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This is an e-mail I just sent to my friend Lisa covering my travel so far. Since I’m paying for internet and I’m lazy, I have copied it here. So read below to get the short version of what I’ve been up to! It has been edited a little, I tried to add more detail where I felt like it, but like I said, I’m lazy.

Hey dude,

Juliet said she just replied to you in the briefest form possible and would like me to explain that typing is a massive pain for her right now because she has a broken hand!

Let’s rewind shall we? First we get across the Thai/Laos border, after meeting some awesome people in Chang Khong who we’re still traveling with now. On the Laos side, we give our passports in to get stamped by a bunch of people and they give it back. Except Juliet never gets her back.

Long story short, they accidentally gave it to someone else, but Juliet and I are both blessed with dual citizenship so she used her US passport to get across, we get on the slow boat with the friends we’d met the night before plus a ton of other people obviously, then we started a small protest to force the slow boat guys to give us a second boat because there were FAR too many of us to fit on one boat. This ended up really well because we got the second boat and it was way better than the first boat. Comfy seats, plus an area in the back where we just laid down a mat, sat on the floor and did our thing. A Laos border guy calls Juliet, and at the first stop we make they deliver her passport. No idea what happened, but who cares, she is now a dual citizen again!

Two days on the slow boat – big party, it was awesome. We had a great group of people, we just drank a lot and played cards and hung out for two days. Not bad and totally worth it, whatever you do, do not take the speed boat or the bus. The speed boats look like suicide missions and apparently the buses are pretty horrific.

Our group currently consists of myself and Juliet, Calvin from Canada, Matt, Zoe, Claudia, Patrick and Andy from England (the Brits kind of dominate the group), and Chris from Australia.

Luang Prabang was cool, the one thing we really did there except just explore around was to go to this amazing waterfall. The night market is also amazing, I highly recommend it for some shopping although I did none because I cannot fit one more thing into my backack right now.

Most of us took a tuk tuk to the waterfall, but Juliet, this guy Patrick, and this couple Heather and Jason decided they wanted to rent motorbikes. I should say that about a week and a half before that, Juliet had her cards read and was told that while traveling to NEVER ride a motorbike. So a week later that’s exactly what she did. The four of them arrive at the waterfall a little while after the tuk tuk group, Patrick’s arm is covered in blood, and Juliet can’t move her hand. The next morning when her hand is still incredibly swollen, she goes to the pharmacy to get pain killers and comes back a couple of hours later after being sent to the hospital to find out she has snapped a bone in her hand in half. So now she has a large club for a left hand. Luckily it hasn’t stopped her from swimming down the river with the rest of us in Van Vieng, going from bar to bar and enjoying herself. The only thing she can’t do are the HUGE rope swings that are at each bar which is a shame. Another tip – if you go ‘tubing’ in Van Vieng, don’t bother getting a tube. They’re expensive, it’s very easy to swim from bar to bar, and it means you don’t have to keep track of a massive rubber tube that people are constantly trying to steal.

So that’s it so far! Another day of tubing ahead of us I think. We’re currently a band of about nine travellers all doing this thing together and so far it looks like a lot of us will be together for a large amount of this trip, which should be a blast. Sorry there are no photos but I can’t afford toi spend more time in on the internet than already have today! There are LOTS of photos and videos to upload though so I’ll try to get to that sometime soon.

For now, bye bye!

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Thai Royalty

So one of the princesses is coming to our school this Friday. Which means there have been no classes all week because they use their students as manual labour instead of hiring people for that. So we have new Zen gardens, white and purple sashes EVERYWHERE (I hope she likes purple…) ALL the building have been repainted including the water tower – all by students. Princess Margaret came to visit my school once when I was younger and I don’t remember being allowed to miss a week of classes to clean up! Although I probably would not have volunteered to climb into the roof with a paint brush attached to a 20 foot pole to paint the wall….

