Feliz Navidad en Sukhothai, Thailandia

As you can imagine this past week was a little different for me in Thailand. Pulled between wanting to feel Christmas joy when I was actually feeling 90 degree F weather.

This past Monday I settled on being the Grinch, like my school since they were giving Midterms on Christmas! I figured I’d just say bye bye to the  X-mas spirit this year and act as if were any Thailand day. By the end of Monday I was an emotional mess. I not only wanted but NEEDED Christmas! I love Christmas, I love giving, I love being Santa’s helper, wrapping gifts, receiving gifts, going to Church, all in all the joys of Christmas.

Here is proof of Midterms … on xmas eve and day… @ least my grading is done and my students did pretty good!

The next morning I talked to the parentals and le boy fren and probably worried them all sick with my negativity and overwhelming emotions. (Thank you for always being there!) Little did they know that talking to them helped me out of another rut. Tuesday morning I decided to put on my santa hat and be the most cheerful Christmas elf Sawankhalok had ever seen. I biked with the santa hat, taught with the santa hat, ate with the santa hat from the 22nd- the 25th of December.

As for my schedule, everything was the same. I taught and tutored as planned, but I was observed by Fulbright on Tuesday. I was under the impression my classes were canceled until the morning of. I was of course nervous. Luckily they observed my 6/01 aka English honors class and had only compliments with few suggestions. Really it was mostly nice to have old company from P’Kee who I feel really comfortable with from the Fulbright Staff. 20151222_155204

On Wednesday I got another great idea: GIVE GIFTS! Sounds silly, and like a lot of $$. Well I budgeted really well this last month and had a little extra to give about 22 gifts. It was yet another factor that helped me get over my Christmas-less hump. I loved it. By the 24th I felt as if not being with loved ones for Christmas wasn’t bad at all. I conquered Christmas in Thailand and felt amazing. I also got to teach my students Feliz Navidad. A very easy Spanish-English Christmas song that is always a good time in Mexican Family Christmas parties.

By the end of the 24th I gave the first batch of gifts. P’Buddy, I could tell thought I was silly because he knew I knew he could care less of gift receiving and Christmas, but giving gifts was entirely for me. As for Sue and the girls they were much more excited and surprised. Sue having husband in America and having lived there for many years felt embarrassed for not having anything ready for me. She continuously had her eldest grand daughter ask me how much everything was. All I could say was: Mai Bpen Rai! (No Worries!) I also told them my Christmas plans which were finalized that evening too -Take a bus ride and crash Edie’s Family’s Christmas! -I saw Sue take a note but didn’t think too much of it.

Christmas Day:                                                                                                              I woke up early and was so excited! I got ready, and made sure my Santa Hat looked extra snazzy. I got to school at 7:30am (normally 8am like all the other Thai teachers) and went desk to desk placing nicely wrapped gifts. It was a lot of fun. Exciting when they’d smile and say thank you, but also a tad bit disheartening when they’d look at the gift and smile like, ‘Silly, don’t you know I don’t care about Christmas, nor this lame gift.’ Of course they said thank you but I could read their expressions pretty well. Oh well; again, IT WAS FOR ME! Like a child’s first birthday party, it’s for the parents never the baby -off topic but you get my point.

Also pictured is P’Buddy who took me out to coffee, my first cheesecake I liked, and my Christmas lunch-.56cents

I got to Skype with my mom,aunt and uncle for an hour while I was at work. Skyping with my mom is a very normal every other dayish event, as for my aunt and uncle, I hadn’t seen them in a while and didn’t think I would until I returned. It was nice and as if I was at the dinner table with them like old times.Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 11.04.40 AM

It was time to go to the bus station to head north to Si Satchanalai. There I found Sue. She looked at me with relief. “Aliza, I went to your house and the school and couldn’t find you. Here, Merry Christmas” OMG OMG OMG! A GIFT! I got to open a gift! I was excited because I expected absolutely nothing. After she sat and waited for the bus with me and shared pictures of her husband.

