Khap Khun Na Kha, Thailand!

I’ve put off writing a new blog post because I’ve not really been able to think of anything to say. However, with a visa granted and a flight to Perth leaving in a few hours, I’m overwhelmed with memories of the past year and a half. I apologize for being a bit soppy or sentimental with this posting, but after so many adventures in Southeast Asia and South America, it’s hard to leave the place that started such an amazing journey. The people I have met, the places I have seen, the things I have learned and the person I have become have all made the past 18 months spent here in Thailand an unforgettable experience.

While my mischief in Thailand has come to an end, I have so much to look forward to in Australia and beyond. To commemorate the time I’ve spent in Thailand, I’ve tried my best to recreate the mental montage I have playing in my mind. I look forward to writing to you from down under!

Enjoy!

Happy Anniversary, Thailand!

Well, I suppose I’ll post in honor of my one year anniversary (15th of September!) with Thailand. It’s been fun. It’s been real. It’s been real fun. Still chugging for another six or seven months, but I will savor every bit of it.

In honor of this relationship milestone with Thailand, I’d like to point out a few of the luxuries I have here that I don’t have at home (number 7 is something I will be glad to have again when I leave!). First, though, I think it’s only fitting to point out a major disadvantage of life abroad. I don’t have my family here. Fortunately, we Skype regularly! I’m so fortunate to have their support and encouragement throughout all of this!!

  1. I have a tendency to think massages here are expensive, but in reality, I can get an hour massage for $5. I’ll be making a conscious effort to indulge in this for the remainder of my time here.
  2. I can typically get all my washing done for about $5. That’s all my clothes washed, dried, folded and smelling fantastic. Worth it? Yes. Will definitely miss this as folding is not my cup of tea.
  3. I don’t need a license to drive. Why is this a luxury? Well, considering by the time I get back stateside my driver license will be expired, this is a short but sweet time of motorway freedom. Plus, when I go to Australia next year, I’m not sure they’ll let me drive a motorbike. And I’m not too keen on driving a car sitting on the opposite side.
  4. Food here is cheap. Especially Thai food. People back home buy a plate of pad thai for…. $8?? I can get it for $1. Sometimes less.
  5. I’m always tan. Not always summertime tan, but I’ve got a permanent tint here.
  6. There’s rarely a time when I feel the need to put on makeup. Not that I ever wore a lot of it anyway.
  7. I’ll be happy to drink tap water again. Not that I’ve not done it in moments of midnight desperation, but it’s not a regular thing.
  8. Finally, there’s always an adventure to be had! Motorbike trips into the mountains, sleeping in houseboats… endless options.

Things I won’t miss include but are not limited to the following: rain, mosquitos, old men with young Asian women.

At the airport Thailand bound! My hair was so short!

Right, I am due another post in the next week or so as my friends and I went to the lake the other weekend… Keep your eyes peeled but don’t hold me to it!

18 days until I leave for Peru.

xx

Pai, Thailand

Well, as usual, it’s been a bit since my last update. Since I’m no longer a “newbie” to Thailand, there’s less and less new stuff to tell you. So, this is just turning into an update when something cool and/or interesting is happening in my life.

Last weekend, there was a Buddhist holiday, so we had a 4-day weekend. My friends Don, Becca, Cody, Leya and I decided we would make a visit to Pai. Pai is a mountain town north of Chiang Mai. We had two options for the trip: 1. Take a van, which promises carsickness and vomiting, or 2. Ride motorbikes. We decided to go with the latter choice. So off we went, driving… and driving… for four hours through the mountains. It was such a fun bike ride, but I can’t imagine riding a bus or van on those curvy roads!!

The weekend was quite relaxing. Pai does get it’s share of tourists, but it’s still a bit off the trail for most backpackers. We stayed at a nice place called Villa de Pai. Like most accommodation in Pai, it is a group of bungalows just off the river. We went on a couple mototreks while we were there, trying our hardest to get lost and off the beaten track. I’ve found that this is when you see the most beautiful scenery and get a true taste of culture. Here are some photos:

Just one of the many pups I made friends with on this trip!

