Sunday, January 31, 2010

ChaingMai - AFS Midstay Camp

So I left on Monday January 25th in the early morning for the Midstay camp. I was not looking forward to it because I thought that it was just going to be the 5 of us again. I left for the van at 4:30 AM because my host dad had to pick someone up or something like that. I arrived in Bangkok at 6:30 and sat at Victory monument and pigeon and people watched until 8 when the AFS guy came and got me. We then went around and picked up other students (there were other students!!!). It was a 30 minutes van ride to the AFS office and then I sat and waited for everyone to get there.

We had a short meeting then we were on our way. It was a long bus ride and for the first half I didn’t talk to anyone. Bashayer called and I talked with her for a while but neither one of us had too many minutes. I listened to my iPod and fell asleep. When I was awake I listened in on some of the conversations. I got an education in the problems on Italian and German school. I got to hear all sorts of complaints about host families, coordinators, and life in general. More than half of them have changed families! When you want to change families with AFS all you have to do is ask and they will let you change!

About halfway we stopped and picked up 3 girls. They sat next to me since there was an open seat. I talked with them the rest of the way. I got really close with the girl who sat next to me. Her name is Adriani from Germany. When we stopped at BigC for dinner I bought StepUp 2 for 100baht ($3.34) and we bought some snacks. When we arrived at the hotel both Ariadni and I had to wait up because our roommates weren’t arriving till 1 and in Thailand you only get one key. So we watched a few movies and ate.

On Tuesday the five of us separated from the other 60 students for our community service project. I didn’t know what to expect because the only thing they told us is that we were going to help out at a night safari. IT WAS AWESOME!!!! The first thing we got to do when we got there was feed the baby animals. There were baby black panthers, a baby tiger, a baby lion, and a baby Asiatic black bear. After we fed them we split into three groups and were assigned a leader. Bashayer and I were a group (duh!) and our leader started off really nice.

The first thing we did was go and pick up food for the ostriches. We loaded the ATV and then off we went. He took us right into the cage with all of the ostriches. We couldn’t do much because he said it wasn’t safe for us to get off the ATV but it was still fun. He collected all the eggs which we thought was a little weird. He didn’t speak much English so everything was a Thai English mix, it was fun. We asked him why he was collecting them and he said that when they get wet they don’t hatch (we had rain the night before) so he was collecting them to drain the yoke to feed the baby lion and tiger. They then use the white as pigment for clothes and things. We didn’t know what to think of it but we decided that if that is how it was there was nothing we could do about it. He also said that when it is dry they collect the eggs to put them in incubators for hatching.

After the ostriches he let us go and play with the babies. They were soooo cute!!! The baby tiger loved me. The baby lion was crabby and anytime you touched her she would growl and you. Bashayer was scared of them and so she was very hesitant about touching them and playing with them, but I went and picked up the tiger and was holding her. She asked to hold her for a picture but as soon as the picture was over she handed her back to me . I asked the guy if I could keep the baby tiger but he said no . I hope that I can play with more babies one day.

When play time was over it was time to work. We cleaned the adult lionesses and tigresses cage. We had to use a broom to clean up the poop (they don’t have pooper scoopers to do it) and then we had to spray it down and get all the dirt out and then sweep the excess water out. We helped him finish with some of his other small tasks and then it was lunch.

After lunch they invited us to watch a hyena surgery! Some of the hyenas were fighting and one got severely injured. His big toe was hanging on by only a sliver of skin and his leg was all torn up. We got to watch them remove the toe. IT WAS SO COOL! Everyone else was grossed out and couldn’t believe that I was fascinated by it. I videoed almost the whole thing (though Bashayer doesn’t think anyone will want to watch it). There are moments were I think I would make a good doctor and that was one of them, then I think of A & P and remember why I’m no longer interested (that and I love traveling and seeing the world :-D)

We then headed up to the tallest point in Thailand (or so I’m told). There is a Wat at the top so we took the long journey up. It was pretty but I’ve seen more beautiful ones closer to the ground. The view was gorgeous though. You could see all of ChaingMai.

We then rejoined the group for a traditional North Thailand dinner. We sat on the floor and ate fried chicken, sticky rice, fried sweet noodles, fried bananas, and some other things. They came around in traditional costumes and take your pictures for 100 baht, I got one. Then there was traditional dancing and some other performances. It was kind of fun.

