Dog Meets Dog

When we were going to get James, I didn’t think much about dog meeting dogs.  I had never had two dogs before as Dyzio had been the sole spoilt dog of the house.  Now we had Zoey and James was on the way.  Then we watched TV and came across Ceasar’s Way which talked about dog psychology.  It was fascinating.  I didn’t think I’d need to use it that much but it was good stuff learning about dominance issues.

I read up a little on what to do when dogs are to be introduced to each other for the first time, but then thought to myself, “Zoey” is a genteel dog that doesn’t bark and wags her tail.  She doesn’t really have any territory and runs around the garden so meeting James should be a no brainer.

James arrives and I carry him off the car in my arms.

Zoey runs around smelling and a little confused.

I let her smell him and she seems a bit confused.  Then I put James down on our front porch and she sniffs and growls.  She gives a deep growl that frightens both James and I. He snuggles in between my feet and lies quietly.  Zoey continues to growls.

Alex and I decide, “Okay, we’ll try it the dog psychology way.”  We’d take them to a neutral location which isn’t our house, have them both on leash and let them get to know each other.  Walk them a little and when all seems good, we’d walk them in together.”

So we did.  Both on leash, we took them outside the front gate to the street in front of us. Both seemed good and both Zoey and James sniffed each other.  A few minutes later tails started wagging.  Alex and I had one dog each and we took them on a little walk outside our fence together.

After a while,  Alex took both the leash and we quickly walked through our front gate as if nothing could be wrong.  We had met friends and taken them home.

James was now a friend, not an intruder.

Still on the leash, we had them play a little.  When all seemed better, I took off the leash and watched them play.  (Here most websites, says its good to watch them closely in case of agression.)  Luckily there was no agression.

Wagging tails and gentle sniffings prevailed that lazy Sunday afternoon.  What a relief.  I wondered what would happen if we had two dogs showing agression.  James slept a good couple hours the way puppies do, occasionally being sniffed by wagging tail Zoey.

Since that day, they have gotten closer and closer.  Always together, always playing the way dogs play.  Some wrestling, some soft biting and leg pulling.  Dogs must be dogs.

Zoey digs up our garden less, and James seems happy with Zoey by his side.  Dog Meets Dog really does involve dog psychology, so if you are planning on having another dog, pay close attention! 🙂  It can make a world of a difference.  Now both are sleeping by my feet.  What happiness. 🙂

A Sneeze and a Woof?

When I got my first dog over twenty years ago, my brother said it was “good for the heart” and I have to say I totally agree with him.  There is something about these loyal companions that just melt your heart and make you all soft inside.  It’s something about their innocent looking faces and eyes that look as if they could do no wrong.  The way they greet you with wagging tails when you come home as if they were greeting a long lost friend.  Yesterday, ill with a cold I came home to rest and have a good sleep. Here’s a funny story.

Near to me were the two dogs sleeping.  All was calm and quiet as we all dozed and relaxed.  I was on the sofa and the two dogs on the floor.

Then all of a sudden, it came.  My big sneeze.  Uncontrollable, it came out from the back of my nose as if a powerful storm had built up there.  I couldn’t resist and it came out in full storm.

“Aaa chooo!”  The upper part of my body raised up with the sneeze.

At the same time, I heard bells dingling.  Both dogs cocked up their heads from their deep sleep and looked at me bewildered.  They had heard a strange sound and looked at me with worried eyes.

Okay, they were just looking, but having a soft spot for the dogs it just made me laugh and smile.  I told them to get back to sleep and we all spent the rest of the afternoon happily dozing away.

