Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thanksgiving on Lamma

I like my pumpkin pies, so when I knew there'd be a potluck, I signed up to bring two. But making a pumpkin pie with no oven involves a certain level of commitment and a serious amount of travel.

I made the pie crusts on Thursday night after paddling practice and mixed the spices with the sugar. In the morning I packed up the crusts, mixing bowl, eggs, cans of pumpkin and evaporated milk, a whisk and a ladle. My commute makes it a little more complicated than putting all the things in the trunk of a car. I had to carry everything down the hill to the ferry, from the ferry to the bus and from the bus to my classroom. Then at recess I did the Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion, mixed up the first pie and put it in the microwave/convection oven in the staffroom. I was so amazed that I hadn't forgotten anything other than a can opener and the kitchen staff helped me with that.

Unfortunately once I put the pie in, I went back to teaching and forgot all about it. An hour and a half later I ran back up sure that the school's fire alarm was about to go off. But some angel had taken the pie out at just the perfect time! So at lunch I mixed up the other and stuck it in. I went back an hour or so later and someone else had taken that one out. It was slightly under-done, but still ok.So after school I taped together boxes to make a double-decker pie safe, covered them with plastic wrap, (thank goodness there are science experiment supplies in the project room) and carried them back down to the bus, to the ferry pier, home on the ferry and back up the hill home. There they waited safely in the frig until Sunday's dinner.

Heather and Matthew hosted the dinner and the other Heather cooked the turkey. Matthew wasn't the least bit tense about it.It was a tremendous success. Almost 50 people came. It was very much the antithesis of the lonely blue I felt last year at Thanksgiving. (If you want to read something depressing, look back at my posts around this time last year.) It was a wonderful community effort that created a marvelous feast. There were lots of babies and little kids running around which made it even more fun.

I love Thanksgiving and can't wait until late November because I think we'll have an American one, too. I'm only worried about hauling the turkey around to bake it. A crispy, juicy, dripping turkey is a bit unwieldy for a backpack.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Journey is not the Destination

Whoever said the journey is the destination has never been on my trips. I got up and took the 6:20 ferry from Lamma, kids and luggage in tow on Saturday, October 4th. Then there was the MTR to the airport and waiting in the airport. We flew Kenyan Airlines on a flight to Bangkok (continuing on to Nairobi) in a 767 so old that the lights wouldn't come on in the bathroom. I also have my doubts about the seals in the plane because Granite's ears almost exploded on the way down. Then in Bangkok we took a taxi kitty-corner across town to a bus station, waited for an hour and hopped on a bus for a six hour ride. Here's a picture from the bus stop where we had supper. But even after getting off that bus, we weren't there yet.

Next morning, we got in the back of a pick-up for a two hour ride to the ferry pier. There, we waited for two hours and then took a catamaran to Koh Tao. From there it was only another short truck ride to the beach we stayed on. Here's a picture of the beach. You tell me which is better.I suppose I could write about scuba diving in 29 C water with schools of fish circling me. I suppose I could mention the snorkeling, the beach bars, the mango shakes, the green curry or the banana pancakes. I even heard the song "Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson while I was sitting tired from diving all afternoon logging my dive and having a beer!

Actually I have to include this link to the YouTube video of the pancake guy who was just up from the dive resort we hung out at. He was originally from Bangladesh by way of Myanmar to Thailand. He spoke 7 languages. He said that after the first four, it comes easy. He's more entertaining than in the video, but here you go:

But if I went on much about the colour of the water or the palm trees swaying; if I talked too long about how the kids and I kept breaking into South Pacific songs; if I reveled in lying in a manicured jungle garden in a raised pagoda having a Thai massage, well... all of you who just had your own tropical holiday would be bored. And the rest of you in temperate climes would just be annoyed.

As a courtesy to you who don't get a week off in October, let me just tell you about our trip home. We left paradise at 3:30 on Saturday. First there was a 2 hour ferry ride followed by an 8 hour bus ride interrupted by one and a half hours in a truck stop for dinner. We arrived in Bangkok at 4:15 a.m., went to the airport to sleep and kill time. We flew out of there at 1:50 p.m. (on another flight to Nairobi by way of Hong Kong) and arrived in Hong Kong around five. Then we took the MTR across town, missed a ferry, waited at the ferry pier and got home at 8 p.m. Sunday after traveling for 29 hours. And they say Thailand is only a two hour flight away. I think I'm doing something wrong!