Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Blog!!

Moving to another blog site... that's right... already. It's time to get on the wordpress... better picture size and more personalizing. You got it right, nong chai!

Follow me here


Check it.

I chose the name as a screen name and did not mean for it to be the web address. If I can figure it out I will change it to


Will let you know how that goes. Tell me what you think of the new blog... was is worth the switch!?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Back to School, to prove I am no fool

It is really late in Thailand now and I must teach in the morning...and I am realizing that due to the heat and dealing with lots of kids during the day, I really need my rest! Details will come but I just wanted to get some photos up. Enjoy ;)

Weekend Visit to Chiang Mai, brings about new adventure ideas!

Northern Thai traditional dance at the hotel exhibition on Bai tourism

I imagine handsome men live behind those masks

View from outside the hotel, odd leftovers from what I assume to be a building over the water

Forest surrounding the mountains at a rare dry moment

Eating the many snacks Ra's grandmother prepares for us, saying "I'm full" does not excuse you from her offerings!

This amazing woman is 85, she asked the monks to give her just 5 more years so she could help raise her young granddaughter!

The granddaughter sleeps, and after eating so much we all want to join her

Elephants at the entry to a Buddhist saint at the bottom of Dio Suthep

Prayer and offerings

So much rain, view through a car window

Driving down from Wat Doi Suthep, dissed by the rain

The dog has the right idea on how to keep dry

It is late now, but more details on the weekend to come...stay tuned

Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama: Feeling the Love

The one thing that Ra requested that I bring for from the States was an Obama t-shirt for her and her boyfriend. As you can tell, she was very happy with my selection! Turns out she has been following Obama for the past 2 years and has read a few books about his history as well. As always, it seems that people outside of my country know more about our nation's leaders than I do :) She was very excited when he won the election and hopes and belives he can bring the "change" his campaign boasted about. The international reaction in contrast to that of the ill-minded Bush (and aren't I being polite for being so modest) is already a move in the right direction. Go Obama!

First Day of School

Students line up for the morning song and prayer

Today was my first day at the school that I will be teaching English at in Chonburi. The school has a name that is difficult to remember, Banhuaykapi School. Students range from the age of 4-14 and treat teachers with a kind of respect that teachers in the states would envy. Of course, they are still kids and often get loud, playful, and disobedient but are most often quiet and bow when walking in front of the teachers, showing a kind of humbleness that makes this particular American teacher almost uncomfortable. Every morning the students line up in front of the school to sing the national anthem and partake in a Buddhist prayer. Announcements are also given over a loudspeaker and Krue Na (the teacher that will be helping me through my first few days) introduced me to the entire school. The morning was filled with muggy weather and constant rain so when I was led up to the platform in front of all the students, a humble young girl provided an umbrella for shelter. I was given a short tour of the school and then shuttled back to the main office where I knew I would be spending a lot of my time, at least in the beginning.

The Buddha shrine in Paw Aw's office

Pai's father is the director of the school and is the one that agreed to give me this job. I refer to him as Paw Aw (director) and will be getting rides to school with him in the morning. It is quite prestigious to be arriving at school with the director so I have been told I will be arriving in style! I was given some sweet ginger tea to start the day before I get carted around to each classroom for an introduction to the students.

A lost student, waiting to find out what class he is in. Teachers teased him for forgetting and made him help around the front office until a room was found for him.

Shoes removed before class are slipped on upon exit

Some boys enjoying their lunch in the cantina, free food for all (though the taste leaves something to be desired)

A misbehaving student is forced to sit in the front of the class, spotlighted

Peter is another English teacher that has been teaching at this school for 2 years now. He's from Ireland.

I shadowed the existing English teacher they have from Ireland to see how you entertain a bunch of young Thai kids with a a language they have a only a slight grasp on. To no surprise I was then thrown in front of a class, expected to teach them for an hour at a time with no training or background in their previous knowledge. I will be spending the next few days trying to put together some lesson plans...

Kids all around the world love to ham it up when a camera is pointed at them!

