Kade kneels next to a stream formed by the San Francisco Glacier, about two hours outside Santiago, Chile.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Surin Elephant Round-up

This is a portrait of the first elephant round-up in Surin, Thailand.  Since then, Surin has hosted an annual elephant round-up festival that's very popular with tourists.  I have never been, but the way it looks, it's part parade, part old war reenactments, part history and a bit of circus.  Animal lovers might rightfully question the use of elephants in this fashion, but elephants in Thailand are also very revered.  And many Thais would think this festival shows great respect and appreciation for elephants.   I would encourage you to Google and YouTube for more material.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Uzbek Ceramics

As lovely as this pottery is - and I am pretty it's handmade - it's everyday ware in Uzbekistan. Notice the cotton bolls.  Uzbekistan is known for its cotton, and this "white gold" made the republic of Uzbekistan, when it was part of the USSR, a vital piece of the economy. Today I'm guessing, it's still the biggest crop and export. 

I got these dishes from my friends who visited the USA back in the early '90s.  If I remember correctly, my friends Ulugbek and Timour gave a set to my mother.  I may have even purchased a few myself.  After she died, I got it.  Over the years Kade and I, have made tea many times, using that pot and those tea cups.  [I added a couple of videos below]  What I learned, though, on visits to Uzbekistan, and during the year I lived there, having tea was a true cultural and social experience.. We'd have it after dinner.  They'd have it the morning.  And at the school where I worked, it was served on break, much like coffee here.  You find it in all the restaurants.  In neighborhoods, there are tea houses where men gather and socialize.  I remember my student/friend Bakhodir took me inside one of these near his home.  

I recall drinking tea in Uzbekistan on occasion.  But my favorite by far was black.  I added the sugar cubes and maybe even some milk.  An interesting aspect of all of this was that they had a saying that they used when preparing the tea.  Boiling water would be brought over from the stove, and it would be poured into the pot, which had ground tea leaves inside (not in a bag or anything).  It set there and brewed for a few minutes, and then someone would take the ceramic pot and pour into a tea cup once, then it would go back into pot, then poured a second time and back into the pot, and then a third time into the cup for drinking.  The saying was, "First time, mud. Second time, oil.  Third time, tea."  

The smaller plates you see could be for salads and appetizers.  The larger ones would hold a giant mound of rice pilaf, the country's national dish.  

first year in Asheville

Click here for other tea experiences I've had. Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is where much of the

Click here for other tea experiences I've had.

And click here to learn more about Uzbek Pilaf.


This is one of the big reasons people love Thailand:  all types of spa treatments.  There are traditional Thai massages, and "new" Thai massages (read between the lines).  There's something truly for everyone.  One day in March, Kade and I got massages.  She went to Urban Retreat near the Emporium Shopping Plaza, and I went to a favorite spot (image #1) along Sukhumvit.  We both emerged feeling relaxed.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Russia Souvenirs

Several more items to add.

If you need it, they will come

If you don't want to go to big shopping centers in Bangkok, eventually whatever you need makes its way to you.  The one merchant that impressed me the most was the man with the landscaping cart. And this guy was in a swanky part of town, probably going house to house.  Very creative!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Russian Nesting Doll

This is a nesting doll (matryoshka doll) I got for my cousin in Alabama.   I likely bought it on Arbat Street in Moscow.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Buddhist Altars in Thai Homes

Buddhist altars are common in Thai homes.  Learn about the meaning behind them here.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Matryoshka Dolls

I bought these on Arbat Street in Moscow.  My great-uncle and I were rode up a very long metro escalator, guided by a couple of locals, and then we were on this famous street.  It was wet and cold, and I had to bargain for these.  I remember Clinton had just won the presidential election.