VillageFarang moves to NEX-6, dumping the old S-90


I am presently going through another quiet spell with this blog.  I am still out riding the mt. bike and taking pictures, we even took a lovely day trip around Chiang Rai which included Doi Chaang and Rai Boon Rawd.  The pictures ended up going straight to Google+, instead of stopping by the blog first, however.  I am looking for new direction, or at least new motivation for the blog, but no luck so far.

You can see what I have been up to by going to my Profile Page on Google Plus.

The big news, is that my Canon S-90 was dying on me, and I was getting tired of fixing the dead pixels in my shots, so I recently went out and bought a Sony NEX-6.  The weather was not cooperative yesterday so I only took a couple of test shots around the house and I was blown away by the difference.

It is still grey and wet outside but I am keeping my fingers crossed for this afternoon.  I desperately want to get out on the bike and play with my new toy.

EDIT:
Okay, here are some test shots from my afternoon ride and one view from the house.  As you can see things are very green these days.











Just adding a new shot from the house today.


Something a little more recent.  Fishing.



The Journey Home


Morning View at Home. August 31, 2013.

Some of my favorite stories are the ones about heroes and heroines who embark upon a life-transforming journey filled with mystery, romance, challenge and redemption such as The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars and Big Trouble in Little China.

In those stories, the hero ends their journey by returning home with the profound realization that there’s no place like home.  With that in mind, I was curious about how I would feel this week when I traveled more than 2,000 miles back home to the region where I grew up.  Would I, too, feel a desire to move back home?

It had been 11 years since I’d spent much time back home, but it didn’t take long before I felt at home with all that was familiar: the hearty food, the straightforward culture, the flat Midwest accents and the community values.  The Midwest values are simple: work hard, be good, follow the rules, make self-sacrifices for others and you will be rewarded.  Salt of the earth people live in the Midwest and I enjoyed reconnecting with my heritage.

But, what I hadn’t expected is reconnecting with how I felt while I lived in the Midwest: Alive, but not really living. Getting by, but not really flourishing.  Fitting in, but not really doing anything remarkable.  At times, I felt as if I couldn’t breathe.

At that time, I had known I wanted to change my life to something different, I just didn’t know to what.  It took me years to finally take a step forward because I thought it was selfish to pursue a few vague dreams and desires of something greater, some place else. The funny irony is that in pursuing my dreams and desires, I have transitioned into a career where I spend my days helping others.

Since I left home, the years have been filled with struggle, challenge, mystery, success, victory and romance.  Throughout those years, I had forgotten how far I had come and I had lost sight of why it was necessary for me to leave.  Why couldn’t I make my new life happen while I lived at home?  It didn’t all become evident until my journey back from the Midwest.

When I arrived at the airport gate for those headed to Seattle, I saw people who appeared to be musicians, artists, environmentalists, ocean explorers, software designers and developers, entrepreneurs, mountain climbers, writers, poets, photographers and yoga instructors.  I realized I had chosen to live among the creative, independent spirits, but it wasn’t until the next morning, when I woke up in Seattle that I understood why.

Upon rising, I walked down to the lake and as if for the first time, I felt the fresh sea air hit my skin, my nose took in the undeniably delicious fragrance of the most recent blossoms, and I watched a person serenely practice Tai Chi while a great grey heron, the symbol of independence, gently flew overhead.  It was a feast to my senses and I wanted to eat the moment.  

Then I realized.

Living here nourishes my creative spirit and gives me the sustenance I need to contribute to the world in a greater way.  There’s nothing selfish about that.  Living here is my personal oxygen mask!

It feels good to be home.


© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards 





Return to Dutch-Way Family Restaurant, Myerstown, PA

I first tried the "other" Dutch-Way buffet restaurant located in Myerstown, PA a year ago. At that time, I did not enjoy this location as much as I enjoy the Gap restaurant. We were in this area again and we decided that we would go back. We actually decided to come back to give this buffet another chance over trying the buffet at the Hollywood Casino near Hershey, PA.

