Sunday, January 14, 2018

2017 in Review and 2018 in Preview...

We have jump-started the year 2018 because we received the vist of my mother and my sister early in January. It is always good to recollect what transpired in the previous year and to preview that is lying ahead in the new year.

2017 was a busy year for traveling.

Together with Kristin, we visited Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to get the visa to Thailand. It was a short stint to put our footsteps into the country. We also spent a couple of weeks in Kigali, Rwanda in conjunction with SfK MBA Kigali we held for the Kigali Diocese of Rwanda Anglican Church. Also, we made two in-depth tours to Italy: i.e. Southern Italy and Sicily, and Taste of Tuscany. Both of them were Expat tours. Together, we visited several cities (Los Angeles, Denver, New York) in the U.S. twice. Also, while we were traveling to the U.S. we made an exploratory trip to Ajijic, Mexico, the Lake Chapala area.

On top of these trips, I made short trips, all related to to SfK Ministries. They include a short trip to Udon Thani, Thailand, to Vientiane, Laos, to Seoul, Korea four times, a day trip to Lancaster and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an overnight trip to Memphis, Tennessee, a 3-day trip to Atlanta, Georgia, a 4-day trip to Jakarta, Indonesia to attend TBN Asia Conference, an exploratory trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and a few trips to Bangkok, Thailand.

Also, we received several visitors in Chiang Mai during our first year of living here. We received friends of Kristin (Geum Sook and Hong Im's couple), Peter Lee and Danny Kim and Amanda, who stayed at our house. Moreover, I received the visits of several other people outside our house, including Sunghoon Koh of GNI, Woo Won Chang of Shanghai, Bong Rae Lee, Joon Hong Um, Jiwoon Bang of Hesed Cambodia.

Along with their visits, we explored several places in and around Chiang Mai, including the Hmong Church in the hill with Gary Moon couple and Ben couple (Christmas 2016), Doi Suthep and other places with Gesaryn's friends, night bazaar, Roong Aroon Hot Springs, Bosan Village etc.

Furthermore, I attended several conferences held in Chiang Mai, including Lausanne Consultation on Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation, WEC's BAM Conference, Freedom Business Forum, SfK MBA Chiang Mai.

2018 is going to be quite busy also.

In January, we received the visit of my mother and my sister already. And I will travel to Manila and Baguio, Philippines to speak at K-BAM Philippines.

In February, on the way back from Manila, I will stop over in Bangkok to meet with Peter Lee on closing Sky Bay Thailand accounting books and some banking transactions.

In March, we are scheduled to make an escorted tour to Vietnam with Gate I, visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay. And, we will make a short trip to Dalat. Also, in Ho Chi Minh City, I will meet with CBMC people and speak at Ho Chi Minh BAM group meeting. After our trip to Vietnam, Kristin will return to Chiang Mai and I will travel to Seoul Korea primarily to attend SfK Korea board meeting.

Later in March, Kristin and I will fly to Auckland, New Zealand from Chiang Mai and Seoul, respectively, and travel together to Christchurch, New Zealand. Then we will begin our 14-day escorted trip to visit several cities in New Zealand, called the Last Paradise on Earth.

After the New Zealand tour, we will make a short trip to Nadi, Fiji in April before we fly out to Sydney, Australia. From there, we will begin an independent tour visiting the iconic places of Australia: Sydney, Cairns where we will experience the Great Barrier Reef, Darwin, Ayers Rock (better known as Ululu) and Melbourne. We will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary in Melbourne and fly back to Chiang Mai.

In May, I will travel to Los Angeles, California to attend SfK Life board meeting. Right after that, I will travel to Toronto, Canada to attend IBEX General Assembly and its Advanced Training.

In June, I will lead the SfK MBA Irvine at Bethel Korea Church for two weeks starting from May 29, along with other fellow lecturers. In June, I will travel to Korea to celebrate my mom's 88th birthday and to attend the launch of SfK BAM Fund.

In July, I will travel to Rwanda to lead SfK MBA Kigali.

In August, I do not have a schedule at this moment.

In September, I will travel to Korea to attend K-BAM Sorak.

In October, we will join Expat Explorer to travel to Greece. SfK will host its second SfK MBA Chiang Mai.

In November, we will travel to the U.S. and further to Cancun, Mexico to hold our family gathering over Thanksgiving and also to take care of our Thai visa and international driver's license. I will end up traveling to several cities to raise funding for SfK Life Corporation into December.

In summary, for the year 2017, the highlights were Chiang Mai to settle down, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Ajijic, Mexico to have a look, and Italy to have in-depth experiences. For me, the number of countries I have visited totaled 75.

For the year 2018, we will visit several countries for the first time: Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Greece. Without counting any other new country I will get to visit unexpectedly, the number of countries I have visited will total 80. That is, Lord willing. So, Lord, I pray for Your travel mercy on me in 2018 as in 2017. Amen! - Jeffrey

Friday, January 12, 2018

Chiang Mai - Fruits, Foods and Farewell... (January 2018)

My mother and my sister Minja left for Korea in the night of January 10th. Their six day stay was far too short, but we had quite extensive coverage during this period. Unfortunately, the night they left for Korea, Seoul's temperature fell below zero down to minus 13 degrees celcius. Until we see each other again, "Farewell!"

