09 December 2006

A Restaurant that serves Airline Food

This might be one the craziest ideas, with "a Restaurant that serves School Cafeteria Food" being only slightly more frightening.

But, it's true! Apparently Thai Airways is known for their good food, and here is a photo of one of their restaurants in my area.

29 November 2006

Motorbikes and chains (as in "franchises")

Apparently you're supposed to change the oil EVERY MONTH on a motorcycle or scooter. (Sorry, Little Red, my set of wheels, for leaving you drowning in your oil for so long!)

Thailand is the world's top importer of these convenient little vehicles. Here is a photo of some of them parked outside of Starbucks.

And yes, Chiang Mai has at least 2 Starbucks, although the prices are waaaaay over the heads of local people, so I try not to go there. I want to make a statement about overly expensive chains spreading out all over countries that have lots of other good things to offer without tempting the youth with luxurious items they can ill afford.

As another example, Thais make really good fried chicken, but the young people would rather go to KFC. It's more expensive but is not as fresh, and it just makes some big shot in America richer. I'd rather support the locals, and would love to see the tourists do the same!

23 November 2006

Just another Lord's Day at Wat Hua Khuang

I'd like to tell you about my conversation last Sunday with Jajuu, the monk.

We were talking about Buddhism and reincarnation, about how doing good gets you a better position in your next life, and doing wrong sends you to a "worse" life. According to Jajuu, it is also possible that, if you sin a lot in one life, you might have to spend some time in hell paying for it, even before you are reborn. Then, when you are re-born, you'd probably find yourself more disadvantanged than in your previous life.


Later in our time together, he asked me how Christianity works, so to speak. I talked about how we have 2 kinds of life--physical (temporary) and spiritual (eternal), and that in our eternal lives, we can only be with God if we are sinless. Since no one is sinless, Jesus paid for our sin on our behalf (contrast this to the person in his story above, who had to put in his time in hell) so we could go to him for help and be washed clean.

He spent a lot of time reflecting on this. Eventually he asked, "Why did God make it so easy?"

Why indeed?

I had never pondered this question myself.

In that moment, the answer washed over me and sent the tears flowing... creating an uncomfortable scene for my Thai friend, as Thais dislike emotional outbursts. Thankfully Jajuu is a patient, kind person.

So. Why is it so easy? God could have made it really difficult to pay back all our sins. But he didn't. He made it really easy for us because he wants us to be with him so badly. He is so good, so full of grace, so giving, so full of true love, that he made it that easy.


Jajuu declared, "I learned a lot about Christianity today." And my relationship with God grew stronger, too.

Yep. Just another Lord's Day at a Buddhist Temple in Thailand.

15 November 2006


There is such a difference between Thailand and Burma. The relative wealth of Thailand and the instability of Burma leads some Burmese to seek a better life in Thailand. If they are in the country illegally, their vulnerability to exploitation is much higher. Please pray for Burma and her people!

PHOTO: (Legal) Burmese merchants entering Thailand for the day to sell their goods

The land is quite beautiful, and I like the people and their language. You should hear their singing! So strong and full.

08 November 2006

Classic Car Road Trip from Beijing to Paris

A friend of a friend is driving his 1930 Cherolet in this month-long event... it looks like an incredible journey! Check it out at www.pekingparis.com

07 November 2006

Loi Krathong

What a pretty holiday!

I enjoyed watching the festivities from the Riverside Restaurant here in Chiang Mai. A krathong is a little boat make from flowers and banana leaves, and also has a candle or incense. It is floated down the river as a prayer.

Often a guy and a girl who like each other will float one together, meaning they will be lovers in this life or a future life.

People also light a fire under paper lanterns, floating them up to the sky. So many of them! The full moon, the sky full of lanterns, relaxing along the river... it was so nice!

Fireworks were going off everywhere, too. It was really festive, since anyone could buy them and set them off (even the big ones!). However, I was a bit fearful of being hit by one as I walked home that night!

01 November 2006

Those Crazy Americans!

My German teammate has had a tough time adjusting to our American English! Here are a few examples:

Help yourself.
While it's a sign of hospitality in English, in German it's more of a put-down, like we might say, "Why don't you get it YOURSELF?!"

What's that? (with a rising tone)
We say it to mean, "I didn't hear you. Could you repeat that?" but she understands it literally, meaning we didn't understand one of the words in the sentence and need an explanation.

Shut up!
These days, it's slang for "No way!" "Wow!" or "You're kidding me!" and is meant in a positive way, but my German friend hears it as a rude command.

