Drive by shooting near Chiang Mai

Sometimes I see a scene that I would love to shoot, and it may take a few drives past it before I decide to take my camera along. These scenes are a couple of such places.

Jungle shack 003

This first picture below was taken just beside the neighborhood where we live. I’m guessing field workers live in those lean-to’s under that huge tree. I’ll probably find out more when I learn enough Thai to ask the gate guards who work at the entrance to this road.field workers' neighbourhood
The other images were taken on my way to one of my favorite cafe’s where I sit and study my thai notes – and practice the language with the local cafe owners, all of whom are very helpful. The little shack is nestled in against the jungle growth and invites my eye back to it and beyond. Makes you wonder what’s in the jungle past there.

Jungle shack 002

This is what I see when I turn around 180 degrees from the jungle shack.

Palm tress in a field

Everyday moments

Regardless of where we live in the world, our days are filled with the routines of everyday life. That said, as I sit here and write this post, it doesn’t feel very “everyday” to find a train of strange ants carrying white eggs across our bedroom floor. Good thing my wonderful husband seldom lacks ideas of how to deal with different issues! Anyhow, here are some everyday moments from our life in Thailand right now:

In my Thai class, there is one girl from Hong Kong and one from Japan, and myself. They have both studied Thai in their home countries, so I can’t boast of being much of a star there 🙂

Veronica attends Thai class with three other foreigners two days a week.

One morning we found a tiny abandoned kitten right outside our gate. We named him Yoda because he looked so scrawny. He couldn’t move and was dying, so we took him in and fed him for a few days, much to the boys’ delight. Kittens need to be fed often and this one was sick as well, so we (Rob and I) were rather relieved when the vet offered to adopt little Yoda rather than have her put to sleep.

This veterinary asked us if she could have the little kitten we had found last week if we agreed not to put her to sleep.

During this time of the year the Thai kids start their summer break, so we got to attend a graduation ceremony at a Thai school. The school is called School of Promise and is run by some friends of ours. Except missing my favorite graduation psalm, it had all the familiar parts with speech by the principal and performances by the students.

Children sit restlessly as they wait for the graduation ceremony to begin.

Last, but not least, an old tradition in new clothes: Saturday candy! We biked to the store to let the boys pick what kind they wanted. Life is good.

Veronica takes the boys to the local store on her new bike to buy Saturday candy.

Resolving un-met expectations…

Last weekend, we went on our first adventure into the nearby hills. One should always keep expectations low in these parts. I was expecting to find the ‘perfect spot’ for our family to hike to where we could sit and take in the beautiful view.

This is one of th dead-end trails we took on our hike that day.
This is one of the dead-end trails we took on our hike that day.

Well, it didn’t happen quite the way I had hoped. Once we got a few Km’s out of town I began taking smaller and steeper roads until we came to a dead end and the head of a trail.

Lucas awlays wanted to run ahead. I was a bit nervouse coz I didn't know if there were snakes nearby.
Lucas awlays wanted to run ahead. I was a bit nervouse coz I didn’t know if there were snakes nearby.
Veronica shared some goodies with the boys.
Veronica shared some goodies with the boys.

We walked about 200 meters and came to a house. The man sitting on the balcony directed us back the other way, smiled and waved. So we tried one more trail, which led to another dead end. So we decided to drive back home, having un-met expecations of finding a great view.

Magnus enjoys a short rest in the shade. Sunscreen is vital!
Magnus enjoys a short rest in the shade. Sunscreen is vital!
Finally, we got a fairly nice view from the Orange Cup Cafe.
Finally, we got a fairly nice view from the Orange Cup Cafe.
The open-air cafe had a corrugated tin roof as its covering.
The open-air cafe had a corrugated tin roof as its covering.

But on our way, we stopped at road-side cafe which had a huge orange cup hanging from the tree beside the road. There we enjoyed ice cream, ice coffees and a lovely chat with the woman who owned and ran the open-air cafe.