We went on a Friday night

The Phuket Big Buddha

The Phuket Big Buddha has been covered several times over the years since the Phuket Blog started in 2006. The construction had already started when I first blogged it in May 2006 - I wrote "Much of the enormous base is complete, and a small (12m) replica is already shining gold in the sun". A photo from September 2006 shows good progress, and this photo in July 2007 shows that things were moving on nicely. We go up the hill every now and then. Back in 2007, hardly anyone went up there, since the statue was not complete, although the views were nice (and the views are still nice!). By May 2009, the main 40m high statue was covered in white marble (see photos).

The last time I "blogged" about the Big Buddha was December 2010 and it was looking like not a whole lot had happened since 2009. Statue marbled, but otherwise a building site!

Big Buddha in Phuket - October 2010

(above) The Big Buddha, photo taken October 2010

Seemed to be taking quite a while to get things done .. and by 2011 there were already lots of visitors, with the main statue being all white and visible from half of southern Phuket. The road up from Chalong which used to be dirt was paved, although inexplicably there are still several small stretches of dirt! Most people will go up by road, though I have done a hike to the Big Buddha one time, starting from Karon Beach. During 2011, quite a bit more work was done with most of the "lotus leaf" base also being marbled. Over the years it's been possible to pay a fee and write your name on marble or brick to be used in construction. The fee has increased plenty since 2006 and with the main statue now complete, I can't see where "your piece of marble" will end up! I hope the ones that we wrote on years ago are part of the Buddha.

Writing on Marble for the Phuket Big Buddha

By the end of 2011, the statue was looking great. There was also a big car park available now with no vehicles allowed to park near the temple. I am glad to see there is no entry fee, but there are a lot of donation boxes and Buddha related items for sale. With the donations, sales and people writing on marble, the money is surely pouring in. But the work seems to be slowing down. I have seen plans for building a park all around the statue with ornate steps and landscaping. The photo below was taken in November 2011, nearly 2 years ago.

Phuket Big Buddha in November 2011

(above) Looking Good - Big Buddha in November 2011

When we first went up the hill, when construction was just starting, there was one small restaurant not far from the top, and it's still there, but now the road on the way up has half a dozen restaurants or bars. I'm pretty sure at least some of them must be illegally built, but to be honest they are not really a blot on the landscape. I stopped one time last year for a sunset beer at the little bar shown below, great sunset and views across Karon beach and the ocean.

Phuket Sunset View from the Big Buddha Hill

(above) Sunset from a small bar on the way up to the Big Buddha

So, how have things progressed in the last couple of years? We were up there again on July 20th 2013 with some of my wife's family. Certainly the car park seems bigger, and some (very nice, very clean) toilets have been built by the car park, which is below the main statue. You walk to the site now about 100 - 150m to reach the temple, which is still tin-roofed, I am not sure if there is a plan to build a nicer temple or not. When we arrived, Monks were saying prayers.

Monks at Phuket Big Buddha

(above) Monks saying prayers at the temple below the Big Buddha statue

And then wander up the stairs from the temple to the top of the hill and "The Buddha" ... So, the photo below is from July 2013. Compare to the photo from November 2011. What's going on here? Has anything been done?

Phuket Big Buddha July 2013

(above) Big Buddha, July 2013

Maybe some work has been done around the statue, and I saw that some work was underway building some steps lower down the hill. A Buddhism museum or something has been mentioned to be built inside the base of the statue. Nothing seems to have happened there in the last 2 years. But for sure the donations have been pouring in more than ever. Why is there scaffolding around the statue when it was not there in 2011? It's getting a little frustrating. Why / How is this project not complete? Well, at least Buddha looks calm as ever.

Big Buddha of Phuket, Close Up, July 2013

And the views are just as good. From up here I think you can see that Phuket is still very green. Much of the island is hilly. Sure there are areas of huge development, but if you look north from the Buddha, well, it's still one of my favourite views.

View from Big Buddha Phuket

(above) View from the Big Buddha. The "radar hill" is the highest hill on the left. Phuket Town is in the distance looking very small.