EDIE! After my little Christmas town fun I was at Edie’s town. I met her and her sister then her father and mother. The Wilson’s. They were a really awesome bunch and even if I was nervous of intruding in their family time, they made me feel a part of their family the entire time I was there. To celebrate we went to one of Edie’s P’s houses, had dinner, good photos, good laughs, karaoke, a Christmas tree, puppies, and tamarind picking. Such an awesome Thai Christmas.

Once we got back to the hotel they said they were giving gifts. -BUT BUT BUT… Maybe I should go outside- The gift exchange was fast but nice and to my surprise Santa visited me in Thailand too! With a nice stuffed stocking filled with Michigan mints (so delicious!), socks, and a Coach key chain. Truly blessed to have had the opportunity to meet Edie’s Family they were so much fun. Now I have to visit Michigan.20151225_205937

The day after Christmas was spent at the Si Satchanalai Historical Park. Featured are: The Wilsons, bikes, and minor heat exhaustion.

This week was great and Navidad was the best possible turnout Thailand could have given me.

Feliz Navidad, Prospero Año y Felicidad!                                                                   Elaine ❤



A Blissful Weekend in Chiang Mai

First of all a weekend is not enough to see and experience everything Chiang Mai has to offer, especially when you’re driving 10 hours in total to get to and fro.

Saturday December 12th:                                                                                           Get picked up at 9am and make our way to Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in Lampang. We also got to take photos with Lampang’s trade mark: horse drawn carriages.

After we got lunch and had amazing Kao Soi. *Note if you ever come to Thailand and try this dish, it’s better in the Northern provinces. Really delicious.

Mini drive by at a ceramics shop:

After we made a quick pit stop at Lampang’s ‘Thai Elephant Conservation Center.’ We didn’t ride any elephants, and I don’t think I would either since I am knowledgable of the fact that it hurts their hips in the long haul. I’d rather just hug their trunks.

After watching the elephant show and feeding the elephants our next stop was finally Chiang Mai.20151212_122220_HDR

First stop was the Umbrella Making Center in San Kamphaeng, Chiang Mai. It was really interesting and awesome to see how much hard work and detail go into these types of umbrellas. Also how fast they get it done. These people are talented!

It was time to head for dinner because traffic would make it so that it was time for dinner… Chiang Mai traffic is BAD. I would say it’s worse than Bangkok just because there is no transportation system to avoid it here; yet.

Dinner was served at Galae Restaurant. Ambience 10/10, Music choice 10/10, View 10/10, Price $$$, Taste: 3&1/2 out of 5. Would come again? YES! I absolutely loved this place. It reminded me of my nana a lot! She loved flowers! It was also romantic, which then made me miss someone. All of a sudden I’m home sick missing everything and everyone. Oh well, it was a beautiful place though, that’s for sure.

Next was ice cream at “Ice Love You.” Clever. It’s popular for having vegan ice cream. Sorry for sounding ignorant but I didn’t think Thailand would have vegan anything. I’m not vegan and mostly went for my friend who suggested it from California. Regardless it was tasty and worth trying 9 flavors of ice cream. We shared okay!?

Once we were stuffed we slowly made our way to Wualai Road, a famous and busy Saturday night Market.

Finally we were exhausted from the long day and went to one of Poh’s ex students house to sleep. It was a quiet place out in the country in Mae Taeng. At night it was a little scary, but when we woke up it was beautiful. I felt as if all my possible problems were millions of miles away. He also provided breakfast in the morning. Very hospitable person.

After breakfast the next day we drove 2 and a half hours South-east to Doi Inthanon: the highest peak of Thailand. There was A LOT of picture taking.

Lunch and a long road back was followed. Even if I was so exhausted I enjoyed the trip over all and on the ride back I saw MILLIONS of stars. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stars with my bare eyes. It was amazing.

As for the Monday – Friday, the 14th-18th. I taught synonyms of feelings. Some students had previous knowledge others didn’t. It was a fun week acting out all of the emotions and having students come up and act with me to help them understand without using any Thai. The most successful part is I can hear them improving and learning the terms. It was a very “Happy Teacher” moment.