 

My roadmates: Leya, Cody, Don and Becca

 

This captures Pai quite well.

 

We found puppies on the road!! It took forever to try to herd them into someone’s yard!

 

This man was very proud of his rice field… As he should be!

 

I’ve now got my own motorbike, however it’s a bit of a complicated arrangement… Nelson (my current motorbike) has had to go into the shop a few too many times for my liking. I’m trying to negotiate with the people I bought it from to get a better bike. We will see how that goes, considering we converse through written Thai. As in… I’ll have people at work write what I want to say in Thai, then I’ll take the paper to the shop, they’ll read it and respond in Thai, and then I get to go find someone who can translate for me…. I think you can see how I mean it’s a little complicated!

This weekend is a 3-day weekend in honor of the Queen’s birthday. No plans for travel as I’m saving up for my next big adventure: PERU! Yes, you read that correctly. In October, I’m going to Peru for two weeks to meet up with my friends Chief and Si. If you remember from my previous post, they’re globetrotting. I’m quite excited for this and today marks 8 weeks until I leave, aka 8 weeks until the end of the semester! It’s crazy how time drags and flies all at once.

Not sure when my next update will be… Until next time!!! xx

Life in Chiang Mai

Slacking a bit on my promise to maintain this. Apologies!

I’ve updated on my travels to Singapore, Bali, Vietnam and Cambodia, but I’ve neglected to update about my newest adventure: Chiang Mai, Thailand!

After getting back from traveling, I made my way to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is in the northern part of Thailand, and it’s very different from the rest of the country. This city reminds me of a small, asian Austin. It’s so eclectic, and I’m absolutely in love. When I arrived I made my way to JJ’s Guesthouse (after being rejected by Julie’s Guesthouse just next door. Hotel review coming soon!) where I stayed for nearly a month. Maybe a little over. My quest: to find a job. I had heard that it was pretty competitive trying to find work in Chiang Mai, but fortunately with my TESOL Certificate and experience teaching in Thailand, I found a job. I’m currently working at Prince Royal’s College as a Matthayom 1 (grade 7) teacher in the Focused English Program. It’s fun, it’s challenging… I can honestly say I know more about the English language than I’ve ever known before. The kids are great, aside from their understandable apathy when it comes to sitting in a classroom and the abundance of more important things they’ve got to talk about. They’re young, I remember being that age, but I don’t like acting as “disciplinarian.” By this, I don’t mean I pull out the cane stick and punish them, I just constantly feel like I’m telling them to stop talking, pay attention or threatening to move them away from their friends. I think (hope!) that after a couple weeks I’ll be able to have more fun with them and won’t have to get onto them as often.

Lucy, Me, Simon, Michelle, Don, James, Lars. 118 km moto excursion through the mountains.A couple weeks ago, my friends James (aka Chief) and Simon came for a visit. If you remember from my Vietnam post, I met them in Hue. They spent about two weeks here, and even though I had to work, we had such a good time. Simon’s friend from home, Don, acted as our tour guide and took us up into the mountains on motorbikes. It was really my first trip to see Chiang Mai outside the Old City, and a great one it was! We took nearly the entire day to go up into the mountains to a restaurant at the very top. Then, after a quick bite, we made our way back down the mountain. Since I had never driven a motorbike before, I was riding on the back of James’ bike… We decided that the route down would be a good time to learn! Fortunately, there were no accidents, despite driving with a grizzly as my passenger. I can’t say I’ve been on many motorbike trips (ok, I’ve been on TWO.. this was my first, more on the second later), but this one will be a hard one to top in the future.

