Friday, November 18, 2011

Loy Krathong and Yi Peng

Loy Krathong and Yi Peng take place annually on the full moon of the twelfth month on the Thai lunar calendar... which falls in September for us. It used to be for paying respect to the spirit of the waters.. but now its just for fun!!

If you have ever seen "Tangled," it has the lantern scenes.. that is exactly what it is like in real life! 

See the resemblance?









































The whole group was there, which never happens...  All of the girls, Tang (our native coordinator), Ake, and we even had and ILP director out visiting us. Haven't been around this many english speakers in a long time!




And then.. with my oh-so-creative side... I made a quick video about that night! 

video

Loy Krathong and Yi Peng

Loy Krathong and Yi Peng take place annually on the full moon of the twelfth month on the Thai lunar calendar... which falls in September for us. It used to be for paying respect to the spirit of the waters.. now its just for fun!! 

If you have ever seen "Tangled," it has the lantern scenes.. that is exactly what it is like in real life! 

See the resemblance? 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween!!

 Halloween is an excuse for others to dress up to be something their not... 
well I use it as an excuse to show my real self! 


Halloween is not a holiday that the Thai people celebrate... but we sure do!! Today was such a fun day for the kids, parents, thai teachers,  but I think we had more fun than anyone. The kids showed up with their costumes and have to say..  and they were all so adorable.




Today we had a haunted house for them to go through, bobbed for apples, had a cake walk, made doughnuts and painted pumpkins. I do have to say though, when I was walking through the market to find pumpkins... I was a little let down because the pumpkins were well... not quite the same.


So we painted them orange!!



And what would halloween be without trick-or-treating? The parents came (quite a few dressed up as well!!) at the end of the day with treats and toys so the kids walked around the school and got to experience a little bit of America! 


Pordee loving his trick-or-treating bag.  Some things never change :)






Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chiang Mai

So when the school has a holiday break, we take advantage of the long weekend and skip town for a couple days. This trip we took up to Chiang Mai and it has been one of my favorite parts of Thailand! We started off friday after school (which I have intended to blog about, I will get around to it eventually) and headed to the bus terminal. We left Phichit around two in the afternoon and arrived into Bangkok late friday night and headed straight to our hostel. Hostel... yes! It was so much fun, who needs expensive hotels when you can have a hostel! Saturday is when things really started to happen. We woke up fairly early and headed outside of the city a bit where we rode elephants! We took about an hour trek on elephants into a village where the long neck women live. The elephants were so much fun and it was incredibly beautiful being able to explore through the mountains.




After that we watched an elephant show where they had elephants throwing darts and popping balloons and throwing balls into hoops and all kinds of things like that. Then we went straight from there to a place called Tiger Kingdom. The name basically speaks for itself but we went and we got to play with tigers. It was so much fun being able to play with the little baby tigers. They were only three months old. The rest of the group went in with the adult tiger. Not me though, I like the kittens. And it was well worth it.

I even got to feed one. I got pretty lucky!




So far the trip was a blast. Then we just kept on going. We went and saw a temple that was partially underground and had tunnels going throughout it. The thing about Chiang Mai that is so unique is that we were inside the city but it felt like we were in the middle of the jungle. Its such a good mix between nature and city.
After the temple we cruised to the night market and explored the city at night. It was weird to be in a part of Thailand were there were more white people and it wasn't so odd for us to be there. In Phichit, we are basically the only white people and I think I have seen one other white the whole time we have lived here. It was kind of nice though, to almost blend in. The next morning we went to church which ended up being amazing, they had a general broadcast throughout Asia and we got to listen to Ann M. Dibb, H. David Burton, Anthony D. Perkins, and Richard G. Scott speak. Then we got to see our second baptism while here in thailand. We have been really lucky to be able to see those. Then we went and saw another temple that was pretty high up in the mountains and that night, we did one of my favorite things thus far in our trip. Me and two of the girls rented scooters and rode around the city and while the sun was setting we rode up into the mountains and then got to see Chaing Mai from a beautiful view.



