Saturday, November 29, 2008
The airport in Bangkok is closed though, and the three teachers who were supposed to fly out to Vietnam for a vacation are out of luck. They're out 3,000 baht for the visa, and one night of their hotel reservation cost. The tickets will be refunded, but it'll probably take a month to do so. Sucks to be them. It does make me a bit nervous to think that if I wanted to fly somewhere I couldn't. But it's not like the borders are closed, it's only a couple hour drive to Cambodia and as I've mentioned, I'm registered with the US consulate should the situation deteriorate.
I'm not really concerned... but I am getting tired of it. I mean, for all that people hated Bush at least Americans respected his presidency enough not to stage a coup. Actually I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.... maybe we're just lazy. I don't know. I think I'm well and truly entering stage two of culture shock. I've been on and off cranky for a while now.
My schedule is all wonky. The off-campus classes I enjoyed are over and new classes are starting. I miss my driver. I hate my kid classes, and I hate the kid books.
My sink is leaking and I really don't feel like having another "horng naam whatever see-ah" adventure.
I want to go out and party more, but when people invite me, I never feel like it. Either I'm too tired or it's late and I don't know if I'll be able to get back home when I want to.
I'm disappointed in myself for *still* not having obtained access to a motorbike.
I finally know enough Thai to make mistakes (when you can only say 2 things... it's kinda hard to mess them up), so now I make mistakes all the time. The other day at the market, I just could not hear anything properly. People were telling me prices and I kept getting them wrong in my head - I *know* the numbers, my brain just refused to process the words properly. And after listening to my students and their horrible accents all day, I'm well aware that I must sound retarded every time I try to speak Thai. People correct me sometimes but honestly I can't hear the distinctions they're trying to make.
I'm still hanging onto remnants of my cold and I feel disgusting. It's considered rude & gross to blow your nose here. So I'm always running off to the bathroom or trying to hide my tissues. I got this menthol inhaler thing that works temporarily, but I feel lame shoving the thing up my nose several times each class session.
Oh... and Christmas is right around the corner, but it doesn't feel even remotely like it. I mean, it's starting to cool off at night here, and Tesco's has a whole Santa display up... but it's all a little surreal. A lot surreal actually.
And the worst thing is that I find myself complaining on a regular basis and I just don't want to be that kind of person. Some of the other teachers bitch and moan constantly and it's annoying. I really really really don't want to be like that... but WAAAAAAHHHHHHHH I'm cranky.
I think I know why though... it's been at least two weeks since I've been to the beach. I need some serious sun, sand, and surf. I'm heading to Ko Samet tomorrow, hopefully that will sort me out. We'll see.
For now the TAG stands at Code Bananas
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Mr. Tall: If you didn't have to wear a uniform to work, what would you wear?
Mr. Short: My panties.
Teacher: Panties are underwear for women, for men we just say 'underwear'.
Mr. Short: Yes, my panties. Panties are the top and bottom?
Teacher: No, (attempting the most modest mime possible) the bra is on top, the panties are on the bottom.
Mr. Short: Oh okay... bra and panties.
Teacher: The whole sentence please?
Mr. Short: If I didn't have to wear a uniform to work, I would wear my bra and panties all day.
TAG: Code Mango
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Hmmm.... I feel somewhat obligated to post something. I have also been feeling somewhat obligated to increase the quality and decrease the quantity of what I post on my blog. I know I always say I keep this blog for myself... but I do care if people read and I do care if you're enjoying it or being bored to tears by it.
I have cognitive dissonance.
I have vodka.
Let's see what happens.
1. The other day I went bowling with Bunny, Bobby, Donny & Marie (Philippino brother & sister I'm not sure I've mentioned yet), and two Thai guys.... I don't know what to call them yet. How about Rod & Tod? It was so much awesome! The bowling alley is essentially identical to what you could find in any-town USA which is always comforting. The girls drank Spy wine coolers, the boys laughed at us. We practiced our Thai and I even wrote a word in Thai.... "chicken"... it was exciting. I tried to write the name of our neighboring city but made a couple of mistakes, the first I could self-correct when it was pointed out to me, the second I understood as soon as Rod wrote the correct letter. I went home a little early. When Bunny & Bobby came back they found they'd locked themselves out so we had an impromptu sleep-over in my room. We played "20 questions - Harry Potter edition" and I fell asleep laughing.
2. Last night Bunny, Bobby, Donny & Marie and I all watched Quantum of Solace and ate pizza in B&B's room. The pizza was okay, the movie sucked. I drank a lot of vodka.
3. There's a party tonight, but I didn't feel like going. Mostly I was concerned that once I got there, I wouldn't have a ride home. I hate having FOMS (fear of missing something) about the party... but even more I hate feeling trapped somewhere when I'm not having a good time.
4. Bobby, Bunny and I want to go to Chiang Mai for New Year's but just learned that all the flights and busses will probably be booked already. I'm usually good about thinking these things out in advance, but the weather here is tripping me up. It's still just about as hot & sunny as it was when I got here in August. If nothing - it's sunnier now that the rainy season is over. How can it possibly be the end of November??
