Tuesday, November 26, 2013

11-19-13 Random Dinner


I know this is a little out of order, but I went to a "fancy" Thai restaurant with my friends from St. Francis Xavier School. I loved the ambience and the pretty view. :)


We sat at a table, looking up at a band that was setting up.

What a cozy atmosphere!

Ali, her boyfriend, Gina, Julie, Monica, Joey Boy (haha jk! Lee, Shoua's boyfriend), Shoua, Gill, and me. This was probably like the 5th time we tried to take a picture because the waitress kept shaking... so finally, I just set it down on a table, set a timer, and voila!

Monday, November 25, 2013

11-21-13 The Day I Accidentally Ended Up On A Date With My Neighbor (And The Weekend After That)

      Skyping with QG from my courtyard because I have less than 1GB left until I am limited to extremely slow internet speeds, I decided to ask my neighbor about some eggs that Shoua and I purchased from the market. I forget if I’ve mentioned it before, but all of Thailand’s eggs are unrefrigerated, even in the grocery stores; they are in egg cartons but on shelves. 
      However, in the market, local people sell them in giant baskets. You hand-pick the eggs you want. I was curious then to see why there were at least 3 baskets in these egg stands. There were 10 eggs for 38 baht, 10 eggs for 40 baht, and 10 eggs for 44 baht. Now I really wondered why because to me, there was no perceivable difference among the eggs whatsoever. All of them ranged from a lighter brown to a darker brown color, and all of them were about the exact same size. So why the difference in price?
      In any case, I asked my neighbor and he said that it was probably the size. (Yeah... seriously though, if you put them beside each other, there was no difference.) Just in case you’re curious, I ended up buying the 10 eggs for 40 baht. It reminds me of gas prices. I don’t know if I really got a better deal or not, but it seems safer to spring for the middle- or high-priced options rather than the cheapest ones.
      The conversation took a strange turn when my neighbor asked me where I was and if I wanted to buy eggs from the grocery store with him. I said no and that I was just going to use the internet, so he mentioned that he knew a restaurant that was about 2 minutes away where I could comfortably use free wi-fi. He told me to give him 10 minutes and then we could head there together.

11-19-13 My Most Unprofessional Teaching Day and 11-20-13 The Aftermath

     For some reason, since I’ve been in Thailand, it seems like I’ve been having a lot of these so-called unprofessional teaching days. It’s not just being able to be on facebook and my email during all of my extremely long breaks; it’s also about the students I drag across the floor and almost literally toss outside. Again, I’ve never been this type of person, shouting until my lungs get hoarse, nor am I the type of person who uses brute strength to handle people who are smaller than me. But honestly, that’s how I thought I had to be because these students just didn’t care and didn’t pay attention to me, no matter what.
     After heaving the same rowdy students in and out of my classroom for the past week, I was stressed beyond belief. I still dreaded teaching my 40-minute classes (luckily, we had shortened periods), but I thought I was used to just moving my students when they misbehaved. I assumed that eventually they’d figure out on their own that they hated that punishment and would cease their wild and frenzied behavior.
     However, just as I had seemingly accepted how my classroom was always going to behave around me, First (one of my students) threw something across the classroom at one of his friends. I happened to walk right into that crossfire and it hit me in the face. I know it’s actually funny to picture, but at that point, all I could feel was the intensity of my shock. He stared at me, apologized quickly, climbed into his seat, all as I exasperatedly told him to leave the classroom because I needed a break from him. He stubbornly refused to leave, even when I grabbed him, and all I could do was release him and shake my head extremely disappointedly at him. I could tell he felt all of my frustration, my upset feelings, and my disappointment because he looked worried. Plus, normally, he would have just continued acting out.
     I turned to the whiteboard in my state of shock, and as I began putting up the notes the students needed to copy, I understood exactly and almost way too lucidly what was happening in my classroom: the students had no respect for me whatsoever and I didn’t know how to fix it. Tears filled my eyes as the students continued to shout, scream, and run around behind me, despite there being two authority figures in our classroom. And at that point, tears welled up and I basically started crying. 
     Trying to hide it from my students but still feeling the hopelessness of my realization, I continued to cry facing the board. At this point, I didn’t even care that my back was completely turned to the students so that I couldn’t even see what they were doing. All I wanted to do was finish writing, wipe away my tears, and continue soldiering on. Horrifyingly though, I just continued to cry, even as I finished writing all the notes and was hurriedly brushing away my tears. I quickly walked over to my Thai teacher, asked for her to take over for one minute, and when she saw my eyes, she immediately stood up, and walked to the front of the classroom.
I ran out to the washroom, washed my face, and walked back in to the front of the classroom. I’m sure I was quite the sight, with red, puffy eyes, a sniffly nose, and just defeat in my eyes. The Thai teacher yelled at them, and all the students immediately bowed to me and said sorry. I nodded and the students copied down their work. Let’s just say that they were quiet and obedient... for about the next 15 minutes.
     After school, I teared up again as I thanked my Thai teacher. She was so worried, she ran next door to a different Thai teacher that could speak some English--she then told one of the other teachers (Gina, another friend of mine, but not the Gina mentioned in the other posts) to help me. They told me it was okay and Gina offered to swap classes with me for a day. I told her that would be great because I needed as much of a break and someone to scare the students into obedience as I could possibly get.
     She and I talked a bit more, and when Shoua came around, we all walked to the market and I bought some cake (tiramisu and green tea) as treats. Needless to say, I ate the tiramisu one as soon as I reached my house, even before my dinner. That speaks just so much to how stressed I was and how much I was craving cake. Killed 2 birds with one stone, that cake did, haha.

