Heather's Thairy

Heather's journey to Bangkok, Thailand: a year of adventure!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New Acquisitions

So, I know many of you are probably wondering where my "First Day of School" post is, and where my "First Week of School" post is, or maybe where my "First Week of School is Over" post is. Well, all of those posts have yet to be created. I suppose part of the delay is due to not wanting to bring work home, and somehow writing about work seems like...work.
Anyway, if you're waiting for those kinds of posts, I'm sorry: this is yet another non-school-related post.
My older brother sent me a wonderful package in the mail; it contained three great posters, something I need a LOT because these prison-issue walls do nothing for me. I went to the store and bought concrete nails (yes, the walls are solid concrete) and a hammer and put those babies up:

You can't really tell because of the glare from the camera flash, but Stitch is now happily hanging above my bed. Homer is in the "kitchen" and the Pokemon are by the door.

I also got a microwave when I was at the store, because it was on sale. I was going to wait until payday (tomorrow) but I figured I was there, it was there, it was meant to be.

I forgot to get a vase, though.

This is a new fruit I tried in the last week: mangosteen. It tastes nothing like a mango, or anything I've ever eaten for that matter. It is delicious but messy: the skin (actually, it's almost like a shell) is really juicy and the juice turns a dark dark purple after a while and stains. The fruit inside is white and delicious.

Now, I told my mother that I wouldn't post any more gross pictures of my ailments, but I can't resist posting about myself. I don't know the source of this bite, but on the weekend it got REALLY bad- it burned and ached and got all swollen and hard. I went to the pharmacy for some treatment and the lady working there just pointed and stared. Then she called over her two coworkers and together, they pointed and stared. Feeling slightly uncomfortable, I told them I would see the nurse in the morning. The lady nodded and sold me some cream indicated for staphyloccoccus infections. Hmmm?

This picture doesn't really show the true ugliness of this bite. When I saw the nurse in the morning, she said "Oh, you burnt yourself on a motorcycle". Women often have a burn mark on their legs in the spot where I have the bite- they accidentally brush against the hot engine when getting off the bike.
"No", I told the nurse. "It's a bug bite". She gave me the same look that the pharmacist did.
The good news is she didn't seem terribly concerned. She told me if it got worse I should see a doctor, but for now just use the cream and monitor it. The Thai people are very aware of physical appearances- my students are all worried about making things "beautiful", and generally the first comments upon meeting new Thai people have to do with my appearance. I think that explains the surprise of people who see my bites- they know that I am certainly not going to win "Miss Legs Bangkok".
Oh well. Another life goal down the drain...

Until next time,

Monday, May 29, 2006

New Toy

I'd been thinking about getting an electric fry-pan for a while now, but I couldn't decide if I wanted to get an electric stove or an electric fry pan. The positives of the electric stove would be I could have several pots and pans and wouldn't have to worry about doing dishes constantly or only being able to make one thing at a time, and also not worrying about accidentally submerging the unit and ruining it.
The positives of the electric fry pan would be it is less expensive, larger, and easier to use. Harder to clean, though, because I couldn't find one with a removable cook surface.
I ended up going with the electric fry pan because I found sirloin steak and shrimp at the grocery store that I could NOT pass up, especially at 75 cents for 12 BIG shrimp and 50 cents for two little sirloin steaks. Nope, it had to be done, and it had to be done tonight.

Cooking nice meals for myself makes me feel a bit more like I am at home. I still feel like I am away, not in a place where I actually live, but little things like surf and turf dinner help. Plus cake for dessert.

Until next time,

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I've been experimenting with the rice cooker and the toaster oven I bought. The rice cooker is a phenomenal tool- I've made several satifying meals in it. So far:
-brown rice
-spicy rice
-steamed buns
-steamed vegetables
-soft and hard boiled eggs
-steamed eggs
-tuna casserole (this was GENIUS, if I do say so myself)
-chow mein (also delicious)
I've decided to document my culinary exploits, when they are worth mentioning. I should have taken a picture of the tuna casserole- it was a beautiful thing.
Here's the chow mein:

Until next time,

Fun Coming Out the Wa-Zoo

Ilda, Louis, Stephanie and I went to the zoo today. Yesterday I went to Chatachuk Weekend Market with Catherine, Darcy and Zinc: that was quite the experience. Rumour has it that it is the largest market in the world. I think that might be true....
Anyway, today was Zoo Day. The Zoo is right across the street from the King's Palace (which seems to be a serious spectacle, but I'm not sure anyone's allowed close up or on the grounds), which is a fair distance from our apartments but the traffic was fairly good.
The zoo costs 100 baht to get in-$3. This was a pleasant surprise because I've heard rumours that attractions charge extremely inflated prices- about $20- for tourists, but 100 baht is certainly reasonable.
The zoo is quite large, so we took a little tour train around before deciding where to walk and what to see. There's an amusement park section and a large lake in the middle with paddle boats. There's also a large restaurant in the middle and throughout the park there are food and beverage stands, including a KFC and a 7-11.
The enclosures are fairly spacious and seem well-maintained. There is beautiful landscaping- it seems that the Thai people are quite concerned with aesthetics.