Friday is also our last day of “school” obviously there will not actually BE school, details, details. I was given strict advice on what to wear. No jewelry allowed including rings in case it’s a weapon.
A lot of things are happening on Friday. Thai royalty, the end of my school days in Thaiand, and, as it happens, my good friend Amanda heads off to the Peace Corps in Africa to help save the world like I know she can. Not a bad day overall.

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Hey everyone,

Sorry for the lack of postings lately, but hopefully this one will make up for that.
My time in Tha Wang Pha is winding down now. I should be leaving this coming weekend to start a new adventure! On that note: THANK YOU for all the packages and cards I’ve received, they have meant so much to me. Since I’ll be leaving in less than a week, please hold off on sending anymore since (unless you send them super Express) I won’t receive them.
On to the quick catch up:
A couple of weeks ago, a student, May, took me out for the evening. We went to the market first and she bought and showed me a bunch of fruit that I had never seen before (the season here is just changing, so all this new exotic stuff is showing up), then she took me out with some of her school friends and we went to the Nan River where we picked algae off the river bed to cook and eat. On our way back through the farm fields, we picked green chili peppers off the plants. May took me back to her house where her aunt taught me how to make naam prik (chili paste) which they eat all the time here with sticky rice (I think it’s a northern Thailand thing). It was great fun, and I got to eat dinner on the floor of her home with May, her sister and brother, mother and father, aunt and grandmother. It was the first time I’ve really felt accepted and welcomed by a Thai family. Everyone here has been very friendly of course, but this family taught me about different food, how to pick the fresh stuff from the fields, how to cook it, and eat it. It was one of my favourite nights here. I’ve added some photos from that night to this album, so check it out.
Another recent weekend involved a Girl Scout camp and an English camp. The Girl Scout camp was fun – the teachers just made the girls go through a number of obstacle course type challenges. English camp was interesting. Me, the girls and Devon were each given a station and asked to come up with an activity. There was no clear direction, and although there was a schedule it included things like “Rehearse for talent show, perform talent show.” What talent show?! The Thai teachers seemed to have slightly high expectations of what this event was going to be…. Luckily Shaleas’ made her station acting. Each group had to write and perform little plays, and the best ones performed for the whole group at the end which saved the “talent show” idea. It was fun although extremely poorly organized, but I met a woman and her daughter at the camp who I now tutor after school, so something good came out of it! Photos from Girl Scout camp, English camp, and some random school photos are all in this album.
A week ago, Kelly and I met up with Kim in Hang Chat, where Lisa and our other friend Nate teach. We stayed with them for two nights, did a lot of shopping and I took everyone’s money in poker which felt good after losing my money to Shaleas and Devon twice since we’ve started playing…  Since we don’t have poker chips, or enough 1 baht coins to play with, we have adapted to playing with grains of rice. The first ten minutes of every game is spent counting out 100 grains of rice each. It works surprisingly well. Photos of our first poker tournament when Shaleas’ friend Stephanie (another teach) visited are in the previous album link.
There are a few more memorable events that have occurred over the past week or so but I don’t want this post to get too long. Keep checking the site for another update soon. BUT
Meanwhile….
Another video! I got really into playing around with iMovie, so here is another video, this time based on my school and my students, so I hope you enjoy it! Keep checking for a third installment about my village.

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Tha Wang Pha Part One

Last night I was sitting in my room getting bored of my own company. So I made a video! The sun was going down so most of the outdoor shots were too dark to include. But here’s a quick tour of my home. I’ll make a couple more about the school and about Tha Wang Pha. Here’s Part One. Enjoy.

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An Australian writer was sentenced to three years in prison Monday for insulting the Thai monarchy in a self-published novel. Elaborating may land me in the same position, so I’ll stop there.

