“Gun Pah Pan” aka February in Thai

** Written 2/8/16: still having upload problems

So a lot of differences happened last week that made January disappear before my eyes. Gordon flew in on the 28th of January, and is now gone, safe back home in Sunny San Diego. Honestly, him coming refreshed my perspectives about life in Thailand and even made me consider a longer term with how comfortable and happy I feel here. We’ll see.

The 1st day of February: We got impromptuly picked up by my host teacher P’Yu, and went to her home town Thung Saliam. We went to pick up her car because she graciously lent me her car for the week Gordon was here. She is the real MVP! I also gave her daughter Mexican candy… Let’s just say her “liking it” was an under-statement.

Driving in Thailand: Gordon took the wheel first. I was use to it, being in the passenger seat… or the American drivers seat without a wheel. When he said, “I really don’t think I could have done this if we hadn’t driven with your Thai father for so many hours.” whoa! I know it’s different here in Thailand, but I’m use to it! With that after our stop to the zoo it was my turn to drive.

The Zoo:

Sukhothai City:

Tuesday was a “DL” (Down low) day where we chilled until the evening where we drove an hour to Phitsanulok to have dinner a movie! My second movie in Thailand, The Finest Hours.

20160202_162241

Wednesday came and I taught the 1st out of the 2 classes for the week. My M6 (Seniors) had Onet prep (an exit exam) all week therefore I didn’t miss class at all when Gordon was here. Which was GREAT! We then went to a cute coffee shop with 2 of my students and 3 of my co-workers. Stuffing 7 people in a small car and all.

After it cooled Gordon finally got to see my province’s main attraction: Sukhothai Historical Park. I think I’ve been here 4 times now… It’s always fun regardless.

On Thursday I taught my 2nd and last class of the week and then waited until the evening to celebrate my Thai Father’s Birthday! It’s funny how him and my dad were born on the same week. 20160204_204742

On Father Birthday notes: SHOUT OUT TO MY DAD! He turned half a century on Jan. 31st!

20150710_121905

We got to visit Edie and get Mango Sticky Rice! 20160205_113817

The LAST DAY…: Was a mess. Not emotionally. Well, a little. Not the point. I don’t know how it happened we were under the impression Gordon was going to fly out at 6am… why I don’t know his itinerary clearly says 9:50am… so we were under the impression if he took a night bus he wouldn’t get to Bangkok with enough time to get to the airport to check in. So we booked his ticket for 1:30pm, 7 hrs less that what we thought we had. So I booked a second ticket and went with him, and then after an hour in Bangkok bussed back 7hrs home and said goodbye. Poor him, had to wait from 11pm-9:50am! Sorry Gordon!

20160205_222938

After Gordon Left:

Went to an Orange Farm: YES, those are oranges and not limes!

Sunday Fun-day Exploration in Uthai Thani:                                                                       Wat Tha Sung-

Tom Yum: A sweet and sour soup served on over a fiery coal 20160207_133116

Wat Tham Khao Wong- (These pictures do not give justice to the Wat itself. I can’t upload anymore photos for some weird reason)

Khao Wong Cave-

Ban Rai- the truck is a sugar cane truck and VERY dangerous they make traffic slow and cause many accidents unfortunately

That’s 20/77 provinces in 4 months! I still have 8 more so we’ll see how far I can go within Amazing Thailand.

Bai la na ka,                                                                                                                        Elaine<3

 

 

A Little Difference Makes the Time go Faster

They say time flies when you’re having fun but I think it flies when times are different. Certainly this last week was very different from my new norm.

1st: It got COLD! When I say cold I mean cold for a native Southern Californian. All of my students were in jackets and even blankets. 15 degrees C = 59 degrees F. That was in the day, therefore getting even colder in the evening.

2nd: It was raining. HARD. At first I thought “It’ll stop.” Nope. It didn’t. It got harder and harder for longer and rained straight for 2 days about.

3rd: I took a flight to Bangkok mid week to meet up with an old friend. I waited for 8 hours at the Suvarnabhumi airport but it was well worth it because that old friend is Gordon! le boyfren.

20160128_082237

Since He’s Been Here:

We stayed at an awesome hostel named “Rest Dot.” Super clean and friendly family owners.

He’s not been so good with being a new ‘farang’ (foreigner) in Thailand but he’s getting better

.20160128_083621

Good old fashioned breakfast.

We traveled through boat.

