‘Surprise!’ -Mae

6/15/16 Previously mentioned, “I couldn’t sleep,” in: https://elainewanderlusts2.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/may-june-whops/

At In less than 8 hours I was going to see my mom! What?! Also she didn’t call me when she landed or got to the hotel so I was pretty worried (RUDE!)

Sukhothai!:  6/16/16 In the morning I met with my Thai father’s ex-students who were visiting home (Sawankhalok) from university. He pretty much has these two boys whom I’ve never met to drive me and my mom around. I swear I can never repay him. We go to the airport and finally she arrives… I see her in the distance and thought, ‘Yeaup there she is.‘ Then I saw someone oddly behind her and I thought she made a friend, but then I realized that was MY FRIEND :0  I was truly surprised and kept on looking at SAM (my friend) for the first hour in disbelief.

It felt normal REALLY quick it was weird showing them around and talking but I could tell there was almost a spell between us. A strange distance was in the air and I didn’t feel like I had with them in the past; in America. 20160616_094843

A quick stop to a coffee shop then to the Sukhothai Historical Park for my 8th time! I swear I have an annual pass.

There after they OF COURSE had dinner with my Thai father who treated us all ALL Day by even giving his ex students money and not letting us pay for ourselves.

There was a lot of chats and silences in observances upon one another. Taking it in. 9 months: a lot can change. I think my Mom’s and Sam’s visit was the most reflective I’ve been about myself. It was almost overwhelming.

They came to classes with me after the caught up on a bit of sleep and we went to lunch with 2 of my host teachers: P’Yu and P’Am. It was I think the first time since October that I had 2 of my host teachers together. 20160617_114608

Kayaked (I love it!- Round 3) And it was their first time too! 13475171_1212434332108551_1169261791733254764_o

After I took them to my famous Ice cream shop and… What do you know we get caught in a STORM! water levels were even with the side walks and there was a lot of thunder and lightning cracking nearby to the point we thought we were going to get electrocuted. What normally takes me at MOST 20 minutes to walk too us 1 hour and 15 minutes running and hiding from shop to shop. Welcome to Thailand Mom & Sam! 🙂

Phuket!

When planning for only my Mom to come we planned to go to Phuket since I hadn’t been there yet. Personally I could have done without it. It felt like no other place in Thailand but at least I got to go and see. 20160618_083209

We saw the Big Buddha with an awesome view

Wat Chalong 20160619_123235

Siam Cabaret show

Patong Beach strip

Koh Phi Phi Island Hopping (round 2)

and had an awesome Thai massage. There was a lot of needed down time, eating and shopping for souvenirs (weird, I have yet to do this)

Bangkok!20160625_181424_HDR

Siam Museum (round 2)

Wat Pho (round 2)

REUINION!- So Celeste was an impromptu plan, sorta. We idealized her coming in December but it was forgotten. She messaged me again in May and BAM there she was. 3 friends/ family from Calexico in Thailand… NEVER in my dreams. But I was so happy it happened.

Lumphini Park (round 100?)

Grand Palace (round 3)

Wat Arun (round 2)

Golden mountain (round 2)

JJ Market (round 2)

Famous Khao San Road (round 3)

Malls- Who can say they’ve been to Bangkok without checking out the acres of malls…

Rooftop bar (round 3)

I really want to say Thank You to my Mom & Sam; this one is for you both! love you!

Elaine ❤

p.s. for those wondering ‘What about work Elaine??’ -I did ask for my 1 week off to welcome my mom to Thailand since April. Luckily for me, the week I asked for off was the week right before a scheduled week off -Sports week- so I did have 2 weeks off YAY!

p.p.s Mae= Mom in Thai.

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May? June? Whops!

I’d say I’m sorry but; really, I’m not. Being MIA (which I have for 2 1/2 months) means ‘missing in ACTION.’ So yes, I’ve been busy and here is a recap of the first 5 weeks!  -Take out your calendars-

1. May 16-19: My first week back to school: teaching 10 classes of seniors in high school (in America’s standards) for 18 hours a week.

