My brother-in-law is marrying his sweetheart. My wife has been in Thailand for at least a week ahead of me attending the actual ceremony…which lasts for a few days. She spends at least three weeks when she goes home and that is just way too long for me. I'm a homebody and honestly, I don't want to be gone from my girl Mandi too long. Mandi is our golden retriever and we love her dearly. So with Mandi safely in the care of my father, I fly out to spend a couple of weeks and be a part of the happy couple’s wedding reception.
Armed with the experience of my trip to Thailand two years ago, there was no way in hell I was flying out again in economy seating. No, I did not fly first class or even business, although either would have been exquisite. I chose EVA Air and their deluxe class. The deluxe compared to normal economy was night and day…and several hundred dollars more. But it was worth every penny! There was much more leg room, wider seats, the seats reclined more and even had a foot rest that raised up some to take pressure off of your lower back. It was sort of like a smaller version of a Lazy Boy.
It was enough to make a person almost cry. Yes, the flight was still a miserable S.O.B., but at least I was more comfortable and didn’t have one of the guys from the Steeler’s Steel Curtain sitting behind me this time. And even if he was? He would have had plenty of room to stretch out as well. A much better experience than my first flight over. So I am a little wiser. Thought I would also mention the following: my wife flew out economy!
Ayutthaya - A History Lesson
Thailand and Burma(Myanmar), have a long history of war with each other and this movie was a small part of the overall history of the wars, but made a long lasting impression upon the Thai people.
In 1548 A.D., Tabinshwehti was king of the Toungoo Dynasty of Burma, and sent his armies to invade Siam with the intention of sacking the capital, Ayutthaya. He split his army into 3 columns and began advancing towards Ayutthaya, capturing cities along the way and meeting little resistance. They soon were camped outside of the capital.
King Chakkraphat led his army out of the city to test the strength of the Burmese army. The king was upon his war elephant accompanied by Queen Suriyothai and their daughter upon a smaller war elephant. Both were dressed for war in full military attire.
They met one of the three columns commanded by the Viceroy of Prome and engaged in battle. The custom is for the commanders to engage in single elephant combat. However, the king’s elephant panicked at the start and fled the battlefield. The Burmese commander gave chase but met with the Queen instead, who, fearing for her husband’s life, put her war elephant in between her husband’s fleeing elephant and that of the Burmese commander and engaged him in combat herself. The Queen received a fatal wound from the Viceroy’s sword. The Princess was also wounded during the battle and both mother and daughter died upon the same elephant. The two princes, who were also on the battlefield, gave chase driving the Burmese force from the field. They returned to carry their mother and sister back to Ayutthaya.
The other pic is me standing at the entrance to the gardens and shrine to Suriyothai. Certainly looks like I belong eh?! It was a very beautiful place. One could only imagine the terrible, yet heroic battles that took place
While a very neat place to visit…especially after seeing the movie, it was a very humbling scene when you thought about the number of wars that took place in this area.
River Kwai Bridge...More History
We actually stopped at the old war museum prior to stopping here. The old museum was not as elaborate as the new one. However, it did have replicas of the huts the prisoners were kept in. There were actual pictures as well as art work done by the prisoners themselves. We got to see actual medical and dental equipment the prisoners fashioned themselves since they were not given any real ones by the Japanese. There was no medicine for the prisoners either. It was pretty creepy seeing the conditions these people to live in. I could feel a sadness overwhelm me.
You Gonna Eat That?
Rad Na is a wide, rice noodle dish with Chinese broccoli that has a very thick sauce...done up normally with pork. I love it and have my wife make this dish often. There was a small, outdoor restaurant that is well known for this dish not too far from the folk’s home. Knowing how I loved this dish, the folks wanted to take everyone out and I was certainly stoked for this meal. It came out hot and steamy and looked and smelled wonderful. I immediately dug in. Now I’m not some wuss…generally. I’ve tried some questionable foods before and have enjoyed many of them. But right away I knew something was terribly wrong in my world. The dish may have been pork but it was not the parts of pork I normally eat nor was expecting.
The piece I plopped in was nothing but gelatinous fat and gristle. The only way for me to accurately describe this mouth/throat feeling was for everyone to think back to one of the worst flu's you ever had. You know…that time where you were so congested and hacking crap up? Think of the biggest and worst loogie you ever coughed up. THAT is what that piece of pork felt like in my mouth. It took every ounce of concentration and restraint not to puke all over the table. I was down and out folks. The Thais do not seem to mind these cuts of pork and tell me that this brings out more flavor. I was offered something else but no type of food could have crossed my lips after that. I still gag thinking of it.
Thankfully, not all of our meals sank to such a low for me. Street food is diverse and often times the best you can get…and the cheapest. While in Ayuttaya, we stopped at this little restaurant by the river. They were supposed to be famous for their fresh water prawns.
Feeling cocky? On the way back, there were small stands all along the highway. People selling everything from fruit and veggies…to…….rat. Yes, rat. Not your dirty, disgusting, city sewer rat, but field rats that feed only on the stalks of sugar cane. Yeah…still rat eh? Would you like a little tail with that? Paws and nails?
Eyes Wide Open
I collected seeds obviously…not that I would illegally send or carry them back to the USA. And of course, all I heard was “you cannot grow these trees in Ohio”…over and over. It was the equivalent to throwing down the gauntlets. Can’t grow these in Ohio? Well, I’ll show them all.
Even back then when I planted nearly every seed I came across, I knew deep in my heart that planting seeds sucked. Takes too damned long to grow and fruit. I needed to find more mature plants. Grafted plants. Yeah! I will admit that when I obsess over something, I tend to go balls out with it, and obtaining these plants became a mission.
So this trip became quite a milestone for my new found hobby. I’ve got to hand it to my wife though, she endures it and doesn’t give me crap about any of it…well…not too much anyway! I couldn’t wait to get back home and start tracking down all these plants. After all, just how difficult could it be to find all these rare, tropical fruit trees?
Stayed tuned for lots of disappointment! LOL!