A big event: the Chelsea football match. Since I’ve been in Thailand, I’ve grown to like watching football matches (soccer), but never had I been so into one! Chelsea played Bayern-München, and Simon is the biggest Chelsea fan. Since the game wasn’t until 2am our time, we prepared to pull an all-nighter to support him. When evening rolled around, Chief and I dressed in all blue, the three of us painted our nails and we got ready with Thai Redbull. We made our way over to Fabrique, a Thai club that said they were playing the match, where we met up with friends Don, Michelle, Becca and Cody. Come to find out, they were going to play the match, but they weren’t going to have sound! This was unacceptable. At about 1am, we headed over to John’s Place, a sport’s bar, and found ourselves front row seats. If you didn’t see it, the game. was. intense. That’s the understatement of the year. Chelsea won, Simon was ecstatic, and we didn’t end up getting back to the guesthouse until 6am. Fortunately, it was the weekend. The next time I’m asked who my favorite football team is, I will say Chelsea without hesitation. Chelsea: Champions of Europe.

that’s a lot of calories.

While the boys were here, we ate a lot of western food, and Thai food as well. But, since they’re from the UK, and I’ve never had a proper English breakfast, the morning after the Chelsea match we went to find one. The thing was massive. Fortunately for them, I couldn’t eat the whole thing. I did enjoy it very much, though! I could eat it once a week. I shouldn’t, but I definitely could. Icing on the cake: there was a full color comics section in the Bangkok Post. Simply put, amazing.

After two weeks of fun, Chief and Simon had to be on their way… They’re traveling the world! It’s not forever, though… Another time, another country.

Simon, me and Chief crammed into a tuk tuk.

Last weekend, my friends Becca and Cody, who are living in Chiang Mai (I did my TESOL course with Becca), took a motorbike ride up into the same mountain I had gone on with the guys. This time, though, I had my own motorbike! It was so much fun to whiz about, and with the difficulties in finding rides in the mornings/afternoons to/from my school, I’m on the hunt for one of my own.

Becca, Cody and me… pit stop up the mountain.

So I’m mostly caught up on my life! Aside from the fact that I took quite the spill down the stairs at my apartment yesterday. I’m feeling pretty good, though. I got some awesome painkillers from the pharmacy that make me feel top of the world! No broken bones, a few scrapes and bruises, a tweak in my back, and an embarrassed self (there were two kids who were walking down the stairs behind me). Nothing time and meds won’t heal.

me and my trusty steed, Malibu.

Lopburi, Thailand: Monkeys, Ruins and Sunflowers

This past Monday was MLK Day back home, but here in Thailand, it was Teacher’s Day which meant I got a two day weekend! So, with my additional day off, I decided to take a trip up to a city about three hours north of Bangkok called Lopburi. My students had all warned me about the wild monkeys that ran around town, but I assumed they (and my Lonely Planet) were exaggerating. I’ll get into Lopburi adventures just after this quick little story:

Saturday I had to teach an M2 Smart Class… I had a student who had a small furry thing sitting on her neck. When I asked her what it was, she went to grab it and it scurried into her shirt. What I thought was some sort of toy actually turned out to be a baby squirrel she had bought from the Krathumban Market. The thought of this made me sad, as this baby squirrel was clearly too young to be away from it’s mother. It’s ears had just barely opened. Like many things in Thailand, I’ve had to come to the understanding that, because I live in a third world country, things are much different here than they are at home. It’s perfectly normal for them to sell baby squirrels as pets at the market–even though they do not survive to see adulthood. Regardless, I was blessed to be able to hold this baby for the entire class and he was just adorable. Unlike the frantic little thing he was with my student, he was extremely calm and comfortable with me. He just slept the entire time with me. In my hand, on my lap, on my tum, in my pocket…. Quite cute.