5. THANKSGIVING IS COMING AND I HAVE NO ACCESS TO STUFFING!!! Or cranberry sauce, or pumpkin pie, or mashed potatoes, or pecan pie, or ...or even crudites with ranch dressing.... no ceasar salad... no cheese cake, no fresh baked rolls, no... none of it. OMG this is actually making me cry. I'm 99% okay with the no kitchen situation, but no kitchen + no American restaurants is just not fair. =( We're going to do our best at the market... but .... without stuffing, does it really count as Thanksgiving? I'm totally making my students learn about Thanksgiving in class. I may even force them to draw hand-print turkeys. Yes... even the Dirty Old Men Business English Class.
6. I'm questioning several of my moral assumptions. It's strange how much environment and culture shape what you believe is 'right'.
7. I've been drinking a lot lately.
8. Not nearly enough.
TAG - Code Pineapple, I still have a cold, it's been well over a week since I went to the beach... other than that I'm fine.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
We disembarked directly into a little market where I spent entirely too much money on entirely too delicious deep fried foods. There were a few stalls with postcards and jewelry, and then as you get to the street vendors were lined up on either side of the sidewalk, usually with just a blanket on the ground and their wares. I wanted to buy some change purses, but the gal for that blanket was elsewhere.
By the time I got to the gate for the Grand Palace it was 3:40pm and unfortunately they stopped selling entry tickets at 3:30pm. I deeply regretted spending so long wandering fruitlessly through the malls. Oh well. Next time I know to make the Grand Palace my first stop. Sight seeing was not a total loss though. At Sanuam Luang park next to the Palace there was a huge memorial for Princess Galyani Vadhana. She passed away earlier this year, and they had a huge funeral procession for her last week. There were about 6 days of ceremonies, and the crematorium & memorials will be at the park for a month.
Pretty flags in the wind
No idea what it is, but looked very cool with the clouds behind it.
I think this is a god... or maybe just a guard.
Again, the crematorium against a beautiful sky.
I still haven't experienced any of Bangkok's night life, having only gone during the day... but I'm not sure that would improve my opinion of the city. Nevertheless, I can see myself going again - especially if I have someone to go with. Before heading home I stopped at a book store and stocked up on English language magazines which may have made the whole trip worthwhile.
Code Banana - I spent way too much money in Bangkok, I'm still sick, and one of the part time teachers quit so I need to take over his class - a private lesson with a 14 year old boy. I HATE kids! =(
Friday, November 21, 2008
I don't think of myself as particularly competitive, but now that the linguistically adventurous Bunny is here, I'm feeling.... um... motivated to step up my own language acquisition pace. I have a two month head start and I don't think I could live with myself if she became more fluent than I in the six months she plans to be here. Well, I probably could live with it... but you know... the SHAME!
The problem is, when I express interest in learning some Thai to a local...I get language overload. It happened with my fruit guy up in Chiang Mai. I asked him for the word for pineapple one day, and he told me. The next day I asked for the word for mango, and he told me but then he rapid-fire started pointing at all the other fruits and giving me the names for them as well. To this day the only fruit I know how to say "pineapple".
It happened again last week, in the car with Key, I asked her the word for shirt (I'm getting a bit sick of my current wardrobe). She told me the word, but then went on to tell me the words for skirt and shoes, short sleeves, long sleeves, long skirt, short skirt, grey skirt, black skirt etc. From that exchange I only remember the word for "skirt" which wasn't even the word I was trying to learn.
The other day on the way to my off-campus class I decided to try to learn a few new words. I couldn't think of anything I particularly wanted to say so I just stuck out my hand and said "nee arai?" The driver grabbed my hand and told me the word, then grabbed my fingers counting them off - and told me the word for fingers, then up to my arm, elbow & shoulder. "Ah!! Poot cha cha!" I told him. "Speak slowly!" (I can't tell you how excited I am now that I know how to say "speak slowly" and "say again".) I went over the words he'd taught me, slowly, and he corrected my pronunciation. And then, you know I spent the next 10 min mentally repeating the words.
Recently, I've managed to pick up a pronoun and a couple verbs, so eventually it occured to me that I could probably make a sentence. I spent a good long while thinking it through, and it took a good long while longer to work up the courage to say the sentence - I feel like such a moron randomly spouting off the few Thai words I know. But eventually I told him, timidly "I have ten fingers." "Chai! Chai!" (Correct, correct) he responded excitedly. "I have two hands." I continued. "Chai. Chai." And then, having exhausted my body vocabulary we continued on in silence.
