Monday, March 30, 2015

Das Visits!

After my ninth trip to Lao, it was time to get ready for the visit from my oldest son Das and his wife Jonnie, who both live and work in California.

It was mid-December and getting cold, which meant that comforters over the beds were mandatory and sweatshirts and jackets deployed in the day and night times.

In several email messages, I sent them some suggestions on what to bring and be prepared for. In the first email message I wrote:

  • The weather when you arrive will be much like it is in Carpinteria and Santa Barbara in August/September.
  • Bring a light jacket, that's about it for cold weather gear. If you need more, you can always buy here; stuff's pretty cheap.
  • Pack as lightly as you can, so you can bring stuff back with you.
  • Sneakers will be your best footwear. I do not advise wearing sandals both because of the lack of traction (many slippery surfaces here, when you least expect them) but also as bumpers to protect your feet when you bump up against stuff.
  • Caps are a good idea, to protect from the sun.
  • Mosquito repellent is a must and should contain at least 13% DEET. I use a lotion every evening and no adverse skin effects; I shower before going to bed.
  • If you are not in an air-conditioned room when you go to bed, make sure you have a mosquito net over your bed.
  • Bandaids are also a must. Whenever you get a bruise, clean it thoroughly, let dry, and then put a band-aid over it. Take the band-aid off when you go to bed; put a new one on in the morning after a shower, if necessary.
  • Buy a Lonely Planet travel guide. I believe they have one especially for the southern Thai Islands. This will be better for you than buying one for Thailand, as the islands are quite a bit different environment than the rest of the country. It's a good investment and will provide stoke reading for you on the plane if not also before, as well as help guide you when you're here.
  • You'll have problems buying vegetarian dishes, believe it or not. We'll come up with some phrases for you to use to request non-meat dishes.
  • I haven't had problems buying fruit from unknown vendors.
  • You will most likely get diarrhea at some point if not all the way thru your trip, off and on. Don't worry about it.
  • Pay increased attention to staying hydrated.

In a second email message I wrote:

  • it's the coldest time of year, but you will be fine with packing sweat pants and sweat shirt with hood.
  • jonnie, a scarf always comes in handy.
  • don't travel at night, unless you can't help it or you're with a large number of people.
  • justice and equality do not carry much weight here. if you feel you're not treated fairly or ripped off, just keep it to yourselves and realize things are cheap here, anyway, and you're on vacation.
  • do not get angry. Thai's don't know how to handle it and it won't get you anywhere.
  • there is random stopping of foreigners and taking pee tests going on in Bangkok. if stopped, comply and be polite and friendly.
  • we have wifi, so bring your smartphones and laptop.
  • bring sunglasses with cases.
  • on the flight over, make sure you're in comfortable clothes. it is a very long two flights.

I finished with a third email:

  • I changed my mind about sandals. Bring a good pair. You'll be able to wear them comfortably in the countryside and on the beaches.
  • Sneakers are still best for you moving through areas of high population.
  • When you're in populated areas, keep your eyes on the walking surface ahead of you. You'd be amazed how poor the sidewalks are, here, and downright dangerous.
  • Pack your sweats (pants and shirt) on top of everything in your suitcase. You'll need to change into these when we pick you up at the Udon Thani airport. It'll be a little bit of a cold ride back to the village.

Thip and I knew that Das and Jonnie would be spending the bulk of their time in Thailand Down South, with a little bit of Bangkok thrown in, so we focused on having them experience what the Thai Countryside lifestyle is all about.

(playing "Set")

First days, we ate and partied with our Thai-Lao family, both at our village home and out at Bann Nah, the site of our new home under construction in the middle of our larger of two rice farms.

A visit to our temple and meeting Lungpaw took place about mid-way through the five days we had together.

We wrapped-up their stay with a trip to the Mekong at Khaeng Khut Khu and a visit to the cave Buddha at Erawan.

It was great to see my oldest son and his wife, again. Das and I have been very close for most all our lives. My retirement on the other side of the planet has caused a bit of an unavoidable drift. So, to see him again, here in my new life in The Isaan was super special.

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