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Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year Begins-Reflections of 2010

It is perhaps the time of the year that nostalgia takes root and we find the time to reflect on the past year. This has been particularly true here, as the past 2 days have  been the most quiet since we came here. Even the moo shop is closed. New Years day it seemed like the world had stood still. No neighbor scrub boarding clothes at 630 in the morning. No motorbikes zipping up and down the moo at 7AM. The Burmese work camp was silent, and remained so for the next 24 hours. The reasons probably clear enough as I had seen them out with cheap whiskey and Leo beer and an amplifier at 3AM and they looked like they still had a few hours of dancing left in them.
I fell asleep to the somewhat rhythmic thumping of the bass beat to their dance music. I had ventured on the roadways to get some fried banana's and was rewarded with a menu addition of sticky rice wrapped and deep fried banana sprinkled with toasted coconut. To describe it would be impossible and if you simply stop for a minute and imagine a warm banana, wrapped in a sushi style, with sticky rice that had been simmered in coconut milk and then rolled in a pan of warm roasted coconut. Aside from the occasional food stall like this one, most everything was closed. Traffic was minimal on the roads and it seemed that the first day of January, at least in Chalong was one for sleeping. My house guests and Clive had come home at 3Am and were in various stages of recovery from lack of sleep or the effects of one too many vodka and lemmongrass drinks at the beach party on New Years eve. I took the time to do some photo editing and blog writing and reflecting on what had transpired in th epast 8 months and envision what the new year will bring.

This time last January, we were in the process of organizing for the move to Thailand. We had decided to sell the house in any event, so undertook renovations and upgrading. All the things you say you need to do, never find the time to but when you decide you want to sell, it seems it is all you ever do. The projects were endless and my arthritic hands and knees reminded me many a day that I was not the young flexible guy I once was. A hard reality to face on a good day, but when you can't bend your knees to get out of bed in the morning, the theory of getting older sends a bolt of lightening reality. The undertakings in addition to renovating were also large and in many ways heading into uncharted territory. Arraignment to transport the dogs, organize visa's, banking systems and paying bills. And decide what to do with 27 years of accumulated possessing. A ruthless endeavor had to be undertaken. Due to many reasons, we had to decide what would fit into three hockey equipment bags as our worldly possessions. Planning every drive from the house for stops at book and clothing bins, thrift stores and the Friendship center. Selling goods to strangers through Craigslist, pawning off, selling or indefinitely loaning possessions to family and friends. But by April it had all been done and off we headed to Phuket.

We settled into our routines and learned many new things from language, food and culture to managing being together 24 hours a day for the first time in our 27 years of being together. many years had been spent with one of us away on business or residing somewhere else in the world for months and even years at a time. The dogs have adapted to a tropical climate and have adapted to chasing crabs and running on a beach from their days of roaming the fields and chasing squirrels and mice. Learning to drive and commute on motorbikes as the prime mode of transport, on the opposite side of the road from what you had always done. Shifting cooking and shopping routines and habits through necessity and choice. Dealing with the distance that comes in relationships with family and friends as the time goes by and the reality of the distance it takes just to pop in to have a coffee with a familiar friend or your sister becomes impossible. Unless you want to spend money and time to travel to see them, and for them to see you. The internet and especially Skype has helped. My mom and Clives parents have become adept at Skype and the ability of see each other on video is providing perhaps more regular contact than ever before. The frustrations of trying to sell a house that is thousands of kilometers away when the housing market is crashing and trying to op to renting it and risking a marijuana grow-op, due to it's ideal location. Luckily the end of 20110 looks like a resolve to that issue may be just around the corner. Adapting to living with a landlord. Who also lives thousands of kilometers away and learning how to repair things that their handyman never did, and tells you that you live in a third world country and your expectations of electricity and water are things to just live with. Meeting new people and making good friendships with motivated and gifted people. I come to terms on a daily basis of how fortunate I am in so many aspects of my life, sometimes surrounded by those who have little of the things I took for granted; running water, a bed, and education, a job, vacations and money. It humbles you to be grateful for all that.

Surrounded by access to multiple media sources that cause you to realize how self centric your exposure was and to hear voices that have dissent and differing views that can cause you to shift years of long held opinion and belief. To be exposed to the reality of how many Hollywood's there are in the world and how many that are bigger. A music culture that has followings in the tens of millions, yet never get air play outside of Asia. Discovering these new entertainments and being blown away by a story line or lyrics. Learning the joys of the internet and podcast, that keep me keep in touch with the world back where my family and friends live and where I called home for most of my life.

My rejuvenation in my interest of photography and opening my curiosity to the world around me. The discovery of new insects and animals, cultural activities and nature. The continuous feeding of my quest for knowledge and understanding.

At the request of many of the readers of this blog, this time last year Kites from Phuket did not exist. As it developed over time, many of you asked me to "do something' with my photos and writing, and the blog was born. It has been an education and curiosity for me. First to be able to publish a blog and now what to put into the blog. When Kites from Phuket began, they were to my family and friends I knew. Now the blog is being read in 19 countries by people I do not know and may never know. The kites help me to catalog my experiences and hopefully provide some insight and education to both me and the readers.  The coming year ahead holds many surpirses, rewards and I am sure a few disappointments along the way. But it is like the saying about going through life and what matters is the journey.

One of my favotire movies, Strictly ballroom, the father says," a life lived in fear is a life half lived". Meaning that if you don't take the chances that fear holds you back from, you will never know the rewards you deny yourself. So I shall boldly go forward into 2011, with a healthy dash of respect for fear and continue to enjoy another day in paradise.

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