The View of Chiang Mai at night. It was stunning!


Then that night we went to the famous sunday night market and came back and crashed! The next morning we woke up early again and headed outside of town a little bit and did something that will check something off of my bucket list....

BUNGEE JUMPING!!!

Prep work for the jump.
                                              


View from the bottom

View from the top! Still gives me a rush thinking about the initial falling off the edge! 


My certificate of courage! It was a perfect ending to a great trip!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Aristotle (week 12)

"The more you know, the more you know you don't know."




When I think about what I want to say to summarize, well just about anything about my time in Thailand, I have a hard time formulating words. The things I have been able to experience and have been faced with so far have challenged, built, and strengthened me. At the beginning of this trip I would have simply stated it like this;

Five girls. Simply strangers. Placed in a small town in a foreign country. Distant from nearly anything that resembles familiarity. A task to teach a foreign language to children, something none of them have done before. Given food that commonly allows questioning. In a place where communication to anyone local conflicts with a huge language barrier. And all this, the things that had started out so foreign, have become my life. 

Some of the things outside of teaching that we have been doing:

Beginning of our 9 day trip to Bangkok and Pattaya!


Transportation to the beach on the island of Kho Larn.

Our main mode of transportaion in Phichit... 


And when we aren't riding our bikes... we take two seated tuk-tuks. I got to ride on the back of the drivers seat, headed to the Phichit soccer game. 

The girls after the soccer game

Look familiar? We made the news!

The rains come down and the floods come up and we accept the challenge!





Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One month in Thailand

When I look back between the time that I last wrote and now, I am overwhelmed by how things have changed and also how quickly the time has passed. Its been over a month since I last wrote, and if anything, I know this; That if I had the chance to stay home, and continue living my normal, comfortable life in Utah, I wouldn't take it. This adventure, and quite an adventure it has been, has become a part of me.  A part that I wouldn't want to live the rest of my life without.

I am keeping this at that. Just a short short entry, because there is so much to say, that if I actually try and catch up with everything, then I will most likely not be able to ever get one done. To those who are reading this, I apologize that I have been slacking, I am safe, and that there will be many more posts in the near future!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Starting off in Thailand

Being here is incredible. After the initial culture shock, I have settled in. Our house is beautiful and we are spoiled. The "mom" and "dad" own a clinic on the main level. Dad is a doctor, a pediatrician I believe and mom is a dermatologist.. You can't go more than a couple hours with having something that it won't get taken care of. They don't live here. We basically have the house to ourselves except an occasional member of the family that needs a place to stay. The second floor of our house is the kitchen and living room and a couple spare rooms for their family plus a bathroom. We have someone, we call "grandma" that cooks dinner for us every night and on the weekends lunch as well. Thai food is a lot better than I thought it was going to be, of course they voided the spicy dishes for the most part so far. If the dish is somewhat spicy, the other girls warn me before, so I typically have stayed far away from it... so far! Thai dishes go a little bit like this, rich, rice, rice, deep fried, rice, vegetables, rice, meat, rice, vegetables, sometimes fruit, and rice. They bought a couple months worth of rice in advance, they say it will last two months maybe. So much rice!! The third floor of our house is where we sleep, yes third floor. Lots of stairs all day long. There are five six rooms and one bathroom on this floor. One is locked all the time, I just saw it open today and found out it is another bedroom, one is their prayer room, shut the majority of the time. Mine and Gabby's room. Sarah's room, the head teacher, and Hannah and Arielles room. And one bathroom. On the fourth floor there are two different rooms, one is where the washer is, and the other is where you hang the clothes that you just washed and an entrance onto the roof where the garden is/was. Mom used to have a really pretty garden but since they moved, she has a whole yard that she uses as her garden. This house, we call the garden home.. Ironic? The garden home is a ten minute bike ride to another part of time. Beautiful house in the middle of, not so nice homes. They have a small, cold, pool, a beautiful yard, and many little dogs! Every once in a while we go swim, lay out, or just visit at the garden home. We ride our bikes everywhere, and I am starting to get to know my way around this town!
Currently I am the arts and crafts teacher