Dogs are indeed good for the heart. 🙂

A Doggy Sunday

Today I leave flowers and Amsterdam for a day and instead want to talk about dogs.  There is just something about these loyal companions that make your heart warm and your soul soft.  For the past few months or so Alex and I have been enjoying the loving nature of our skinny black and white dog that came along with the house.  (Yes, once the house was finished we found ourselves with a wagging tail puppy that just looked at us with beedy eyes and melted my heart. I wondered what would happen to her if we didn’t look after her?  All the workers had left and the only living thing at our house was the dog.)  Today, in a few hours, we welcome another new member a Labrador Retriever.  It’s going to be a busy Sunday afternoon playing with the dogs.

First about our black and white dog. When we took her in and due to her white body yet two black patches on her head we called her “Zorro.”    We had the vet give her injections, bought her a bed and gave her a bath.  She became our little “Zo.”  She’s a Thai dog that means she isn’t any particular breed.  One of those local dogs you see running around the streets in dog gangs. She’s a gentle dog that wags her tail and has a bark bigger than her body.  The first time I heard her bark, I thought it was another dog.  As time passed,  “Zo” became “Zoey” when she seems to somewhat be like me and a little clumsy at times.  She’s a dog that sometimes misplaces her footing when running up the stairs.  Super excited, always hyper she just wants to be near her “pack.”

To make sure she knew what she can do and not, she is now slowly being trained, in English. Yes English.  So Zoey is a little clumsy Thai dog who knows how to “Sit”  and “Turnaround.”  Love her.  She doesn’t walk on carpets, bite our furniture or act inappropriately in the house.  (Outside is a different matter..she loves biting my plants!)

Now the Labrador retriever is going to be a different story.  I’ve never had a dog so big whose size even as a puppy is larger than Dyzio and Zoey combined.  It’s going to have to live indoors while its still a puppy though we have already prepared an enclosure for it as well as a nice little dog box where he can sleep mosquito free in the case that indoors is not a good option.  He also got a cute bed with a cherry design (there was only a limited selection left at the store!  I’m excited and looking forward to our new member.  We’ve temporarily called him James but lets see if the name will suit…

Now its time to read up on dog introductions. Do you have dogs? Would love to hear your stories this doggy Sunday!

The Netherlands: Floriade 2012

When you think of Holland what is the first thing you think of?  For me it is tulips and dykes.  I know it doesn’t really go together but I am fascinated by their dykes and how they have utilized modern technology in its construction it to preserve this flat land country where some parts are below sea level.  BBC had an awesome documentary about this a few years back.  I have been to see the dykes before but not during this trip.  This trip to Amsterdam I was fortunate enough to see the tulips in full bloom.  It’s almost the end of the season, but still it was beautiful.  It was refreshing.  It was nature at its best.  Who would have thought that a flower originating in Turkey would later change Holland’s landscapes to encompass acres of flowering fields?  Being the flower capital what better country than the Netherlands to host this year’s World Horticultural Expo, Floriade 2012. It’s held in Venlo this time and the even only comes to the Netherlands once every ten years.

I had to go see it.  Who would know when I would get to see it again?

Surprisingly, I didn’t see much advertisement for this event at all in Amsterdam and relied on my trusting companion called Google. I’m sure you’ve heard of her. 🙂 

The expo lasts a few months from 5 April until 7 October 2012 and does not only have flowers on show but is in itself an experience.  The organizers call it a “theatre of nature,”  I think so too.  Here on view are displays from all over the world and what I love about it is that you are not only going to see the flowers, but here all your senses get a workout.

Your eyes see the beautiful flowers, you smell the freshness of the air, walking through the forests that divide the five different zones you hear sounds that make you wonder if you are a player in a movie, you can touch the flowers or the wooden log homes that decorate the gardens, and if you are hungry you can taste the amazing waffle with the most amazing strawberry jam I’ve ever had.

Throughout the day there are also performances and shows.  There was an African dance while I was there. If you prefer something more high tech, there are also The Dome and Earthwalk which gives you a modern view of horticulture.  Beautifully done.  

I could go on and on but of course pictures a worth a thousand words.