Went to the Nonthaburi Pier Market.

The Grand Palace: where I had to rent out a nifty shirt since my shawl was too see through and Gordon had to buy ‘elepants’ since he was in shorts.

Wat Arun: Temple of Dawn, unfortunately under construction, but fortunately we were blessed by a monk who was there and tied yarn around our wrists for good luck. Also we contemplated the fact of updating the temple and whether it was taking away or adding to the temple. We went with adding to the temple because that means it is still an active temple and not something old you just go and take pictures by.

We went to an Indian Restaurant. -Initially for food but the end result was for ambiance since we are able to find better Indian food in San Diego.

Flew to CHIANG RAI! I had personally never been here before and I was done with my duty as a tour guide for 2 days because my Thai father went out of his way to pick us up and take us around. 20160130_071509

In CHIANG RAI!: 

Stop one: Flower Garden festival going until Valentines day. Suay Mak!

White Temple or ‘Wat Rung Khun’: a contemporary artist’s take on a Buddhist Temple. It’s beautiful and still growing. It is only built upon donations since the owner and creator, Ajan (Professor) Chalermchai Kositpipat, did not want anyone else’s influences upon his art work. He sounds very dedicated and passionate according to the pamphlet they offer, also it has the most beautiful toilets in the world (my belief).

Singha Park: A green tea park with a beautiful view and other activities we didn’t really look into.
f18365952

Wat Hyua Pla Kang: A new Chinese temple that is very beautiful and still in the works.

Wat Phra Kaew- Temple of the Emerald Buddha: f19504640

Chiang Rai Night Bazar (Little & Small):

Doi Mae Salong- Tea and temples:

Mae Fah Luang Garden- Where the King’s mom changed and renovated the lives of the Hmong hill tribe people:

Dinner at Kwan Phayo (Phayo Lake):

This was actually written on the 2nd, but downloading & adding photos was a real problem this week. I’d be a liar if I told you these were all the good photos that give these places justice, I’m just done with “this” more like last week in terms of photo uploading. Also I’m trying to figure out how to use this Nikon D5300 properly and see how to make the files smaller so I don’t take a week uploading my photos to my blog. 20160128_082357

Wish me luck with technology,                                                                                       Elaine<3

 

 

 

 

 

Day 116

** I found this gem in my 6/01 classroom when there was NO class and I was uniformed BUT…it definitely felt good 🙂

My students we’re preparing for their academic day so I got to take a couple of pictures of all their creations. If there is one thing Thai students are amazing at is arts and crafts.

Weekend English Camp at Phu Hin Rongkla National Park, Phitsanulok!1452743336542

Woke up Friday morning and didn’t go to school in order to travel for the camp the next day. 2&1/2 hr bus ride to Phitsanulok and met up with a fellow ETA, Daniel. It was cool because I was able to see his class and see his set up. I really liked it you could tell the students knew what was coming. This is actually the 4th school that I’ve visited that isn’t mine, it’s fun to see the differences throughout all the schools. 20160115_124518

After his classes were done we hopped on a bus for the national park … about 2 hours standing on a bus… yup my feet hurt.20160115_173306

Reunited with Ia, Mimi, Thomas, Dee, & Daniel.20160115_204700

We ate and prepared a Thai song to sing along with a skit for the students the next day. We were EXCITED!

We took a group photo that I failed to ask for, and got “unfortunate news.” We’re all joking around and ready to hear ‘the plan.’ The plan was not what we expected. P’ Mae (Ia’s host teacher in charge of the whole show) tells us she had unfortunate news and that English Camp was CANCELLED. umm what? Turns out the students were driving in the rain and the car slid and they got into an accident. I got a chill down my spine; waiting for a number of deaths, luckily everyone survived just injured.                                                                                                                           Now what?

We packed up and did Sunday’s plan: go see pretty places in Phetchabun. Wat Pha Sorn Keaw. I had been here before in November, TWO months ago already. Since then the museum has changed, but the Buddha has probably only gotten whiter. Going to a place for a second time made me think about localizing. What is it to be a local? I believe it takes 4 years to call oneself a local of any place. Then again seeing something for a second time in a foreign place, made me feel a bit of a Thailand local. I know that’s not the case, but it was a slightly cool feeling.

After Daniel and I were dropped off and took a bus back home.

