>Just a little more

>I can’t resist, here are a couple more pictures from the markets in Bangkok

This picture shows flower garlands hanging in rows. The ladies sitting at the table are stringing them.

The people we saw working in the markets were generally happy – laughing and talking to each other. Our guide told us the Thai are known for their happy attitudes and laughter. I must say, I believe him.

>Bangkok on a wing and a prayer

>So first full day in Thailand we are all running on adrenalin as not one of us in the group of thirteen has had anything like enough rest for the previous two days.

As I mentioned in the last post we were traveling with OAT. My husband and daughter had done a month long trip to China and Tibet with OAT in the summer of ’08 and they were so impressed (and I impressed with their stories) that it was a no brainer to use this bunch again. You see, I contend that when traveling in a country where the writing is unrecognizable to anything like the alphabet we were taught, you should not try to go it alone. OAT uses natives to guide their groups so that you are getting a view of the country you are touring through the eyes of someone who has lived their life there. Another wonderful thing about traveling with OAT is that, even though you do see all the known (touristy) highlights, you also get off the beaten path and visit homes, schools, and factories. By traveling with OAT we were able to see so much more than we ever could have on our own, because there was no time lost just figuring things out. Add to that the indispensable fact that OAT had scouted out western style “Happy Rooms” every hour and a half to two hours in our travel so that only if desperate did we have to “get happy” like the natives – read Asian style stand up potties ladies, they think our sit down accommodations are just nasty. Also, all our hotels – though never the Ritz Carlton – had AC (and with temps in the 90s every day, that AC at the end of the day was more than welcome), clean beds, flushing potties, and food tempered a bit to the western palate (though fish sauce was ever handy if you wanted to add a bit of fire in the hole).

So after a breakfast of mostly recognizable foods – the buffet at each hotel catered to both eastern and western tastes so there was always something new for the adventurous to try. and the fruit? OMG it was heavenly- We hit the streets beginning with a bus tour and walk through the Bangkok flower market.

Orchids in Thailand are like daisies here. They are everywhere. We found orchids on our beds at night, orchids scattered on the table. Orchids hanging from trees and bunched in front of shops. People’s yards full of orchids. WOW!

And the smell of the roses! Heaven. The flowers were unbelievably inexpensive. Large bundles of roses for a dollar – you don’t even want to know how cheap the orchids were. The colors and varieties – boggled the mind. It was magnificent.

These arrangements are meant as temple offerings to the Buddha. Women sat arranging these by the dozen. Also stringing sprays meant as gifts or for hanging on the fronts of boats or rear view mirrors of vehicles or to hang on spirit houses.

Our guide bought each of us a small garland which he presented us with later in the day

After the flower market it was on to the fruit market for some exotic things I had never seen or heard of, much less tried.

These are pear apples, or sometimes called rose apples. They tasted like a bland apple. Though pretty – they didn’t make the cut for me. Too many other much more wonderful fruits to gorge on.

Like these! Thailand has about twenty varieties of bananas and we tried several. They were all just scrumptious. I ate every one I could get my hands on. The other fruit here is pemelos. They are similar to grapefruit but much larger, sweeter, and firmer in texture. I loved them!

This odd critter is a dragon fruit. The pink skin is not edible but the meat inside is white with tiny seeds sort of like strawberry seeds and the taste is sweet and yummy. Again, I ate as much as modesty would allow.

Here are the rombutan (hairy thing) which has a fruit inside that tastes something like a grape, and the mangosteen which was an odd sort of fruit indeed. The outer skin is more than a quarter inch thick soft almost mushy – red thing but the fruit inside is off white and in sections with a small pit in each section. Tasty but almost not worth the effort to get the skin off (if you can call it skin, which it isn’t really – and not edible either)

Last here I have Jack fruit. It looks a lot like Durian, but isn’t. Jack fruit doesn’t stink at all and the meat is soft and a bit custard like. It is sweet and tasty. We only had a chance to eat it twice, but enjoyed it both times.

