Heather's Thairy

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Today in the P51 and P52 classes the students made insectariums and caught bugs in the garden to put in them. It was a pretty fun activity, and it didn't rain! My bag of soil, which I left outside between the classes for all of 10 minutes, vanished, and my vocal chords are probably no longer able to support the singing of a high-octave aria (another life goal off the list) but overall I was very pleased.

I was really impressed that no one complained about having to catch insects- all the students were really excited. Some even wanted to take their insects home, which I vetoed: I'm not sure parents would want me sending insects home, plus I'm not sure the insects would make it.

Where can we find insects to observe? How strange...there are none in the fountain...

Pookie caught an ant...other students caught centipedes and spiders, one student managed to catch a fairly large beetle. One student was convinced she could catch a fly, but eventually settled for an ant.

Apparently, Ball caught something that surprised Som.

Pee examines his specimen.

The two classes were wearing different uniforms today because P52 had gym class today. How convenient for my picture-taking!

It's funny...the two classes have equal numbers of students, but I have about 20 boys in P51 and 10 girls, while in P52 I have the opposite: 20 girls and 10 boys. The classes are supposed to be divided according to academic standing, with P52 being the "higher" class (insert smug comment about female superiority here, should you be so inclined), but I don't see a huge difference between the classes. The majority of the students fall somewhere on a reasonably narrow range of skill.

Insectariums were a success! Right, Jay Jay?

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Keeping You Posted

Oh man, I think my new thing might be to make HILARIOUS post titles like this one and the previous one. Comedy GOLD, people, comedy GOLD.
Anyway, here's the promised triple-threat post, which was to be called "Wai Kru, Chinatown and Stroganoff" before I discovered my hidden talent for hilarity.

Last Thursday was Wai Kru Day. Wai Kru means "pay respect to the teacher". It is a flowery affair steeped in tradition. The students bring little bundles of flowers, candles and inscence and after a lengthy assembly, they give the flowers to their teachers. It was nice to watch (although I had, generally, no idea what was happening, and also often felt out of place as we had not been told what to do or where to go), and at the end I received armfuls of flowers.

A lot of "respect" in Thailand is shown through ceremony, which is often difficult to deal with when I consider showing respect in the classroom to be listening, putting in a complete effort and doing one's best. However, the Thai staff and the students seemed to enjoy Wai Kru Day immensely, and I thought aspects of it were great.

One of my Thai teachers had me join her class, and they all gave me flowers; I had a few students from other classes come over to give me flowers specifically, which was touching. One student (a favorite, I admit, because of his wit and his energy) bowed in front of me for such a long time I didn't know what to do! The students also wrote paragraphs about Wai Kru Day and I have to say, it is quite nice to read about how "Miss Harder is my favorite teacher". I don't know who this Miss Harder is but apparently she's a pretty good science teacher (wink wink). It was also great to see how the students appreciate the other teachers, too, and how they seem to see us as a friendly, unified staff.

On Sunday I went to Chinatown with Stephanie and Joanne. We were pretty proud that we managed to get there without any problems, taking the BTS (overhead train), taxis and a tuk tuk (yes, I did that again, this time it was A-OK). At first it seemed that Chinatown was shut down on Sundays, but we found a very lively couple of blocks and shopped quite a bit. We found some great deals- Chatuchak and Chinatown seem to be the bargain hubs of Bangkok...if I can find shirts for less than 20 baht (60 cents) I'll know I've found home.

For some reason I am incapable of taking a normal picture. This one is purely hideous, but sort of amusing at the same time. The apparent affinity for throwing the peace sign I blame on my asian genes being magnified by my surroundings.

The final section of this epic trilogy is my latest culinary exploit: beef stroganoff. My family will know that this is one of my top favorite dishes, as made by my mother. My attempt to recreate her glory fell short, but it was still good. I'm skeptical about the authenticity of the cream of mushroom soup- I'm not sure, but I think it's different here. Marilyn at school brought me a box of Kraft Dinner today- she found it at Foodland, an apparently very well stocked grocery store right here in Bangkok. Now it will only be a matter of time before I discover if the KD is the same...or somehow just a little different.

That's how so many things are here- somehow, just a little different.

Until next time,

Monday, June 26, 2006


I thought I was so funny when I thought of the title for this post, because it's like a play on words, and it's so clever, and...and...okay.
I was going to hit you all with a triple-whammy post about three interesting recent events, but then I got messaged by my coworker Ryan and we had a nice visit instead. Apparently socializing vetoes posting, so this post has been (ba dum dum) post-poned.
I'm so funny.
Anyone agree?