School was hard to start off... As most everything new is. The school is across the intersection from us so we just stroll over before school starts. The kids are darling, and young. We have kids anywhere from 1-5.. so when I say young, I mean young. It sometimes means that teaching english either gets really difficult or you have to get really creative. Most of the little ones can't even speak Thai yet, so english huh? We start at 8:30 with opening. Singing songs and talking about the weather and the days of the week is mostly what it consumes of. Then at 8:45 we go into our rotations. First rotation is 1/2 hour with our home room kids. I have the three youngest so we just play and I am supposed to be talking the whole time. Thats a whole lot of talking. Then second rotation and I get the third oldest group. The kids have snack time after this which they receive a glass of milk for, and then we sing songs till everyone is done drinking their milk. Next two rotations, then closing. After that we take the kids eat lunch and we go up into the office. Its about 11:30 by this time and we sit talk, cover some business, get ready for lunch at noon. We get freshly cooked Thai lunch every day at the school, Its usually really good but occasionally we get something like congealed blood, or some things that I am far too afraid to ask what they are. The rest of the day is ours to do whatever we want. This is where laying out comes into play, or shopping, watching movies, riding our bikes, aerobics at 5:30 every day if we are interested. Dinner is at six then we have the rest of the night to do as we wish as well. It leads to a lot of free time if you don't prioritize your time..

A typical dinner

The sign at the train staion. The train we talk to church (40 minutes away), Chang mai (11 hours away), Bangkok(4 1/2 hours way, and anywhere in between.
Flooding happens... and they make do.

Great view of..  my lovely pink bike and the scooter shop across the street. They love to play music that we can hear in the house as clear as if we were in the shop itself. My guess is that they play it whenever they get a sale. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Indonesia

Leaving India was hard, but knowing that I still had so much ahead of me made it, a distraction. The traveling was interesting, it was the first time that I had been completely alone and traveling by myself. Which would make some people nervous to hear, rightfully so. The driver from India dropped me off at the international departure and was on his way and I was on mine. It was fine until Jakarta and nothing bad happened... it was just that everything that could go wrong, did! It was the place in the world where I did not know the language and they did not know mine. Communication was.. charades and simple words. After the visa complications there was the money.. I had forgotten to look up the exchange rate.. and I needed money to pay for my visa-on-arrival... After talking to, who I think, were the only people in the airport that spoke english.. I still basically took a gander at the money rate. Picked the third smallest amount on the ATM and went all the way back through security, got my passport back and finally got my visa. That, and when I accidentally fell asleep and though I missed my flight, where just some of the complications in that airport. I did, eventually, get to Indonesia!!
Indonesia was absolutely incredible. Paradise. My time there included some fun things like this;
Swimming, Golfing (with a caddy for the first time), Eating (some of the best Asian, and American food), Shopping, Orangutans, and just everything I could have ever wanted to do there. I did get a massage and it was great. She came to the house even, and it was super cheap along with everything else there.   
I stayed with my cousin and her family. Her husband works for Chevron and is stationed there. The compound is its own little community cut off from the world and the only thing it doesn't have is food. The compound itself is beautiful and has people there from all around the world. I had the most amazing time with my cousins family. They have five kids and I had so much fun with them. Its was great to be with family and even better that my aunt and uncle were also there visiting. A good dose of family before four more months without it. I was only there for five days and wish I could have stayed longer. But it was off to Thailand, and yea, I did almost miss my flight in Jakarta. I don't ever think I will feel the same about that airport ever again! Next stop, Thailand.  
The house

Our view from the backyard

My caddy.. detour or path? I don't know

Orangutans

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tracy Chapman (Last days in India)



"I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives." 



