Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mae Sai and Shopping

We have been hanging out here in Mae Sai.  We have been a little bored but have been doing some shopping.  Daeng likes to shop.  I'm not real crazy about shopping.  I think it has something to do with working hard all my life and don't want to give the money away.

Daeng buys fresh fruit everyday.  Here are small watermelons for 5 Thai Baht each.  That is about 16 cents US money.  The watermelon are very sweet, as well.

We have been looking for a table and four chairs for our dining area next to the 2nd floor kitchen.  Here is one that we are considering.  We think we will end up with a table made out of a slab from a large tree.  We just need to find one the right size that we like.

We had been talking about buying another motorbike.  Daeng's present motorbike is seven years old and has 46,000 Km on it.  We plan on keeping the old one for around town but using the new, larger bike for trips to Chiang Rai and other areas within 60 to 100 Km. 

We have looked at a lot of motorbikes.

I wanted to buy a Honda Phantom but Daeng says it is to large for her to ride.  I had to agree with her.

We settled on a new, red, Honda Wave 125i.  I told Daeng that I wanted red as her name means "Red" in English.  It is also about the biggest motorbike that she felt comfortable driving.

After the dealer serviced it and got it ready for the road, I took it our for a spin.  It had a rattle someplace in the front, around the headlight.  I tool it back and they took the headlight area panels all off and found a loose screw.  We kidded about it being the loose nut riding the motorbike.

I took it out again and brought the speed up to about 85 kilometer per hour, that is a little over 50 MPH.  It handled very nice.  I did not want to bring it up much higher until we put a few break-in miles on it.  I think it will handle nicely at 100 km, as well.  I don't think I want to go much faster then 80 km per hour on a motorbike, anyway.

We have been stopping for a little exercise after coffee at the morning market.  We need to take some plastic with us, in the morning, as the seats on the equipment are pretty wet in the mornings.  That way we won't look like we wet our pants after using the equipment.

Today, we went to Bangkok Bank and did a little certificate of deposit shopping, called fixed rate accounts here.  We found a 3.3 percent, 11 month account that they were offering.  That is a lot better than the .04 percent stuff in the USA. 

No wonder folks with money are investing it someplace else beside the USA.

I have to have 800,000 Thai Baht (about $26,000 USD) in the bank to renew my retirement visa each year.  For a Thai Retirement Visa a person can also proof 65,000 THB (about $2,200 USD) a month.   

With 3.3% interest rate, why not put some money in the bank here.  It is also guaranteed safe by the Thai Government. 

Life is good!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dentist Appointment - Sunday

I had broken some of the porcelain off one of my back crowns on Saturday.  No pain but it had a rough edge so we called the dentist that we like here in Mae Sai.

You can read of other trips to this dentist (3 trips) by CLICKING HERE  and CLICKING HERE  and CLICKING HERE.

We were told that she was pretty busy but set up an appointment for today, Sunday, at 1:00 PM.  That is correct, she works seven (7) days a week.  She is a sweetheart, too.

Daeng and I talked about her bridge work, on the left upper side of her mouth.  I have been trying to talk her into replacing it as it is off color with the rest of her teeth and there is a very wide margin in the front, as well.

She also has some sensitivity for cold and sweet on one of her teeth, in that area.

We went to the appointment to be greeted by the dentist.  She checked all my teeth and said they were looking good but the porcelain enamel on the side one of my caps in the rear of my mouth had broken off. 

She suggested just smoothing it out as that tooth can not be seen when I smile.  She spent a little time making it smooth.

Daeng got into the chair and we talked about the problem of the sensitive tooth.  It had not caused Daeng any dis-comfort in a while so Daeng said she did not want to do anything right now.  She really doesn't like dental work.

We thanked everyone for their help and paid the lady at the front desk 100 Thai Baht for both of our visits.  (100 Thai Baht = $3.27 US Dollars)

Another Fun Day in Mae Sai.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Morning in Mae Sai 10-17-2012

Woke up early this morning, around 4:00 AM, and did some telephone calls to the USA.  We are 14 hours ahead of California time so it was 2:00 PM in Los Angeles.

Daeng got up about an hour later and we went to the Ban Pa Meat market for the usual coffee, fried chicken, sticky rice, Pa Thong Ko, tea and soy milk. 

There were a lot of motorbikes in the market this morning.

We talked about being bored and decided to go for a little ride along the border.  We rode to the border bridge, turned left and rode along the river as far as we could on the road, about 4 Km.

We got off the motorbike and told the solder that was standing there that we were going to walk up the path and take a few pictures. 

I had been this far before as this is were the "Charcoal Gang" brings the charcoal across the river.  To read that story just CLICK HERE.

Now, I'm not sure if were are still in Thailand or Myanmar (Burma) as this path is well traveled by mountain folks. 

There is even a spring where nice clean water comes out of the side of the mountain.

We took a few pictures and were starting to walk back when a man and two solders started yelling at us.   Daeng said we had to go back right away.

The man was saying that I, a farang (westerner), could not go here as the Burmese Army did not like farangs and maybe would shoot me.

