Monday, May 16, 2016

One of our favorite meals at Chatuchak Market

This is not a food blog, but a few weeks ago when Anne passed through Bangkok for the first time, I took her to a place (literal hole in the wall) that Pae and I really like to eat. I don't even know the name of the place to be honest ;) although it's in this picture on the white sign.

Not sure why it is so good, I got very sick the first time I ever ate it ten years ago. But now, it's must eat fare anytime we are in the area. It is sooooooo hot where you wait for your food and eat, but the food is absolutely worth the discomfort. I didn't take photos when I ate it with Anne, but a week later, Pae and I went again and here are some of the things we love to eat there!
Larb Moo or Spicy Pork Salad. This is a northeastern Thailand dish. The region is called Isaan, so the food is also called Isaan food. This is one of my favorite Larbs in Bangkok. Sour, crunch with the Khao Khua or crushed roasted rice mixed in. I especially love the sourness of this dish. Sometimes it's too spicy for me, but I eat it anyway.

Tom Yam Gung or Shrimp Tom Yam Soup. Very Thai, full of herbs such as lemongrass, galangal, basil, etc. (some people put basil, not most). This particular place puts bamboo shoots in it too, which add a crunch and flavor that is just perfect. Funny, it's so hot at the restaurant, yet we still eat piping hot, spicy food there!

Thai Omelet! Yeah, this is one of the champions of Bangkok. SO simple, eggs, ground pork, onions and whatever spices they throw in the egg (salt, MSG, etc.) They just throw the whole concoction in super hot oil and it gets all puffy like this. Oily, but so good! I like to drip my Tom Yam on it and eat it with rice.

This is "Hoy Krang" which is a certain kind of clam. This particular one is boiled or steamed and ends up having a very bloody look to each clam. There is a spicy dipping sauce that comes with each one. Pae loves these cooked medium, not overcooked. I can't eat these just because of the bloody look ;)

Well, let it be known that if you are ever here in Bangkok (on the weekend, only open Sat. Sun.) and you wanna eat something pretty authentic, we'll try to take you here! Over the past ten years, we've watched the family business continue to be successful and watched their boys grow from buggar-picking busboys to strong, hard working young men.

Dropping coins in 108 brass bowls at Wat Pho for good luck

Here is the video of the week from Anne's visit to Thailand. We took her (and ourselves) to Wat Pho and Wat Arun here in central Bangkok. Pae and I have never even been to Wat Pho before so it was very nice and visually stunning to be truthful ;) This video is taken directly behind the Reclining Buddha that is housed in this structure that we are in.

I'll tell more about the actual temple (wat) in another post. I just wanted to share this (lengthy) video of the girls dropping coins into 108 bowls for good luck. The coins are probably pennies (value-wise) but you make a donation of 20 baht for the pre-prepared bowls of coins. Looks Like Pae's bowl might have been a few coins short ;) The temple just recycles the coins. It is said that doing this will give good luck but the donations also help in the upkeep and maintenance of the temple and temple grounds.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

My teachers

It sounds strange to say "My teachers" but as all of the Department heads, Head office and other International Principal, etc., keep calling them "Your teachers" and I have responsibility for and to them, I guess I'll call them mine ;)
This is all of us, minus two who were at orientation
The international principal (IP) has been a real change for me so far, and it is taking up most of my time at school. So much stuff that I never had to worry about when I was just teaching. Life as a teacher, even when I had max contact hours with the students, was relaxed and chill compared to the IP role.

We'll find out, tomorrow when classes start, if I'll be able to handle the IP role plus teaching sixth grade science 8 times a week and all that comes with the teaching.

Monday is the first week of proper classes and I was just informed that the Thai principal and the Vice principal are going to be gone all week at a seminar, leaving me in charge of the whole to day running of the school they call it ;) FOR A WEEK, the FIRST WEEK!! Aaaaarrrrgghhhhhh!!

I hope the place doesn't burn down!!! I've spent all week putting out proverbial fires, truth be told...steep learning curve...still at the bottom!!

The school is relatively quiet when we are here as teachers preparing for the term. I posted some of these photos on Facebook labeled "The calm before the storm".

There always has to be a "goofy" picture during photo day
So, tomorrow it begins. Good luck teachers, good luck students. GET SOME!!!!