Today I learned a new word, without even trying, while having breakfast at the B&B. It has been getting colder here... 'cold' being a relative term of course. I no longer start sweating bullets the moment I walk outside my apartment building; now I can actually walk a few blocks before the sweat starts. So I was sitting there feeling quite comfortable and not disgustingly sweaty when the owner came over and said "now" wrapping her arms around herself to mime coldness. I didn't actually know that word...but she did an excellent job of conveying the meaning. So I replied "nit-noy" (a little bit) and she replied "now...adflkjer werljy" pointing at the slightly cloudy sky and rubbing her arms again. And quite unannounced an appropriate word popped into my brain "Comfortable" I replied... sort of. She corrected my pronunciation and nodded smiling "Comfortable". Now *this* woman should be a teacher!
As I sat there eating my breakfast I, as per usual, picked up my Thai phrase book and started flipping through it. Usually I just look at the words, but lacking any reason to use them they never actually stick in my brain. But emboldened by my oh so cogent "I have ten fingers." and "Comfortable" remarks, I decided to try to put together another sentence. When I got to school this morning I proudly announced to the office manager "I have two older sisters." "Chai, chai... but mai chai." (correct, but not correct) she replied, laughing. Apparently they use a different word order for this so she taught me the correct way to say it. The literal translation is "I have older sister two person."
I finally feel like I can start making progress with the language. I'm still limited by how much my little brain can absorb in one sitting, but I can ask what things are, and for the speaker to slow down & repeat themselves, and I have the very first building blocks of the sentence structure. Even if it's something lame like "I have 10 fingers." "I don't have a chicken." being able to put the words together in a logical, communicative way is helping them to start sticking in my brain much better than simply reciting the noun over and over again. (It also makes me feel better about making my students drill sentences.) I fully realize that I have a LONG way to go, but at least I'm moving forward.
Oh... and for what it's worth, at dinner tonight, I did teach Bunny how to say "I have three younger sisters." Maybe I'm not that competitive afterall.
Code Pineapple - I still have a head-cold, and that on top of my young learner classes tomorrow might just push me into Durian territory!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
And I don't know, in some ways it seems more humane, less disturbing to know that these crabs were probably crawling around the beach this morning. They didn't spend days on end couped up in a supermarket tank.
Still not quite so interested in trying the squid though.
TAG: Code Pineapple. Everything's fine, but I'm getting a cold, and I've been staying up entirely too late for no good reason at all. Not a good combo!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
*Later, when going through the text book, I saw that "Where were you on 9/11" was an example question they used in to teach the past simple. So really, they were just parroting a question they'd been taught...they were not especially interested in my personal reaction to the attacks.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Anyway, I asked them about their trip and they just cracked me up. I asked them what they ate and the one guy complained "At breakfast - bread..." and he mimed a big long baguette "really hard bread!" and he made a face. "And yogurt" another face "and fruit. I ate fruit." I just laughed and laughed and assured them that I LOVE French bread. The other student said he had the bread and jam, and didn't make any faces. I asked them what they had for dinner. "Go to the Chinese restaurant." "Every night?" I asked. "Every night. I like to eat rice. I don't like bread... they eat bread every day!" He shook his head, not able to grasp why those crazy foreigners would rather eat bread than rice. They did tell me they drank the beer & the wine and had beef steak one night, which they liked, but one of them mimed using a knife to cut the steak as though to clarify that you can't just eat it with a spoon (I have seen Thai people eat everything, including fried chicken - on the bone- with a spoon).
It was a fun experience for me to hear about their trip. They got a small taste of what I'm living out here. I want to say that I'm far more awesome because I don't go out for western food every night. But when I was in Chiang Mai I really did start almost every day with an American style breakfast of eggs and toast. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
TAG - Code Mango
Sunday, November 16, 2008
And I've recently learned that one of the beaches I've been going to is called (in Thai) "Jellyfish Beach"... and for good reason. When I went swimming I felt all kind of itchy but didn't know why. Turns out it was lots and lots of tiny little jellyfish stinging me. I've got what looks like a rash all around my chest and on my back. It's not horrible, but it is making me rethink my whole 'quality time at the beach' objective. I'm going to have to figure out if there's a non-jellyfish beach around or what. This is beginning to explain why I'm often the only one in the water. =/ There is a product that is supposed to prevent jellyfish stings, well, prevent the pain & irritation from jellyfish stings. It's a sunscreen combo thing called SafeSea. I'm going to look for it here, but if I can't find it - I might be inclined to send some fun Thai souvenirs to anyone who can send me some. =)
So I didn't go to Bangkok and I didn't go to the beach... I just bummed around Rayong... and uncovered a bit of a mystery. Just behind Tesco Lotus there's a big technology mall. That's where I got my phone, and where I've gone to get the cards to add minutes. I also may or may not have purchased pirated videos there. Every single time I've gone, there's been a decent sized market out front. This is one of the few markets I'd seen that had souvenir type things, clothes and baskets and a few other handcrafts. I'd seen a blanket and a back-pillow that I really wanted, but hesitated because I wanted to wait until I had my first big paycheck. Well, I got my first big paycheck and tried to go there a couple times this week. Each time I went, the market wasn't there. At first I thought I had gone too late... then I thought maybe it's only open on the weekends. So I went again today... and the market was still gone. =(
I have no idea if that was a seasonal market or if it's just on a break or what. But the moral of the story is... if you see something you really like, you should get it when you see it! I was really bummed because it's finally getting cold enough (at night) that I really need a blanket (I only have a little 60x60 polyester throw from Lotus). I'd seen another market in the area so I decided to head towards it and see if they had anything good. It was a really big market, but almost entirely fish or fruit. Then I wandered around some other side streets and found a lot of other totally random shops.
