Learning Thai!

I have a confession to make. I love Thailand, I love Thai food, I love Thai people (this is not the confession). The confession is that I do not love the Thai language or maybe it’s that the Thai language doesn’t love me. I find Thai very difficult to learn and to pronounce. Just the other day, I found out that when I thought I was saying “take home” instead of the word for take I was actually using a rather common word for vagina! I can only imagine how the food vendors must have been laughing!

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I really want to do better! So starting today, I commit to learning and practicing a new Thai word or phrase daily. I already know how to say “Hello and Goodbye” (same word) as well as “How are you?”, “I am fine.” and “Thank you.  I also use “delicious!” and “cute!” a lot. Delicious because the food always is and cute because I love babies and little children.  Two other really great phrases that I love are “mai pen rai” which basically means “no worries” and “jai yen” which literally means cool heart and is a great reminder to stay calm and composed. The philosophy of “jai yen” is one of the many reasons I love Thailand so much!

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I am going to start with learning my numbers, 1-10, which I understand will also give me everything I need to say 20, 30, 100, etc.  Today I am also practicing “How much?” which is “Gee Baht?”.

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One thing I have mastered is to put the feminine “kha” at the end of every phrase. Men should say “krap”.

Of course, there are lots of websites, etc for learning Thai. I found this one helpful, here are their suggestions:

  1. Sa-wat dee (hello)
    Used for both hello and goodbye.
  2. Khop koon (thank you)
    How to show your appreciation once you’ve been handed your Singha beer and pad Thai.
  3. Gee baht? (how much)
    Essential for all the shopping you’ll be doing, or when haggling with tuk-tuk drivers.
  4. Yoo tee nai…? (where is…)
    Invaluable when lost!  Just point at a place on your map or in your guidebook and say ‘yoo tee nai’. Also useful when you are trying to find the right bus to go to Phuket or otherwise.
  5. Mai ow (don’t want)
    Useful for fending off persistent street vendors.
  6. Khor tort (sorry)
    Stood on someone’s foot at the Chatuchak market?  Now you can apologise.
  7. Neung, song, saam, see, haa, hook, jet, baat, gow, sip (one to ten)
    Impress the locals by reciting one to ten.
  8. Lot noi dai mai?  (can you make it cheaper?)
    If you are doing a lot of shopping then try this handy phrase. By speaking a little Thai you might just get a better discount.
  9. A-roi (delicious)
    Show your appreciation for that delicious Thai meal!  You never know, if you go back to the same place you might get an extra helping.
  10. Mai pen lai (never mind)
    A common phrase in the Thai language – if someone apologises to you (khor tort) then reply with ‘mai pen lai’.  If someone thanks you (khop koon) say ‘mai pen lai’.  If there’s a mix up (which invariably happens with a language barrier) have a chuckle and say ‘mai pen lai’!

So I say to you now: Sawadee Kha! (Goodbye!)

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This is What Community Looks Like!

My dear friend the phenomenal Lacey Clark asked the question that inspired this post. She asked what does community mean to me. While I can’t give a precise definition I can share what community looks and feels like for me.

Community is embarking on a 5 hour pilgrimage up Doi Suthep Mountain for Visakha (Buddha Day) with the beautiful group above. Community is getting a Facebook shout out even though Kathy and I quit after 2 and a 1/2 hours.

Community is Sunday Dinner and seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Community is cherishing friendships and having great memories no matter how far away the friends are.

Community is beloved family, near and far.

Community is hours spent at Cafe De JJ talking politics, philosophy, science and a bunch of other random stuff, not to mention enjoying the love on a plate served up by the fabulous Beer (top, right above)!

Community is making friends everywhere we go and doing our best to stay in touch. Hey Keiko (our friend met in Mexico, from Japan and currently in Canada)!

Community is exploring nature with friends. Community is something that must be built, nurtured and cherished. I’m sure community is something that looks different to each of us. One thing I know for sure is that true community feels so wonderful and is something I need. I am grateful to have found it here in Chiang Mai!

Durian and Salak and Longan, Oh My! The Wonderful Fruits of Thailand!

As Dorothy, famously said, “We are not in Kansas any more.” Nor anywhere close! The wide variety of exotic fruits is one way I know this for sure. I had my first bite of durian yesterday. Durian is known as the king of Asian fruits. It is considered a delicacy and is quite expensive. It is also so stinky that you will see signs in hotels and on buses, across Asia, warning no durian. The fruit vendors, above, were kind enough to give me a taste. I have to say, that once I got past the smell (kind of like rotting fruit) it was quite delicious. It has a creamy sweetness like a cross of coconut and mango.

Passion Fruit

Lychee

Rambutan

Longan

There is such a great variety of fruit here in Thailand. Things I had never tried or even heard of before. My favorite is the tart and juicy passion fruit. I have it almost every morning. There is lychee, rambutan, longan and salak. Right now the longan is still sour but later in the season it becomes very sweet. I have had lychee and rambutan in the states but only rarely saw it. Here is is everywhere. Salak, also known as snake fruit is weird. It is very prickly and hard to open, kinda smelly and with a taste that is hard to describe.