Our tour ended at Royal Flora Ratchaphruek, but on the way back home, we stopped over at Central Airport Plaza to taste some representative Thai dishes.

We tasted Pad Thai Kung, Tom Yam Kung and Song Tam. All these dishes are well known to foreigners, but probably Pad Thai is the best known, a stir fried rice noodle with shrimp. Generally, people like it. Tom Yam Kung is a sour and spicy soup with shrimp and vegetables. Many people like it but some don't. Song Tam is more authentic Thai than two other dishes. It is a green papaya salad with peanuts, red peppers, carrots and other ingredients. Song Tam could be prepared differently with many other ingredients, such as seafood and meats.

Song Tam
Tom Yam Kung

Pad Thai
Also, while I was not around, they tasted Thai tropical fruits. The fruits that they tasted were not exhaustive, but pretty well covered with papaya, coconut, mango, dragon fruits and avocado. Of course, they are on top of many other general fruits.

They thoroughly enjoyed foot massage that they received it almost everyday. They liked foot massage better than Thai massage. I am glad that they enjoyed it.

I was so grateful to spent time with my mom and my sister in Thailand. It was made possible because my mom has been kept healthy and strong to date at the age of 88. So I am grateful to God. - Jeffrey

Chiang Mai - Royal Flora Ratchaphruek ... (January 2018)

Ratchaphruek is Thai national flower. It is called golden rain tree in English and its yellow flowers are well aligned with Thai royal color, which is yellow, and Buddhism color, which is also yellow.
In 2006, Thai Government held a flower exhibition in honor of the late King Bumibol who reigned Thailand for 70 years, the longest in the world. This flower exhibition was converted into a park and is now open to the general public.

It has many themed parks for people to walk around. Flowers are every where and their fragrance is refreshing.

At the northern end of the park, there is Royal Pavilion that exhibits the Lanna architecture. Inside the pavilion, there are paintings that show the good deeds of the late King Bumibol. The view from the pavilion is spectacular and panoramic.

It was a fine day when we visited and every photo shot was good for post cards.

My mom really liked the orchid park where you can see and smell a variety of orchids.

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek was the last place to visit. I am delighted that we have remained strong and healthy after a week-long rigorous schedule.  - Jeffrey

Chiang Mai - Mon Cham, Elephant Camp, Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden (January 2018)

Chiang Mai Tour Day 4 was Monday, January 8, but I had to go away to give a lecture to young people who escaped North Korea and now live in S. Korea. There is a ministry called Jacob's Well that aims to help restore the dignity as children of God as the citizens of God's Kingdom. So, it became a special day for ladies. They received massage - both Thai and foot massage - and spent time experiencing tropical fruits of Thailand.

On Day 5, we decided to explore Mon Cham, one of the popular hangout places in Chiang Mai off the Samoeng Loop and two additional places right on the Samoeng Loop: Elephant Camp and Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden. Samoeng Loop is a scenic route of 100 km in the mountains and along the loop there are numerous places of interest. I plan to explore the loop again on a motor bike someday in the near future.

Mon Cham
Mon Cham is a place that is situated on top of the hills where people can enjoy the panoramic view as well as flowers. Also there are food carts and merchants that sell various products. Most of these merchants are Hmong people, one of six major hill tribes.

I was amazed at my mom who at the age of 88 was able to hike up the hills without too much difficulty. Her warm and peaceful smile is always comforting and encouraging to me.

We bought some fruits, roasted corn ears and roasted sweet potatoes. We stopped by an adventure shop called Pongyang where people can try out ATVs, zip lining, biking in the air etc and enjoyed the snack along with beverages while watching their activities along with the ever soothing green scenery.

Elephant Camp
We already rode on the bare back of elephants else where, and my 88-year old mom would not dare to ride it. But she could watch an elephant show without taking a risk.

We watched the elephants getting bathed in the small river. They love to get dirty with mud but also to get bathed in the water. One elephant lay down in the water.

Later in the show, elephants kicked balls and also defended the goal with their body. The elephants did other tricks such as taking off the hats from their trainers and also putting them back on the heads of their trainers.

But the most amazing and impressive trick they showed to us was their painting skills. Amazingly they were able to paint trees and even scenery. I am not sure how they learned, but it proved to me that elephants are quite smart. I saw one painting of an old tree framed for sale at TB15,000 or $460. Well... I am not sure if I want to pay that much money for a painting drawn by an elephant.

Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden
This botanical garden was established in honor of Queen Sirikit, the mother of the current king and the wife of the former king who ruled Thailand for 70 years, the longest rule by a monarch.

The area was quite large, but the contents were a bit disappointing. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the lake view with a water shoot colorfully coordinated with trees decorated with colorful fabrics. A large flower clock was displayed on the grass near the pond, and it was pretty.

We found out that all seniors who are older than 60 years of age were admitted for free. Great! - Jeffrey