30 September 2007

Koh Kret

Yesterday, we went with Anutra and her family to a tiny island, Koh Kret, just 20 km from Bangkok. I've been wanting to visit this place since we moved here, and after 11 months, we finally made it! We drove there with Anutra, Bird, Faa, Oam, Ian, and her nephew, who's name I can't remember (I'm terrible with names here, it's really quite embarrassing), all in their little pick-up. People sure know how to make things work here!

This is Faa, Jane and I on the boat that takes us across the Chao Phraya River so we can actually get to the island. It cost 2 baht/person and took about 3 minutes.

This is what the boat actually looked like. They had several running people across the river all day. They just really have good systems for things here. It seems like everyone just happens to know how things work here, so signs are unnecessary. OR could it be that there are signs, and I'm just so used to ignoring them, I don't notice anymore? For instance, Jeff and I were watching a movie on TV some time ago. All of a sudden we noticed they were speaking a different language, but we had no idea what they were saying because we are so used to ignoring the Thai subtitles that we didn't even notice, until it was too late, that there were English subtitles for that part of the film. Very nice. Sorry, kind of a side note.

First things first, ice cream! we stopped at the first coconut milk ice cream guy we passed (we probably saw 10 after this) and loaded up. He put the ice cream in bowls made out of banana leaves and then garnished it with a flower. I even got mine with blue sticky rice in the bottom. Delicious!

We walked along this market looking at all the food and handicrafts. I took this picture standing next to this man who was selling magic tricks. Really, if you pay him 20 baht, he'll teach you how he does his tricks. I thought this was awesome, and really, his magic was impressive! So, I paid him 20 baht, he took me to the side and showed me the trick, it was great, at least what I could understand! I left feeling like he was the best business man in the world. I paid 20 baht (which you could almost buy lunch with) and left with a pair of Popsicle sticks! It was fun though, and now Jack thinks I'm amazing! This picture was taken on our way out, just when it was really starting to get hot and busy. One thing we love about Anutra is that she loves to start early!

It was tough getting Jack to leave this spot! These tubs were filled with... can you guess? Starting on the left with the green one: small catfish, some kind of water snakes, tiny turtles, (pink tub) toads, and then snails. They were up for purchase, but we were glad Jack didn't know that. It was sad to see them in such small containers, especially the toads all piled up on top of each other in a bag and barely able to move. But, it was quite the sight for a curious little boy, no doubt.

These are the turtles a little closer. If I had to leave with something, this would have been it. They seem pretty innocent and really are quite cute. But, since I can barely keep my plants alive, I think I'd feel guilty adding one more thing I need to feed and water!

Jack is always asking for things wherever we go, and it doesn't help that there are people trying to sell things everywhere here. So, he has started to earn his own Baht which he can use if he wants something (this way, when he asks for something, I say, "did you bring your Baht?". He then gets really excited if he did, and if he didn't, he promises himself that he'll bring it next time and we move on. Works like a charm!). He remembered to take some of his Baht this day (which he has been saving up for almost a month!) and he was loving life. He kept saying, "I want to buy something!". He spent 30 Baht (almost $1) In Koh Kret and left with a bow and arrow, a little Thai toy, and this sucker. A little boys earnings go pretty far here! Notice this sucker is in the shape of a crocodile. We got to watch the man make some, pretty cool.

Koh Kret is famous for their pottery, and believe me, it is everywhere. Anutra's favorite thing is to make pottery here, so she wanted me to try. How hard could it be, right? Wrong. I was terrible. Embarrassingly, this is the best my creation ever got. From here, it just went down hill. Previous to this, I had watched a man make several small pots, each taking him around 1 minute. They were beautifully shaped with designs on the side and a wavy top. He made it look so easy! It was really fun to try this, and honestly, someday I'd really love to learn how. All the instruction I got was "hands wet" and "soft, soft". I'm sure there is more to it than that. I didn't bother taking mine home, it would have just been a sad reminder of how non-artistic I am. But, I think I'm adding this to my "things to do before I die" list.

I took my camera to church today, and got a picture of my nursery class. I didn't even try to get all their faces, it would have been impossible! But, this was one of the few minutes where the children were all content and quiet (you guessed it, snack time!). My little class is getting bigger and we can all barely fit in our TINY room, but come January, we'll lose our older kids to the older classes, so for now, we are enjoying who we have. Starting from the left: Eli (blonde tip of his head!), Kambren, Liza, Jane, Brigham, Hyrum, Narissa, Angelina, Charlotte, and a little girl who wandered in, we're not sure where she's from, who she is, or what language she speaks, but she sure enjoyed being with us!