Wednesday was fun. In the morning the five of us went Elephant riding, Oxen cart, and Bamboo rafting. The others did that the day before while we were doing community service (They also went to an adventure park where one guy broke his arm). The Elephant riding was not as fun as the first time. It felt like I was on a rollercoaster. Our elephant was crazy. (Sorry Sarah but the only place you can elephant ride is in the North I looked at it’s about 1000baht per person [just over $33]). Oxen cart riding is lame. It is two oxen pulling a cart up a hill less than ½ a mile. Our driver was cool though and let us drive while he walked and took pictures for us. The bamboo rafting was very peaceful and beautiful.

After we finished there we went and met up with the other group to go to a bamboo umbrella factory. We got to watch the process of hand making a bamboo umbrella and fan. It takes a lot of time for each part of the process. It was really cool to see how much work goes into making just one. I of course bought an umbrella and a bought a fan (I know I shouldn’t have bought both but they are souvenirs and they will be with me for the rest of my life). I didn’t take pictures of them so you will all have to wait to see them until I get home. I also had them paint a design on my camera bag for 70baht ($2) (the lady let me choose the price starting at 50 baht and it looked really cool so I gave her 70.

That night we went to the Night Market (the coolest thing ever!!!). I went with Bashayer, Jackie (another girl from Germany), and Adriani (it was her 18th birthday!!!). We had a lot of fun. I bought a 7/11 T-shirt (they have more than we have Starbucks if you can imagine that), a “Same Same. . . but Different” shirt (what they always say to us), a Thai consonant shirt (no vowels but oh well), and a Thailand shirt. I also got a purse (I’ve wanted one for a while and I’m glad I got it after what happened that night), and a few other things. We went to a European and Thai restaurant to celebrate Adriani’s birthday and Bashayer and I shared some Pad Thai and some other type of pasta thing.

They told us that we all had to be back at the McDonald’s before 11 because the bus couldn’t stop and they weren’t joking. As soon as the buses stopped (there was a red light thankfully) we all got on and the bus started to leave, some people had to get on as the bus was taking off. On the way back to the hotel I told P’Dai that it was Adriani’s birthday so the whole bus sang “Happy Birthday” Thai style and then the Germans did it in German for her. She was so red by the end :-D!

The girls then came to our hotel room and we watched movies. (the other students were out on the back patio area right below our window drinking because the AFS director said that as long as they didn’t see them doing it it wasn’t a problem!). Curfew was 1 so of course, being teenagers, we used every minute. After the girls left Bashayer and I packed because we are better night people then morning (especially her). It was 3 something when we got to bed. I got up at 6 (I’m always the first because otherwise I would never get in because she would never get up). I got up (it was dark) and stepped in a puddle of water. I didn’t know where it came from and ignored it at first but after stepping in it in several places I began to wake up enough to worry. I picked up my purse from the ground and it was dripping. I then picked up my laptop bag and it was soaking too! Our fridge broke and we had water all over! I was NOT happy. My stuff is fine but I had to let it sit out and dry and I had to put my laptop and accessories in plastic bags before putting it in the case.

After breakfast we all loaded the buses and headed for a different province, Adriani’s province. It was a 7 hour drive but I talked with my friends the whole time so it didn’t seem that long and we watched Juno and Transformers 2. When we got there we went to some historical park and then went to the hotel. We went out for dinner at this restaurant on the river (it took us 45 minutes to get there because the bus drivers got lost and only 10 minutes to get back).

That night I talked with P’Dai and the director (I don’t remember her name). Then I went and loading pictures and videos onto my computer and talked with Bashayer. We went to bed around 1 (why is it that even responsible teenagers are so irresponsible when they get together?).

Friday we all went home. Bashayer went on the Northeast bus and Adriani stayed in her province so it was just Jackie and I. It was a long day. We talked almost the whole trip and then we watch some Thai movie. There were no English subtitles or anything so I only understood parts and the acting so I feel asleep after 30 minutes; I woke to see the last hour though. We arrived back at the AFS office around 3:30 and I was supposed to have a taxi after 15 minutes but it was closer to an hour before it came and it was hot and very very humid! I met a boy from Australia, Jason, who is going to be staying in Petchaburi for two weeks with Gayoon to TA. We rode back together and talked the whole way so it seemed like a pretty short ride.