I thought that was very nice of him until he twice added: "If I got shot that would cause me to lose my job."  I realized that he did not care about me but did not want to lose his job.

He told us not to come back there again.  I smiled at him and in Thai I said: "See you tomorrow!"  He said: "No, don't come back again!"  With a big smile I told him again I would see him tomorrow.  He laughed and told us to get out of here.

We laughed about it as we stopped and had Thai coffee along the road.

On the way back home we stopped at a stone cutters and watch the cutter working on a big carving.  Daeng talked with the man a little.  He said they were very busy with lots of orders. 

We got back home and Daeng took out the Hula Hoop and did a little exercise before lunch. 

It was a fun morning.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tachileik, Myanmar (Burma) Yea, Shopping!

We got up about 5:00 AM.  We dressed and I filled out my departure card for leaving Thailand as well as a new entry card for our return later today.  They are a lot easier to do sitting at a table then when standing in line at the immigrations window.

We have two goals today.  The first is to see Pastor Lota's Church in Burma.  The second is to find a jade chess set for a special friend in California.

We left our place around 6:30 AM and had our usual breakfast at the morning market.  We then headed to the Thai Immigrations office so Daeng could get her paper to visit the border city of Tachileik.  It took only a few minutes as we were the only ones there at 7:40 AM.  The cost to her was 30 Thai Baht (about 90 cents US)

We met Saimoon at the border bridge.  Saimoon is a Burmese guide that we have know for many years.  He speaks English and several other languages very well. 

The border crossing was very easy and the Burma side did not even give us a hard time about using a ten US dollar bill instead of 500 Thai Baht.  The difference is about 200 Thai Baht.  I think the reason is when they asked for the 500 Thai Baht, Daeng gave them the 10 US dollar bill and said she would use the 200 Thai Baht that was saved to buy a new purse.  Daeng had also ironed the bill with a little spray starch so it was a pretty good looking bill.

We got our Burma permits and left my passport at the border office for pick up when we return later in the day.  I did mention that the passort did not belong to me but belonged to the United States.

We called Pastor Lota on his cellular telephone.  He said to wait for him, he would pick the three of us up and take us to his church.  We waited in the Valentine Tea Shop.  We had Burmese Milk Tea.

Pastor Lota arrived about 15 minutes later in a pickup truck with about four door jams for his new church school.  There was four other fellows with him.  He said hop in as the trip was only about 20 minutes long.

I must say, it was the bumpiest ride I have every been on and I have traveled a lot of dirt roads.  I was worried about the six folks in the back, sitting on the wooden door frames.  If I had know it was this bad a ride we would not have gone. 

When we arrived at the Akha Christian Settlement we were greeted by everyone.  Almost everyone spoke English, to some degree, also.  There was a kid's bible class going on.  It was wonderful to hear the kids singing bible songs.

We sat and had tea and talked about all kinds of things.  Saimoon was a big hit with everyone as he explained how God had saved his life.

We talked with Pastor Lota and the other church Pastor's wife.  We donated a little money, 3,000 Thai Baht, to help buy cement for the new church school building.  We took one more picture and hopped back in the pickup truck for the bumpy ride back. 

The nice part is Daeng and Saimoon would not have to sit on the wood door frames on the way back, they can just sit on the pickup bed.  I sat in the cab with the driver; give me a break, I'm old. (Yep, I used the old card on this ride.)

Now for shopping, we visited hundreds of purse shops.  Daeng said no more pictures after about the fortieth purse shop.

You can buy a knock-off of just about any purse made in the world.

The folks in every shop will tell you it is real.  Then they wonder why we don't trust them.

Purses, purses and more purses.

Then, clothes, clothes, clothes and more clothes.

Saimoon had gone on ahead of us to visit some jade shops to see if he could find a chess set.  He called on the phone and met us. 

He took us up around the corner to visit a shop that had lots of jade.  We did see a nice set but it did not have any feeling, as I say.  The pieces were just normal and had no special look.

There was a beautiful wall picture done of the Dead Sea.  It was all done in polished jade stones.

We visited several other shops but with no luck for something that was really special.  It was now about 2:00 PM, after the pick-up truck ride and walking several miles through out the Tachileik Market we decided to call it a day.

Saimoon said he had some other things to do and would go on ahead of us and would see us again in the next day or two. 

Daeng wanted to look for a friend that she had not seen in over twenty-five years so we said: "good-bye" to Saimoon and we went looking for Daeng's friend.

On the way through the many side-walk shops Daeng saw a bronze shop and told me to take a look.

In the back of this shop was a chess set, made of bronze, that looked very old and had a wooden case that was also the chess board.

It was not jade but differently had a classy look to it.

The more I looked at it and touched the figures, the more I liked it.  It was a special set for that special person.

We made the deal for the set and the shop owner put it all in the wooden case and wrapped it in paper to go.

We know felt it was a worth whiled day.  It is a special chess set for that special person.

We picked up my passport and made the walk over the Mae Sai River bridge to Mae Sai.  Immigrations stamped my passport and we were back in Thailand, again.