This was funny: on the backs of the seats in the train there were pictures of what looked like Canadian winter scenes. There was another one with a lighthouse and more snow.

There is a air-raid shelter in the zoo- apparently, the area has been a zoo and a public park since before the second world war so an air-raid shelter was built right in the zoo.

This statue is outside the air-raid shelter. I'm not sure what it's supposed to be, but it sure looks like two children huddled down on the ground in fear, waiting for a bomb to fall on them. Seriously.

There are two kinds of hippos at the zoo- I guess one would be called "regular" hippos and the other Pygmy hippos. This sign is by the regular hippos- it is probably the funniest educational sign I've ever seen. The hippo uses its tail to spread feces to mark territory- and hit birds in the face.

And I thought I was hot...the Malaysian Sun Bear doesn't seem to care too much for the sun, strangely enough....

There is an extensive Amphibian and Reptile Exhibit- although it's mostly reptiles. I think they had two kinds of frogs and then about 25 species of turtles, some alligators, some iguanas and other lizards and about 25 different snakes. The one pictured above was some kind of albino snake- this zoo seems to have a high number of albino animals, including an albino toad and an albino goat.

There are two types of tigers at the zoo- white ones and orange ones. The white one was sleeping on its back, which was pretty cute.

This big guy was perhaps my favorite animal at the zoo- he seemed to have the right idea about life: sit around and get fat.

There are four elephants at the zoo, and they are very large. They seem to really like people, probably because people are close enough that they can throw food to the elephants. Whether or not that's a good thing I'm not sure...

AAAAAH! The wildest animals of all!!!

Until next time,

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Email Backlog

Apologies to anyone who has emailed me in the last little while...I am pretty behind in the email department, as I have been ULTRA-BUSY this week with classes in full swing. I'll have an update for that situation on the weekend, and hopefully I'll also be answering all your emails. We're going to keep it low-key this weekend and stay in Bangkok- I think my main activities will be sleeping and possibly cleaning. Possibly.
Other than that, I'm going to try and find a post office.
Love to all...miss you and Canada.

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bangkok Bites

...actually, this most recent picture of damaged goods is courtesy of some creature in Ko Samet. Apparently, bloodthirsty bugs like the taste of my flesh more than anyone else's, and I react like crazy to the bites.
Like so:

My ankle has swollen up and feels like I sprained it, but I didn't, so I can only assume that the bite has left some kind of exotic poison in my leg and the result is pain and swelling. Yuck.
Don't worry, though: Everyone else has been pretty sick and I managed to avoid that. If my ankle doesn't improve in the next little while I'll see the friendly school nurse, who probably laughs about how delicate those farang (foreign) teachers are.

Until next time,

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Injury Time

I almost forgot!!!
While at Ko Samet I finally got to play some decent soccer with Jared and a group of Asian guys on the beach. The only problem is Jared and I both have delicate Canadian feet and we tore up our soles pretty badly.
I ruined mine when I turned quickly on the sand- my skin didn't turn with the rest of my foot and now the bottoms look like this:


Until next time,

Ko Samet weekend

A bunch of us from the school- 14- went to Ko Samet this weekend, a little island about 4.5 hours from Bangkok. It was quite the adventure...
We left school around 4:30 and raced straight into rush hour traffic. After about an hour in taxis, we arrived at the bus station and got tickets to the Bang Pi harbour, which is about 3.5 hours away. Luckily we got there in time for a 6:30 bus! I was amazed at how cheap the bus is- 157 baht for a one-way ticket, which is about $4.50.
After the bus ride- which in itself was something of an adventure, what with the terrible smells and the apparent "No talking! No Fun!!!" rules that were in place- we stepped out into the street, where it promptly began to rain. Not just a little bit of rain- torrential downpour. We ran to the peir to rent a speedboat- in the daytime, there are ferries across, but since we arrived around 10:30 a speedboat is the only way to get across.
After a bit of negotiation, some cockroach sightings, and generally miserable wait time, we got onto a speedboat and crossed to the island. The water was very choppy and it was quite the ride!!! I thought it was tons of fun but some people were terrified or sick.
When we got onto Ko Samet we jumped in a songtam- an open-back truck designed to transport people from place to place in the most uncomfortable way possible- and drove into the main townsite, heading to Silversands resort.
We stopped early and looked for rooms at Tok's Huts, where there were 8 rooms available at only 300 baht a night, so we decided to stay there.

