Linda asked me of memories of Thai Food. I have so many memories of Thai Food. When we moved to Thailand in the 1970s, there was a lot of fear. I remember traveling through Europe on the way to Bangkok, and honestly, the food was different. It wasn’t the food I was used to in Europe. I liked most of the food we tried in France; I love the food in Ireland. But it was different. I won’t say it was a rational fear. It was pretty irrational overall. Our first experience of food in Thailand was the Café American that was a short walk from the hotel where we stayed. We were in the hotel for about a month or so, and the Café American was where most of the UNESCO families stayed.
My first attempt at Thai food was Salute Nua. Or to translate Beef Salad. What harm could befall you eating Beef Salad? First, I loved the flavor. The mix of beef, lime, and onions was superb. My dad said, avoid the little green peppers. They were small, what harm could come of that? I learned about the concept of fire at that point. I drank a lot of water. I later learned that milk was a better option, but we didn’t often get milk in Bangkok, and by the time I was 11, I was already a milk snob. I had fresh or nearly fresh milk in Wisconsin, the stuff outside of Wisconsin wasn’t that good. So I learned the lesson of fire, but the food was so good I hate it all.
That was my experience with Thai food. It is hot. They often ask you, American hot or Thai hot. In the beginning, I went, after my lesson of the Salad of Fire, American Hot. By the end of the year, I had moved to Thai hot. The thing that I loved the most about Thailand was the sheer wonder of fruit. I had in my life in Indiana had Mangos. They were fairly bland and an OK fruit. In Thailand Mangos were desert. They were amazing. Sticky Rice and Mangos and I were in heaven. Pineapple, something that previous to Thailand I thought was ok, but not great, was now beyond great. I even learned that I could hold my nose and eat Durian. Although I have to say we didn’t eat Durian often. I remember my mother saying “what is that stench” the first time dad cut a Durian open!
I get good pictures on occasion. One of my favorite pictures from my 3rd trip to Thailand is in this batch. We went to dinner on an old ship that had been retired and was now a restaurant. From our table, I could look out up the Chao Phyra river, and as you see in the pictures, we watched the sun go down as we ate. It is a magical picture for me, the setting sun. I love all the wonderful pictures I see online of the setting sun; each one is different in the sense that where the camera is, what the person captures and what is around the person as they capture the sunset. All of those variables are different, the sun, however, is the same in every picture. It is the sun.
The best part about sitting on the water as we ate was that we were on the water. Well, I know that is my thing, but it matters to me. Some of my favorite memories of my childhood are around being in the water. One of the favorite pictures of all time is my mother and I sitting on the beach my grandfather mad on lake Ripley. Beaches are created by time and waves. Or, they are created by lugging bags of sand down a hill and pouring them on the ground. Grandpa built a beach that went out to the edge of the first section of the pier. Funny, the other side of the pier was where the Bluegills hung out. But on the short side, there was sand. As a child, I didn’t think about how the sand got there.
As I got older, I helped with the opening of the pier. We added sand every year. We also brought a rowboat with an old Evinrude motor into the swimming area. You ran the motor to create a current that allowed all the leaves, gunk, and water plants to be moved away from the sandy area. Grandpa had clearly defined the limits of the beach. We didn’t often have the motor on the rowboat. The rowboats, once the summer started, came with the rental of the cottages. There were four cottages when I was little, three remaining as I got older. Grandpa and I painted the cottages one summer. I remember marveling at the amazing reality that my grandfather and my great grandfather had built the cottages.
I get lost sometimes in the moments that flow from the pictures — today, still wandering the pictures of my trip to hang out with my parents. In particular, these pictures from Wat Pho. I have a picture of Wat Pho hanging in my office. A Wat is Thai for Temple. Some of the temples in Bangkok are 2500 years old. Wat Pho is not that old, but it is a significant temple. First, because it still houses young monks. Many teenagers and young adults give up a year of their lives to serve as monks. You see them with brooms out sweeping up around the temple (Wat) as you walk into the facility. It is a sprawling facility and as you can see has lots of flowers as well as monuments.
