Just Your Average Tuesday Night

It has become routine that the U of M students meet somewhere on Tuesday evenings for a ‘debrief’, which usually ends up just being us chatting and having a lot of fun! This week we headed to a German Brewery for dinner and drinks. I ordered something that I knew was going to be safe, since I am on some meds for my feet that make me sleep solidly all night and I didn’t want to try anything that might upset my stomach. So, I opted for the chicken with cashews! Needless to say, it was fantastic!


For dessert, I decided to take a little more of an adventurous route… which really was not so adventurous! I had bananas in warm coconut milk. Let me tell you… this is delightful! It may not look extremely appetizing, but it satisfied the sweet tooth!


Along with dinner, we also got a show! A little bit of ‘Tina Turner’, a ‘Willy Nelson’ that sang Thai ‘country music’ (it was kinda dreadful), and some amazing singers with really neat costumes! Below are some of the pictures I took that evening. I don’t think there is much more to say about it! It was truly an enjoyable Tuesday evening! (Put mouse over photo for a description)





Weekend Outing #4 ~ Ko Samet

Finally, after two weekends away, we made our way back to the beautiful beaches of Thailand! This past weekend, ventured to Ko Samet (Ko means island in Thai). So, after school on Friday, the group of us from Campus 2 lefts school in a taxi, rode the BTS (SkyTrain) to the Bus station, and rode a bus for 3 hours to get to a pier in Ban Phe. From there, we headed out on a speed boat onto the dark cold (okay… very warm), ocean waters for a quick ride out to the island. 

After getting off the boat, we packed 14 people with luggage onto a Song Tao (which directly translates to ‘two rows’, but is actually a pick-up truck that has 2 benches along the side of the box of the truck for people to sit on), and took a bumpy road to ‘The White Sand Resort’. I know… sounds pretty fancy schmancy! … but it was not! I failed to take a picture of the inside of the room (which was sketchy!), but here is a picture of the outside.

Yes, it may look nice, but outward appearance can be deceiving! NEVER judge a book by it’s cover. This place had a toilet that did not flush, but had to be forced down by dumping water in and letting gravity do the rest. There were ants in every corner and climbing up the walls. Some of the sheets on the bed were burned or ripped. There was only one mirror, and it was opposite the bed (not even in the bathroom!) and it made you look as pale as a ghost. It was just kind of creepy! But… an adventure none the less!

The next day we headed to Jep’s, a restaurant highly recommended by the Lertlah teachers that have been in Thailand for a while. It is right on the beach, with the tables in the sand, and probably the most amazing food possible. The menu is huge and includes American, Indian, European, and Thai food! Needless to say, I did as I usually do on the weekends and I treated myself to some American food. I know.. not very adventurous… but the tastes of home are so welcomed after a week of pad thai and chicken fried rice!

After a banana waffle for breakfast, it was time to hit up the beach! This was my view for the rest of the day! (And… I am pleased to say, I did not get a sunburn on one single part of my body! Yes, it was overcast all day, but some girls came back to Bangkok looking like lobsters!)

The beaches in Thailand are somewhat like the beaches in Mexico. There are a few people that will haggle you to buy stuff… but for the most part if you do not look interested, they will leave you alone. One of the things I love that people try to sell you on the beach is fruit! How can you say no to fresh fruit that is cut right in front of you, which quenches the thirst and satisfies the taste buds! (And it is supporting the locals…)

On my way back to the ant infested ‘resort’, I came across a man on the beach selling Roti’s. I had never heard of these wonderful things before, so I watched him make one for some other girls. They just looked too good to pass up, so I treated myself to one of these as well! A roti is fried dough. Kind of like a mixture between roll kuchen and a pancake. I chose banana with chocolate! It was delightful!

After a little bit of downtime, and a shower that probably did not make me any cleaner than I was to begin with (since the bathroom in the room was gross…), we headed out to watch the fire show on the beach. I have some videos that I might attempt to upload if I have time so you can try to experience how neat the evening was! The guys that put on the fire show were amazing! The audience sits on the beach, which the sand is covered, and we sit on little mats, and the performers are knee deep in the water, or further. I don’t really know how to explain it, other than it was a bunch of men that could have been circus performers that played with fire to entertain us. It was quite the experience!