LOPBURI, THAILAND

Lopburi is a town pretty much built around remains of centuries old temples. My students weren’t lying about monkeys being everywhere. There were gangs of them. Literally. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had markings that distinguished them from one another. Immediately after arriving, I noticed them dangling from power lines and mobbing the streets and nearby ruins. Since most of my friends had three day weekends (very few have to work Saturdays now), I had invited my friend Mike (Missouri) to join me on this adventure. While I was very excited and open to the idea of wild monkeys all over the place, I quickly learned I was the only one who was. I made very many monkey friends, one who even decided he would take my hair clip since I no longer had seeds to give him as food.

As I had mentioned, there were many ruins spread about town. It was hard not to cross them at any given intersection. They were absolutely breathtaking. It’s amazing how much detail has held up throughout the years. At this point, I can’t even describe the ruins with words, so I’ll just post pictures for you….

Ruins at Prang Sam Yot

Ruins outside Phra Narai Ratchaniwet (Former Royal Palace)

Ruins at Wat Nakhon Kosa

Ruins at Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat

As you can tell, the ruins in Lopburi are absolutely beautiful and worth a visit if you ever get the chance to go….

Lopburi is not only known for it’s monkeys and ruins, but also it’s abundance in sunflowers as well… Just outside of the city by about a 20 minute tuk-tuk ride (8 baht) plus a 30 minute bus ride (17 baht) you reach a stretch of road that has many fields of sunflowers. If you get off the main road and walk back a bit (about 15-20 minutes or so), you reach fields and fields of yellow. It’s so serene and absolutely gorgeous. You can only see this if you go between November and mid-January, though. Otherwise you will just see fields of dead. While I did see many dead sunflowers, there were still plenty of lively ones for me to frolic amongst. I’m out of words for Lopburi… Here is me in the sunflower field:

So I mentioned how to get to the sunflower fields. That was easy. It’s a little more complicated getting back. Well, not really complicated, more like  you don’t know whether a bus is going to come or not because you’re out in the middle of nowhere. So I can’t really give you advice on how to get back. Fortunately a lovely woman by the name of Mas saw us sitting on the side of the road waiting for the bus that may or may not have come and picked us up in her seafoam green pickup truck as she was headed back into town. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I love Thai people, they are extremely kind.

That’s all for now!! Not sure where my next adventure will be to, but I’ll keep you posted! xx

Sawadee Pi Mai Kha!

Happy New Year!

It is finally 2012! While half the world is convinced of our demise later this year, I’m here to tell you: I come from the future! It’s 2555 in Thailand now, so 2012 has long come and passed. The world is not ending. Don’t spend your life savings or sell your family heirlooms just yet.

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Last Thursday and Friday were Sports Day at school. I have to say, these were probably my most favorite days so far. It was like the Camp Cedarcrest Olympics on crack. All the students were dressed fancy in their costumes and team colors, and I was very excited to go around to each team and cheer with them all. They wanted me to pick a team to be on. I kept telling them I wanted a rainbow colored shirt because I didn’t want to pick just one color, but they didn’t have a rainbow shirt and I couldn’t find any dye at Big C or TescoLotus. When I saw the sports shirts I had to choose from, I picked a “green” one that was really more turquoise than anything. I thought that it may have been an old shirt and acceptable as a “non” color, so I picked that one. Nope. It was still considered green. I just told everyone I was on Team Leelawadee instead. Team Champion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the students playing sports, they had “traditional Thai games” for the teachers to participate in. These were not serious games in the slightest. The first game was a relay race called the “Superman” game. For this game, you had to put on underpants, run down the field, take off the underpants, hand them to the next teacher, then they had to put the underwear on, run down the field, and so forth and on and what yadayada…. The next game, I had to pull another Thai teacher on a palm tree leaf across the field. Halfway down, the leaf split and I dragged her for a bit before I realized it. Once I noticed, I couldn’t stop laughing. The rest of that race was a slow process, as I was doubled over from laughing. Then, the male teachers participated in a relay of their own…. They had a waterbottle fixed to string that they tied around their waist which they used to hit a ball down the field. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the most appropriate game to play in front of 2,500 students, but it was quite funny for us to watch. I wouldn’t want you to miss out, so here’s 57 seconds of enjoyment… I’ve got a feeling this is going to be the next big thing in America.

