Showing posts with label Shopping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shopping. Show all posts

An Ergonomic Chair for Village Farang ...

Sitting here writing today finds this writer much more comfy than usual.  Though comfort was not the driving force in my search of a replacement chair it is clearly a welcome consequence of that search.  Observing my father’s deteriorating physical condition and noticing my own lax posture, at least in part due to my aging chair, put me on the path of something ergonomic.  I wanted support in all the right places and infinite adjustability.  I also wanted mesh on both the seat and back for temperature control.  Yes, I wanted it to look good too.


When we moved into this house our furniture focus was on the big ticket items, so with little thought I opted for an affordable chair with an office like appearance and function.  I had no inkling at the time that I would be spending so much time seated, as I am at this moment, here in front of the computer.

As with so many of my purchases, the first chair turned out to be a starter chair.  Without the experience of the first chair I wouldn’t have had such a clear idea of what I wanted this time.  Knowing what you want and finding it here in Chiang Rai is seldom part of the same story.   Online the search is complicated not by the lack of choice but by too much.  In the end I went for something that was readily available in Bangkok with easy shipping by post.

Purchased on Thursday by trustingly depositing money into their account, the chair arrived on Saturday.  When the local postoffice called I was already in Chiang Rai for the day, with no chance of returning home before their closing time.  That left me with no option but to wait until today to go pick it up.  I had been over the specs countless times and looked at the pictures but truthfully I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Considering the cost, even with a negotiated 30% discount, my expectations should have been quite lofty but I have found one has less chance of being disappointed if one manages expectations.

So I am still fiddling with the lumbar support and tilt functions to see what works best but I have to say I am very happy with my new VF throne.  It looks like it is going to take Cookie a little longer to feel comfortable sharing her space with this new interloper.  She has only known that one chair and it had been well and truly personalized during her puppy days, with the undercarriage serving as a chew-toy.

I feel like I should be apologizing for not writing lately but this seasonal burning has blocked more than my view of the horizon.  I have a few ideas floating around in my head but can’t seem to get them onto the page.  Anyway here are a few more photos of my new chair.

Doi Din Dang Pottery, Yesterday ...

Yesterday found us dropping in on our favorite pottery place in Chiang Rai, in search of gifts and a cup of coffee.  So much to choose from and so hard to decide.





Men, Women and Weekends

Men and women are not all that different, you know! Yes, I have read 'Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus'. And its sequel 'Men can read Maps upside down but women can't spell maps' too. But give me a break! Isn't Mars and Venus the closest non adjacent planets in solar system? And the distance between them is not high really, especially when you express it in light years.

My point is, men and women are superfluously different in some fundamental ways and this whole Mars and Venus thing is just a big misunderstanding. For instance, let's take the example of ...hmm..well off the top of my head..hmm.. weekends.


When GOD called Adam and Eve and told them about this weekend concept and how it is different from a weekday, Adam is supposed to have said, "Father, Ye who watcheth us from the heavens above and the earth below.." and GOD interjected and said "Will you cut to the chase, son? I have got the whole universe to make in a week. Plus I need to plant some evidences for evolution as well."
So Adam did cut to the chase and said, "All days are created equal."

Later day Evolutionary advocates point to this very dialog of Adam as strongest argument for evolution. They say that someone who cannot understand weekdays and weekends cannot be a human being but only a very primitive form of life. Surely we could have only evolved gradually from that life form to the modern day human beings who know that it is the difference between weekdays and weekends that cause the earth to rotate, life to flourish, they argue. But of course, the opposition camp says that GOD's first act of 'planting evidence' was making Adam talk that way!

Anyway, after Adam got into his head what this weekend thing is the conversation went something like below.

GOD: So, ye who went far and wide and hunted animals during weekdays, shall take rest on weekends. On sunday, you will have SABBATH.
Adam: On Saturday?
GOD: You shall have hmm... KARABATH.

(Man grunted but agreed immediately for the GOD was not only the kindest and fairest but also the angriest. Then came Eve's turn before the GOD.)

GOD: So, ye who cooked, swept and waited for Adam shall take rest with him on weekends. You shall be in the cave with Adam...
(Eve coughs gently.)
GOD: Ye wish to speak, my daughter?
Eve: Father! Just as Adam who wandered far and wide stays in cave during weekend, is it not fair that I who remained in cave during weekdays work outside during weekends?
GOD: (Slightly angry.) You want to do gardening?
Eve: You got to be kidding.

(Theologians differ on the point whether GOD flew into rage because he did not understand Eve's phrase or precisely because He understood her phrase. But for us, what matters is, he flew into rage.)