read more | digg story

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The weather changes pretty often in a lot of the world. It’s usually pretty unpredictable no matter what Al Roker or any other crazed weatherman/woman tells you.
Have you ever travelled to visit friends or family on a day where their weather happens to change from warm to cold or vice versa? If yes, then have you found people saying things like “oh, you brought the sun with you,” or “ohh, why did you bring the rain with you from England?” I am an innocent traveller. I do not ‘bring’ weather with me, it changes when it wants to change and pays no regard to my travel plans. If it did, I would never ‘bring the rain from England’ as I often seem to do. Despite how aware I am of how weird this phrase is, I’ve found myself thinking it, and I may even have said it at one point, not sure, to our new visitor Matthew, Kelly’s boyfriend.
Matthew lives in San Diego, where Kelly also resided until she decided to jump ship and come to Asia like the rest of us in the CIEE programme. Anyone in a relationship can understand how hard it is to be away from your partner for long stretches of time and the experience has been just as difficult for Kelly and Matthew as can be expected. Apparently one week ago Matthew finally decided that it was just too long since he’d seen his sweetheart. Last Monday night (or Monday morning for Matthew) he managed to get Kelly to give him all the information he could possibly need to get from Bangkok to Tha Wang Pha including the name of the bus station, the name of our town, everything, using some fake story about a bar tender who told him that trains were better than buses in Thailand (which is FALSE…refer to this post from a couple of moths ago for more details).
So on Tuesday morning San Diego time, Matthew hopped in his car, drove to LAX, took a plane to Tokyo (several hours in layover), then another plane to Bangkok (several hours hanging out in the airport), got a taxi to the bus station (a couple of hours of waiting…), bus from Bangkok to Nan, BARELY caught the last local bus from Nan to Tha Wang Pha, then hitched a ride with two students who found him on the side of the road, and showed up at our front door completely unannounced on Thursday night, about 38 hours after he had left. Wow. Talk about a big gesture.
Meanwhile, I was happily cooking away in the kitchen (which is in Kelly’s room) when these two students pulled up. I couldn’t see them in the dark, only their headlights, and all I heard was “hello,” and then “Marianne, I don’t know…” So I went outside only to see Matthew walking towards my front door having assumed that the room I was in was actually mine, not Kelly’s. I recognized him because….well I’m a Facebook stalker (there I said it), and in breathless hysterics tried to explain to Kelly who was outside. I don’t think she understood what I was saying until Matthew had been in the room for a good 30 seconds.
So here he is. White person #5 to temporarily reside at Thawangphapittayakhom school. Unfortunately he’s only here until this Friday when he will return to sunny San Diego to take care of some things before going to Australia and then back to Thailand in March which is when he was supposed to show up in the first place. Speaking of sunny – back to how I started this post. I know I just recently wrote about how incredibly cold it has been around here, especially at night. Well since the night Matthew showed up with his bags on the back of a student’s motorbike it has been surprisingly mild. I wouldn’t call it warm, but I no longer have to sleep with every item of clothing I own. I still have two duvet covers, but Matthew has, as they say, ‘brought the warmth’ with him. So thanks Matthew, for bringing a little sunshine to Tha Wang Pha and for giving this village some new gossip to chatter about.
In other news, my friend Kim just wrote a blog about life in Thailand that I think does a great job of describing all the little everyday things. The only thing that differs between her life here and mine is that I do not have a 7-11 on every corner. We do have one, it’s a pretty cool hangout. But in general, she’s right about the abundance of this 24/7 convenience store. Also, my school does not have buffalo, we have pigs. Kim’s blog.
That’s it for now. We tutored all this past weekend which was just as fun as it sounds. This coming weekend we are more than likely going to be running an English camp for the students, so I’ll let you know how that goes.
Finally – I want your comments. Tell me a story (any big gestures committed/witnessed lately?), say hi, talk about what life is like where you are, I don’t care, I just care that you share it with me and the rest of the blog-o-sphere.
Bye for now

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I know these have been long awaited by some people and my internet finally wants to cooperate, so here it is. Photos from all these old stories I’ve been telling. I don’t blame you if you don’t have the energy to go through all of them at once, but here are all the links for those not on Facebook to peruse at your own pace. Enjoy.
The most recent album is from this last weekend. I went to Chang Mai and met up with the girls plus the lovely Sophie and Claudia from London! They are here in Thailand/Laos/Cambodia for the next few months and it was great to see some familiar faces for a couple of days. You can check out their blog about their travels here.

Sukhothai

Bangkok (way old)

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