Yum! Tiramisu and green tea cake :)

11-16-13 Tangled in Thai Festivities

     Since we had been awake since 4 AM, we had the rest of the day from 2 PM on to spend at our leisure. 

Our original schedule for the day was to...
  • Visit a forest temple
  • Go to the bus station to buy tickets (which we found out were NOT leaving every fifteen to thirty minutes, contrary to what people at the Bangkok bus terminal had told Jess) 
  • Drive around to see the gates of the old city
  • Drive through to check out another temple
  • Go to the walking market to shop
  • Attend Loi Krathong in the city
  • Head back to the Night Safari
However, our plan ended up being: 

  1. U-Mong Temple (700-year-old temple):
I'm sure we have a name for this deity in Chinese, but right now, I'm blanking. :(

Interesting creature which looks like a sea otter-ish thing to me.

Here's a little bit about U-Mong Temple.

A bigger version that you'll still have to squint to read!
But look at this temple. Have you ever even seen anything remotely like this in person?

The main entrance to the temple.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

11-16-13 Ness's Family in Chiang Mai

     Our double-decker bus drove fairly quickly to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. Our bus ride probably shortened from 10 or 11 hours to 9 and a half hours, but I barely slept the entire way because the speed, oddly enough, kept me awake. 
     Okay, so why would I take a bus for about 10 hours just to reach somewhere where I’ll stay for a single night? Well....
     Loi Krathong, the lantern festival, took place from November 15th to the 17th in Thailand this year. It is a celebration of good luck and wishes to the Buddha, when people put krathong, or little boat-like things filled with flowers, into rivers or ponds for the water spirits. However, in Chiang Mai, they have the largest celebration--which also includes floating lanterns. Ever since I watched Disney’s Tangled, I wanted to see a true lantern festival. During our 3-week course in Naiharn, Phuket, the Thai instructor gave us a cultural training for a day and told us about this festival, and that was the one holiday I wanted to witness and participate in, no matter the cost. Hence, the 10-hour bus ride for a one-night celebration (seeing as I need to return to school on Monday and have to travel back for another 10 hours or so). Can you imagine? All flights were booked, but if I went by plane, it would have just been 1.5 hours.
     We reached Chiang Mai at approximately 4 in the morning and because Jess and I had never secured a place to stay, we started wandering the streets. We visited several hostels and even some expensive hotels that were charging $299 (yes, US dollars!) per night, but they were literally all fully-booked. Even with suggestions for other places in hand, we called them and to no avail because there was just no space left. Trying and failing until about 6:30 in the morning, I used Jess’s internet to reach out to Ness because I knew his family lived in Chiang Mai; I wanted to see if they could at least suggest a place to stay, seeing as we had none at all for Saturday night. At that point, we were seriously contemplating just sleeping on a park bench. 
     Calling his godmother and finding out she was a bit outside of the old city (where we were located), we found that we could stay a night at Tong House Resort, a place her family owns, because the people occupying the place had just left--lucky us! We told her we would eat some breakfast first and then take a red taxi car over to Tong House.
     As we navigated the streets searching for a place called Blue Diamond, we walked past a few temples and decided to stop in. Of course, Jess, being the photographer she is, and me, being an inept photographer yet too-avid-documenter of every single detail of my life, took at least fifteen minutes in each. We saw about 3, so that was at least 45 minutes gone. 