As I’ve mentioned before I’m now tutoring two 8 year olds, Namtan and Nena. They really brighten my day when I see them. Their grandmother Su also does because she cooks the yummiest dinners for me in repayment for teaching her grandbabies. (I’ve told her no or too much food several times). No matter what she’s feeding me. Even on days we don’t have tutoring like Fridays she’s inviting me for dinner. I love it.

Finally, this weekend consisted of R & R. Rest and Relaxation. I read, I cleaned my house, and did computer busy work. Even though at points of my day I wanted to be out and about, I benefited from staying home and regrouping after being on the go so often.

Happy Holidays,                                                                                                                 Elaine ❤


Alive, Awake, Alert, Enthusiastic in Lampang!

This weeks blog post comes to you in two parts! Why? 1.) It’d be too long 1.5.) To write and read.

LAMPANG! Dec. 6-10th As I mentioned last post I had a week long break from work so I decided to visit my friend (fellow ETA) Crystal in Lampang- North-West 2 and a 1/2 hrs from Sawankhalok, Sukhothai (where I’m currently living fyi). The first day was mostly settling in and catching up.

The 7th is where the fun began! We woke up early and met with the taxi driver we had rented for 1/2 a day. Sounds pricy right? Well 1,500 bht = 41 usd divided by two= 20 usd for a day for us to really take in her province; worth it. The first stop was Wat Prajomklao Rachanusorn. It was beautiful and breath taking. Literally when you consider the mini trek up because it was steep. Then again very mini since you’re driven up the whole way up practically.

After a good hour and a half soaking this place in we went to Lampang’s Chaeson National Park. Here you have waterfalls, hiking, hot springs, thai massages, and you can even camp here if you’re interested. For us we only did the first four. Plus we cooked some eggs in the hot springs. I was a bit skeptic at first, but when we ate them later in the week they were so good!

The next two days were spent at Crystals house and school, which happen to be the same place. It was really exciting to see a different school and culture in Thailand. In Lampang they speak Northern Thai which is actually pretty different from just Thai. From what I understand, Northern Thai people can understand both dialects, but normal Thai speaking people can’t understand Northern Thai dialect. As for me, I can’t understand neither. Okay, well I’m working on just the Thai dialect. I’ll get there. I hope.

Crystals school is from k-9th grade which is completely different from my students who are 11th and 12th graders. She also teaches a LD (Learning Deficiency) Class. Pretty much she’s the perfect choice for this school since she’s got a lot of patience, unlike me -again I’m working on it. I really enjoyed her Kindergarteners and observing her teach in general, mostly when she would warm up each class by singing “Alive, Awake, Alert, Enthusiastic.” I also got to teach most of her classes: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It was eye opening and helped me brainstorm for when I would go back to lesson planning too.

Other things we did was cook! We made spaghetti with cheese, and for dessert we made banana bread in a RICE COOKER!

Lastly we came to her coffee shop twice because I loved the owner! We got down to coffee talk and I was simultaneously teaching Crystal about the tastes and aromas coffee has. And the steps to tasting an espresso: see, smell, sip. The owner’s name is P’ Jam and she said she was coming to San Diego to see my boyfriend’s coffee shop. Hope it happens!

Finally, Thursday 6am was the call to go home for a day. The bus ride was an adventure. *Note: this was my first official solo trip in Thailand so even if it was only 3 hrs I was a bit nervous. Especially going home, when we were going back a different route that went to 2 different provinces first before it got to mine. I got to Sukhothai at 10:30am and had to wait until 1pm for the bus to take me home. 8 hrs busing to do something that should take 2 hrs & 1/2. Amazing Thailand.

Regardless Lampang was fun, relaxing with great company.

Pics from Thursday and Friday:

Noe’s Birthday dinner!20151210_191353

Good food at Si Satchanali with traditional style cooking. Aroy Mak! Also a note on the menu: 10BHT= 0.28USD/ 20BHT= 0.56USD/ 25BHT= 0.70USD. No plate here is more than 70 cents! Think about that when you pay $7.00 for a Happy Meal.

Part 2: Weekend in Chiang Mai to be continued…

Survive 10 Weeks in Thailand: Check!