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I have to say, I’ve already got a good feeling about this year. Like many of my adventures in Southeast Asia, my New Years evening was spent with an assortment of people from many different locations: America, Italy, Thailand, Iran, and more! Now you know you’re destined for great places when you’re starting off the year with such a mix of fantastic people.

We began the day in search for a new phone for my buddy Colin (Tennessee). He was trying to show our friend Alessio (Italy) and me his tattoo when his phone fell out of his pocket and broke into three pieces. The most important of these pieces (which held the SIM card) fantastically slipped through the hole of a gutter about the size of a tin soup can. The three of us knew immediately what had happened, and while Alessio and I were attempting to contain our fits of laughter, Colin stood staring in shock for a moment. Thus ensued a 20-minute attempt to move a 200-pound cement block and sift through about two feet worth of poo to (unsuccessfully) find Colin’s SIM card. It was a stinky task, but don’t worry… I was there to photograph it all. When we had decided it was too rank to continue with the search-and-rescue mission, a sweet old security guard walked over to see what mischief we had got ourselves into. When we had mimed to him the situation, he crouched down to jump in to look for the phone! I immediately yelled at him to stop, which later Colin was quite irritated about… But, I wasn’t about to let that man fish through that mess. No way. Somehow, though… Someone has Colin’s SIM card now. Maybe the security guard went back later and decided he wanted to go for a swim after all.

We then all began the evening at my friends’ condo with a pot luck of Thai finger foods. Then, we made our way over to Central World. Though I’ve never been to New York Times Square on NYE, I have been to the Sydney Harbour Bridge on NYE and I would describe Central World as Bangkok’s equivalent. As I said before, we had a variety of people with us from all over the world. There were so many people at CW, there was hardly any room to move. The countdown was nearly as loud as the fireworks above. Though everybody was on the same number, with 20,000 people counting in different languages, you can hardly expect it to sound like anything but white noise. When it was time to go back home, the BTS (skytrain) was swarmed by all the NYE attendees. By the time we got home, Gina (Colorado), Colin and I decided we were hungry, so we ordered some mexican food for delivery. Have it noted: my first meal of 2555 was Enchiladas Suizas from Sunrise Tacos.

I miss my family and each and every one of my friends from home, but I am loving this adventure. Like I said, I’ve got a good feeling about this year. I’ll be filling more pages of my passport out with stamps, meeting more people in my travels, dining on cheap Asian cuisine, and enjoying every minute of it. Thanks for a great start 2012… keep up the good work!

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On another note: I came home yesterday to a flooded bathroom. Easy enough to squeegie down the drain. Then noticed a line of bugs coming out of a crack between some tiles. Sprayed those suckers with some Thai RAID. Told the maintenance guy, he said he would come fill the crack today, but in Thai time that means he will come next week. This morning, I poured myself a bowl full of cereal…. Took a bite…. Then noticed the bugs had come back and infested my cereal. Wish I had looked in my bowl before I had taken that bite. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve already had larvae and grasshopper to eat over here. Actually, I wish I had waited to open that box until this morning instead of cracking into it last night. That’s an entire box of cereal I threw away. I think I’m more bothered by tossing a new box of cereal than eating a spoonful of bugs… I’ve now discovered a magic concoction of Thai RAID, Bleach, and some unknown Thai powder that has bugs crossed out on it left by the previous tenants that has left me currently bug free! Nonetheless, I still love Thailand. GOOD STORY, MORNING GLORY!