Dad and I spent a lot of time that trip, the two of us, talking about Buddhism and its impact on his life. We stood by a temple (the pictures are deeper in the folder) and talked one night watching the temple lit against the night. Dad found great peace in Thailand. I don’t know that the peace he found in Thailand was sole because of Buddhism, but it certainly helped him. He and I spoke of that connection often, but that trip was the first time we had time to converse. Many times when we would come to his house for a lunch or a holiday event, I was juggling children. As I am sure, he was back when he would visit his father and mother in the Dells or Racine.
It is not to complain; I love my children. It is simply there are transitions in our lives. For me, it was first to become an adult. Then it was becoming a parent. Those transition points are not easy. I am not, as my grandfather said trying to use utility hole covers as frisbees. Each of those transitions was hard for me, and for those around me as they are for all of us. But, this trip, dad and I had a chance, mom and I had a chance just to be adults. I am proud of the people my parents were. Everyone has a path, and both my parents walked amazing paths. In the totem pole of life, we measure ourselves against the base; the base of my families pole is huge. Great people built the pole I am lucky to be on!
Within each of us lies seawater, the composition of which is millions of years old. As if we, humans, are insulated from nature. There is an adage that within each of us, there are two dogs. Which one will win? The one we feed, of course. It wins the war of attrition. But we are despite our protestations and our placards animals. We are in a Philla and an order. The scientist has placed us in a family. Our relatives often have more hair than we do (well at more than I do). But from we burst forth. The two dogs are wrestling for control. It’s funny because sometimes in moments of disillusion people will proclaim, “I am not an animal.” They are animals truly.
But humans come to change the meaning. Animal means you have no manners. Look at him, eat like an animal. Well, yes, thank you. I am an animal. The separation between me and the natural world was created by humans. I love inside a box. It is a climate-controlled box that has many ways of egress. There are places of comfort they sit and watch the world go by. The sun, rising in the east lights the back deck. To see the sunset you have to traverse the house to the other side. To the front, he screams as the sun dips below the horizon. Missed it, he says sadly; it will come again tomorrow! Different but the same, scientifically the only variance is what is between you and the sun.
We are animals. They are us. We live separate of animals. We hire pest control and spray for bugs. Is that a mouse? Put out traps quickly; we cannot have mice here. They are not the cousins of Mickey. Mickey can talk, and in talking, he would tell those pesky rodents to go home. Even though for most of them, the fields that were their homes are now houses. We live in the splendor of the natural world without being part of it. We sit in chairs on glass-bottom boats, and we watch the world go by. We are not animals we are humans. You can count on one hand, the animals that kill for sport. You don’t even need your thumb for this exercise. We are one of those animals.
I wonder. We live in nature until it is in our way, then we raise Cats to flatten what doesn’t fit our view.
Sometimes perspective is a critical component of what you see. In this case, on the same level as the famous Reclining Buddha, you see the recline, but not all. That is the reality of pictures. What you can see is the picture you can capture. When you are close and wish to share the object in front of you, it is an option. When you re far, it is harder to share a closeup of the object, but in the case of a larger object, you can share all of it. As we consider the concept of sharing it brings to mind the goal. Why do we share pictures? Is there a driver that, upon seeing a Bee, or a Butterfly we want to share? There is, it is the connection components of what we call community.
I share because I wish others to know that I saw something. Many years ago, as we look at images from Thailand, I traveled a lot. I took these pictures home with me and showed them to my poor wife. I was not then, as bad as I am now in terms of numbers. I would take 100 pictures on a five or six-day trip. I didn’t take pictures inside the airplane. I still laugh about what the recruiter told me years ago when I joined the company. The recruiter is telling me I would be traveling 25% of the time. Most of us, back in those days, was away from home 100% of the time. What we realized is that between car trips and airplane trips, we were only actually traveling 25% of the time. The recruiter didn’t lie; just didn’t tell the whole truth.
