Saturday, 30 June 2007

Goodbye to June

June 2007

Seems to have been a lot wetter than usual. Each June we have some rain, as part of the monsoon at the other side (Andaman Sea) but this year there was a lot more, especially at the beginning of the month.

There was also a nice stretch of sunny weather in the middle of the month.

Towards the end of the month, we had some vicious storms with some more rain again.

I'm looking forward to see July cleaning up and bringing lots of sunshine again.

Camille

30th June, 2007

Today's weather;

There's more overcast today and current temp is 27C.

Yesterday was also overcast all day long with the sun trying to peek through the cloud cover but to no great avail. Max temp was 31.2C and on the positive side, it stayed dry all day.

See you next month,
Camille

Friday, 29 June 2007

School party at Plai Laem

The local school party at Plai Laem




Today it was the time of the year again for the local school party at our neighbourhood school. We got the invitation a couple of days ago, in an envelope.
I've been going to this party since at least 4 or 5 years, since my wife's niece goes to this school and she performs here every year.
That's what's it all about, the kids of each class perform and they all dress up for the occasion, some picture will later.


We arrived shortly after five and it wouldn't be Thailand if there wouldn't be food available. As you can see on the picture's, tables are set up in the by now familiar 8 persons per table modus operandi. This time around I didn't have to serve though and could enjoy the food.


The envelope with the invitation is being used again, since every body that decides to eat here pays money for it, so the school doesn't lose out financially but actually makes money out of it. The food is donated and the envelopes make for good use for the school. Classrooms can be revamped, computers bought, you name it.


Here's the donation box at the entrance of the school grounds. Many high ranked local Thais and big hotels are invited, since they also spend money or come with gifts and today a computer was donated by Sila Evason hotel, one of the more upscale hotels on Samui, located in Plai Laem.

After all this the actual dancing starts and our niece has gone through the ranks so to speak and she was in the 'oldest' class and strangely enough they went on first;

This years theme for her class was a classical dance theme and they did well.
I found it a bit strange that the oldest class went on first, so the young kiddos had to wait before they could go on.







After her performance, her Mum, Grand mum and various other people gave her and the other kids performing so called 'Puang Ma Yang', the colourful things she's holding. One has to buy them and than you give them to your local performer. They're taken away again and resold for the next act. A prefect way of making money again for the school funds.







These 'Puang Ma Lay' are very common during all live shows in Thailand from performers. During shows people walk up to the stage and hand them to the performers on stage, sometimes also money is handed over.
In the picture to the left one can see a long row of guirlandes (that's what they look like) and some younger children waiting to perform, all nicely dressed up.




Here's some other children who were standing guard at the entrance to the school grounds, with some of their teachers and they're welcoming people, as long as they're not posing for my pictures!

Here's a picture of the very young ones, who're about to perform. It's a real cute experience and fun to watch how they try to remember their moves on stage and constantly look at each other to see if they remember everything correctly.










By now it's becoming a bit more crowded and everybody's waiting for their daughter, son, niece or nephew to perform.
It was a well organised evening this year, which according to my wife had to do with the fact that there was a new head teacher who was a bit smarter in how to organise everything and it seems he succeeded this year.

29th June, 07

Today's weather;

Overcast again with a current temp of 27C.

Yesterday it cleared up during the day time and there was sunshine but around 7 pm it started to rain again with hard winds. Max temp was 31C

See you tomorrow,
Camille

Thursday, 28 June 2007

28th June, 2007

Today's weather;

Heavy overcast this morning with a current temp of 25C.

Yesterday around 1.30 pm we had a very strong storm with heavy winds and lots of rain. Apparently this storm raged all over Thailand in varying degrees and in Phuket people died, living on the beach in small 'slum' like buildings, according to Thai TV this morning.

Later in the evening there was more rain again but funnily enough the max temp was over 34C

Stay dry and see you tomorrow,
Camille

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

27th June, 2007

Today's weather;

Looks rather good. It's sunny outside with loads of blue sky. Current temp is 27C

Yesterday it was mainly overcast with rain in the early evening around 6 pm and very hard rain and strong winds around midnight.