The main reason I took my camera was to get one last picture of Jack and Ali together. Ali's family flies out to Canada on Tuesday and as much as we will miss them, we are SO happy they will be able to start a new life there where they will be together and safe. Thank you, Canada! Ali has been one of the faces I look forward to seeing every Sunday. He is always smiling, and loves to find Jack after classes and run around in the gym together. Such a sweet boy.

Masoud, Hanieh (holding somber Jane), Ali, and Shahnaz. Hanieh, the daughter, spoke today in Sacrament meeting. She spoke of how her life has changed since she joined the church. It was so sweet and simple. As little as we really know about this family, and I'm pretty sure our paths will never cross again, I know we will never forget them.

On a totally unrelated note, can I brag a bit about my husband? I knew Jeff had a gift for language before we came here (just like I knew I didn't have a gift for language), although he's never really had a chance to study one seriously, but I am blown away day after day at his Thai. He listens on his mp3 player to Thai lessons to and from work almost everyday, he studies little cards he's made up that he keeps in his wallet for when he gets a free minute, and the thing that is most impressive is that he is not afraid to use what he's just learned. This is where I really lack! He has guts. He is constantly asking people about how to say this, or pronounce that, or why it's like this... he eats it up! I really enjoy learning Thai, and while I think I'm probably better than the average expat with no previous ties to Thailand, I am still not very good. Jeff has started to learn to read and write Thai during the last month. He learned all 44 consanants and 30 vowels, and is actually starting to read signs and other random things we come across. I am so impressed. Then, today, he tells me that Cecile, a French women in our ward, came up to Jeremy Beck and had a short conversation with him and he understood everything she said (note from Jeff: I understood the words "tired", "blessing", "French", and "oil", which was enough to understand what she was asking for). Where does he get this? He thinks it is really silly that I make a big deal about this, but honestly, we know people who have been here for 10-15 years who can't even come close to doing what he does. He really has found a "thing" with language, and it's so fun to watch him get so excited about reading a McDonald's bag, or noticing that it takes 3 letters in Thai to say the abbreviation "S". It's awesome to be out with him and have him bust out some random phrase or question to someone, and they know exactly what he's saying. He's amazingly comfortable talking to random people in or about Thai, and they, of course, love that he's making such an effort. I knew my husband was awesome, but come on! How does he just keep getting better?

Every Sunday evening, Jack "performs" for Jeff what we've worked on during the week. We thought some of you might want to see his "tukka tukka" variation. Notice Janie coaching him with "1-2-3" which is what we always say to remind him to put his 3 fingers down in the right parts. She is his biggest fan. Is he a boy, or what? Mom and Dad, did we SWING our violins around like that when we were four?

I never dreamed teaching the violin to my own child would be such a challenge (because it's every day, not just once a week, like when I was teaching other people's children). It's SO much fun to watch him be so proud of himself when he "gets it"! And, I have to say, it really is quite an accomplishment for both of us!


Jennifer said...

I LOVE your posts! You do such amazing and adventurous things. How cool to make pots on the street and what a little boy wonderland to have all the critters to see. Jack is adorable with his little violin. I once tried to teach my boys piano. I don't have the stick-to-it-ness that I'm going to need for that ever to work. I think that I want them to learn more than they do which is so much of the battle.

I forgot that you are nursery leader too. Your nursery class is actually larger than mine. (our poor ward is shrinking rapidly - three more families are moving out and we are talking about going back to Utah next year). We get to hold class in 1/3 of the carpeted cultural hall. It's great for running and spreading out toys, but crazy that we have doors on both sides for the kids to escape.

Keep posting. It's so cool to see what you are up to.

Joanna said...

Way to go, Jack! Your tukka-tukka is amazing! I love the staccato notes and I think you're lucky to have a sister that reminds you how to put your fingers down the right way! Thanks for sharing your talent with us! Maybe next summer you and Abbie can do a duet!

Joanna said...

Hi Mindy! Jack sounded GREAT! We miss you guys sooooooo much. Love,

swimminupstream said...

FLASHBACK...only I was what? In JUNIOR HIGH when I learned that SAME song from Vanessa??? That's awesome!

Jason & Shannon Salmon said...

Cute kids. Your little girl is getting so big. What a neat experience your family is having!

Mimi and Papa in Provo said...

Jack and Mindy, I really was "bustin' my buttons" when Jack was playing his violin and I can appreciate Jane's coaching from the sidelines too. Jack, you are so good at playing and bowing and helping your Mom to teach you violin. Keep it up! Mindy you are great at pics....keep em coming. I can't get enough of your beautiful journaling via your blog. Much love to all from Mimi.

Kami said...

just reading some old posts. Jack is doing GREAT on his violin! Awesome! My kids and I are impressed!