ADVENTURE

Thus commences the beginning of a strain of boring, photo-less posts. Since I’m traveling without my laptop, I won’t be putting any photos into my posts. My apologies in advance.

Right now, I am sitting in the Kayun Hostel main room alternating between slouching and leaning backwards in order to regain some sort of function in my muscles before we go out this evening. I should probably mention I am in Bali. Yesterday, I went white water rafting. It was fantastic, I’ve got loads of pictures on my camera, but you’ll just have to wait for those. Sorry, for the tease. Foolishly, I scheduled to have a surfing lesson today. I’ve also got pictures of me attempting that venture. I do understand the concept of “board shorts” now that I’m nursing lovely surfer rashes on my legs. I picked up an ointment on my walk home from the beach. Like many things I pick up from the pharmacy, I’ve no idea what it actually is. I only know that it burns intensely when I put it on my legs. OUCH. Though, I’ll gladly take the surfer’s rash in lieu of the broken finger a fellow backpacker got only seconds after getting in the water to attempt the same.

I’m hoping to make it up to Ubud tomorrow for a tour. I think I’ve had enough active experiences for this trip, so I’ll quite enjoy a day of sightseeing. No physical exertion required.

Alright, yep, short and sweet. Once I get back settled, I’ll put pictures on my facebook. I’ve been told I need to update this, so here ’tis! Back to Singapore on Friday, and then Vietnam next Thursday (April 12th). Going to visit with my new friends before we head out for the evening.

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Six months and going…

Today is March 15, which marks six months since I’ve begun my adventures in Thailand.

I’d like to say I will be using the return ticket I’ve got booked for March 31, because I know it would make my family happy. Unfortunately, that’s a wasted $500. Instead, I’ve decided to stay and look for a teaching job in Chiang Mai.

On the 29th of this month, I will leave to go to Singapore. My friend Matthew lives there and we’ve got a couple adventures planned during the two weeks I’ll be there. Then the 12th of April, I’ll fly to meet my friend Tim in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We are going to backpack through southern Vietnam, Cambodia and make our way back into Thailand. It’s after this that I’ll make my way up to Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, to find a job.

Thanks for all the support since I’ve been here!

Family Visit and Koh Chang

Well, it’s been a good bit since I last posted an update. I suppose I’ll start off by saying HAPPY LEAP DAY! I hope you all played a round of Leap Frog in celebration… I myself walked home from school playing the ukelele shouting “HAPPY LEAP DAY!” to unfortunate Thai bystanders.

This past week, I had visitors! My mom and Dave came for a week. We spent the first weekend in Bangkok staying at the Hyatt Grand Erawan. My absolute favorite part of the weekend (besides seeing them!) was the wonderful free food we got to eat on the club floor. Since my mom had loaded me up on homemade loaves of Sundried Tomato and Basil bread, we snuck cheese from the club floor back so I could take it home. I’ve had quite a few delicious grilled cheese sandwiches since. Since we really only had Sunday to spend together, I took them to JJ Market. JJ Market is a weekend market that is simply massive. Anything you’re looking for you are sure to find there. After a full day of shopping, I had to get to the van stop. They were headed to Koh Chang the next morning and I had to get back to the ol’ grindmill to make some baht.

Fresh off our dive with BB Divers

The original plan was only to be seeing them during the weekends because I had to work, but I managed to get Tuesday through Friday off! SURPRISE! So on Tuesday, I hopped on a 5:30am van headed to Bangkok, changed to a 7:00am van to Trat Province, and then caught the one hour ferry to Koh Chang to join up with them. A total price of 430 Baht (about $14). Koh Chang was beautiful. We spent the days lounging on the beach or by the pool confused by the swarm of fat men in Speedos, I indulged in delicacies like hamburgers and pizza, and we did a bit of shopping (what little there was) in the evenings. On Wednesday, we went diving with BB Divers. I’d been diving in Thailand before, a few times, down south in the Andaman Sea. The diving in Koh Chang was great, though if you’re planning on diving in Thailand I’d still recommend going down south if you can make it. The crew was very friendly (as most divers are) and the lunch they gave us was delicious! I’d definitely go diving with them again.

