A Busy Time for Master Ben

As Sa and I needed to go to Bangkok to make her English Visa and as Cha’s wife would be in hospital for a couple of days Sa asked if we could take Nong Ben to Lat Buri for the night so she could take him to see her favourite monk and get him blessed. Much to my better judgment I agreed!

Short Time Hotel me thinks!
Short Time Hotel me thinks!

We set off OK and reached the UK visa Office in Regent House, Bangkok . It took 3 hours to submit the application during which time I had to stay outside with Ben, as they won’t let us inside. As you can imagine Ben really wasn’t too happy but he just about kept is cool.
So it’s off to Lat Buri. A two Hour drive from Bangkok. We eventually got there to find our favourite hotel closed for the night and had to go searching for another which was a real pain at 8pm. However we found what I think was really a short time hotel which looked like it had come straight out of a cartoon. I think Ben enjoyed the bright colours, but as for me, it just gave me a headache!
I was getting grump because I hadn’t eaten all day and Ben was tired so we ended up trying to eat quickly in a restaurant with an unhappy little boy with his nappy overflowing – not the nicest of situations.
Not a Happy Chap
Not a Happy Chap

After a bad night’s sleep it’s off to the temple. I really tried hard to look after Ben while Sa did her bit. The trouble was, it was very hot and Ben was obviously uncomfortable but that seems to take second place to the temple.
Eventually everything was over and poor little thing got his blessing and his bit if hair cut, but oh boy did he let everyone know he was hot and unhappy. Checkout Ben screaming on the Monks lap!
Apparently this is a Buddhists ritual which is why Sa wouldn’t cut his hair. The Monks have to make the first cut! I never will understand!
Once it was over, I was looking forward to a nice run home! Sa said to me please can we stop quickly to see a friend and go to the department store – foolishly I said yes. It wasn’t the friend or the department store that was the problem, but leaving things late meant that we got caught in the traffic for the Queen’s birthday celebration! Big Mistake! You have never seen anything like it. What should have taken 20 Minutes took 3 hours. Unfortunately for us the Boys in Brown can’t organise a piss up in a brewery so we watch as policemen and motorist argued face to face while we waited and waited and waited. At least it provided some entertainment.
Ben gets his Ferrari!
Ben gets his Ferrari!

All in all what should have been a 4 hour journey took 7 ½ hours so poor Master Ben really had had enough when we arrived home.
The only really bright point today was that in the department store I fell in love with a baby walker. Ben’s eyes lit up when we put him in. So it was an easy sale. When we got home I couldn’t believe within 5 minutes he was pushing himself backwards. I really didn’t expect to see that for a few months. Amazing Babies!
Anyway Ben has his new toy and he can have a hair cut tomorrow! Thank God for that.

Bens First Merit Making Ceremony

Oblivious as Always
Oblivious as Always

In spite for his cold (which is better today) Sa was determined that Master Ben was going to make it to Pattayas yearly Merit Making Ceremony. So we got him up at 6am and he sat in the Sun with the rest of the family of 3 hours while the monks droned on and on and on…… I am not sure who was more uncomfortable. A very hot little Boy in his carry cot or Daddy trying to sit on the ground for 3 hours!

The idea of the ceremony is to bring good luck and prosperity to Pattaya. I can think of plenty of ways to do that and none of them involve today’s proceedings. It totally amazes me how much food and supplies the monks receive in the hope that it will bring people good luck.


Ben Makes Merit!
Ben Makes Merit!

As always Ben was as good as gold not one murmur. He drunk lots of water and milk then fell asleep despite all the noise around him. But the most important think for Sa was that Ben made his first offering to a monk. It made her so happy. It was quite a spectacle but was it really worth getting a 4 Month old up at 6am for! I am not sure.

Ben and the Ladyboy

Ben and the Ladyboy
Ben and the Ladyboy

Last night we went out for dinner on Jomtien see front. After we had finished I really fancied a drink so we decided to go down Soi Whitehouse, which is a small Street full of bars.

One bar we know quite well as a friend of mine has shall we say, an interest in one of the bars. As we approached it was obvious that everyone was well on the way to a good night.

Nobody has seen us since Ben arrived and as you can imagine Ben was overwhelmed by all the attention.  Most of the attention died away quite quickly except for the resident lady body who kept on tell everyone how “Nalak” or sweet Ben was.

She went and found him a Mickey Mouse fan and proceeded to fuss all over him and cool him down while we finished our drinks. As we said our good byes and walked off the lady boy shouted after us. “Can I look after him when he gets to 18 please”

In the picture you can see the warning symbol on his carry chair. But I do think its very appropriately placed on the Lady boy, don’t you!

Definitely time to go home master Ben. Quite enough excitement for one day!

The Extended Thai Family

The Extended Family
The Extended Family

I thought it was about time I explained a few things about my life in Thailand. As with some other countries the idea of the extended family is fully embraced in Thailand. You may have heard me mention “Big C”. Well, Big C is my term for the property we own opposite the “Big C” Superstore in South Pattaya. Basically it is a four story building of which the bottom two floors are the Hair Salon and Massage Business. With the top two floors forming “family accommodation” broken in to about 5 rooms. The first thing to say is that Sa and I DON’T live there because there is no way I want to share my personal space with the rest of the human race. That said everyone else seems quite happy.

