Archive for the ‘Tha Wang Pha’ Category

Happy Christmas everyone! I had a great day here in Thailand. This morning in front of the whole school, Shaleas, Kelly and I sang ‘Silent Night’ and ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ while Devon played the violin. It was a beautiful sight. Kelly also told the historical story of the real Santa – St Nick, and a student spoke the words of the song ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ among other activities.
The kids enjoyed having one more thing to yell at us down the hallways. Now instead of just “Hello teacher! Good morning!” it’s “Hello teacher! Good morning! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
My friend Kara had sent me a can of cranberry jelly, powdered mashed potatoes and powdered gravy from the States which the four of us made and ate with some good chicken for Christmas dinner. Then it was followed up by some delicious mince pies and traditional Christmas pudding which I received this morning from London thanks to Naomi!
After stuffing our faces we watched The Christmas Story on Kelly’s laptop and I now feel appropriately ‘Christmassy.’ But now Christmas is about to be over, so what now? By the way, HILARIOUS skit about the time between Christmas and New Years by Michael McIntyre here. Please check it out, he is hilarious. American’s may not find him as funny, so Brits, enjoy. 🙂
I hope you’ve all had a great holiday, it was definitely strange not being home for the first time, but I got lots of love from a lot of you through cards, e-mails and Facebook messages so thanks so much for that.
Moving on briefly…

A few blog posts ago I wrote about the political situation here in Thailand.

Since then I’ve mentioned that Thailand does now have a new Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva. One blog reader asked me what I thought about him. Right now I’m not sure what to think. He represents a political party that I’m not particularly supportive of, however if you check out what he has said in that past (read here, thank you Wikipedia…it’s on the internet so it must be true right?) he seems to be all about helping out the people. The PAD as a party appear to be more about supporting the rich and ignoring the poor, but Abhisit says he supports creating free health care and lower gas prices among other things, which clearly help out the less fortunate in this country, of which there are many. So in other words, I don’t know and I will wait and see just like everyone else! He was educated at Eton and Oxford (more bio information here) so maybe it’s just my innate tendencies to love my fellow Brits…
As far as news in other parts of the world – my only connection to the Western World is Aljazeera, the Internet, and my podcasts. I am a podcast junkie, subscribing to over two dozen including ABC Nightly News. I am currently watching the December 22nd episode, and I just want to say how ridiculous it is that the FIRST headline news story; the one Charles Gibson/whoever actually organises the show thought was most important, was the weather. That’s right everyone, it’s winter. In winter, it snows sometimes. Sometimes a lot. Apparently this year, so much snow that it trumped the economic downturn, the many wars going on in the world,  and all the other fun things Charles Gibson chatted about. The reporter on the scene – standing in front of some …snow… Linsey Davis (someone should tell her there’s a D in Lindsey) described it as ‘bone numbing.’ That’s one level above ‘bone chilling’ I guess? Fascinating stuff. Also in the podcast – you can now buy an attachment for your iPhone called the iBreath to test your own alcohol blood content. Love technology.
That’s it for now. I miss you all especially during this holiday season, so have a great time and Happy New Year!!

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So just over a week ago I went down to Nakhon Sawan with Kelly, Shaleas and Kru Rin to help out at an English camp for the day.

It was fun, nothing too much to report, but I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss the ridiculous nicknames Thai children have.
When Thai kids are babies, their parents name them, and then also give them a nickname that they go by except in more formal situations. Some of the names are nothing to look twice at, but some are priceless. In their quest to be more American, a lot of Thai kids are given English words as nicknames. I don’t mean English nic

knames, like Tom, Nick, Ali, etc. I mean just completely random words, including ‘Milk,’ ‘Beer’ and ‘Tutor.’ Pictured here are ‘Bank,’ ‘Nut’ and ‘Beer.’
At English camp I think I found my favourite name so far. God. I met a child named God. I’m not sure if he had any divine tendencies, but I started to doubt it after watching the way he fumbled through ‘Head, shoulders knees and toes.’
At camp, the kids were also split into groups, with names from Disney characters and things like that. Except one group. The Playboy group. Referring
back to the picture of the three boys, you’ll see that Bank and Beer were both members of this group.

