Friday, October 31, 2008

Doo doo doo...

Al and I are always catching ourselves singing this song. It's on about every five seconds and, so far, it's the only Thai song we can sing along with!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Noisy Neighbors--- A Universal Problem

sometimes fireworks are just too loudImage by Malingering via FlickrI've certainly had my fair share of loud neighbors in the past-- from the fraternity guys playing beer pong above me while I was finishing my thesis in Albany, to the young family with the new puppy in Korea--- who would throw him outside whenever he got to loud for them--- but this time is different. Apparently, we're not allowed to complain!

We are in a modest condo-type home but next to us--- one wall only two meters from ours, is a rather large home with a big yard. The only neighbors from this home that have ever come out and waved is a middle aged woman who I suspect is a maid or nanny. I don't mind them keeping to ourselves, in fact, I wish they did so more! Two or three times a month these guys have huge parties. They go all out-- tables and chairs are brought in, a stage is set up with a huge screen for karaoke and dozens of cars line up on our tiny street. These parties are always on weekdays and always go on until the wee hours of the morning--- bad Thai karaoke the whole way through (bad, as in the singing).

Usually we are able to muddle through with earplugs but tonight- no. Tonight they have hired a live band, whose bass is turned up so high that although we cannot hear the vocals, our windows are shaking and my ears keep popping. No kidding.

But can we go over and throw a fit? Plead and beg for mercy?

When we asked our landlady how we should approach our neighbors about this problem she responded "Do not say anything! They will kill you!"

WHAT? They will kill us? Who the @#!% are these people?

So far, no answers-- we've asked around and the guesstimations are split between them being local mafia or actually the head police.

Whoever they are-- they suck. Wish me luck as I try to drug myself to sleep (don't worry. over the counter sleeping pills, no more than the recommended dosage)

P.S. To all you worrywarts out there--- Thai people, in fact, most people on earth, do not randomly kill their neighbors-- I expect these people are no exception. I get the impression that my landlady just wanted to make sure that we didn't do anything stupid, and does not really think we would be killed. Thai people are known for not getting angry or overreacting to things but Westerners are known here as being the opposite-- so they worry about us.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wat Yai, Phitsanulok

IMG_0455, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

Al, checking out the market goods on the grounds of Wat Yai.

Wat Yai, Phitsanulok

IMG_0456o, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

Buddha, Buddha, Buddha, Buddha........

Wat Yai

IMG_0464, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

The main Buddha at Wat Yai (there are hundreds of Buddhas throughout the complex). This was a very active temple-- lots of worshipers, music and dance performances, a market... great fun!

Wat Yai, Phitsanulok

Kitty, Wat Yai, Phitsanulok, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

Cats love the Buddha!


I just want to remind everyone that we are nowhere near the parts of the country that have been experiencing violence in the recent weeks, Bangkok and the Cambodian border to be specific. We are hours and hours away and these troubles have not affected our lives here--- other than to provide a topic of conversation.

So, don't worry!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Geckos Galore

IMG_0007, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

Geckos are everywhere in our house. Of course, these teeny ones are our favorite.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Back to Thailand

LangsatImage by robstephaustralia via FlickrAlthough I have one more post about Mongolia, and posts about Beijing and Ko Samui, I will interrupt now for some Uttaradit updates.

The Langsat Festival (pictures below) is the biggest celebration in Uttaradit. This province is known for the langsat fruit--- a small, round fleshy fruit that you have to peel-- similar to lychees. The festival lasted a week and included rides, concerts, markets, muay thai (kickboxing) and the parade. We went there every night for the food stalls.

Catching my first muay thai match was one highlight of the week. I never had a huge desire to see any kind of fighting but, I must admit, the atmosphere was rather exciting around the ring as the fight geared up to begin. In Bangkok and any of the tourist spots in Thailand muay thai can see a bit gimmicky as they try to bring in the crowds but here it was all locals, just crowding around the ring, standing in the dirt, and placing bets. From what I could gather the older competitior was a champion from Vietnam who was being challenged by a young, Thai guy. Although the younger dude got in a few punches, the Vietnamese man was clearly the better fighter and seemed to defeat him easily. It wasn't shocking, brutal stuff at all, like I hear it was in the old days--- actually, it was quite entertaining and exciting.

The other highlight was the parade, which showcased all of the things Uttaradit Province has to offer. Floats represented different fruits from the region, high school marching bands participated, and men and women walked in formation promoting their trades, from loom weaving to fishing. Good show!
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IMG_0352, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

Miss Langsat.

Langsat Festival, Uttaradit


IMG_0305, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

The parade showcased local produce and handicrafts.

Langsat Parade, Uttaradit


IMG_0343, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

My favorites in the parade... monsters!

Langsat Parade

Langsat Festival Photos

IMG_0300, originally uploaded by MacKensie!.

Sticky rice baked in bamboo with slices of coconut.... insanely delicious!

Langsat Festival, Uttaradit

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mongolia -Ishee's Home

One of the most special nights while we were out in the field is when we were invited for dinner at Ishee's home.

Ishee was one of the few archaeology students who grew up in the countryside and he always seemed to outdo the other guys in all of the "manly" tasks I mentioned before, from horse riding and wrestling, to rock throwing and goat killing. He was also one of the most friendly and welcoming of the crew.

His family's ger camp was just over an hour's drive away so we got to stop work early one Friday and head over for a day of fun and feasting.

I'm really glad we got to see what ger life was like. They had two gers and set up an extra tent for us to chill out in for the evening. Ishee's parents were there as well as his older brother and his brothers wife and young son. I'm not totally sure, but I think they all lived there. It is also common for people to live part time in the city and go into the country for extended periods to help out with livestock etc. Another family had their ger set up in the valley not too far away, which is typical for security.

Old Russian movies on TV.

Checking out the digs.

If you don't know much about Mongolia, you may not have known that even today, many Mongolians are nomads. Their gers can be taken apart and loaded on carts within a few hours so that they can find better pastures for their livestock (almost exclusively goats, sheep, and horses, and sometimes camels). They are not constantly moving, usually only once or twice a year (summer and winter pastures), and they go back to the same spots often. Ishee's family had a generator so they can watch TV and they have all the normal household goods you would think of, just more compact in some cases (like the stove) or organized more frugally (for instance, a lot of items were stuck inbetween the wooden slats and the felt covering). It was all very cozy although I wonder what it's like in the winter--- Mongolia's temperatures can drop to -30!

We had the best meal that night--- heaps of mutton that had been slow cooked over hot rocks. My mouth waters even now, thinking about it. The met is cut up and put into a large silver bowl which is then passed around. Pick out your favorite cut and eat with your hands (and a knife if you have one). Works for me!

Tea, yogurt, sweet bread, and candies.

After that of course, the vodka. Ishee's father was in charge of pouring while Ishee passed out the cups. Everyone had more than their fair share. The rest of the night was spent socializing before heading out to the first of our ger camp parties.

The passing of the vodka.

The director, Bill, taking his turn. The senior members of our group were treated to extra cups of vodka.

It was lovely of his family to invite such a large group of clueless foreigners to their home, we all had a wonderful time!

A perfect rainbow to finish off a truly memorable evening.

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