Showing posts with label Village Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Village Life. Show all posts

People You Meet on the Trail...

I am by no means a portrait photographer.  My camera just isn’t suited for it and I am more interested in capturing the beautiful nature I see on my rides, anyway.  Lately the cloud cover has muted the light and left things grey and lifeless, so I have been taking more people shots along the way than usual.  If I were so inclined there would be no shortage of portrait material no matter where I go.  Here is a sample of some of the people I might bump into on a bike ride.

These guys I could smell long before I could see them, as I approached from downwind.  Those little red onions have a pungent aroma for sure.  The workers were in high spirits in spite of the smell.

Sometimes it is rice farmers that one encounters on the trail.  Everyone seems willing to strike a pose if you ask nicely.  I actually spent a few minutes visiting with these guys as I snapped away.

Some people are just very hard to see even when you are looking right at them, like these ladies watering the young rubber trees in the nursery of our nearby rubber plantation.  I call this the Thai Ninja suit.

Everyone needs to take a break from time to time.  The old couple above had been collecting bamboo shoots for dinner, up beyond the reservoir where I was headed that day.  We crossed paths at the reservoir and again on my way down where they were taking a much needed break.

The other two guys had been harvesting fruit from the heavily laden Lamyai trees in their orchard.

Speaking of Lamyai, this guy was very generous as he offered to share his bowl full of freshly picked Lamyai.  Everyone seemed quite entertained by my presence and the presence of my camera.
This fellow biker was a bit on the shy side but friendly enough as his friends made fun of him and he tried unsuccessfully to hold back a smile.
Here is the village gas station and the ever vigilant attendant.  I guess he realized I wouldn't be needing his services.

This guy was the most camera shy of them all.  Don't know how many shots I took just to get this one.

The reason I am diverging from my usual presentation of pretty trail shots, is because it was all I could do to stay on my bike as I maneuvered the washed out trails, complete with mud pits and heavy sticky clay that clung relentlessly to every part of the bike.  This 33km ride took a little longer than usual as my progress was slowed by four or five kilometers of this stuff.  I think I will take a different route next time.

Unexpected Events and Is It Really July?

Everything on the June calendar got taken care of and July is off to a much more subdued pace, creeping by almost unnoticed.  There were a few unexpected events and purchases that added joy to the month of June.  I am admittedly very bad with special calendar days, like anniversaries, but this year I got lucky.  The Apple store called while I was a few shops down having coffee at Starbucks.  The salesman was calling to see if I was still interested in the new 13 inch MacBook Air, as they had just received one in the latest shipment of new products.

We had been looking for a computer for my wife to use at school and home.  While I was impressed with the new MacBook Pro, it was clearly more than my wife needed so we settled on the feather light Air as the best option.  When I picked her up from school later that day I was not empty handed, as I have so often found myself.  “Happy 13th anniversary my dear, here is your new toy.”  I had fun setting it up for her but not sure I will be getting my hands on it very often in the future, except for software upgrades and the like.

On another weekend OMM, a frequent reader and contributor to this blog, visited Chiang Rai with his girlfriend.  It was pretty early in the day, so while his girlfriend did whatever girls do, we got together for coffee and a familiarization tour of the town of Chiang Rai.  It was nice putting a face to a name and having someone new to talk with for a day.  We basically spent our time visiting and taking in the city sites until it was time for me to go pickup my wife after school.

No two people are ever at quite the same place in life and factoring in age and different experiences it can sometimes be challenging not to step on other’s dreams or interfere with their chance to experience their own adventure on their own terms.  I must say, on this day I had a great time as it provided an uncommon break from my routines and hopefully I contributed something of value to OMM’s journey.  I found it interesting to see how some aspects of being newly bitten by the Thailand bug have changed with the advent of new technology but at the core much of the experience is not all that different from what I went through more than thirty years ago.

There have been a few recent mountain bike rides that didn’t make it to the blog.  There were some new trails mixed in with the old and some odd encounters but I have done the bike trails thing recently and prefer to mix things up on the blog.  Then again, perhaps I am just easily bored and distracted when things get too busy.  After some trail abuse, I found the back tire had a slow leak that caused the tire to deflate after a day or so.  I took that as an excuse to get the Trek into Northern Bike for a checkup and ended up with some upgrades.

Not being a racer or overly serious about my riding, I see little need for the lightest and greatest but thought some minor upgrades might be in order.  So in addition to the back tire, I got an entry level Shimano Deore crankset installed with new grippier peddles and a Cateye Velo 9 to give me an idea of how far I ride.  Nothing a true enthusiast would be impressed with but new and exciting for me.  Everything performed well on yesterday’s ride.  With heavy rain the night before and things not completely dried out, it was an interesting ride and not easy going in places where the clay clung heavily to my tires.  On the way home I took the opportunity to stop by a visit with a young German friend in a neighboring village.