The boys share a yummy ice cream drink.
The boys share a yummy ice cream drink.
Everywhere you go in thailand, you'll find big green leaves!
Everywhere you go in thailand, you’ll find big green leaves!

A day at the Zoo

The elephant up close impressive creature --- Elefanten på nära hål är en imponerande skapelse
The elephant up close impressive creature

As part of our language course, we were all invited to the Chiang Mai Zoo. So, last Friday Veronica and I and Lucas joined the 15 or so other students for a random zoo experience. I say random because, for us, it felt random to be rushed from one exhibit to the next, sometimes at an almost panicky pace. The Thais, in this case, seem to enjoy staying in one large group and moving quite swiftly from one place to the next. If I let it get under my skin, I could have had a quite unenjoyable experience.

So Veronica and I decided to chalk this one up as a “Thai culture’ field trip rather than “zoo” field trip. And behold! the sting went away. It became a fun few hours of learning how Thais think and behave. I can’t say it felt very natural to find their rhythm. But, hey! We can’t expect to enjoy everything in life, right? I suppose that’s what will help us not just survive our new culture, but also learn to love it and enjoy everyday life in this good land.

Enjoy my photos from the zoo.

We all were carted around like cattle --- Vi slussades runt som boskap
We all were carted around like cattle
Some of our thai language teachers --- Några av våra språk lärare
Some of our thai language teachers
These lions were very alert --- Väldigt vakna lejon
These lions were very alert
Lucas enjoyed being entertained by this sea otter --- Lucas låter sig roas
Lucas enjoyed being entertained by this sea otter
Finally! We got to rest for a few short minutes! - Äntligen! En paus
Finally! We got to rest for a few short minutes!

Thai Noodles – February 2013

a new season, a new taste, a new land

These are the first Thai noodles I bought since arriving in Chiang Mai. They were delicious!Guess what we ate for lunch today. Thai noodles! It happened this way. I rode my bike down a few streets and around a few corners and ended up at a neighborhood restaurant. I used my best Toddler Thai to order some food. The owner was gracious and waited as I stumbled over words that, for any Thai adult would be easy to say; words like “food” and “have” and “how long?”. What a gracious man he was! – I hear-by repent of any attitude I’ve ever held towards people who have tried to learn my ‘engrish’ language. – I’m encouraged by how many Thai strangers have willingly set down their coffee cups – and their agendas – to help me learn their language. And they tell me that I’m “Dee maa!” (very good) at speaking Thai. I hope they’re not just being nice.

What’s not so encouraging are the massive changes, and steep learning curve, our family is on as we try to settle into a completely new culture. Since we arrived a month ago, we’ve tried not to depend too heavily on the ever-helpful, and much appreciated, ex-pat community. Not that we want to avoid the ex-pats, because we’re ‘one’ of them! And several of them have been instrumental in helping us get settled. But we know all too well how easy it is to enter the ‘bubble’ and never step out again, where the locals are.

The woman on my right is the cafe owner. She and her employee (Ning) greet me with a friendly smile every time I stop by to So, to strike a balance, we’re doing little things like, hanging out at coffee stands and biking to the market, where Veronica and I practice our latest Thai words and phrases. And every time we go out, we’re humbled by the generous time and patience people show us to help us ‘get it right’. When it comes to language learning, I’ve never encountered a culture that has been as gracious and helpful to its foreign guests as the Thai culture.

It’s not as easy, however, for the boys to connect with the Thai culture. Most of Rasmus’ day, for example, is spent in class at a wonderful International school. But by the time he comes home from school, does his homework and eats dinner, it’s getting dark. He’s exhausted from all the new adjustments in his life. And the boys in Lucas’ pre-school co-op are all westerners, so he doesn’t get much of a  chance to meet other thai children his age there. But, he does get to learn some Thai through the language teacher who teaches them once a week.