There are also most of the fruits I am familiar with in the states. We are only buying locally grown fruits so I skip the apples that come from New Zealand. But there are plenty of coconuts, oranges, mangoes, papayas, watermelon, pineapple and banana. I think the tropical climate makes everything extra sweet and juicy.

This week, at our local mall, there was a fruit festival. There was an all you can eat fruit buffet, entertainment and lots of samples to try. I thought this was a good week to write this post and share the pictures I took. Hope you enjoyed them!

Our Traveling Sistahs!

This week’s blog is devoted to some women who share our joy of traveling and who inspire us.

Kat and Amber have a great blog Wandering Soup. They share about traveling as a family and also share the stories of other travelers.

Lacey Clark is truly a phenomenal woman and she shares this in her one woman show Phenomenal Everywhere. Look for it to come to a city near you soon.

Listening to the wonderful podcast of Nubia and Frantzces is our favorite thing to do as we take our walks. Chronicles Abroad highlights the stories of travelers from all walks of life, gives an abundance of helpful information about traveling, is hella funny and has the best theme song ever!

So, a big BOLT shout out to these sisters. We are doing the damn thing, as are many more travelers. We thank you!

Why Chiang Mai? BOLT Top 5 Reasons…

A friend recently asked what made us choose Chiang Mai as our current home. Her question has inspired this post.

Kathy and I are thriving here. Not a day goes by without one of us exclaiming “I love Chiang Mai! There is a special vibe about this city that is hard to put into words. Simply put, Chiang Mai feels like home! Having said that, I will now list the top 5 tangible reasons that make this city a great choice for BOLT.

Affordability!

100 Thai baht is currently equal to approximately 3 U.S. dollars. We are able to live very well here on less than $1000 a month. Chiang Mai is a great place to save for the traveling that we love.

Creature Comforts and Amenities!

Chiang Mai has all the conveniences of modern life. There is great high speed Internet. The are wonderful malls, grocery stores and pharmacies. If we need health care there are state of the art medical centers. Public transportation by Grab Car or songtaews is easily obtained. I have found that we can get anything we need (or want) here.

The Food!

Thai food is delicious, varied and very affordable here. In addition, when we want something different there are restaurants that serve any type of food we could desire.

The Beauty!

Chiang Mai is a place of great beauty, both in a physical and spiritual sense. The over 300 Buddhist temples here are breathtaking. There are also great opportunities to enjoy natural beauty, in the mountains and hiking trails close by.

Community!

There are so many ways to enjoy community and “find your tribe” in Chiang Mai. Weekly Sunday Dinner with the Black Packers, the Chiang Mai Ex Pats Club and the Chiang Mai Rotary have all been positive experiences for us. Also there is a wonderful 12 step recovery community here. There are many Meet Up groups, classes and other social events as well.

So, we love Chiang Mai, Thailand this ancient city on the Ping River with a moat. Please consider a visit, we think you’ll love it too!

Rup Pan (Statues) of Chiang Mai

One of my favorite things to do in Chiang Mai is to wander down the various streets. Walking along, listening to a podcast, I often encounter interesting sights. I’ve seen beautiful temples, all sorts of exotic bugs, lovely trees and flowers. I even saw a snake on one of the major streets!

One of the most delightful sights, for me, are the quirky, whimsical statues that dot the town. They are often quite amusing to come upon. Some are very beautiful. This post is dedicated to some of my favorites statue finds. I hope you enjoy them.

Songkran! Worship in Water

Songkran (the Thai New Year Celebration) is celebrated over three days. This is an ancient Buddhist holiday marked by the bathing of Buddha statues, pouring out of water blessings on loved ones and strangers and other ancient religious rites. Songkran is celebrated all over Thailand and in many other countries in Southeast Asia.

This year we were honored to be invited by our friend, Wanvisa, to celebrate the first day of Songkran (yesterday) with her. We started the day with a visit to ancient Wat Chang Khum. It was lovely to start the day with quiet prayers, meditation and Buddha bathing. I took this photo of Wanvisa standing in front of this Spirit Tree. These other photos were the last I was able to take because…

Chiang Mai is home to the “world’s largest water fight” for Songkran and I put my camera away!

Video of Songkran Water Fun

Our friend, Monique, was able to take the above video of the craziness that ensued for the rest of our day.

We loaded into the truck with a large vat of icy water, lots of buckets and water guns. It was so much fun to experience with Sally, Wanvisa’s daughter. It is truly a wonderful holiday for children. We returned home exhausted, throughly soaked but delighted.

For the next 2 days there will be water and dousing everywhere. If I’m brave enough to venture out, I may put up more pictures. I hope you enjoy these. Sawadee Pee Mai Ka! (Happy New Year! )