Eventually I found another market with clothing and accessories. I stopped in a couple shoe places and got myself two new pairs. I really needed new sandels as I only had work shoes and flip flops. And I found a blanket. It's not as cute as the one I had seen before... but it's big, cheap, and not polyester (it's terry-cloth in fact... odd), then I found a couple shops that had fabrics. Oooooh... pretty pretty fabrics. No silk, but some beautiful woven cottons. Now, I realize, I should have followed my own advice and bought them on the spot, but I didn't have enough money on me for the fabric and the blanket, so I'll have to go back another time. But it was fun to wander around on different streets for a change.
TAG - Code Pineapple. I'm fine except that my poor chest is absolutely freckled with jellyfish stings =(
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Learn Thai: I've added another 30 words (give or take) to my vocabulary, bringing me to about 90 total (slightly better than an 18 month old baby). But what's better is I'm starting to hear more of the words that I know in different combinations/contexts and starting to recognize them. My students regularly self-correct by saying "mai chai" (not correct) and then changing their answer. Today in class I heard the words "don't want" and "beautiful" and I'm starting to identify what the people at the markets are saying "Arai ka? / Arai kap" which is like a short but polite "what do you want?" I still feel like I haven't made much progress... but for not actually devoting regular study time to it - I can hardly expect more. I bought a dictionary though... and may actually open it at some point. ;) Teacher teach thyself. =P
Quality time at the beach: Check! I've been to four different beaches in the area and have established a favorite. On at least one occassion I was able to spend a glorious day at the beach before coming back to teach in the evening. I'm not sure how often I'll get to do it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. And honestly, while I'm there I don't take one minute for granted.
Saving money: I've been able to live on just my salary since I started getting paid. Which is a good thing because my first paycheck was from only working part time. I have money in the bank, and it looks like if I'm careful I will be able to save up a bit. Of course... there's that being careful part. There's not nearly as much temptation here as there was in Chiang Mai (with all the arts & crafts at the Night Bazaar) but there's always something.
Losing weight: Well, it seems that my day to day struggle to feed myself is over. I've become completely comfortable with hoping on a motorbike taxi at lunch or after work and running down to Tesco or the market for food. I've also started keeping more snacks in my room. I've got a steady supply of crackers and peanut butter. This is all well and good, but now I find myself snacking more than I should. The last time I weighed myself I was holding steady... but I'm afraid I may have gained a bit back with all the hot-potting and snacking lately.
Teaching Experience: I am getting plenty of teaching experience, for good or ill. I'm nearly through the New Cutting Edge Elementary book, and have taught a couple of the lessons twice. My confidence is still pretty low, but I'm surviving. I actually had an okay class with my too advanced young learners. I abandoned the book and planned a lesson around the Present Continuous tense - which they already knew. So instead of focusing on the grammar, I tried to get them to pay attention to the sentence stress and sounding more natural. Even with all that the kids were bored and tearing through all the activities I had planned.
On our 10 minute break I ran down to the office and grabbed a book of activities and found a few that sounded fun. We did pres. cont. charades "washing a glass", "catching a butterfly" etc. Then we did an activity where I drew the outline of a house on the board handed one of the students a marker and just started asking them "What room is this? What's in the room?" etc, handing the marker to a different student for each room. Once they'd filled up the room (quite the artists!!) I asked them "Where is student 1? What is she doing?" and once we had everyone set up in the room I knocked on the table "Who's at the door?" It ended up being a really fun activity. Of course it ended in a Ninja-style fight that ranged all over the house. I ended the game once a bomb started getting tossed around. I'm not sure exactly how much teaching was happening... but you know, I've added a couple new tricks to my bag.
Make some friends: Bunny and Bobby are turning out to be pretty good buddies. The other night Bunny invited me over for Harry Potter Scrabble. It's exactly the same as normal scrabble, but you have to relate each word to the HP world. Not too hard actually and very funny. It helped that there was whiskey involved... and lacking any traditional mixers, we ended up pouring it into steaming cups of peppermint tea. Interesting. I guess I could count that as a new experience. =P
New Experiences: These are dwindling. I went to the hot pot restaurant and tried to sing along to Thai karaoke. And I celebrated Loy Krathong. Both of those were fun experiences... but I can't think of much else I've done that's completely new at this point. Oh wait... I guess you can call horrible hair cut a new experience, although I have had bad hair cuts in the past... just never in a foreign country so however you want to count that. Oh... and I bought my first pirated DVD(s)... I've got four now. Ok, I guess I do keep having new experiences, it's just that they are becoming less and less monumental.
