Heather's Thairy

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back in the Bangkok Groove

On Sunday I got back to Bangkok...with my friend Ray in tow. His first big trip abroad, wow!
The trip back started with a "random search" in the Calgary airport, which apparently includes public groping. My Westjet flight was delayed, which is unusual and was somewhat nerve-wracking seeing as how I had exactly two hours from the intended arrival time to the departure time of my international flight...but it was all okay, I came in about a half-hour late but we had no problem checking in and getting on the flight.
After an extremely long haul, we got to Bangkok...
Let the adventures begin!

Until next time,

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oh Canada

One little housekeeping note before I proceed with this post...
Some people have informed me that the pictures I post are sometimes overlapping and difficult to view. That, unfortunately, is a product of the web design and formatting that blogger uses. When I post pictures, the site is using the parameters of whatever screen and computer I am posting from (generally my laptop). Since screen size varies, sometimes the page loads differently and the pictures are hard to view. In my infinite wisdom of computers and their functions, I cannot do anything about this. Sorry!

This post comes all the way from CALGARY- not Bangkok, but Calgary. We made it safely to Vancouver after 24 hours of travel time that included a few-hour stopover in Tokyo. The Thai air leg of the flight was great- good food, good service, comfortable seats. Tokyo's airport is sparse and clean and features remarkably affordable food and merchandise. I expected everything in a Japanese airport to be ridiculously overpriced, but it wasn't so. It also wasn't as new-age and spectacular as I thought it might be, although it certainly wasn't shabby or old.
The Air Canada leg was borderline brutal, with so-so service, small seats (one of which was broken, but luckily it was vacant) and 50% good food. I say 50% good because one meal was great while the other was...strange. I like airline food. Anyone who knows me knows I don't like my foods to touch and I am amused by small versions of things, so airline food is generally a big hit with me. Unless it's gross.

We got to Vancouver ahead of schedule but that advantage was lost when we had to wait about a million years for our baggage. I think there should be a rule about claiming bags: if a bag has gone around the thing three times, it goes in a big pile over on the side and you can get it there. It's fairly frustrating to think your bag is finally coming only to discover that it is the SAME BAG that has already passed SiXTEEN times.

Ray and Trent were there to meet us, which was terribly exciting, especially when Ray jumped the guard rail and ran up to hug me. Jet-lagged Heather worried about being arrested but in hindsight, that was a pretty nice thing to do.

A few days in Vancouver included visits with my grandmother, several aunts and uncles and a couple cousins, as well as quality time with Ray and Trent. Ray and I went to the Science Centre and saw the BodyWorks 3 exhibit, which features plasticized bodies (real, donated cadavers) in various stages of dissection arranged in life-like poses. It was fascinating but entirely disturbing. There is something wrong with taking the body of someone no longer alive, stripping it of all but a few living features, and then combining the scientific merit of such an exercise with an artistic "flair" and props taken from the living. I see the benefit of having actual humans to examine and study to find out more about our biology- indeed, I learned quite a bit about the body- but I fail to see how manipulating people, who lived a certain way and led a life that we know nothing about, into poses like "The Archer" and "The Skateboarder" adds anything to the value of the exhibit. I was especially concerned when I thought about the possibility of knowing one of the people "involved" in the display.

We drove to Calgary on Wednesday of last week, and though I had intentions of viewing mountain scenery the whole way back I slept through most of it. Jet-lag hits pretty hard, it would seem- I slept for 13 hours two nights in a row, and then for about another 8 when we were driving back.

It snowed and rained a lot while we were driving...which just reassured me that, in fact, I am in Canada.

Calgary has been less whirl-wind than Vancouver was, but it has still been fairly eventful- I have had some GREAT dinners (Thanksgiving TWICE), seen lots of people, done a bunch of shopping (which hurts- I don't pretend to understand economics but it seems the whole system is arbitrary when there can be SUCH a disparity in pricing across the world) and generally had a good time.

It's good to be back, but I'm also glad that I'm going back to Bangkok for another six months. The first six went by quickly; I hope the next are just as great!

Until next time,

Saturday, October 14, 2006

And We're Off!!!

Tomorrow I leave Bangkok with my parents. We fly through Tokyo to Vancouver, where we'll spend a few days and then drive to Calgary. I get to spend about ten days there and then it's back on another plane to Bangkok.
I'm so excited to visit home!!!

Until next time,

Friday, October 13, 2006

What the....?

I've seen some of the strangest things ever in Bangkok and Thailand. Sometimes, though, I am still surprised...

Canada herb?
I'm not even going to TOUCH that one. There's just far too many jokes to even BEGIN.

Until next time,

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Kan We Do It? (part 2)

...continued from the previous post...
The next day was just as busy. We started with a walk down to the Death Railway Museum, which is the museum that Steph and I had meant to go to on our previous visit to Kanchanaburi. It was very comprehensive and nice; very clean and professional looking, not full of grotesque dioramas and weird artifacts. There was one "hospital room" that reminded me of the other museum, and I suspect that perhaps the Death Railway Museum commissioned the same clown who outfitted the Jeath War Museum to create that hospital room.
After the museum, we met up with the rest of the group and went to Safari World. It's a sort of zoo, with a "safari" through some of the larger enclosures and animal shows as well as more traditional zoo habitats. The safari part was great, though we wished we could have directed the driver around the enclosures.

