Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas in Bangkok

We put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving!

And it rotates - no, not really as fast as it looks - Joe played around with the camera settings again! But yes it does rotate and it plays Christmas Carols - this was an inheritance from my Godmother Marie and is truly an antique!

Our Christmas stockings hanging on our bookcase mantle - and I'm sure you are wondering who Allen is. So Allen is one of Joe's best friends - if you were at our wedding he was the short little bald headed one! He lives abroad as well and left about a year before we did. He asked me for a Christmas stocking then so I made him one. I thought I had mailed it to him but had not. When we were unpacking all our decorations we found it and decided to hang it up with our stockings. His ears must have been burning as the next day he contacted us to ask what we were doing for Christmas and if we'd be around. Turned out he was "possibly" going to be on a business trip to Bangkok around Christmas and if so, he'd stay and spend it with us - we were quite excited. In the end though - his trip was postponed so he now won't be here until mid January - when both Joe and I are traveling! Oh well!

Pretty Christmas lights just outside of Siam Paragon Mall. We are standing on the BTS platform just outside the mall looking down on them!

Same same but different as they say in Thailand! This rudolph the gold nosed reindog - I mean reindeer lives at Central World Mall in Bangkok.

Just outside of Central World Mall in Bangkok.

The tree outside of Central World Mall in Bangkok.

Even the palm trees were decorated at Central World Mall in Bangkok.

Christmas Gifts With Style sign - just outside of Central World Mall in Bangkok.

An Advertisement for The Christmas Carol Movie with Jim Carey in THAI. Much to our dismay they only had this movie the first couple weeks of December. We were waiting to go see it Christmas week - much to our dismay - it was gone! I guess it'll have to be a rental.

The Christmas decorations in the lobby of our apartment building!

Night time Traffic Pics

Many of you know that Joe LOVES taking night time pictures and playing around with his camera settings. Well he has been dying to get out at night and get some traffic pics. He has one picture in mind he wants to get but still has yet to get it. Below are four shots he took that are actually pretty neat - he did a great job even if they weren't the ones he wanted to get!

This one is pretty cool, but.....

This one is even cooler! If you look closely, you'll see men directing traffic in between all the lights!

Happy Birthday HRM the King!

Happy Birthday to HRM the King! This month we celebrated HRM the King's Birthday. The embassy and most local businesses were closed as this is considered a local Thai Holiday and is also celebrated as their "Father's Day" too. Nearly ever building sets up a display such as the one on this picture to Honor the King. This one is set up in the lobby of our apartment building.

Sunflowers, Lunch and Monkey's Oh My!

Several weeks ago, Joe and I went on a tour sponsored by the Embassy. The tour included a visit to the Sunflower Fields that were in full bloom and gorgeous and then from there we went to Lopburi to see the Temple with all the monkeys. You may have remembered an earlier post of the Monkey Temple as we call it - we visited there back in the summer and thoroughly enjoyed it. But we decided to still go on the tour as we had not seen the spectacular sunflower fields that everyone kept raving about.

Joe and I with a bazillion sunflowers!

A close up shot of a sunflower!

A close up of Joe and with some sunflowers - one of my favorite shots!

My most favorite shot from the sunflower field. And no we were not THAT close to this lovely bee - Joe just has a REALLY nice camera lens!

After the sunflower adventure, we drove for about another 30 minutes or so to get to Lopburi where they have a temple that has been taken over by hundreds of wild monkeys. Actually the entire town has been taken over by them. In any event - on our way there we were getting kind of hungry as it was lunch time.......then we saw this........

Lunch anyone?

Yes it is what you think it is - food piled high in trash cans on the back of a truck going god knows where to be served! We suddenly lost our appetite!

A close up of a monkey at the entrance...

Joe made a new friend....

These monkeys are not usually there - apparently the next day they were having some special celebration to honor the monkeys!

This poor woman - she had 6 monkeys climbing on her at one time. The other two are on her front. At first she thought it was cute when it was just one or two but then they all started climbing all over her and she was screaming!

Three monkeys having fun....

A family feeding the monkeys...

No comment!

You will see these monkeys at the next weight watchers meetings!

This one has a ways to go before becoming a lifetime member of weight watchers!

LeBua State Tower Skybar - Part 2

We took our friend John who was visiting for two weeks up to the top of the LeBua State Tower Skybar to get some night shots of the city. They were particularly picky about us taking pictures that night so we only got one - but it's a pretty good one. We have been told they are sometimes picky about pictures there and only let you take pictures off the edge of the city and that you aren't allowed to take any pics with people in it because this is where married Western men bring their Thai mistresses. But we were only taking city pics and still got yelled here is our one picture!