This was the first temple we visited: Wat Umongmahatherachan

I love these ruin types of buildings!

The Buddha inside :)

The dragons along the stairs

The Tunchai Buddha

Sign of the Tunchai Buddha

Tadpoles in one of the pond urns :)

The three parts of the temple

I think my mom will find this adorable :)

We also went by Wat Panping (Wat #2 on our walking journey)

I'm not sure what this is, but it was pretty nonetheless. I fear that this is more for the deceased.

Even the grate has a Buddha on it!

On the side of one of the towers


Jess and I walked past this, and I thought it was hilarious. At first, I thought it was a hostel, so I thought it was a bath, baby, and hospital for people... but then we actually paid attention to the "Thai Elephant Conservation Center" part of the sign :)

One of the other temples we visited

I just liked this; I think it was by another temple we walked past but chose not to explore.

An interesting mural we walked past. Pay attention to the biggest fish lol :D

Elephants! :D

Aren't they cute? This was behind the temple we didn't visit.

     We then made our way for real to Blue Diamond, which was located in a very strange small street that curved, turned, and seemed to keep splitting.

Walking along, trying to figure out where Blue Diamond is...

Cute name lol

     It was SO adorable and quaint! It seemed to focus entirely on foreigners and that was definitely the clientele. I decided to order the most boring thing on the menu because during breakfast, I rarely want to try new foods: muesli with fruit and yogurt. Jess ordered an Asian-influenced salad with a smoothie. Both orders were delicious and very fresh. We were even surrounded by organic hair and skin products alongside very health-oriented foods, like nuts and seeds. But that’s not all! For sweet-toothed people like me, there was a bakery of fresh homemade goods, including cake, muffins, cupcakes, breads, scones, and all this other great stuff that I really need to stop typing about because I’m starting to get hungry just thinking about it.

Look at the pathway! I didn't get pictures of the actual place, but it was really adorable!

Part of the entrance

My breakfast of muesli with fruit and yogurt. It was really fresh and tasted super healthy!

     We ended up buying a tiramisu, macarons, and cupcakes for Ness’s godmother and godfather to show them how much we appreciated their hospitality. Of course, at this time, we were really supposed to be on our way to her, but I really wanted to purchase gifts first. Before we left, we also enjoyed a raw cake. I forget the ingredients, but it was really tasty!

Delicious raw cake. YUM. (And it's not raw like egg yolk raw, so don't get any ideas!)

     His godmother had told us to take a red car, which is a type of taxi structured like a songtaew. We hopped on one that told us he would take us to what I heard as “Talad Myea Hyea.” (It was actually Talad Mai Hai--well, something similar to that.) After they took us in a large circle for about ten minutes, a man told us it was too far and they would charge the both of us 400 baht. It was too expensive, so we hopped off angrily, having wasted so much time. 
     Waving down another red car, I put Ness’s godmother on the phone with the taxi driver and he agreed to drive us there for only 200 baht total. Geez. What is with people trying to overcharge farang?! I know it makes sense, but it a really jerk thing to do to take us around and THEN to tell us they were refusing to take us to our destination. What a waste of time! 
     Ness’s godfather had an appointment at 10:00 and as this red car drove us...and as I also protectively held on to the cakes and kept them out of the sun (the tiramisu was starting to melt :( ), my phone clock told me it was 9:55 before long. Surprisingly, we reached the intersection we were supposed to meet them at just as the godparents were coming out of that same intersection. 
     ***Let me shortcut godmother as GM and godfather as GF in this post. It will just take me forever to type that out each time I mention them, which I know will be a lot in this post.***
     Ness’s GM took us to the resort, we settled in and I took my much-needed shower, and she came back to take us to see the Night Safari by their house. We took some pictures, and then she drove us a little bit inside. It was adorable! Deer walked around on the streets within and were unafraid of people. I wanted to pet one! The real Night Safari ride was only open later on in the evening though, so the GM said she would try to secure tickets for us for free, since the tickets for farang are 800 baht (over $20), which she said was not worth it. His godparents really are so kind; I really loved meeting them and spending time with them. I hope in the future I can return the favor a lot better...

