Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Kids in Koh Kred - Chapter II

Back in time to our pottey village.

We found ourselves strolling into this park where smeared powered faces started running towards us...the village kids. Forget about the usual shyness the Thai kids have. These guys where all over us...

Photography wise, I'm not sure it's such a good thing cause 60% of my photos (Carmen) were out of focus or the focus was entirely wrong. Ake however, the silent observer of it all, had much better results. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Life as a Romanian Orphan

"We were not allowed out - and most of the time we were not even allowed to play. It was really boring because there was nothing to do. "

"The staff used to beat us a lot. I think they liked it. Sometimes they would get drunk and then they would hit us really hard. "

"We had a shower once a week, but the carers didn’t want to touch us so we washed each other. Often we didn't have any hair [it was shaved off periodically to avoid head lice]."

"Everything got a bit better when the volunteers came. But as soon as they left, things went back to normal."

"The charity took us on a trip to the Black Sea and the mountains. It was really exciting. To start with, I was a bit scared of the waves, and I also didn’t like the idea of wearing just a swimming costume!
"But in the end I loved it. That trip was also the first time I ate ice cream."

[taken from BBC Photo Journal]

Friday, February 24, 2006

Koh Kred - The Pottery Village - Chapter I

This hidden jewel is on an island in the Bangkok Delta, some km away from Bangkok. It's an unspoiled little place where "the old ways" are very much vibrant. It felt like a trip back in time, moments when you just wanna sit a watch the world go by... I spotted my grandmas old sewing machine in one of the houses, 50 year old bikes, candles and rows after rows of pottery houses and old clay ovens. It was like....like being back in my grandma's village, watching her bake bread in the clay oven...ahh, the smell, the taste...add a glass of wine, and there you have it: Heaven!

We loved watching this boy at work...it was getting towards the sunset by then, we'd just finished a full trek around the island (5 km), the heat exaustion was beginng to take it toll, so, sitting by the river and hanging out with the guy was absolutely brilliant!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dinner and a softie bulldog

You know how most cultures have sayings about women that cook well as having the world at their feet. (e.g.The army marches by the stomach.(Chinese); The old hen makes the soup good. (Romanian)). After last night, I'm all for it! Ahh, all the dignified jokes about how we gotta be modern women and stuff..naaah!...The truth is, a great meal is the sure way to do it. Of course my kids will hate me for it...I'm turning into mom here...

So, there we were indulging in delicacies at Rich and Sarah place. As it turns out Sarah is this fantastic cook. I'm not too bad myself but she's the Angelina Jolie of cooks. Lasagna, mediteranean feta cheese salad (YUUUUM!), garlic bread...all with the right drinks, a good chat and lots of laughs over the world's most soft hearted bulldog - the rough on the outside, soft on the inside combination...we had such a good time..they finally kicked us out at midnight.

Old Romanian courtesy implies flowers when you're invited for dinner, a French imported custom I think. So, I went to this nice flower shop, picked up a bunch of cream/green roses and asked the lady to wrap'em up. Remember that scene in LOVE ACTUALLY when Roward Atkinson wraps up the golden necklace?...Well, it was exactly like that! A 15 min wrapping symphony, layers of fancy paper, ribbon, glitter, the works..he he he...loved watching it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


..the most venerated flower of Asia...To Buddha the lotus was so beautiful, rising its high blossom from the muddy water - the elighted one in a world of ignorant beings.

A closed blossom means potential, an opened one however changes meaning according to the number of petals. An eight petal lotus means harmony. More than eight equals the road to spiritual revelation. At the end of the road, there it stands graciously, the 1000 petals lotus to tell you, you've made it! Good luck to us all!

Naturally, in Asia, the lotus helps to feed the millions. I've had it only in the Chinese Moon Cake (seeds). I may be on a black list here, but it's not one of my favorites.:P..I love the buds, but no luck, they all bloomed by the time we were there.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Barefoot in the Park

Well, no! Baaad idea in Thailand, barefooting that is. There are hundreds of snake species that live here and 90% are venemous. Still, going to the Rod Fai Park was a real treat. We hired bikes for the day and went off riding and taking photos.

Funny enough there were several photo shootings at the site. I had no idea how many people work in the business. There must have been at least 20, the photographer, the fashion designer, the gay make - up artist, 4-5 models (foreign models in this case), all terribly skinny (my granny would have them beaten with the stick, and I'm not being gealous here ;)) and 10 caryboys loading the stuff from spot to spot.