2. May 20-22: No Class FRIDAY! Yeaup. First week back and no class on a Friday. A 3 day weekend where I had a FULL HOUSE of Fulbrighters. Crystal, Ia, Dee, Mimi, and my Sukhothai buddy Edie all came to my house and had a fun Sukhothai weekend. We borrowed my gracious host teachers car and toured my province for 2 1/2 days. Truthfully, it was a lot of eating, talking, and sweating. 13301433_10206363220454970_1930753015916993884_o

3. May 23-June 1: Work Work Work…(Think of Rihanna’s song yet?) After slightly tying to figure out my students level of English (because they are all new students for me) I went ahead and taught my old lesson of synonyms where I act out about 36 new vocabulary so they can really understand the difference between each synonym. It’s a lot of fun and I get mocked a lot but they learned it. Oh & they LOVE ‘Heads Up 7 Up.’Also my new American co-worker stayed over for the weekend and I showed her around Sawankhalok.

4. June 2-5: Look for a new Fulbright School. Well news is out: unfortunately another Fulbrighter will not be coming to SawanAnan Wittaya School (my host school) next year. It seems that I am the last and the show must go on. If you want my honest opinion, I think there are other schools that NEED a Fulbrighter much more than this school.  SAW already has the budget for 4 other foreign teachers when other schools can’t even afford 1. Although conveniently located with a bus stop, airport and many many good local finds less than 15 mins away, it’s not about the comfort of the Fulbrighter but the mission s/he is tending to…IN MY OPINION.

  • So my Fulbright P’s -anyone older than me- came to Sukhothai, picked Edie and me up and toured other schools in Sukhothai. It was a lot of fun rating the schools and trying to give reasons why we think they would or wouldn’t be a good match for Fulbright. Later I too went to Edie’s house for the weekend and lounged with her at various coffee shops.

5. June 6-15:

  • Work wise I was teaching conversations on how to help give directions like buying tickets or putting things together. I did this so they could verbally practice First, next, then. My students are really good and they have a lot of support on behalf of the well budgeted school. Only thing is that they don’t get to practice verbally so just a little 411. I also taught small talk conversations about jobs and goals by having them write and share long and short term goals they have for themselves. Finally I left it at giving directions using Thailand’s BTS (metro) system and giving them a script to help each other get to different points on the map (they had A LOT of fun with this one)
  • Wai Kru Ceremony: June 9th was the schools ‘Wai Kru Ceremony’ they are held in each school on different days of the beginning of June. They are held to establish the relationship between the teacher and student and for the students to wai-bow- to show they are ready to learn. The students also give flowers to the teachers all symbolizing different things but very deep if you asked me. My thoughts: This in America; never. DSC_0058
  • KAYAKING! Later that day I went on my first Kayaking adventure in Thailand down a river in my small town and I swear I hadn’t felt so genuinely happy and care free as I did for a while. 13433231_1207557669262884_7794836975156069443_o
  • Weekend! My fellow Fulbrighter-friend Crystal stationed in Lampang (3 hrs away) and her friend from America came to Sawankhalok for some small town fun which included Kayaking (yes I went again), coffee shops, ice cream, and food. It was a lot of fun and really cool to meet one of my friends friends from ‘Merica.13422435_1388117081215293_8949174448899272141_o

On the 15th I could barely sleep I was so excited. Yes, after ALL of the 5 weeks mentioned above: teaching and every weekend booked I had something even more exciting coming the next day! Read here: https://elainewanderlusts2.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/surprise-mae/

Hope that answered 1/2 of your ‘Where’s Elaine?’ question. I’ll try to be better about writing,

Elaine ❤

 

 

안녕하세요(Annyeonghaseyo) Seoul

4/24-5/1: Seoul, South Korea

Who: Me, Myself & Elissa (She was my very 1st RA who again welcomed me and was just Ah-mazing!)

How: Mostly S. Korea’s super efficient but confusing as heck metro

When I first arrived it was after an 8 hr bus ride from Lampang to Bangkok along with a 4 hr wait topped off with the 5 hr flight given: not the best sleep. Nonetheless I was ready to tackle this county I knew really nothing of apart from the names of Korean food.

After getting picked up from the airport, Elissa took me to a Taekwondo dance show where they express the kicks and skills of Taekwondo through dance. It was VERY Korean… Technology heavy and very dramatic. It was as if I was in a video game live. The show was located in the Olympic Park from 1988, so we walked that park then Children’s Grand Park. My 1st impression: Paved usable sidewalks. Dinner: Korean BBQ of course!