A Very Thai Christmas

Christmas week was quite busy at school. Devon and I spent our class time having students listen to Christmas music and color decorations for the Christmas program. It was probably my favorite week of classes. I did notice that my “smarter” classes tended to be more creative than my “other” classes, but that aside, all the students really got into coloring their ornaments and devoured my colored pencils! Between classes and after school Devon and I helped decorate Christmas trees and teach some M6 students carols. She stayed at school helping out a bit longer, as I had to get back home in the afternoons to tutor Fay in English. Then, on Friday we had our Christmas presentation. I’d been in the sports hall when assemblies were taking place, but never on stage helping lead them. It very much reminded me of camp, if camp were on steroids–possibly in part because I opened up by screaming “Merry Christmas!!!” until the entire student body exploded in cheers and/or laugher at my ridiculous gestures. We read a story about Christmas, gave away prizes and had students both singing and dancing. It was very festive. Funny story: When we were giving away prizes to the students and teachers, it was a “lottery” type setup. I was in charge of holding the box with the names in them… The student drawing was fair, but when it came time to draw teachers’ names, they only put the names of the teachers they wanted to win the drawing in the box. My conversation with Ajarn Prawnee went something like this:

(Ajarn Prawnee selects a name and reads it over the microphone.)
Me: Ajarn Prawnee, this is a rigged system.
Ajarn Prawnee: Yes.
Me: Well, at least pretend to stir some names around.
Ajarn Prawnee: Oh, yes! Good idea. (Waves hand in box, calls another name.)
Though I wasn’t able to spend Christmas back home with my family, I was so fortunate to be able to have work off this past Saturday to go visit friends and celebrate in Sungnoen. Sungnoen is located about 30 kilometers outside of Korat. What should have been a 4-hour trek for me turned into 8-hours because I think the nam tuam  (flood) is getting bad again. It’s typically supposed to take about an hour to an hour and a half to get from Krathumban (where I live) to Bangkok, but the combination of detours and Friday afternoon traffic caused it to take about 3.5-hours. I’m not typically in any hurry when I travel, so it doesn’t really bother me–especially when there are only five people in the minivan–but while I was laying in my seat, the guy in front of me decided he wanted to recline his seat… It didn’t quite work out in my favor. His seat broke and I got a lovely smack in the face. Fortunately my nose is alright, though it was sore for a while. Finally, I made it to Sungnoen late Friday evening. Only a few of us arrived on Friday. We spent the evening out on Melissa and Steve’s balcony catching up, admiring their decorations and talking about the weekend’s activities.

On Saturday morning, more people began to arrive. Someone thought it would be a good idea to write directions to Steve and Melissa’s house with chalk on the road, and since Michele and I were the ones who found chalk, we took it upon ourselves to graffiti the town–at least from the 7/11. Since most of us had to travel back home Sunday to work on Monday, we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. It was a fun evening filled with friends, caroling, feasting, and white elephant.

I spent a good portion of Christmas Day in transit, but I was in good spirits, so all was well! Wore my Santa hat all day, which came in handy when I wanted to sleep, as I just pulled it down over my eyes a bit. It didn’t take near as long to drive back home from Bangkok, which was pleasant. Once I got home, I went to Tesco and bought myself a “Christmas pizza” which was a veggie pizza I thought looked Christmas-y. Then, I got to Skype with all my family which was the best part of my day. Since my dad got a webcam, I can now see them which has become very entertaining.

That’s all for my Christmas update! Stay tuned for a New Year’s one soon!

P.S. Check out the goodies I got in the mail!

Merry Buddhamas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM KRATHUMBAN!

 

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family across the world! I love each and every one of you so much. I wish I could have been home to celebrate with my family, but I am so happy to have spent Christmas this year with my Thai family in Sungnoen. This post isn’t a description of my holiday, that will come soon. I just want you all to know that I love you and even though I’m in Thailand, a piece of my heart is where each of you are.

Flower & Star Get Sick

Leelawadee

I’ve neglected to tell you that my nickname at school is Leelawadee. Leelawadee is a type of flower. Devon’s nickname is Dao, which means star. So we are Flower and Star. Or as Devon likes to call me: Frower. I should also mention that our hippy Thai “mother” is the one who named us. She has also told the students, so sometimes I will be walking and hear “Leelawadee!” in addition to the reoccurring “Hello, Teacher!” I receive walking across campus.

