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December 21st 2003

Christmas Party for the kids from the Orphanage

I have just returned from the party and I am somewhat jaded (no pun intended, well ok yes it was) after our day in the glorious winter sunshine here in Thailand. Spending the day out in direct sunlight is not the Thai way or mine with my skin colouring. Thai ladies in particular hide from the sun a great deal. For instance they will walk down the road holding up a book or such like to shade their faces. It is interesting to note that it is for the same reason why western ladies go to the solarium to get brown like the Thais  are naturally. For the Thai woman, white skin indicates wealth, and for a western lady a good tan means they have just had a good holiday in the sun. For a Thai lady a nice deep brown tan is considered ugly and they will spend fortunes on cream etc, to make their skin lighter. They consider dark skin ugly because it makes them look like peasents who spends their lives working in the fields - much the same as westerners did hundreds of years ago.

This is a photo taken from the north end of Jomtien Beach. The tower in question is directly in the center of the photo. In my opinion it's really a bit of an eye saw but it sure is a focal point. You can see it for miles in just about every direction.

 

This photo was taken on the 28/12/03 on a busy Sunday afternoon while the beach was full of tourists both western and Thai's down from Bangkok for the week end. Jomtien Beach is the next beach south of Pattaya which gets busy most weekends but through the week it is as nice and peaceful a place as you can imagine, totally deserted in the early morning, this being the best time for me. There are very many hotels and condominiums of all price ranges. With 7/11 stores seemingly opening daily I have lost count of how many have opened in the Pattaya area that have opened in the three years I have lived here.

You can click on any of the photo's to get a better view.

Now back to the day, it started off cool  - well cool for Thailand anyway - with an air temperature of about 20C or thereabouts at six in the morning. The sky was as clear as a bell without a cloud in sight and the first order of the day was my giant mug of tea while watching the BBC World news. Nothing at the weekends starts any other way for me, well with a little luck anyway. Slowly watching the sun rise over the roof of the adjacent bungalow, while taking in - or almost anyway - the vagaries of what is going on in the world. After the news was ‘Holiday’ a very pleasant little holiday destination program that helps you sort out where you would love to go for you’re your vacation. For me it’s very nice viewing but as probably my wife would say ‘You are on holiday permanently’. She, however is probably right as what is work, if you love what you’re doing, other than a holiday. That being finished it was off on the very long journey to my desk - five seconds later across the living room there I was starting up my computer to download my emails and see who wants what. There was not much today, just one $49.00 US$ bangle, but every bit helps. 

The top picture here is of a your lad called OU. This was taken in August 2003, at my first meeting with the kids from the orphanage at a day out provided by the flying club.

As you can see he is happy but painfully thin and in deed he is in the last stages of HIV AIDS. I spoke to Georgiana Paddy's wife about him at the time and she told me that he was not expected to live more that a few days or weeks longer.

The bottom picture is of OU in the second position on the slide. It was taken on the 21/12/03 at the day out at the water park. As you can see here not only is he still with us and more importantly really enjoying life, he is thriving as a result of the loving care he receives at the centre.

This is what your donations have helped to achieve. He is saying now that he would like to fly down to Pucket when he manages to get his weight up to 44LB, before he dies.

 Lets all pray that he makes it.

Please don't forget you can click on the picture to enlarge it.

By 8 o’clock I was impatient. I had completed my tasks for the day and wanted to get the party under way, when I realized that I had not checked back with my friend Roland whether his son, Leroy, was coming to the kid’s party despite having made several visits to his home through the week (trying to get a free coffee) only to find no one there. He is building a new house so I am guessing that they were all up there putting the finishing touches to their mansion. I must make a knot in something to remember to pay more regular visits as I don’t want to miss out on the house warming party. So it was off a round the corner to make sure he would be ready to go at 9 o’clock. I arrived there and pushed the bell. Waited and waited; there was not a soul in sight but one of the maids finally turned up and I left her with the instruction to get Leroy ready for 9 o’clock. Apparently they had a party that I missed the night before. Then it was off to the airfield to make sure all my helpers from the flying club were firmly in line with the meeting point and time. 