 

Mondays= All museums closed so my itinerary changed real fast which lead to walking around aimlessly in Meyedong, (slightly lost…ONLY SLIGHTLY) trying to find a Ring Cafe which turned out to be closed as well (This was after S. Korea’s popular Mural Village). I made the best of it by enjoying a corn dog, 32 inch Ice Cream and the Myeongdong Cathedral which is very beautiful in it’s Gothic way. After I met up with Elissa where we went to Namsan/Seoul Tower (I did the hopeless romantic lock thing on a bridge).

The Next day I redid a lot of Monday but also dressed in a Hanbok for a free little photo shoot. I tried sheep unknowingly until a Thai woman told me what it was in Thai (it really is becoming my 3rd language). Seoul’s City Hall, Cheonggyecheon Stream, War Memorial & the Banpo Bridge (which wasn’t really working *sad*)… War Memorial was great to go and learn everything before I went to the DMZ tour on Thursday.

Day 3 was the day for the traditional tour of South Korea: Gwanghwamun Square to Gyeongbokgung Palace to Insadong to Bukchon Hanok Village to the Secret Garden where their Monarchy use to roam. Note: all was remade in the 60’s since Japan destroyed it all at one point. There really is barely any ‘Authentic Korea’ because of it’s rough history. 

The DMZ tour here is the link to that blog I did on the side: https://elainewanderlusts2.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/dmz-jsa-tour-in-south-korea/

Second to last day I wanted to do what locals did which seemed to be hikes since they were all decked out in either business attire or hiking attire. I chose to do Mt. Yongmasan and the view was incredible. Only problem is I went up through the unofficial trail with rope climbing nonsense that it took me an hour of wondering again aimlessly at the top looking for the main trial back down. Luckily I found a couple who did the same thing so I was not lost lost, and the trials were really busy so I wasn’t even in grave danger or anything serious at all. After 3 hrs on this intended waterfall hike, I went to Bongensa Temple and ended the day at a Jjimjilbang (A Korean styled bath house & Spa [if you’re really intriged google Conan visits a Korean Spa]) And Elissa joined too! AFTER then I really ended the day with a HUGE American styled Ice Cream.

Last day was spent on Nami Island or better yet Naminara Republic where it claims to be it’s own country and actually has it’s own currency. It’s very popular between locals and I saw people taking wedding photos, lots of couples but even more Children because some of it is funded by UNICEF. Really cool place though I didn’t even feel I was in Asia (apart from the people of course)

When I was lost: twice people left their shops unattended and walked 2- 3 blocks to show me to the right direction. I felt VERY safe

Thoughts of the Metro: -It is sad and gloomy. -It puts many people to sleep. -Everyone is on their phone. -Couples EVERYWHERE. -Business attire or Hiking attire or Me weird foreigner. -No one talks to one another

Thoughts of the food: SO hard to digest. I found myself on the floor in fetal position my last night because my body was just K-O’d from digesting Korea’s cuisine which Elissa gave insight saying how it’s heavily processed. It was also kinda bland compared to Thai food. **Thailand you’ve ruined me!

Overall: -Korean Tour guides really want to learn Spanish because they think it’s a beautiful language where I was able to share some useful phrases. -It’s weird but all at the same time it’s not weird at all. -Couples EVERYWHERE! (maybe it’s because they were touching and in Thailand there is no PDA)

Yes, a quite jammed pack week but I just checked into Rayong after a bus ride with Thai teachers Karaoking the whole way!

The fun never stops,

Elaine ❤

DMZ & JSA Tour in South Korea

I felt as if this tour needed it’s own blog so here it is. My friend Elissa was pretty much my booking agent and did all the work for me since she is the local. She emailed tourdmz@tourdmz.com and told them our names and the date we wanted (so undercover). After there was a back and forth on how there was only Thursday available and since she works she said I should still go ahead since she still lives in S. Korea and can go later.

I took the opportunity and on Thursday morning I was on an early train to the City Hall station where I got off and entered Hotel President to check into the tour. I really had no idea what I was walking into nor what to expect, but the outcome was SO good. First it was a clear day and it wasn’t AS busy because it was a weekday so overall good start.

