Thailand: Isan

Si Saket: Park and Temple

Si Saket


December 15, 2012

For my final trip of 2012, I rode up to the Isan area to the city of Si Saket to visit my friend Saengduen who is a teacher in a village outside of town.  We visited a lovely park and zoo and also a large Buddhist temple.

(Most travelers to this area visit the well-known Preah Vihear Temple complex across the border in Cambodia.)

The spacious grounds of Somdet Phra Si Nakarin Park display a variety of tropical plantings and trees.   The zoo houses colorful birds, crocodiles, bears and deer with huge sets of antlers.  The cages are a bit primitive but the animals seem content.

Nang Rong, Buriram: "The First Haircut"

10 February 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

Along with the photographs he neatly pasted into my Baby Album (photos, I may note, of a very cute infant boy) my father Otto also affixed a small white envelope. The envelope is clearly marked, "Jan's First Haircut." Inside the envelope to this very day is a shock of fine, light-brown baby hair. Cute?

Ten years ago in Miami I noticed that the hair of my neighbor's young son grew longer and longer, almost to his shoulders. My neighbor, Levi explained that his son Baruch-David will have his first haircut at three years of age - a Jewish tradition.

Three years ago my friends in Mumbai, Sushma and Paawan invited me to Mundan Sanskar, the traditional Hindu hair cutting ceremony for their one and a half year old son Agastya. *

Last year, our Rabbi here in Bangkok announced that his three year old son Ephraim would soon undergo the traditional haircut ceremony or Upsherin. Rabbi Kantor explained: "In Judaism we recognize three cuts. The first is the umbilical cut. The second is the circumcision. The third, the cutting of the hair, takes place at the moment the young son is ready to begin study of Torah, the sacred books of Jewish learning.

Most recently, my friends Mai and Mark invited me to the Buddhist haircut ceremony, Kornphomfai, for their daughter Molly, now about eight months old. Also participating were Molly's infant cousin, Prairwar, and her parents and grandparents and great-grandfather.

Nang Rong: "Loy Krathong"

Sinnanya Singlor

Nang Rong

Buriram Province


November 25 2007

Dear Puky,

(cc: Family and Friends)

Thank you for making the beautiful kratongs for me and for Buloy, my friend from the Nang Rong Resort Hotel. We went to the full moon festival last night, and along with many other Thai people, we first lit the candles and then floated the kratongs on the lake.

Several local organizations decorated very large kratongs with dragons and elephants.  There were floats dedicated to the King. It's amazing that the floats are made almost entirely of fresh flowers. Everyone enjoyed the colorful kratongs and the fireworks, especially the young children and the teenagers

Nang Rong, Buriram: "Wedding of Moon and Kevin"

Honey Inn ***

Nang Rong, Buriram


June 18, 2006

Dearly Beloved, 

Just thirty minutes before the required moment, the mistress of ceremonies at Moon’s evening wedding reception, my friend Rose asked me to speak on behalf of Kevin Brown, Moon’s new husband.

Not unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I cheerfully agreed.

Except for Kevin's sister, Jan (and acknowledging the excellent English of Peter from Austria and his Indonesian wife, Norma, and a couple from Belgium) I am the only other native English speaking Westerner at this gathering of one hundred and fifty Thai speaking guests of all ages.

Rose provided simultaneous translation.

So, here, slightly enhanced, is what I said:

“Normally the Best Man is a loyal friend who has known the groom for a long time. Now, I have known Kevin for a long time – almost twenty-four hours.

Buriram, Ubon, Mukdahan: the New Paradigm

Ubon Ratchatani


August 20 - September 2, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,


First, The Old Paradigm: I decide on a general itinerary; pack lightly (easier said than done); show up at the first stop and look for modest accommodations; wander around; use public transportation to sights in the area; eat wherever it looks good; decide on the next destination; repeat process above.

The New Paradigm: Decide on a specific destination and use one spot as a hub; book transportation in advance; book mid-range hotel in advance; use local taxi to wander around; hire car and driver to visit outlying sights; eat in comfortable restaurants or at hotel dining room (room service on occasion).