Monday, October 31, 2005

A day at the beach

Well, not really a whole day... more like a couple of hours.

Brought Sam and Rosie to a beach which was also designated off-leash area for dogs a couple of days ago. We'd been to the park so often that we thought a change in scenery would be good for them. Plus being a legitimate off-leash area meant we could let them run to their hearts' content chasing birds and the like.

They seemed a bit intimidated by the waves initially, especially when it washed up on them and got their coats wet on the bottom. But they did have fun chasing Noon and I around and kept running back and forth between us as we walked along. Kept a close eye on them just in case coz we were afraid they might just dash into the sea. Neither of them had actually swum at the beach before, although Rosie likes wading around in ponds of still water.

They both went exploring a fair bit, up and down the little sand dunes. Didn't stray too far from us though... kept looking over their shoulders at us as if to asking us to keep up with them. We didn't, and after a while, they got the idea we weren't going along with them. Then they'd both come bounding back to Noon and me.

They also met up with other dogs along the beach too. Sam loves playing with newfound friends; don't let his size fool you, he's still a puppy at heart and once he sees another dog, he has selective hearing loss and will never heed any calls to return. I personally don't like this in him - his size makes him intimidating and seeing a huge dog running right at you doesn't instill a whole lot of confidence, no matter how friendly it looks! Kids are a major concern as well, since Sam and Rosie love kids and like nothing better than to tumble around with them and lick their faces silly. I can only imagine the apprehension that goes through the parents' minds when they see Sam bounding up to their toddlers. Gotta get this under control, methinks.

Anyway, on this occasion, Sam and Rosie met up with a friendly dog who was happy enough to run around with them and play tag for a little bit. They got quite a good workout doing so, giving Noon and I a bit of a break from keeping them company the whole time.

And what do you do when you're buggered from all that running? Plop your butt down under the cool and comfy shade of the beach umbrella! That's my Mum in the pics, Dad got displaced by Sam when he came around all dripping and wet. They look pretty content, don't they? Cheeky little buggers!

When they looked like they'd had enough and didn't want to run off anymore, we brought them home. Had to wash them off to get rid of the salt and sand. Don't think they liked that part very much, kept trying to run off, but that's the price you pay for having fun at the beach :)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sam's 1st Birthday

Our little Sammy turned 1 year old on Tuesday the 25th!

We decided to have a birthday party for him, complete with party hats and cake.

Both Sam and Rosie were happy to take pics with us... after some persuasion :)

Mum and Dad got in on the action too!

Mum insisted on getting them a BBQ dinner that night as a special treat. They each had 1 piece of steak, 1 lamb chop, and two sausages. And I made sure the meat wasn't too thoroughly cooked.

And here's the birthday boy with his cake!

Talk about having your cake and eating it! :)

We got Sam a simple banana cake. Had wanted to get him a carrot one instead, but that was sold out previously. We only let them eat half the cake that night, didn't want them overdoing it and getting sick as a result. Sam and Rosie got the other half the next afternoon for tea :)

Happy Birthday Sammy!!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wedding, December 11th '04 - Thailand (Part 2)

Here we go, part 2 of my wedding adventure in Thailand!

The morning events concluded at about 1pm, but by the time we wrapped things up and adjourned back to the hotel it was almost time to get started on preparations for the evening ceremony. Didn't get much time to rest at all.

Noon had to get into her dress and had to have her hair and make-up done again. Was really nice of her sister for being there to help and keep Noon company.

Here are photos of the banquet hall prior to the arrival of the guests. Surprising that they could accommodate all our 500 invites and still have plenty of room to spare.

The wedding cake, ice sculptures and decorations were all provided by the hotel as part of our wedding package.

I did say that we had 500 guests, didn't I? Well here's what it looked like from the stage when they all turned up!

The evening kicked off with Noon and I getting water poured over our hands by each and every one of our guests (with the exception of children younger than ourselves). I believe this was symbolic of us receiving well wishes of luck and prosperity from our elders. We had to kneel the entire time but luckily cushioned paddings were provided for us, but we had wrinkly, pruny hands by the end of it all :)

A picture with family and we were on to the requisite speeches. Noon delivered hers in both Thai and English, the latter for the benefit of my side of family as well as our friends from overseas. My speech was completely in English, but the Master of Ceremonies was provided a translation transcript of it in advance.