  1. The first stop was Imjingak (Freedom Bridge) which was used to exchange the prisoners after the Korean war hence “Freedom Bridge.”
  2. Dora Observatory: Where I got to see N. Korea’s  propaganda village and could even see how there were no windows AND they were broadcasting to S. Korea… It was surreal. Also one can see the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) where I thought ‘Wow, it still looks like a war zone.’ Remember no expectations.
  3. Then we went to the Dorasan Station: A station ready to run from S. Korea that could technically connect all the way to Europe. If and when it does I’m coming back! So the hope to reconnect was once there; now a little questionable (in my opinion.)
  4. Finally the 3rd Tunnel: a tunnel discovered in 1978. 73 meters below ground and was obviously designed for a surprise attack on Seoul.
  5. Lunch: Where I met a Fulbright-er from back in the day who did research in the Netherlands.
  6. JSA (Joint Security Area) Where important meetings are held between both Koreas Technically I was in North Korea in the blue room which is the MAC Conference Room. Also in the far back I could see a North Korean soldier and just kept thinking how strange the entire tour set up actually is. (in a good way)  The photo of the ground is taken from the North Korean side of the room
  7. Finally from inside the Bus we got to take photos of the Bridge of no return: where the last time someone ran through it was for safe haven from an incident: Actually 2 American Soldiers and they actually were immediately abducted and more than likely killed. DSC_0193

So there is you little sight see history lesson by me. The anti- historian. Not really, I just enjoy history as I’m at it’s monuments more than a book.

Been to North Korea (Technically),

Elaine ❤

A Day in Pai

The time to go to Pai is during or immediately after the rainy season. I’ve seen photos and its darn awesome looking. I unfortunately only had time to go during the dry smoggy season, regardless I can tell this place is beautiful through all of the dryness. Just means I have to come back!

So we checked in on the 17th (Still part of the Buddhist New Year so everything was closed) & checked out on the 19th early in the morning. So yes only 24 hrs in Pai but we did a tour that knocked out all of our (Crystal and I) interests:

Kiu Lom View Point

*Lot Tham Nam Cave

Sai Ngam Hot Spring

Mor Pang Waterfall

*Pai Canyon

*=Faves

Not much to say really it was a lot of driving in between and I was starting to crash from going from one city to the next. Currently in Lampang taking a rest from the travels with Crystal. We have been coffee shop chilling, cooking Thai dishes & went to the Dhanabadee Ceramic Museum where we learned a lot of cool facts about those chicken bowls you see everywhere!

OMG what a waste of paid travel time!’—Well, No. Honestly it’s a vacation from the vacation that way I can go go go in Seoul, South Korea! Plus I’m still having fun and most importantly, relaxing.

Next post is for sure about South Korea!

Elaine ❤

SONG KRAN- CHIANG MAI- 2K16!

Song Kran according to Wikipedia:The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions. Mornings begins with merit-making. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is commonly practiced. On this specific occasion, performing water pouring on Buddha statues is considered an iconic ritual for this holiday. It represents purification and the washing away one’s sins and bad luck. As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved ones and elders. As a way to show respect, younger people often practice water pouring over the palms of elders’ hands. Paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of Songkran tradition.

Song Kran (Today in Thailand): A crazy Buddhist New Year that welcomes anyone from all paths to celebrate and get SOAKED. There is no mercy. Everyone is fair game if you are walking on the streets that forewarn the celebration will be held there. Yes foreigners are welcomed. BEWARE! You may be hit in the Eyes, Ears or Mouth.  NO- Water is typically not the cleanest. In Chiang Mai most is collected from the mote. Is it fun? Yes! Would I do it again: Sure.   Any lows? -The fact that Thailand is still celebrating regardless of the horrible drought they’re having with many farmers suffering and losing money AND the fact that the death rate of the celebration increased due to drunk driving. 

After a long over night bus ride from Laos we finally made it to Chiang Mai to start the Song Kran craze. We began to be nervous as we realized how Big of an even this was going to be and were simply hoping for the best. 

After taking a deep breathe and settling in we went to venture into the water war. We were looking at guns and decided we’ll just get wet. That didn’t last too long before we decided we needed armor and amo; a gun and water. I only have 1 photo because technology and water really aren’t friends. 21916

Description: Crowded! Pick up trucks filled with people with ice cold water with water guns throwing it and shooting it at the pedestrians. Pedestrians with water guns shooting one another and the people in the pick up trucks. There is a lot of Thai music in the background and it is HOT! Children everywhere with guns aiming at your stomachs. You may be mid sentence and then BAM ice cold water down your back or in your mouth. Some of us accepted our fate. Others were cringing and scowling on how it’s such an annoying holiday. I was part of the first crowd. I accepted and realized that once I booked a room in the Old City of Chiang Mai meant I was a fair target for Anyone. 