The next morning it was time to go. A speedboat picked us up on the beach and we headed back to the mainland. However, this little trek back became much more interesting than anticipated. The speedboat that our group got on only had one of two working motors. Apparently this is not safe… so after some tinkering by the ‘co-captain’ (who looked like he was 12 and was wearing only boxer shorts), who attempted to get the second motor running, we putted to a different dock and waited for another boat. About 15 minutes later it arrived, and we jumped from one boat to the next! Just like so…

It ended up being a very random, but very awesome weekend away! This weekend coming is a long weekend, so a group of us are flying up to Chiang Mai to do some zip-lining and exploring! I am looking forward to experiencing northern Thailand, and getting out of Bangkok yet again!

P.S. I am sorry if you are hungry after reading this post… I think I made myself hungry writing it! I have realized I am quite obsessed with the food here!

Experience with Doctors

Right when I arrived in Thailand, I was sick. I know I was dehydrated, and my head was spinning for the first week, and I just felt crummy! Since then, I have felt quite well. However, I have been having this problem with my feet and calves. They were swollen and hard as rock. Thinking nothing of it, since my feet usually swell a little in the heat, I kept on trucking. But after teaching Phys Ed. in an non-A/C gym on Friday, I developed a rash on my ankles. I guess this was my bodies way of telling me that it needed help. Though… I had places to go this weekend (which you will find out about in a blog post sometime in the near future!) so I waited until today to get myself to a doctor. Good thing too, since the rash has now spread to halfway up my calves.

Anyway… I think Canada should take some notes from Thailand healthcare! When my lovely friend and I walked to the hospital, we were greeted outside the door by a nurse, since she could tell we were a little confused (that will happen when everything is written in Thai!). So, we proceeded to enter into the hospital. Within 5 minutes I already had 3 nurses looking at my feet and taking down all my information. After they had done a preliminary exam, it was time to wait for the doctor. The nurses sat us at some very nice leather couches and brought us some iced green tea. Before I could finish the small glass of juice, I was being escorted into the office with the doctor already in there! He took a short look at my feet and decided that the best idea was to get me to see a dermatologist first. So, my friend and I got an escort into a different building in the hospital complex, and within 15 minutes I was in an office talking to a dermatologist! Another 10 minutes later and I had a prescription for the rash and a recommendation to go back down to the doctor and get some tests taken. It was actually kind of scary since they thought I may have Edema, which could potentially be caused by kidney problems or failure. So, back down with the regular doctor I got a blood and urine test. They said the tests would be ready in 45 minutes. Since this was right after school that we had headed to the hospital, we were both starving. So, with a bit of pleading, we were allowed to leave the hospital to grab a bite to eat!

Upon returning to the hospital after a lovely steak dinner (yup… steak… for 5 bucks!) we were greeted with smiles. Thankfully… my body is functioning just as it should! All my test came back clear! So, I am now on pills that should hopefully get ride of the swelling, that the doctor is guessing is just a build up of water caused by the excessive amounts of sodium in Thai food mixed with the heat. Hopefully in a week I can walk on feet that are not so extremely sore!

I can honestly say that this hospital/doctor experience was the best medical experience I have ever had! I really dislike going to the doctor since it takes so long for anything to actually get done! In less than 3 hours at the hospital here, I saw 3 doctors, got lab work done, and got 3 different prescriptions… all for the low price of $65 CAN! Let’s just hope that whatever it is that they prescribed me actually works!

Where I Come From

This week in my M2 (Grade 8) health class I get to talk to my students about where they come from and how it effects who they become. We get to work on vocabulary such as family, environment, genes and heredity. Unknowing of how to approach this topic, I did what any great teacher does… google it! I came across this poem that I found very interesting, and quite relevant for my life right now too. It made me think of the values I learned as a child, and the things that continued to be with me as I grew into a young woman. I look at how my family has influenced me, and how I have had the opportunity to shape my life into something that I want it to be. There are times that I wonder if I am doing the right thing with my life, and then I remember that there is no way of knowing if it is the right thing unless you try.

I am not sure if I will use it to teach the students, for a fear that some of the vocabulary is above their level of comprehension, but I still have a couple of days to decide. Anyway.. here it is…

Where We Come From

We come from the genes we
And from the ideas
And values
That cloaked, comforted,
And intimidated
Our lives as children.

We come from things
We were exposed to and taught
For better or for worse;
We come from philosophies
Deliberately delivered
Or simply lived,
Some perplexingly
Long and complex
And others
Abrupt and terse.

We come from whence
We never chose
Our birth was not our choice
But as we grow
Into sentient beings,
We own our own thoughts
And voice.
Where we come from
Explains how we began
But where we get to
Is on each of us
As we do the best we can.