AFS told me Gayoon was supposed to pick me up so I didn’t call my host mom and for some reason she didn’t call me. When we arrived the van dropped us off at some hospital that I’ve never been too before so I didn’t know anything. Gayoon wasn’t there so we tried the pay phone but it wasn’t working and my phone had no reception. We waited for 30 minutes then called P’Dai (the pay phone worked to call her) and when we finally got ahold of her Gayoon showed up.

She said that I should have called my host mom but since she couldn’t leave me there alone she took me with her. We went to her house to drop off Jason’s bag and to pick up her son. Then we went to dinner. At 8:30 my host mom picked me up and we went home. I then went on the computer and loading some photos and talked with Adriani and Mom and Dad. Then I showered and had to unpack because the laundry was coming in the morning. It was 1 when I finally got to bed.

I woke up at 4:30 because my host mom said that I had to leave at 5:30. My host dad didn’t even wake up till 5:30 so I was up and waiting for nothing. I took the van at 7 to Bangkok and I met up with Jackie at 9:30 in front of Dunkin’ Donuts because I couldn’t find the 7/11 (the BTS has 6 different exits it’s crazy trying to figure out which one to get off to get where you want to go). I then ate breakfast and then we went shopping.

I bought a few books that Dad said I should and then we went and watched Pope Joan, a pretty good movie. I then bought some peanut butter and granola bars and Macy’s birthday present. The rest of the time we just spent goofing around and having fun. I arrived home at 8:45, ate and crashed.

Today I have like a million things to do but it already 5 and I’ve done very few. Tomorrow I have school again and I can just imagine the greeting I’m going to get after almost two weeks away. Only 3 weeks of school left. I’m done the 19th, then it’s summer!!!!! So much is going to happen this summer, I’m so excited. I only have one week of school in May so I don’t even know why I have to go. I was supposed to go and buy new school shoes today because I don’t have any because the last day of school someone took mine and left me with nothing not even a pair to say that it was an accident, but no one went anywhere so I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow.

Well life’s just as crazy for me as ever. Hope you are all well.

Lots of love,


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mo Ko Surin Island

So I left Wednesday night for the South with Kun Ma, Meow, and Mike. We took a bus from Petchaburi to the bus stop closest to the island. We left Petchaburi at close to 10 PM and arrived at the bus station at 4:45 AM. I slept most of the ride so it wasn’t that long.

After we arrived at the bus station we waited until 7. We walked to a market to get some breakfast around 6. At 7 a truck picked us up and took us to the travel agency. We got our lifejackets and snorkels and then went to the dock and waited for the boat. We left around 9 and arrived at the island around 10:30. After we arrived we settled in and then went to the beach for a little while. We ate lunch and then went snorkeling.

Snorkeling was the most amazing thing I’ve done here. The water was so beautiful and all the animals. I had so much fun. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing was real. It looked like all those pictures you see, but it was right in front of me. I saw a shark and a jelly fish and some many colorful fish that I don’t even know the names of. I LOVED it!!!

After snorkeling we went back to the island and I laid on the beach and the others relaxed in hammocks. We had to stay in tents because the island we were on didn’t have any houses so we had no electricity. After dinner you shower and then either go to bed or go sit in the dining area because you can’t do much else.

Sleeping was rough because the ground was really hard. We didn’t have anything to go under us except that thin layer of plastic so we were right on the ground. I woke up very sore and tired from all the tossing and turning. I remember my host mom waking me up around 6 to watch birds (or something like that) and I remember saying something but don’t remember what I said, but I ended up going back to sleep. I got up at 8 to eat breakfast and at 9 we went snorkeling again.

We went to different spots the second day. It wasn’t as awesome as the first time, but it was still really cool. You could actually touch the coral by just letting your foot relax down! We weren’t supposed to touch it though because it would disturb the life. I came within inches of some many fish, I wanted to touch them but didn’t.

After we got back I sat on the beach. That is really all I did because I forgot pants (that’s what happens when you pack for two trips at the same time) so I could only wear my swimsuit. Even with several days in the sun I am STILL white!!! Some people came and spent like 10 minutes in the sun and were tanner than me, so not fair!

The last day we walked around the island and took pictures. At 1 we loaded the boats and headed for home. We stopped at First Beach (we stayed at Second Beach) and spent 30 minutes there. It was way nicer than ours. They had houses and normal bathrooms with nice showers. The beach had almost no trees so you could easily lay out and tan. It was very nice.
When we reloaded the boats Meow and Kun Ma were in the bathroom so they missed our boat and had to get a different one, but we all met back up at the speed boat. The speed boat held more than 60 people and we added 3 along the way, plus luggage. It was really cramped. It was an hour ride back to the mainland.