How to get there?  I went to the Tourist office and asked for options.  The easiest option would be to take an excursion there for 75EUR but then you do not have the flexibility of coming back whenever you wish to.  I think the excursion gets back at around 9pm at night and I had a meeting I had to get to and so that was not an option.

Going by yourself is not significantly cheaper but it gives you the flexibility of going at your own time.  We bought entrance tickets to the Floriade at the Tourist Centre by Central Station to save time there and also got details on which trains to take.  Train tickets cost me 42.70 roundtrip from Central Station to Venlo.  It requires connecting to a different train but it’s all quite simple. Just walk across the station at Eindhoven.  Once at Venlo train station there is a little bookstore that sells tickets for the shuttle bus to the Floriade for around 3.50 EUR.  Oh, the trains we took also had free Wifi so the two hour journey went by in a jiffy. 

I wish I could have spent more time there, but then of course I could not. Of course, you can also get more information and buy entrance tickets online at www.floriade.com

Amsterdam Walking Tour

Whenever I visit a new city or new place I like to orient myself about the place and what better way than to take a walk around town?  By walking you get to see the city, observe the people, see the life that makes up a city.  It’s really a lovely way to just learn about a new place.  As a tourist without a car, you become free of the burden of having to find parking and driving.  It’s wonderful.

Before you start walking I suggest you ask your hotel for a map. It’s free and the staff are always more than willing to give you directions.   (Elsewhere in Amsterdam they charge you for a map even the tourist office)

I started my walking tour from my hotel on Vondelstraat which I think is a great neighbourhood for anyone visiting Amsterdam.  I haven’t stayed at hotels in other areas but from my experience at Vondelstraat I have fallen in love with it.  It is a safe neighbourhood without any dodgy characters hanging around and it is only a few minutes walk to the Leidseplein which is a lively square that fills up with activity late at night.  It is also near to the Vondel Park (which is like Amsterdam’s Central Park) and most importantly to the museum quarter and posh shopping road called Hoofstraat.(There are several hotels on that street)

I start my walk and head towards Leidseplein.  I cross my first canal and stop to take it all in.  The beautiful canal where several boats are parked and alongside which are trees whose leaves have just emerged from their winter rest.  Light green leaves glow in the canal. Bicycles are also everywhere so becareful when crossing the street as they come from all directions.

At Leidesplein I stop by the tourist office were I ask for information regarding the public transport pass and about Keukenhof (tulip garden)  You can buy tickets and excursions here, but some passes like the 7 day public transport card have to be bought at the office by Central Station.

I continue on my walk on Leidestraat which is a pedestrain street.  Cars are not allowed, but several tram lines run along it.  Along the street you’ll find shops, bakeries and drugstores.  There’s a cute bakery that sells XXL muffins that just look absolutely delicious and Starbucks is also on this street where you can stop, buy a drink and use some free wifi.

I cross several canals walking along the street and find myself at Koningsplein where I turn right and walk along the canal.  This is Amsterdam’s flower market.  There you can find bulbs as well as fresh flowers for sale.  Tulips, Amarylis , Daffodils and many others. Pricewise I thought they were quite reasonable though I am sure you can find them cheaper elsewhere.  There are also a lot of souvenir stores along the flower market which I discovered later to be selling postcards and other knicknacks cheaper than those in other areas.

At the end of the flowermarket is a beautiful tower where Amsterdam Museum is located next to the canal.  It’s beautiful here and a great photo opportunity.

I turn along and walk on Kalverstraat where there are more shops and boutiques taking me straight to Dam Square.  This is the main historical square in Amsterdam which dates back to 1270 when the dam on the Amstel river was first built and around which they city of Amsterdam eventually developed. The palace where the Royal family reside is also located on this square.

It’s a huge square and it is indeed the centre of activity.  Several people are in a corner playing music, in the middle I spot a man giving a speech (in Dutch) and around him is a large crowd. Another crowd surrounds a group of youngsters performing a hip hop dance.