On Friday morning, I left early to take the van back so that I’d be in Bangkok by the time their plane landed. We made plans to take a van to my city, Krathumban, so I could show them around. Unfortunately, traffic was not on our side, so it was a bit too late for a tour. Though, they did get to meet Devon and see the Friday night market. We also ate my favorite meal here, a grilled fish that’s served just downstairs. After our meal and visiting the market, we flagged down a taxi and headed back to Bangkok.

The Marble Palace

On Saturday, we decided to go visit the Grand Palace, a very famous tourist site in Bangkok. When we arrived outside, about 10am, several (Thai) people kept telling us that it was “Special Buddha Day” and the palace was not open until the afternoon…. Thus ensued Dave’s Death March. We went to the Marble Temple and then proceeded to walk about an hour headed to some destination in the deadly heat. That was not a pleasant experience at all. Finally, exhausted by the trek and near heat stroke, we gave up and hailed a taxi to take us back to the Grand Palace. Turns out, the Grand Palace is open ALL DAY everyday. We had just been misled by tuk-tuk drivers disguised as helpful natives wanting to take us to other sites. Regardless, we finally made it. Here are some pictures:

The Emerald Buddha sits in that.. unfortunately I wasn't able to get a picture inside.

 

We thought we'd help those little gold men out.

After touring the Grand Palace, I decided to take my mom and Dave to Khao San Road, the site of many enjoyable experiences and shopping excursions. Turns out, it was one of their favorite markets to go to! I introduced Dave to my favorite (and coincidentally the cheapest) Mango and Sticky Rice cart. We ate two servings. Then we headed back to the hotel for dinner and packing.

On Sunday, we had to say our goodbyes. I’m so happy they were able to visit. It was so much fun to see them and quite a nice surprise to be able to travel to Koh Chang with them. I miss them already, but look forward to the next time they visit!

Sun shady family... I love and miss you!

Scout Camp

Sawadee kha!

A drawing by one of my students... How he knows Spanish, I've no clue. I promise I'm teaching English....

Last week was very busy. I had to give my students midterms, grade them, and then tutor Fay (the girl who lives downstairs) in English everyday. That was quite fun, considering I have 700 students. Now I have a nice weighty pile of papers on my desk. Fortunately, having not seen my students very much this semester, I didn’t make the test too difficult (though you’d have thought so with how poorly some of them did). It was multiple choice which make it a lot easier for me to grade. On the back of their answer sheet, I had each class draw something different…. Example: Draw Teacher Lindsey running away from an erupting volcano. The prompts for these varied, as I made them up spur of the moment. I did receive some very clever drawing which made me smile.  I think I’ll make it a regular task on their exams, because I think creativity is a good thing to support. Besides, art has no language.

Just one of the many graffitied buses we took to camp... I don't recall ever having these when I was in school.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Devon and I went with the school to Saraburi (about three hours off) for camping with the scouts. I had heard of Thai’s being nice to your face and not so nice behind your back… Well, in our case it was nice to your face and not so nice to your face, just speaking in Thai so you can’t understand. For the most part, everyone was happy we had come except for this one lady at the school. We aren’t quite sure what got her in such a fuss, but she was not too pleased. We did have a really nice time, though! It was very similar to camps back home, except they’re what America would deem a bit “inappropriate” in some areas. Devon and I got quite a kick out of it. Here’s a video of said situation…. (NOTE: This was just one documented instance, there were plenty more):

Let’s just throw in a picture of another instance for good measure:

Scout leaders dressing up as women.... clearly...

Tree, Starfish and Flower walk the line.