I'm hoping to see some good progress at the Buddha in the next year. The statue is meant to be a "Symbol of Phuket", something to be proud of. And sure, with the main statue complete and covered in white marble, as it has been for years already, it's visible from miles away and looks out over Phuket I think as a reminder to be calm. If the project can get a move on and finish, people here can certainly feel proud. The longer it takes, more people start to wonder what's going on ..... :)

Related Blog Posts on the Phuket Blog

The Big Buddhas of Phuket (yes, there are others!)
Phuket Temples and Shrines
Phuket Hills and Viewpoints

Golden Corral, Whitehall, Pennsylvania

We were off Route I-22 in Pennsylvania and found a fairly new Golden Corral in the Lehigh Valley Mall in the town of Whitehall, PA. The restaurant is on the outskirts of the mall in the back. It is necessary to drive around the mall from the mall entrance to the rear to find this Golden Corral. The building looked new outside and in.

We went on a Thursday night in late July and the restaurant

Phuket Bird Park

The Phuket Bird Park is a new attraction, just opened in 2013 like the nearby Phuket Botanic Garden which has the same owner. We visited the botanic garden recently, and my family had already seen the bird park (they went when I was working, how dare they!) - their feedback was positive, and I have been pushing them to visit again for a few weeks, but it's hard to find time, as the kids do extra classes at the weekend and music and recently they have become big fans of the Phuket Wake Park, which I will update on the blog soon. So last Saturday we decided to go to the Phuket Bird Park in the morning before music class. The bird park, aside from lots of birds to look at, has a "bird show" 3 times per day at 10:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm, so we aimed for the 10:30am show. I find with many tourist attractions, if you go early in the day, or late in the day then things are much quieter. And it's low season anyway, plus the bird park is new, so I think a lot of people don't know about it. We got our tickets (entry is 500 Baht for adults and 300 for kids - that's the tourist price, we pay a helluva lot less as locals), and went direct to the bird show which was almost ready to begin with just a handful of visitors.

Bird Show at the Phuket Bird Park

(above) An impressive location for the bird show and space for a couple of hundred people, but for this show, by the time it started, there were about 25 people. And almost all were Thai. I'm guessing the later shows would be much busier. The "bird show" started with some parrots who raced bikes ... the parrots later also did some maths, showed their environmental awareness by putting beer cans in the garbage and guessed the age of a volunteer from the audience. Actually I think they were macaws, not that I am an ornithologist!

Macaws racing bikes at the Phuket Bird Park

(above) the Tour de Phuket (for birds)

The tiny crowd made it easy for our son to volunteer in the show. Who wants to hold this enormous bird?

Yes, please!

Holding a huge bird at the Phuket Bird Park

I believe that's a Wreathed Hornbill. Well, that's what Google told me. And the boy was not finished yet. Who wants an eagle to swoop down and take a hat off their head? The fearless boy says yes again. Good show!

Eagle show at the Phuket Bird Park

Eagle at the Phuket Bird Park

Hard to get a photo of an eagle flying just a few meters away! It swoops down from the rear of the viewing stand to grab it's target. Quite impressive to see that up close with your only boy as bait :)

Well, the show was extra nice with one of our kids jumping up on stage, a good reason to go early with less crowds. So, with the show lasting about 25 minutes, we then set off to explore the rest of the bird park. We had to rush a bit, as the kid's music class starts at midday. Might have to revisit the bird park sometime soon. After the show we exited the arena from the top. The bird park is built at the bottom of a hill, so there are some ups and downs... and it was a hot day. Fortunately there are also a couple of cafes on the way round, and like the botanic garden, they don't charge too much (20 Baht for soft drinks for example). There are plenty of bird cages next to a wide walkway, lots to see actually. I was kind of expecting just the show and a few cages of parrots!

At the Phuket Bird Park

A shame we did have to rush, I tried to snap photos of a few pretty birds on the way downhill to the exit ...

Parrot type things at the Phuket Bird Park

(above) Some parroty kind of birds.

Hornbill at the Phuket Bird Park

(above) Another kind of hornbill.

Parrot - Are you talking to me?

