Saturday, December 21, 2013

Beach Bunny

Not too long ago, Pae and I decided that we wanted to get out of the city for a weekend. It's been hard to do that because of scheduling and because of BunBun. I don't like leaving alone at home for long because of water, food, and who wants to be locked up in a cage for 48 hours?  So I just stay close to home usually.
We decided to go to Jomtien Beach a couple hours south of Bangkok. I was looking online at hotels and found one named Rabbit Resort, the owners names Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit ;)
Of course I had to call them, and they allowed small pets in the rooms for a 500 baht fee (about $15) per night. We loaded BunBun up in the car, in his cage, and headed south.
Jomtien Beach is part of Pattaya, a place I'd been to once with Pae when I was just a tourist here. I avoid Pattaya because of its reputation as well as the fact that I prefer the water and beaches on the western coast of the Gulf of Thailand rather than the eastern side (Hua Hin, Cha-am, etc.).
We made the three(ish) hour drive to Pattaya, Me driving and Pae navigating. Bun was strapped in his cage into the back seat, haha. He had a little trouble with all of the motion, things passing, car stopping and going, so we put a blanket over his cage and he seemed less panicked or scared.
We got to the area where our hotel was and it gave me flashbacks of the painful part of the Pattaya Marathon in 2012. Jomtien Beach is the stretch of the run that was on the beach road, with the sea breeze blowing hard and where both of my hamstrings went "pop" with about ten kilometers left to run! Haha! So, seeing the road again and the beach brought back some memories.
But this trip was about making new memories, and that we did! We had wondered how we would bring Bun out to the beach, because we were afraid that he would run away, run into a pack of dogs, get scooped up by a giant, hungry seabird, or just basically panic with the new surroundings and spaz out and run off.
We stopped at a pet store as we were driving around and we bought a small dog leash and harness for him. It wasn't too difficult to get it around his chubby little body, but it was a challenge, at first, to get him not to try to sprint off while I was holding the leash.
Now, I have laughed at dudes in Central Park in New York for walking their cats on leashes, so I was eating some humble pie at this point. Me, Pae...on the beach...with our rabbit...on a leash, hahaha!! Bun was cute though. At first, he didn't like it at all, being on the beach, until I dug a little pit into the sand and he was able to feel more hidden and more secure.
So instead of building a sand castle on the beach, I spend a lot of time building a network of connecting "moats" minus the castles. Bun felt very comfortable and even had a little friend, naked friend, come visit him, pull his ears, pull his tail and pull his fur for about twenty minutes. If I did that to Bun, he would run away and hide. This kid was just whacking away and Bun just chilled there and took it like a good babysitter! Cute.
The Rabbit Resort was very nice too. Our room was on top floor of a two story set of rooms. The room was big and had a big day bed that Bun spent time on, as well as under the bed. The pool was very nice, mainly because there were two pools at the resort; one for kids and one for adults ;)
We enjoyed our little day away at the beach with BunBun :) We hope to do it again in January of 2014 when we go down for a 25km trail race just outside of Pattaya. I'm sure Bun will enjoy a Saturday at the beach ;)

Day trip to Ayutthaya

A week before the Ayutthaya Marathon, Pae was home and we decided to drive up and make sure that I knew the lay of the land and get a visual of the place I would be running.
It also served as a chance for us to get out of the house and travel a little bit here at home, in Thailand. I've been here seven years and this would be the first time in Ayutthaya even though the city is so close to Bangkok and pretty much part of any tourist's sightseeing itinerary.
Pretty amazing that I've been an hour away from it and this was my first time.
Ayutthaya is the ancient capital of Thailand and is now full of ruins. The ruins are temples, palaces, walls and pretty much everything you would imagine. As it turns out, historically, the city was destroyed by the Burmese in raids and wars back some 400-500 years ago.
Temples and palaces were sacked and burned. One thing that stuck out to me was that most of the Buddha statues were headless. Pae explained to me that back then, gold was held in the heads of the statues as the head is seen as the highest part of the body and most sacred. That's why it's very rude to touch anyone's head here in Thailand. So, as the Burmese sacked the ancient city of Ayutthaya, they ripped the heads off of all of the statues of Buddha.
I'm sure as the city was being sacked, some of the residents also made off with some of the city's gold or their personal gold hidden in the Buddha heads
There are literally hundreds of temples and ruins in the old city area of Ayutthaya. We passed an apartment complex and a small strip mall. Between them was an old dilapidated brick structure. Just right between the two modern structures...
The famous Buddha head in a fig tree at Wat Mahathat
It was quite a change from Bangkok. The life there seemed more laid back, even with tourist flocking there in their hundreds per day. We actually found parking at two of the temples we went to and nobody came to us asking for a parking fee. This is unheard of in Bangkok. Heck, you have to pay to use a public toilet here!
Scaffolding just to hold this spire up. Perhaps they will fix it up a bit.
Another cool and sobering thing that we saw was waterlines from the flood that struck two years ago. Our neighborhood was under a good foot and a half of water for over a month back then.
Flood line in Ayutthaya. Also notice the cost of 5 baht to use the "TOILEL" (Toilet)
What we saw in Ayutthaya was just ridiculous. I swear the waterlines must have been nearly two meters high in places.
We love to eat. Tried the river prawns at a restaurant in Bang Pa-In.
We even ate at a restaurant on the river in Bang Pa-in, near Ayutthaya. The river was about four to five meters below the restaurant...yet there was a waterline in the restaurant that was still over my head! Meaning that the water was over 6-7 meters higher in 2011 than on the day we went!
We didn't stick around too long. We visited the two temples/palace and decided to head back to Bangkok. We said that we will make a list of the places of interest in Ayutthaya and eventually cross them all off as we make day trips every now and then in the future.
We recently got a car so that Pae could get to work more easily. That's its main function, duty and purpose. But having a car has made it so much easier for us to pick up and drive in whatever direction and explore more of Thailand!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A quick one for Auntie Judy