The first day was seriously just walking and getting wet, then walking, shooting, more wet, and repeat. VERY tiring. 

Numero Dos: Mimi, Michele and I decided to hike Doi Suthep in morning rather than Song Towing (pick up truck with 2 benches on the back) like most tourists. At 8:30 we started. Started the hike? No …we started roaming. We were following a blog or many for this ‘back road’ we had to take and Google maps was telling us to go through the Chiang Mai Zoo. *Sigh* After two hours we finally figured out to get a song tow to another side of the Chiang Mai University. Finally we were on the right path starting at around 10:30. Oh boy… My body felt weak already from the heat and we were just starting? Well after 30 mins we hiked to the first temple (only two on the hike but the second one being 1hr and a half away from the starting point).  

By the 30 minute point I was done. It was hot and ridiculous and said bye to Michele and Mimi. I hopped on a song tow to the top. At the top I got to so Wat Doi Suthep and the view. From here I was a bit SOL with communication. I hadn’t brought my phone thinking I was going to be accompanied and because of the Song Kran Festival. After I walked around the temple I talked to the song tow driver waiting for the couple who originally was riding before I interrupted. He told me I’d be free of charge and dropped me off at the Chiang Mai Zoo. 

At the Ching Mai Zoo there were: PANDAS!!! I got to see other animals and felt really bad for it being so hot and there being a lack of water supply it seemed. I was mostly there for one thing though and spent a good 30 minutes just taking pictures and big smiling like a weirdo in the panda pen. 

After I hoped on a song tow back home. Still without a key and phone or map I made it back and was okay. Was I ever not okay? No but apparently they were all worried about me… Well at least Ia and Crystal were haha. 

We then made our way to the famous Wat Chedi Luang 

Numero tres: It was the last day of Song Kran, and no matter how tired we all were we decided to pack 9 of us to go to the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon, which is totally fun and worth it. 

THAI SECRET COOKING SCHOOL!: The highlight to my Chiang Mai trip had to be the cooking school. I went alone because 2 of the other people had already done it and they rest wanted to go to Chiang Rai which I had already been. 

First I was picked up and then taken to a market and got shown the ingredients. Then a 30 minute trip to the owners house. There we got our hats and baskets and picked our ingredients. From there we were given the rest of our ingredients and started cooking. I first did the Pad Thai, and the chicken in coconut soup; then we sat and ate. Next was preparing and actually making the curry paste for my green curry. Once the paste was done I made my favorite: papaya salad. I observed other make spring rolls then we said bye to the mid day group. There were only three for curry and desert but it was still a lot of fun. I made my green curry and made my favorite dessert mango sticky rice. At the end my stomach was very happy and am now able to make awesome Thai food at Home! I was also gifted a personalized cook book! All for 1,100 baht (32usd) GREAT deal. 

Well that was my time in Chiang Mai and now am currently in Pai taking a day off just to recoup. 

Gonna start planning for South Korea April 24-May 1st! 

Elaine ❤ 

Vientiane Laos

Okay, so the laptop came and you all get a better insight of my travels in Asia. (Sorta; choppy wifi in guest houses and hostels is not for up-keeping a blog) so the last week of my internship was mostly finishing off small projects and of course a good bye lunch. DSC_0008

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A BIG THANK YOU TO MY ROOMIES!!!! LOVE YOU A MILLION ALY & IDALIA ❤

Another big but relatively small event was my phone pooping. I was mid sentence Skyping with the mother and my phone turned off. Weird… Well I changed batteries, did everything to turn the Android back on which was in pretty good condition; nada. Right before travel month and knowing I had people to meet up, I was freaking out. I can luckily say it got fixed in less than 24 hrs with LG saying they’d send me a brand new phone free of charge (YAY warranty). Also meaning I had to send my phone back home… (2,000 some baht- 71usd) and buying a new phone (1,600baht- 45usd) so the problem did cost but in the retrospect of life changing or completely ruining a day or week. It didn’t.