Well, this past week felt like ages long, but I only ended up working three days… Monday I had off because of Constitution Day–which I already posted details about–and on Tuesday night and Wednesday I was awfully sick, so I stayed home in bed Wednesday.

My "porcelain prison"

I’ve nothing really to update you on, but I promised I would work on posting a new blog every week. I suppose I could tell you about my being sick, but that’s a repulsive story, quite honestly. In short, I had a fever of who-knows-what and saw my breakfast, lunch and dinner one too many times. I’m not sure what it is that I was sick with, only that Devon was sick with the same thing. We were both camped in our rooms, and I spent the majority of the time in my porcelain prison. I’m better now! Which is always a good sign. However, I’ve been keeping away from Thai foods, as I don’t think my stomach can handle heavy, greasy, salty foods for a bit.

…..Segway…..

nom nom nom

Because I was sick and didn’t want Thai food, I made some bomb chicken noodle soup. I would call it homemade, but proper chefs out there would deem it “semi-homemade.” Either way, it was delicious. It had chicken and noodles in it, of course, but I also put potatoes, carrots, onion, cauliflower and garlic in it. Three days worth of recovery meals and still counting. Best part: no MSG. Everything, and I mean everything, in Thailand contains some amount of MSG. I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was when Asian restaurants advertised “No MSG” at home. Apparently it’s not good for you, though. Devon has done a fair bit of research into it. Pretty sure everyone in Thailand is experiencing some adverse reaction to MSG, especially those of us who are new to Asia. Not much can be done, though. I just drink a lot of water and usually eat two meals at home. Also, on the food subject: I’m going to have an awesome tuna sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

This week, I’m having Christmas themed lessons in my classes. Quite excited about this, especially because it includes singing carols in class. Then, on Thursday, Devon and I have to help with a two hour Christmas presentation to our 2,500+ students. I’m not entirely sure what all is in store for that, yet… Still working on details. I do, though, know that I’m wearing a white skirt, red shirt and a Santa hat. How very festive of me. I’m also tutoring the niece of the guy downstairs who owns the massage paradise. She is preparing to take an entrance exam to get into a school in Bangkok. I took a look through the practice test that she is working from and immediately understood how it is that native Spanish speakers were able to test out of language courses so easily. Yea, but that’s what I’ll be doing Monday through Thursday evening this week.

Now, the important information. Next weekend, I’m going to be spending Christmas with friends in Sungnoen near Korat. I’m extra excited about this because I didn’t know if I would be able to get Saturday off to be able to go. So no, I won’t be home alone on Christmas. I’ll be having a jolly good time singing Christmas songs, exchanging White Elephant gifts and partying it up with my beloveds.

That’s all for now, folks.
xx

1,000 Views, Long Weekends and Wat Nang Sao

Hey y’all!

With your help, I’ve now passed 1,000 views on my blog! That’s a lot, considering I had doubts that anyone would ever read this thing. I really appreciate you giving your time to check in on my life. It’s great to know people back home are interested in what’s going on here.

The past two weeks, I have had Monday off. Last weekend was the king’s birthday, and I took that time to visit some friends in Bangkok. Fortunately, in meeting so many people, I’ve lucked out in not having to pay for accommodations. My friends Jordan, Matt, Colin and I spent a couple evenings with their Thai neighbors. It’s quite interesting since they don’t speak English and we don’t speak Thai. Much of the time is spent making gestures and flipping through a n0t-so-easy-to-navigate English to Thai dictionary to try to resemble some sort of casual conversation. The rest of the time is spent doing voice-overs and making them say ridiculous things. It’s very entertaining.

