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Some days here in paradise are fairly routine, but all have moments of surprise.

The past couple of days haven't seen any major turns of event for us — we did some house-cleaning and laundry and I suffered from some nasty mosquito bites (my Bullfrog Mosquito Coast sunblock with mosquito repellant seems to attract them rather than repel them).

Wednesday afternoon, Tim wanted to take me to "Mama Moon" which turned out to be a small open-air restaurant (View Point) located high on Cape Sol — a mountainous piece of land jutting out into the Andaman Sea between Kamala and Patong.   It offered a great vantage point from which to look down at the bay which contains Kalim, Patong, Trai Trag, and Paradise Beaches.  On this particular day, there was a large cruise ship in the bay (I couldn't identify the line from the stack markings) and the sunset turned out to be a bit of a dud.  I could tell there was a large storm some miles out to sea towards India and I kiddingly told Tim that it would begin to rain on us right at 7:15.  (It actually did sprinkle a bit on us as we were driving home — when it began, I looked at my watch and it was exactly 7:15!).  On our way back to Chalong (a 45-minute drive, causing what Dad affectionately calls "bees in the butt"), we stopped off at the south Kamala open-air market and then drove along the coast turning inland at Karon.  I really do love the variety of scenery along these drives, even if some of them are in the dark.

Yesterday afternoon, after completing several loads of laundry, we went to Super Cheap for some "window shopping."  From the outside, this place looks like a collection of tumble-down tin shacks but it's really a huge covered market with a variety of products rivalling that of Big C.  It's not air-conditioned, however, so it's rather hot and smelly (and I wondered how things like the mayonnaisse and raw meats kept from spoiling in those conditions).  I'd been wanting to buy a helmet to wear on the motorbike and found a really good one for 599 baht (around USD $15); I bought Tim a new one as well.  We also found several nice table-and-chairs sets that would look good on our side patio and plan to return today with a truck.

Before going home, we visited Tim's friend Lek (the motorbike taxi driver) at her new rental in Kathu.  They were both pretty proud to tell me that this place was only 2000 baht (approx. USD $55) per month but I was appalled at what I considered were poverty-level conditions.  The house was a tiny tin-and-wood plank shack situated amidst piles of garbage and other falling down structures.  Inside was clean enough, I suppose, but living there would be akin to camping out in primitive conditions.  Not for me but if Lek is happy with it, more power to her.  Tim helped her decorate a bit because Jum was due to arrive later in the evening and is going to stay there as well (I'm not sure what she'll think of the place).

After dropping the helmets off at home, we drove to one of the markets nearby and purchased some items for dinner.  I bought some sausage that turned out to taste really bad, along with a breaded chicken filet which was pretty good.  Later in the evening, La stopped by for a visit and Tim and her enjoyed talking on the side patio while I read in the master bedroom.  After a while, Tim wanted me to show La the photos I'd taken since returning to Phuket so I took the laptop out to the patio and we watched a lengthy slideshow.  I like hanging out with La because she isn't the opinionated chatterbox as is Lek or Puk.  She is very soft-spoken and polite.

I can't believe today is Friday already — this week just zoomed by.  Today also marks the beginning of my third week in Thailand.  Very soon, we will have to begin planning our trip to Bangkok in order to get Tim's passport.  Our visit will be at least five days long (it takes that long to process the passport application) during which we'll make a day-trip to Ayutthaya in order to see Tim's daughter.  After obtaining the passport, we'll either come back to Phuket or go on to Chiang Mai for my first meeting with her parents.

Today, we are planning to buy the outdoor table and chairs; Nit is picking us up at 2:00 — it's raining right now (9:45 a.m.) so hopefully that will stop before we to that furniture shopping.  We're also going to buy some supplies for a party tomorrow.  Since Jum has returned, Tim wants to have a birthday party and it's also sort of our housewarming party.  However, contrary to what I've read about Thai traditions of the guests bringing food and gifts, it looks like I'll be footing the bill to stock this party.  I tried to convince Tim that we should just buy some beer (and whiskey — which she insists on) and perhaps a cake.  But she insists on cooking up a ton of food (that will either not get eaten or will create a mess in addition to smelling up the house).

My "suggestions" are usually met with "Thailand not same same farang" or some other similar saying indicating that my ideas are "wrong".  (A non-food-related example of this came last night when I suggested that she and La turn down the music and stop talking so loud around 10:00 so as not to disturb the neighbors.  She said, "Okay for Thailand," meaning that she felt it was perfectly fine with the neighbors that we be loud late at night.  I tried to explain that our neighbors were mostly Westerners who probably wanted to sleep.  This point was punctuated when our next-door neighbor slammed closed his own patio doors and that finally quieted Tim down.)  As time goes on, I think she'll understand the need to be courteous and respectful to those she lives around.  I think she's beginning to see that she'll have to compromise on certain things and I've been trying to stress that I've completely changed my life and virtually every thing I do is some level of sacrifice or compromise.  It's been difficult for her to understand that she'll need to give in a little bit from time-to-time as well but I do believe we are moving slowing in that direction.  Time will tell...