Learn to ride a motorbike: Epic fail! I'm such a chicken. I want to have more mobility & freedom but I just can't seem to bring myself to walk into a motorbike shop and sort the whole thing out. I've asked a few people at work about getting a second hand bike, so maybe something will come back around to me at some point. One way or another, I need to make this happen.
Three months in and I'm still pretty happy. I'm starting to miss a lot of things from home. My friends of course (although the interwebs are helping me feel like I'm moderately connected), my quilts & crafty stuff. I miss Portland and getting to go to familiar places like the farmer's market. Yes, there are more than a few markets here... but it's not the same thing. I miss the library and my couch. Oh well. I *don't* miss my old job, and I don't miss the rain either. ;)
TAG - Code Mango.
Friday, November 14, 2008
It's kind of fun... but I maintain that if I want to cook, I'll stay home and cook. When I go out, I want someone else to do the cooking for me. But on the up-side, there was bacon... and I can't really complain about that. I didn't sing karaoke because it was all in Thai. Well, let me amend that... I didn't grab the microphone, but I attempted with all my heart to join in the choruses of a few of the songs, and no... I didn't know the words. And unfortunately I got up and started dancing with the birthday girl... and got caught on video doing so. =( I wasn't even drunk... just having a good time. Remind me not to dance while there are electronic recording devices around. =P
Anyway, we finally got to the beach and everyone else bought their (bigger & prettier) krathongs. We lit the candles (and kept relighting them as the beach was a bit windy), then set them to float off on the ocean, little beacons of light and good luck. Yeah... or not. My little krathong-ka-thonk flipped over the minute I let go of it. It was pretty pitiful. The others managed to stay upright until the first wave came. Which is why you're supposed to float your krathongs in a river... not the ocean. BUT - what you do do at the beach is lauching khom fai (khom loy) - big lantern ballons.
Again - image from the interwebs... there weren't nearly this many khom fai at our beach, just one ever couple of minutes but you could watch them for a long time, just a slow beautiful stream of light floating through the sky.
Launching the khom loy was really fun, they're so big they take two people to hold them. You (or a helpful friend) lights a little paper/cardboard dealie at the bottom and you hold it while the hot air fills up the balloon. It's so pretty glowing against the darkness. Then you let go, and you hope that it goes up up and away. There were a couple scary moments with mine as the wind kinda knocked it about for a minute, but eventually they all float out over the ocean. It was just so beautiful watching a steady stream of lanterns float off into the sky. Oh and there were fireworks. You know.... any holiday that involves the beach & fireworks is a good one for me.
On the way home we talked about how beautiful it was, and everyone tried to make me feel better about my pitiful little krathong... "next year you can buy a big one" Key consoled me. Taking a cue from Bunny's linguistic enthusiasm, I decided to practice a little Thai myself, I told them "Noy loy krathong mai dai wai naam ta lai laaow." (Little flower boat couldn't swim in the ocean.) Key, Bo and I cracked up so hard. I couldn't stop laughing. I'm pretty sure I got the grammar wrong... but I think my meaning was clear.
TAG - Code Mango (with the exception of my hair of course, which is holding steady at Coconuts.)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Just add water
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I mean seriously... can you see even one thing to complain about here? Flat calm bath-water warm waters barely rippling to the shore, comfy beach chairs and a view of a tropical island in the distance. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh..... this is why I'm in Thailand! Every other comment we made was followed with "This is amazing." I've since asked a bunch of people which beach is between Ban Phe and Laem Mae Phim, and learned that this one is called Suon Son. And today I actually saw a sign with the English transliteration, confirming that this is in fact that beach. ;)
With the exception of a few kids in an inner tube, we had Suon Son beach to ourselves. Amazing!
I was glad we went because Saturday was another hellish day with the young learners classes. I'm starting to get some ideas about what they already know and what they need to learn, but man. They don't want to be there, I don't want to be there... it's ugly. There's only one thing to do after a day like that... back to the beach!
This time I was bound and determined to get to a specific beach and I decided on Laem Mae Phim (since I'd been incorrectly telling people I'd been there). I enlisted the help of another motorbike taxi driver and we sat for a while waiting for a songthaew. I learned a new word last night "stay" and was thrilled when I heard the driver ask me "You stay where?" (where do you live?) and could answer him. Eventually the correct songthaew came by and he hailed it for me. The songthaew went past Ban Phe, it went past Suon Son and it just kept going. It was much father away than I had realized, we just kept on going, and for part of the way we were a bit inland which made me nervous. But eventually we got out towards water again and I saw a long stretch of beach with restaurants & shops so I asked another rider if we were at Laem Mae Phim - "chai" (correct) and I got off at my intended destination! =)
More flat calm bath-water warm ocean, more soft sandy beaches, more little restaurant shacks along the shore. It was grey and overcast, warm but not hot - not ideal beach weather, but nice enough. There were a lot of Thai families here today, but it still wasn't too crowded - as you can see. I swam and relaxed in the water for a blissful hour or so. As I was getting ready to leave, I noticed a bunch of other farangs wading into the water. It's a sign of things to come, tourist season is just beginning.