On Sunday we felt less adventurous so we ran to the movies. CRASH was playing so we got tickets and we were in. I truly loved it. It's one of those movie that's one step next to everyday reality, avoiding really well the Hollywoodian make-overs of life.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Made in Laos

Once upon a time there was a prince who lived in beautiful castle...STOP! STOP! STOP!


Once upon a time there was an English girl called Norma who traveled to Laos. There she was in one hot evening in need of something to drink, sooo she walked to a small shop and asked for a can of Coke.

In front of the shop there were four people eating meat on a stick and drinking beer Lao...reeewind...milk. A lovely Laotion woman stood up and got her a can of Coke, and invited her to try some Laotian food with them. Soon enough, Norma's trying the drinks, the meat on the stick spiced up by several kids of sauces, having a great time with the locals.

It's getting way past dinner time, so she reckons is time to say Goodbye and head home...But before she asks one last question: "How did they cook the pork that it's so tender?" .... The woman smiles back and answers nonchalantly :" It's not pork. It's dog meat."

Now kids, what's the moral of the story?...

That's right, "Don't buy Coke in Lao!"

Thanks to Norma for sharing the story over a cup of tea...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Swimming Relays

Rule No 1 with kids: You always have to come up with something new! If you can, you're on the road to heaven...otherwise...the little guy with two red horns will get you...muaha ha ha ha.

They're like sponges absorbing in a flash what you thought it's gonna last for couple of hours, and there you are on the spot "what's next!?". Good thing is: YOU NEVER GET BORED!!! And if your tired neurons can't come up with anything else, there's always the "everyone gather around MR. Richard for the next game!" That's right, throwing the hot potato around!

So there we were, an entire week: chewing gum relays, treasure hunts, balloon relays, polo, water rugby!!! Little hearts popping with energy and excitment.

Between cheers, tears and exaustion we had a fab time!!! Tommorrow's THE OLYMPICS...racing our hearts for medals.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Valentines, Valentines

It's getting harder and harder to escape all the pink hearts and teddy bear decorations on Feb, 14th....Even the modest places in Bangkok will have at least some Pepsi Valentine commercial posters + heart balloons.

There are some days when a bit a glamour might be the right touch, but instead we felt like finding a quiet corner and a nice dinner to chat our hearts out.
According to most surveys that's what people actually WANT for Valentines, a quiet dinner(with or without movies). Why all the hooo-haaaa, then??? If not to convince us that we actually NEED expensive gifts, flowers, diamond rings...:))

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Going to Vietnam...in April

I'm buzzing around with excitment since Northern Vietnam popped out of the 'where to go next?' Box. We each wrote down 2 rules and picked the place that went along with all that.
Rule no 1 : "Must be out of Thailand." (cause we're frying now)
Rule no 2 : "Must be cold." (Ake, naturally)
Rule no 3 : "Must be able to live on 30-40 euros/day, both." (that nailed Japan for us)
Rule no 3 : "Must be within a 5 hour flight."

Air Asia is well anchored in the area so finding flight tickets is as easy as pie. In fact it all settles at 4000 baht (100 dollars) a head/roundtrip to Hanoi.

So, let's talk, Vietnam...
The legend says the country was the gentle outcome of the Union between the King of the Sea and The Princess of the Mountains, and well, my friends that have traveled there are ready put their hearts down for North Vietnam. It's magical, they say! The South apparently is becoming a little too industrial and finds harder to impress after visiting North. We've got only 8 days, so we'll stick to North.

Most people say though, it feels the country is just now finding its peace. The past reality meant for Vietnam 1000 years of Chinese occupation AC, followed by the benefits of French collonial times (19th century - WWII), and the North-South War involving who else, but US for 8 bloody years. 1991 meant for Vietnam exactly what 1989 meant for Romania, the end of communism and the beginning of something in between all systems...In Romania it seems to be going in the right direction, so I trust it must be the same for Vietnam, fingers crossed :)...As I Romanian, I should fit right in...and Ake, well, he can fit basically anywhere...

I'm doing my Vietnam homework now. I've circled so far Halong Bay, Paradise Lake, Hanoi and the Temple of Literature, marked several Frech bakeries in Hanoi, the temple on the lake.