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Our room- I shared with Stephanie- was small and dirty, with a great big gap under the front door so whatever creepy crawlies wanted to pay us a visit could do so as they pleased. One pillow had a dead something on it and it was covered in ants, so we got rid of THAT in a hurry.

The door to the bathroom...what lies beyond is too terrible to show. Seriously.

It turned out that it didn't really matter that the room was gross, we hardly spent any time in it and though we were SURE we were going to find somewhere else to stay for the second night we ended up spending both nights in that place. When we saw it in the daylight, it wasn't so bad and for only $9 a night ($4.50 each) we figured it wasn't a bad deal at all.


After unloading in our fancy new digs, we headed down the street to Silversands, where the party's at. There's dancing until 3:30 AM and it's literally on the beach- the water is about 5 metres away at its closest and no more than 30 metres away at its furthest. This was a nice change from Hua Hin, where the beach was in the opposite direction from many of the restaurants and bars; in Ko Samet, everything is steps away from the water.

I got home around 5 AM and didn't think twice about sleeping in my lovely little hut.

The next morning, we got up around 10 and had a decent breakfast at Jep's restaurant. That was the first place with genuine whole-grain bread in Thailand that I've found so far...I was very excited about that.

We spent some time on the beach and later went touring around on motorcycles- a guy from Finland drove me around with Jared and Stephanie on another bike to see more of the island. It was pretty exhilerating at times because what passes for a road in Thailand would be considered at best a backcountry hiking trail at home.

We stopped at a "beach", of sorts- on our side of the island, it was wide open beach with powder-fine white sand; this was different, with rocks and cliffs. Very beautiful, though...

The only problem with that beach was the fact that we could see how quickly another rainstorm was coming our way. We ran to the bikes and just as we jumped on the skies opened, making for an even more interesting ride back.

After drying off and saying goodbye to the Finnish guy, we had some dinner and then went back down to Silversands for round two of late-night fun.

This time there was a fire-spinning show. One guy had a fire stick and the other had pois (flaming weights on chains). It was pretty amazing, so amazing I was to enthralled to take any pictures!!!

I DID talk to the performers afterwards, though, and one says he'll teach me to spin. He's also a DJ and maybe I'll see him spin on decks, too!

We left in the morning, taking pretty much the same route back as we did to get there. The only difference was this time, we could take a ferry- so we did. It wasn't bad until it started to pour (the weekend of rain) and I learned I had the best seat in the house for free showers. I was soaked but it was still fun.

Ko Samet- thumbs up. I'm sure we'll go back eventually but I think we're going to try other places first.

Until next time,

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Team Building Thai-style

This weekend we went to Sida Resort just outside of Bangkok for school staff team building. There were 20 "farang" (foreign) teachers and about 120 Thai staff there. We did a bunch of activities with each other to try and get to know each other and maybe bridge some communication gaps. It was tons of fun and at a beautiful place...

We stayed in townhouse-style accomodation, with room for 8 in each unit. They were nice and well-equipped, except for the non-functioning water heaters.

The scenery around the resort was pretty spectacular- very green with lots of ponds and fountains.

There were a few resident chickens and roosters...they were a bit camera shy, probably because they knew we weren't too impressed with their crowing in the morning.

There aren't as many flowers in Thailand as I thought there would be, but the ones I've seen are beautiful. I don't know when the blooming season is, so perhaps I might find that Thailand is full of floral life later in the year.

If you look very closely at the above picture, you'll see a dark blue butterfly. It was about as big as my hand, but like the chickens, it was also camera shy, so I didn't get an exceptional shot of it.

After staying at the resort, we went to up a mountain with a waterfall.

There are several large rocks- large is an understatement, these rocks are as big as houses- around the waterfall. People have placed sticks under these rocks, and it looks like the sticks are holding the rocks up (which is ridiculous). We think maybe people do it either as a joke, or as a good luck symbol.

This experience is teaching me that people are alike all over the world- we all are different, but in many ways we are all the same.
Jome, on the right, is my Thai buddy. She is a teacher at the school and loves to dance and laugh (like all Thai women, it would seem!). We each were paired with at least one Thai teacher, our "buddies", who will help us with Thai and we will help them with English. Jome (who likes to be called Jenny) is sweet and funny and generous- she already gave me a present!!!

Team-building was a great experience and it made me excited about the year to come. My classes start on Thursday- I will post all about it soon!

Until next time,