People at the Sunday Night Market

The market is nothing if it's not people. Some people are buying, and some people are selling. This was the lady who sold Jacen his noodles. There were also a variety of street performers, playing for money. Some, like this blind guy playing a guitar-thing, had a disability of one sort or another. Others, like this traditional Thai dancer, were talented at what they did.

090726 Sunday Night Market

Food at the Sunday Night Market

While we were at the Sunday Night Market, we ate dinner. It wasn't a sit-down-at-a-restaurant kind of meal, but more like a buy-it-from-a-street-vendor-and-eat-it-as-you-go dinner. We gave each of the kids 50 baht and let them buy what they wanted. Emmy started with ice cream, while Jacen started with noodles. They sold a little bit of everything here. Ann and I bought a chicken kabob, a pork sausage, a fried banana, a coke, a schwarma (Lebanese food in Chiang Mai, I swear!), fried spring rolls, a coke, and two ice creams, all for $4. Not bad.

090726 Sunday Night Market

Just in case you're wondering, these are eggs cooking in banana leaves over an open grill.

The Sunday Night Market

There are several well-known markets in Chiang Mai. We visited the Night Bazaar and the Warorot Day Market shortly after arriving, and a couple days ago we finally got a chance to visit the Sunday Night Market. A friend showed us where to park, then we were off. If the Night Bazaar attracts foreigners, then the Sunday Night Market attracts locals; the vast majority of shoppers were Thai.

The Sunday Night Market is one long street, closed to traffic and stretching from the east side of the moat all the way to the west. The sidewalks are jammed with vendors and the road itself is full of shoppers.

A little bit of everything is for sale: clothes (Ann bought a skirt), paintings, wood work, jewelry, toys (Jacen got a slingshot), decorations, and more. Some of the more interesting items are the hand-crafted ones, such as these letter-holders:

090726 Sunday Night Market

Or these decorative containers of flowers hand-carved from soap:

090726 Sunday Night Market

TimeCapsule and Bonjour Rocks

We have 2 computers, an iMac and an Inspiron 9300 running XP. When we moved over here, we didn't have any room in our suitcases for a printer, so we did without. But Ann really needs one for our homeschool, so we finally bought a Canon Pixma MP145, the Asia counterpart to the MP140. This little all-in-one printer/scanner/copier is not particularly amazing or featured, but it's sufficient for our needs.

Problem: We want to be able to print to our printer from both computers, and we don't want to have to leave one computer on all the time just to be a print-server. Soluntion: TimeCapsule. We originally bought TimeCapsule to be a wireless backup solution for our data, but it also just happens to be print-server as well. (It's also a wireless router.) So here's what I did:

1) I went to Canon's website and downloaded the drivers for both PC and Mac.
2) I connected the printer to the Mac and installed the drivers, then did the same for the PC. This verified the printer was working and that I had the right drivers. And if I ever need to connect the printer directly to a computer, I'm ready.
3) I installed the latest version of Bonjour on the PC. Bonjour allows computers to automatically discover resources on a network.
4) I connected the printer to the USB port on the TimeCapsule.
5) On my iMac, I looked at the list of available printers, and there it was. I set it as the default printer and was done.
6) On the PC, I ran the printer wizard that comes with Bonjour. It found the printer on the network, so I selected it and made it the default printer. Done.

Couldn't have been easier!

Buying Rope

A friend took me to Global House yesterday, a home supply place kinda like Home Depot or Lowe's in the States. When he went to buy some rope, we found something interesting: They don't sell rope by the meter, they sell it by the kilogram. That's different.

4th of July

The consulate in Chiang Mai and the local VFW chapter hosted a 4th of July event this year. There was food to eat, drinks to drink (including Dr. Pepper), games to play, music to listen to, and fireworks to watch. They did an excellent job, and we had lots of fun even though we are far from our home country.

090704 4th of July

The Faces of China

I want to conclude my posts on China with a pictures of some of the people we saw.

090629 Chinese Faces

090629 Chinese Faces

090629 Chinese Faces

090629 Chinese Faces

My Children were like Rock Stars in China

Everywhere we went, people stared at us. And it wasn't a polite-staring-out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye-and-then-look-away kind of stare. Oh no, it was STARING. But as much as people stared at Ann and I, they stared at the kids far more often. But for some staring wasn't enough, they wanted pictures, too. A few examples:

We were in the domestic terminal of a Chinese airport, sitting in an area by ourselves while waiting for our flight, when a young Chinese girl came up to Ann and began to play charades. We realized that she wanted Ann to take her picture with Jacen and Emmy. Yeah, she wanted her picture taken with complete strangers, simply because the strangers were American kids. Brown hair, blue eyes, speak English. This was a foretaste of things to come.

We were walking in a department store one afternoon when a Chinese family spied our kids. They pulled our kids over next to their own kids and began taking pictures. No, they didn't ask permission; they just did. Soon their extended family was involved in taking pictures in the make-up section of the store.

One of the breaks during our bide ride in the dark was at an outdoor aquarium store. Emmy and I were standing there looking at the strange fish when suddenly one of the bikers came over, picked Emmy up, hoisted her onto his shoulder and walked off. Scared Emmy; scared me. Until I saw the cameras. A crowd instantly gathered around them, and several people started taking pictures.

Our kids found all this to be a bit intimidating, as you might imagine, but all things considered they handled it gracefully. They learned to smile, wave, and say hello, even when they just wanted to be left alone. I suppose now they have a small sense of what it's like to be famous, and I think they are glad to be back home, where they are safely anonymous and few people stare.

An Ah-ha Moment in China

Ann and I both had the same ah-ha moment in China, though at different times. While going down the street in a tuk-tuk, we suddenly realized that they drive on the *right* side of the road. We are so used to driving on the left here in Chiang Mai that it took us a few days to even realize that things were different.