As if that wasn’t enough travel for me, later that night I was invited for dinner… all the way in Uttaradit! 1 hr and a half away. Ahiii. But I couldn’t say no, I didn’t want to say no. It was cool because after we went to this festival/ market that the government throws in each province to help those locals. Pretty much whatever the festival makes the locals get to keep because it’s a lot of donations. I really like how Thailand supports one another, and that is greatly seen everywhere.

I have been here for 116 days. Maybe 114 because of my flight delay in the beginning. Better yet, 116 days I flew out of San Diego, California. Trust me I’m not counting I just conveniently found that my countdown app had saved my countdown to fly out and has now been counting up the days since I left. I will admit the honeymoon stage is over. I’m trying to find things to keep me going, it’s easy and hard altogether. If some responsibilities/ workouts are hard to keep up with in America, it’s much harder over here. Regardless I’m dealing and happy. What’s really helpful is knowing that nothing would make me as happy and keep me on my toes as being here in Thailand. (:

Best from the teacher’s desk,                                                                                     Elaine ❤

Hello 2016 or Should I Say 2559

This past week flew. I expected it to, but it REALLY flew one day it’s 2015, the next it’s 2559. Crazy.

Monday’s highlight: During my evening jog, I saw my host teacher and waved. She rolled down the window and said, “Get in we’re going to eat.” (I might as well have been called Cady …Mean Girls reference anyone?) I replied, “Like this? I smell, no it’s okay.” Nope. I was sweaty but on my way to dinner. I love these moments I only find myself having in Thailand.20151228_184827

Next day I found no students in my classes and everyone was very SABAI. P’Buddy (my P I go get coffee with) asked if I was free. I sure was. We drove 20 minutes out, almost to where the next Fulbrighter was and I was getting a little nervous. We never leave more than 5 minutes past the school. We end up at a silverware factory/ store. Oh okay. We were going to look at some cool Thai culture and jewelry. Well I walked out of the store with some beautiful earrings that was apparently my Christmas gift. I also got to play dress up.

Wednesday came along and I was suppose to help MC the Christmas show on the 30th… Awesome!… Not so much. I did my opening duty and ran off to the office. The students at the assembly didn’t understand me, why was I even there? I felt like a monkey. I was also asked to tutor another student…I cracked. My two groups I have now were by choice, this one felt like too much. What made it worse was I couldn’t say no. One of the administrators was helping the other Thai teacher do charades to get her point across. ***This is the reality of being abroad. Very amazing and fun but also overwhelming.*** All was good after a 30 minute cool down. After I finished my MC-ing joined students for some karaoke and lunch. I also got a panda and M&Ms from the late Xmas santa 🙂

NEW YEARS ROAD TRIP:                                                                                         Start time: 12/31/15 12:30pm              End time: 1/3/16 11:55pm         Sawankhalok, Sukhothai to Khon Kaen (5 hrs 30 min.)                               Khon Kaen to Kalasin Bus Terminal [Pick up Ia] (1 hr 8 min.)                     Kalasin Bus Terminal to Ban Maha Chai, Kalasin (1 hr)                                         Ban Maha Chai, Kalasin to Sirindhorn Museum (55 min.)                             Sirindhorn (Dinosaur) Museum to Buri Ram (3 hrs 26 min.)                               Buri Ram to Prasat Muang Tam (1 hr 5 min.)                                                             Prasat Muang Tam to Mahasarakham University [dropoff Ia] (3 hrs 14 min) Mahasarakham University  to Sawankhalok, Sukhothai (6 hrs 33mins) Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 3.28.43 PM22 hrs and 33 mins in the car. Which means 1,566km aka 973mi.

Events:                                                                                                                                 -Fireworks and Countdown @ Khon Kaen

-Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon (Temple- 9 story chedi)

-My Thai Fathers high School students reunion party

-Farm in Kalasin

-Dirindhorn (Dinosaur) Museum

-Buri Ram /-Imobile stadium

-Phnom Rung:Khmer architecture site, aged over a thousand years old.Built on an extinct volcano, it was originally a Hindu religious site and later became a Buddhist one.

-Prasat Muang Tam: Shiva was mostly worshiped here

-Khao Kradong Volcano Forest (Many stairs, precisely 297 Naga raj steps)

Oh and to explain 2559, that is the year in Thailand. Thailand’s calendar follows the Thai solar calendar, Suriyakhati and now follows the Buddha Era. Luckily enough for me, they also understand 2016.

Happy New Year!                                                                                                         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!