Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Last 3 Weeks in Thailand

We haven't written anything the last three weeks as we got a little discouraged.  We'll try to show you why a little later in the story.  We're going to try and catch up with the tale of our adventures before we return to the USA. 

Since our last writing we have continued to work on our home with MI.  The old place is looking really good so we put it on the market to sell.  Here is the listing link: CLICK HERE

This is a picture of the area in the house that we use for a garage. 

On our last visit with Chom-nom we talked about how most addicts feel they are due a party when they get released.  In many cases this starts the whole problems caused by being an addict all over again.  So that did not happen we agreed to pick up Chom-nom upon his release.

We did not want to try and do the whole eight hour round trip in one day as we told him we would also go shopping for some clothes with him.  May 9th we drove the four hour drive south to the City of Lampang where the prison in located.  We spent the night in the Lampang Asia Hotel. CLICK HERE for March 24, 2012 Story.

After breakfast in the hotel we checked out and drove to the prison.  It was about 10:00 AM and the guard at the gate told us to wait in an outside waiting area as Chom-nom would be coming out shortly.  We sat with some other folks and waited.  It was a nice day and Daeng and I talked about our hopes for Chom-nom.

Having used different forms of speed over the years, I can understand some of the problems with the disease of addiction and the "go fast" drugs.  The big problem is the disease says it's okay to use "Yaba" or "Ice" or "Meth" as it makes you feel like superman.  You can stay up longer, work harder and are not hungry.  If you stop doing the drug you do not get sick like you do with opiates, all you do is go to sleep or "crash".  So what's wrong with this drug?

"What's wrong?" is after using for a while, if you don't use you do not want to do anything.  In some cases it also makes people go completely crazy as with the man that molested this little baby girl and then burned her vagina with a hot frying pan.  By the way, that man is in jail and will probably be there for life.  When this young mother, from a village along the Myanmar (Burma) border, told us of the story and showed us the baby's burnt vagina it made me sick to my stomach.

After about forty-five minutes Chom-nom was at the entrance and ready to go.  We hugged and Daeng took our picture in front of the prison sign.  We said a loud "Goodbye" and headed to the City of Chiang Rai and shopping at "Big C" Department Store.

We stopped on the way and had Barbecued Chicken, Som-Tom Papaya Salad and Sticky Rice for lunch.  Chom-nom stated that was much nicer then broken rice joke that they feed them in prison.  Joke is like a rice stew, kind of like oatmeal but made with rice. 

I do not like to shop.  When I go to a store I go with a list, buy what I need on the list and get out.  We tried to get Chom-nom to commit to what he needed so we could do that but after two years, three months and ten days in prison he wanted to look around.  We did get him to commit to two pair of pants (jeans), belt, shirt, underwear, socks, one pair of shoes, shampoo, tooth brush and toothpaste. 

One thing that is nice at "Big C" is when you buy your pants them make the length correct right on the spot.  That was a great idea and pretty cool, as well.  You get the perfect size every time.

It started to rain on the way to Ban AYO.  On the way we talked a lot about the disease of addiction and how as addicts we can't take that first drug of any kind.  We also talked about alcohol is a drug and it would be hard for anyone to keep from using when our friends and family use.  If we drink or use drugs of any kind then we will want other drugs, as well.

It was now raining and just about dark.  We came over the hill to the edge of the village and Chom-nom told us to stop.  He explained that he had to go through a little ceremony by an elder of the village before he could safely enter the AKHA Village again.  They had to put a ring around him and do some blessings to keep the evil spirits out of the village.  I kidded that the ring was the circle of love.  We all laughed.

It was raining hard now.  We had stopped at the village market on the way and bought food for everyone for dinner.  We decided to have dinner with the family at his sister, Si's, home.
There were lots of good feelings seeing his family all together with him, again.

I did get discouraged as I watched Mechu, Chom-nom's Mother, pour a shot glass of rice whisky and handed it to Chom-nom.  He reached out to take it and Daeng stopped him saying in Thai: "Alcohol is a drug!" 

After we ate, the family asked us to stay with them for the night.  We explained that we were only forty kilometers from home and would like to sleep in our own bed.  We said: "Goodnight" and got back into the car during a period when the rain slacked off a little.  We did get really muddy.

We made it home to hot showers and clean sheets.  It was a job getting the mud off our shoes and out of and off the car the next day but "This is Thailand!"