(above) De Niro Parrot. Are you talking to me? I did not stop to look at all the birds - we were there for an hour and a half and that was not really enough. You can tell that it's a new place - the gardens are neat and tidy, not getting jungly yet!

At the Phuket Bird Park

And there are some bigger birds too. Several ostrich had a sizeable enclosure to themselves. I kept warning my kids to not lean over the barriers, as ostrich have long necks and big beaks! They are impressive birds.

Ostrich at the Phuket Bird Park

Ostriches at the Phuket Bird Park

Time to go! A slightly rushed visit, enjoyed by all - especially my son the "bird man". Phuket keeps growing new attractions. I think this bird park and the botanic garden are worth a look for sure.


Phuket Bird Park - Location Map


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News to amuse - Promoting humor in News since 2033


SATURDAY, AUGUST 17, 2013

National

India celebrated 67th Independence Day

India celebrated the 67th Independence day by telecasting the movie Gandhi for the 37th time in national television. Indians , across the country, made fun of Britain who has given Independence to half the nations across the world but does not have an Independence day sale of their own.

Indian Prime minister, in his address to the nation, said Indians are not afraid of terrorists and will stand up to them. He was standing behind a bullet proof glass when he delivered that speech.

Economy

Dollar climbs to 62 Rupees

When contacted for reaction about the non stop rise of the dollar, Finance minister said coolly - 'Big deal! Even onions are 65 rupees per kg.'

International

Pakistan celebrated their 67th Independence day

Whatever.

Entertainment

SRK's Chennai Express has done a business of 150 crores

In an unrelated news, HLL said the tissue paper business has crossed 200 crores turnover.

Return to Ruby Buffet, Massapequa, New York

On my first visit to Ruby Buffet - a new buffet that had opened in Massapequa, New York on Long Island in the winter of 2013 I was disappointed. I had decided that I was not going back again. It took a $2.00 off coupon to get us to go back and try all of these months later. Our second experience there was much better than our first.

