It has been two weeks since I last wrote to you. A lot has happened in that time. So where to start----at the beginning.
The Monday after I wrote you, I woke up with no singing voice and a sore throat. I am sure I OVERUSED my vocal chords when I was teaching Christmas Carols sung in the key of C. Anyway, after “sort” of teaching Monday, and giving it a try Tuesday morning, I was sent by my concerned fellow-teachers back to the house where I was to rest and to take some cough and mucous-relief medicines they had obtained for me. Two days later, I emerged from sleeping most of the time and was able to finish the last day of music camp (Thursday). We had a program for the parents at 2pm and the children did a wondrous job of singing through all eight of the songs we had learned. They were each rewarded with a pin for accomplishing music camp. I will be working with these kids all through the fall in preparation for going caroling during the Christmas season. We will practice a half hour each day right after their lunch-time rest period.
Friday the 13th was a national holiday in remembrance of King Ramah the 9th, who died exactly one year ago that day. He is greatly revered and missed by his people. There are many young people who proudly wear shirts stating they were born during his reign. His Royal Cremation will take place this coming week, and there will be simultaneous symbolic fires taking place all over the nation at the exact same time. In this way, all the people will be able to take part in his final ceremony. Banyat, please correct me if I have written anything inaccurately.
We attended church on Sunday and then took part in a house blessing for a small house Walunchorn had built for rental. It is a sturdy two room house with a bathroom. The cooking is done outside. The house is on one side of the school property, so we walked back to the church through the school grounds. We enjoyed a Thai lunch with the congregation, as is the custom every Sunday morning after services.
Monday morning we were picked up at 6:20am and driven to the Don Mueang Airport, which is also in Bangkok but is a bit closer to the school. We flew to Chiang Mai, which is in the northern part of Thailand. We were greeted when we arrived by Banyat’s brother, Bardit. He was a wonderful host to us while we were in Chiang Mai. After he took us to the Baan Thalaan, a guest house where we were staying, we took our bags to our room and then spent the afternoon seeing Chiang Mai and shopping in some amazing places. Bradit took us to lunch at a steak house located at a nearby golf course. We were not terribly hungry so had soups and salad. The soups were delicious---mushroom and tomato basil.
We then got to shop at a famous silk factory---saw silk worms and the silk being extracted from their cocoons. From there we stopped briefly at a silver shop and at a wood carving shop. We were shown the most gorgeous teak bar on wheels, so it was portable. The price was $2,500 US, including shipping to the US. I certainly would consider purchasing such a beautiful piece of furniture if we weren’t already over-run with what we have now. But it is in the back of my mind for “someday.”
After the wood shop, we went to the famous umbrella-making works. The production actually takes place outside around the edges of a large square lawn. There are wide cement walkways which are covered where the work is done. It is fascinating to watch the skill of the people who cut the bamboo pieces for the ribs of the umbrellas. They work just from experience and use a small, sharp curved knife to trim and shape the ribs. And they do it so quickly!!! No measuring – they just know what is correct. The ribs and all the working parts are hand-sewn together. They are truly amazing umbrellas! And depending on how they are finished, they are water-proof also.
Our final stop was at the Siam Celadon Pottery Inc. The green of this pottery is world-famous. There were many tempting items for sale, but they would have been relatively bulky and difficult to get home. So we each bought a mug to use at home.
We had dinner Monday night at a local restaurant just a short distance from where we were staying. Tuesday we were treated to a trip to an elephant park. We were in a small group that included a Korean family (whose children spoke excellent English); a man and his daughter from the Phillipines (she was in Chiang Mai to play in a soccer tournament); a gentleman from Aman; and a middle Eastern couple who live in Chicago. It was a wonderful day simply because of the people we were with. At the elephant park, we floated on a river raft made of bamboo (ONLY bamboo); saw an elephant show; had a buffet lunch; rode on an elephant; and rode in an ox-cart (pulled by two beautiful white Brahma cows). After all of this, we were driven to a butterfly park, where they also were growing orchids. The butterflies were fun (Tom’s hat attracted one that got out of the enclosure with him, so we scrambled to get it back). The orchids were AMAZING! They were gorgeous colors; lush; abundant; breath-taking. I will post a video I took of them on my Facebook page, so keep watching for it.