Suanpruek 10hr Ultra Marathon 2016

Another ten hours running in loops! This year's Suan Pruek 10hr Ultramarathon was at the same venue as two years ago, when I last ran it. I enjoy this race and hope to be able to participate annually.
I'll keep this post short(ish), just like the amount of time that I spent running during this ten hour competition ;)
We had a Bangkok Runners support team come out to help the hours go by more comfortably. In fact, most of us would have been unable to participate if it wasn't for a Bangkok Runner couple who contacted the organizers weeks before registration opened to try to get us "reserved" registrations. Last year, I missed the race because it sold out in four days. This year, it sold out in four hours!!! We had 25 slots reserved for our team thanks to the legwork and calling and emailing of two of our members! On top of getting us all registered, they set up our tents and organized the support. Lots of hard work born out of love for our club. Thank you to them a thousand times.
This dude got harassed plenty by some of the male runners, cat calling and yelling out, "Mmmmm, I'd like some donuts"
One thing that bothered most running groups was that a certain group, not to be named in this post, tried to reserve 400 spots for their runners. The organizers ended up giving them 200 slots, which many feel is still too many when the limit is usually 600 runners. What was worse, this club tried to limit other clubs to 50 runners each, even though they had requested words...
Runner in Black Face? Whatever he is, he's stacked!!
If the venue was bigger, then there would be room for thousands of runners, but the race is run around a 2.1 kilometer loop in a public park. The running surface is maybe 3 meters wide. Perhaps one thing that makes the run so nice is that they have allowed the perfect amount of runners each year, not too many, not too few.
Bangkok Runners overall male 2nd and 5th place trophies! Our girls placed 1st overall and 5th overall women (and first overall of the entire race!)
I had hoped to hit 80 kilometers this year. Two years ago i got 86km, but I'm in poor shape lately and just wanted to go out and put in a good effort. 80 sounded reasonable!! I ran with Matty, the eventual fifth place male runner, for the first three hours. I hit 50km about 30 minutes later than I had goaled and was walking the final five hours.
I guess there should be at least one photo of me actually running ;) Hard race for me because of the chest pain. Next time!!

My walking was a result of me getting a cramp or pain in my chest close to my heart area. It's happened before during shorter training runs, so I was familiar with it, but unable to continue running. Better safe than sorry.
The temperatures hit 47 degrees Celsius. Hot. Eventually, after long walk breaks, I would try to run again. After literally 15 steps, the chest pain would come back, just as strong as before. I was either going to have to call it a day early, for health reasons, or just plod my way through the final hours of the race.
I had already seen three people taken away on stretchers (all three recovered in nearby hospitals and are home now according to race organizers) so I wasn't even sure about walking, considering the location of the pain in the chest.
Pae came for the last hour and it was nice to see her even though I felt bad to be walking ;) Prior to her arrival, I had stopped at the Bangkok Runners tents after every lap to get some food and drink. While there, I took time to stretch my legs and sponge off with ice water, try to keep my body temperature down in the killer heat.
This dude changed costumes three times during the race, but his running shoe of choice was flip flops!!
During these stops, I would give an update to one of the girls in my tent who was supporting not just by pouring water, opening bottles, digging through bags, etc. but helping emotionally as well ;)
Any water was welcomed. Small shower on the course.
I kept telling her (sorry, I don't know her name but I know she is a Bangkok Runner and part of the timing team) that I was waiting for my wife to arrive so I could quit walking and go home early. This was with about three hours to go and I still hadn't even passed the 63km required to earn a participation trophy. Lap after lap I updated her and looked for Pae anywhere nearby...Luckily, she came with an hour to go, as mentioned earlier. This got me past my 63km without quitting.
I like this race because it doesn't just give everybody a participation medal. You have to EARN your participation trophy ;) I actually got a great big hug from Pae after I finished!! Usually, all sweaty and rank, I get no hugs hahaha!! I don't blame anyone for avoiding 10hr nasty sweat hugs. I think she knew that I needed some love, I was hurting, mostly mentally and emotionally after this race.
Eric also came for the last 6km or so of my race. That's about an hour ;) I walked the whole time with Eric until the last hundred meters when I was peer pressured into running to the finish line. I felt bad about that, not because I ran like a dork over the finish after 5+ hours of walking, but because, I left Eric in the last 100 meters. I'm really glad that he came even though we were only able to spend an hour or so together. RUNNING PARTNERS AND FRIENDS FOR LIFE!! *In my best thug/rap voice*
I got my 30 laps trophy and Top 100 shirt. Yay! I'm still alive. Yay! I got to see Eric and his knee seems to be doing well. Yay!! Pae was there so got to share another race with her. Yay!!  I ran/walked smart and didn't push my body (heart?) past its limit. Listened to my body for once. Yay! Probably should go to the hospital for precautionary checkup on the heart. Boooo!!
I hope to run it again next year, not to beat my 77.7km that I ran/walked this year, but to enjoy the atmosphere. This is one of my favorite races!I am past the point of "competing" for top places, although I think if I had ran more than walked this year I would have been top 10 according to the top 15 results ;) What I mean is the mental side of "competing". This race reminds me that the atmosphere and the running community is worth the registering and paying for the race. Worth the training (lazy training) in the months leading up to the race, and ultimately makes actually going out there and running in circles for 10 hours so worth it!!