Hi Auntie! Lots of stuff going on here with midterms at my school and Pae having a few days off. Just wanted to quickly give you a preview of a post that will be coming soon about my marathon on Sunday; The Ayutthaya Marathon! 3:29:50 after the official results came out! 8th place overall (not so many runners as there was no prize money). 5th place age group (trophy!) Eric also had an awesome day. I'll post more about it in the coming weeks, just wanted to send you a picture...Love ya!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Three Bangkok Marathons in Two Years

Sometimes I forget that we ran the Bangkok Marathon 2011 in February of 2012 because of the floods here in Bangkok. I looked back at all of the photos we've gotten from race photographers and I thought it would be funny to look at a collage of our past three Bangkok Marathons.

Our first one of course was quite anti-climactic, but memorable! For both of us it was our first and we ran it together. We finished in a miserable 5:17 and felt every ounce of pain the final 10-12km. We still laugh when we think of our faces as captured by the photographers near the finish line.
Our second one was much better and we both ran under 4 hours. Eric ran a smooth, steady race but I started too fast and paid at the end. I was feeling good though when the bridge photo was taken.

Our third one was just this past Sunday. We both knocked 10+ minutes off of our personal bests and had solid runs.

Can't wait to start training for our fourth Bangkok Marathon!

Random Things of Late

Here are a couple random things that I thought I'd throw up here.

On the way back from Chaing Kan, we passed a garden place near Bangkok. Yes we got sheep and yes they are happy in our garden! Never stop smiling those sheep!
Since I started running long distance, I can't keep the weight on. All of my pants and shorts and even skivies and boxers are falling off of me. My shirts drape over my shoulders and lately, my wedding ring has been falling off of my ring finger during runs and while I sleep. I had to wear it on my middle finger last night as I slept.
N'Geng moved in with Pae and me. He is one of the cousins and is going to school here in Bangkok for the next few years. He was living in a dangerous area, without a bed of his own and a long ways from his school, a commute that would require a walk, a motorcycle, a water taxi and subway and another motorcycle twice a day. Living here with us, we lose a little privacy, but we know that he is safer here, he has his own room, and his commute is now a bit less since we live pretty close to the subway. Life's all about family. One rule though, he must learn how to make the famous sausage and potatoes!! Hahaha!
Our orchid came back to life. Well, it never died, but it hadn't bloomed since we bought it. It's been with us almost a year maybe, but has not given flowers in like 10 months. They're tricky because they only like a certain amount of sunlight. Now it has four little sprigs from which orchids are currently blooming, and some cute ferns are growing out of the holes in the planter as well ;)
Our car got it's first flat tire. I'll have to take it tonight with N'Geng to get it fixed. I'll take Geng to make sure I don't get cheated on the cost of repairing the tire. Sad to have to do, but it's the smart thing to do. A white face here, in the eyes of a not so nice person, is a face that can be taken advantage of. We'll get the "Thai price" with Geng there.
And finally, I've posted this pic before, but with Pae home, the whole week or two has been a giant highlight, but having her waiting at the finish of my marathon was the icing on the cake <3 She had to get up (didn't sleep actually) to meet Eric's wife by 4:30am to get to the finish line around when we'd be showing up 5:30-5:45am (Crazy to finish the marathon before 6 in the morning!)