Tuesday night we took a short walk from our guest house and found a most delightful place to eat – the Corner Bistro. Tom had a hamburger and I had a chicken sub. Now that sounds very ordinary, but these were probably two of the best sandwiches we have ever eaten in our lives. The crowning glory was the garlic mayonnaise that went with the lightly-breaded home-made French fries. Definitely a location that Guy Fiero needs to visit with Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Wednesday Bardit once again took us in hand and showed us the many temples in Chiang Mai. We actually visited only two – the first a very golden, very busy place with lots of visitors, and the second an old temple showing definite signs of age but having a wonderful feel of peace and reverence about it---much more restful and impressive than the first one.
We were treated to a buffet lunch at the Empress Hotel in Chiang Mai. When we went in, Bardit told us to take our time and to have a long lunch. We did as he suggested. There was every kind of food you can imagine available for the diners. Salad, breads, soups, noodle dishes, fruits, fish, meats, rice dishes, dim sum dumplings, desserts, ice cream---and more that I don’t recall. I liked the oven-baked chicken the best---it had a touch of curry and was delicious!
After lunch we were given a tour of two of the major schools in Chiang Mai – Prince Royal Academy and Darma Academy. Bardit has served on the boards of both these schools, most recently (and possibly still) on the board of Darma. He was in charge of buildings and grounds, so he gave us a lot of the history of the Academy. He even showed us the low spot on the school grounds where they installed a pump, so that rain water collecting there is pumped into a pipe and is taken to the top of the grounds and dumped into the street. After seeing Darma, he drove us across the road to the CCI grounds (Christian Communications Institute) where we were thrilled to spend the afternoon with Joan and Allan Eubanks as they rehearsed the Likay troupe in a shortened version of “The Prodigal Daughter.” They were to perform this for a conference on Friday. As the performers did the show, Joan and Allan translated. We got to see it three times, and each time we were drawn into the drama. These performers are excellent! I especially like the mean wife, who growled at the innocent girl and who then growled at the audience if we booed her (which, of course, we did). We visited briefly with Allan and Joan; then it was time to go. We will see Allan early November when we work up at the new retreat center.
Thursday morning we reluctantly took our leave of Chiang Mai. I have to say that if we have an opportunity to return there during this visit to Thailand, I would do so without any hesitation. Our wonderful host again took us out for an amazing lunch – this time at a fairly new and very popular organic restaurant. The owners grow everything that is served there. We sat upstairs and were next to a room in which there were at least ten generals from the police having lunch. Very impressive!!! Bardit explained what their various stars and wreaths indicated as to rank. I had a salad which was a variety of legumes and other vegetables served with a chicken breast with a yummy sauce on it. Once again, a delicious meal!
We returned home (yes, Sahabumrung Wittaya school is now home) without incident. When we arrived we found out that Banyat’s father had been taken to the hospital. We are keeping him in our prayers and are hoping to see him home soon. Please pray for him.
Friday morning we got a scary call from Bashshar. He was in the Longmont Hospital with lung issues. Fortunately our wonderful friends have stepped up to take care of the cats until Bashshar is better. Bashshar told us this morning that the real culprit is a blood clot in his lungs (oh how well I know how that feels). So they are getting him stabilized on Warfarin and are making sure he is better. He certainly looked better when we talked to him this morning (Sat AM here, Fri PM in Denver). Please keep him in your prayers!
Our books and supplies finally were delivered. We had to pay some duty, but all in all, it is good to have them here. Now we need to get them out and organized and ready to put to work when school begins again in early November. We are looking forward to this coming week, when we will be greeting our friends from church – Banyat, Canaan, and Margie. Of course, there is lots of hard work ahead for our team, but we are eager to get started.
We send our love to each and every one of you.
May God bless our endeavors!
Posted on Sat, October 21, 2017
by Margie Jones