During play time
Lots of love for coming home

Getting back from Delhi was comforting, of course, the 5 star hotel was comforting, but it felt like we were back at home. There is no greater feeling than the feeling of a home. We all missed the kids and they were excited to see us.

 Over the next couple days we went to medical twice, construction, and education. First medical day we worked in a colony that was designated for singles. For people who had either lost a spouse, were disowned by their spouse, or were never married. It was an interesting concept that I would have never thought of myself. The second medical day we did was a little hectic. Our group went around to three different colonies delivering shoes. All of their feet had been measure previous months and they were made, and we finally got them and were able to get them and do some quick readjustments so that they fit their feet, whatever condition they were in. The first village we went to, they weren’t there. They didn’t know we were coming so we weren’t able to give them their shoes. The second colony, was back to the old folks home. Fortunately the measuring and giving of the shoes was a task for one, maybe two people, so we just got to visit there and just see the people again. A couple of them were so excited and remembered us. There was the guy there that remembered me dancing and the moment he saw me he started to dance again and we all got a kick out of that. After that we went to an extremely small colony where there were only three people that had been effected by leprosy. We did our stations there, washed oiled, bandage, ect, and then finished by putting their new shoes on them. It was a long day but it was good. 
Construction was horrific... we were on campus today because all of the bathrooms and septic tanks in the one colony were finished. Our job was to fix the shelter that was supposed to be for the goat, I believe. They needed to but new tin walls around it so that it would hold up during monsoon season. It started off an extremely humid and hot day and there were bugs EVERYWHERE. Red ants were covering the tin sheets that we had to carry over, they were on the ground everywhere. Huge black ants were on all of the trees and their leaves, so you had to watch where you were walking so you didn’t bump into a tree leaf or anything for that matter. Although the conditions were rough, everyone still seemed to have a good sense of humor and we laughed quite a bit. Mostly at the native workers that did things completely different than we did, and to us, it was not logical at all but it organized chaos is the them of India and works quite well for them. I caught of glimpse of what I though was a mouse, run up and on the other side of one of our backpacks, so I walked to it and looked around to see. It was not a mouse. It was a spider, and I am terrified of spiders! I did not react well and the native worker tried to kill it multiple times with his hat and missed it nearly every time. A little bit of an adrenaline rush!
There was the most amazing lightning storm this week. One night the rain came a little bit more heavy than usual. The lightning came and lasted about an hour and a half and we just sat against the wall inside and watched through the big open commons we had in our housing. It was beautiful and amazing. I felt as if the lighting were striking on every side of us, it would light up the sky as bright as day and the thunder would shake the ground. It was a miracle that we still had electricity considering that it went our multiple times a day on account of nothing.
My house mom and most of our boys, just being boys...
I have convinced myself my whole life that I need to be tough. I have learned here that that it is a problem and to show any emotions, though it sometimes is the hardest thing, it is usually the most honest thing a person can do. I am sad to leave India and will miss my friends, the funny memories, and the more than friendly people of India. 
After the two hour ride back into Chennai the driver dropped me off at the international part of the airport and was on his way. I was quite alone and quite confident. This was the first time though, I realized later, that I had been completely on my own at an airport and at first it was a rush then formed into a regret. Luckily a lot of people at the airport speak or understand at least a little bit of english. I met the most lovely lady named Sally, from North Dakota, in line behind me. It was one of the most entertaining conversations I have every had. She was probably in her late 50’s early 60’s and still a complete hippy. She had lived in India for about 35 years and was working with a company that traveled around the world teaching people how to prepare and be cautious during elephant stampeding... I’m not quite sure how it works but it sounds great. I can’t count how many times in that conversation I said, “Good for you, that’s great!” I had a hard time finding any other kind of response for the stories she was telling me. She did ask me though, if I had porcelain teeth, and if you were wondering, I do not. After an interesting trek through the airport I finally boarded the plane which was a relief but it was not the end. Many adventures ahead of me! India.. changed my life.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