After my first day of mostly sitting around trying to find something to do and entertaining the other teachers with my broken Thai, Paw Aw was finally finished with his day around 5:30pm. He had to buy some supplies for a house he is building up in the mountains surrounding Chonburi. We went to the house after we picked up some cement and I finally got to enjoy the natural beauty in Thailand that I had been missing while staying in the industrial part of this large city. I explored some of the jungle around the area and found Chinese based shrines with some aged offerings of jasmine and incense. The bugs are large and plentiful in this area, to say the least! The chickens running around the place had little chicklets and were not at all shy about trying to protect them when I got too close!

A shrine near Paw Aw's house in the mountains

After I got to see the charming little house Paw Aw is building in the mountains, we went to meet some of his friends at a local restaurant. They were already half a bottle deep in some local whiskey and, unlike local custom, I was more than welcome to partake in drink in front of my boss! The Thai like to mix a little bit of whiskey with soda water but I found that much too diluted so they just poured it over ice for me ;) Most were not accustomed to seeing a woman handle her drinks so well!

Drinking whiskey and munching on tomyam with Paw Aw (2nd from left) and his friends

I didn't get home until after 10pm. I was exhausted. The day started at 7 and, little to my knowledge, when we left Paw Aw's friend at the mountain restaurant we went to go meet a few others at a restaurant back in town. More whiskey and spicy treats. I passed out on the drive back home, just in time to get to bed and get up for the next day. This teaching thing is going ot be harder than I thought!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Relaxation and Rehabitation

A rare albino sea turtle at the Thai military Sea Turtle Conservatory

Hawksbill sea turtle babies, born April 20

Thai carriers... foreigners are not allowed to tour (could leak valuable secrets!)

A young doctor rests in the only air conditioned room on the hospital floor

Common "kwit deow" dish

Pai checks his phone during a traditional Thai massage

Pai enjoys his massage

Ra treated me to my first true Thai massage yesterday and it was everything I could have dreamed it was! She took me to her favorite place near the house that she often visits when she needs a little recuperation. It costs 100 Baht (about $2.50) for a one hour massage. They start at your feet and go all the way to your head, working out kinks and threatening to strain something as they use their whole bodies to dig into your muscles. This place also used a warm herbal pack that they beat and rolled over your body to calm especially tight muscles. Luckily they give you some airy 'pajamas' to wear because the herbal bundles leave a yellow residue. Ra left me to my devises as I was getting rubbed down, giving me a chance to chat it up with my masseuse. The people love it if you can speak some Thai and before long we were all joking that I was her new daughter and she my new mom! When she discovered the tattoo on my leg she immediately gasped and called her friends over. She said I was good luck and proceeded to kiss and hug me intermittently. Eventually, in effort to see the whole thing in its entirety, she undid my pants (not shy about it either!) and I soon had three woman around me gawking while I was half awake enjoying the massage. Needless to say, I will be going back there soon and visiting my new 'mom!'

Today I got outside of Chonburi for a little bit. Pai took me to his house where we eventually picked up his sister and uncle and went to the Queen's Hospital near Pattaya where we helped her move out of the room she was living in. In Thailand, doctors often spend 2 years living in a government hospital after they graduate to hone their skills, and get free housing. Poo (Pai's sister) had finished her one year and was going to another hospital. I got absolutely drenched in sweat trying to help her pack and wondered around the hospital ward until I needed to find a place with moving air to subside the never ending supply of sweat that soaked my clothes. The hospital was a bit creepy, to say the least, and I was definitely an unusual sight for the locals. Poo showed me the one air conditioned room I could take some solace in but one of her friends was already calmly napping in said location. Being a photographer, I just couldn't help myself!

Since it was nearby we all decided to go check out one of the large military schools/bases near the area that housed a large carrier and several other battleships. Thai tourists were all over the place as they flocked to the giant boats to take their free tour. Unfortunately, being a foreigner I was not allowed to go onto the boats! A large sign protested my arrival, announcing "Foreign visitors may not enter unless they have permission from the Thai military." We asked one of the guards clothed in fatigues if I could go in and he quickly shook his head 'no.' Oh well, I never have been a big fan of the military anyway.