Other fruits we sampled were sapodilla, lynchee, mango, coconut, papaya, tamarind, and I positively pigged out on the best fresh pineapple I ever ate. It was included every morning with breakfast and most evenings for desert. I have never ever had such wonderful pineapple!

Funny thing about Durian – we did see some in the markets but never got close enough to smell them – every single hotel we stayed in had a “No Durian” sign at the front door.

Well that gets us close to lunch time on the first day, I’ll pick up from here next time. I think this is long enough for now 🙂

>The mysteries of Siam

>And the adventure begins –
So as most of you already know, our grand excursion was a trip to Thailand, a place I’ve always wanted to see. We traveled with a tour group called OAT (overseas adventure travel) and it was a trip of a lifetime.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step and we traveled a bit more than 10,000 miles just to get there. The steps consisted of leaving home about noon on a Wednesday and driving four hours to Atlanta where we spent the night (sort of) because we had to be at the airport by 3:30AM. Our first flight (two hours to Chicago) left at 6AM. Once in the windy city our layover was four hours then we boarded my first ever 747 for the 14.5 hour flight to Tokyo. A flight with four movies, arggg, but that is what it takes and I got to see UP, which is a very cute movie. Have I mentioned before I hate hate hate flying? But I refuse to let my fears keep me from seeing the world. Didn’t help that this was one of the bumpiest flights I’ve ever been on. Pilot had to climb a bit to get out of the bumps – United lets you listen in on air traffic control which the hub was doing. He kept chuckling so I asked what was so freaking funny – as I squeezed the blood flow from his thigh. The pilot was asking other planes ahead of us what conditions were, they were making cracks about the jolts – haha, very funny.

Anyway, our final flight to Bangkok was delayed more than an hour so we spent a good four hours in the terminal in Tokyo. Our family has a travel rule. You must leave an airport to count as having been TO a country. You can say you have been IN Japan if you were making connecting flights (which we all have now done at least once), but you cannot say you have been TO Japan until you have actually left the airport. None of us has yet been TO Japan.

Care to guess how long the flight from Tokyo to Bangkok is? You’d think after already flying a solid sixteen hours that the hop from Japan would be no biggy right? Seven, seven more hours. And because our flight was delayed we arrived in Bangkok at 12:15 AM. A further two and a half hours to do the passport control/immigration thing, collect baggage, meet with our tour group and tour guide, and load up on the bus for the ride to our first hotel.

We made it to bed at 3AM and our first wake up call was four hours later.

From the time we left our home (excluding the brief stay at the Hampton Inn Atlanta Airport) we traveled more than 40 hours (all airport layovers included). To say we arrived exhausted would be an understatement of biblical proportions. But excited and ready to explore and at 7Am we hit the streets ready to do just that.

Now, the great confession. We in this family love Christmas. I know many of you do not and that makes me a little sad, but we just love it. From the first pauper’s year of our marriage to now we have tried to fill each Christmas with love,fun,and traditions of our own. And I am afraid I must admit that I decorate to the extreme. At least I do keep it to the indoors. No runway lights in the yard or anything, just a few simple, tasteful wreaths on the door and front windows. But open the door and Wow, people tend to wander through with their mouths open for a bit, then walk through again and giggle.

Why am I telling you this at the end of a long story about our trip? It’s like this, since the girls left for college I have tried to have all the house decorated before they get home the day after Thanksgiving so that they come in and are greeted with the Christmas they love right off. They can then finish the last few weeks of classes and exams having already sampled the warmth of our home at Christmas. The trees are always already up (we have two, one in the family room and one in the living room) and lit so that on Friday night we can decorate one together and Saturday the other – without the hassle that is setting up and lighting the trees. However, this year we were leaving for the trip on Nov 4 and returning just 3 days before leaving again to celebrate Thanksgiving at D1’s home. I knew that between exhaustion and time shortage, the only way the house would be Christmas ready when we came back for these couple days before D2&3 return to school was for the house to be fully decorated before we left – and it was. By Halloween almost every single Santa and globular ornament was in place.

