29 December 2007

We got the land!

We are now proud owners of a block of land between Chiang Mai and Mae Rim! It's very exciting and quite unbelievable to actually own land.

Next step is to build a house. We have lots of ideas and lots of people willing to help us with all sorts of skills. It's a bit scary, but mostly very exciting.

These pictures are from November when Sue Blackmore visited.

There is a row of teak trees along the front of the land beside the road.

There is a small channel that runs down one side then along the back of our block. It's man-made (and therefore safe from flooding) and will be excellent for our garden. (How fun!)

It's hard to get an idea of the shape of it from these pictures. The photo of the water is taken from another farm looking across to our land. That's the corner where we will build the house. Actually, it all looks completely different now because we've had it graded. Victor is up there again today with the people who are putting in the posts to mark our boundary lines.

And there is a beautiful gum tree!
The surrounding land is all farmland - very beautiful and peaceful.

There is an adjacent block that's still owned by the bank. (Victor thinks it will be perfect for a soccer field...)

18 December 2007

Our "new" car

In October we decided that our gas-guzzling car had to go. It was great but too expensive to run. And there's mostly just the 2 of us, after all.

So we found another smaller, cuter, (older) car to replace it. We can convert this car to LPG and it will be much cheaper to run. It's a great car with that wonderful old-car vinyl smell.

We intended to then sell the bigger car but found someone who wanted to rent it for a couple of months. Then today we've just handed it over to another visiting family to rent for 2 more months. How great!

Baan Song Sawan Orphanage

Last week Victor and I took the children from Baan Song Sawan ("Shining House", or something close to that) Orphanage to visit the dentist.
The orphanage was begun about a year ago by a couple from our church for 25 Hmong children (one of the hilltribes), all primary school aged.
So 25 children and the 2 of us headed off in the church's 12-seater van! Victor led them in songs all the way - more than an hour by the time we found the place. Thankfully they are delightful children and sing beautifully!
They were a bit more subdued coming home 4 hours later, several having had tooth extractions done...
We didn't take any pictures (as we no longer have a camera), but this is one I took at the orphanage one evening when we visited.

8 December 2007

A Lucy's visit

Aunty Lucy was the first of Rachel's family to come and visit us here in Chiang Mai. It was great to be able to share our life with her, visit Victor's family, and play tourists again.

Here we are in Victor's village: Roman (V's Dad), A Lucy, Ranee (V's Mum), Bee (our wonderful Aussie friend in CM who is now back in Aus), Rachel and James (V's nephew who was his groomsman at our wedding.)

We took A Lucy to see the land we're hoping to buy to build a house on. (To see it on googleearth go to: 18deg54'o4.33''N 98deg58'07.33''E)

Victor's brother Somnuk came to visit (with his new work vehicle.)

Then on the final night before A Lucy flew out she took us to dinner at the Golf Club. A Lucy had the opportunity to give Victor his first ever golf lesson.

And we had a wonderful Thai meal. Victor's friend B was also there. (You've met him before on this blog.)
This was the last photo taken on our camera before it was irrepairably damaged... (but don't worry, we have plenty more material for future blog-posts.)

8 October 2007

Here are the rice fields next to my school. Two of the photos were taken 7 weeks ago when they had just planted the rice.
Now it's all lush and green. It's so beautiful, especially on a day like today when the air is clear from the rain last night.

I can write in Thai!!

I've just finished my Thai lesson. Here is my work from today.
Are you impressed? (I am!)

Mae Sa Elephant Camp

Last month John and Michelle Bell (from Wauchope) came to visit us here in Chiang Mai. It was really great to see them and have some Australian company for a couple of days!
We took them to the Mae Sa Elephant Camp, north of Chiang Mai. It's one of my favourite places (and when you come to visit us we can get you in for free!)

The highlight of the visit is the elephant show where you get to see the elephants parading...

...playing soccer...
and much more! (come and you will see...)
The mahouts are mostly Karen (and therefore mostly Victor's cousins.) It's one mahout and one elephant for life. Their relationship is beautiful.

More of the elephant camp...

Here are some pictures of us after the show posing with the elephants. They are so gorgeous.