The teachers insist that it’s okay, because they don’t know that Playboy is a company that promotes sex and naked women. Maybe that’s true, but it is still disturbing to hear a group of eight year olds singing ‘I like Playboy, you like Playboy, I like Playboy, let’s all be friends!’
The day after camp, Kru Rin’s friend showed us around the city, which was nice. I bought a kick-ass jacket at the night market. It’s amazing. It’s made of plastic, but that’s a
small detail and if you could see it you would all be jealous. Or you should be at least. I’m sure it will feature in a photo some time in the future. For now you’ll just have to imagine it.
The Friday after we
came back from camp, our school had their Exhibition day which was a day of good food cooked by the students, singing, dancing, a
nd all around good times. I even got some students to make a custom cloth bag for me with my name in Thai letters painted on it which I love.
Since then, it’s just been school as usual, although I have to admit that the pangs of homesickness are starting to kick in a bit. It’s definitely going to be hard to be away from home over Christmas, but thanks to all of you that have sent Christmas cards and/or care packages so far, including the lovely e-card I received from Blair, and the card from Liz! 🙂 Thanks as well to Johanna, Kara, Jackie and Naomi who between them are supporting the Thai postal system’s finances. 🙂 I know some more of you have sent packages and I can’t wait to receive them.
This Thursday we’ll be singing some carols and playing lots of Christmas games with the kids, so I’ll let you know how it goes! Miss you tons, have a great Christmas/Hanukkah and Happy New Year!

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Apparently December is spider season here in Tha Wang Pha.

If you know me at all, and especially if you’ve ever lived with me, you will know that I suffer from pretty major arachnophobia. I’d like to take this time to thank my previous roommates for their wonderful tolerance of my problem. Especially when residing on Buswell Street, Boston. Any BU alum/students reading this who have ever lived in an old South Campus brownstone know how fun the bug problems can become…
Anyway, last week I was pleasantly surprised by a rather large (but thankfully already dead) spider that had managed to jam itself in between the open slits in my bathroom wall and the screen that I am SO happy we had installed. When we first moved in, these open slits which presumably serve the purpose of ventilating the bathroom (and making sure it is always cold in there at night) were exposed, and Kelly, Shaleas and I found ourselves with a whole host of guests including beetles, geckos (which are actually very welcome since they take care of my mosquito problem), and at one point a frog. Nothing too scarring, but a slight nuisance nonetheless, so we all had a wire screen installed to cover up these slits.
Fast forward again to last week and I had to spot this spider (about the size of my palm with nice hairy legs) jammed in this screen. Kelly, my official spider assassin, somehow managed to use the combination of a wire hanger and some water from my shower to push the spider back out into the back area where I hope he made a nice dinner for the chickens.
So I thought that was bad. Come to yesterday morning when Devon and Shaleas discovered a live spider, reportedly even larger than my deceased friend, running around the bedroom. Needless to say that resulted in some blood curdling screams from Shaleas, although they did take their time trying to capture it, deciding instead to video tape the experience. I did not partake in this event except to yell at Shaleas for waking me up with a noise that sent chills down my spine, so I cannot comment first hand on the spider, but those involved were clearly pretty shaken by it all.
So just to confirm that we clearly have an infestation of enormous spiders, Kelly was visited by one this morning, also stuck between her bathroom slits and the screen, alive. Being far more rational about these things, she went about her business and left it alone. Needless to say this recent sequence of events has not helped to settle my nerves.
At least I don’t live near here. Cyanide millipede?! Come on now.

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Apparently my internet connection got up on the right side of bed this morning and has briefly allowed me the ability to upload photos, so here are a few!
Juliette’s visit to Tha Wang Pha:

Out on the rice fields before sunset
Hanging out at the apartment (that’s my room behind us)
Shaleas and Devon outside the apartment

Sports Day:

One of the medal ceremonies I was able to preside over.