This photo is just to illustrate how many “family “do live upstairs.

Back row left to right
Kwan – Sa niece from her dead brother who is staying for a while.
Na – Sa’s Sister who donated her eggs for Master Ben
Master Ben – My lovely little boy!
Sa – My wife
Nui – Sa’s daughter in law who is 8 Months Pregnant so a new family addition next month!

Front row left to right
Purn – Na’s Eldest Daughter
Pat – Na’s Younger Daughter
Cha – Sa’s Son with his Ewok (Sorry Dog) called Lucky
Camta – Sa’s Nephew from her older Sister

And missing from the picture………

My Cat Neo who did a disappearing act when he thought he might have to wake up and Grandma who is away up country.

So, as you can see its one great big family with another new addition on the way. It’s pretty good really but without somewhere else to go home to, I think I could very easily go totally bonkers!

Not Going Shopping in Bangkok on Sunday

On Friday Sa said to me. Lets go shopping in Bangkok on Sunday as we didn’t make it last week (See last post). Yet again I was dubious as it was the day before Songkran starts. Well events over took us as most people will realize by now.

It started on Friday. We knew all the Red Shirts were going to come and protest the Asian Summit that was being held in Pattaya. We also knew something was going wrong when we could see a steady stream of Helicopters picking up all the heads of state from the hotel and flying them all to the military air base down the road. We were working in the boat yard on my boat at the time and suddenly all we could hear was police sirens and helicopters.

It all seemed to be over very quickly but I suspect the repercussions will be felt for a long time. Thailand lost a huge amount of face on Friday which will be very hard to get back.

Things now seem to be getting worse. The media hasn’t picked up on the 4 small bombs that went off in Pattaya last night and the local media isn’t even mentioning the problems on Friday or all the riots in Bangkok.

Sa says she is very upset to see Thailand in such a mess. The problem is nobody can see where its going to end up. I have an idea that it has some way to go yet. The problem is that the tourist industry and business in general is going to be nonexistent before things start to recover.

On a brighter note Sa is fine and still getting bigger. But she is starting to get nervous about the 11th May. I have feeling that Ben might just appear before then as Sa looks like a beached Whale right now (not meaning to be horrible) and he is getting more and more active.

Grumpy Old Me

On Friday Sa said to me, I want to go to the temple in Bangkok on Sunday, you know the one you usual take me to and the family are coming with me. To say the least, I was a little surprised, as Sunday was the day that our new Salon promotion was due to kick off. But being a nice person and thinking, well Sa is 7  1/2 months pregnant I will let it go but knowing in my heart that the whole thing was going to be a disaster.

Well sure enough Sunday came. We arrived in the salon to find it full of customers and kids running everywhere.  I waited for 2 hours while everyone pitched in to get customers turned round then I mentioned to Sa that we really needed to go as it was along drive. As I suspected the first people dropped by the wayside as all the staff including sister said in unison “we can’t go. to many customers” . The first smile of the day – told you so.

So 30 minutes later we set off with Grandma the children and two other people. It took 2 1/2 hours to get to Bangkok and the temple which is in the north east of Bangkok. As we arrived the heavens opened and everyone ran for cover. There was no where to keep out of the rain. Every last piece of dry space was piled high with sleeping bags and ground sheets as everyone was suppose to be sleeping in the open air. I should point out that I had told Sa till I was blue in the face that it wouldn’t be dry but nobody listened to me as usual.

When the rain stopped we trundled off through the mud to pay respects to various Monks and Buddha statues with me getting crosser and crosser as I see Sa handing over more and more of her monthly allowance to various monks. It didn’t help that as the rain stopped the humidity shot to 100% and with the heat everything was sticky and unbearable making me even more grumpy.

Well given an hour of mud and rain everyone was already thinking that its wasn’t a good idea to stay but Grandma was nowhere to be seen! Eventually after 2 hours she was located somewhere and returned to the car with a very grumpy me waiting inside.  We all piled in and set off for home. As we left Sa says, well lets go into Bangkok and do some shopping for the baby, we still haven’t got a push chair or a car seat. My reply, a very strained where exactly are we going to put these purchases as I now a car full of people and luggage to take all the way back to Pattaya!

By this time the kids and I are hungry so we stop at a service station to eat. Sa says lets all eat some nice Thai food, the kids reply KFC! tee hee hee.

Well, we eventually get home at 8:30pm with a very tired grumpy me, after 5 hours driving and petrol, food, road tolls etc making my wallet about 3000 baht lighter and for what. 3 Hours in a soggy temple throwing away money and trying to find Grandma.

Welcome to Thailand!

Cha’s Big Day

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The Happy Couple and Sa

The Wedding came round very quickly. Sa wanted it to be on the 14th of February – Valentines day, unfortunately nobody else though this was agood idea so the the 15th it was!

