April 29, 2009

Before the rains

I enjoyed this Merchant Ivory movie, even though the ending was rather predictable. The movie is set in Kerala at the time of the British Quit India movement, and is the story of a man, his servants and a road. I loved hearing Malayalam on screen - though the translations are never as good as the real thing no?

April 27, 2009

Recent Reads

1. Cutting for Stone
I enjoyed this new book by the Mallu author - his first foray into fiction. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to have an identical twin, and this is the story of twins, set in Africa, in a not typical setting.

2. The Tale of Despereaux
I enjoy going back and reading books for children that I never got around to reading. Love the little mouse, but not a great book - maybe this is one of those that do not translate into the same magical read when one is an adult.

3. Buddha, Vol 1: Kapilavastu
While in Thailand, it struck me how little I really know about Thai architecture, history and culture. How did Buddhism get there? So, this is one of the books in my pile to read. This is a manga style comic book - a fast and fun read.

4. The Associate
If I had bought this book in hard cover, I would have mailed it back to Grisham for a refund. Such a disappointment - but then again was not really expecting much. If you have never read Grisham, check out his first 5 or 6 books - great reads. The movies are good too. Do not bother with this book.

5. The White Tiger
Loved this book. My book club selection of the month. Such a different story from India. Not the typical pap written for the western diaspora. A story of class, caste and success. Well worth a read.

6. Keeping Faith
I've read several books by the author, and she always does a good job of looking at an issue from many angles. This one deals with God (a female) talking to a secular Jewish girl of 7 and the hullabaloo this creates in various communities.

April 22, 2009

Artist Luke

We've got a new photographer in the family! After several disappointing trials with cameras for kids, finally got Luke an older model adult camera (Thanks Dave). I loved how his face lit up when he saw the camera. He quickly mastered the buttons and proceeded to capture 94 images - that does not count the ones he deleted because they were "too dark". Below are some of his photos - including the self portrait. He setup all these shots - told everyone exactly what to do. Cannot tell you how much it warmed my heart to see my 6 year old nephew find his bliss.

April 19, 2009

Soccer Boys

Took out my bike for the first ride of the season to see the boys go through soccer drills. The little ones are so cute to watch. Love how they have girls and boys on the same teams.

April 18, 2009

Phuket Town Photos

Spent an afternoon exploring Phuket Town. Click here to see more pics.

April 14, 2009

Evolution squared

You gotta check out this mind blowing talk.

Kata Beach

Kata beach on Phuket is considered the best beach on the island. During these days of below freezing nights, I sure do miss the warm beach days. Click here to see more pics.

April 13, 2009

Pai Photos

The lovely town of Pai is the furthest north we went in Thailand. Stayed at the Pai Chan bungalows. Would love to go back when it is not burning season. You can see more photos here.

April 11, 2009

Recent Reads

Still recovering from jet lag, so not gotten much done at all.

Think I set a record in Thailand for least number of books read in a time period - maybe there was simply too much external stimulation?

1. The Blind Assassin
First book I've read by the author - who people either seem to love or hate. I loved this book - so many layers of stories, and beautiful writing.

2. Falling Angels
Lloved this one as well. First time I've read the author - the book is a really fast read and I love the idea of getting the perspective of different people for any given event. We all see and experience things so differently - this book uses that as a way to tell the story. Lovely.

3. The Mosquito Coast
I remember the movie as being dark, and an unusual role for Harrison Ford. The book is an excellent read. The story is told from the point of view of the eldest son. The father is clearly mad - guess it is a fine line between being a genius and being completely nuts. Am going to have to watch the movie again.

4. One for the Money
The first Stephanie Plum mystery. Very light - almost a chick lit mystery.

5. Gone, Baby, Gone
This book is so much better than the movie. I like Lehane. He writes well - though his subject material tends to run on the dark side. This book had some tough themes, but is an excellent read.

Realize as I write this that I read books by 4 authors completely new to me on this trip. Also, a warning to folks traveling to Thailand - bring as many books as you think you'll need. The ones for sale there are mostly "fake" - and the used book stores tend to be heavy on the chick lit side. As are the book stores at Heathrow - what is up with that?

April 10, 2009

Home Again

Lovely to be home again. It's interesting the things I miss when I am away - it's not what I think I'll miss. It's the simple things - my own bed, being surrounded by my books and art supplies, hanging out with my nephews, fireside chats, the little rituals that make this life my own.

Am seriously jet lagged - must be a sign that I'm getting older. Oh, and the other sign - I needed reading glasses for the first time on this trip! Granted the book I was reading had yellowed pages and that horrible typeset, but still. So have officially bought my first pair. Yikes.

Looking forward to sleeping through the night and having my eating patterns settle into some pattern - it's crazy at the moment.

April 5, 2009

Leaving Chiang Mai

What a fun last day in Chiang Mai. Took a tuk tuk to visit Wat Umong - a forest wat. Never seen one like this one. It really is in a jungle setting - gives one an idea of what the land looked liked before the town spread out that way. The wat itself is built bunker style - a cool space.

The rest of the day involved walking from one watering hole to another, and watching the world pass by. Just back from a great spot on the Sunday Walking Street with a great view of the action. Getting ready to start the trip back home - first leg tonight is back to Bangkok. Then a flight out tomorrow night. Will load up pics when I get back home.

April 3, 2009

Getting ready for re-entry

Hard to believe that my trip is drawing to an end. In some ways, I feel like I've been away for ages, and in other ways feels like the time has passed so darn quickly.

Back in Chiang Mai - taking it easy - reading, napping, getting massages, eating excellent food (Musamun Chicken is my latest fave - simply incredible!), exploring neighborhoods, shopping, etc.

Other than the fact that Thailand and Cambodia are having an armed skirmish over where those pesky country lines are on the map, and North Korea is planning on launching an ICBM/communication satellite on Susan's flight path home, life is good.

April 2, 2009


Spent the past 3 days in the little northern town of Pai (pronounced "bye"). Getting there was half the adventure. We had heard from a fellow traveler that taking the local bus up there was not the way to go - it's a windy 3 to 4 hour drive, and the local bus she was on was full of people puking. Does not sound like my idea of a fun ride, so took a bonine and opted to use the hourly minivan service. Windy is putting it mildly, and the way these guys drive is enough to raise your blood pressure. And of course there are no seat belts and no guard rails to keep you from plunging down into the ravines if an accident does occur. Yikes. And we had to do this twice - flying those scary little puddle jumpers suddenly looked quite attractive.

The town itself is small and walkable and surrounded by green mountains. Stayed in a great place a little outside the town center (Pai Chan) - lovely bungalows with rice fields outside the windows. The only downer is that it is still burning season up north, so the air is smoky. At one point there were actually flakes falling from the sky - looked like a volcano has erupted nearby! The owners told us that 2 weeks ago they could not even see the mountains nearby. Would be great to go back during the cool, non-burning season. Fantastic place for a little R&R.

One of the activities is hiking to hill tribe villages. After much discussion, we opted not to do this - seemed a little strange to go look at people. Maybe will do it next time with some activity in the villages, so the entire thing does not seem so voyeuristic.

Oh, and I had the best massage of my life at the Pai Massage Center. Still glowing.