Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cooking Class


Tonight some of us attended a Thai cooking class.  I wasn't too excited when we were signing up for which day we wanted to go.  A lot of Thai food is spicy and I don't like/can't tolerate spice to any degree, so I didn't think I'd enjoy learning how to cook food I didn't like to eat.

We were, however, assured that cooking the food is better than ordering it in a restaurant because you can control the amount of spice you add, so I thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity whether I enjoyed the food or not.

IT.    WAS.    SO.    AWESOME!!

The school sent a cab, or what they call a song-tau (I don't think the second word is spelled correctly) to pick us up at the hotel.  

The view from our song-tau

We went directly to market to purchase some of the ingredients for the dishes we would be making.  Our teacher did a great job explaining what everything was and after making the purchases, we had a few minutes to wander around the market on our own.

Below:  our merry band.

Nel and Leah getting ready to chop some of the ingredients for their dish choices.

One of my choices was "spring rolls".  So yummy.

It was such a great afternoon.  I even brought home leftovers for dinner tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

An Amazing Day


Today was really an amazing day.  We reserved a tour for one of the local elephant parks.  I had no idea that it would be as wonderful as it was.  

We were picked up right in front of our hotel & shuttled in an air-conditioned van to the park about an hour away.

The first thing we saw was a row of elephants with their handlers beckoning to the visitors.  Everyone could have a turn being hugged and kissed by the elephants which were in turn glad to receive offerings of bananas and cash.

Our new friends who are working with us. 

After the hugs and kisses, some of the elephants were bathed and scrubbed in the river.

Then off to the arena where the elephants put on a show which included playing soccer, basketball and painting.

About 6 elephants each had their own easel and they painted different scenes.  It was pretty amazing to watch them and see the final product.  The paintings were for sale in the gift shop.  

We were then taken to the area where we got on the elephants for our elephant ride.  

After the ride, we went to the tiger park. 

Leah spent some time snuggling with the tigers.  

We had a wonderful buffet lunch, then went  up the mountain to the most famous temple in Chiang Mai and then off to visit the silk factory where we got the story on how silk is produced from the silk worm.

We were all significantly tired by then, so we opted to head home.

What a day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Visit to a Village


Today we visited a small mountain village.  As we began our trip, this was our view out the van window for about the first hour and then randomly throughout the next hour of our ride.

When we arrived, it was still raining, so we went back down the hill a bit and went to lunch a little early.  After lunch we made the drive back up the mountain and by the time we arrived there the rain had ceased.  

The people of this village grow coffee and rice.  We were treated to a cup of delicious coffee and then the group of us proceeded to buy all the pkgs of coffee they had available at the time.  Very yummy!!

After our coffee break, we began our guided tour of the village.  Most of the houses are built above the ground on stilt-like poles, and everyone has pigs.  Why pigs?  
Doesn't everyone know that pigs eat snakes, and and that prevents the snakes from getting into the homes.  
And they only keep black pigs.  Why? you ask.
So they don't get sunburned, of course.

School was done for the day and these children were making their own fun. 

But it looks like they're up-to-speed with some technology.  Apparently most of the house had electric, and there were quite a few of these satellite dishes scattered around the village.

Just as we were getting ready to get into our vans, this momma came by with this adorable baby.  I asked if I could take their picture and momma agreed readily.  It was a great way to end our village tour.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

More Street Shots


Just some random street shots from our excursion to the old city in Chiang Mai this morning.

This is the colored version of the bw image I posted in the previous
post--which I posted again below this one.

A familiar and welcomed sight!

Better in B&W


Leah and I took an excursion to the old, walled city in Chiang Mai this morning.  There are a huge number of temples in within the walls, so monk sitings are very common.  There were two different color robes that I saw.  One was a beautiful bright orange and the other was a more subdued, but also beautiful orangy-brown.

When I was processing these images I put them into photomatix to process them as 1-image HDR pics. I thought I would leave them in color, but when I experimented with the Artistic BW preset, I decided to leave them as BW.  

It was hot and even though we enjoyed walking around for a few hours we decided that once you've seen one, or maybe two, temples you've pretty much seen them all.  (that's a little tongue-in-cheek)  So we decided to head back and find a place to eat on the way.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Juniper Tree


This post is a little out of order, but better late than never.  When we first arrived in Thailand we had to spend two nights at an alternate location before moving into our permanent hotel in town.  This wonderful venue is called The Juniper Tree.  It's a Christian Retreat center located not too far from the center of town.  It's run by a great Christian couple from the UK.  We not only met the people we would be working with, but we met some really interesting others who have been all over the world working in God's service.

Our stay there was only two nights--much too short!

Each night we were there, we heard loud & boisterous cheering and shouting at around 11 pm that continued for quite a while.  I finally remembered to ask the owner, Tim, what was going on.  He said that right outside the back gate, the locals held beetle competitions during the mating season--which lasts for about 4-5 months each year.

Two females are confined in a tube and two males are placed on top of the tube.  The males fight each other until one of them falls off the tube.  The remaining male is the winner.  Obviously the men bet on who the winner will be even though betting is illegal.  Tim assured us that there is no harm to the beetles, one just gets knocked off the tube, and they are only doing what they would be doing in the wild anyway--fighting for dominance over the females.

To hear the cheering you would think it was a world championship prize fight.  Maybe to these locals it is.  

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Home for a Month

I finally had the chance to get some images of my "home" for the next month.  Don't be deceived though. The place needs some serious TLC.  A fresh coat of paint alone throughout the entire place would work wonders. There are certain of my friends that I know would run screaming out of the place.

But you've got to remember that this isn't America.  Standards are certainly different in some foreign countries.  Bit it's tolerable, the a/c works and the bed is pretty comfortable.

The view from the pool deck.

A few trivia facts:

*they drive on the right hand side of the street here
*they drive crazy
*pedestrians have absolutely no right of way....ever
*you shouldn't wear red or bright yellow shirts--those colors have political implications

Friday, October 04, 2013

First Photo Shoot in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Trying to play catch-up.  I arrived in Chiang Mai on Tues morning, Oct 2.  (It is now Sat, Oct 6)  At least it was Tues morning in Thailand.  It was only Mon morning in NY.  There's a 12 hour + 1 day time difference.  So if it is 6 pm on Mon in NY, it is 6 am on Tues in Thailand.  Even though it sounds pretty straight-forward, it's very confusing when trying to figure it out in your head.

Anyway, these are a few images from my first photo shoot in Chiang Mai.  I stayed at a retreat center called Juniper Tree for the first two days.  There was a young woman there who wanted to go into the town to do some sightseeing and she invited me along.  By the time we arrived in town, it was raining so we had to stand around waiting for the rain to slow down and hopefully stop.  

We were soon able to begin our walk.  My companion was the first to get her camera out and start snapping away.  She had a point and shoot but I could tell she probably uses it a lot and likes to take photos.  

The sidewalks are very narrow and difficult to navigate because of obstructions, driveways and poor conditions, so it was an adventure in itself to walk along, look for photos ops (which really aren't hard to find), watch out for traffic, and stay somewhat connected to my new friend.

I made the executive decision to leave my tripod home.  I had a suspicion that I wouldn't be able to use it much, at least in the city, because of 1) crowded conditions and 2) I'm not with a group of photographers on this trip.  So even though I hyperventilated at the thought of being "tripod-less", it was a wise decision, at least so far.  I did, however, bring a monopod which I may or may not use.

The following three photos are 1-image HDR images.