to know how to make it or how to ask.

I was able to send a few minutes with "Ataa", her Father and told him we were there to support him and to call upon us if we could help him. As we hugged and our eyes touched another tear rolled from his eyes. He had been crying for three days.

After we ate, the tables from the entrance of the house and the road were taken away. I ask what was happening and was told they were going to carry the casket on two pieces of bamboo up the hill about four (4) kilometer to be placed in a crypt in the jungle.

That is exactly what happened. Six men carried the casket to the final resting place. It was an uphill walk, I even had to stop twice on the way up the hill to catch my breath. Then another short, 15 minute service and she was placed into the crypt.

The jungle around the crypt area had all been cleared and it did look very peaceful. As soon as the casket was placed in the crypt, some men that were standing by started to lay the blocks that would seal the crypt.

We slowly walked down the mountain path. When we arrived at the home where the funeral was held we said our good-byes and made the trip back to Mae Sai.

I do not handle death well and there seems to be a lot of death around me lately.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Songkran - Two weeks without Posting

As I start to type at 3:30 in the afternoon, I can hear the dogs barking at the firecrackers, kids and young folks screaming and laughing, pails of water hitting the sides and windshields of cars and the sounds of ambulances. Hey, it's the first official day of Songkran.

You can read about the holiday and the real reason for the water by CLICKING HERE.

Now, here is a video that pretty much tells what is the true story of water on the street during Songkran. CLICK HERE

The video was shot in Chiang Mai which is a much larger town then ours but the same thing happens all over Thailand and countries in Southeast Asia. I ask you: "Doesn't this look like fun for three to seven days?"

Many of us just hide out until next week. By the way, a good thing is the temperature is about 95 degrees today.

We haven't posted for the last two weeks as things have been pretty normal around here in Mae Sai and I have been a little discouraged. A ScanDisk card for my camera somehow got corrupted so I can not load some of the recent pictures.

When we visited Mechu and Si two weeks ago we made arrangements to pick them up on Tuesday, April 3rd. We're sorry to say that Mechu got sick so that did not happen. We have to wait until next week, after Songkran, to see if we can do the trip to visit Chom-nom then.

In the mean time, on April 2nd installed fiber optics into our home so we now have far, reliable Internet running around 20/2 Mbps. We can now stream video. The installation was a little sloppy but it works. Remember "TiT", that stands for "This is Thailand".

We also looked at a small piece of land with a little house that is for sale on the hill over looking Mae Sai. You can not drive to it by car but you can by motorbike and the price is only 450,000 Thai Baht (around $14,750 USD). It will not be surveyed until sometime in the next five years so there is a little risk on the lot lines but that is about the only risk.

The view is breath taking but we don't think we want to get involved in building a place that you can't park a car and we are not speculators.

We also stopped at one of Daeng's deceased friend's Mother's home and Daeng spent some time with her. Daeng later returned to visit her and take her some things that she needed and could not buy herself.

Also, on Monday our neighbor had the steel and the materials delivered to put a raised roof over her third floor open roof. I might add that the price of the crane is just about the same as it is in California. It was a nice crane, too.

On Tuesday morning, while having coffee we saw "Mi", the workman that helped us do all the repairs after the earthquake last year. We yelled at him and he came over and had coffee with us. We talked and Mi said he would work for us for the next month or so if we wanted him. We said that was great and he agreed to start on Friday.

Wednesday we drove to Chiang Rai and did some shopping. We did get stopped at the check point. We talked to the officer and explained what was in the nice carrying case, my CPAP machine and he said to go on.

We bought drapes for the guest room and third floor front room along with all the hardware except the rod itself. We will buy that in Mae Sai as it comes in 6 meter lengths. We also bought two more night stands for our master bedroom. Why, you ask, as we already have two? Well, we are going to stack them. We know that sounds funny but they look great.

We stayed the night in Chiang Rai and drove back to Mae Sai the next day to get ready for Mi the next day. Now that we have new drapes for those two rooms we should paint before we put them up. I bought primer, crack repair stuff, caulking, paint and brushes. We are going to keep the colors the same but just a little lighter shade, cream color ceilings and light blue walls.

On Friday, Mi showed up early and we got right to work talking down the the old curtains. Daeng got a call, a friend that had advised us when we helped with building the school in Myanmar (Burma) had a death in his family. His thirteen year old daughter had drowned while swimming.

We talked it over and Daeng was going to go later today and tomorrow and I would go with her on Sunday for the funeral. Mi and I worked for the next two days getting the ceiling of the whole third floor ready to paint.

The project started as just paint two walls and put up some drapes and looks like it will end up paint at least two floors of this building. More will be revealed.