It was nice to be home.  We went back to work fixing doors, windows, painting and making the old place look like new. 

Now, an ongoing problem with me, I am still having trouble accepting folks lying to me to save face or lying for any reason.  Folks in this part of the world want to make you happy soooo they will tell you what they think you want to hear regardless if it is the truth or not.  That makes me crazy!
Onward through the fog.........  This is Thailand!

Daeng's sister-in-law, "Hlong's" cousin, "Newt" who is the second wife of "Aabay" had invited us up into the mountain to a house warming party.  It is quite a drive up into the mountains but I told Daeng if she wanted to go, we would go.  This is in an area where the opium poppy fields along the Myanmar (Burma) border have been converted to tea plantations.

Most of the invited folks that live in Mae Sai went early in the morning by pick-up trucks.  That's correct, maybe 15 people in the back of a pick-up truck.  We left mid-day after doing some more work with Mi at the house.  It was a two and a half hour drive up the mountain and on roads that my GPS did not show.

This is what a new house usually looks like in this area.

Now here is a picture of Aabay's new home.

It was a big party with lots of food.  Everyone helped as there are no catering services here. 
Here is a picture of Daeng's brother, "Tun", and "Newt" cooking pork and beans.

Hlong, Daeng's sister-in-law, washing dishes.  There were a lot of dishes as they feed almost two hundred folks for the main meal as well as a lot of folks all thru the day for two days.

Then the men chopped up the two pigs that gave their all for the feast.

Daeng helped out were ever she could as she loves to be part of the party.

And then some of us just hung out on the roof and looked beautiful.

Most of the young children had never seen a "farang" (Thai for Westerner) and were afraid of me to start.  After an hour or so of kidding they all warmed up to me and then stuck to me like glue.

It was a great meal and a nice party.  We turned in early, around 10:00 PM, and the party was still going strong.  AaBay's first wife made us a nice bed in one of the downstairs rooms and we slept really well. 

We got up around 6:00 AM and had coffee with some of the folks as the kids were getting ready to go to school.

We had a great breakfast and headed down the hill to home.  Tun and Hlong road back with us.  I felt bad for Tun as he gets motion sickness.

For the next few days we got our part of the home ready to leave for three and a half months while we are in the USA.  Tun and Hlong live there also so we just cover our bed and furniture in the master bedroom and put our tools and motorbike in the storage room.  When we return in September it's back to home as usual.

On May 24th we had a smooth trip to Pattaya.  Easy car rental return at Avis, Air Asia plane was right on time, John, our ride to Pattaya, was waiting at the Bangkok Airport and the folks at Henry's Apartment were happy to see us. 

We did have some problems with the noise at Henry's Apartments so yesterday we moved over to the newly remodeled Honey Lodge on the next street.  In the past, before it was remodeled, we had stayed there.  Here is a little video that was made at the Honey Lodge: CLICK HERE

We are very happy with an artist that was able to take a small newspaper picture of Andrew S. Kinsinger and put it on canvas for us to give his daughter.  To our knowledge it is the only picture of him in existence.  He was a great man and I am happy to say I knew him.  To find out more about him just CLICK HERE.

We will be resting up here in Pattaya until tomorrow when we take the long plane ride back to California.  That trip does mess with our heads a little as we leave here at 5:05 PM and land in Los Angeles around 8:00 PM, two hours later.  That is after being in the air for over 14 1/2 hours and changing planes in Taipei.

Goodbye Thailand and Hello California!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Another Day - Mae Sai - Visit to Chom-nom

We have been working on the house with Mi everyday for the last twenty some days except for a little trip to see Chom-nom, a few days ago.

The old place is looking nice as the third floor of the small section of the house is now completed, everything painted and new drapes. 

When we say: "small section" or "little house" we are talking about the single shop house that we bought next to our double shop house and did a cut through joining the two together.  That is what gives us 8 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 2 inside kitchens, 1 outside cooking area, a laundry area, inside motorbike parking, an office or TV room, a huge front room of big house and small front room for little house.  We use the front room of the little house as an inside garage.

The front room of the "big house" is the sales area and ironing area of Tun's (Daeng's Brother) laundry.  He is open 7 days a week from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM, seven days a week.  He does close for Songkran (Thai New Year) and Christmas.

Hopefully we will remove the fencing and red & white overhang from the front of the small house this coming week.  We think that will make it look much better from the front.