Night Safari entrance

Opposite those elephants

     We headed back toward the house and saw GF (I apologize, I will also make my sentences not make sense either) walking back, which shocked GM because she thought she missed his call so had decided to walk back from his appointment on his own. He hopped into the car and we drove around. At first, I wanted to try Ness’s favorite noodle place, but because Jess is a vegetarian, we instead went to the airport area. Surprisingly, not a lot of Thai people offer any vegetarian options at all. Almost everything has some type of meat or seafood in it--Jess laughed about this, saying that the most extreme she saw was that they had sprinkled bacon bits on some dessert once.
     Anyway, we walked around OTOP (a tiny version of the one I had walked around in Impact), saw no vegetarian food, then went into Central Plaza, and went to the fourth floor. Jess ate rice with veggies, I ate a Chiang Mai noodle dish, and GM and GF ate some noodles. Also, instead of the traditional thai mango dessert with sticky rice covered with coconut milk, I really enjoyed a durian one. It was SO good! 

My Chiang Mai noodles: Khao Soi
They were delicious and a great recommendation :)

MMmmmmmm delicious!!!! :D
     I know I talked about this in a previous post, but I love mangoes--in fact, they are one of my favorite fruits--and I also love sticky rice, which I can even enjoy plain. However, with the mixture of coconut milk, I don’t quite enjoy the combination. But with the durian, which seemed to work very well with the coconut milk, I was in heaven and finally started enjoying the dessert!!!
     Feeling crazed for sweets, Jess and I also bought a crepe with chocolate, almonds, and bananas; it was soft and filled with whipped cream and ice cream. It filled me up so much that I walked out of the place bloated and feeling in need of a run.
     At this time, it was only about 2:00 PM. Time seems to slow down in Thailand sometimes, but I really enjoy it on the weekends. :)
     Separate post coming about the rest of our day... I can’t believe this is almost 3.5 pages long already on Pages lol 

At the resort with the motorbike Ness's godparents so graciously lent us :)

Thank you so much for everything. We honestly had no place to stay, had no way of getting around without spending a lot of money, and I am so glad to have had such amazing and caring people make sure we were so well-provided. As I said above, I really do hope I have a chance one day in the near future to treat them back for everything. They truly deserve it for being the kind and giving people they are. :) Thanks, Ness, for having great family and inviting me to join you all :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

11-15-13 Sports Day and Chiang Mai--Here We Come!

An Update About 11/14/13
     During my last post, I talked about changing the points system in my classroom. I forgot to mention that even though I’m putting up an insane amount of tally points on the board, I take a crazy amount away if they laugh at each other or don’t follow directions. 
     As I counted the team points randomly during the day, Team 1, which had about 105 points, laughed at the groups that had 75, 55, and 34 points. After telling them to stop laughing because it wasn’t nice, they continued to do so, so I wiped away 5 of their points. I heard gasps, shocked silence, and one of the Team 1 members saying, “No, teacha! Noooooo!” But it was very effective. The next time I counted, they didn’t laugh. When someone else from Team 6 laughed, I immediately erased 5 points from his team... his laughter was wiped away too.
     I started putting smiley faces on the board again--I feel like I owe these kids a lot of candy. They earned 10 smileys, but whenever one of my students stood up from his desk and wandered off, I threatened to erase the eye of one of the smiley faces, and the kid shouted out, “Nooooooo, teacha!” again and returned to his seat. I just love how strong their reactions are to me erasing one tiny little mark on the board. It’s also hilarious from my end because then I see one-eyed smiley faces on the board. It just looks so weird!
     I have also started putting large red sad faces on student work when they don’t do their work or don’t complete it on time. Then, I send it home for homework. It’s a way of record-keeping for me, as the other teachers told me, and it also shows the parents what their children are doing in class.
     Next week, I think I’ll be super evil and take photos of them goofing off. Then, I’ll print them out, send them home, and force the parents to see just how spoiled rotten their little angels are. Hopefully, they’ll stop sending toys to school; how on earth can the students learn when they have so many distractions in front of them? 