Camille

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

26th June, 2007

Today's weather;

It's overcast again with a fairly strong wind, but dry so far. Current temp is 28C.

Yesterday was a alight overcast with no rain, max temp reached 32.5C

See you later,
Camille

Monday, 25 June 2007

An emotional day

An emotional day

Rather early, around 8 am, we went to the temple and everything was ready to welcome all the expected visitors. Huge amounts of food were prepared and all plates, water bottles, ice, glasses etc etc were ready to be brought out. Until about 9.30 people trickled in but than a steady stream kept coming until about noon and it was hard work for all people tending the various tables, about 20 - 25 tables each seating 8 people. Grand sons/daughters, sons in law (like myself), girlfriends, nephews, cousins et all, everybody helps tending the tables, cleaning the dishes, preparing the food and you name it.

All people (groups, families) attending bring an envelope with some money and in return they received a small Buddha figure. The amount in the envelopes varies on how good you know the deceased person or the family and can vary from 100,- Baht to a couple of thousand Baht.



Around noon the monks started their chants for about an hour and a half. When that was over, an event takes place that excites everybody, small, wrapped coins are being thrown into the crowd, 1, 5 and 10 Baht coins and some have numbers on them which connect to prices, like a rice cooker, a blanket etc. Everybody is full of anticipation and enjoys grabbing the coins off the floor.


Here people are grabbing the coins and are looking for them on the ground.



When this cheer full event was over, the body, which all these days was in a refrigerated casket, as shown on this picture above, was brought over to the place where the actual cremation took place, a couple of hundred meters away from the temple. With a last farewell from the people who followed along, the casket is placed inside and cremated. This last part, bringing the body over and actually starting the cremation seem always to pass by really fast and is rather emotional.


This is the actual place where the cremation took place, a little bit outside the actual temple grounds.

I'm really drained from all events today and will see you tomorrow again.

Camille

25th June, 2007

Today's weather;

It looks very nice again, in stark contrast to the last two days. A blue sky, however laced with clouds but the sun is out again! Current temp is 26.5C

Yesterday it was all day long overcast but no rain. Max temp was 31.5C


Today will be Grandma's cremation ceremony. Every day we've been to the temple, in the morning and again in the evening, well my wife, I went last night, my wife went each night with the kids, I had appointments.
Last night however, we went all together and it was very busy. Hundreds of people come to sit and eat and it's the family who serves them, so within no time, I was involved in carrying big plates of food, plates with cutlery, water bottles to various tables and once a party left at a table, immediately the table was cleared, cleaned and restocked with food.
At around 7 pm, the monks come and chant and everybody prays and after that, everyone makes his way home. Some folks were surprised to see a Westerner running around and helping out but the family in law was highly pleased with my performance!

This morning, pretty much the same scenario will happen, folks will come to eat and I'm preparing to help out again. Around 1 pm the cremation will be and after that we'll head home.

You all have a nice day out there, I'll get back to you later.

Camille

Sunday, 24 June 2007

24th June, 2007

Today's weather;

A heavy layer of overcast today and it's been raining on and off today. Current temp is 26C

Yesterday it drizzled all day long with a max temp of 28.5C

Nice and cool if you live here but not so nice if you're trying to enjoy your holidays.

Hang in there,
Camille

Saturday, 23 June 2007

23rd June, 2007

Today's weather;

It's clouded and windy and it surely looks like it's going to rain today. It's 26C

Yesterday was cloudy all day and it threatened to rain during the day time a few times. In the evening it actually rained very hard in Chaweng but not here in Plai Laem. Max temp was just above 30C

Hang in there,
Camille

Friday, 22 June 2007

A sad day

Grandma passed away.

Last night one of my wife's Grannie's passed away.

It was Grandma from mothers side and she passed away as a very old lady, somewhere in her nineties.

She passed away after not being too well for a couple of months, getting weaker almost by the day.

The next couple of days, the whole extensive family, children, grandchildren and grand-grandchildren will be staying in the local temple, pretty much all day. Not to mention all friends and people who just come by to show their respect. My wife's parents and her sisters and brothers will sleep in the temple, until Monday, when the cremation ceremony takes place.

It takes some organising to keep all those people fed, so massive amounts of food have been bought on the local market, so during any given time, folks can be fed.