My adopted colour for the day – blue, or sii fah if you speak Thai

The seniors on the purple stage dancing and trying to keep the first years motivated

During the parade, each colour was led by a student dressed in traditional Thai costume. I chose this student to post on my blog but as beautiful as she is, she is actually a he. Love those ladyboys.

The purple dancers in the parade

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It is so nice to be reminded that some people are in fact reading this blog and that they even get worried when I don’t post. Last night I received a phone call from my lovely friend Naomi in London, calling to say hi and to make sure everything was okay due to the lack of blog updates. Now that is friendship. To my other readers…I love you all, and I’m sure you love me too…but maybe I would feel more secure about that love if I saw some more comments on my blog posts. That’s all it takes people. Oh yea, and a care package. Am I being too needy here?

So to calm Naomi’s and any other concerned friend/relative out there’s nerves, here is my new blog post to show that I haven’t in fact been taken into the jungle to be used in a non-existent cannibalistic ritual.
There is a lot to catch up on, which means I will probably skip over some of the more insignificant events of the past couple of weeks. Like Sports Day. Was made out to be a huge deal – is more like moderately organised chaos. The students were split into colours and in each colour about 50 students competed in sports like running, high jump and javelin toss. The rest of the student body either skipped school, hung out doing nothing, or were one of the lucky (unlucky?) few to be sat on the bleachers all day waving pom-poms and cheering. The excitement for me was contained to dancing around on the stages in front of the bleachers, and getting to run in the teacher’s relay. Remember on sports day at school (if you had a sports day…this may be lost on a lot of my American readers) the teachers had a race, the sole purpose of which was to give the students something to laugh at? Well welcome to the other side of the coin. But since teachers apparently cannot run even half a lap around a track, I barely had time to speed up in my leg before I had to hand my baton over. My team came in second but I still maintain that Kelly’s team had an unfair victory because they had one less person. Cheaters. But I’m not bitter.
The rest of the weekend was relatively calm in Tha Wang Pha. Juliette came to visit from Chang Rai to escape the city and come hang out in the countryside for a day. The two of us ventured out on my bike for an unintentionally romantic sunset before going out to dinner with the group followed by the usual evening ritual of entertaining ourselves outside our apartment building.
This past weekend was significantly more eventful, but probably deserves it’s own post, so sit back, maybe go get some food, or go to work depending on what time you are reading this. Maybe by the time you come back I will have some new posts about my adventures.

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Yesterday Kelly and I were taken by Kru Rin and Kru Noy to the funeral of the King’s sister. It wasn’t her ACTUAL funeral, which was happening in Bangkok, but every temple had it’s own ceremony. The King’s sister actually died a year ago, but for the past year people have been going to pay their respects to her body, and so now she is getting put to rest. It was a pretty interesting ceremony, I was glad I got to see something like that. The monks chanted for the first half hour which was really cool and very calming, I loved it. Followed by a half hour sermon which of course I didn’t understand, before we laid our flowers and incense sticks on the memorial created outside.
Today Kelly and I went on a short road trip to do a little exploring. We drove to the next big town, called Pua, and then up a windy road that has beautiful scenery and eventually leads to the nearest National Park, but we didn’t make it quite that far today.
Here are a few more photos from Chang Mai and this weekend in Tha Wang Pha. I created a Facebook album with photos from Loy Kratong festival which a know a lot of people reading this can access. I will put a link to it on this blog for those without Facebook to connect to as soon as I can access the website again myself! For some reason Facebook does not work for me a lot of the time, so apologies.
The photos are in chronological order starting from the bottom.
One of the many huts dotted around all the fields for the farmers to sit in the shade to rest/eat lunch, etc.
Out on Kelly and I’s road trip. I have no idea what this sign said except that it has the number ‘100’ on it.
The beginning of the windy road we took on our mini road trip that does eventually lead to the nearest National Park, and then Laos.
About to go exploring with Kelly!
After the funeral
With Kru Rin (far left), Kelly and Kru Noy at the funeral for the King’s sister.
Devon’s welcome dinner at the restaurant on the hill (I’m sure it has some Thai name, but who knows)
Our school performing Peter Pan at the school competition. Wendy, in the pink dress, is one of my students!
Good times at karaoke at the restaurant on the hill.
Post fight victory with Julien!
Crazy Mauy Thai boxing
Before his fight. I knew he would win.
The fantastic ladyboys of Chang Mai
Inside the temple at Doy Suthep
Getting the white thread tied around my wrist
Before climbing up to the temple
The drive up Doy Suthep
Part of the market in Chang Mai