As we drove back through Ban Phe I noticed several other white faces at the bars and restaurants along the way. It would be hypocritical for me to complain about the influx of my western brothers & sisters, but it does feel weird. I've heard that a lot of the tourists (both Thai and farang) who come to Rayong will be from other parts of Thailand, mostly Bangkok - just coming in for a weekend at the beach. It'll be interesting to see "my" beaches fill up over the course of high season.
Overall, Laem Mae Phim is a good beach, but not appreciably different from Suon Son - which is closer and cheaper to get to... so I probably won't be going back any time soon. There are still a few other beaches I want to try to get to... and you can be sure that I'll report back on them here... with or without the actual *name* of the beach I'm reviewing. ;)
TAG: Code Mango
Saturday, November 8, 2008
This one lives at The Dive - the restaurant near my school. Check her out, she's in training for the 2012 Sleeping Olympics - solo division. Her form is coming along nicely.
I think she'll have achieved full 180* head rotation in time for Nationals.
(According to my phrase book, Wan Maa-ow translates to Day-Cat, but I don't think there's much of a pun there. I'll work on it. ;) )
Friday, November 7, 2008
Local: Where you come from?
Local (in nearly incomprehensible accent): Aaaaaaah Geeeorjze Buuush!
Then I would proceed, as far as I was able in the native language (and largely non-verbally), to express that I did not vote for him, I did not approve of his policies, and was completely disgusted that he'd been been elected to a second term. The local would nod and agree and we'd share a moment of bitter solidarity.
This conversation took place in France, and in the Netherlands, and it's taken place a number of times in Thailand... it was usually the first topic brought up when I introduced myself to my new classes. I've shared these conversations (on my blog or in person) with a laugh, but honestly it's been hard. It's hard for me to reconcile my love for my country with my complete disapproval of everything that we've done on the international stage: going to war with Iraq over non-existant WMDs, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, the fact that Osama Bin Laden is *still* on the loose, 'intelligent design', the anti-homosexual legislation, and now the financial crisis on top of it. I know I can't blame (still president) Bush for all of that... but it happened on his watch and I think he can take some blame for inaction or inappropriate action if nothing else. In any case, I've gotten used to that conversation.
Today I had a good day. I spent a glorious morning at the beach with Bobby and Bunny. The weather was perfect and with the exception of a handful of kids we had about a mile of beach all to ourselves. For lunch I enjoyed crab fried rice (cooked crab) with my toes in the sand listening to the waves splash on the sand. I had two private classes this evening and all went well. Then after work I went to the market next to Tesco for dinner.
I picked up some mango & sticky rice for dessert, and surprise buns for breakfast tomorrow, then I saw a noodle dish that I wanted to try. After indicating that I wanted some I tried to ask what the dish was called... "duck" they replied. There was a little duck statue on the table, so I had actually figured that out... so I asked what the word was in Thai. They told me and I repeated it a few times (and of course I've forgotten it now) going back and forth trying to get the pronunciation at least moderately close. The conversation wrapped up in the predictable fashion.
Local: Where you come from?
Local (in nearly incomprehensible accent): Aaaaah Baaah-raaahk Oooob-ama
Me (slowly deciphering the words): Oh, Barak Obama! Yes!
I gave a little cheer, and they smiled and cheered back, and as I walked away I burst into tears.
It's like having been in an abusive situation.... you put up with it because you don't have a choice (or feel like you don't have a choice), and you fight back only to realize your own powerlessness. Eventually you stuff your feelings and get used to feeling like crap all the time. And it's only when you get out of the situation, when you realize you're safe that you can finally let go of all the emotions you'd been holding back. I feel so much joy right now for the direction the US is taking, but also sooo much grief, so much pain over what we've suffered under the Bush administration, and a fair amount of dread over how much work and how much time it will take to dig us out of this mess. But today, getting to hear the name "Baaah-raaahk Oooob-ama" associated with me and my country made me feel pretty fantastic.
TAG - Code Mango with a side of Apple Pie
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Today I finished work at about the same time as Bobby and Bunny so we all went to the food court together. Bunny is a vegetarian, and since I now know how to say "vegetables" I ordered for her. It was really a case of... I don't know the expression - to the blind man the one eyed man sees all.. what *is* that phrase? Anyway I know about 8 food words, and she only knows 1... so I could order for her. Then later they bought desert and I told them how to say "how much?" but then of course the vendor replies with a number that they don't know. It took me a second to figure it out (for some reason, I still can't understand the word for 8 very well) but then I held up 8 fingers to the vendor and she nodded. Seriously, I don't know much but I know more than they do, and it feels really good to be able to help them out. I feel like I'm repaying my karmic debt a little bit.
And now we're going to have a Scrabble tournament. =)
TAG - Code Mango.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I know that one man can't solve everything that's wrong in the US, but I think electing this particular man is a step in the right direction. Hope... that's exactly what I have right now. Hope.
