Monday, September 22, 2008

Kan*chan*a*bur*i: (noun), City in Thailand where the unexpected is expected.

A few weeks ago Daniel and Rebekah mentioned that they were going to Kanchanaburi 
Rebekah's half-marathon.  Annet and I gleefully tagged along... however we had the abnormal weekend!
Fridays are horrible days when trying to commute in the metropolis of Bangkok.  However, we tried.... and we thankfully made it on a bus out of BKK.

We arrived after dark into Kanchanburi after a long bus ride in which Annet and I both had to hold out seats up.  The bus was packed... people standing in the aisles, my chair continually falling onto the person's knees behind me.  And so cold.  We could feel every curve and bump in the road... we have left the city.  We were greeted by the hotel side-car... which in all honesty was pretty fun riding in!

After arriving there we realized that Bekah's race was in the jungle--
which only meant that we were continuing our adventure.  First we went on an elephant ride in which our elephant leader (E.L.) tried to sell us these rings that were made out of elephant tail hair.  They were gross, ugly, and not worth the 200 Baht he was asking for.  Annet and I immediately said "no" which angered the E.L. and decided as punishment us and the elephant were going to stare at a concrete wall for the rest of the "jungle tour."  It was horrible.

The our driver took us to the Soi Waterfalls--- only to be discovered as one of the many in this area.  It was fun driving around with him because I had ample opportunity to practice my Thai!

It is very normal to walk around (even in Bangkok) and see trees wrapped with ribbons.  These trees are supposed to ward off bad spirits.  I actually enjoy seeing them... not because I completely believe they are warding off bad spirits.... but I enjoy the devotion that the Thai's have with these.  And it is exciting noticing the different arrangements of ribbons...  

This particular tree was on our 4k hike of Erawan Waterfalls.
 This hike was awesome because everywhere you looked there were more waterfalls!  It had officially 7 tiers, but there were far more than 7 waterfalls... it was beautiful.

This is M'am Bekah after finishing her race!  Yes, she was a winner and got a medal.  

I thought Sheree would appreciate the Thai-runner mentality/theme

One of the more exciting adventures on the trip was our Tiger Temple visit.  Apparently about 10 years ago some Buddhist monks were given an abandoned Tiger (Sua) to raise... and then word spread and the monks began to take in more tigers.  Now we are able to visit them and our money goes to tourism as well as into paying for the care of the "suas".   

While were were there we saw a man in line go up and ask the staff, "What should you do if you get bit by a Tiger?"

The man just looks at him and then asks, "Where is your bite?"

The bite was minimal, however... it was from a baby tiger!  Imagine from the one I am posing next to!  This little Thai lady held my hand and led me to about 4/5 different tigers for pictures. Only in Thailand....

Chai-ka, an adventure for sure.
Thai tongue twister.... "Sua" (depending on the tone) means three different things.  So this tongue twister can mean: "Sua yuu bon sua" 
"The tiger is on the mat" or "The shirt is on the mat" or "The shirt is on the tiger"... Complements of Thai 101.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Evolve: The Way Things Work Out

New country.  New language.  New job. New life.  

I came to Bangkok with many expectations, as well as many goals.  I wanted to acquire at least a small sum of the language.  I want to learn how to be patient.  I want to figure out what I really want to do for... well the rest of my life.  Err.... at least the next few years.  Or months.  Or days.  

Or just day.  Day by day is my life right now.  Which is actually exhausting.  Every night: lesson plan, grading, mental sanity.  Granted, I am plenty spoiled with massages, eating out, and my new membership to "California Wow!"  (a local health gym...).  Since I really have been taking each day by day, I didn't realize the natural evolution that has already played-out.  

Teaching.  The entire day my feelings are spiraling around, and somehow manage to at least once reach each of these peaks.  I don't know how, and strangely... sometimes they coincide.

1. Happiness : usually occurs early in the morning when I first greet my students.  They "wai" me and say, "Hi M'am."  Also frequently occurs when my students respond correctly to my questions, as well as when they are enthused.  Occasionally happens when my students make funny jokes during class... and then I have to remind myself, I am the teacher... am I supposed to be laughing along too?

2. Confusion : usually occurs when I ask questions and I cannot understand students.  Ex. vegetarian is now "wedgitarian."  Also occurs when my Spanish students ask me how do you say, "insert crazy sentence I have never heard in Spanish." *Daily occurs when I daily forget to plan worship... some of my best improv moments.  

3. Frustration : usually occurs when I do not understand schedules.  Do I need to include "this" to follow curriculum?  Oh wait... I have to make a "course outline" for administration?  What is that again?  Also occurs when students will not be quiet and I have to continually call on them, make them switch seats, and try to "trick" them into participation.  High school... 

4.  Serenity : usually occurs at the very end of the day when I can sit in my classroom... alone... with all of the lights turned off and replay the day in my head.  Also occurs when classes are running smoothly and I realize that my students are interested... and are learning. 

My visitor, Dr. Daniel Schlieder.  I had heard he was coming to visit... but somehow when I saw him, it was surreal.  Here I am, had already started my new job, in a new country, completely on the other-side of the world, and I am sitting here with my friend since sixth grade.  Whom I went to middle school with, high school, and college in a completely different state.  
It was definitely exciting, and my view on Bangkok continually evolved during our time together.  I got to see other parts of town and experience different reactions from Thais.  What a comfort, having Dan here, that I was not used to having in BKK.  

I am a lioness.  Straight from "The Lion King"--- possibly friends with Zimba.
Humidity is not my friend.  Nay, it is my arch nemesis! My hair will not remain straight.  Even if I blow dry it.  Even if I flat iron it.  Even if I use a whole bottle of hairspray and some crazy product I bought (which was a lot of Baht) and is called, "Straight Sexy Hair."  Lies, all lies.   Each day my hair grows bigger... and bigger... soon my face will be lost, as well as my true identity... Grr!

Monday, September 1, 2008


A Child's eye on the ruins....
Chaang (elephant)

A few Sundays back....

We took a 2 hour bus ride to Ayuthya.  Full of elephants, summer palace for Thai royalty, and ancient temples (now ruins).

This pagoda is only accessible by boat... however... I did not see any boats.

Temples + Buddhas....

No shoes?  No problem.  Never before has it been publicly accepted (let alone requested) to remove feet-wear.... can you guess which are mine?


My friend (and neighbor), the tourist