Josh, the Flying Dutchman, was there with Mr. Att, also from Holland plus two Swiss men who had been flying students that morning. Coffee was presented so we sat and chin-wagged for 45 minutes or so with the warm morning sun on my back. I ask you what more could you want more from life, sitting there in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt at 8a.m. or so in the morning, passing the time of day over coffee with friends. If I could bottle this life of mine I would make a fortune. Soon it was time. Nine o’clock, time to go and get Noi, Black and Leroy from around the corner. Noi and Black where not a problem they where there ready and waiting but I had invited two of Black’s friends from the road neither of which now wanted to go. OK their loss, but I have to say I was a little peeved having ordered meals for 60 people. So it was off to collect Leroy only to find out he was not even there. Even more peeved! Not to worry; less responsibility for me so I should worry. I had packed all the sodas and a few beers for the men in my very large freezer box the day before with ice between the layers and I new that I would need a top up with one more large bag of ice so the first stop of the morning was the ice ware-house in Soi Nung PapWan, leading down to the main road.  This was done in a trice and off to Food- Land’s supermarket to pick up the two large Christmas cakes that I had ordered last week. I picked up a few big tins of cookies, some bin liner bags and the cakes without problem. Then it was off to the most important stop of the trip - Rudy’s restaurant for the party food. And just as importantly my own breakfast as by this time with all the thoughts of the party, I was starving. 

Date 28/12/03

Rudy & Pla's Restaurant in Soi Cow Pai. Rudy my Swiss friend is on the right with his arm around Pla.

Rudy is one of those guys who is the heart & soul of his bar. It's a real talent & sure one I haven't got.

When I arrived at the restaurant it looked as though all the whole Soi was helping out, with a production line of Thai ladies. The first one had chicken legs, no I don’t mean she had chicken legs her self I mean she was putting fried chicken legs into the packed lunch trays, another had the fried rice with the last bringing up the rear with the pork ribs. The fruit for afters was already prepared the night before I reckoned as it was already totally complete.  It was clear that all would be ready for 10 o’clock, the time I had told Rudy I wanted to be on my way. So it was more coffee, more chin-wagging and toasted egg and sausage sandwiches. Delicious they were too.
Pattaya Park Hotel is down on the beach side of the hill which separates Pattaya from Jomtiem beach, the bottom of which is right on the beach. You can see it from most of Pattaya and Jomtiem because of the tower that looks as though it was designed to be a Saturn Five rocket look-alike. It is not particularly beautiful but for sure you can’t miss it. At the entrance, having driven down the hill, is a monorail which travels around the park at about 5 m.p.h.. The main building on the left that is part of the monstrosity of a tower. If you so desire you can go to the top which is really quite high and come down by a harness wire thing, it must be a great view but I will leave the description of this to others. Now I love to fly, even in an aircraft without doors, that is no problem. However looking over a tall cliff or off the top of a building is just not my favorite cup of tea. You can also come down in a rather shaky looking gondola sort of thing on the other side, if swinging in a parachute harness is not for you. Not far past the main building is the entrance to the Water Park, a little obscured by the rather small fairground rides that are really very expensive for Thai people at about $0.75 a go. In fact Thailand can be very expensive for Thais. I am told that fuel is expensive compared to the US and for sure full car insurance is also very expensive, similar to costs in the UK.  A factory worker on the line will be very lucky to earn as much as $154.00 USD per month. So when you find out that a very small, two up, two down house is going to cost you $75.00USD per month, you can see what I mean. 

Date 28/12/03

This day was a little cloudy from time to time at the base of the Pattaya Park tower unlike the day of the party when there was not a cloud in the sky. Ok for my friends in the States the Empire State Buildings it's not but it's high enough for me to look over the balcony at the top. You can just about see the wire's at the top that you if you so desire can dangle from. All I can say is rather you that me.

Don't forget you can click on the photo to get a bigger view.