We then took the bus around 7 PM and arrived back in Petchaburi at 4 (we hung out at the bus station for a long while). The bus dropped us off a ways from the car so Kun Ma had to get a ride to the car and we had to wait. It wasn’t a long wait, 15 minutes, but the mosquitoes were bad. After we loaded everything we went into town. There were a lot of people up and around and many were already set up for the day. We stopped and got some food because we were hungry. We got home around 5:30 AM and I went to bed. Today I’ve loaded pics and videos and later I am going to pack and prepare for leaving again tomorrow.

Lessons learned:

- Living on the water has its advantages
o I met a couple who live on one of those really big fancy boats and they were really nice. They are originally from Canada. The set sail in 2004 and they haven’t seen winter since. They get to travel the world and see all sorts of amazing things.
- Foreigners are weird
o Mike was sleeping in a hammock and a guy came and started to move it slowly back and forth and make cooing type noises until he woke up and left.
o None of the children under 2 wore any clothes except may once in the 3 days
- British and French people love Thailand in January (that’s all there was really, one Spanish family, and Australian couple, me the only American, and maybe a hand full of Thais)
- The Ocean is anything but peaceful sounding at 2 AM
- No matter what you do and how careful you are, you and everything you bring is going to get full of sand
- Salt water mixed with sunscreen makes my face feel like it’s on fire
- No matter where I go the ants find me
- Check to make sure you packed everything before you leave (or make a list as Mom would tell me)

Tomorrow I head off again for Chaing Mai with AFS! I send my love and hope that you are all well.


Links :


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, Caning, and a Religious Celebration

Well these three topics have nothing in common except that they happened in the last week. I normally would start with the oldest event but it also is the middle so I’ll start with New Year.

In Thailand New Year is a big deal, almost like Christmas but not really. They have no classes but they go to school the 30th to celebrate with their class. My class had a party and we ate and played games and traded gifts. There was also a dance competition and some other activities but I didn’t see everything because I started to feel sick from being outside in the heat all day without drinking more than one bottle of water, I know stupid but whatever! The group of girls I gave stockings to for Christmas got together and bought me a Tweety pillow for New Year, which was really nice.

On the 31st I slept in!!! Well kind of, I woke up with the birds but went back to sleep and woke up and went back to sleep and repeat the pattern about a dozen times  In the afternoon Cherry and Peach came over and they went to the beach. I spent most the day reading which was better than the awkward feeling I had when I tried to do something with the girls. For dinner they had this boiled thing but they put egg in and it was all over everything so I just ate dessert and an apple with peanut butter! After dinner they went out the patio and played games while I sat there and eventually I read after getting bored with just sitting there. When they went in to watch TV I went to my room and read until it was close to midnight. At midnight I went and sat with them and counted down. After we wished each other a Happy New Year I went and called home and talked to Sarah for a while. The next day I woke up and loaded pics to facebook (the link is under the blog “Links”) then called home at their New Year to wish them a Happy New Year. All in all it was rather boring, but whatever I brought in the new decade in Thailand so that counts for exciting!!!

Now the caning. In the last two weeks I learned that they take a bamboo stick and hit the kids on the hands with it. Apparently, Meow and Mike got it done several times for being late and so we had to try and be on time, but Mike is rarely on time! So for every day they are late it gets harder. They also had a hair check yesterday and the kids that didn’t have the right hair style got hit and had one day to fix it or they would get it harder. Needless to say that after school yesterday we went and got Mike a haircut, the boy had a surprising amount of hair.

Last topic is the religious ceremony that took place at school today. There were no classes so that the students could sit and listen to the monk’s all day. I listened for most the day but my legs got cramped and kept falling asleep so I missed the last hour and a half. Even though I didn’t understand what they were saying it was really awesome to listen to. It was kind of like a singing, chanting type of thing that was really amazing. I wish I could explain more, but it really is something you would have to hear. All the students had to sit there but Lucas and I could be in the English Corner, though I didn’t go till late afternoon but he sat there most of the day.

Well that’s all that has happened in the last week really. The only other thing that is new is that Lucas is going home in the next week or two due to his stupidity! I am going to miss him though and wish he didn’t have to go home.

Well till later then I guess!
Lots of love,

Friday, January 1, 2010