Until next time,

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Being here, living in another country, having the strange and wonderful experiences I've been having...sometimes it is overwhelming to think of how our lives have been split into two- our lives here, and our lives continuing (without us) back home.
A couple from the school are returning home on Monday. Unfortunately, they received some important and tragic news from home which demands that they go back immediately.
It reminds me that while I am living this life here in Thailand, my life back home is not on hold. That is a scary feeling- that much will have changed when I get back, that I may have missed many crucial events, that I may find that my return is not to what and where I thought I would return to.
In any case, it is a very sad turn of events that Catherine and Darcy have to leave, but I know that they have made the best decision considering the circumstances and that they will someday return. If not, I'll have to make the trip to Winnepeg sometime to relive our fun times together...

We had sushi tonight. It was really pretty sushi- how could I have expected anything less, this being Thailand, the land of physical appearances?

From the left to right, top to bottom: Ryan, Catherine, Alisa and Darcy; my lovely dinnermates.

Our hearts were happy...

...but now they are broken.

Good luck, Catherine and Darcy- it was great while it lasted.

Until next time,

Friday, June 23, 2006

All Lit Up

The other night we went to Khao San Road (sort of the white person hub of Bangkok- I've been there a few times; the first time I went I thought "This street is whiter than I am") and had dinner. When we were driving back, it was dark. There are a lot of decorations around the city for the King's 60th anniversary, and they are best appreciated at night.

It reminds me of Christmas back home...which makes me miss Canada. I miss many things about home- some inevitable, others surprising. I never thought I would miss wearing a toque, Kraft Dinner, driving in Calgary, cold water at the beach... but I do. And I miss my family, my friends, my room, my things, playing soccer, going out to "the usual places" on the weekends, being able to phone people whenever I want...

I suspect I'll come home for a visit in October. If I do, I already have a list of things that MUST occur while I'm back:
1. Play a soccer game
2. See a concert
3. Walk in snow
4. Drive through the mountains
5. Enjoy many tearful reunions and, unfortunately, sad goodbyes

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bring on the Chalk

There's actually not a stick of chalk in the school: all whiteboards. That's okay, because I can still post my long awaited, much anticipated post about school!!!!
There may be more than one, because coming up on Thursday is Pay Respect to the Teacher Day, which is supposed to be quite the do.
In the meantime, I'll get up what I finally put together today...

Welcome to school!

We have a really big flag!

We teach your children English!!! Or at least, that's what the sign says!!!

The landscaping is quite incredible!!! It looks like that's where a lot of the budget goes and that's why the teachers are rationed computer paper and supplies!!!

Check out the awesome fountain!!! Wow!!!

And look at the swell playground!!!

And check out this amazing room, devoted entirely to science!!! Too bad there are not enough chairs for the students!!! And not enough microscopes!!! And four outlets in the whole room! And no paper towel!!! And one tiny garbage can!!! And none of that matters half the time because the science teacher hasn't been given a key for some reason!!! Ha ha ha but doesn't it LOOK great?!?!?

Our teachers are the best!!! Just check out Miss Heather- she's a laugh and a half!!!

Sorry- that post turned out more sarcastic than I thought it would. I guess I'm just channelling some of the frustration I have felt at school...it is a lot of fun and the kids are great, but it can be really hard to deal with some of the policies and procedures of the school, the communication problems and the general inconsistencies in expectation I've encountered. I suppose with any new job there are issues, and they are multiplied by the cultural differences here.

I'll have another post with pictures of my kids soon!

Until next time,

Sunday, June 18, 2006

First Time For Everything

This weekend there was a Texas-Scramble golf tournament organized for all the schools at Kanchanaburi, about two hours outside Bangkok. It's where the Death Bridge site (The Bridge on the River Kwai) and other World War Two historical sites are, but we didn't visit any of those places this time.
No, there was only time for the first golf game of my life.
How many people can say that their very first 18 holes were played at a place like this?

We were in teams of 4 or 5, with people from the four different schools on each team so we could get to know each other better. It's nice to do things with the staff from the other schools because we become very isolated hanging out with the same 20 people all the time.
My team had (from the right) Soibhan, me, Simon, Jordan and Agga (not pictured), plus our lovely caddies. We each had our own caddy- in Thailand, everyone golfs with a caddy, who chooses your clubs (if you want them to) and finds your ball when it goes actually INTO a tree (but not the water, I found out) and puts your ball onto the green when your drive is short. Or so they did with our team.