P1 Experiences

Today I had the entire afternoon off… so I decided I would go back into the computer lab and check out what was happening with the other computer classes. I am teaching grade 7-9, and I helped out with a grade 1 (Primary 1) class. Remember, these are Thai students. I have trouble getting through to my grade 7 students in English… now imagine 6-7 less years of English studies, and much less maturity (though some days this is debatable…) and pop 31 of those into one classroom and try to teach them how to use a computer in English. It was a little bit of chaos mixed with a lot of cuteness!

The kids are tiny! And they have no idea what is going on… so mostly the class is damage control (making sure the kids don’t destroy the $2000 iMac’s). However… I quite enjoyed it! With 3 teachers and 31 students.. it did not go too horribly (it helped that one teacher spoke Thai)! I will likely spend parts of my Wednesday afternoon’s in there if things are not too busy! 

Thai Food

Though I am getting sick of Thai food, there is a part of me that craves it. I have enjoyed trying new things, and often new things that continue to be new no matter how many times I have them. This is because:

1. Every food vendor makes things a little bit differently. Just like in Canada, how the chicken fingers at A&W do not taste like the chicken fingers at Burger King, Pad Thai tastes different every place I have gone, and every time I go.

2. Vendors will not have the same food every day. When baby corn and carrot are a good price for the vendors to buy, that is the vegetable that is placed in the food. When something else is cheaper, that we what they put in instead! It is interesting to order something one day, and not be able to get it even slightly the same for a couple days.

3. Over half the time… I have no idea what I am eating! I have come to the conclusion that if it looks good, taste it! If it tastes good… keep eating! Occasionally I ask someone around me what it is that I am having, but often the other English speakers have no idea what they are eating either. And though I can sometimes get a Thai person to tell me what it is, they usually can only tell me what it is in Thai… which is really no help at all!

It is very interesting to see how the vendors make the food though. There is no such thing as a closed in kitchen at a restaurant, for that would be much too warm! No amounts of air conditioning could keep up with that amount of heat. So, the solution is quite logical… have an open kitchen! And since it would make no sense to have it at the back of the restaurant, it is right at the front! The one perk to this is… I can always look to see what it is that they have (if I can tell what it is) and I can see if the place looks clean.

The one thing I can see shocking my system when I get back to Canada is the lack of salt and fat that is present in Canadian food. Yes, you read that correctly! Everything on the Soi (the street) is fried in oil. And the noodles and sauces that they use are loaded with sodium. Though, this aid on the other shock my system might find… Thai food has so much flavour!!! I had a taste of potatoes a couple weekend ago and it was so bland! It was missing the pizazz that Thai food has. I might just have to take a Thai cooking class, or do some serious googling/youtubing when I get back to try and replicate some of the fantastic flavours of Thailand. Though it tastes good.. I do still miss Chicken Alfredo, Farmer Sausage, and STEAK! And sometimes my palate wants something a little more bland! Thailand spice is SPICY! It is not the same as Canadian spicy! However, it is all yummy! Here are some pictures of what I have had to eat while I’ve been here! As you may notice, there is food in take out containers. I am quite sick of eating in restaurants (and I really miss cooking) so I have come to going to street vendors and ordering my food to go, and then bringing it back to the apartment… it helps make me feel like as though it is home cooked food! (Put your mouse over the picture for a description)


First Days of Teaching

So, I have done 2 days of teaching. I taught the M1 (Grade 7) students Computer and Health. I was so nervous right before I taught my first lesson, but once I got in front of the class, I remembered what is was that I loved about teaching. I don’t think I can explain it either. I have to admit though, I love the teaching part of the job, but I am really not a huge fan of the prepping part of the job. I’m sure with time that will get better as well. I have noticed though that prepping for Computer class is quite enjoyable, since it is something that I really enjoy. Maybe that is the key to it all… make sure to do work that you enjoy as much as you can! Likely, if I enjoy it, my students will too! If I come in showing that I hate what we are doing, I am sure they will hate it too!

The one thing I have noticed about the students in Thailand is they are much more talkative than any of the classes I have ever observed in Canada. They talk and they talk and they talk. And then I stand in the front of the class with my teacher face on, and they stop talking. And then about 20 seconds later (I am not exaggerating things!) they start talking again. Of course, they are speaking in Thai to each other, so I cannot even tell what they are talking about! I have been told my all the returning teachers at Lertlah that the students are naturally chatty, they like to talk. And in the Thai culture, it is not considered rude to talk while someone else is talking. On the bright side, though, a talking group is much better than a stone faced group that refuses to answer questions or say anything! I am not here to change the culture, so I will embrace the chatty students and try to channel the talking into something productive and on topic (and maybe even in English)!