Now I love to fly, even in an aircraft without doors, that is no problem. However looking over a tall cliff or off the top of a building is just not my favorite cup of tea. You can also come down in a rather shaky looking gondola sort of thing on the other side, if swinging in a parachute harness is not for you. Not far past the main building is the entrance to the Water Park, a little obscured by the rather small fairground rides that are really very expensive for Thai people at about $0.75 a go. In fact Thailand can be very expensive for Thais. I am told that fuel is expensive compared to the US and for sure full car insurance is also very expensive, similar to costs in the UK.  A factory worker on the line will be very lucky to earn as much as $154.00 USD per month. So when you find out that a very small, two up, two down house is going to cost you $75.00USD per month, you can see what I mean. 

The week before I had arranged the deal with the manager, Mr. Vitoon, at Pattaya Park. He was giving us a discount of 50% of the normal price for the adults plus allowing us to bring all our own food and drink. So, on arriving I just had to drive the truck down the delivery ramp and unload it right next to the tables. Three of Rudy’s young ladies had joined us from the restaurant and they very quickly got busy setting up two rows of tables and chairs that were there stacked up just there, Mr. Vitoon came across to make sure all was well and it was just perfect. We were in the shade in a quiet area out of the way of the main tourist areas and just 25yds from the maze of swimming pools.  
This photo was taken towards the end of the day after the children had sung some Christmas songs for us all.

You can just about see me at the back wearing Noi's son Black.

Now for my job - the really important big job, walking back up to the entrance for meeting my guests. OK, life is tough sometimes but someone has to do it. First came Mr. Att, who promptly gave me $38.00 US towards the day. “No.” I said, “The day is on me but I will take it off you and give it with the donation at the end of the month.” This was very quickly agreed - as he said “At least my wife won’t get a chance to spend it!” Then came Paddy and Georgina, the Canadian couple who are volunteers at the centre. More chin-wagging and a few minutes later the kids arrived with Father Nidini. 

After much shaking of hands and wai-ing, later it was the Pattaya Park staff’s job to try and get some cash of me. This was something of a small Thai pantomime as they insisted on giving everyone a ticket instead of just counting them through the gate and telling me how much they wanted. OK there is always a procedure and rules I guess but there should also be common sense, shouldn’t there? Not to worry we were all there and on our way down to lunch which everyone enjoyed. Well it all went with only bones etc, left over for the dogs. Now, OK I hold my hands up. I forgot the paper plates and a knife for the Christmas cake’s but I doubt it would have been done justice to as they all seemed full after the main meal. So the cakes and a few portions of fruit went back with them to be enjoyed another day. 

Now it was pool time. I had roped in the pilots from the airfield to act as life-guards for the day. Off we went with the kids, the main attraction being the water slides. There was already other life-guards there in attendance so there we all were chatting about this and that watching the kids up and down the slides in the warm Thai December sun whilst the ladies from Rudy’s restaurant drank all the beer!  

Myself and the rest of the men were content with a soda or so, but when I finally decided that the party was in decline and the kids where busy munching on the rest of the fruit and cookies I fancied a beer.

On the 28/12/03 I braved the tower to take this photo. The balcony was high chest height but I was still no comfortable & wanted to get away A.S.A.P. back to the life going down. This day was a little cloud on occasions so the picture doesn't show how light bright & airy the water park is in the sun light. When I arrived at the tower I was told it cost $5.00USD to go up so I summoned Mr. Veitoon the manager & he very kindly let me go up for free when I explained that it was for my web site that I wanted the pictures.

This is another photo taken from the top of the tower unfortunately it was cloudy at the time & the viability on the day was not very good at all. The view is of Pattaya bay, please remember you can click on the photo to see it enlarged.
I imagined there would be nearly a full case left as I know Paddy had that one but as I said every one else was on the sodas. So I thought one for me and a load left for my friend Mr. Philip from Bangkok when he is down here visiting. Yes, you guessed it.  I opened the freezer chest to find it totally empty, had the kids drank it? No it was Rudy’s ladies. Never mind, it was very kind of them to help out and they really did do a good job sorting out the food etc, sorry Philip.
 
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