Eating in China

The food we ate China, while spicy, wasn't all that tasty. Some dishes were certainly very good, but overall I personally think the food here in Thailand is yummier. When we ate "Chinese" food in America, we typically ate at take-out places, but the Chinese restaurants we saw and ate at were all sit-down. What made the meals interesting is that they eat family style, putting the dishes on a giant lazy-susan in the middle of the table. So when you want something, you just spin it around until the dish you want is in front of you. Here's the really interesting part: there are no serving utensils. The same chopsticks you eat with are the same chopsticks you serve yourself with. Yep, not real sanitary, but that's what they do.

Many of the places we ate at came with a set of dishes that were wrapped in cellophane. Apparently they save money by sending their dirty dishes to another company, which washes them and returns them packaged. Many of the restaurants also had private dining rooms, which you could rent for an additional cost. So if you want to have a quiet, private place to eat and talk--or if you don't want to deal with the smoke (yes, they still smoke in restaurants)--you can get your own room.

Biking in the Dark in China

While we were in a China someone asked us to take a bike ride with them. That sounded nice and easy (heh!), so we agreed. Around 7pm we took a taxi to a bike shop where he rented two-seater bikes for us and some of his friends. We actually had 3 people on our bikes, cause we put the kids on an extra seat on the back. By the time we started, it was already dark; it's a really weird feeling to be bike riding around a foreign city in the dark. It wasn't too unsafe, because the main roads in the downtown area have these service roads to the side that mopeds and bikes and tuk-tuks and tuk-tuk bikes use; this kept us away from (most of) the motorized traffic.

After biking about 20 minutes, we pulled into another bike rental place where we found a much larger group of bikers waiting. It turns out that this was a bike club preparing for their regular biking excursion; our adventure had only just begun! We biked, and we biked, and we biked. They went out of town, onto small, dark roads, and then back in. As these bikes were not exactly up to Olympic standards--and neither were our bodies for that matter--it didn't take too long for several parts of our bodies to be pain. Fortunately we did have some water, and they took breaks from time to time.

After a couple hours, our host broke our group away from the peleton and diverted us to a place to eat. We sat around outside munching on seeds (pumpkin, I think), peanuts, spicy-squid-on-a-stick, and clams. Of course, there were some things we didn't munch on like the snails, the eggplant (it was unbelievably slimy looking), and something vaguely seaweed-like. We drank Coke--they drank beer--and talked for over an hour.

Finally it was time to return home. Boy, oh, boy was it hard to get back up on that bike. My posterior was incredibly sore, and I could not find any position that was comfortable. In the end, we made it back safely; we had been gone four-and-a-half hours! I couldn't sit in chair without pain for 2 days. But what an experience!

Learning Chinese Chess

One day we went to a local park, a place where older Chinese people tend to hang out and play games. They play card games, board games, mahjong, and others, many of which we couldn't identify. They didn't just play the games, they were really into them. Every game had a small crowd of people around watching and giving advice.

090622 Seniors in the Park

Several of the Chinese men took an interest in Jacen, and eventually one volunteered to teach him Chinese chess, a variant of international chess. (You can learn more about Chinese chess in this Wikipedia article.) Jacen had read about the game, but never played, so he agreed. Not long after a table had been set up and Jacen sat down to play.

090622 Seniors in the Park

Before the pieces could be set up, a crowd of 20 or so gathered around to watch this American boy learn to play (what appears to be) their national pastime. There's a saying in China: It's not the man, but the men behind the man. Boy, was that true here. Chinese chess-watching is a participative activity. Those who watched the game told Jacen how to move his pieces. They told him when he moved the wrong way. They told him where he ought to move. They told him where he ought not to move. And at one point in the game they were even moving his pieces for him. It's different, I know, but it's the way they do it. Jacen took it all in stride and enjoyed his 30 minutes of fame, and I think he made a friend that day.

A Morning Market in China

One morning we went to a local market to see what was for sale. It was very similar to the markets here in Thailand. Fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood were abundantly available.

090629 Market

Morning Exercise in China

I mentioned in my last post that we were on a plane. We had a very good reason to be on a plane, as we went to visit some friends who live in China. The next several posts (in no particular order) will describe some of the things we experienced in that very large country.

The workday starts later in China than in the States; many businesses don't open until 9 or 10am. This allows people to have some time for morning exercise, and many Chinese people love to exercise. What was interesting is that their exercise is often a community event; that is, they do it together. Early in the morning local parks are filled with people exercising in small groups, anywhere from 3 to 30 people together. Some dance, some do tai chi, some play badminton, some play croquet, and some walk or jog. This wasn't reserved for young people; all ages participated.

096023 Morning Exercise

As we walked through these parks and observed the people exercising, most ignored us or stared at us. But one group invited us to participate, so we did. They appeared to be playing a variation of hacky-sack, a craze that was popular in the States many years ago; they stood in a circle and kicked the "sack" back and forth to each without using their hands. The end of the "sack"--I don't know the real word for this--has springy deal in it to make it bounce, and the rest is a bunch of feather to slow it's flight midair. The Chinese people who played this were very good; even the ones that were in their 50's and 60's. We weren't quite so good--though my rusty soccer skills let me hold me own--but we had a lot of fun laughing and playing with them. In the picture below, note the red, yellow, and green feather object flying near the lady with the visor; that's the "sack."

096023 Morning Exercise

Oops, that's glutinous, not gluttonous

So we were flying recently on Thai Air and were served these little bags of mixed rice cracker snacks. The #1 ingredient? Ironically, glutinous rice. Which would not be the same as gluttonous rice, as I posted previously. So what is glutious rice? Sounds like rice with a high gluten content, but not so; this Wikipedia article clears the matter up.