On Monday, at the end of my last blog I mentioned how last week had been hard. So I gave myself a day to recover, I actually in sick to work. I felt sick, emotionally and just out of it. I couldn’t grasp life (mellow dramatic right?). Really though it sucked. I wanted to be comforted but nothing was doing the trick. I called out and it was the best thing I could have done at the time. I rested and reflected on my time here. I had time to prepare for the week and even go to school, where I was told to go back home because I looked sick (you know it’s bad when you’re physically showing). In short, Monday was my day to realize I can still do this as long as I give myself more me time. I become ‘Yes Man’ because I love doing things and meeting new people, but I do need time for myself which I hadn’t had in a while.

The next day I was fixed. Like a car who had an oil change with a complementary car wash. In the morning I went for a run, went to school and thought to myself ‘I actually missed these students.’ It wasn’t a shock just another realization that I am in fact happy doing what I’m doing even when I don’t know what I’m doing it right 3/4 of the time. For example, this week they learned about thanksgiving. I showed them a brief history, but didn’t expect them to know it at all. I mostly wanted them to learn ‘thankful,’ and to be thankful for ‘non-materialistic’ things. I’d say they got the point across and even gave me good reasons why they were thankful, like: “I am thankful for my ability to learn math because other friends have a hard time but it is easy for me.”(M6/01) -Very good students I think I can push them a bit further by February which is the end of their last semester in high school.

As for my M5’s “Reading for Science” I’m teaching migration. It’s tedious but we get it done. I can see their comprehension growing and I try to make it fun like ignoring the tables and sitting in a nice family circle, where we are all Zebras migrating and protecting each other.20151203_101101

The rest of the teaching week went relatively the same except:

I listen to 1 christmas song/ album everyday.

It rained and it feels cooler! 20151204_08092320151204_080242

I took a walk with the girls I tutor and played “I spy with my little eye.” 20151202_174252

All foreign teachers had to go to our department meeting that was all in Thai and we were all on our phones. Don’t worry it won’t happen again. We spoke up, were heard, and they changed our meeting time so that we only have a meeting in English after their meeting in Thai.

I inherited another group to tutor except they aren’t my students in the day time. They are 8 year olds and are ADORABLE. I gave the lady (Su) who owns the bus stop by my house my number because she wanted me to help her grand-babies with English. Three weeks later I finally get a call, and dinner too!

Finally Friday and I don’t have to teach because it is the pre-celebration for the King’s Birthday on the 5th, making it father’s day as well. It was a 4 hr celebration which ended with us planting trees in the back of our school. *Note this is the 7th tree I’ve planted in Thailand

By the end of the day I was invited to dinner by Su and I was greeted with hugs and SO MUCH FOOD.

Father’s Day Craze: December 5th, Thailand’s Fathers Day, King’s Birthday. Different places in Thailand celebrate in various ways. Sawankhalok, Sukhothai throws a parade and I got to be a part of it!              -Get to school 8am  -Eat breakfast 8:30am -Eat snack 11am                           -Hair did 11:15am -Make up did 11:45am -Lunch 12pm -snack 1pm                 -Get dressed 1:30pm -Take Photos 2pm-3:30pm                                                  -Go to parade line up 4:15pm -Parade starts 4:45ish pm -Walk stand walk stand until 7pm where we are done -noodles 8pm -ice cream 8:15pm          -Mango sticky rice 8:35pm -Home 9pm

Sawatdee ka Lampang! This morning I felt SORE from last night, but I had things to do so packed up and headed out20151206_074211wearing my new t-shirt dress from ZALORA http://en.zalora.co.th/women/ There’s actually going to be a big sale on Dec. 12th so check it out! 12.12 Online Fever

I went to my bus station to go to Lampang (another province) at 8am. It took about 3 hours,20151206_090306

but at last I was reunited with CRYSTAL!

First things first: food

Then we road a song tao back to her place and stuffed her bike in too. 20151206_130533

She took me to the coffee shop she goes to and had an awesome convo with the owner.

Finally we ended our week with my second Thai wedding. *Note: I’ve been to more weddings in Thailand than I have in America.

Also, I have December 7th to the 11th off so expect a lot of cool pics next time too.

Feeling better!                                                                                                           Elaine ❤