Devon and I were talking it over, and we think that, since we work for a government school, the concept of “scouts” is military based… With exception of the evenings, they spent much of the days doing very structured and disciplined activities. Students were to stand at attention, salute, at ease and whatever else they were yelling for them to do in Thai. They did have a “mountain” which was for “hiking”… Someone didn’t do a very good job distinguishing between “mountain” and “hill”, though, because there definitely was no mountain. On this hill were various obstacles, none of which would meet the safety standards of America–especially when students are tightroping and teachers come up and shake the ropes for them to fall (about 2 metres) to the ground. Devon and I, along with another Thai teacher (Tree- pronounced “d-ree”), decided we wanted to do a ropes course… Sans harness…. with only spiderweb-like ropes and what looks like fish netting between us and the ground. It was quite fun, though I’d be hesitant to do it with the boyscouts.. They’ve learned from their Thai teachers and like to shake each other off the line.

Here are a couple more pictures taken at the camp:

Thai Treehouse

Nurses climbing on TOP of the monkey bars.

Boyscouts and Nurses waiting.

Nurses (left) and Girlscouts (right) at assembly.

The camp was very nice, and there was certainly no shortage of food. I have decided I prefer when people just give me food, rather than me deciding what I want to eat (lately, I’ve succumbed to a life of grilled cheese and sliced apples with peanut butter…. how elementary of me, but oh so delicious). They had these delicious puff pastries filled with either fruit, peanuts or chicken for only 5 Baht. We took advantage of this deal quite often.

Since Devon and I went with the M3 students, they took a detour to visit Ayutthaya on the way back to school. Ayutthaya used to be the capital of Thailand before they moved it to Bangkok. On the way there, the bus pulled over for a short 15 minutes so students could buy “souvenirs”. And by this I of course mean they were buying food, beer and wine coolers. Yep, you read that right… My 15 year old students were stocking up on alcohol. So, of course, Devon and I had no reservations about buying a bottle of Thai wine to try. What’s a couple 22 year olds buying one bottle to share vs. 400 15 year olds buying 4 or 5 bottles each. And I know some of them were cracking them open on the bus. Oh, Thailand. I’m always entertained.

Once we got to Ayutthaya, we stopped for lunch and a visit at Wat Yai Chai Mongkol. Since Devon and I were wearing normal clothes, and everyone else from our school was wearing their scout uniforms, we did not look like we went along with them at all. To every other falang there, we just looked like your average tourists… until the inevitable “TEACHAAAA!” was screamed from afar. At one point, we were taking pictures of our students, and a lady came up beside us and started taking pictures of them with her camera. You can’t blame her, for all she knew she was doing the same thing as we were… just taking pictures of the random group of boyscouts.

At Wat Yai Chai Mongkol with my M3 boyscouts... Picture posing Fonzy style.

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol in Ayutthaya

So that was our trip–in a nutshell, of course.

This next week, I’ll be doing more testing with my students. Unfortunately, they don’t know they’re having their final this coming week. They don’t know, because I didn’t know until Friday that I would have to give it to them. That’s how it works here… Nobody really knows anything until last minute. So, hopefully they will do well… We shall see.

My mom and Dave get here in exactly one week! I’m very excited… I wish I could travel around with them, but unfortunately I’m only going to be able to see them on the weekends with my work schedule. No worries, though! We will make the most of every minute.

And just in case you were wondering… This is how you spell my Thai nickname, Leelawadee:

"Leelawadee"

Thanks for reading… I miss you all! ‘Til next time! xx

An Island To Myself

I’d like to say I truly had an entire island to myself, but really, I just went on a trip by myself. There are many people who can’t or don’t like to travel alone, and six months ago I was one of them. Now, I rather like it. At times, I even crave it.

This week is midterms week. All the students have been testing with their Thai teachers, so I’ve “not had class” to attend. I’ll get to why that’s in quotations in a bit. So I decided last weekend to go to Koh Samet, an island just off the coast in the gulf. Koh Samet happens to be a National Park, so you have to pay an entrance fee which is only 200 baht ($6), but with my work permit, it was knocked down to only 40 baht ($1.30)! Round trip, I spent 447 baht to get there which calculates to just under $15 USD. The bungalow I stayed at, Jep’s, was really nice… I’ll post a write up under the “Hotel Reviews” section in the next couple days. Enough about the cost of things, that’s just for curiosities sake… Let’s get to the interesting stuff.