GOD: Ye who is but the rib of Adam wanteth to be like Adam. So shall ye be in the weekends. Ye shall go farther and wider in hunt of the prey, but all in vain. The prey you catcheth shall bleed you twiceth the blood it shedeth. (And now he turns to Adam.) Ye who did not stop Eve from talking against me shall suffer and suffer more for she shall not know that she is suffering but ye will wallow in your suffering.
And this is the story of eternal damnation of weekends! See how it plays out even in modern times.

During weekends, Men like to do all the household duties like testing the stiffness of the bed, emptying of fridge, stress test of the remote. But women! They just can't wait to go on a 'hunting expedition' to the farthest mall to check out and not buy all those different kinds of things they would like to check out and not buy. They travel farthest and widest in these hunts. They start their assault on the mall in the northern limits by going on a reconnaissance trip (also called as comparative shopping in modern days) towards western limits and then perform a feint attack by going towards Eastern outskirts (also called as change of mind nowadays) and finally descend on the target in the north.

But as GOD cursed their quest ends in a total failure all the time. Either they don't get what they want after all that effort or their 'hunted animal' bleeds them a lot of money to just end up in the in the dungeon in their house. But GOD was true to his words. Women do not understand their suffering but consider these expeditions as pleasure for GOD who watcheth from yada yada yada has wired their brain so. As to Men, he drives women in these hunting expeditions all across the city and thus wallow in the suffering as GOD cursed him.

As you see, Men and women are not very different when it comes to weekends. They are just pawns in the game played by GOD.

What? you want to know why women is obsessed with mirrors! Why women jump from wall to wall to wall to see photos of complete strangers in facebook? Well, when GOD called Adam and Eve...

Hold On! I will save some of my stories for the book deal I will eventually get. What say you?

Songkran, Thai New Year ...

The twelfth, was as hot and polluted as I have seen it for some time.  Yesterday was overcast with a light rain in town, though not a drop was to be had where we live.  This morning was cool as we awoke to one of those thick pea-soup fogs of winter, that leaves the grass and all exposed surfaces covered in dew.  What will tomorrow hold, one wonders?  So far this year has been one of interesting and sometimes unfathomable weather anomalies.

If one could remove the heat and pollution that often prevails this time of year, the carnage on the roads, the excessive drunkenness and ensuing fights, the bad karaoke, and the aggravated nature of the water wars, one would be left with what I like about Songkran.

This is after all, one of the few times when families come together, other than weddings and funerals.  The population of our village swells, as all those who live and work elsewhere, travel vast distances to return home.  I was touched yesterday when my wife was reunited with one of her favorite cousins, whom she had not seen for years.  Tomorrow is arguably the best day, where the villagers walk from house to house, paying respect to the village elders in a gentle and moving representation of Songkran.

Yesterday, for the first time since moving to the Rai, we drove to town during Songkran.  We drove more slowly than usual, as we were wary of the many children lining the roadside, waiting to ambush every passing vehicle.  In the excitement of the hunt for victims, they often step into the road while looking in the opposite direction.  My occasional taps of the horn, to warn them of our presence, were sometimes returned as glares and profanities by the drunken teenage rabble in their midst.

We had no plans to go to town but received a call to say that our replacement iPhone was ready to be picked up.  I recently purchased an iPhone for my wife, which turned out to be a lemon, sadly.  I am after all an Apple fan and stockholder.  They were very good about replacing it for us and I was eager to get out of the house, so we made the drive to town.  We took with us one of my wife’s more comely young cousins.  Nineteen and nearly as tall as I am, she had yet to see the new mall, since returning home.

We parked out front and made the walk up the stairs.  While covering the open space in front of the mall and before entering, we perchance spotted friends sitting behind the, floor to ceiling storefront windows, of Starbucks.  At another table there were other farangs I had more recently met.  After introductions and a little polite conversation we all went our separate ways.  We picked up our phone, tried out our third restaurant, did some shopping, bumped into other friends and generally had a very pleasant day.

The mall is turning out to be something of a town square as well as a shopping Mecca.  Truly a welcome addition to our little town.  You do hear some complaining that it is expensive, but what I think they really mean, is that they can’t afford some of what is on offer.  The prices really are any different from other comparable stores in places like Bangkok or Chiang Mai.  Only time will tell how successful the shops will be.

Wishing you all, a safe and Happy Thai New Year.

Chiang Rai, Transformed ...

On March 30, 2011, Chiang Rai was transformed from a sleepy, rural, backwater, into a sleepy, rural, backwater, with a fancy new shopping mall.  Central Plaza offers new options for food, clothing, electronics and services while consolidating many of the preexisting merchants into one beautiful location.  Finally we have a department store, Starbucks, McDonald's and an expanded choice of restaurants.  I will be frequenting the various coffee shops and restaurants but probably not the hamburger joints.