Bridge Over The River Kwai

Per the PBS website: "Construction of the Thailand-Burma Railway began on September 16, 1942 at two existing railroad terminals, one in Thanbyuzayat in Burma and the other in Nong Pladuk, Thailand, about 25 miles west of Bangkok, in the Ratchburi province. As early as 1939, the Japanese had drawn up plans to build the railway, which was to provide a supply line capable of transporting 3,000 tons of supplies per day to support their frontline troops in Burma. At that time, Japanese engineers estimated that the 257-mile line would take five years to build because of the harsh conditions and treacherous terrain. Much of the railway, particularly the roughly 175 miles of track that ran through Thailand, required high bridges (more than 600 along the entire line) and deep mountain cuttings. The railway was completed in just 16 months when the two separate lines joined 23 miles south of the Three Pagoda's Pass. But the cost was incredibly high.

Though records are sketchy, approximately 61,000 Allied prisoners of war are believed to have labored on the railway, including 30,000 British, 18,000 Dutch, 13,000 Australian, and 700 American soldiers. An estimated 16,000 of those troops died, many of them from diseases like cholera, beri beri, malaria, and typhoid, most during an intensified period of construction known as "speedo" that commenced in January 1943. Another 200,000 Asian laborers, mostly Thai, were forced to work on the railway. More than 80,000 lost their lives.

The railway operated for just 21 months before it was crippled by Allied weapons, including the revolutionary radio-controlled AZON bomb. Most of the railway was dismantled soon after the war's end with the rest lost to the Thai and Burmese jungles. An 80-mile stretch in Thailand from Nong Pladuk to Tha Sao still operates daily."

Walking across the Bridge on the River Kwai - it was quite rickety and required lots of balance.

At the other end of the Bridge looking back across the river.

Hmmm I wonder what he is looking at...

We were in shock to see a train heading for the bridge - I'm not sure I'd trust a train on that thing!

And there it goes....

It went across very slowly!

Floating Market

The pictures below are from a one hour floating market tour we did on our way to the Bridge Over the River Kwai. This market is called Damnoen Saduak. Joe had checked on-line and downloaded the maps on his GPS before we went out there. We were off that day for a US Holiday - Veterans Day - and our friend John was still in town visiting. Our plan had been to do the Floating Market, the Tiger Temple and on our way home stop by the Bridge Over the River Kwai. Well, the GPS lied to us on the time and what we thought was about a one hour drive turned out to be a three hour drive. It was insane. In the end we managed to do the floating market - but got there at the tail end of it so our pictures are not as cool as they would have been had it been busy. I guess this means we will have to go back one day. Then we drove to the Tiger Temple - yet another long drive and we got there just as it was closing! Totally sucks! So we went to the Bridge Over the River Kwai on our way home as that never closes!

We did not buy too much while there as most vendors were closed. Joe bought some rambutan's (a red hairy fruit) for John to try and he got taken for a ride! Joe has yet to learn the art of negotiating and gets frustrated by it. If I recall correctly he paid 100 Baht for a bag of rambutan's - I think about 1 kilo. Anyhow, the minute he agreed to it I knew he had been taken for a ride. Sure enough after he pays the lady who was directing our boat started yelling at him. Joe could not understand as it was all in Thai. He was trying to understand her and I finally told him - she said Pheng Maak - very expensive - you paid too much! He wanted to know how much he should have paid - she said about 20 Baht. For those of you not familiar with our currency here - 20 Baht is about 60 cents and 100 Baht is $3.03. Negotiating in Thai is a hard thing for an American to do - we are not brought up that way and the only place you negotiate on a price at is at a Car Dealership. So, it is very frustrating at first. I struggled with it in the beginning but seeing as I was not working for my first 5 months here I was out doing all our shopping and my negotiating skills have come a LONG way. My father used to be a professional negotiator of contracts and I really think he'd be proud to see me in action over here. As I negotiated Joe's gym membership at the fitness center I could honestly feel every part of my father in me coming out. I guess that is a good trait to have if I am going to be living here for the next three years but I am hoping I don't return to the US and go into a store to buy something and start trying to negotiate with them on the price!

Most of the pics below are of the boats in the canals selling fruits. They had some in the boats actually cooking food too. We were quite hungry as we had not stopped for lunch but we all refused to eat the prepared food as all the utensils and plates etc were all dipped in the dirty canal river to clean for the next person to eat off of - and God knows what is in that nasty canal water!