Saturday, July 10, 2010

Celebrations and Celery

First of all a happy (belated) Fourth of July! Despite being over twelve thousand miles away I still celebrated our country's independence, just in a slightly unorthodox manner.

Not wanting to waste any possible moments to celebrate - my 4th of July began officially at 3:00am! Yes that’s right, three in the morning. The afternoon prior Denali and I had hopped on my motorbike (she was driving) and sped off to visit her wonderful host family in Doi Saket.Saturday afternoon was spent helping to sell vegetables and (for me) learning an equivalent amount of Thai in four hours then I did in three weeks. That night we had an amazing Thai barbeque dinner with lots of meat, vegetables, noodles, seafood, egg past, etc.

Then it was early to bed as we had agreed to help Mae Noi (because relatives that normally helped were away that weekend) to unload the vegetable truck. Mae Noi goes to the central market at midnight and stuffs the truck jigsaw like with veggies. Here is where the 3 am wake up call came in.

Bleary eyed we hopped back on to the motorbike and drove out into the early morning and back to the market where we: unloaded the truck – ferrying armfuls of leafy vegetables, bagging vegetables under Mae Noi’s guidance and even selling a few vegetables to buyers who would take them on to markets further still from Chiang Mai or some to restaurants and hotels for parties and events. As can be imagined we were somewhat of the morning attracting and spectacle.

A few hours of sleep was all we allowed ourselves before eating a delicious breakfast on the porch and taking what turned into a three hour stroll/adventure through the countryside and surrounding rice fields - at times in search of red roofs on hill tops, at other times with the goal of out walking territorial dogs and at still other times for the simple joy of being in clean fresh air and of course all the random conversations that such walks encourage.

Then it was a quick delicious noodle soup lunch, a quick good bye and the drive back to the city where we continued our celebration with mango ginger smoothies, before heading to a celebration of a more traditional ilk.

There being a goodly number of folks of the American persuasion living in the city, the American consulate holds a celebration every year. A 350 baht ticket buys you admission into a fair where you can find grills sizzeling with hamburgers, hot dogs, barbeque, quesadillas, corn on the cob, coleslaw, chocolate chip cookies - all for free! Then if you desire to open your wallets a little - fresh real lemonade, ice cream and American beer. To top it off – band, kid games, a wandering tug of war that meandered its way across the grounds over the course of the afternoon and finally fireworks! I love Thai food, but occasionally it is nice to be reminded of home – the chocolate chip cookies really got to me…they were real and amazing – not to say these were world famous cookies by any means, but try as they might Thais have yet to understand the complexities that goes into making a scrumptious cookie or cake, or even making a mediocre cookie or cake. For the most part I stick to coconut pancakes, black sticky rice, grilled bananas with coconut milk and mango sticky rice. But a cookies is occasionally a necessary reminder of home - take a big bite, chew, savor and then of course go back to eating tons of Thai food!

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