Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Oh for the love of all things aesthetic!

A few months ago our management company, in the interest of "sprucing things up," painted the large planter pots in our courtyard a peachy/orange color (previously white). Now, when you walk into the courtyard, you see POTS. It's quite unattractive, but we've learned to live with it.

However, last week, they painted our fountain pink. Pure pepto pink. I have to admit that the little girls in our complex under the age of 5 are enamored with it, but everyone else is in shock. We've mentioned that this new color is unattractive (my precise words to the management were "te bie bu hao kan! Extremely ugly!") but they keep giving us, "we're sprucing it up."

This reminds me of a home store we used to frequent in China. When they remodeled it, they painted it a combination of lime green and that florescent purple. It looked like someone lost a bet. Maybe, since it was a home store, they asked all the paint companies which paint they couldn't sell, and got a discount on it.

I have written a nicely worded letter to our management company (not the strongly worded one written in my mind) and hope that soon and very soon we'll be seeing white again.

Ethan's all-boy poolside dinosaur birthday!

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Elephant Trek

Every year in Thailand I've wanted to take the kids on an elephant ride, but I (now I think wisely) thought that Megan might be too afraid to get on. She willingly did this time, but she only enjoyed it for about 1/2 of the hour long ride. It was a good time for the rest of us though. I think the favorite part for everyone was riding through water that went up to our elephant's eyes. Ethan begged to go back the rest of the time we were in Thailand!

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We were joined by Roger and Janet Ose, parents of some friends of ours. They came to watch their grandkids during the conference. They were also missionaries in Madagascar soon after Erik's grandparents were, back in the days. Posted by Picasa

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The happy family waiting while our elephant takes a break. Actually, Megan was starting to get a little frustrated with the ride at this point. Posted by Picasa

A Thai village - we think most of the people who live here work at the elephant trek, or at the nearby temple. Posted by Picasa

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This is the house of the man who led our elephant Posted by Picasa

The kids tried the coconut milk but they weren't big fans of it Posted by Picasa

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ethan's 6th birthday

Our boy turned 6 today unbelievably. I can't help but consider that it means I'm also 6 years older than I was when he was born!

This afternoon we took the kids and two of their friends, Luke and Aaron, to the infamous Reptile Paradise (see previous post). We got taken a bit by a guy who will serve as your "guide" through the park because he convinced Erik that we wouldn't be able to sit on the old tortoises or feed the iguanas if we didn't hire him. He also told us we could watch him feed the other animals. Well, the iguana part was true, but while we were feeding them he went ahead and fed all the other animals and we missed it. So later we went back and sat on the big tortoises again to get our money's worth.

Of course the kids had a great time, but when we came back Ethan seemed a little peaked. I brought out his presents and he barely blinked. Turns out he was running a fever - not the most fun thing to do on his birthday. Fortunately we decided to have his party on Saturday instead of today - hopefully he'll be better by then.

Ethan kept saying today that he wished he was still five. Somehow this relates to the fact that his party isn't for two more days, but I'm not clear how. I think I still wish he was five too, but time marches on. It'll be fun to see what his does with this year.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Singapore's dirty little secret

Singapore is a very clean city, mostly I suppose because the fine for littering exists. This fine is overlooked one day of the week, and that is Sunday.

I think I've mentioned before that Sunday is the day when Indian men from all over Singapore migrate to Little India for a day off filled with standing around, talking, and producing litter. Monday morning reveals a wasteland of rubbish. I drove through it this morning at around 7:30 and the ground looked the county fair on any given day. It really was an eyesore.

Within a short time, the government will have sent some of its people to clean up the mess and everything will be back to normal. And now you know - Singapore isn't always clean.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hands off the leg!

Our recent trip to Thailand brought back memories of one of my favorite Ethan stories. It happened pre-blog, so I thought I'd share it for those of you who could use a laugh today. And who doesn't really?

So two years ago when we were in Thailand (Ethan was not quite 4), my friend Ginger and I were out by the pool with the kids. Ethan was exploring a bit on his own. He came to me and told me he wanted to go back to our room, and he seemed a bit sad. As we were walking, he broke down into tears.
"What's wrong Ethan?"
"I was playing with the leg" (sob sob) "and the man said, 'Hey, that's my leg!!'" (sob sob).

Turns out there was a man with a prosthetic leg swimming in the pool who had left his leg near his stuff. It looked kind of creepy because it still had the sandal and sock on it, and he'd draped a towel over the top. Ethan's curiosity got the better of him, and apparently the fear of a destroyed prosthetic leg got the better of that man.

Once Ethan was restored, I had to explain to him why people don't like it when you play with their prosthetic legs. Then I had to try to be patient while he ran through every possible way the man might attach the leg, even though I kept saying I didn't know ("Tape? Buttons? Snaps?" "I don't know Ethan!!!")

This year, no prosthetic leg incident. Which is probably good for everyone involved.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

What retired Europeans do for vacation

I enjoy a morning on the beach reading a good book. And that is the extent of how my vacation time would line up with the average European tourist here. Our hotel is flooded with them - not just from Europe but a large contingency from Scandinavia as well. Their goal seems to be sitting by the pool in the smallest swimsuit possible for days on end, plowing through piles of Dan Brown books. Dan Brown is the official sponsor of the European vacation in Thailand in case you didn't know. They run out in the wee hours of the morning to reserve a chair by the pool with one of the pool towels, eat breakfast, and then bake for the rest of the day until they look like brown leather.

On the one hand, you have to admire the freedom they have to wear tiny swimsuits regardless of the shape or size of their bodies. On the other hand, I feel like it infringes a bit on my desire not to see it. So we're in a bit of a conflict.

They don't appreciate the presence of the 1350 people at our conference, about 250 of which are children. We block their sun, distract them from Dan Brown, and generally make their vacation too noisy. They make me feel like I'd look stellar in a two piece. I think I'm winning.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Asian Sauce Crisis

Asians don't know the joy of sauce. I say this, because it is extremely difficult to get more than a piddly amount of any to go with your meal. I'm speaking in particular of ketchup, salad dressing, and syrup, although it could really apply to any sauce. They're just really stingy about it.

For example, if you buy a large fry at McDonald's, you will most likely get one packet of ketchup. Asking for another one will raise eyebrows. Asking for a third may require a written request. At Brewerkz, the kids share three plate size pancakes. They give us one shot glass full of syrup. I tried to ask the server to bring us the whole bottle because we were eating there with friends, but she didn't seem to understand the desire for more.

What's with the rationing? Is there some sort of sauce shortage in Asia? Or do they just not realize how much better things can taste slathered in it? Note to visitors: bring your own.