Heather's Thairy

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

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Immigration Day

On Tuesday I went to the Ministry of Education and Immigration to get my visa extended and get my work permit. I didn't really do much- just sat around all day and signed a few papers about halfway through the day. I got bored driving around Bangkok so I started taking pictures. There are some really interesting things you can see just driving around...

On one bridge there were elephant heads on all the pillars. Sort of reminded me of the lion bridge in Calgary, only there really ARE elephants in Bangkok.

The King's crest and picture, as well as pictures of other members of the royal family, are displayed around the city. I'm not sure if they are markers of government buildings or if they can be placed anywhere.

We passed an important looking building with a moat around it. Just in case of raids by passing non-aquatic armies.

There are temples throughout Bangkok- some are larger and more impressive than others. All have beautiful detailing in the architecture.

Probably the most common sight when driving around Bangkok is the taxi. Often moving in herds, the taxi comes in many colours and shapes. Some are healthy and full of vitality while others suffer from breathing problems and physical blemishes. Fun game: how many cabs can you get in one photo? I figure if I am ever in an office tower overlooking a street I can get over a hundred in a picture. Can't do it at the airport or at a tourist trap- that's cheating!!!

Another common sight around Bangkok is the tuk tuk. I've taken two tuk tuks and both times I wondered why afterwards. The air in Bangkok is thick...some might say with mystery and intrigue, I say with carcinogens and smog. Tuk tuks are open to the streets of Bangkok, the polluted plague of which riders of tuk tuks are forced to breathe. Apparently tuk tuk drivers aren't the most considerate users of the road: at first, I thought these two tuk tuks were somehow connected, like one was towing the other. Nope. The rear tuk tuk had simply run into the one in front. Neither party seemed to care, so I suppose no harm, no foul...

My last treat for you, the viewer, is this great poster. Now, I'm not really sure what this gun-toting vampire is selling, but I'll take ten!!!

Until next time,

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Just like Mom's

I’ve been wanting to make this meal for quite a while now; my family knows that one of my favorite meals is a pork chop, mashed potatoes and creamed corn (yeah, yeah- who likes creamed corn? Me and the elderly, that’s who!). Now, I haven’t found creamed corn and I don’t have a potato masher, but I have a close second with this effort…

What’s up real butter! Yum.
Also delicious is this snack:

Does anyone else find the tag “Hi-Krack” hilarious for more than one reason? Tempting, no?

Until next time,

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Introducing...Miss Bangkok 2006!!!

I looked AMAZING the other night. To achieve this incredible look yourself is simple:

1. I sunburnt my face in Ayuthaya, but not the whole thing. To get your very own "pink beard o'pain", wear a hat and sunglasses and hike around outside all day. Very stylish!

2. I managed to tan my neck in a most flattering pattern. To do it yourself, wear a tight-fitting t-shirt with a round neck. It's lovely- almost like a skin necklace! No need to accessorize!

3. For some reason my eye swelled up, perhaps from an allergic reaction or maybe as a sympathetic gesture to my other eye, which was irritated that I had put my contacts in even though one was ripped. The "piratey ugly eye" is easily obtained by having a good friend punch you in the face.

Three quick steps and you're well on your way to ultimate attractiveness!!!



Until next time,

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Capital Time

On Friday we (Tony, Moira, Ilda, Louis and I) took a train to Ayuthaya, the old capital of Thailand (then known as Siam). The school is relatively close to a train station, and we got on a train bound for Ayuthaya by 5:30. It cost 12 baht (36 cents) and got us there in about an hour and fifteen minutes. We were completely impressed- it's so nice not to sit in traffic.

Ayuthaya at night was a bit unimpressive- the city seems to shut down around 8 PM- we walked around a bit to have dinner and look around, and the "night market" was closing at about 9 PM (just one example of how Ayuthaya doesn't really have a night life). We found a busier strip and had a few drinks; it was an early night in preparation for the next day, which would prove to be quite busy.

We got up fairly early (aided by the constant crowing of the masses of roosters and chickens outside our hotel- yech) and headed out to rent bicycles. Our Lonely Planet books informed us that this is the best way to tour around Ayuthaya- I would have to agree; it was terribly convenient, cheap and fun.

My bike, the so-called Master Crocodile, at first seemed pretty sweet, but I soon discovered that the handle bars were loose (and would rotate forwards when I braked and in all directions when I steered) and the gears were non-existent. Still functional, though, and for 50 baht/day ($1.50), I didn't complain. Plus I felt pretty swank on my bright orange Master Crododile with its cool AND practical carry-basket on the front.

