Monday, April 30, 2007

Our Newest Addition - The Orchids

While at the English Drama competition in Perlis, I took a trip up to Padang Besar, at the Thai border, with Mr. Wong. Pandang Besar used to be the western gateway from Malaysia into Thailand, until the government built a new facility at Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah. Now Padang Besar has seen better days, and most of the car and truck traffic going into Thailand goes through the newer facility. The trains, though, can only pass through Padang Besar.

There is a market there, where you can get clothes and sundry items for cheap without having to go into Thailand. I went there with Mr. Wong, to see if I could get some memento of the trip for my wife. He said that they have good mangoes there for cheap. Trien likes mangoes, so I figured I would get some for her (and the baby).

Well, when we got there, the mangoes didn't look too good, but the clothes were a different story. There were some very nice blouses and dresses that Trien would look really good in, if she wasn't pregnant. I know better than to buy clothes for her, rather than with her, so I had to look for something else.

At the very end of the one market area, nestled by some hawkers stalls, was a guy selling plants. He had a few miniature roses, some strange cactus like plants, but what really caught my eye was the orchids.

That, I figured, would be a good gift for her.

There are lots of orchids in Cebu. You see them everywhere, even in the poorer sections. If I bought her some orchids, I figured, maybe it would make her feel at home.

So I started looking through the selection. There was nice selection of orchids in different sizes, shapes, and colors. The stall owner came around, even though he was on crutches. He spoke pretty decent English, and started explaining about the different orchids he had for sale. This one came from Viet Nam, this one came from Thailand, this one came from the jungle, he sends these down to Putrajaya to be sold, and so on.

I asked Mr. Wong for his opinion, but he didn't say much. The owner showed me some fragrant orchids. I had never heard of fragrant orchids before, and obviously Mr. Wong hadn't either, as he told me to make sure they really were fragrant, and not that the owner had sprayed something on them.

When all was said and done, I bought the orchids pictured here, both "fragrant" orchids.

I liked the purple color of the first one. (This picture is taken a few days after I brought it back, and doesn't really do it justice). I had never seen tiny orchids like the ones in the second picture, so that's why I bought them. They sure smelled nice on the bus ride back to Taiping.

The next day, we took the students up to Padang Besar to get something to eat, (other than school food) and so they could get some souvenirs. Most of them didn't have any money, so I went and asked Mr. Annuar if there was any expense money. (Mr. Wong had driven back home early in the morning.) He took care of them, and afterwards I ate lunch with Mr. Annuar and the bus driver.
Then I went back to the flower stall, and bought this orchid, because I liked the golden orange color.

I called Trien on the bus on the way home (cellphones are such a great invention), and let her know that I was bringing her a surprise. Being a Filipina, she wanted to know what it was. Being an American, of course I wasn't going to tell her.

When I got home she wasn't there. She was out with the other Filipinas after church. So I went and hung up her surprise.

When she got home, we kissed and hugged, and almost immediately she started searching around the apartment looking for her gift. Everywhere, that is, except where I hung them, in the unused bedroom.

It turns out that orchids are her favorite flowers. I always thought that roses were here favorite flowers, because she cried the first time I gave her some. Then again, by doing so, I had broken two of the cardinal rules for a successful relationship with a woman:

1. Never assume anything
2. Never take anything for granted

It seems that she tried to keep orchids in her parents house in Buaya. Since she was making barely enough money to live, that was quite a luxury for her. Buaya backs on to a mangrove swamp, and the well water is extremely salty. So when she watered her orchids, they didn't fare too well.

The small ones I bought, she called "dancing ladies". In Cebu they are very expensive. Plus, they really are fragrant. She liked these the best, because it was something she always liked, but could never ever afford.

Trien got a few tips on orchid care, and ours are doing fine. They are hanging in the front balcony. That way, when Trien has her breakfast, she can open the sliding door, hear the birds sing and watch them fly, and look at her pretty orchids. That makes her very happy. That makes me very happy, too.