Many many many thanks to Norma for her ever so well spoken backparerish insights on Hanoi and Halong Bay...Next weeked I'll get another dose of stories on Vitenam cause I'm gonna be seeing her photos..The sad part is, we have 2 more months to go, cause our holiday is in April.:(((..I've already got ichy feet!

Here's some great links to check out Vietnam on:

Geographica - Vietnam
Wikipedia - North Vietnam
Lonely Planet - Vietnam

and Paradise Lake, photo by Steve.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Fruit Shakes

One of the advantages of living in Thailand is that, whether you like it or not you'll be stuffing yourself with fruit nearly every day. They're everywhere: fruit shakes (Thais love these with lots of ice, but foreigners mostly feel they're cheated fruit-wise??? I like it the Thai way, but that's me!), cold fruit in a bag, fruit ice cream, fruit popsicle, freshly squeezed fruit juice...aaaaahhhh. Lots to choose and most of them, year long available.

I prepared the most humble pair of eyes, walked down, and asked the lady seeling fruit on the street: "Mam, can I take few photos, my mom in Romania would like to see what fruits you have in Thailand". Being cute never fails with the Thais, and there I was shooting away with my Nikon.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Some Like it Hot :)

It's getting purgatorial over here, in Bangkok. If the pool water is 22 C, imagine what's it like outside!!! Parents close to fainting points overdosing on cool drinks, an explosion of colourful sun hats, sun screen mania...THAT, while we're having an absolut blast in the pool. There's no turning back now, not until October when it should start to get just an inch chillier...

I was planning on a long serie of photographs cause we were swimming like crazy, but my photographer (AKE) bailed out on me and ran for the nearest ice cream shop. The rat!!!!

Monday, February 06, 2006


I'm adding up the days - 37!...It hasn't rained in Bangkok this year yet. The heat's been pilling up over all of us, the smog, the pollution. One good thing: Hurray..I'm in a warm pool! I mean...heaven!

We've been on Ginseng dopping since 29 th of January, a Chinese custom which fits me perfectly, cause it tastes like bitter coffee. I admit, I missed the sweet nectar of life!:) It does make your blood boil and you may need several shots of icy water to cool off, but it's supposed to be the "secret" of longevity, so, what the heck..I'll live to be 100!-:)

The Chinese New Year isn't over yet...like any new year celebrations, it tends to eat as much working days as possible, but since I still have to get to work dealing with the traffic gets ugly.

It all looks better if you have a photo camera in your hands. All the little glitches, daily misfortunes and minor catastrophies become "great opportunities"...I bet most people that got swallowed up by the tsunami waves were photographers...

But the best news of all is that my granpa will SEE again....thanks to modern medicine getting to Romania and a dedicated doctor.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

of movies...

January was a sort of movie free for a while...but, we're back in the game...waiting for the biggies of the year to be launched.

So, we were browsing through DVD shops and came accross to Million Dollar Baby, a film by Clint Eastwood. We'd somehow missed it last year so we bought it. If you ain't seen it yet, run to the nearest DVD rent store and grab it. 120 well spent minutes of your life!!! It's the best movie within the BOXING STORIES category.
Shortly after that we saw a real gem called An Unfinished LIfe. A simple story told in the lonesome feather flying style of Lasse Halstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules). I still love Robert Redford, the Brad Pitt of my moms generation. Made me wish I was back in Romania for a minute.

Just yesterday we went to the cinema to see the much spoken about Memoirs of a Geisha. Having read the book and loving it, I thought the movie was sort of OK(it's got dissapoitment written all over it)...the kind that you hardly consider seeing twice and neither grow to dislike it entirely. Asian movies are sometimes over dignified and I thought this one was also...and didn't understand why the director didn't use more of the story telling lines in the book. I thought the greatest value of the book was that it was retrospective and allowed a different judgement to interfere with all that was happening. You'd be there watching a blank face, with nothing but your mind to lead you either toward the dark side or the sentimental side...It just comes to close sometimes to soap opera stories.

Number 4 on the list is Prime, Merryl Streep and Uma Thurman. A light comedy with bits of drama...a good selection for a laid back evening when you don't wanna feel torn up to bits by the world's biggest tragedy.

A walk in the park...and then, naturaly, there's the faithful Tuk Tuk to bring you home...and when you know the real price it's always fun to bargain cause you know "they'll see it your way" ... eventually. :-)