Friday, November 4, 2011

If Only

Well, it's November in Fairbanks, and winter is here. We have snow on the ground & have already had below zero temperatures. The plan is to stay home this winter & we're starting to focus on our indoor projects.

I thought - how about a blog? - and here I am! As I was going thru some photos from Thailand, I came across these three. After a few minutes of feeling sad about missing these friends & feeling sorry for myself about not going away from winter this year, & missing Thailand, I got a grip & decided they would make a sweet blog entry - a lovely afternoon of lunching with the ladies.

So here we are. Eva, on the left originally from Germany, now lives in Chiang Mai. Aase from Denmark, and Beverly from Michigan like to winter in a warmer place & find CM to their liking, and me, the newcomer - I'm learning! We went to a nice little Japanese restaurant, ordered a variety of dishes & had a lovely meal.
Here's a close-up of my meal - it was fabulous! Each little bite was a masterpiece of flavor & texture, and completely different from the previous bite.
It was a lovely afternoon and just a short walk along the moat back home.
I plan to continue posting about our 2010/11 visit to Thailand, and then about our short visit to Australia, too. It was good to get home in the spring, and we had a busy summer working on our cabin as well as lots of other summertime projects. I'll post about that too. Check back!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thai Wedding

Early in December we went to a birthday party for our friend Eva, and there we met Mam & Joe and her parents. They invited us to share their little table & we had fun getting to know each other. Her parents speak very little English, but Mam's is great - she used to work for Korean Air, and now she & Joe have an import/export business in Bangkok. The next thing we knew, we were being invited to their wedding in late January! What a thrill & an honor to be invited to this fancy yet traditional Lanna style Thai wedding.

Here's the entrance to the grounds where the ceremonies & the banquet were held. It all started at 9:00 am!

We signed the guestbook, were offered a silk scarf by these lovely ladies,

and placed our gift/envelope inside this beautifully decorated container,

and had our picture taken!
Here we are with our friend Chiarit, whose wedding we attended on our last visit!

This great flowery peacock couple were a part of the photo-op area.

Here are Mam's parents with some other family members. At this point, Joe greeted us and told us what to expect - he made us feel very welcome!

While Mam waited, Joe along with his family & friends arrived in a noisy procession to bring the dowry to Mam's parents, and to claim his wife. All along the way, he was halted by these little gates held across his path by Mam's friends & family - he had to joke & bribe his way past each one.

And, every step of the way, this lovely lady danced in his path: Temptation!
Here's a short video of the dancer and the procession:
Behind Joe & his parents came his aunt & uncle carrying... cash!

Other family members carried the flowers Mam & Joe would wear all day, and the rings! There were many other items brought in the procession, including food, other jewelry and plants.

The small, noisy band for the procession.

The family members flowed into a large room where Mam & her parents waited, and watched the presentation of the dowry.

Then the photos were taken. Be sure to notice Mam's spectacular outfit - the first of three for the day!

We think this girl was part of the family, but she missed it while she sat putting on make-up the entire time!

Next came a formal ceremony in another large room. The man in white sang a long solemn song with many guests watching. The large flower arrangement was truly amazing!

Next came the string tying ceremony - a ritual that binds the couple together. The lovely white flower arrangement was in fact made up of buds of cotton string instead of flowers! The buds were unwound for each guest as they participated in the ritual.

The guests were encouraged to offer their blessings and advice while tying strings around wrists of the bride & groom. Sada, Beverly & I gave Joe and Mam our best wishes!

Next came the feast! The food was wonderful & our group found a table that turned out to be in the perfect spot - right in front of the entertainment! The couple made the rounds & had photos taken at every table. Top: Ming, Mam, Joe & me. Seated: Eva, Beverly, Sada & Om.
Isn't Mam's second outfit gorgeous?

Here's a short video of some of the dancers.
And another group of lovely dancers!

The band played wonderful music & the British singer was adorable! When she sang Thai songs, the crowd would sing along.

Joe & Mam reappeared during the music. The paparazzi went mad seeing her in this fabulous taupe/brown/gold gown, her third amazing outfit of the day.
Joe looks pretty fabulous too.

I had to add another picture showing the back of the dress as well as the awesome orange orchids in her hair. During this time Joe & Mam posed for photos with many people, including the singer. They surrounded her for the shot while she was singing & it so surprised her that she dissolved into giggles, it was adorable!

Here's a pic with a close-up of the wonderful flower garlands that were part of the dowry and the make-up girl who finally got her look just right!

As we were leaving we wandered through the restaurant connected to the wedding event area. It was filled with very interesting seating areas unique tables & chairs... and this gigantic basket lounge under the golden bamboo! It was heavenly to kick off our shoes & relax inside for a little bit.

It was a wonderful day, and we were so thrilled to be a part of a traditional Thai wedding.
Congratulations to Mam and Joe!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Watch out: THAI FOOD ahead!

It's the FOOD blog! Are you hungry? Feel like cooking? Or ready to run out to your favorite Thai restaurant? These are some of our favorite or memorable dishes of the past few months.
Liz always asks me to email her some food, so I take pictures of the beautiful things we eat. At least twice a day at meals, Sada says, "I can't imagine eating anything more delicious!" Now here's some for you to enjoy.
It's all so delicious - in Thai you say 'Aloy, aloy!'