Madame Tussaud’s, Peek and Cloppenburg, a huge souvenir shop and several shops occupy the buildings around the square.  To escape the cold I spot a few people entering what seems to be a mall and enter De Bijenkorf which turns out to be a luxury shopping mall with brands like Louis vuitton and Gucci.  I walk through and exit on the back.

I walk on Warmoestraat which is part of the Red Light district and get a sense of what it is like.  It’s daytime and quiet and it doesn’t look so safe.  I walk over to Nieuwendijk and stop by Beurs van Berlage which is an art nouveau building now a concerthall.   I go inside but can only peak through the doors to see the architecture.

A few minutes later I find myself at Central Station.  It’s a huge building that reminds you of times past.  Amsterdam in its hey day.  People stream in and out of the station and make their way to the tram stops which all see to start or end here.

I go to the pubic transport ticket office across the station, buy my pass and make my way to the trams.  After two hours of walking, I take Tram 2 back to the hotel.

I’ve seen most of Amsterdam. Not all, but I think the major sites that make the city what it is.  It’s beautiful, lively and  a city definitely worth exploring. 🙂  Wear comfortable shoes though! It’s all cobblestone!

 

 

 

Supermoon shining bright

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On the plane I spotted the Supermoon shining high and bright above the Earth. It’s a beautiful sight to see that reminds me of Murakami’s iq84. How mysterious it is indeed and how it has provoked countless imaginations and stories across the centuries.

The moon is both full of power and beautiful in its own quiet unmoving way. Its romantic when seen together by two lovers and scary if you are alone in a quiet cemetery with dogs howling.

I wonder if the moon knows its power.. Maybe not. What do you think about the moon?

Amsterdam: Tickets, Discounts and Wifi

I am in Amsterdam and have a day today before the meeting starts and so we are headed to see the Floriade 2012 which is a world Horticulture Show organized once every ten years. Later today I will tell you about it first some tips on the tickets you can use to get around Amsterdam during your trip.

After my walking tour of the city ( which I shall post about later from my netbook) I realize that I need some transport to save energy. In Amsterdam, the tram is the best option.

Single tickets are 2.5 euros which is expensive coming from Thailand. If you are there for a day you can have the day ticket for 7.5 euro, 24 hours for 12 euro, 72 hours for 16 euros, 96 hours for 20.50 euros. You can get these tickets from the info and ticket office opposite Central station or at Leidseplein. 168 hours (7day) tickets for 31 euros can only be bought at Central station. Single and day passes can be bought on board the trams.

Most important though is to remember to check in and out when using the card which you do by just holding it to the scanner on the trams.

Tickets for excursions to Zaabschan (windmills 36 euros) and to the tulip gardens of Keukenhof can be bought at the info offices which save you valuable time. Unfortunately we couldn’t use the excursion to Floriade since we wouldn’t get back on time for a meeting but you can buy the entrance tickets and ask them to print out the train schedule for you. 🙂 Pricewise going on your own and via excursion is about the same but you have to connect trains and bus which is a little hassle.

Wifi? Wifi at the hotel is expensive so I rely on the free ones at local cafes and Starbucks :). The airport shuttle which takes you straight to your hotel for 16 euros also has free wifi as well as this local train I am now. Wonderful, I am addicted to the Internet.

if you take the airport shuttle both ways the ticket is 26 euros but you have to buy the ticket from the counter.

Thats all for now 🙂

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7.30am @ Frankfurt Airport

A rushed week getting ready for the trip, I am finally started on my journey and it feels good.  There’s something about travel that stimulates the mind and awakens the senses.  I’m coming back to Europe after having been absent for awhile.

After eleven hours on the plane I have arrived at Frankfurt where I am waiting  to take my connecting flight to Amsterdam.  It’s a two hour wait and it’s really not that bad at all.   Passing through immigration and getting to your gate already consumes a fair bit about of time.  And if you forgot to take out your laptop when passing through the x-ray machines, you get  a little added excitement.  My netbook and I were taken along to a little operation room to the side of the x-rays by a large and impressionless man.