Other than hanging out with the Thai neighbors, I was able to meet some really cool, new people. My friend Tricia was only in town forone evening, but she brought her friend Jae, a fellow teacher from her school. I also met Jessie, a friend of Matt and Jordan’s, her friend Anne from France, and a Couch Surfer named Christe from California. I have to say, my favorite place in Matt and Jordan’s massive apartment is their porch. It’s so fun just to prop your feet, hang out and chat with really cool people.

My English friends Liv, Rachael and Ali were passing through Bangkok on their way back to England. I wasn’t able to visit with them for very long, but I did get to see them for a few hours on Monday. We met up on Khao San Road and strolled around looking at clothes and eating street food. I got some glorious Aladdin-style pants, and I’m tempted to get more on my next trip there. They’re probably the most comfortable thing I own, and it’s very obvious as I put them on everyday when I get home from work. It was so lovely to be able to see the girls again. I hope they’ll be able to make it out to Southeast Asia for another go, and one day to visit them in England.

This past weekend was long as well, though not as long. I had to work Saturday, which was quite a bummer, but I did take a class outside and we sat beneath the gazebo singing The Beatles. Probably the most fun class I’ve had thus far, and I’m going to do my best to make this a regular thing.

So since I had to work on Saturday, I ended up having a two-day-weekend with today being Constitution Day. To be honest, up until about 4:30 this afternoon, I had no idea why it was that I had today off. Had I not glanced at the 2012 (or 2555 here in Thailand) calendar while at Tesco, I still would have no idea. I might should probably learn a bit more about my days off, since they are obviously important enough to cancel school. Oh, well…. next time.

Today, Devon and I were toured about our city by four 15 and 16 year old girls: Jin, In, Pang and Gaew. We met them this morning at 9 and headed to Wat Nang Sao along the Tha Chin River. After a 15 or so minute trip in a Song Tao (a double benched truck) we were walked through a bit of water to the temple. Like most Buddhist temples, the wat is very flashy and beautiful. The girls helped walk us through the Buddhist ritual of lighting incense, lighting a candle, presenting flowers, placing two gold leafs on the sitting Buddha and then the wai (bowing in respect). After this, we walked around the temple ringing bells for good luck. I’m not sure if we were actually supposed to ring every bell or if the girls were getting a kick out of the falang practicing this “good luck” ritual, but honestly… if it’s for good luck, wai not?? Haha. Get it? Nah….

After visiting the Wat Nang Sao, we went across the street to another room with more Buddha statues inside. Again, we did the wai, but this time afterwards, we shook these cups with sticks inside until only one stick fell out. The girls were very good at this, it seemed I was rattling that cup for nearly three times as long. Finally, though, one stick fell out with the number 19 on it. I then had to get a piece of paper from a cubbie marked “19” that had a bunch of Thai written on it. Apparently, the different papers will tell you whether you have good luck or bad luck. Devon and I were fortunate enough to have good luck, but I can’t say the same for one of the girls… Since my paper told me I have good luck, I was able to keep it, so I’ll take it to school this week and have someone translate it for me.

Also across from the wat was the Tha Chin River. They’ve blocked off a part of it where loads of catfish are swimming. You can toss in bread for them to eat and they will literally come in swarms. It would be a rigged system, but no doubts you could catch your dinner there in less than five minutes, bait time included. The girls told us, however, that the fish were not kept there to be eaten, but for good luck. Clearly there is a lot of “luck” in Buddhism. Noting the river was quite high, we asked if the fish went into the street when it floods. They said the sandbags keep them in the general area….

That’s all for now! Sorry it’s been two weeks since my last post. Time is flying. I’ll try to make it a regular Sunday evening thing that I put something new on my blog. Can’t make any promises, but I’ll try!

Thanks again for helping me pass 1,000 views! You’re great.

And here’s a couple pictures for you:

Riding the Song Tao with two of the lovely girls who showed us about: Gaew (left) and Jin (right)

This beautiful girl is Kin and her puppy Gow.

Giving Gow some lovin'.

Devon, Jin, Pang and In at lunch.