Veronica and I are finding our way around the area so we can practice our Thai at the local market.In spite of these challenges, this first month has been tremendously easy compared to the challenging stories we’ve heard from others over the years. We’ve been able to move right into a well-furnished sub-let for six months, buy a car, open a bank account and set up mobile phone numbers, all with little or no hassle. So, the challenges we have faced, pale in comparison to the blessings we have received. We pray it continues this way. It’s like this Bible verse a friend sent to me recently when she heard I had been struggling for a couple of days: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him…” Jeremiah 17:7-8 Thank you God for blessing our family as we follow you into new places!

Pray with us

1. Language and culture learning – This is our main focus for the coming months. Veronica’s class is very intense and packed with new information, making it hard for her to take it all in. My class meets at a different time and has a much slower pace. So I need to push myself to self-study. Pray for us both that we find the right balance to get the most out of these coming months. The great thing about learning in Thailand is the many people we come into contact with and the openness they have towards us. What an opportunity to show Christ’s love back to them. As they say, “Language learning is ministry.”

bedtime Nabi2. Our boys – Our new changes are affecting the boys more than us. Please pray that Rasmus and Lucas begin to enjoy their new home and culture more. In reality, they have to adjust to two new cultures; the Thai culture and the Ex-pat culture, both of which are quite different from what they’re used to in Sweden.

3. Safety – The biggest difference we see between Thailand and the West is the lack of safety all around us. Chiang Mai has the nation’s highest traffic accident rate. The many motorcycles and cars that share the roads, and the lack of concern for traffic laws, make for a potentially dangerous driving experience. Cars are expensive, but if I had my way, I’d buy two cars to avoid the statistics of driving a motorcycle. Please pray for safety as we travel daily in this new environment. I’ll probably be buying a small motorcycle to get to and from work, which I’m not looking forward to very much!

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Half done, twice spent!

This was a full week. We didn’t really do as much as we would do back in Sweden, or the States, but we felt twice as tired. They say it’s normal to only accomplish about 40% of what you would normally do when you enter a new culture. They were right. But we still had fun!
Enjoy the photos 🙂
PS Don’t forget to check out our storm videos below.

Video 1 – wires, trees and lamp posts swaying in the wind

Video 2 – high winds and heavy rain
Kraftiga vindar och spöregn.

Video 3 – Our family and Gabriella sit out on the front porch and enjoy the cooler weather.
Familjen Darby och underbara Gabriella njuter av det behagliga vädret.

Hard work and friendship

Our week was packed full of activities and work, in no specific order.

Join our journey to Thailand!

Darby FamilyHey friends! We moved to Thailand! We’re living in Chiang Mai since the 5th of January. We left our warm family – and cold Swedish climate – back in Europe. Our plan is to be here for five, mabe ten, years. But we’ll start with two and see how everybody’s doing.

So far, we’ve had a great adventure, with lots of small miracles and blessings from local Thai folk, ex-pats and of course God! BTW The Thai people are so flippin’ nice to us. When I go out to practice my Thai, I end up doing it over an ice coffee with two, or sometimes three, Thais who volunteer to sit and listen to me babble like a baby. This happened to me just yesterday.

“Ga-fay yen nam-tan nit-noy na khrap” means: “Ice coffee, a little sugar please”

This girl sells strawberries, when they're in season, at a local market in Chiang Mai.
This girl sells strawberries, when they’re in season, at a local market in Chiang Mai.

The short story is, Veronica and I have always had a desire to move out to the 10/40 window – don’t know what that is? You can ask us. – and work with something we love to do. For me, that something is photography/visual communicaiton. Veronica’s something is to just stand there and hold my reflector and camera bag. Riiight! No, her ‘something’ is to use her gifts and talents to help abolish injustice. A big task, no doubt! But a nobel one. And I tell you that she has it in her to make a difference!

The boys are, well, liking it here, so far. They’re not loving it. But I guess most children wouldn’t appreciate being uprooted from all their comforts, friends and favorite foods. But they’re slowly starting to settle in here and enjoy their new home.

Enjoy the photos from our first two weeks in our new culture. There’s more to come, so please subscribe to our posts to the right!