Everything works like clockwork here in Germany.    There are few sounds, not many announcements on the speakers, all you hear are the sounds of people’s clothes as they brush along as their owners rush towards their destination.    Frankfurt is a business hub and the airport is full of business people.  This particular  Monday morning it’s all black suits accompanied by black carry-ons.  I start to be conscious of my height.    Germans are tall.  Everyone seems to be at least 1.80m high.

Walking pass pretzel stalls and sandwich shops that just really tempt your tastebuds, I find a little spot with which to cosy up and await my flight.  I’m sitting at the gate for the flight to Krakow waiting for my flight to Amsterdam.  Here, I’ve got a view of airplanes and supply trucks going along their business.   I’ve got a little coffee machine (compliments of Luthansa) with which I enjoy watching because I don’t drink coffee, and a  supply of fresh English newspapers.   Hollande has won the French election against Sarkozy.

It’s really quite pleasant here.  I people watch from afar.  After 7.30am the crowds change.  The tall silhouettes of black change for slightly more colourful clothes.  Shades of grey, khakis and some splashes of colours.  A red bag here and there.   The scene becomes a bit more international.   I suddenly start hearing Chinese.   A group of Chinese people have formed the seats into a little circle besides me as they await their flight to Krakow.  The old capital of Poland.  It reminds me of my time there.  The Chinese remind me that this is the new age.   Business knows no boundaries.   20 years ago, seeing a black haired person in Poland was an oddity.  Now it must be commonplace.

It’s almost boarding time for me now.  In just an hour or so I shall be in Amsterdam!

Reaching for the Sky

It’s one of those things that just makes you smile and want to jump up and down with joy.  It’s something that I suppose any teacher feels when they see the success of their students and how happy others are.  I’m smiling, wanting to jump up and down because two students of mine have passed the exams to get into the Civil Aviation Training Center.

Students whom only last year did not want to speak nor have anything to do with the English language.  Now they have passed exams conducted entirely in English.

Exams that last year they had lost of hope of passing and was about to give up their dreams for an easier alternative.  Now, she has gotten into the institution of her dreams and is on her path to working with airplanes.  Her passion.

It’s not easy to get in especially for Thai students because the entire examination process is in English.  The written exam is in English and it not only tests your language skills, but it also tests your understanding of maths, physics and logic.  This requires knowledge of specific vocabularly.  Once you pass this, the next step is an interview also conducted in English.

I’m a proud teacher.  I love seeing the evolution of my students and how they have developed their language skills to such a level that they are confident enough to speak in English. It’s rewarding. Very.

Congratulations my dear students.  Keep up the good work!!  Reach for the Sky and accomplish your dreams!

Press “Start” and “Go”

I’ve been away from my blog this past two months and I have missed it dearly.  After a hectic two months (which really isn’t any excuse) I am now settling down in my new house, new life and getting routines sorted out.  The other day I went back to the gym after a few weeks of absence due to my sprained ankle and was immediately commented by one of the regulars there about my absence, “It’s hard to get back in pace once you stop exercise.”  I smiled and nodded in response, “Yes it definitely is.  I will now be coming back again regularly.”

It has been hard to get back into pace and fighting the “lazy me” is no easy job.  Sometimes you fall behind your goals but as long as you keep working on it and pushing forth, it will be better than just giving up and never continuing on with your goal.  For me, saying these thoughts and promises to oneself and out loud gives me an incentive to keep my promise.  I feel it an obligation to keep my word.

The same applies for everything.

So here’s my word.  I’ve pressed “Start” and now I am in “Go”.  Tomorrow morning I am going to run.  Next week I am going to Amsterdam so keep watch.  I’m excited, I can’t remember the last time I was there. It must have been over ten years ago!!

What state are you in now? Are you ready to press “Start” and “Go”?