Sure, there will be those who bemoan the arrival of such a place but it in no way detracts from what is already here.  It merely adds to it.  We skipped opening day, knowing it would be a traffic nightmare, opting instead to visit on the following day.  Bumped into many friends and saw many more unfamiliar farangs than usual.  Almost without exception, we all commented on how we felt transported to somewhere other than Chiang Rai.  It was a surreal feeling of stepping into a much more civilized place, in some faraway city.

The experience was entirely lost on the five family members we had in-tow on the day.  It is not a regular occurrence that you will find VF playing chauffeur to Mrs. Vf’s family but Songkran is approaching and the wife wanted to take them into town for some New Year shopping.  I dropped them off at their much preferred local markets, to do most of their shopping.  Free from having me as a distraction, they are reported to have had a great time.  Afterward they joined me at the new mall where I had been surveying what was on offer and visiting with friends.  Upon their arrival at the mall and during a quick tour, for the most part the family shuffled around feeling completely out of place.

Yesterday found me once again sitting in Starbuck’s, visiting with friends both old and new, after a ride into town on the Ninja.  Having lived in Bangkok for thirty years before moving to the Rai, I like these kinds of places, but never would have imagined that we would have such a beautiful location so soon.  So I still have my pastoral setting where I live, plus new comforts and conveniences less than an hour away.

While presently an inconvenience in some areas, roadwork is continuing at a frenetic pace in our region.  A new golf course is well on its way and buildings are coming up everywhere.  Hopefully, we have some time before we end up looking the way Chiang Mai does now.  Of course there will always be a comparative size difference, no matter how much Chiang Rai grows.  As Chiang Rai expands, I may end up looking quite clever, in my choice of location.  What appears to be distant and remote today, may one day be on the outer fringes of a growing city.

Not one to be nostalgic, I will make the best of whatever comes.  It is all about how you choose to look at things, and lamenting the passage of time is a futile waist of time.



Upgrading by Downsizing ...

When our old pocket camera died, I got a Sony H-7.  Big zoom and lightweight enough but no RAW and definitely not a pock camera.  Never was completely satisfied with the picture quality.  My wife never really took to it and recently had been asking about a new pocket camera that she could throw in her bag.

Not thinking it practical to have separate cameras that only one of us would use, I did some searching.  There are some new small cameras with the ability to change lenses but they were a bit too expensive and defeated the purpose of the pocket camera. 

Then I came across the Canon S-90, found it at the local supermarket and showed it to the wife.  Reasonable price and she liked it, so that is our New Year present to each other.  A definite upgrade in a smaller package, that I will also enjoy using on my little adventures.  Okay, not very romantic but very practical and we are both happy. 

We bought it after our trip to the annual Flower Festival here in Chiang Rai, so those upcoming pictures were taken with the old camera.

Last day of 2009 here in the Rai, so Happy New Year!

To Chiang Mai and back again ...

From here to there and back again.  All that remains is to trek over to the boarder and transfer my visa from the old passport to the new.  I’m sure there are those who are enamored with the sappy nationalistic quotes and the abundance of pictures and information on nearly every page, but in my opinion, it leaves far too few usable pages.  After all a passport is working document, too soon filled with stamps, and not a magazine to be read in a waiting room.  With a lifespan of ten years, no doubt I will be adding new pages at some point.  It would have been nice, to have been offered twice as many pages, but alas I was not.

We tried leaving Cookie at home with the mother and the maid this time, with good results.  Unfortunately it left that much more room in the truck for additional household goodies.  Our past purchases had focused on the living areas and we had neglected the bed rooms to a great extent.  That was partially dealt with on this trip to Chiang Mai with another overflowing truck load.  Literally I was able to close the tailgate, just.  With a large heavy box hanging over the lip, it was impossible to bring the window down and fasten it.  So we drove home with the back open and the rearview mirror blocked with only the side mirrors to monitor the erratic driving behavior of those behind us.

Again we stayed with our friend’s parents, their dog being quite disappointed that we came without our furry little daughter.  One last stop on the way out of Chiang Mai to visit a friend from Hawaii and checkout her recently opened hair salon.  Not the last stop as it turned out, as we bought orchids at a roadside stand in the mountains, inspected yet another ceramic shop, and bought some ghastly fermented goodies, that our neighbors so enjoy eating at another roadside stand.  All in all, another productive trip but oh so good to be home.

