Night Driving in Thailand 

Having lived in Japan and rented cars in England and New Zealand, I have driven on the left side of the road before.  True, I occasionally turn on the windshield wipers to signal a turn, but  as long as I repeat the mantra, "Keep to the left. keep to the left!"  I am, generally speaking, OK.  Nervous, but OK.

But driving in Thailand is a bit more challenging, especially in rural Thailand and even more so at night.  For one thing, two-lane roads seem to be more than two lanes.  It is normal and…

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Golfing in Thailand 


Margery and I decided to take our October break in Khao Lak, the area on the Andaman Sea that was so hard hit by the Tsunami five years ago.  We flew into Phuket airport, rented a car and drove the 100k up to our resort on the beach.   It was what we would call a five star place.  Our room even had a swim-out pool area where you just step into the water outside your sliding door.  She found the place online and it was only 200 bucks total for 7 nights.  The hotel was almost empty.  We only saw a few…

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Golfing in Thailand Part 2 


With the Red Shirts and the army at odds, Bangkok is not a lot of fun right now.  Margery and I decided to take off for the weekend on a combination sightseeing and golfing expedition to Kanchanaburi, on the River Kwai.  It is about 150 kilometers due west of Bangkok and only about 50 kilometers from the Myanmar (Burmese) border. 

Kanchanaburi is the famous site of the World War Two prisoner camp and the bridge and it is hard not to whistle that familiar theme from the movie as you head down the road…

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Chiang Mai Massage 


Margery, Fran (our friend from Milwaukee) and I flew to Chiang Mai for the weekend.  Chiang Mai is an unusually beautiful place in mountainous northern Thailand.   There are about a million people in the whole area, but the central old city is very small, only a couple miles square.  About a hundred temples and wats exist in this confined place, intricately decorated with bright paint and gold leaf.  A muddy river bisects the city and there are also many klongs, or canals throughout.  As a result, the…

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My Vietnamese Haircut 


I haven't had a barber cut my hair since 1983 in Turkey, and that was an awful experience.  It was only our second week in that country.  I didn't have any language, but thought I could handle it with a small Turkish/English dictionary.  Well, I got the word order completely wrong and instead of taking a little off, the barber only left a little.  It was military style for the next couple of months.

So, I'm walking down the street in the beautiful little town of Hoi An, Vietnam, a UNESCO World Heritage…

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My First Guitar 

Still dark on Christmas morning 1955, as the rest of the family sleeps, lights on the tree lead me from the bedroom.  I had made it pleadingly clear to my ma and pa that the only thing I wanted this year was a guitar, but I had been told it was ‘out of the question’.  I had failed my father previously with an unenthusiastic attempt to learn the dreaded accordion bought the year before. Unable to master sight-reading music, bored by dated Italian melodies and polkas, I finally asked my father to please…

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Music in Japan 


I just woke up at 7:40 to the cheery sound of the maid yelling, "Sawatdee Kha!  Sabaidee Mai Kha?"  (Good morning!  Are you sick?)  I think my 9 hours last night will finally bring me back to normal after an exhausting but enjoyable trip.  Eight consecutive nights in clubs with requisite after-hours beer and food, most nights until 3 or 4 AM.  That is the blues life I experience whenever I play music in Japan!  These folks surely know how to party.

 My first night was in a club called Little Village (…

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Paris on 350 dollars a day 


When we came to Bangkok to work, it was on a one–year, temporary fill-in contract.  We thought it would be nice to get out of the Midwest cold, and the extra money would help to lessen our sticker-shock at the cost of living in 21st century America.  When the school asked Margery to extend that temp contract for one more year, well, that is really what you would call a ‘windfall’. 

During our time in Istanbul we had become close to a wonderful Turkish couple, Fusun and Arman Eligolu.  As we spent time…

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The Sea Turtle 


We had begun to despair ever witnessing the laying of the eggs.  We had made two annual trips of 70 kilometers up to ‘Turtle Beach’, north of the Saudi Arabian city of Yanbu.  Each night, we camped out in our tents silently awaiting the arrival of the turtles.  Mounds were everywhere as well as tracks made by the heavy bodies as they trundled their unwieldy half ton shells up from the beach to a suitable nesting site.  Each night we waited but inevitably sleep overcame us.  In the morning, like a Santa…

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shoe shopping 


I bought a pair of Crocs the other day.  I swore I would never do that.  They look so dumb and ‘nerdy’. I still have bad memories of those Kalso Earth Shoes in the 60s. An unwanted pair of Birkenstocks is gathering dust in our closet in Iowa City.  I used to buy mail order shoes from Mason Shoe Company of Chippewa Falls just to avoid the association with hippie footwear and fad brand names.  Furthermore, I hate to just ‘follow fashion’ and I am repulsed by the whole mass-marketing routine.  I usually…

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