Moving on to LAOS. Friday night I was standing on platform 5 ready to embark for my overnight bus to the most northern easter province of Nongkhai to cross the Friendship bridge to Laos. I was supposed to leave at 8:20p. 11:15p? eh same thing right? Sabai Sabai (relax relax) Well I was losing my cool at one point because “coming in another 2-3 hrs” translated to “coming until 4am” luckily 11:15p is when the delayed bus showed up. 

After a groggy 11 hr bus ride I arrived to Nong Khai, met with with Michele and Crystal, got our visas and paid a bit more for straight transportation to our hostel and were in Laos. 680 baht for 3 night 20usd; can’t complain! We went to exchange money and now I have Indonesian Raphia, Thai Baht, US Dollars, and Lao Kip in my wallet. 

Day 1: Saturday in the capital: Vientiane. Everything seemed closed but we still got to see  Patuxai, That Dam, and the night market on the Mekong River water front. It seemed as if most people came out at night (which really was smart considering the heat). We questioned why it seemed like such a ghost town but something told us it had something to do with the Buddhist New Year; Song Kran, coming about celebrated by Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar to my knowledge. 

Day 2: We lucked out with a hostel with free cooked breakfast and then decided to try to venture out of the capital because really it’s doable within 2 quick days. So we looked for the bus station to the Phou Khao Khuay National Park. Instead we found a guy with a van. He said he’d take us for a pretty good deal. SURE. We went with it and then found ourselves hopping into another van. Apparently he didn’t have the right tags to enter this part of the country… Ohhkaayy…. The next guy seemed cool too so we just went with it. Also we weren’t as suspicious since this was the second time being handed off like a drug onto the next car to take us through the next set of miles. (Also to note they drive American style so we were all backwards and continuously thinking we were going to crash or were on the wrong side of the world… one can say we assimilated) 

On and on we went and ended up at the “Ocean of Laos” Nam Ngum Reservoir. It was beautiful and we decided to eat here. Once we were ready to go to the National Park the driver said it was too far Umm what?! Well we didn’t think our money was wasted because we still got to experience a location outside of the capitol and see the rural life of Laos as well. 

Day 3: For the last day we prepared to go to the places that seemed closed on Saturday and go to Buddha Park. The park was actually small infested with many many Buddha images. The significance: beyond me; personally I though place to make tourists happy. From there we crossed our fingers to hope that the COPE visitors center was open. IT WAS! We walked in not really knowing what to expect and exited educated. 

Educated on what? Well COPE is a foundation for Laos disabled peoples. It gets deeper. During WWII Laos was bombed A LOT by the US. To this day the bombs still go off primarily in Xiengkhouang province. It’s sad and amazing how people still live in the heavy dangerous areas (primarily farmers) and can’t do anything about it. There are still people who die and get injured by these bombs today 40% being children. It really made me look at Laos in a different way initially being another SEA country. If you go to Laos, go to COPE for sure, probably the top of my list. 

Would I come back to Laos? Realistically no. It was a tad bit overwhelming and hard to get around. I also thought it was a tad more expensive than Thailand and very similar to Thailand overall. Given I’m basing off of 4 days. If I did I’d like to go more in depth to the province which is heavily bombed and travel south too. Regardless I’m glad I came and could see the country with my own eyes and can understand and converse about it with my students when they ask. 

Next up Chiang Mai for Song Kran! 

Elaine ❤

April = SUMMER!

Heat & Strides: April in Bangkok, and it is burning! I’ve seen that April has gifted snow to parts of the US regardless if it’s spring. As for Bangkok last week’s average was 93 F with 79% humidity. The craziest thing about this weather is me walking in it. I have a pedometer on my phone, but never really used it. This month is different. When I got the phone I chose for my goal to be 4 miles everyday (that was back in America). It never happened. This month, I’ve accomplished that everyday and more but once a week(ish). So thats about 5+ miles max I’ve done being 10 miles.

The difference from February to March is drastic

The goal for the year was to eat all the pad thai and thai tea I could before going back to America. Turns out pad thai is my least eaten food in Thailand and I have found other teas more refreshing like lemon tea or ceylon tea with ‘mai wan’ (no sweet) that don’t make my stomach hurt as much [I think I may be lactose intolerant *crying*]…. I’d joke with my friends how they were going to have to roll me into the plane back to America since I thought I would just indulge.