Here's a picture that shows grandma's last resting place until Monday.


On this picture you can get an idea, looking at the size of the wok's and pots and pans, how much food is cooked all day long.

22nd June, 2007

Today's weather;

A blanket layer of overcast this morning. It's only 26C.


Yesterday turned out to be a very hot day. 34,4C

Thursday, 21 June 2007

21st June, 2007

Today's weather;

It's a blue sky with some isolated clouds in it. Current temp is 27C

Yesterday it turned out to be a very nice day after all, it started out with all those clouds but early in the day it burst open and the clouds disappeared and it was warm and sunny all day long with a max temp of 33C.

See you tomorrow,
Camille

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

20th June, 2007

Weather today;

The sky has almost 100% overcast this morning. It's currently 27.5C

Yesterday was a fairly blue sky with occasional clouds but with a nice breeze so it didn't get too hot although there was a max temp of 33.5C

See you tomorrow,
Camille

19th June, 2007

Weather today;

It turned into a blue sky again today, with very thin cloud layers. It's got all the makings of another hot day in it. Currently it's 26.5C

Yesterday was a nice day, there was overcast all day which made for a not too hot day without rain.

See you,
Camille

Monday, 18 June 2007

18th June, 2007

Today's weather;

It started out with a similar overcast sky as yesterday but it's slowly breaking up with some blue patches in the sky. There's still plenty of clouds around though. Current temp is 27C.

Yesterday it was a sky with overcast pretty much all day which made for a nice, not too warm day with some cooling winds. Max temp was 31.4C

See you tomorrow,
Camille

Sunday, 17 June 2007

17th June, 2007

Today's weather;

It's pretty much overcast this morning. Current temp is 27.5C.

Yesterday turned out to have a lot of overcast as well, which made for a nice day, not too hot with a max temp of 32C.

See you tomorrow,
Camille

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Trip To Nakhon Si Thammarat

Welcome to this trip report to Nakhon Si Thammarat.

One of my wife's friends, Tawan, who works at the same hotel that she used to work at, was ill since a few months and we decided to pay him a visit. The plan was to visit him in his home town of Tha Sala, which is on the way to Nakhon Si Thammarat and visit the fairly famous Wat Pra Mahathat in the city of Nakhon itself.

We took an early Seatran ferry over to Donsak at the mainland and upon arrival at the mainland we tried to book a ticket for the ferry back, that same day. We were told that all ferries from 4 pm onwards were booked and maybe we could get a place on the 7 pm ferry. We decided to stay overnight and night take any chances for having to wait a couple of hours and then being told that there's no space anyway.

It was a really nice drive from Donsak via Khanom to Tha Sala, lush green on both sides of the road and hardly any traffic, in sharp contrast to Koh Samui nowadays, unfortunately.

On our way over to Tha Sala, we encountered two weddings, which according to my wife meant good luck. Upon arriving at Tawan's home, it turned out that there was a ceremony, called Pim Nam Rong, at the temple next to the school grounds where they were making Buddha amulets. It was very busy and cars were parked everywhere. This raised the amount of good luck for the day according to my wife.

After having parked at the school grounds we had to walk through the rice paddies to reach Tawan's house. We sat down and chatted a bit and ate the food that he had cooked for us.


It's season for rice planting, the picture above shows the rice paddies surrounding Tawan's house and the rice plants that are being planted.


At the back of Tawan's house was this beautiful little river, tracking it's way through the countryside. Tawan has 6 more brothers and sisters, at my Dad's, they were with a total of 14 children (good faithful Catholics, back in the days!) which I thought was quite a lot, but in the house at the back of Tawan's house, they had 20 children!!!! The oldest was now 36 and the youngest 9 years old. All those 20 kids have been raised in a smallish 3 room house next to this bend in the river.


After we were done with eating and talking at Tawan's house, we wanted to hit the road and have a look at the Wat (temple) near his place. The ceremony that I was talking about in the local temple, was about making Buddha amulets. Here's a picture of the 'stamping' machine that is used in order to make the amulets. When we arrived, the ceremony was just finished and we ended up buying a copy of each of the two amulets being 'stamped' that day, a small one for 299 Baht and a bigger one for 499 Baht.


