Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fortune on a Stick

Had a really great trip to Ayutthaya with the Mastache clan. Took a boat up the Chao Phraya all the way to the town (maybe 2 hours?) and then started off by visiting Bang Pa-in Palace which is a royal summer palace that was built in the 17th century.

Also visited the ruins of a number of wats (temples) that were mostly built around 300ish-500 years ago. Ayutthaya was sacked by the Burmese in the late 18th century, and so all of the Buddhist images had been de-headed and the relics stolen either by Burmese soldiers or Thai locals who realized they could sell the goods on the black market.

hmm - hopefully that's a close enough history to pass. Besides our really sweet/ informed tour guide who was with us for the whole trip -- the highlight of my day was definitely being introduced to Buddhist Fortune Sticks.

I got to shake fortune sticks at two wats, and here's how it goes: you take a can that has about 20 sticks with numbers on them, and then shake the can until one of the sticks fall out.

Once a stick falls out, you go over to a little cabinet and pick out a sheet of paper from the shelf that has your stick's number on it.

The sheet of paper at the first temple was only in Thai, and I can't really remember the details of my fortune as it was translated to me - but here's what my second fortune looked like:

And here's what the message says:

Your will be achieved any matter you do, good luck is coming and you should have luck with money. There is a good news for loves.

umm... awesome.

I didn't take many pictures since Megan was there and she's good at photography -- so I'll post some of hers soon.

Love to you all,

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas (and a visa run)

Hello there loved ones --

Had a really great extended Christmas with the Mastache family here in Bangkok.

Lots of really yummy food (mashed potatoes, ham, and some Thai) as well as a trip to the hospital to visit Mr. Mastache (who is healthy and home again - but we got to go caroling down his hospital corridor with champagne and dessert to make sure he had ample holiday cheer).

Also went to Cambodia for about 2 hours on the 24th to get my visa stamped.

Here's what the border looks like:

Beyond that the only parts of Cambodia that I saw were the morning-regulars at a seedy casino and an outdoor cafe.. not the best preview, but hopefully I'll do justice to the country sometime in the near future.

It was so nice to be able to hear some of your voices on Christmas day, and I'm thinking about all of you lots!

Going to go to Ayuttaha tomorrow which is a former capital of Bangkok, and so I'm really excited about that.

Oh! Also made Mom's egg nog, and the fanbase of that recipe just keeps on growing, ha.

Love to you all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Koh Samet: Part Deux

Hellooo --

Had a really nice and sunny weekend on Koh Samet. Here are a couple of pics from the little bungalow we stayed in (and not to rub it in - but I have to mention that it was about $7.50 each for a night, ha) :::

And here is my friend Rachel who I went with and I on the boat back to Ban Phe where the ferries leave from:

I'm now officially on vacation, and off to a very strong start relaxing. In fact, I was so dedicated to resting up that I slept through the alarm at 3:45 this morning that was supposed to wake me up so that I could get on a 5am bus to Cambodia for a visa run. Oops. Guess I'll go tomorrow instead.

I'm also going to be celebrating Christmas with the Mastaches on the 26th instead of the 25th, because their younger daughter lives in Portland and the airport was shut down because of the snow! I'm not especially attached to the 25th, so not to worry about -- kind of nice to have an extra day to relax before all that exhaustive present opening and eating, ha.

Hope you're all well!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Back to the Beach

Heading to Koh Samet again for the weekend tomorrow morning. Really psyched.

love to you all,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Best Question Ever

Had a great moment at school today when a girl walked up to me and gave my skirt a tug in the middle of class.

I looked down and she had a pretty pensive face on and motioned that she needed to whisper something to me. I figured she was either trying to tell me that a) one of the other girls had taken her pencil case. These girls take their pencil cases impressively seriously... or that b) she was trying to come up with the English words for "I definitely just peed in my pants."

Well. To my surprise - it was neither. Instead her question was a very quiet, "Teacher Paige... can do you a cartwheel?"

ummm... could not be more glad she stopped class to ask that one.

Love to you all,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Megan's Birthday: A Retrospective

Hey loved ones --

So the internet at my apartment has been working about 5% of the time recently -- and that 5% is usually before I go to work, soooo... that's why I haven't been posting little updates of late.

Meanwhile things are going well, and I'm getting really excited for a two week break from school. I'm having Christmas with my friend Megan and her family, and so to get excited about that here are some photos from Megan's birthday celebration a few weeks ago.

We went to a wine-tasting which we all had pretty low expectations for -- and then the food turned out to be really good, and the entertainment turned out to be these dancers (who are also, according to the MC, economists and journalists by day):

There was a lot of Gwyn Stefani being channeled. The photos are by Megan -- very fun to have someone taking photos who can do more than just point and click.

And here's a shot of the group I was there with:

Hope you're all starting to feel festive!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Getting in the Spirit

I've been hearing a lot of people throw around the ole "It just doesn't feel like Christmas when it's 70 degrees out" of late, and honestly.. I couldn't agree less. Nothing says Christmas to me quite like hanging lights in shorts and a t-shirt - and that's exactly what someone at my apartment complex did this past weekend.

So now my apartment's front walkway is decked out in white lights (which is great), and it made me realize that I hadn't shown you guys a picture of the spirit house at my apartment which always has sparkly little lights on it:

Spirit houses are veryvery common here - and most homes and businesses have one -- usually in a corner of the property where shade is least likely to hit it. The houses are shrines to animist spirits, and people leave offerings at the houses to keep spirits that could cause them trouble happy.

I see a lot of drinks left at spirit houses - water, Fanta soda, milk - and flowers and incense are also common offerings.

The spirit house at my apartment complex is actually one of my favorites - and maybe I'm biased, but hopefully the spirits are happy with it too.

Love to you all,

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lumphini Park

Spent most of my Sunday afternoon at Lumphini Park with some friends. It covers about 140 acres (thanks Wikipedia.), and it was really nice to be sitting on some grass under some big shady trees.

There were also swan boats...

.... and next time I think I'll have to rent one.

Love to you all,

Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy Birthday King Bhumibol!

Today is the King's birthday -- it's also Thai Father's Day. Or Father's Day was yesterday. I couldn't really get a straight answer on that one.

In honor of HM's B-day I'm posting my favorite picture of him to date (... and even in just two months I think I've seen hundreds...)

That's right... it's Elvis pointing something out to the Queen and Priscilla being ignored on the far right. The King seeems to be pretty at ease wearing his sunglasses at night. Kudos to Megan for introducing me to this gem... and speaking of Megan and birthdays --- yesterday was also her birthday too (happyhappy!!), and so I might have to steal some of her pics from our goings-ons to post.

Love to you all and happy weekend!

Monday, December 1, 2008

"I am beautiful!!!"

One of my favorite things that happens a few times each day is when I ask one of my students, "How are you today?" and they reply (usually pretty enthusiastically), "I am beautiful!"

I don't have the heart to tell them this isn't exactly a standard response for native-speakers -- nor do I think I could explain the sublteties of why to one of my 6 year olds... so instead I would just have to say: "No, you cannot say I am beautiful" ... and let it stand at that. I just can't do it.

And really.. since it usually makes me giggle a little when they say it - it actually encourages them to say it more. I don't know what this says about my teaching.

Happy Monday!