Reality is I’ve lost weight and can’t eat as much as I did in America. I try; trust me, and I still have WAY too much sugar and sweets but that’s what makes me so nice, so it’s okay. This is just the 6th month and in a city were walking is permitted. Sukhothai is different so maybe I’ve lost these 11lbs and will gain 20 after going back to my little province where I get looked at with crazy eyes for walking to the market. I’ll keep you updated.

20160331_175010DANCE: As for this past week’s events it was a lot of work but I also found a dance studio! I signed up for 5 classes with a student deal and just have 2 more. It was funny since the Zumba instructor was from Spain and asked if I could speak Spanish and we ended up having a tri-lingual conversation from English-Spanish-Thai.

WORK: Friday I got to go to another University and answer questions about the US culture and how to choose the right college. I love moments like these because I can push students to go for their goal without having to be a teacher. A student was told she wasn’t capable of doing a MA program in Michigan; they didn’t look at her credentials and barely spoke to her not realizing this chick was on point. I told her to prove them wrong and still apply and really hope she does.

 

 

Ladies night photos before I got bored and walked 45 mins home… (I miss going out in Mex).

Museum Siam: Is a great museum and highly recommended it was very interactive, interesting and one can touch everything and take photos too. I wish I could take my students here becuase a lot of them make fun of others who aren’t ‘full Thai,’ and the the theme was how, “Real Thainess has a multitude of roots.” They also had a Myanmar Up-Close section that was eye opening and moving too. I got to chose my Burmese name and it’s ‘May Sanda Win’ meaning ‘Sweet heart, Moon, Bright.’ Fun stuff.

Failed Attempt: At going up the Ghost Tower in Saphin Taksin. Yes it’s illegal. Did I think that? Not really. I saw so many people post pictures and even my own friends, I thought it was okay until we reached the gate. With talking to the guard he admitted to letting people in before but then said he couldn’t anymore since they’ve been keeping a closer watch. OH WELL. Probably best to not to do illegal actions in a foreign country, I guess…

What was initially a failure turned into a yummy success with Sushi. Also I braided and ‘curled’ my hair. It had been a while since it got styled.

I’m sitting on my last week of internship finishing projects and taking a deep breathe before I dive into my month of becoming a backpacker.  Itinerary: Laos; Chiang Mai, & Pai (Thailand); South Korea; & Rayong (Thailand).

Still debating whether I’ll be blogging for the month or not.

Wish me luck!

Elaine ❤

 

The Midterm: Day 187

 

My half way mark has come and gone, meaning I have less than 6 months to be able to have tacos and chavelas (Mexican drink). So lets see. This last week I felt like a worn out bag that you keep reusing till it’s lasts. I know that’s a pretty odd reference but I was done. I have been enjoying my time and blah blah blah but honestly it was just internal suckiness. Missing home, foods, people especially.

I was getting irritated with Thailand. Things I understood were becoming eye rolling causes. I’ve felt this way before. I’ve felt this way in America, like post midterms and finals are in two week feelings. March has tested me. It’s not Bangkok I’ve finally found the places I love and don’t want to miss yet! It’s not Thailand, like I said I’ve felt this way in America but just the time of year.

Looking back, March has really never been a good month for me. Last year I was on high stress working too many hours. Two years ago I had a life threatening car accident. And now, it’s March, in Thailand and I feel just the same. TESTED. Curious how it’s the middle of my grant year, like a MIDTERM!!

I’ve always thought that the best education is life skills and how to apply those boring books in everyday life. Meaning I think life and traveling is the best way to gain knowledge. How do we know we’re passing in Life 101? Well did I pass the test?

I think so. No matter how; excuse me but, shitty I felt, crying in public, calling my boyfriend and mom telling them how I’m probably going home…I’m here. I didn’t even stop going out. I continued pushing through this midterm and now that March is coming to a swift end, I feel another 2nd wind coming. Yes there will be more tests but for now I’m happy to say I’m passing and NOT giving up.

Do I miss friends? Yes I even missed my best friend’s engagement. Screenshot_2016-03-21-13-09-18

Do I miss my culture? Ever more so I spoke Spanish yesterday to a family of lost Latinos and it was a moment I will carry close to me because we were both grateful to have each other without knowing one another. The power of Language.

Do I miss my family? Ok i know i know obvious questions but yes.

Do I want to go back yet? No even with the back and forth and emotional roller coaster I’ve become, I even still think about staying an extra 3 months regardless if I know I for sure can’t.