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Cha's Wedding Ceremony

 

 

 

Sa and I didn’t help with the preperations at all. Cha seemed very happy to organise everything and jusrt asked us to turn up at around 10am. Easier said than done when you have 9 people including 3 children and we all have to leave Pattaya together for the two hour drive to Bangkok.
We made it eventually and a good time was had by all. The ceremony was pretty low key but very traditional with the usual monks blessing a lot of water pooring, string tying and later on, good Thai food and Whisky.
We headed home at around 6pm after an excellent day. Everyone seemed very happy especially Mother and Son.

The Temple Trip

At the temple
At the temple

Before Sa gets any bigger she told me she wanted to make a trip to her favourite temple for a few days.  Any bigger and she won’t be able to sit in the car for a long time.

So off we go to Lat Buri which is about 4 Hours drive from home. Driving up today staying overnight then me returning the next day.

During that evening while in the hotel I had an eye opening conversation with Sa and Cha about Temples and Money. This was one of those times when I needed to put pen to paper and as an avide reading of Stickmans WEB site (An excellent source of Information about Thailand and Living here) I drafted a submission which I have also attached below entitled “Temples Money and Charity”.

** Submission **

This weekend my wife and I went to a temple in Lat Buri. It’s a temple she has been visiting for many years. I have been with her many times and enjoy the trips especially as there are some falang monks whom I can talk with.

However this latest trip turned into a complete disaster because I asked too many questions.

It all started on Saturday evening. We drove from our home in Jomtien all the way to Lat Buri via several of my wife’s friends in Bangkok collecting large bundles of envelopes from various locations. I am sure many of you know the routine. Your other halves get given wads of envelopes to distribute in aid of various temples expecting them all to come back with 20 and 100 baht notes in side with the giver’s name carefully written on the outside.

Anyway as we arrived late we decided to stop at a resort close to the temple. I promptly went to shower and upon my return found my wife ripping open all the envelopes and counting up the money. This was the start of my down fall.

Very foolishly I asked her what she was doing. The reply obviously, counting the money. I then very stupidly went on and asked what was to happen with all the envelopes with the names on. Oh, we can throw those away. Remembering that my wife ALWAYS insists on writing on every envelope with every single 100 baht we have ever sent to a temple I very stupidly asked why everyone bothers writing on them if the temple never saw them – BOOM. Not important was the reply. If we give all those envelopes to the temple they will give them back and ask me to open them. It’s only the amount from “the group” that matters!

By this point I already had steam coming out of my ears, but I wasn’t going to let this go so easily.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against giving to temples in moderation and for a good cause. So in I plunged with my next question. What will all this money be used for? I should explain at this point that we also had my son-in-law with us who had been a monk at this very temple for 3 months last year. So while my wife at this point completely clammed up (knowing better) my son-in-law proceeded to pick up the conversation, much to my delight.

Oh! he says. Well they have lots of bills to pay and they are building a lovely new temple (which I agree is spectacular). I proceeded to push the point about how they helped others; we went through lots of answers. Yes they help other temples that are not so well off, yes they help sick monks. And so it went on. Eventually we got the point I was eluding to. What charity work do they do! This drew a very blank expression from the poor boy. What do you mean he asked? Well for instance, do they support any orphanages or poor people or hospitals. The answer, why would they do that, the government does that!

Now In all fairness I am aware that some temples do wonderful work with orphanages and hospitals but I still found it quite amazing that I was given this answer from someone that had just finished 3 months in orange!

By now I could see my wife had steam coming out of her ears and was turning purple as I had dared to ask too many questions. Not being put off, I though I would change tack slightly while carrying on the general topic.

This February in Pattaya the local media was promoting the first ever charity bed race on Beach Road. All proceeds to local orphanages etc. You know the score, the sort of thing that happens everywhere in the Western world. Now having a business in Pattaya, I thought great free publicity and for a good cause, so why don’t we join in I dared to ask. Well my wife didn’t make the connection at first. There was just this puzzled look on her face and eventually the questions I was waiting for.

Why would anyone do that, and then the second question, are there some envelopes and from which temple!

Yes, got her!

No, I explained the money goes directly to support a charity.

The answer, well nobody will give money as there are no envelopes from a temple and it sounds like really hard work pushing a bed!

At his point I smiled gently to myself and retired to bed having put another piece of this wonderful country in to place.

Is it a Girl or Boy

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Sa Relaxing and Getting Bigger

Last Week we went for the usual scan and they took the samples needed to tell us what the baby will be. Today we returned to get the Results.

All along I have been wanting a little girl but Sa thinks a little boy would be better in the typical Thai style. Her reasoning is that when we get older Sons can look after you, where as daughters get married and go away. All I can think of is the Sin Sod (Dowry). We have already had to help Cha with his Sin Sod as he is going to Marry Nui next month before there baby is born. 

In the west the idea of Children looking after there Parents when old is so different to Thai style. I know that it will not work out like that becaue this baby being 1/2 western will grow up with a whole load of different ideas to the typical Thai ideals.

Anyway I digress, in comes the doctor and…….Its a boy!!!!!

Oh Well, give me a few days and I am sure I will get used to the idea. 

Sa seemed happy enough until I told her that the next one needs to be a little girl. Definately not the smartest of moves on my part!