The buffet dinner here is priced at $14.99 per person with soda

How we found our Home in Thailand

RETIREMENT- A trip to Thailand and Finding a home Sitting on the couch one evening thinking ,"what are we going to do now ?" , I've already gave my notice at work , signed up for my early SS, Ciejay doesn't want to live in Tenn. , to expensive to live here in Salem , "what to do ". then I remembered my son Rich had visited Thailand for a few weeks and called me when he got back and said " Dad you should think about retiring in the LOS. I had never thought of it , even tho I was married to a Thai lady , I didn't think she would ever want to go back , and I knew nothing of Thailand , except the little stories of her growing up and the fact that she had two children and a lot of family there .We and the other sisters that lived in America sent a little money to their Mom and Dad every month and also from time to time some vitamins and powered food supplement , and that was all I knew . Ciejay came in and sat down beside me and ask "what you thinking husband?."I told her I was thinking about Thailand and how maybe we could think about retiring there next year .Her answer was that we didn't have any money saved , but I told her that when we retired , we would get a small check from the U. S. Government every month till I die , she did not understand about SS so I tried to explain it to her , I must have did a good job , because she answered "we pray". I left it at that, and for the next couple of months I researched and read everything I could find on the internet about Thailand , positive and negative. Well retirement year rolled around and still no decision of where to retire and spend our golden years. Out of the blue, we got a call from Ciejay's sister in Thailand saying that her Dad had pasted away after a long bout with diabetes , and that they were having his cremation and Buddish funeral services in 5 days , well, we were not prepared for a quick trip , I hadn't even got my passport yet and we didn't have the cash for such a trip , we talked to the other two sisters that lived in America and we all decided that we would go together for the 100 day ceremony, ( where they put the ashes on a little boat made of flowers and float the down the river ). I told Ciejay , " we will stay 3 weeks and look around for a little piece of land to build us a little house , and see if we want to retire in the LOS . We went there mainly for the 100 day event , but in the back of my mind I was excited about the possibility of retiring there . I had read and looked at pictures on the net enough to make me fall ,somewhat in love with the country . After the ceremony , we rented a van and traveled for Two weeks all over the central and northern part of Thailand , but we never saw any place or found a little piece of land that we both liked . The last evening of our trip we decided to go to Sai Yok and the little village of Wang Pho to the little village of Wang Pho and visit Ciejay's brother,Add and his family, before flying back home the next day . We arrived there about 5:15 , it was late evening and already getting dark , the sisters visited with their brother and I walked, and looked around the area , already when we were driving down the mountain to Wang Pho valley , I had thought to myself , I like this place , and Ciejay and I had exchanged glances, with a smile , that showed she felt the same .It was dark now and we were about to leave. Ciejay and me had said that we would come back next year on our own and look around some more , we were hurry ,hurry this trip everywhere we went. As we were getting in the van , I said to Ciejay " ask your brother if there is a house and a little piece of land for sale in Wang Pho ", she asked and he said "YES", and pointed, "there" and he pointed to the house next door , can you believe it . We went to look , it was all dark and the house was locked tight and the windows were tinted, soooo we could not even see inside , three bedroom, and 2 bath rooms, her brother said" not finished"( and I can tell you it was not finished) , the man and wife broke and house sat empty for 6 years , I ask if her knew the man and he said "yes my friend in Bangkok" , I ask him to call him and ask the price ( house and a little piece of land .) He called the man gave a price , my brother -in -law ask for a discount, he told him "this is my sister" , and the man said "YES", and just like that Ciejay had bought us a house and a little piece of land in Thailand . It was dark and we could not see it very well , but as I have said many times we had a dream and God had a plan, and we were happy . Home we went, with a big smile on our face and a lump in our throat's thinking about what we were going to do and when we could move to Thailand and our dream home , and how we were going to get the money to fix up the house and clear the land and lots of ????????? in our heads.When we showed the one picture of the house we had bought, most of our friends laughed and said it looked like it was ready to fall over, and that we could never make it livable, well we wondered the same thing sometimes , But we had prayed and felt in our hearts that it was right and this was the plan God had for us . This was 2003 and we had till March 2004 before retirement and our plans were to fly to Thailand in Oct. of 2004 to begin our new life . Of course there was lots to do to get ready and we wondered all along if we could really fulfil our dream of retiring and living in Thailand . In the next post I will go in detail all we did to prepare for the move to the LOS and God's hand in all of it . Malcolm



I got your back.


My cousin and me at painting class.
She says mine is better than hers, but I think hers is better than mine.

Last fall, my cousin and her husband moved to my part of the country. My cousin and I haven't lived in the same city since we were kids and since neither of us have siblings, it means a lot to both of us to live near each other.

There are a lot of things I love about my cousin... she's fun and funny and so entertaining, but one thing I hadn't remembered about her is her selflessness.  Whenever I'm with my cousin, I'm reminded that no matter what, she's got my back.
   
     I left a book in the car?
       "I got it!" she says.

     I forgot to pick up something for us at the store?
       "I got it!" again.

     I just said something embarrassing?
      "You're good!" with a wink.

It feels so comforting to have someone who is looking out for my best interests-- someone I can trust who isn't going to set me up to be hurt or disappointed or later blamed for something that goes wrong.  I know that even if my feelings get hurt, it's just a misunderstanding because in her heart, she's got my back.

That's the thing about getting comfortable with people.  We don't always know whether we can trust someone, especially when we start to feel vulnerable. All of our fears come up, we get confused about what they really meant and it feels safer to shut down. It's always a risk to open ourselves up and trust that no matter the outcome, we will be okay.

But, if you and I are friends, there's one thing you can count on. I'm sure we will have a lot of fun, and I know I will make some mistakes, but just remember, in my heart.... I got your back!

© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards

A Second Visit During the Same Week to Dutch-Way Family Restaurant, Gap, PA

Of all of the Lancaster, PA buffets that we could have gone to or gone back to within a week's visit to the area, we decided to go back to Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, PA. We like this buffet that much! This was a Saturday night.