Loy Kratong 2013

Marathon day here in Thailand also just happened to fall on Loy Kratong Day (see here for our first couple Loy Kratong Days together, 7 and 4 years ago?) I had forgotten that Loy Kratong was usually on the November Full moon. I should have figured it out as I was runnning the out leg of the Marathon at 2:00 am, with the full moon leading the way. I looked at that shiny disk in the sky for some 20km until the course did a u-turn back into town. But it never dawned on me that it was Loy Kratong Day!

Later, after a long nap and some food, Pae asked if we were gonna Loy Kratong or "float" a Kratong this year. It's not often that we are able to do it together since Pae started working, so it was a great idea and I had honestly forgotten the holiday all together. I tend only to remember the holidays that fall on work days ;)

We have Loy Kratong'ed <----Thinglish--- in the Chao Phraya River, in Klong Saen Saep and in Lumpini Park. This year we didn't really want to go far but what do ya know, Pae checked on the internet and they were keeping all public parks open late for the festival. We live 2 kilometers away from the park where I run at, Chatuchak Park or JJ Park as I call it.

We got dressed, me in my goofy Marathon Finisher shirt that I had earned much earlier that day, and took the subway two stops to JJ. We weren't sure if there would be people selling the banana tree Kratongs or not, but we figured that where there was a chance for someone to make money, they would be there.
We emerged though, out of the subway, to the beautiful sight of Khom, or lanterns, rising into the dark night sky from JJ. Khom are very traditional in the north, but people bring them down to Bangkok this time of year also. You can see the occasional khom or two in the sky, but never quite the quantity like in Chiang Mai up north. But the sky above JJ had a steady stream of 20-30 Khom the entire time we were there! It was quite pretty.

We immediately found a Khom hawker and got a larger one for under $3 US. We decided to send our Khom into the night sky with wishes and to take away some of the bad from the past year, and then go get a more traditional floating Kratong. It took our Khom a little while to heat up sufficiently to float away as the basica structure of it is wire wrapped in paper.
Ours was a little heavy, but as soon as the fire got going pretty good inside the Khom, it floated slowly moonward. We watched, staring into the surprisingly clear night sky, as our Khom danced upward and in a southerly direction, dodging other Khom along the way and adding to the beauty of the Festival's night sky.

We also watched as some Khom came perilously close to getting stuck in tree branches, while some took dives into the JJ ponds and while others caught fire half way up into the night and came down in a slow, firey nose dive into whatever or whoever was below. That's one of the things people dislike about the Khom is that eventually it has to come down. SOmetime it comes down and is still on fire. Sometimes the fuel that burns in the center of the Khom drips fire on spectators below. It was kind of a nervous time every time one went overhead.

As we lost sight of our Khom, we went outside of the park to find a Kratong to Loy (float). Wee picked one that looked like it wouldn't capsize, paid our $2 US for it (60 baht) and found a relatively quiet and not crowded part of the pond to Loy it.
As is tradition, we cut fingernails and placed under the bed of flowers on the Kratong. We also cut a lock of hair and positioned it likewise.
We lit the candle and the incense, said a prayer/made a wish and sent out Kratong on its journey to the other side of the pond ;) We kinda forgot to thank the Goddess of Water during our prayer/wish, but that's okay, we meant well ;)

It was a very nice evening and unexpected fun was had by Pae and Guy, Puppy and Piggy.

Chiang Kan- Flowers and Such

Here's another post related to our trip to Chiang Kan. While Pae and I walked around the boardwalk area and Walking Street, we took some photos of the trees and flowers. It was right after the rain, so it was really fresh and pretty.

Included are photos of mostly flowers that we saw. The boardwalk area is kind of a little cruddy and worn down looking, but even a beautiful flower can grow among the litter and dilapidated concrete structures that are nothing more than eye sores that nobody wants to take care of.

To be fair, there was a sign near a riverfront park that appeared to show a construction project that would clean up and widen the boardwalk. That would be great, Boardwalk during the day and Walking Street at night. They run parallel to each other, only separated by a row of businesses and hotels.

The camera on my iPhone is pretty useless these days so I kept borrowing Pae's phone to take pictures ;)

We looked at a lot of the homes or buildings that had trees and flowers and vines growing up the walls or hanging from the terraces. We are kind of getting an idea of how we want our eventual house to look, not the house necessarily, but more the garden outside and a veranda-type area at the front or sides, of course, well decorated with plants.

We even caught some of the local wildlife out perched up on a car, hunting its morning meal ;) Fun walk with my Pae.

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