St. Francis Xavier School: my school.
The funny thing about this picture is that this is the first time I've actually
really looked at my school. I always enter from the back and go into my 
classroom, so I really don't see the front often. I also don't walk across that
football playing field. (Football = soccer)

The playing field

Thursday, November 14, 2013

11-14-13 Laundry Day!

Random: This is how my room looks after I do laundry. I do hang up my clothes outside in the box to dry, but there isn't always enough room. I tend to mass-wash haha :)

Actually, I probably washed only 18 pieces of things... hmmm...

And yes, this was a completely pointless post. :D

11-11-13 to 11-14-13: Things of the Utmost Importance In My Life

     After I taught my first class, I typed up sub plans for my next two classes in about a 12-minute period of time because I had to leave to get my visa. Let’s just say that when we got there, everything was very time-consuming. It looked like a Chicago DMV except with more office rooms. The lady from our school forgot some documents so headed back to the school. My friend and I, to stall for time, threw away our numbers when the lady hadn’t returned yet, even when the place called our numbers.
     Unfortunately, and I guess it serves me right, the lady came back about ten minutes later and our HiValue Company representative asked us where our numbers were... so I had to go dig through the trash bin in the bathroom to retrieve it. I sanitized my hands immediately after, but still! Can you imagine what I was sticking my hands into? Ewwww!
     We paid 2000 baht (about $67) for our visas and waited about 20 minutes to actually get it. 
On to what this post is actually about though, we went to a Japanese restaurant located downstairs of the visa place. At first, I was not so pleased with our food selection, but I ordered some noodles in soup, which was a pretty tasty dish. BUT my favorite part of that meal was definitely our dessert. Inside the Japanese place was a gelato place, which ranged from fruity gelato such as strawberry flavor, to nutty like pistachio, to rich chocolate like hazelnut and Ferrero Rocher. I tried the Ferrero, pistachio, and mango. 

My dish. No, it was not Udon.

My mango gelato in a waffle cone.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

11-9-13 The Old Capital: Ayutthaya

     The next morning, Lindsay and I woke up, ready to head to Thailand’s old capital, Ayutthaya. (The new capital is Bangkok, where Lindsay lives.) For breakfast, we enjoyed a very tasty omelet covered with sweet but spicy sauce and Thai iced tea--I feel like I always have to mention my consumption of that now :D.

Lindsay and the pillow she made for me when I stayed the night haha

The view outside of her window! Very cool :)

     After all that deliciousness, we took a local bus to Victory Monument, met up with Jess, and then headed to Ayutthaya all together on a van. Once there, we were met with a tuk tuk driver named Ae (it sounds like the letter “a” stretched out with an “eee” at the end). For an hour, it would cost 200 baht total for 3 people. For two hours, it would cost 400 baht total. For three hours, which we ended up choosing so we could cover as many attractions as possible, it cost 600 baht total, meaning each of us would just pay 200 baht ($6.67 each for a 3 hour total tour trip)!
     We visited MANY different sites. We actually visited everything else as quick as possible after taking 42 minutes at the first location because we realized we wanted to see more and visit specific sites for longer times. Sometimes, we ran around, snapped a few pictures, and ran back out to our tuk tuk. Now, I’ll just add a bunch of photos and give details. :)

Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon

First, we visited Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon. There are many Buddhas
all over this temple.

Here, I focused on one of them.

We climbed up the wavy stairs to this temple.