The pilgrims stated this holiday to celebrate the harvest and to share friendship with the Native Americans. In school we were taught that the first Thanksgiving was 1621at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. According to Wikipedia the day was codified two years earlier in Virginia. In any case Thanksgiving is the oldest American Holiday; our founders saw the wisdom in giving thanks. Today I’ll scribble a very private gratitude list. Maybe you will do the same, maybe not. Now just because I can, I’ll share with you a few general things on my gratitude list. Some of you will understand and some of you will just have to trust the truth written here:
1. I am free born in a world where so many are born into slavery and abject poverty. My time in the military was well spent.
2. Years of drunken stupidity and selfishness that could only be defined as self will run riot culminated in my being gifted with sobriety and an opportunity to live as a decent human. Today I in good physical condition, and that is nothing less than a miracle!
3. My Family is comparatively in pretty good shape. Sure some have financial challenges, others have physical challenges, but all in all we are in pretty decent shape. My relationships seem to be better than in the past.
4. Spiritual teachers have appeared on my horizon as soon as I have been able to see them. While I often frustrate myself with a lack of progress I’m comfortable knowing that I’m where I am supposed to be today.
5. Here, I am financially comfortable and can even make minor contributions from time to time. The little house in which I live is just about perfect for me. Between the volunteer work, the pre-school children and my attempts to learn the Thai language, I’m as busy as I want to be.
6. I have friends from all over the world, you know who you are – Thank you for being in my life!
Traditional turkey dinner isn’t going to happen for me this year. Yesterday I went to the Chaing Rai market and marveled at all the fresh food. I decided to buy ingredients and make a batch of my, not so famous, “Jerry soup”. I tried a few new vegetables including something I thought was ginger, but wasn’t. Mick, I’ll only give this batch a 5 or 5 ½, compared to the 8 or 8 ½ we shared when you were here. Trust me this year’s soup is NOTHING like the turkey soup I used to make after the holidays back in the U.S.A. It’s more like a chicken stew with a serious kick! It’s much tastier.
Internet connection: Several months ago I lost my internet connection and after multiple trips to the TOT office and many phone calls I finally demanded they cancel my agreement. I was a rude American and the easy way to get rid of me was disconnect my account. TOT is government owened and ran. The service reflects the top heavy bureaucracy that governments are known to have. I went with a private company called Triple T Internet (3BB Broadband). I came back from Surin and the connection is awful! On and off all day it was. Yesterday I went to the office, first request mind you, and told them my sad tale. They promised someone would be out the next day or the day after. Two hours later the technicians were here! They traced the problem to a loose line outside the yard and fixed it. My internet is working perfectly! Yea 3BB Broadband! If you ever want internet in Thailand I highly recommend the Triple T Internet folks. http://storage.3bb.co.th Not wanting to be without internet for very long, these nice folks are definitely on my gratitude list.
Loi Krathong, also often spelled Loy Krathong is one of the most colorful festivals in all of Asia. Loi Krathong occurs on the full moon of the 12th Lunar month. This year that happened to be November 21st. Last year I was up in the Akha Village and missed out; this year I was in Chiang Mai but arrived from Surin to late and to tired to go to the river. Beautiful photographs of the Loi Krathong will just have to wait till next year, unless of course, you want to simply Google ”Loi Krathong” and enjoy the many good articles and photographs available on the internet. I especially liked the description at http://www.tatnews.org/events/events/nov/2375.asp Having said that, the dates are from 2005 but the festival description is current.
In Northern Thailand the festival Yi-peng, which is from Lanna tradition, brackets Loi Krathong. It’s a festival of lights and parades. There is a lot of spiritual context to this festival. Some believe that the lanterns represent the sending away of your troubles and a prayer for good luck in the future.
In Chiang Mai the moat around the old city is decorated with lights in various traditional shapes. My favorites were, you guessed it, the elephants. The entire area around Chang Puek Gate was decorated with these.
|Chang Puek Gate, Chiang Mai|
Parades are the order of the day and did provide an opportunity for some interesting photographs.
|Chiang Mai Parade|
|Chiang Rai Parade|
I was lucky enough to shoot this over his shoulder
|Chiang Rai Parade|
|Night Parade in Chiang Rai|