Pictures from last week:

Presenting @ Kasetsart University with Fulbright

Lumphini Park

1600 PANDAS!!!!!

Thai Kanome from different Ps & coffee Everyday from P’Oy (I love that woman)

My open when letter from my two beautiful roommates (yes present tense lol) (March 25 = My mid-grant day)

Saraburi with P’ Noi (a Fulbright P who let me into her home and treated me sooo well. I simply love Thai hospitality and want to bring that back home with me too.

Rooftop bar with free drinks and a bomb burger

Easter with Ariel (Yes there are Catholic churches in Thailand)

 

I passed the Midterm, less than 6 months for the final,

Elaine ❤

 

 

 

Chonburi, Thailand

It’s currently 5:31pm in Bangkok and I’m allowing myself to have a guilty pleasure at a Dean & Deluca and sit on a window seat with clear view of a city while listening to jazz music. I’ll have you know that this has never been done in Thailand because I paid 145baht on a smoothie which I’ll probably regret later but I had to. I wanted the feel of an insulated AC’d ambiance with jazz in the background. (Note 145baht is 4.16 usd and although that sounds normal, it’s not 35 baht is the cheapest best smoothie I’ve had before this. That is 3-4 lunches but it’s a damn good smoothie). 20160321_172840

I recently got asked what I do to entertain myself in Bangkok. Answering was effortless: Lumphini Park. After work between 4-7pm I walk to Lumphini and either walk, run, read, or write. On the weekends I have been entertained with the company of Dee & Mimi and touristy places in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, and now…

Chonburi: 

Friday we (Dee, Mimi, & I) met up at Victory Monument, hopped on a van to get to Chonburi and met up with Thomas! (if only it was as fast as that, it was a good 2 1/2 hrs to get out of Bangkok). The good thing is that we were going to stay with Thomas and not have to worry about spending money on a hotel.

The PROBLEM he lives in an all boys dorm. We didn’t find this information out until we were seconds from stepping in and a guard stopped us all.

Greeaat… Decision: get a room for the night and the next day we’d all stay in Koh Si Chang (an island off of Chonburi)

Getting to the hotel was another struggle. Luckily we ran into some college students that saw “Lost farang (foreigner)” on our faces and decided to talk to the song tow (two bench truck) for us to give him directions to our hotel. Kob Khun Ka’s (Thank yous) Wais (bowing in sign of respect) were exchanged. We get off where the song tow stopped and Google told us to go straight then left…into a dark street. Ummm maybe we should double check? Nope before my words can escape my mouth I’m trying to catch up to two bold tiny (Yes I’m exaggerating) Asian American friends I’m such a chicken. We get to the end of the street and as I thought no hotel to be found. There WAS this older lady selling street food and who asked where we were headed. Her; what seemed to be, son called the hotel and then understood where we were supposed to go.

He pointed at a girl across the street and motorbikes. Oh okay!  hop on motor bike = get ride to correct place. (Sorry mom & dad I got on the motor bike) We were safe and couldn’t believe our luck in finding two sets of really nice locals in Chonburi to take us to the right place.     Honestly only in Thailand can I be so trusting.

Saturday we head to Siracha (yes like the sauce where the name was founded) and jump on a ferry to Koh Si Chang.

After 45 mins we arrive, eat and then get stuck at a 7/11 for 20 minutes under the impression we were getting picked up by the homestay. We decide to walk to find this place and realize it was only 5 mins uphill. Oh. After we spend about 45 minutes deciding what room we were going to stay in that can fit us all and not break the bank, we decided not to stay and leave Koh Si Chang after we were done at the beach. Okay.  

Cherry on top? We walk 20 minutes to the beach with a hill in the middle with A LOT of humidity and me very much dehydrated.

Was it worth it? YES! Once we arrive we take pictures order some coke in order to rent our chairs and finally I find a clean white sand beach in Thailand. (note: I haven’t given Thailand much of a chance due to only going to 1 beach in Koh Phi Phi) Another worth it reason was that I swam like a fish for hours.

The next day we went to hell. Not literally but this garden called: Wang Sean Suk Hell Garden. It was quite disturbing really and after we decided we were dead ourselves and headed back to Bangkok.

In the works: Presenting at a university, seeing 1600 pandas & Saraburi. I promise I’m working 40 hrs a week.

Elaine ❤