Thai vacation accentuates the exotic


February 13, 2000|By Rosalie Falter | Rosalie Falter,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THINGS ARE the same in Bangkok, Thailand, as they are back home, yet very different, I thought as I looked down from the porch of an apartment there every morning for the past month during vacation.

Below I could see children going off to school dressed in uniforms of navy skirt and slacks, sun-bleached white shirts and blouses. Off to the side, an electric "sky train" quietly shuttled men and women to their jobs.

Barking dogs, the buzzing sound of motorcycles and the honking of cars punctuated the air. Some houses had television antennas on the roofs, and there were partially constructed buildings waiting to be completed. The golden arches of an American fast-food restaurant were visible.

But that is where the similarity with home ended. When the unfamiliar song of a bird woke me just in time to hear the faint chanting of Buddhist monks at a nearby temple, I knew I was in a foreign country.

The differences were emphasized at daybreak when the monks could be seen making their early-morning rounds. Women opened gates to their homes and made offerings of food, while vendors, set along the sidewalks, presented the monks with plastic bags filled with delicacies from their carts.

The porch scene was actually a quiet oasis most of the day in an otherwise bustling city. The wooden houses were surrounded by lush greenery, banana, coconut and litchi trees, and brightened with pink, purple and yellow flowers of bougainvillea and frangipani.

Before the heat of the day, women were quietly sweeping driveways with spiral brooms made from the dried stems of banana leaves. And I watched as a woman, with one tub for soapy water and another with clear, was kneeling on the ground to do the family wash by hand. I haven't seen that for sure at home.

Though not apparent from the porch, one other thing should be mentioned: Bangkok's exotic aromas. The light scent of incense is evident whenever passing one of the many shrines, a scent I somewhat enjoyed. With so much outdoor cooking, the fragrance of most of the food was very pleasant and whetted the appetite.

But a fruit called durian, in season and sold at all the street markets, had an awful odor. I was told that people either love it or hate it, once it gets past the nose. I am among the latter.

My trip to Thailand with Ferndale resident Sue Latini included a visit with her son, Robert P. Latini, who has lived there for six years. Latini has a jewelry business in Thailand and returns to Ferndale to do marketing.

While in Bangkok, his mother and I were treated to a private tour of the jewelry and ceramic factories with which he is associated. Latini also has a teaching job in Japan.

Snow-delayed Democrats

Officers will be installed at the monthly meeting of the District 32 Democratic Club Thursday night at Ferndale Senior Center, 7205 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd.

A lasagna dinner will be served at 7 p.m. for $4, with the meeting at 8 p.m. First District congressional candidates have been invited to attend.

The officers are: Leonard Beidle, president; Evelyn "Pete" Kellner, vice president; Kathy Sauble, secretary; Wayne Houseright, treasurer; and Jim Thomas, sergeant-at-arms.

Members of the board of directors are: John Riggin, immediate past president, and Tyras "Bunk" Athey, Earl Barnes, Joseph Corcoran, Thomas Dixon, Walter Dow, Alice Sulin and Victor Sulin.

The public is invited to the meeting. Dues are $10 a year. The club meets on the third Thursday of each month.

Information: Leonard Beidle, 410-859-0796, or Evelyn Kellner, 410-590-2604.

Scout honors

Four members of Boy Scout Troop 447, which is sponsored by St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Church in Linthicum, have met requirements for advancement.

Scouts receiving the awards were: Ryan Conlon, citizen in the community merit badge; Paul Carlson, emergency preparedness and personal fitness merit badges; Aaron Royer, personal fitness merit badge; and Michael Garrett, who achieved the rank of Scout.

Meetings are held from 7 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m. Tuesdays at St. Philip Neri, 6401 S. Orchard Road.

Information: Scoutmaster Robert Royer, 410-768-9183.

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