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The school competition last weekend was a lot of fun. I yet again went through a little bit of shock when I saw other white people walking around! The other schools that came to compete brought their own foreign English teachers so we made some new contacts which is nice.

The highlight of my day was no doubt the drama section which Shaleas was judging. Three schools including ours competed. We performed Peter Pan (one of my best students was Wendy, I was so proud!) and the other schools performed Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. It was absolutely rolling-on-the-floor hilarious. The scripts were clearly written by their Thai English teachers, who sometimes get the grammar just a little bit wrong. That along with Thai people’s inability to pronounce certain English sounds resulted in the weirdest versions of my favourite childhood stories ever. Including Peter Pan asking Wendy “you come ON me” instead of “come with me (to Neverland).” Oh goodness.
That weekend, Kelly, Shaleas and I also went to one of the two nice restaurants in this village that we have discovered which also happens to be a karaoke place. The great thing about singing karaoke in Thailand is that a) everybody does it, so there’s no escaping, b) they are all really bad singers so there’s no intimidation, and c) if you’re singing English songs, which clearly we were, it doesn’t really matter anyway because they have no idea what you’re saying.
So I did what I consider an expert rendition of ‘My Heart Will Go On,’ Kelly chose ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’ and the three of us did a great version of ‘Wonderwall’ among many other songs. When we got back to the school at about 10pm we discovered a bunch of teachers having their own karaoke party in the gym, so we briefly joined them as well. They really really love karaoke here.
Last night was Loy Kratong festival which was amazing. It’s a beautiful festival centred around the river, I recommend you read more about it, but I don’t want to bore you all here. There’s a short paragraph about it here
During lunch period the students set off huge balloons made out of tissue paper into the air by filling them with hot air. Then we decided to cancel our afternoon classes and our coordinators took us to the salon instead to get our hair and makeup done and get us dressed in traditional Thai costume. They didn’t have any makeup pale enough for my British skin, so I looked a little bit like I’d been fake tanning, but other than that it was pretty awesome.
Then we inadvertently ended up leading the entire parade! Kelly and I were grabbing a quick bite to eat at the market and saw the parade starting, so we went up to take photos. The two women in front were carrying a big photo each, one of the king and one of the queen. They came up to us, took our bags/food and handed us the photos! So I walked the 1.5 – 2 mile stretch from the fresh market to the festival grounds by the river leading a parade holding the queen in my hands! It was great fun, and a huge honour to get to do all of that; I loved it.
At the festival we hung out, watched some ADORABLE Thai children dancing, and watched part of a beauty contest for ‘Miss Loy Kratong’ before heading home and collapsing into bed.
I sent post cards today! I’m working through my address book alphabetically, so if you’re last name starts between A – K and I have your address, you will hopefully get a postcard before I get back to England… I don’t have a lot of your addresses yet, so send them along and I’ll write to you too!
Finally, the wonderful Nims Laban gets a shout out for being the first person to make use of that mailing address I posted. She sent me THREE wonderful care packages so far including some glossy mags and yummy chocolate! Thanks Nims! You should all follow her example.
I am TRYING to upload photos but my internet connection can’t really handle it, so I’m sorry for the lack of picture evidence, I swear I’m doing my best!

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