There were also a couple of elephants at the ground, which according to Tawan, had a football game the previous day, as part of the Temple party. Our son is highly enthralled by elephants and was very happy when he could lay eyes on a bunch of real ones. This is one of the cars that travel with the elephant show, it makes for a real side show feel back in the days when the circuses had all those 'freak shows', some of the stuff that is still alive and kicking at Thai fairs.


After the stop at the local Wat, it was time to move on to Nakhon Si Thammarat. It's mostly famous for it's big Temple, Prah Mahathat, the city's most hitoric site but Nakhon Si Thammarat, was a also a very important centre of religion and culture in the past, part of this having to do with the fact that it had a harbour. Thai shadow play and classical dance-drama were developed in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The city has also a bit of a rep for having a lot of rough guys and being a violent city.

Once inside the city, around noon, we drove to the Wat Mahathat and found a parking space directly in front of the entrance to the temple grounds. The good luck was starting to pay off!

Immediately we stumbled over a couple of ceremonies going on simultaneously, all related to more amulet 'stamping'. This temple caused a rage a few months ago by introducing amulets in a certain style. When the 'first edition' went on sale, people got crushed to death by trying to buy one of the amulets. Despite this tragic event, it created a hype all over Thailand and now all temples in the region are cranking out amulets in this style, like there's no tomorrow, hence the explanation of the ceremony near Tawan's house. Although, yesterday, 15th June, was thought of as a rather lucky day, see the two weddings and two stamping ceremonies planned for this day.

The picture above was taken inside the Temple grounds and is part of a square wall around the most sacred part of the temple, the bot, where inside the walls are lined with these tranquil galleries where dozens of Buddha statues sit, called wihaans (Buddhist image sanctuaries). It's by far the biggest temple in the South of Thailand, comparable to Wat Pho and and other large Bangkok wats.


This is the most sacred part of the temple. It's statues representing Queen Hem Chala and her brother, who reputedly founded the temple complex over a thousand years ago.


Inside the same room where some pictures of monks, this particular one seemed to have reversed Vulcan ears and I wonder if he's somehow related to Mr. Spock.


There's load of stuff to see, wandering around the bot, and to my big surprise, I found a canon which has Dutch origins, it had VOC printed on the barrel, which stands for Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, which was established in 1602. It shows the importance of the harbour, how Nakhon could develop into such a cultural centre, since inside the museum grounds are also two museums (unfortunately one was closed) and there was original 'Delfts Blauw' , porcelain with Dutch land scapes and scenes on them, on display. What a surprise it was to see these Dutch artifacts so unexpectedly in this place. A few more pictures of the museum, amongst others pix of a 12 meter long whale skeleton can be found here.


Outside the bot, life went on in the meantime and this picture shows me together with a kind of Brahman, a guy who travels around Thailand and visits sacred ceremonies. He's from Lopburi, which is north of Bangkok. He had a big area set up where he was about to do his thing. Whatever that was, since we didn't stay around to watch him perform.



At around 2 pm it started to rain for an hour, so a perfect time to sit down and eat something. Since we're in Thailand, food is never far away and inside the temple grounds was also some kind of market area where lots of religious artifacts were sold, among tons of amulets and thee had to be a food court. Here's were we ate. Some good curries on display.



Here's another picture of the 'stamping' machine, in which in this case case, coloured material is inserted in the machine, together with a small gold piece and/or a gold leave.

At around 3 pm we called it a day, the rain had stopped and we walked back to where the car was parked. Here it proofed to be a very lucky day for us, since for all the three hours that we were at the temple grounds, I had left the car keys sticking inside the drivers door!

After we considered how lucky we were, it was still off to Tha Sala, to drop Tawan off at the school, so he could walk home and we were off to spend the night in Khanom.


We ended up in Nai Phao bay in Khanom, looking for a place to spend the night.


We ended up in the Supar Royal Beach hotel, a room for a 1.000,-Baht which allowed all four of us to sleep. The food outside of the hotel, in their beach restaurant was very good. Here's a picture of the view from the 5th floor at 6 am.