We hopped on our motorbike that we had left in front of the bank and made it home for hot showers and dinner.  It was another great day in the "Land of Smiles" and "Burma".

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Yep, Another Day in Mae Sai

Another day in Mae Sai; up at 6:00 AM and breakfast in the Ban Pa Meat morning market.

The fellow on the left, with his head down working, is "Me's" husband.  He is the Pa Thong Ko maker.

Same stuff for breakfast, I love it.  I had Soy Milk, Pa Thong Ko, Coffee, Tea, Fried Chicken and Sticky Rice.

Daeng talked with "Me" and I made a deal with the market beggar, "SuLa".  The deal is if he takes a shower, cleans his finger nails and puts on clean clothes I'll give him 100 Thai Baht.

Now, that may not help him, as a beggar, because if he cleans up folks will think he is doing okay, they won't fell sorry for him or give him any money.

More will be revealed.

I wanted to tell that the Thais have gotten around my saying: "Life is like a roll of toilet tissue as the closer you get to the end the faster it goes!"

How they got around that saying is they take the center of the roll out and use it from the inside.  You have got to give them credit.

When we got back home, Daeng let "Bang's" little boy play with the Dancing Santa that our friends, Micheal and Charlotte, gave her.  He and Santa did a little dance.

Life is good.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another Day in Mae Sai 10-11-2012

This morning we got up pretty early, around 6:00 AM.  It was raining pretty hard so we had coffee and some fruit while we waited for the rain to stop.

This time of year it rains pretty hard, almost every day, between 4:00 and 6:00 AM.  Here it is known as the rainy season, go figure.

After it stopped raining we hopped on the motorbike and rode the 4 kilometers into downtown Mae Sai to the morning market. 

We had coffee with the folks that have the Pa Thong Ko shop in this market.  He is Muslim and also makes some other treats with potato in one and another with a bean topping.

I also took a picture of the girls of another family on a motorbike.  Yes, that is five (5) head scarfs (khimar's) on one motorbike. 

After coffee and Pa Thong Ko (Thai donuts) we headed over to a big jewelry shop that has a lot of Burmese Jade.  We are looking for a Jade Chess set for a special gift.  This is the only set they had and it was not Jade.

We did go into the Jade cutting area and talked with a couple of Daeng friends as they were working.

Daeng and I decided we would go into Myanmar (Burma) on Monday and see what we can find in the border town of Tachilek.  Here is a quick video of the Tachilek Border Bridge.

Also, the kid "huffing glue" in this video, Fences Between Us, is standing on the bridge crossing over the Mae Sai River into Burma.

On the way back to the house we stopped and bought the big Hula Hoop that Daeng wanted to exercise with.

Yep, another day in Mae Sai.

By the way, the hill in the back ground, over Daeng's shoulder, is Tachilek, Myanmar (Burma).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another Day in Beautiful Mae Sai

Daeng told me last night that she was going to help make Som-Tom Papaya Salad for the Monks at the local Temple today.  I ask her what the occasion was.  She tried to explain it to me but I just could not get the substance except this was done every year is this part of Thailand and Myanmar (Burma).

We got up late, around 7:30 AM, showered, dressed and headed to the Pa Thong Ko shop for coffee.  To our surprise it was already closed.

After having coffee at another little shop in the back corner of the Ban Pa Meat morning market, we headed over to the Temple. 

The place was pretty busy at 9:00 AM with lots of folks and hundreds of baskets full of stuff, wrapped in cellophane, for the Monks.

I wondered around the place and make a little noise hitting the big drum in front of the Temple.  It made more noise than I expected. 

Daeng hooked up with her friend, Com New Wan (spelled like it sounds), and they started the process for making the Som-Tom Papaya salad. 

The process was an example of momentum.  It started with the two of them, Daeng and Com New Wan, getting things going with the crabs and papaya and ended up with over 15 people helping out.

I asked a lot of folks what this celebration was about.  No one could really make me understand except that they did it every year. 

Like I said, toward the end of the food preparation, a lot of folks helped out.

At around noon, the Monks came and sat at the tables that food had been placed.  I would guess that about 80 Monks sat down to the tables.  After a blessing they all ate.

After the Monks eat, they got up from the table and the regular folks sat down and continued to eat.

As for us folks helping, we ate on a little porch by the food preparation area.  We had lots of food and stuffed ourselves.  Everyone had fun helping and eating.  It is always nice to see folks having fun.

The Som-Tom Papaya Salad we great, as well!

After that, there was a ceremony for all the Monks and then each Monk got a paper with a number of the gift basket that was for them.

They each came and got their basket and then sat and prayed for the person that gave it to them.

It was a nice celebration but I still don't know what it was for.  The next time I talk with my friend "Cola", who runs the Internet shop, I'll see if he can make me understand.

Oh, before I forget, we had this desert that I call "worms in coconut milk".  It is sweet and tastes like chicken.  Come on, I'm kidding.  It tastes like a sweet gelatin in coconut milk.

By the way, a couple of things happen when we get older.  I just can't remember what they are.