The feature on Friday and Saturday nights is Carved Roast Beef and Carved Ham. The price on Friday and Saturday is one dollar more ($12.99)  than the Monday to

Sunset Cruise to Coral Island

It's been mentioned quite a few times on the blog - we have some friends with a travel company called Easy Day Thailand who can help with pretty much any tour you may need in Phuket. For some tours and attractions they are a booking agent, and some tours they run themselves. We got invited out onto the MV Sai Mai a couple of weeks ago for a sunset trip starting at Chalong Bay, a new idea they have had .. so we along with a couple of other people were guinea pigs for the sunset cruise :) The Sai Mai is a boat that can be chartered for small groups, either for the day or for multi day trips. It has 3 cabins, so can comfortably sleep 6 guests. On a day trip or sunset cruise, you can squeeze in up to about 10 people without feeling crowded. I've known the boat for years and we used to book it for dive charters, which we sell at Sunrise Divers. We met everyone at Chalong Pier for the evening trip. Chalong Bay is used by many boats on all kind of trips. Most visitors to Phuket are likely to end up here sometime for some trip or other!

Chalong Pier, Phuket

We headed out a bit after 5pm. On a "regular" trip the guests can get picked up from hotels around 4 - 4:30pm. The idea was to head to Koh Kaew Yai, which is a very interesting little island just off Phromthep Cape. The afternoon had been a bit windy, the sea just a bit too bouncy, so we headed instead to Coral Island (Koh He) which is always very sheltered. Aside from the breeze, it was a very pleasant evening, slightly cloudy but still some sun.

On the Sai Mai

(above) We sat and chatted on the front deck of the Sai Mai, a comfy place to sit with a cold beer and enjoy the ocean breeze. Now, this is NOT a booze cruise, but the regular price of 3500 Baht per person does include beers. Kids are cheaper (2000 Baht up to age 11) - no beers for them and tiny kids up to 4 years old are free. Families with 2 or more kids get one kid free. Or you can charter the boat for the evening for 21,000 Baht for up to 10 adults. I hope to get out again sometime on a nice calm day so I can get to Koh Kaew Yai.

We dropped anchor at Coral Island. Some people (including my boy - see below) went off for some snorkeling ...

Snorkel Boy

Coral Island is pretty decent for snorkeling, the water is not crystal clear, but then again I am spoiled! I remember years ago doing a couple of dives here with an English diver who had only ever dived in England. After the first dive, he was so excited ... we did see quite a lot on the dive, but still I was thinking "yeh, that was OK" .. but compared to what he'd seen before, it was amazing! Actually in the shallow water at Coral Island, the snorkeling is quite good. All snorkel gear and life vests provided on these trips. In the middle of the day the place is packed with daytrippers, but after 5pm on a sunset trip, it's your island! Great! I jumped into the dinghy with my daughter and we did a few loops around the Sai Mai while I tried to get a perfect photo ...

MV Sai Mai - Sunset at Coral Island Phuket

(above) The Sai Mai. Sunset at Coral Island.

Yeh, not a bad place, right? There was quite a bit of cloud towards the horizon, but just around sunset the sun found a way to peep through. I don't know about you, but sunset is my favourite time of day. Preferably with a beer in hand! And then after sunset - dinner time! This is a sunset, sightseeing, snorkeling and dinner cruise. Food was served about 7pm. The captain moved the boat to the most sheltered spot (flat calm) and we could dig in! Food was good. I am told that (if you book ahead) food requests can be taken, and the dishes do vary from day to day. Want spicy? Ask! I like spicy :)

We had 4 different dishes for dinner - fried whole fish, fried mixed vegetables, breaded shrimp and chicken, and tom yum soup. And plenty of rice! A couple of photos of the food below.

Tom Yum - Thai food on the Mv Sai Mai

Fried fish on the MV Sai Mai

Fried fish, when it's done just right ... I can eat that all night (washed down with a few beers)! We started back towards Chalong Bay after 7:30pm, getting back around 8pm. A very nice evening for all the family and not back too late (it was a Sunday so the kids had school next day). Anyone wants to book a sunset trip like this or any other tour or boat trip ... ask Easy Day Thailand ... UPDATE AUGUST 2015 - Unfortunately my friends have sold this boat, but can certainly help with sunset trips on other boats!

Sunset Tour - Map


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