A very special TAG for today: APPLE PIE!!!
Monday, November 3, 2008
The side gate was closed, so she walked the long way around to the main entrance, every step wringing another drop of sweat from her brow as she greets the night-guard. Almost home. Step by step up the staircase, and down the hall. She dropped her backpack and rummaged for her keys... the other side of the door held the joys of air-conditioning and a refreshingly cold shower. She opened the door, turning on the ceiling fan and heaving her bag into the room before turning on the light. Home.
Sweat soaked work clothes were shed carelessly as she made her way to the shower. She shut the bathroom door behind her and turned on the water. No tentative splashing to get used to the cold water tonight... no, she jumps under the full force of the water, washing away sweat and stress. She reaches up to comb through the tangled mop on her head thinking she's well overdue for a haircut. And suddenly something grazes her leg... a feeling distinctly unlike drops of water. Gasping she looks down and sees...
THE LARGEST FUCKING FLYING COCKROACH KNOWN TO MANKIND.
She screams, kicking the cockroach away from her. It lands in the water pooling on the bathroom floor and scurries this way and that as poor Rebel attemps to get away from it. Our heroine jumps across the tiny room, tears open the door and runs SCREAMING into the main room. She pauses briefly, dripping profusely onto the bathmat, to scan the room for a towel. She recalls that her only clean towel is hanging the bathroom which is now occupied by the LFFCKtM. Her two other towels are on the drying rack out on the balcony. Only the knowledge that the night-guard is sitting directly in view of her balcony window keeps her inside. She turns around and peeks into the bathroom again.
The LFFCKtM is doing the backstroke, scurrying around the bathroom floor.
AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rebel screams again, running in circles around the room, dripping water everywhere. She considers briefly, but sincerely, wrapping herself in her blanket and running across the hall to find a neighbor to dispatch the LFFCKtM in a manly fashion. Only the prospect of complete humiliation is more terrifying than the thought of the creature in her bathroom... so she does what any self-respecting blogger does in such a horrifying situation.
(for some concept of scale - my foot is as long as one of those squares)
After documenting the size and fearsomeness of the LFFCKtM for posterity, our heroine begins to contemplate the best course of action. Any attempt to kill the LFFCKtM would only result in a mess more disgusting and disturbing that the LFFCKtM itself. She decides to immobilize the creature with a shoe, so she can slide a piece of paper underneath it and transport it outside. She drops a sandal onto the LFFCKtM.... and it SCURRIES AWAY!
After several attempts, interspersed with running around the apartment naked & screaming & thinking decidedly unfeminist thoughts about how girls should *not* have to deal with bugs, brave Rebel manages to secure the LFFCKtM in a the cover of an old notebook and toss it outside without flashing the night guard. She takes a moment to shudder and 'yuck' before returning to the shower (which has continued running through this ordeal) and finally getting ready for bed.
Life in the Little Mango is anything but dull.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I got up, put on what I'll be calling my "trunk-kini", swim trunks & a tanktop, and headed out. The plan was to take a songthaew, any songthaew along the main road to the songthaew station and then just show people my piece of paper until someone pointed me towards the right one. A good plan, but I didn't even get that far. A block or two from the main road a police officer on a motorbike said something to me and indicated the back of his bike. I really wasn't interested in going for a ride, so I just said "mai kow jai"... but he was somewhat insistent about helping me out. So I figured I could at least try to ask him where to find the songthaew. I got to practice the newest phrase that I've learned "Dtong gahn" which I was told means both "I want." and "I need." (fascinating!).
So I said something approaching "I want songthaew ..." and showed him my piece of paper. He said the name of the beach and I repeated it (we did that a few times, and I still forgot it) and then he motioned me onto the back of his bike and I just climbed on. (Do you see how easy it would be to scam me? Oh btw - I have my passport back, all is well). We start driving and he asks me something about "ta lai." Now this is a word I know! One of the teachers always orders stir fried veggies with seafood - pad pak ta lai. So I thought he was asking if I liked seafood. I got to use another phrase I learned this week "Mai choorp." (I don't like.) But then he asked again something "Ta lai? Ta lai?" and I remembered that the other day at lunch, while the teacher was eating her "Ta-lai" we had a conversation about how "ta-lai" literally means "sea" and that the literal word for "sea-food" was "ta-lai something something". Aaaaaahhhhh! And suddenly I could make sense of what he was saying "Bi ta lai?" "Go to the sea?" "Chai chai chai - bi ta lai. Chai haht" "Yes yes yes go to the sea. Beach." I finally told him. Check me out all speaking Thai!!!
We actually didn't go very far, just along the main road and up one of the main parallel roads when he stopped and pointed to the songthaew and he and I both told him the name of the beach again & I hopped on.
It is quite a bit closer than the beach I had been going to... it's also not nearly as fancy. One of the things I like about Rayong is that it's an industrial town - it means people have good jobs and the city actually produces stuff - petroleum products and seafood are the two main industries (and you really don't want to get those two mixed up!). I saw a number of oil rigs and fishing boats along the way to the beach.