We were laughing at ourselves. Well ok, they were all laughing at me – I kept some of the shades down so the neighbors wouldn’t think we (I) were nuts. I’m a mom what can I say, I wanted everyone to have the holiday we have come to cherish – tacky colorful ornaments, music, cheesy Christmas movies, food and all. It had to be done.

So what greeted us when we finally arrived at the Hotel Tawana in Bangkok, Thailand?

On the balcony above the Christmas tree can be seen me, the boy, and the mother of Adam Savage(of Myth Busters fame)

I’ll begin showing you pictures of the craziness that is our home at Christmas soon.

>Charlie says it all again

>The devil went down to GA, but the devil is in the details.

>This is the America I know

>Moberly, Missouri

>Ready or not…

>Andrew Breitbart

Gotta love him. This guy is a hero, he and his minions, or cohorts – however you want to label this bunch. Now if we could just get someone brave enough and smart enough to out Soros in the same way. Acorn and Soros are the engine running the mess. About time they get exposed.

And OMG is this not a breath of fresh air! I know it is all a pipe dream, but wouldn’t it be grand if this crap finally got well and fully exposed!

Ok, out the door –
Over the river and down th’Highway, to D1’s house we go. The van knows the way, to carry the fam or’ the mountains, foothills, and plain.

yeah, it don’t rhyme, but I never claimed to be a poet…

Have a happy happy folks – take a moment or two to breath and think of the blessings. We spend time a plenty griping over the poo.

>Well, I thought I was back

>But turns out my mind and body can not get back in sync with Eastern Standard Time. I wake up at 3 am every morning, starving. Then by noon my brain is in a fog. Last night I was out of it by 6 pm, barely coherent enough to tell the hub there was chicken in the fridge and he could cut his own salad. Fell asleep on the couch and stayed there.

And of course there is the Thanksgiving craziness to tend to. We spend Thanksgiving day with my eldest in her home, 4 hours from here, then the two college girls come home with us on Friday morning and we get the Christmas trees up and decorated before they head back to school Sunday. Everything is topsy turvey and I can’t sleep when I should and move in a fog when I shouldn’t. Maybe, just maybe, next week I can start sharing the great adventure with you.

In the mean time I am trying to catch up on the last few weeks worth of posts on all you peeps of mine. At least I’ve nearly gotten that job accomplished.

>I’m home

>Hi all. I have returned and have more fish stories and pictures than you can shake a stick at. Gonna take me a minute or two to get caught up on laundery and get my brain back in this time zone, never mind the date line. Just a quick hint there. Be watching for pictures and stories of fish from Siam.

>OK, can’t resist – endorsement #3, then I really am going to go catch that trout…

>In my continuing series of endorsements for current members of congress I add to the list congress woman Virginia Foxx (R) of Winston Salem, NC

Right on the money with her first statement. The second statement is causing a rucus. But I believe she is correct.

Many people are making what I feel is a fatal mistake in focusing on the cost of the health care reform bill as it is likely to be passed. People cannot conceive of the scope of this much spending – it is so far beyond anything we can comprehend that to argue the point is meaningless. Our focus should be on the damage it will cause to our lives and freedoms which will far outstrip the financial burden alone. US citizens take our health care wealth so for granted that a huge percentage of us are blind to the fact that it is all about to be taken from us.

We need women like this standing in the breech. Unafraid to “speak truth to power” as the trite saying goes.

Endorsement list:
1) Michelle Bachman
2) Jim Demint
3) Virginia Foxx

>And the winner is..

>Congrats Suzette – you have yourself a new governor 🙂
Doing a happy dance for you! And I hope those stupid democrats keep right on telling themselves this is not a referendum on congress and the O. That way we’ll get rid of even more of them next year!

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