We also ordered new drapes for Boonrean's (Daeng's son) bedroom and the hall windows of the big section of the house.  They should be ready to be picked up Friday.

Our daily routine is up around 6:00 AM, trip to morning market for fried chicken, sticky rice, Pa Thong Ko (Thai Donut) and coffee.  Daeng buys fruit then and we eat It all day.  Pineapple is about 12 US cents a pound,  a bunch of 19-20 bananas are around forty-five cents and small watermelon are around 10 US cents. 

Here is a picture of a banana flower that is good to eat, also.  Daeng cuts it up and uses it in soup.  It tastes like chicken. Just kidding, Daeng says it tastes like a banana flower.

We then stop and workout for a half hour on the exercise equipment along the road, a block away from our home.  That brings us back to the house around 8:00 AM to meet Mi and get busy working. 

I have lost seventeen pounds since Mi started working with us last month.  We are working on the third floor and the temperature is above 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  We drink lots of water and just stay wet as the humidly is high, as well.

Sunday we did take a little trip to visit Chom-nom as he is being released from his incarceration on May 10th.  He says he wants to go back to try and finish the children's shelter in Ban AYO.  We are going to help him as long as he helps himself by staying clean. 

Staying clean in Thailand takes a little work as there are drugs every place and someone selling them.  We live in the "Golden Tranigle". You can buy a shot of rice whisky or a beer in almost every shop or 7-11.  Besides Opium, Yaba is a drug that is used widely here, also.

Most folks work to make money for their families.  If they take this pill called Yaba they can work longer, faster and are not hungry.  If they stop taking this methamphetamine drug all they do is go to sleep, called crashing.  They don't get sick like they do when they stop talking Opium type drugs and they haven't slept in a while, anyway. 

The person's mind says: "What wrong with this drug?  I can work harder, have more energy, I'm not hungry, can help my family more and I don't get sick when I stop using it.  The government must just be telling me it's bad to make money." 

What's not thought about is after using Yaba it abscesses the mind, takes over the body and kills the human spirit.  Unless you do the drug you do not what to do anything! 

There are other side effects involved also are episodes of violent behavior, paranoia, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia.  That is why they call it "Yaba" or "Crazy Medicine" in Thai.

Because huge quantities of this drug come across the border from Myanmar (Burma) we did get stopped at the check-point just south of town.  They did have us open the trunk and looked in one bag.  I told the officer in charge they should be using rubber gloves before touching other folks stuff.  He said they were just looking a little, what ever that meant, and told us to have a good day.

We stayed in Lampang at the Asia Lampang Hotel and had a good nights sleep.  There is a nice picture of the hotel sign in this story.  CLICK HERE  I was pretty tired from climbing the stairs working on the third floor.  I also must admit that my body is wearing out and my hips, knees and back get really sore and have some pain.

We had a nice Thai breakfast at the hotel, I added toast, and headed to the prison as visiting hours in the morning are from 9:00 to 11:30.  Chom-nom was looking well and said he will call us the day before his release so we can be sure of his date.

I did take a picture, on the prison grounds, as I don't see a camel and goats together very often.

To try and rehabilitate the inmates at this prison for drug addicts they teach the inmates how to grow plants and raise animals. 
The 80 Km drive from Lampang only took about an hour.  We had a little trouble finding the furniture store that we wanted to buy five pieces for the guest room.  I had been to this store many times but my mind is going.  I was only one street off but being close only counts in horse shoes, hand grenades and slow dancing. 

We had made arrangements with our friend, Brian, who lives in Chiang Mai, to deliver the things to us.  He has a pick-up truck and was making the 300 Km trip to Mae Sai immigrations on Tuesday. 

Well, after looking at the furniture we wanted for the last two year, when we arrived the one large piece (a wardrobe) had been sold last week.
It reminded me of a saying that goes something like: "The best laid plans of mice and men......."  We just looked at it as maybe it was a message that we really didn't need it.  We did buy the desk, mirror and one bed stand.  They all fit in the car we were renting. 

It was nice to spend the evening with Brian and his wife Noochy.  We left early in the morning, stopped at the hot springs on the way home and soaked our feet in the hot water. 

Back to work!  I like to work as doing things that look good and are useful make me feel I have accomplished something.

Onward through the fog into another day in paradise. 

Life is good!