No rest for the wicked, as we are going to make every effort today to attend our very first Hash House Harriers event.  I am not the type who is overly dependent on others for motivation and often find I get a better workout when on my own.  So this will likely be more of a social networking event for us.  Surely we will be traveling further than most with a roundtrip in excess of 160 km, and returning well after dark on our unlit country roads.  Hopefully we will meet a like minded couple or two and no doubt Cookie will have a great time exploring new trails.  I do know the host of this event and my motorcycle buddy and his family may be there so even if we don’t make new friends it should be a pleasant day.

This being the ugly time of the year, I am focussing on being more social and saving my wanderlust for a later time when all is lush and green.  Being in the tropics our seasons are less varied that in higher latitudes but things are different enough, that one can clearly draw a line under this season and say it is not a favorite. 

Sorry to be so remiss in my offerings on this site of late.  There has simply been no need for the catharsis that my writing often provides me.  Life is good, we are well and my muse is on an extended leave of absence, it seems.

Home Sweet Home ...

There is no place like home, it is often said.  It sometimes takes being away, to realize just how sweet home is, however.  Gracious hosts, exotic new places, untold new sights sounds and smells, can be wonderful.  Yet be it ever so humble, it is ever so comforting, to once again be enveloped in the familiarity of that place one calls home.  But there I go again starting at someplace other than the beginning, and neglecting to mention that I am talking for Cookie, as well as myself.

On my latest visa extension in Mae Sai it was made clear that I was in need of a new passport.  Fortunately that inevitability only presents every ten years and is thus something one doesn’t waste precious time worrying about.  One doesn’t actually worry about driving a couple of hundred kilometers to Chiang Mai, either.  The when and how and where of it does become a bit of a worry, if one wants it to be fun and not a burden.

Where to stay?  What to do about the house and Cookie?  To make a short story shorter, we stayed with a friend.  We arrived a day and a half before her but her parents were extremely gracious and Cookie received an equally warm welcome from one and all, especially Honey the host golden retriever.  With the weather warming up and much running about to do, we decided to expose Cookie to something new, as an alternative to being dragged around in the heat all day. 

A lovely Dutch lady presides over a kennel not far from our friend’s house and it seemed an ideal learning experience and worth a try.  So the first and last night Cookie was Honey’s guest and two days in the middle she stayed with another golden retriever at the kennel.  Having never been away from her, for the eight months she has lived with us, we were nervous parents, calling for regular updates.  Reportedly, our normally quiet little girl was quite vocal during her time away from us.  Her first night back with us, it was impossible to escape her presence or gaze.  We were watched like a hawk, for fear that we might get lost again, I presume.

For us, there was of course the obligatory shopping for the house in addition to renewing the passport.  Our friend has an uncanny knack for finding quaint little shops, arty little restaurants, coffee or tea houses.  Breakfast at the Dhara Dhevi, was more awe inspiring than quaint, and impressed us as much as any hotel or resort that we have ever been to.  Chiang Mai has a thriving art culture with many tight little sois with interesting little shops but we found ourselves along the river in the hours before sending our friend to the airport. 

An unassuming store front opened into an airy tea garden on the banks of the Ping River.  After tea, the girls went off for some last minute shopping, while Cookie and I basked in the beauty of the garden.  There was, just by chance, some unexpected eye-candy for me and additional attention for Cookie.  The place was perfect for that days fashion shoot and I was taken back to previous shoots that my wife did the makeup for.  One lovely luk-krueng girl from the entourage came over to play with Cookie, while the staff fawned over her, bring water and ice in a bowl.  They loved watching her submerge her face in pursuit of ice-cubes, looking ever so much like someone at a county fair, bobbing for apples.

Our friend safely on her way back to Bangkok, we had a pleasantly uneventful drive home.  The back of the truck filled to nearly overflowing, the backseat was folded up and Cookie slept most of the way home, on the well padded floor, with the temperature maintained just to her liking.  Can’t truly say who was more pleased to be home.  Each in our own way, we relished our return to what we love about this place we call home.  For me and my wife it was a once familiar and often experienced wave of emotion.  For Cookie, who knows.  Clearly, however, there was a calm joy that enveloped her as she lounged around the house last night.  Living in the moment as dogs do, today it is all about exploring her yard and fields, playing with her pack and swimming in her pond.

The Chiang Mai Consulate will not mail my passport so in a few weeks I will once again make the drive from here to there and back again.  In the end we didn’t feel good about subjecting Cookie to the trip.  As a one-off it could be seen as a learning experience but she is ever so much more happy in her little fiefdom and it would be cruel to take her away from what she loves.  We will just have to work harder at training the mother in law and our staff to deal with Cookie.  It is one thing to take her to play in nature, but quite another to take her to a city and its confined spaces.  She lives in a natural world with no fences or boundaries and that is the way it should be for her.  And in a perfect world, perhaps that is the way it should be for us as well.  It sure feels good to be home.