The beach itself is not fantastic. But that means there aren't any tourists... so pros & cons. The sand is coarse, and very loose. As I waded into the water it shifted under my feet in a quicksand-esque manner, and that was not fun. There's also a deceptively steep slope into the water. I could tell by how the waves were breaking just a couple feet from the dry sand that it got deep quickly. I took a few exploratory steps past the foam, first step ankle deep, next step over knee deep. Not being able to see the bottom freaked me out and I almost decided to give up and head for Ban Phe. But then I came to my senses.
I am a good swimmer. I'm not a great swimmer, or a fast swimmer, but I'm extremely boyant ;) and I know several strokes. I also have a decent amount of ocean swimming experience, I know that when you want to get back to the shore you match your efforts to the waves so they do most of the work. Not to mention the several years I did water areobics. On 'deep-water' aerobics days we'd practice treading water about a dozen different ways, just arms, just legs, hands up out of the water, elbows out of the water (killer!). I figured... it doesn't really matter if it's 5 feet deep, or 10 feet deep or 100 feet deep. I can swim, I'll be fine. Sure enough - four steps in and the water was up to my shoulders. It felt really good so I just hung out swimming and floating and just standing there in the water for a good long time. Then I got out (tricky - with the sharp increase and the shifty sands... but again - you just have to let the waves push you). This is not a beach I would recommend for non-swimmers!
I laid out in the sun for a while (and yes, reapplied my sunscreen!). Eventually I could hear that a family had arrived... complete with screaming children. I sat up and contemplated calling it a day. But then the kids waved at me and screamed "Hello" so I said "Hello" back. We did that a couple of times, and I thought I heard them saying something in English but I couldn't quite make it out. One of the girls came over and started talking to me.
"Hello" she started
--"Sawadee ka" I replied.
"What is your name?" she asked.
--"Chan chu Rebecca." I replied slowly, and with great concentration added "Kun chu arai?" (By this time her sisters/friends were coming out of the water to join us.)
"My name is Boom. Where are you from?"
--"Kun bin kun American!" Only after she left did I realize I had told her, most enthusiastically, "You are an American person!"
"Aaaah America! Do you want to swim in the sea?" she asked - still in English.
--"Passa Thai for 'swim'?" I asked.
"wai naam" we all mimed swimming and pointed at the ocean- repeating the word a few times.
--"Dtong gahn wai naam ta lai." I replied, and from her reaction, I think I got close to saying "Want to swim in the sea." So off we went!
I don't know why I'm so popular with the 10-15 year old beach crowd...but it's kind of fun. I mean, I was not a popular or well liked kid growing up so even at 34 - having kids come up to me and want to play with me is doing it's part to heal some very old wounds. We played in the water for a while. Then my new friend said "Dance in the water." at first I thought she meant swim, but she mimed dancing and said "Sing a song!"
Fortunately, I love singing. I sound terrible, but I do enjoy it. So I gave her a few bars of the Sesame Street theme song. =P (Well, what would *you* sing if you were put on the spot like that?) Plus, it was really sunny and I was inspired. I asked her to sing next and she did so beautifully - a fairly long song actually and her sister joined in on the choruses. On my next turn I sang one of my favorites - You are my sunshine. She could understand a few words of it and liked the "You make me happy" part. The second time through I sang each line slowly and she tried to follow along. It was cute - she's a *much* better singer than I. After singing we swam some more... had a bit of a race to reach their uncle who was floating along in an inner tube with his baby boy. I asked for the word for baby and learned it was "dek lek lek" (child small small). One of the family said that I spoke Thai well, and I replied "nit-noy" (a little bit) and the baby said "nit-noy" which was awesome and cracked everyone up. That little one year old boy is my linguistic equal, and he'll likely surpass me in the next 6 months. =P
Oh, it was a fun... but eventually I got tuckered out and called it a day. A Code Mango day for sure.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
OMG - that's not safe at ALL!
1. There are about three too many people on that motorbike!
2. Look at all those bags! What if they get caught in the tire?
3. Why isn't anyone wearing a protective jacket - or at least goggles?
4. Why is the baby the only one without a helmet?
5. Why is the baby even *on* the motorbike?
6. The baby! The baby! Won't someone *please* think of the BABY!
1. Where's the family dog?
2. The whole family went to Tescos and that's all they bought?
3. What's with all the helmets?
4. What's wrong with the chick on the back? Why is she holding on to that guy, and why isn't she sitting side-saddle like a proper woman?? Must be her first time on a motorbike.
5. Why isn't anyone wearing a uniform... or at least a yellow polo shirt?
6. Looks like the little guy's just about ready for his own motorbike. =)
The antibiotics seem to have done their job and I haven't had any problems today. Well, no intestinal problems... I just hate the kids I teach on Saturdays. But I'm surviving, and I don't have to work tomorrow - so we'll give it a Code Mango.