Armed with several maps given to us by various people of Ayuthaya, we went in search of ruins. Ayuthaya was at its peak around 600 years ago- there are several locations where ruins of the original capital still stand. I wasn't really sure what to expect- what we saw was far more impressive than I imagined.

Our first stop was Wat Mahathat. It is immense, and around each corner there is another incredible surprise to look at. I never imagined the ruins would be so intact or vast.

The Wat consists of many large, brick towers that are of various sizes (some HUGE), walls, platforms and archways. Many of the towers are in the style shown above- circular, with doors on them that are bricked in. I am not sure why the Thais constructed temples with these solid towers- I'm sure the architecture has special significance but I don't know what yet.

Other towers look like this one shown above: pointed. Again, I don't know the difference between the two styles of towers nor the significance of either; they are incredible to look at, though.

Some of the Wat is in fantastic condition, other parts are crumbling away. It is all protected and supervised now, with admission fees charged that go towards upkeep and preservation. The grounds are fairly immaculate and visitors generally are very respectful of the ruins.

There are many Buddha statues throughout the Wat- hundreds of them, probably- and the vast majority are headless. We discussed possible reasons for this- we weren't sure if it was thieves, original design (with some meaning we aren't aware of), natural degredation or some unknown cause. Not all are headless, though...

One of the most impressive parts of Wat Mahathat was the Buddha image- the head only, actually- that a tree has grown around.

Our next stop was just across the street- we hopped on the bikes and headed to Wat Ratchaburana. This Wat was not nearly as large, but was in better condition and had a very large building that you could walk up and go inside.

After Wat Ratchaburana, we went to The Grand Palace ruins. I was surprised at the size of the ruins of the Grand Palace as compared to those of Wat Mahathat- I thought the Grand Palace would be larger. It turns out that when these places were in use, the Grand Palace was quite a bit larger than what stands today.

Some of the Grand Palace ruins are a different colour than those at the Wats- and I think they are a different material. There is also a higher concentration of the pointed towers at the Grand Palace.

Some of the ruins at the Grand Palace are really unique: this crumbled arch looked like it defied the laws of physics; it also was visually stunning.

Beside the Grand Palace ruins is a modern temple that is still in use. It is quite large and impressive from the outside...

...and even more impressive on the inside. It houses one of the largest bronze Buddha images in Thailand- it is ENORMOUS. I cannot even comprehend how people could create such a thing.

After we had some lunch (crab with spring onion sauce- delicious!) we went to our last stop for the day- the Ayuthaya Historical Study Centre. The map said it is "a must-see for those wishing to become better acquainted with the history of the former capital". It was much smaller than expected, and no photos are allowed of the inside, so here's the outside:

The inside of the museum is as beautiful as the outside- it has one level of displays that inform visitors about historical Ayuthaya.

Our trip to Ayuthaya ended in the evening when we caught another 12 baht train to Bangkok- we were back in the city in about an hour. I was truly impressed and know that I will take another trip there sometime- we spent an entire day searching the old capital and, according to the map, we barely scratched the surface of what Ayuthaya has to offer.

Until next time,

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

So Fresh and So Clean

There comes a time in one's life when one must chip coffee grounds out of the workplace freezer. A time when one must sort through seven jars of mayonnaise and discard those deemed biohazardous. A time when one rolls up one's sleeves and dives headfirst into the vomit-stinking cesspool that once was a food storage facility, designed to keep edibles SAFE.

I cleaned the fridge at work on Saturday. It was something of an ordeal, one I decided to take on because of the smell eminating from the place I stick my lunch every day. I figured it couldn't possibly be healthy.

An hour later, having thrown away long expired milk, yogurt, salad dressing and pork steak (an inch of mold on that baby), I was satified with my work. Unfortunately I didn't take any before pictures, but here's the result:

I was feeling rather bold, probably as a result of sniffing noxious fumes for a while, so I put this note up on the door:

Did I make anyone upset? Perhaps. Probably the same people who left a molecule of marmalade or a six-month old half-empty juice box in the fridge. I imagined Monday something like this:
"Hey, where's my juice?!? I was saving that!!!"
"Heather, what did you do with my marmalade? I had a good gram left in there!!! You owe me a new marmalade!!!"

Thankfully, I only received positive feedback. We'll see how long the cleanliness lasts...

Until next time,