Friday, December 26, 2008

Goodbye for a Little While

I am going on vacation, one last little trip inside this bigger trip.


First to Bangkok, where Justin boards a plane for home.



Then to Burma to cross the border and return.


And for New Years, the beach! Where my wonderful girlfriends are waiting!


We will spend a week in the sun, drinking cocktails and laughing. I will wear tons of sunscreen, don't worry.

I come back to Chiang Mai on the 6th or 7th and may not be able to post here until then.

(all images from here)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas From Thailand!

Despite the heat and strange surroundings, Justin and I managed to feel it was Christmas.


We had a breakfast picnic of fruit and toast, then opened presents, which were mostly snacks. I got him mini boxes of cereal, crackers, and cookies. He got me broad beans, dark chocolate, and eight packs of gum. Plus one or two special trinkets each.


It was perfect for our Christmas here.

But I did miss you all terribly.

(Images from here.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Worst Things About Chiang Mai

1. Everyone says it's winter now, but it's a lie! I am still hot all day, all the time.
2. Rice and noodles, everywhere, always.
3. Tiny little Thai girls. Despite the prices, clothes shopping is hard because nothing fits!
4. No one walks anywhere, so there are no nice, shady sidewalks.
5. When we're walking we are constantly honked at by tuk tuk and songthaew drivers. (I know, I know, they just can't understand why we don't want a ride.)
6. The language barrier. Even most signs and menus, except in tourist areas, are in Thai.
7. Being so far from home.
8. Being so far from home.
9. Being so far from home.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Best Things About Chiang Mai

(You think I'm going to say the food, but I'm not!)

1. No catcalls, whistles, comments, or come-ons EVER. This can, occasionally, seem like a bad thing.
2. Making friends is easier here than anywhere I've been since college. (But only ex-pat friends. The language barrier makes it difficult to make friends with Thais.)
3. The prospect of telling people I've lived in Thailand once I get back.
4. The prices! Shopping for clothes is amazing, not to mention the cost of living.
5. The obsession with cute. There are adorable handmade things everywhere.
6. Strange and wonderful fruit!
7. Wawee coffee.
8. Broad beans (as satisfying as peanuts but healthier)

(I guess numbers 6-8 are edible. But Thai food itself I am still not a fan of. Right now I would be happy if I never ate Thai food again.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

What I'm Missing


Back in Massachusetts, the roads look like this:


Here are my neighbors, trying to get out of their driveway:


My parents tell me it is the worst ice storm they have ever seen. They've been without water, phone or electricity for five days.


Here is the apple tree that has stood outside my bedroom window my whole life:


That's my bedroom, underneath it.


And here I am, safe and warm in Chiang Mai, longing for snow.

(Pictures by my dad)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Imaginary Christmas List

For the Christmas I will not be attending, I would like

1. The book in which this art appears:


(Hello, Judy!)

2. And this one too:



Did you know there is a whole blog about "the art of breakfast"? Really. I think it's author is my soulmate.

3. Handmade prettiness from Tiffany (Update your blog, Tiffany!):


4. And also this book:


It may seem similar to the breakfast book, but it's actually quite different.

5. But more than any fripperies, I would like to be here:


At my family's holiday table.

6. And to drink one of these:


My dad's lattes.

(photos of home by Brigitte)

Trouble

I have stopped carrying Mike's camera around. Because most of the time it doesn't really work. This means I do not have any new pictures, which makes blog-posting much less fun, which is why I've been posting so rarely.

So I will post only words for a little while. But someday, I promise, the photos will return.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Fashion Show!


Justin was in a fashion show. That's him above.


He wore silk pajama bottoms and a long flowing robe and no shirt. He looked amazing.


Mike was in it too. In the middle of the runway, the male models had to circle each other. I must admit, it was a little hilarious.


The rest of the show was kindof boring.


And I was frustrated because my (really Mike's) camera wasn't working.




When the announcer introduced Justin, Mike, and the other boys, she called them "the hottest guys in Chiang Mai." Hehe...

Friday, December 5, 2008

How to Love Chiang Mai


Every week, it seems, there is a new festival or celebration.


Yesterday was the King's birthday. There were fireworks, street fairs, more Loi Krathong lanterns.


The Pink Mini Pork Ball Lady was out in all her glory.


And when we got tired of all that, there was a place to come back to.

With a stocked kitchen, a clean bed, and a balcony overlooking the noisy streets.

Mike calls it the Chiang Mai trap: everyone is always leaving, but no one ever goes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Even Longer Bus Ride and A Change of Plans

Due to circumstances both uninteresting and wordy, we left our little guesthouse in Luang Prabang on Monday.




(This is how far I was in War and Peace on Sunday. Now I am on page 591.)


I was a little sad to go.

We boarded the overnight express bus at 5 pm. It was so crowded, passengers sat on plastic stools in the aisle. There were many crying children, none wearing pants. At one point, a mother held her baby out the window to poop. This was quite amazing considering it was incredibly cold. And inside there was no heat. Our toes went numb.


This is what our neighbors did to keep warm.

One man held a huge wooden instrument in his lap. When we stopped, he stuck the horn out the window; it made soft, mournful sounds. It would've been eerily mystical, if I hadn't been so cranky.


We broke down twice.

Then there was a border to cross and more buses to board.

And finally, finally, we arrived...

back in Chiang Mai! A place where I am temporarily at home.

(A note about the camera: please excuse the poor quality of the photos. I can only photograph inside and at night, as this is when the camera behaves. So sorry!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Comfort

One of my favorite blog finds, the tea drinking english rose, requested blog posts about comfort from those who read her (as you should too! she is deliciously girly, like a strawberry cookie). And this suggestion seemed particularly relevant to my life now, since I miss the comforts of home so often.


What comforts me: early mornings, peanut butter on toast, tea or coffee with milk.


I like to be alone or just quiet for a little while in the morning. Reading, thinking, daydreaming. Munching on a breakfast treat.


It's best if I can look out the window on our snow-covered yard in Ashfield.


Those of you who have been there know it is a place of comfort like no other. Made more valuable by the people who inhabit it.

My mom writes, "My favorite time of the day is the walk across the field to the round house, lighting the incense and sometimes a fire, chanting the heart sutra... Then I love the walk back across the field. Often dinner is in the oven or on the stove as a chili or stew or soup."


And from my dad, "I am sitting in the living room by the fire. The snow outside has just turned to rain. Vivian just brought me a tray with tea. Caleb just called. You just emailed. Tomorrow is my last day of teaching before a long holiday weekend."



In the meantime, while I have no snow-covered field to traipse across, no fire to sit by, I will content myself with sitting on this tropical porch:


And making myself at home in this beautiful room:


The kinds of natural peanut butter and hearty toast I love are hard to come by. But there is a stove and a coffeemaker in the kitchen where Justin is working. Every morning, he makes a perfect bowl of oats for us and a strong pot of coffee.