Last but not least, back home, here's Nathon on Samui as seen from the Seatran ferry.
All in all a very nice and relaxing trip in which it was nice to spend some time with the family.
Hope you enjoyed the story and the pictures and am looking forward to hopefully read some comments.

Cheers,
Camille

16th June, 2007

Today's weather;

Well, back from the mainland and it's a lovely day on Samui with blue skies laced with some white fluffy stuff, the current temp is almost 30C.

Yesterday I was pretty much all day on the mainland and mostly in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, where it was warm and reached a max temp of 34.4C.

My travel adventures can be read above this post.

See you tomorrow,
Camille

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Big Buddha

Big Buddha Statue


Since I most likely won't have time to post tomorrow, here's a picture I made today of the Big Buddha statue at Big Buddha. Check out the lovely blue sky in the background, it shows how gorgeous the weather is right now on Samui.

14th June, 2007

Weather today;

A beautiful blue sky with a bit more wind than average this morning and a current temp of 28C, it looks like another hot day.

Yesterday was warm, a max temp of 32C.

It looks like I won't be able to post tomorrow since I'll be on a day trip to Nakon Si Thamarasat, leaving very early, so see you again on Saturday.

Camille

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

13th June, 2007

Today's weather;

Another blue sky for which looks to be another hot day, Current temp around 27C.

Yesterday the max temp reached 32.3C and it was warm.
Last night there was some rain and thunder again, so everything is and stays very green right now!

Stay tuned,
Camille

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

12th June, 2007

Today's weather;

It's a nice blue sky again with a tiny thin white layer. The current temp is 25C.

Yesterday it was just hot! The a/c in my car was blasting away and whenever I needed to get out, it was a hot wall that hit me. Max temp was 35.3C

Last night there was some rain and thunder, which cooled things down a bit and watered our plants and garden nicely.

Monday, 11 June 2007

11th June, 2007

Today's weather;

Another near perfect blue sky. It's currently 28C already and the quicksilver is rising.

Yesterday was a lovely and very warm day, although the max temp was 32.4C.

Stay tuned,
Camille

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Chaweng Beach

After completion of the PADI Instructor Exam, today at Chaweng Beach, I took the opportunity to take some pictures of Chaweng Beach on this nice and sunny day.



Here's a picture of Chaweng Beach, at 8 am, taken in front of Long Beach, looking to the left.


Here's the same spot but now looking to the right, same time, 8 am. What a beautiful beach it still is!


Here's the same spot, looking to the left at 1 pm. Spot the difference! It's just momentarily clouded.



Last but not least, here's a picture of my six candidates who successfully completed their PADI Instructor Exam.

Standing from left to right; Nobuhiko Abe (IDCS), Thomas Knedlick (PADI Examiner), myself, Sean McNamee and Naoki Igarashi.

Sitting from left to right; Toshihiro Minowa, Atsushi Sasaki, Maki Nakagawa and Matsubara Yoshimichi.

Hope you enjoy these sunny and warm pictures and success to all my IDC candidates who are now all PADI Instructors.

Camille

10th June, 2007

Today's weather;

It's a flat out blue sky, except over the ocean there are clouds. It looks very promising.

Yesterday was another hot day, max temp of 33.9C and lots of sunshine all day long.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

9th June, 2007

Today's weather;

Another beautiful blue sky with cumulus clouds in it. Looks like it's gonna be warm again with a current temp of 27C.

Yesterday was lovely, 34.2C and a blue sky almost all day. At some stage some clouds did show up but they went way harmlessly.

See you tomorrow,
Camille

Friday, 8 June 2007

8th June, 2007

Today's weather;

It's gorgeous outside, a blue sky with a couple of white ships moving along. Absolutely beautiful.
Current temp is 27.5C

Yesterday it was lovely as well, nice, warm and a blue sky with a max temp of 34.2C

Today the IE will start for my IDC candidates, I'll keep you updated on the progress.

Cheers,
Camille

Thursday, 7 June 2007

7th June, 2007

Today's weather;

It's a lovely blue sky this morning!

Yesterday was a nice warm day. Chaweng beach was a bit more lively than last week.

At 7 pm yesterday, the Dutch national football team played vs Thailand in Bangkok and won 3-1, which was show live on Thai TV.