Oddly enough, also on the military enclave was a sea turtle rehabilitation and nursery. A learning center provided information to curious visitors and tanks and tanks of sea turtles of all ages awaited the guests. They hatch the turtles and after 3 months release them back into the sea. Not the prettiest of habitats for these guys but I do support the idea, plus I got to touch one! Felt the ocean for the first time since I arrived too. Bath water! I can't wait till I can actually jump into the waves and immerse myself in the warmth. Wiped more humid sweat from my brow and got in the car to head home. Delicious dinner, then off to bed.

I start at the school in 2 days! A bit nervous and don't know what to expect. There has already been a request I take out my jewelry, don't want to entice the young children to poke holes in their body. I wonder what kind of English teacher (krue) I will be... my Thai is coming along nicely as well.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Views from home in Chonburi

View from the front of the apartment, outside my room window

Looking out the back

Ra gave me some god awful tasting concoction to help combat jet lag this evening. The brand name on the outside is "Scotch: 100% essence of chicken." That is the only thing that I can read on the little self serve container so I have no idea what it is really made of. The rest of the label consists of Thai and what I guess to be Chinese. After tasting it, I promise you it is not chicken, at least not any tasty, recognizable parts! Swig it down at night before I go to bed and again in the morning. Ra warned me not to smell it, curiosity got the best of me. Though, being an avid drinker, I have enjoyed shots far worse than this. I get to look forward to another dose by doctor Ra in the morning. It must be working though! I woke up at four in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep. Insomnia following the same patterns as when I am in the States! Entertained myself with the new "Office" episode online and read some Bradbury. Sun came up and I got inspired to take some shots. My new home!

Flying to Thailand... commence cramping

Leaving Phoenix as the sun rises

Japan is serious about preventing swine flu in their country!

I, fortunately, am not!

Pai (Ra's boyfriend), Ra and I celebrate the arrival with some beers and chow near her apartment.

Was up all night packing, of course. I will blame the critique that was scheduled for the night before I left as the reason for my procrastination. I was quite late since I was having dinner with mom on my last night. She cooked not one, but 2 childhood favorites! Delicious BBQ ribs AND Cheezy Freezy! For those not aware of the culinary delight that is cheezy freezy I guide you to look at the back of your Bisquick Box and see if you can figure out what my brother and I named when we were kids. By the way, the dish is warm and in no way resembles its name aside the fact that cheese does constitute a large portion of this dish.

Was at the airport by around 5:30am. Got about 2 hours of sleep. Have about 19 hours of flying ahead of me spread over a day and a half. I will be arriving in Thailand the next day at around 11:30pm. I hope Ra is there!

United Airlines has got to have the worst airplane food I have ever come in contact with. Usually you eat what they put in front of you just because you are bored to tears and the slight endorphines released when eating might spare you from the constant agony of the cramped seats, but I couldn't even finish most of the food they plopped on my tray. Thankfully, the layover in Japan allowed me to get some good stretching and some good food. Sake, beer, and a belly full of sushi. I think I need to spend some more time in Japan, preferable outside of the airport! It was kinda interesting going through a slight quarintine before they let us leave the plane. As evidenced from the above photo, I found it far too entertaining! They let me keep the face mask too...

It will feel so good to get off these godforsaken planes!

Good Bye Party Celebration

Partying on till the break of dawn, pool style

A party to be remembered! Pablo spun some records for us (figuratively, of course. Most DJ use laptops now-a-days), people brought lots of delicious food and a few interesting drinks (thanks Adam for the 99 Bananas!) and the party went on till the break of dawn! 4 kegs of home brew and a giant keg of Stone IPA. I tell you, when you experience a time with this with people like these it makes me wonder why I am leaving such good people... but then again... there are people like this all over the world! Thank you to everyone for their love and support. Now I must finish packing, for reals!