And this is all the paintings that were done during our show, all set up for sale.

Finally, the elephants bathing in the river. Aren't they beautiful?! They obviously love bathing.

12 September 2007

Ratchapeuk Gardens

I wrote this blog entry in early September, saved it as a draft, and then forgot about it. I though it worth publishing even though it's old news now...

This was another day off outing. Ratchapeuk is a spectacular garden/flower/architectural show that opens in Chiang Mai over the cool season. During August it was open free to locals because it's not really ready for visitors yet. It made a lovely day out for us.

There are lots of examples of Thai architecture from different parts of Thailand and different eras. This is Rachel on the second story of a Lanna-style house (northern Thailand including Chiang Mai.) And Mum, can you tell what that is I'm carrying? An essential part of every good picnic!

Victor is outside some Central Thai houses.

There were some plants looking beautiful.

And this is Victor with our car in disguise. (Can you spot it?)

Victor preaching

This is Victor preaching in a Karen village church about 2 hours from Chiang Mai. (That's on a motorcycle on bad, mountain roads.)
As one of his responsibilities at our church he goes once a month to visit the villages in this area. He preaches, encourages, takes medicines (it's a long walk to the nearest doctor so villagers tend to go without basic medication), cuts children's hair, prays, and generally helps out however he can.
I'm not sure why these photos ended up in one like this but I thought it looked great so I'm sharing it with you.


Today I finished learning the last of the Thai alphabet! Tomorrow is my exam to see if I pass Kindergarten...

I've really loved learning this new alphabet. I think all that I'm good at is best demonstrated in Kindy - remembering lots of details, writing neat little letters over and over. And I still love the teacher's praise just as much this time round!

Here is a sample of my homework book... the first letter of the Thai alphabet: 'g'. Every letter in the alphabet has a matching word. 'g' has 'gai' (chicken).

't, patak' - makes a sound half way between English t and d. There are 44 consonants in Thai.

Numbers 5 - 9. Thankfully Arabic numerals are used much more than Thai. But sometimes things are cheaper if you can read the Thai numbers...

A sample of vowels. The vowels are ridiculous. There are 35 vowels (actually there are different ways to count the vowels, but I've learnt 35.)

And Victor and Khaw resting while I do my homework.

30 August 2007

our kitchen

This is to show you what our kitchen was like when we moved in. This photo is taken from roughly the same position as the photo below of Victor and B sitting at our kitchen table - the one where you can see the fridge and sink.
That yellow pipe is the electricity and the blue one is water.
The floor is tiled and the walls are cement.
I think we've improved things somewhat, don't you?

28 August 2007

Some of the kids from the orphanage watching the games... ...and cheering on their team!!
Then there was the som-tam making competition. Som-tam is a spicy and sour papaya salad that's a Thai-favourite Thai dish. The judging panel were all non-Thais. (I hadn't been given any warning that I was to do this. First I knew was when my name was called out over the microphone! Thankfully Victor was there to translate.)
The spiciest som-tam I've ever tasted! SO HOT!!! My mouth was burning for hours!!

Mothers' Day at church

Mothers' Day is a big deal in Thailand. It's celebrated on the Queen's birthday. Our church had a special games day. We always all have lunch together after the morning service (about 100 people). On Mothers' Day this was followed by games until about 5pm. You can see the enthusiasm of our worship leader.
A special song for Mums. Most of the children in this 'choir' live in an orphanage run by one of our church members. They come to church every week. Can you spot Victor? (He passed himself off as a big kid. Fair enough.)
At the end of the service all the Mums came forward and we prayed for them. Then all their children came and prayed for their own Mum, and the Mums blessed their children. I though of my Mum and cried.

Victor's Mum stayed with us for the weekend of Mothers' Day so that Victor could bring her to our church celebrations.

Let the games begin! Red vs White, with Victor the ref in black.

(more pics of games in the next blog entry...)

Our car!

Yes, it's huge, isn't it?!
It is such a blessing. Great in the rain and the heat (has aircon), good for visitors (do come and try it out), good on mountain roads.
This was its much-needed first wash. The car is on the road and I am taking the photo from the front of the house. Those gates close and lock for security.