Morning View with James Franco

I spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday relaxing on the beach, reading, and stuffing myself with delicious non-thai dishes. It was quite a treat. Since I cut myself off from the outside world (i.e. no electronics, internet access, phone, etc.) I was finally able to finish reading An Idiot Abroad by Karl Pilkington, a book I started a couple months back but have been too distracted to finish. Then I started reading Palo Alto by James Franco. Haven’t finished it yet, but I’ve made some good headway. I’ve got a good stack of books I’m hoping to get through in the next few months, so hopefully with the help of a couple trips I’ll knock ’em out.

About 15 minutes into my beach time on Saturday (when I arrived) I decided I would get into the water for a nice “cool down,” as it was midday and quite hot out. Not five minutes in, I felt a sharp stinging across my legs so I got out of the water. My legs continued to burn, and I’d still not a clue what had gone on. I looked at my legs, and there were two lines going across my shins on both my legs…. Are you catching on to what happened? Yep, jellyfish. That was the last bit of water time for Saturday, and I only got in the water one other time (on Sunday) because the salt and sand didn’t feel too good on my legs. Turns out, tiger balm (which is a bit similar to Vicks vaporub… maybe? Or could just smell similar. Either way, it’s got some sort of menthol in it.) doesn’t make your jelly stings feel better. It actually hurts, quite a lot.

Like most trips when I travel alone, I met a few people. The first day, I helped some backpackers from Sweden (Frieda and Jonas) find a bungalow… They were lost and on the more crowded side of the beach. We chatted for a bit and then went our separate ways, as many encounters go. Then, on Sunday evening, I had dinner with a girl from Australia, Katherine. She had just come from a two week Mahout trip and told me many stories from her adventures and about her life in Oz. I’ve definitely noticed that you meet more people when you travel alone than when you travel in large groups, but you have to be open to it!

Other than that, nothing is new! I came back to teach my M6 students because they didn’t have testing this week, but none of them have showed up to class… I should have just stayed on the beach. I know for next time! I will just skip classes all week.

Testing the waters... Deciding my legs don't like salt and sand, but I needed a picture.

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 Reflection and Solicitation

In light of the new year, I thought I would reflect on this year past….

Really, I feel like a new year began in September, as there was a significant shift in not only my life but my outlook on life as well. This, as you know, is when I came to Thailand. I cannot stress to you how amazing this experience has been for me, only that it is something that I recommend every person do. Traveling has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to visit many different countries growing up, but never had I ever dreamed of moving to another country–let alone a third world country. Honestly, the decision to move to Thailand was rash and without thought: I had a void in my life that I needed to fill. I wasn’t wanting to fill that space with people or things, I wanted to fill it with myself, knowledge and experiences. Nevertheless, I ended up in Thailand and my life has been incredible ever since. I’ve learned so much about who I am since coming here, and I’m much more independent than I ever thought I would or could be. The possibilities are endless, and I can finally see that. Before this adventure, I was unsure of my identity and what I wanted to do with my life. Now, I know who I am, and while I still have no clue what I want to do with my life, I find it freeing and exciting! I can finally wait until last minute to go on trips and not be stressed out in not planning things. My life is the most lax it has ever been. It’s great.

This post really focused on September 2011-Now, but what happened in that time frame would not have occurred without January 2011-August 2011. Everything in life happens for a reason. That said, life doesn’t just come to you. You have to go out and get it. If you have the opportunity, go somewhere. For a month, a year, an unknown length of time…. If you want to study, backpack, teach English, or live abroad, you should! I highly recommend it. You don’t have to go to a third world country if you like all the comforts of home, but I will say I do have most western amenities in my apartment…. Just do it for yourself. Believe me, you will thank yourself later.

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Dear 2012 (aka 2555),
On average, 2011 set the bar extremely high. I hope you’re up to the challenge!
Love,
Lindsey in Thailand from the future year of the almost past 2554

 

 

One year ago today (12/29/10)

Today (12/29/11)

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.