To the Taj and back



First full view of the Taj Mahal made my jaw drop. Pictures do not do justice, and the more you learn about the articulate details and how brilliantly it was made makes it even more miraculous! A few things that I learned about the Taj Mahal;
*The Emperor (Mughal) made it for his wife who passed away giving birth to their fourteenth child.
*It took 22 years to build and over 1,000 elephants were used.
*It is completely symmetrical (Minus one part- his tomb- which was added after his death by his daughter next to his mothers tomb)
*Each of the four towers is leaning a few degrees outward in case there was cause for them to fall, then they would fall away from the main part. 
*The emperor attempted to build a black replica on the other side of the river but when his corrupted son took over and destroyed it. 


It was such an amazing thing to learn about and see. About an hour and a half after we were there, it started to downpour. Most of the people rush under cover but a few of us that aren't used to the rain enjoyed playing in it for quite some time. After about a half hour the rain turned into a light sprinkle and the rest of the people came out from hiding. Before we could even get down from the Taj, it started pouring again so hiding from it previously was useless. A few of us there were continuously being photographed or asked to be in photos with, well, mostly local males is what it seemed to be. It was flattering though, and I'll admit a little bit fun. I imagine that's just a scratch of what its like to be famous and I don't think that I would enjoy that lifestyle but it was fun to get a taste of it. Some people would practically throw their babies in our arms to have their child in a photo with and and others would just take pictures of us while we were walking or talking to each other. I'm sure thats pretty common with any of the "white" people there but it was very new to us. 
After the Taj Mahal we went to Agra Fort. Still pouring, we walked around and toured the fort. It reminded me of a castle because you walk in on a draw bridge and over what used to be a moat. The place itself was beautiful and so historic. You can see the Taj Mahal from the fort actually, and it was were Emperor Mughals son, held him prisoner but, at least he got to look at it. (When his eyesight started to get poor, is daughter brought him a giant diamond that actually magnified the Taj so that he was able to see it) It was really a cool place to be and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I was going to. 
After that we went back to the hotel and got dry clothes to change into, went to the Taj Mahal restaurant, changed, ate amazing food (fried chicken rice and naan) and then went shopping. Shopping there was so much fun! We went to a pretty nice mall, just like back in the U.S. but the stores had sari's and chudidhars... And McDonalds! Where I got fries and an ice cream cone. Taste absolutely normal and incredible! The hotel we were staying at was incredible and I felt super risty being there but it was a lot of fun. I have never met people that were so incredibly nice than I have at the hotels in India. Well in India in general, So so nice! 
On our drive back to the Delhi airport the next morning, our bus broke down. What we understood that one of the pipes broke and was leaking gas. This is what I wrote about it while I was on the bus at that time:
So right now we are on the bus coming back from Arga back to Delhi and.... we ran out of gas. We are stopped on the side of the road right now, after being pushed off the road. A lot of people have crowded around our bus and their is one lady who keeps banging on the side our bus, begging. That got annoying really quickly. There are two boys right outside of my window right now staring at me... putting up their phone asking for my number and staring and laughing when I when I wave at them. The car is still off, apparently one of the gas pipes is broken and they went and got gas! We opened the top vents and everyones imagination keeps us full of funny comments. We aren’t going to be able to stop at the lotus temple and we are hoping that we are going to be able to ride the camels and elephants still. And hoping that we don’t miss our flight. It feels like a sauna in here. SO hot!! 


Me not knowing where exactly where to sit


After about an hour, our bus was fixed, and not even ten minutes down the road, we were at the place to ride camels and elephants. I rode a camel because I know that I will have many opportunities in Thailand to ride elephants and who knows when I'll be able to ride a camel again. It was just like riding a giant horse that never went faster.. but it was really run. There were monkeys and it was all fun then back on the bus and a few more hours to the airport. We got back to the campus a little while after midnight sunday night. It was such a fun trip but it was good to be back. I missed the kids so much and we were all so ready to get back to  working and bucket showers!!