During the safari, you open the windows and feed the animals corn or bananas. They are pretty tame and come right up to the bus.

After the safari, we looked around at the other animals. We weren't particularly impressed with how sparse and small the enclosures were; how can it be right that a fox has the identical enclosure to a monkey? Surely there is some difference in what they require...

I also met this fellow, a statue of a gorilla holding...a bunch of bananas. Possibly the most hilarious statue EVER. Why, you ask? Uh...because of his funny face. Yeah, that's it. Let's just say that Darcy and I both cried we thought it was so funny.

There are three different animal shows at Safari World: The Dog Show, The Crocodile Show, and the Elephant Show. We saw all three, or at least parts of all three. The dog show was an abomination: borderline animal abuse coupled with terrible music and extremely loud commentary. We left early. The crocodile show was a bit better, being more composed, quieter and a bit more caring for the animals involved. It was almost boring, though: I think it would have been better had we been able to understand the commentary.
The last show was by far the best: the elephant show. It ended up being the best mostly because we were the first to arrive, and the keepers let a few of us ride the elephants!!!

The show itself was not nearly as comprehensive as the one in Chiang Mai, but it was still enjoyable and didn't exploit the animals the way they seemed to in the dog show.

After Safari World we went to the Tiger Temple, which was basically the same as when I went before. This time, my photographer was a bit of a moron and only toook 6 pictures (as compared to some other people who had over 15). He also took a classic one where my head is cut off. Guess he didn't want some person messing up his tiger picture. The best part of the tiger temple is walking up afterwards and having a look at the other animals; the little bear was still there and still very cute, although I think he has grown a bit and he didn't have his blanket. He was playing with a plastic water bottle and we also got to see him drink two bottles of milk.

I think that Mom and Dad had a good time, which was the most important thing. I got to see and do some new and exciting things and I got to see the bear again. We stayed in a new place that was actually as nice as the ads and the Lonely Planet book claimed, and we ate good food all weekend and no one got sick. All in all: success!

Until next time,

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kan We Do It? (part 1)

...yes we can! We went to Kanchanaburi this past weekend, along with several other staff members and special guests. It was action-packed; we tried to get as much in as possible.
We stayed at Ploy Guesthouse, which is quite nice (I think). Beautiful landscaping and friendly staff, plus free breakfast. I'll stay there again next time I go to Kanchanaburi.
The first night we got in around 8:00 and had a late dinner at Apple's. My parents were pretty impressed with the food there and we ended up eating all our meals out at Apple's. They both tried various Thai dishes and weren't disappointed by any of them.
The next morning it was a bright and early start, having booked a tour that was supposed to pick us up at 8. Unfortunately, they forgot to get us, so at 9 a songthaew came and got us and caught us up with the rest of the group. I wasn't too pleased about the whole thing, but Mom and Dad really enjoyed the songthaew so it was actually sort of a good thing in the end.
The tour started at Erawan Waterfalls, a 7-tiered falls about an hour from the town. It is a long and somewhat difficult hike to get to the top- we stopped at the fifth tier, having hiked for over an hour through sometimes treacherous terrain.
It was beautiful...

Mom and Dad were really determined on the hike and made it past some difficult obstacles...

There are a lot of fish in the water; some are really large and apparently they all bite. Not hard, I'm told, but I didn't test this theory. Lots of people swim in the pools at the bottoms of the falls, and it's supposed to be really nice and refreshing but I don't really care to get munched on by fish.

There were some trees after the fourth tier with cloth wrapped around, something I have seen before...but this was different. Beside the trees were fancy dresses hanging on headless mannequins. It was a little creepy and no one knew what the symbolic meaning of the dresses was.

The second stop on the tour was at a cave alongside the Death Railway. The cave itself was dull and unexciting, but there was a nice view from the railway. We spent far too much time there; almost an hour.

After riding the train for a while, we drove into town and had a meager 20 minute stop at the Bridge on the River Kwai. I was disappointed that we had such a short time at the bridge, it being the main attraction of Kanchanaburi and all. Our tour guide was a bit pushy and rushed us along at the end; the tour was supposed to last until 6 but we were back at Ploy by 5:40. Oh well; the falls were spectacular and we were tired anyway.

Another dinner at Apple's and an early night to rest up for the next day of adventure...to be shared in the next episode of "Kan We Do It?"!!!

Until next time,

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Big Surprise

So, that surprise picture that I was saving is sort of anti-climactic now considering my father completely guessed what I was up to. Here's what I was being secretive about...

...the body paint tattoo I got on Ko Samet. I was thinking I would be so sly and freak my parents out when I met them at the airport. But then my father sent me an email that guessed what was afoot and anyway, the tattoo had faded. I recall, though he would probably deny it, Dad saying that I could get the tattoo for real if I wanted to. Interesting.

Until next time,

They're Here!

My parents arrived the other night safe and sound. The new airport is HUGE and busy and not very easy to navigate, but I found them with no problem.
I was so happy, they went out today and visited the zoo and then met me at school. We went to the Mall and had dinner at Sizzler...I know, not a genuine Thai meal but it was good and I was in the mood for stacks of vegetables from the salad bar.
We're going to Kanchanaburi tomorrow; they're going to spend the day at the Grand Palace and then meet me at school again.
Thai adventures with the Fords are under way!!!

Until next time,