I would share the pictures from the trip with my wife. Now, with my daughter and I on vacation, we take many more pictures. Where once I would capture 100, 200 moments while traveling now we capture 2000 or more moments. Some of the moments captured are not optimal, suboptimal perhaps. But with the rise of Digital Cameras and huge memory cards I can take 1000’s of bad pictures to get to the 4 or 5 good ones. With video, you can select entire chunks of time, and still be engaged in the event. One of my all-time favorite vacation videos comes from Amsterdam. The kids, at the dinner table, talking about topics that matter at that moment to them. The conversation captured on video.
Each moment we capture, we share is interesting.
The images today are from my weekend (well four day) stop over to see my parents in Bangkok in 2005. I was working in Malaysia, mom and dad were in Bangkok, so on the way home, I stopped. The added segment made my airline ticket cheaper. The four-day layover makes the ticket cheaper still so my company was happy. It was fun to stop in Bangkok again, my third trip to Bangkok. I love Thailand. It is a magical place for me, filled with memories of things that used to be. By 2005 many of the Klongs were gone. The health issue of stagnant water, having been addressed over the time between when I was first in Bangkok and this visit. There are still Klongs in Bangkok just not as many.
Bangkok, sometimes sadly called the Venice of the East. Venice is much young than Bangkok. Venice is the Bangkok of the west. Bangkok as a city is sinking. It is very close to sea level as it exists. I remember in the rainy season when the streets of Bangkok flooded. Water finds its level in all cases. Dad was working on the first day I was in Bangkok, helping the folks at IPST continue the mission he had started many years before. To have, deliver and improve a system of education designed to improve the quality and impact of science teachers nationwide. Mom, her friend Miss Hart and I went out to lunch that first day. We went to a hotel with a buffet.
The hotel overlooked the river in the heart of Bangkok. My grandfather would have been proud of. I pulled his trick of tipping the server before the mal to bring me the Bill. I enjoyed pulling that on mom and Miss Hart. I also enjoyed the buffet. That night we went to a wonderful restaurant out on the river, but away from Bangkok not actually in the city. Thai food is something that I love from Tom Yum, my favorite soup to pineapple. I love the food in Thailand. IPST is off of the same street, well the same main street that we used to live on. Each street called a Soi. They were numbered with even Soi’s on one side, and odd Soi’s on the other side. When we were first in Thailand, we lived at the end of Soi 12.
As I have shared many times, I traveled for 11 years. One million miles in the air. It sounds like a lot (if you count both airlines I used, I was closer to 1.3 million miles in 11 years). I landed in many countries over those 11 years. In the best sense of both sides, I was in Malaysia when there was an issue in the area between Malaysia and Thailand. The first time I was in Malaysia, the team took me to the Elephant rescue reserve. The second time, because of the growing conflict in Northern Malaysia, they didn’t take me. I, however, never felt like I was not safe when wandering around Kuala Lumpur. The city always felt safe to me, and I enjoyed my time there.
I knew things happened. When I landed in Istanbul, I was a day early for the meetings I was going to have. I went to the hotel from the airport. My cab driver was not conversational, so I just watched the scenery. There were a parade and event that made the driver more grumpy than he was; we had to take a detour. I don’t know if he thought I was going to cut his tip because it took longer to get to the hotel. I gave him a very good tip, and it was the only time he smiled that entire trip. We had ended up taking surface streets and drove through what is called the old city. I came back to the old city one evening and walked around with a group of people.
I was at the hotel and wandered up to the lounge on the top floor. It was a beautiful lounge, and I was relaxing enjoying a beer with my feet up. The server came up to me, she looked a little scared, and asked if she could turn on the television. I said, sure. I ended up watching the aftermath of the bombing that had occurred just a few moments before in the old town. The very part of town we had driven through. For the first time in all my travels, I didn’t feel safe. I had that feeling three times in traveling. The first time I had that feeling was in 2001. On September 11, 2001, I was in a plane heading to Chicago. I didn’t feel safe for the first time in the city where I was born. The second time was Istanbul. The last time was in Seattle, and all three remain with me.