This is our lunch from a small vegetarian place we found. We had a spicy noodle soup with lots of mushrooms and different pieces of veggie protein, they are crunchy, stringy or chewy - and some look a little uncomfortably close to actual meat. The spring rolls are great, and the little banana leaf boat is a luscious concoction of soft tofu and mushroom topped with coconut cream and basil.
Our latest restaurant discovery is called Burmese Cuisine. Here we have a hot spicy soup and a plate of 'Tofu Meatballs' - crispy on the outside, tender & delicious inside, served with an incredible ginger & garlic sauce.
From another favorite place called 'May Kai-dee' we ordered this warm salad called 'Lemon Eggplant Salad Cashew Nut Spicy Juice'. That about sums it up, delicious! Also fresh rolls with peanut sauce at the top of the pic.
Around Christmas we went out to dinner with friends and this fish dish was ordered - a great presentation!
That same meal we all shared an order of crispy bananas with whiskey (in the glass). Yes, you pour it on & enjoy! (and then slurp the leftover booze off the plate!)
This was my meal at lunch out with the ladies at a Japanese place called 'Gigantea'. Each morsel was a different texture, crunch or flavor. Lots of fun - and delicious!
OK - this is a serious dish. A deeply warm, full flavored curry called 'Kao Soi'. It's the signature dish of northern Thailand & one of our top favorites. It's a yellow noodle soup with crispy noodles on top and chunks of potato, mushrooms & grilled tofu inside. Served on the side is a little dish of lime, scallots & pickled cabbage. So, so good & very satisfying. Aloy aloy.
Aren't these little spring rolls pretty?
Here's more seriously good eating. Khun Churn has a daily lunchtime vegetarian buffet! They have many hot & cold dishes, soups & curries. This first plateful has a lot of salad items including long strands of beet and pumpkin. At the bottom is a clump of crispy green papaya pieces, and baby eggplant. You can seriously over-eat at this place.
They also offer unsweetened teas beautifully served in large glass jugs with flavors like: lemongrass, chrysanthemum, bale, bluebird flower, and roselle.
And there's dessert too. Always a large bowl full of flavored coconut milk with various inclusions (this is hard to describe). One of my favorites was coconut milk with soft chunks of cooked pumpkin. The contrast of textures and flavors was fantastic. The bowl in the picture is large tapioca and little chunks of slightly crunchy Jackfruit (which has a flavor something like banana) in lemony coconut milk.
This was from tonight's dinner. On the left is a little Eggplant salad with tofu, garlic, egg, tomato & mint in lime juice. On the right is crispy morning glory greens and an utterly scrumptious dipping sauce. (a couple of the ingredients in the secret sauce are coconut milk & tom yum paste, mmm....)
A warm mushroom salad.
This is one of our favorite meals: Pad See Yew. Wide rice noodles quickly fried with veggies, squeeze on some lime, add hot peppers & ground peanuts. This nearby street cart does a roaring business every night. They set up a dozen small tables on the sidewalk and in the street, and when we sit down, they look over at us and ask 'Same, same?' Yes, is the answer. It's about $1 a plate. We eat here more than anywhere. Seriously good - aloy, aloy.
Every Sunday evening we go to the Walking Street market. The street is closed to traffic & is lined with vendors selling all kinds of stuff, and the place is packed with people out to shop or just look. The Wats (Buddhist temples) turn into food courts - here are some of the delights we find there. Pretty sushi, and a crunchy rice, peanut, ginger, mint & chili dish, yum.
This is a 'Salim' bar. You choose 4 or 5 items from the colorful bowls, then it's topped with coconut milk, syrup and crushed ice. Some of the things in the bowls are: fruit, beans, tapioca (in various forms), corn, little chunks of bread like croutons, and black herbal jello.
You know, stuff like that.
Our friend Beverly & I had some - it was very tasty & refreshing!
So here we are after nearly 3 months in Chiang Mai - happy, healthy, and somewhat tan. But not any thinner.
The food is just too good, and so delicious - aloy, aloy!!
Are you hungry now?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I love taking pictures of signs.
Some are so sweet, or silly, or just odd & a bit confused.
Like the one I saw today outside a restaurant -
we were driving by too fast to capture it, but it said
'Life up your LOVE'.
I'm pretty sure it was advertising for a Valentine's Day dinner,
but I'm not quite sure what they really meant to say...
Anyway, here are some of my photos of signs
from around Chiang Mai.

Stickers on the bumper of a Tuk-tuk.
This vehicle was covered in all sorts of bumper stickers.
The Alaskans were puzzled by the sentiment on this dress shop window!
Can you read this key tag? 'Snow & Feelings Travel' :)
Let's all meet at the 'Moisture' for a cold one.
Need one?
Outside one of our favorite vegetarian restaurants:
This one had me confused until we realized we were near the University agricultural gardens.
Lots of curbs were recently tagged with this:
There is a big recycling movement to get away from
foam takeout containers - a good sign!
Any idea why these sinks are numbered?
A wall of fun sticky note messages.
This should be a good place to change some money.
This is a very confusing shirt - it says 'FOLLOW... 'something, something... um, I don't know. And the fine print underneath says 'Sesame Street Makery, always ftlled with fun. Feel happy makery pira it. Always Sesame street with fun and because it girl fun with pira street makery and.'
Cute shirt for a cutie!
A restaurant name -
And another - my kind of place!
This one hangs over an empty stall, so we couldn't check out the merchandise, but now we can all wonder about it!