Another friend recently arrived for his yearly visit, has found himself spending a few days at one of our excellent local hospitals.  It just so happened that on one of those days I was in town to take care of the bike.  In these parts it is the done thing to go visit people in the hospital, with family often spending the night to help take care of the patient.  I’m not big on hospitals myself but took the opportunity of being in town to stop by for a visit.  It gave us a chance to catchup on what had transpired in our lives since last we talked.

There was one more chance encounter I remember, though I’m sure there are others that don’t come to mind at the moment.  There was a new female member posting on a local forum early last month.  She posted nothing revealing about her identity on the forum but on two different occasions I saw a young woman at the Central Plaza and there was something about her that caught my attention. 

Call it intuition, or being nosy if you like, but on the off chance I might be wrong, I sent her a private message to confirm my suspicion.  A man I may have approached more directly but I didn’t feel that was the correct approach in this case.  A bit astonished that I was able to guess her identity, she acknowledged that it was indeed her on both occasions.  Later I spotted her with her Thai husband talking with a local real-estate agent as I entered Starbucks.  We ended up having an interesting conversation first in English while her husband was finishing up his business and later in Thai when he joined us.  Eventually my own wife showed up and we all got a chance to visit.  Hopefully, we will all get together again soon.

Though I don’t find spontaneity as easy as it was in Bangkok it is still an important aspect of life for me.  It is the new, different, unexpected and unplanned that adds spice and color to my life.  Sometimes I find it by seeking out new trails on the mountain bike and other times the unexpected happens on our trips to town.  I never know where, when or how but I always know something new will cross my path, even after more than 35 years in Thailand.

Planting Rice 2012 ...

It is that time of year again and our neighbors are very busy planting their fields.  Rice is so much a part of the fabric of village life, yet so foreign to most outsiders.  Things are changing for sure as everything becomes more mechanized but on days like today one can glimpse the soul of village life, the way it was in simpler times and sometimes still is.

Some may see only dirty backbreaking work but from my house I can hear their laughter and friendly banter.  Taunts of going “inter”, as in international, and perhaps finding a farang were heard as I walked among them.  I assured them they would indeed be gracing the pages of my blog as they had in the past.  Have a look at these photos taken this morning, as I mingled in their midst managing just barely to stay out of the mud.  Take a look and see if you can see what I see.  At posting they are still out in the field, spirits still high, undaunted by the task at hand.

Another day another field.

Visiting Rai Chun Tawan ...

Rai Chun Tawan is a Buddhist meditation center or I believe they call it, vipassana center, associated with a very famous monk.  Since I don’t believe monks actually own things, I chose the word associated as being more discrete.  Located on the backside of Huay Sak reservoir in Chiang Rai Thailand you are not going to stumble across it if you are not looking for it and know where it is.  I have been to Huay Sak reservoir before but didn’t know Chun Tawan was there and had never traveled far enough down the dirt roads leading past the dam to find it.

It was a religious holiday and my wife thought it might make for an interesting outing to try and find this place she had read about.  Huay Sak is a small town located on the road from Chiang Rai to Thoeng but we took a shortcut from our house by cutting through the 1306 at Baan Don.  The 1306 comes out right at the Huay Sak intersection and shortened our trip considerably.  We followed some small Thai signs which brought us in what I assume is the main entrance.  In the mood for a little more exploration upon leaving, we headed further into the mountains instead of retracing our path.  Eventually to my surprise and delight we passed the dam and came out at the main intersection in Huay Sak.  Like many reservoirs at this time of year, the water level was quite low with water being released for the rice planting.

Maybe it is just me but my pursuit of inner peace and tranquility is a solitary undertaking and not something I would find possible surrounded by hundreds of other people.  Then again as long as I have lived here, I am not Thai.  Don’t get me wrong it is a lovely place.  In fairness I suppose religiosity has always been very social and cultural at its core.  Accommodation seemed to cover upscale bungalows to tents spaced around a grassy meadow, with some rather nice locker and bathing facilities.

As an interesting side note, one of my wife’s Facebook friends mentioned that she was among those we took to be sleeping under the rubber-wood trees.  With claims that she heard snoring around her, we should give her the benefit of the doubt that she was indeed awake and meditating.  If you are really interested, my guess is that Googling Rai Chun Tawan Vipassana Center should give you more detailed information. 

I just wanted to share some photographs I took of the lovely grounds during our little outing.

Dark Sky...

Sometimes there can be found a stark beauty in a menacing dark sky.

Another day and an approaching storm.

Yet another day.

Here are a couple more recent shots.

More recent updates.