The cutting of the cake! There really wasn't much cake to go around, and not everyone had some. Heck, I don't think I even got to have a slice myself :)

We also had to light a few candles too, and at the conclusion of the evening event pinch them out with our fingers. I must say the props provided were quite elaborate indeed, was impressed by all the detail work on altar and its decorations.

Managed to take some pictures with our respective families once we got off the stage.

Had to pose outside the banquet hall for photos with all the guests, but I still like the ones with just me and my wife alone best :)

Remember Iain who gave Noon away at our Australian wedding? Well here he is with his wife Robyn at our Thailand wedding. Yes, they came all the way over just to be with us! Noon and I were both very touched.

And last, but definitely not least, our two very good friends Off and Nid, whom we'd come to know while at University in Australia. They're both living in Thailand now, and had been instrumental in helping us with all manner of arrangements. We couldn't have pulled things off without them.

And there you go! That's the story of our wedding told on Sam and Rosie's blog :)

Noon and I were exhausted at the end of it all, and at times things were less than smooth but we got through it. Was a rather interesting event, I think... and I'm still learning more of the Thai culture with each and every visit I make to the country.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wedding, December 11th '04 - Thailand (Part 1)

Noon and I had our second wedding ceremony on the 11th of December 2004. This time it was held in Noon's hometown of Udonthani in Thailand.

Many of Noon's family and relatives did not manage to travel to our wedding in Australia previously because of distance and cost. This time, we wanted to bring the occasion to them so they could celebrate along with us. Noon's side of the family made up the bulk of the 500-guest list, with only 10 of my family members and friends in attendance from Malaysia and Australia.

Before we go any further, let me state for the record that I cannot speak Thai. And Noon's family, with the exception of her eldest brother and younger sister, do not speak English. So you can imagine the interesting time we had. I basically tried to smile and gesture my way through the entire ceremony (very clumsily, I might add) while Noon did her best to translate.

Basically, the events of the day were split into two parts.

First the morning ceremony. Ours consisted of the customary groom's procession to the bride's residence, followed by a passage through 3 symbolic gates, and a blessing ceremony by a group of monks chanting for a happy and prosperous future for the two of us. Pictures and comments as follows, enjoy!

My procession began a few doors down from where Noon was waiting. I came bearing gifts, so to speak :) I can't recall exactly what was carried along, but I know for sure that that big bundle was a whole stack of cash. Imagine if you will $30,000 in $10 bills. And all in cash too! That was my dowry payment to the bride's family for their consent to our wedding. Other assorted gifts included jewelry, gold and fruits.

At the end of the procession, I came to the 3 symbolic gates. In order to pass through these, I had to negotiate the price of passage - a bribe in essence :)
Each successive gate cost more than the one before and by the time I got the last gate I was dealing in Australian dollars!

Once past the gates, I handed over the dowry. Noon's Mum was obviously happy with the money :)

Now that I had access to Noon, we could begin the traditional blessing ceremony. A group of Buddhist monks were invited from the local temple to chant blessings upon our marriage. I was told I would have to sit kneeling for the duration of the ceremony, about 2 hours or so, but they were kind to me and allowed me to sit normally because I was a foreigner.

During the course of the chanting session, Noon and I were tasked with preparing the food offerings for the monks. Again a symbolic gesture, we placed food items into the offering bowls together.

At the conclusion of the blessing ceremony and following the departure of the monks, we had a photography session with various friends and family. Seen on the photo on the left are Noon's mum and dad, and her brothers and sister. The photo on the right are of us and our parents.

Photo on the left are Noon's extended family, and the one on the right is her grandmother who is about 90 years old and still manages a tobacco stall at the local market every morning. Hats off to the grand matriarch!

And this photo of my Mum and Dad that I really like.

Finally, with everything finished and done with in the morning, we could sit down and get a bite to eat from the catered buffet. It was already lunch time by then.

Me and my new sister-in-law on the left, and me and my wife on the right.

The traditional form of greeting in Thailand. And the same for saying a big Thank You for sharing the experience with us!

Well, that was the morning in a nutshell. I had fun reliving the memories, and I hope you enjoyed reading and looking at the photos. Part 2 to follow tomorrow, covering the evening events with another lot of pictures.