My kids and me were all watching in our orange shirts in front of the telly, great fun indeed.

See you tomorrow,
Camille

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

6th June, 2007

Today's weather;

Another blue sky with a thin layer of clouds and a current temp of 25C.

Yesterday it was nice and dry but with a lot more wind than usual, today there doesn't seem to be any wind.

It's the last day of my current IDC today and we'll be visiting Chaweng Beach again to complete the last Open Water presentations.
The IE (Instructor Exam) will be held on Koh Samui this time from 8th to 10th June.

Stay tuned,
Camille

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

5th June, 2007

Weather today;

A blue sky with a thin white layer and a current temp of 26.7C

Yesterday it was another nice day, not too warm and no rain with a max temp of 31.4C

See you tomorrow,
Camille

Monday, 4 June 2007

4th June, 2007

Today's weather;

A bit of overcast with blue patches, current temp 24.6C, almost chilly!

That's because last night, just after 11 pm there was a long and hard rain which cooled everything down. It's till all wet outside.

Yesterday during the day time it was pleasant though, not too hot but nice.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

3rd June 2007

Today's weather;

This morning has a blue with lots of thin hazy white layers in it and a current temp of 26.3C.

Yesterday it had a max temp of 35C, although it didn't feel that warm but a rather nice day.
During the Open Water training of my current IDC, we visited Chaweng Beach and the beach looked rather deserted, very few people out and about. The sea however was very nice and flat.

Last night around 7 pm there was rain and thunder for about an hour.

See you tomorrow,
Camille

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Follow up on Visakha Bucha day

A follow up on Visakha Bucha day

Here's a follow up on the Visakha Bucha Day story and the latest statue, build at Wat Plai Laem.




This picture shows the heart that I mentioned and posted a picture of in an earlier post . This is a clearer view of said heart. It's filled to the brim with small Buddha amulets.

Note the Buddha on top of the heart has the same appearance as the real one into which the heart will be inserted, as you can see in the picture below.





This is the new Buddha statue, build at Wat Plai Laem (north eastern part of the island) and one can clearly see the spot where the heart will be inserted at a later stage, even the iron ropes, leading up to the insertion spot are visible. The heart will travel along these ropes to be eventually inserted in the chest of the sitting Buddha.
Once the heart is inserted, I'll post a follow up picture of the complete Buddha.
Camille

2nd June 2007

Today's weather;

There's overcast today but it's nice and warm with a current temp of 27C.

Yesterday was a nice day with lots of sunshine and a max temp of 33.2C.

For all of you who're interested in football, the Dutch national team starts a SE Asian tour today with a game in South Korea vs the South Korean team. Wednesday 6th June they'll play the Thai national team in Bangkok. I'm busy teaching an IDC, so I can't go and watch it live but it'll be broad casted live on Thai TV.

Game info;

6th June, 19.00 Thailand vs Nederland
Rajamangala National Stadium
Ramkhamhaeng Road Huamark, BANGKOK
Tickets are available as from 19th May through Thaiticketmaster

Stay tuned,
Camille

Friday, 1 June 2007

Welcome to June

Welcome to June

June is normally a very nice month, weather wise. It's not as hot as it gets in April (or should get rather, looking back at this year's April) and there are lovely occasional tropical rain showers. They last from an average of maybe 15 to 30 minutes to a lot shorter or a bit longer and they tend to cool things down a bit, which, if you live here is a nice welcome once in a while. However, for the folks visiting Samui, nothing to worry, after a rain shower, within half an hour or so, when the sun comes out again, every thing's dried up again.

Today is a good start, not too hot with enough sunshine to make it nice.

The weather predictions are showing a mic of rain, sunshine and thunder and lightning, for the coming week up to 40% per day. Let's hope for the better.


Yours truly,
Camille

1st June, 2007

Weather today;

The start of June is promising, there's sunshine however with a hazy layer of thin clouds at the moment, which may dissolve once it heats up. It's currently 26C.

Yesterday was all day long overcast but no rain, besides a few hardly noticeable drops in the afternoon. It was a very pleasant day, not too warm, max temp was 31.3C

Welcome to June,
Camille