You can imagine what she felt like her first few days here, if the dialogue went something like this:

Rahel: Thank you for letting me stay at your house.
Karis: No problem! If you need anything just ask me, and feel free to HELP YOURSELF!
(Rahel thinks I hate her)

Rahel: I finally got that phone call I was waiting for!
Brittany: SHUT UP!
(Rahel thinks Brittany hates her)

Rahel: Sawatdee kha. ("Hello" in Thai.)
(Rahel thinks, Hmmm... he's been in Thailand for 5 years and still doesn't know the common greeting??)

My friend had to hide in her room for a few days (just kidding!) but we now have some pretty good inside jokes.

24 October 2006

Gettin' Caught in the Rain

The rainy season is an adventure for those of us who have to get around on motorcycle! Heavy rains can come out of nowhere, forcing us to don rain ponchos. Sometimes we have to just pull over, take shelter, and wait it out.

Rahel snapped this photo of me during one of those "pull over and take shelter" times. I didn't even have time to get out the poncho--my jeans were soaked!

21 October 2006

Toilet Expo

Who knew?

16 October 2006

My Many Names

Known to most of you as Karis, and by some as Aunt Ka-Ka or Zappy, here in Thailand I had to find a name that was easy for Thai people to say.

Thais generally go by their nicknames, so it is not strange at all to go by an easier name.

Thanks to Mr. Alan Galvez, and the people who subsequently started calling me by that name, I usually introduce myself here as "KP."

It is fairly easy to remember, but occasionally it morphs into K.T./Katie, Tepi (the Thai word for an angel-like creature, I think) and young boys especially like to call me KFC.

My Thai pastor has given me the Thai name Chabaa (hibiscus), so church people generally call me that.

Aunt Ka-Ka

Whatever you call me, I invite all friends and family to call me sometime. (hee hee)

14 October 2006

Thailand's Religion

Theravada Buddhism is the primary religion of Thailand. As I walked around in Bangkok during a recent trip there, I passed an area that sells primarily religious articles, including Buddha figures and monks' robes.

Most men who become monks do so only for a period of their lives, not forever. Maybe as few as 3 weeks. I even recently heard of a foreign exchange student who was ordained just for one day, just to say he had been a Buddhist monk in Thailand!

Women cannot really be monks. There are some who wear the white robes and such, but it is not the same. They do not make merit by doing this the way the men do. But, everyone can EARN merit by giving food to the monks as they go on their early morning alms walks.

10 October 2006

"Don't Forget My Something."

I must say, the forcefulness of children selling their wares in the Angkor Wat Temple compound really caught me off guard. Before I had one leg out of the motor-taxi, a handful of children rushed toward me and began showing me their tour books, postcards, cold bottled water, scarves and so forth.

They were surprisingly good and English and knew many world capitals.

"What is your name? Where do you come from? I know the capital of your country."

After this brief time of introduction, we were shown their wares and if we said no, thank you, they pressed us with many reasons to buy from them.

"I sell you cheap! You need cold water! See my postcards!"

After many attempts to say no, they moved to encouraging us to come back to them after visiting the temple.

"Don't forget my book!"

"Don't forget my postcard!"

"Don't forget my water!"

"Don't forget my something!"

My something?

Upon our return, these street-wise kids remembered our names, and if we still said no, they said, "You promised to buy my book/postcard/water/scarf!"

It could be frustrating except that I knew that Cambodia has seen great hardship, and these children are only being obedient to their parents. As much as we could, Christine and I tried to engage them in normal conversation. They were pretty bright kids, and often even if we didn't buy anything ultimately, they would wave good-bye cheerfully. Sweet kids.

I won't forget them, although I might forget their "something!"

06 October 2006

Angkor What?

There was actually a restaurant by this name in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the base town for exploring Angkor Wat and the other ancient Temples of Angkor.

Seriously, though, I understood why this is considered SE Asia's greatest sight.

Built between the 9th and 13th centuries (or thereabouts), there are many impressive temples covering a large area. A 3-day pass was not quite enough to see everything! The temples were massive, built with large stones, with so many carvings and details. The area has become a bit touristy, but they don't have all the cool areas roped off like they might in the U.S. You can still feel like you are an explorer as you check out the various crumbling temples, climbing up steep stairways and scrambling over rock piles to get a good photo.

Ta Prohm, the one with all the tree roots taking over, was especially fascinating, And I like this shot of the Cambodian man carrying a monk on a scooter, racing into the modern era and away from the Old Ways.

30 September 2006

Why this title

I have lived many of my 33 years being frustrated at times that things were not going according to my own plan for my life. Lately I have been learning to "enjoy the scenery," that is, the OTHER plan for my life, one that might not always be to my liking, but is better in the long run.

I want to give glory and thanks to the ONE who has led me along the scenic route, and to share with all of you some pieces of that journey, and hopefully encourage you in yours.