Uncle dude was there again this year, ten hours non-stop, clapping for the runners.
Did I want to quit? Yup. Was the desire to quit 100% based on my fear of physical problems that I could be experiencing? Nope, eventually I just wanted to be done with it. Mostly because I didn't wanna die, but slowly I just became disinterested in suffering any longer than I had to. Honestly. But I didn't quit and I didn't die. Mostly due to my decision to walk, Pae arriving, Eric walking with me and the supporters in our team tent cheering, listening and understanding what I was going through physically, mentally and emotionally.
I enjoyed the experience and now that I'm safe and healthy and recovered from the effort, I'm very satisfied with my race and my decisions on the day. I am happy to be a part of the running community here in Thailand and have those ties. I am slowly accepting the fact that I'm getting older and the natural deterioration of the body and therefore speed, endurance and recovery time is real and I'm experiencing it presently. I'm okay with that ;)

I love running.

Aloha and run safe.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Exterior Update

Here is the latest progress on the exterior of Aloha Home ;) It looks like they have gotten all of the hand rails installed and the long parts of the rails that go from floor to ceiling also have been filled with concrete.

I worry about that, as I envision the metal hand rails vibrating and the cement eventually cracking on these vertical parts. We'll have to keep a good eye on that over the years. I'm not engineer though, so what do I know ;)

Also, you might notice on the left side (south side?) of the apartment, third floor, the "sun screens" are partially installed. These will block some of the morning sun from heating up the rooms too much and also close up the space, "framing" each floor a little. It's as much for looks as it is for functionality I think.

I think once all of the sun screens are installed we will have a good idea of how Aloha home is going to look, basically. Doors and windows would also help in that regard ;) and a good paint job of course. So much to look forward to!!

Anne's Here!

Just a quick post with a few quick pictures. A week or so ago, Anne (my sister) arrived in Bangkok, just passing through on her way to the southern islands here in Thailand. She was here for a couple days and I had a chance to spend half a day with her.
Break time at Chatuchak Weekend Market
Considering I see family members once every ten years or so, this was a very rare opportunity for me, for us, to hang out. I know they've probably been to a hundred temples, but the first place I took them was a temple that Pae and I go to a couple times per also happened to be less than a kilometer from their hotel.
Not Anne's hotel, but a good photo op, especially since we had totally spaced taking pix when we first met up near her apartment. Long time no see hugs when you first see each other for the first time in years are always special :)

We donated a coffin at the temple, "tam boon" or asked for blessings, fed the cattle, talked to a clingy but nice old volunteer worker and even bough lottery tickets on the temple grounds ;) **The lottery tickets weren't winners though**
Rob banging the drum, asking permission to enter the temple according to the volunteer
After the temple, we went to have lunch at a hole in the wall place where Pae and I eat whenever we are in the area near Chatuchak, where I run. From there we figured we'd walk through my park (2km) to the supermarket and buy wine...forgetting that there are strict time periods during the day when alcohol isn't sold. Good exercise though ;)
Donating a coffin at Hua Lampong Temple
Even though it was only one day and a ride to the airport on the way out, it was great. Unfortunately Pae was working but on Anne's way back through Bangkok onto her next destination, we will be able to spend time together, the four of us. **And perhaps I'll be able to point out a Lady Boy to Rob ;)
Placing incense in one of 6 bowls for blessings
Another week until that happens ;) Can't wait!

Bathrooms Being Tiled

Long time since an update on the apartment, right? This last month was a pretty big holiday month with Thai New Year or Songkran taking up an entire week ;) Even with the holidays, they've gotten a lot done in the rooms.

The latest update we got from Dad and P'Pong was concerning the bathrooms. The wall tiles in the bathrooms on the third floor are finished already and the second floor should be finished soon. By the weeks end, all bathrooms should be fully tiled (walls).
From what I remember, this window hole in each bathroom didn't exist as of a month ago. I'm sure it's something P'Pong and P'Neung added (subtracted, haha) as they went along. Needs some ventilation, so this hole should work.
This is the pattern that Pae and I liked immediately when we walked into the showroom. Looks nice. I thought they would do the tile halfway up the wall then just paint the rest white, similar to the way our bathroom is in the house we rent. But they went from floor to ceiling ;) I guess the floors are next but not sure if it will be before or after the sinks and toilets are installed. We'll surely keep you in the loop...
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