I was pretty terrible at first, but I think I got better. I had a few decent drives and putts, and by the end I could hit the ball in the air fairly often but I always hit it way off to the right for some reason. Oh well, I guess LPGA Champion is another life goal I'll have to cross off that list...

Around the sixth hole we looked up to see that there was a rainbow or other phenomenon AROUND the sun. All the way around. It was really hard to take a picture of but here's some of it:

On a final note about Kanchanaburi- we ate at a restaurant called Apples, which came highly recommended by several people.
I could see why when I ate my Yellow Curry with Tofu- it was the best meal I have had in Thailand. It reminded me so much of Thai Away Home yellow curry in Vancouver that I almost cried...

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Long Weekend=Long Entry

...presenting: The Ko Phi Phi Crew!!!

Aren't we fabulous?

This long weekend we flew out to Phuket, stayed a night at Patong beach, then took a ferry to Ko Phi Phi for two nights, then ferried back to Phuket and spent a night in Nai Yang. It was incredible!!! Our last-minute planning paid off in the end- we didn't decide what to do for the weekend until Thursday night, which turned out to be okay because we had Monday and Tuesday off and were surprised with Friday off as well!!! We flew out Friday afternoon and came back Tuesday morning.

We stood on the beach at Patong at night and looked out at the waves coming in...it was surreal, thinking about how two years ago the tsunami came in right where we were standing. There are pictures posted at Patong of people running from a massive wave, and it is difficult to comprehend how those people must have felt, and to understand what possibly happened to them seconds after the picture was taken.

The people of Patong are jovial and game for a good time, though...even if some strange foreign girl comes along wearing the same t-shirt as them, they keep smiling.
I LOVE those two pictures, especially because I'm about twice the size of that guy but I know he could destroy me with one punch. Thai people are deceptive that way- tiny little people with the strength of giants.

Speaking of destroying people with one punch, we watched some boxing in Patong.

This guy dripped sweat ALL over me...but I guess that's understandable considering he had just been kicking some other guy in the head for about 15 minutes.

We spent most of the night out because we didn't feel obligated to linger in our hotel room, enjoying the view...
There was about 6 inches of clearance between the window and the solid brick wall of the next building. I wondered what would happen if there was a fire...but then I remembered that the buildings are solid concrete and probably completely fireproof, so we (sort of) joked about how that was our tsunami escape. He he he...nervous laughter...

Ko Phi Phi is a small, barbell shaped island not too far from Phuket. Most of the establishments are in the centre of the island, which is about 200 metres across. Almost everything in this part of the island was wiped out when the tsunami hit. It was incredibly profound to stand where such destruction had happened and know how hard the people have worked to regain their way of life- and what spirit these people have to carry on the way they do.

The first night we went out for dinner- it was fantastic, I had Spaghetti Carbonara (of all things to eat in Thailand) and Shrimp and Squid with Garlic and Pepper. YUMMAY!

Then we went to the bar, where I met "Che", this fabulous bartender with maple leaf boxers. Don't worry- he showed them to US, we didn't ask!!!

There may have been some dancing...I absolutely ADORE Ilda's dancin' face.

There were fire shows on Ko Phi Phi every night- and I remembered to take some pictures!!! This show was put on by what seemed to be a family- two young boys, a woman and a man. We weren't sure if the woman and man are the boys' parents, though- many children were left orphaned by the tsunami.

The next day we went snorkelling!!! It was AMAZING!!! I saw SO many different kinds of fish- puffer fish, clown fish (Nemo), angel fish, parrot fish, and SHARKS!!! That's right, I swam with three reef sharks!

It was bound to happen eventually...the Titanic shot.

We went to a place called Monkey Beach, and there sure were monkeys on the beach...I kept wishing it was called Monkey Island: yes, Tim and Matt, I was thinking of you...PS- small personal shout out: Tim- I'm so sorry about UVIC. But I'm glad you'll be around for my convenience. Matt- you rule. My mug is wicked and envied. I am so cool right now at work- keep sending stuff or that'll wear off quick (jk).

I had a new roomie for this trip- and it was awesome! Alisa is so great. Too bad I woke her up one night with all my bug-bite scratching- that's right, there was another nasty round of biting bugs vs. Heather's legs, and I have to say that Heather's legs didn't stand up very well to the brutal attack of the bugs. Ha ha ha, my legs didn't stand up too well, I'm so funny...

It was full moon on Sunday, which always makes for a good party!

Alisa took this brilliant shot-so perfect for the full moon. It's so tricky- is that a gecko- ON THA MOON?!?!?!? Ha ha ha.

The trip was beautiful...it was so nice to do some new and incredible things in some new and incredible places.

Until next time,