Walentie Day

V. Vvvvvv. Put your top teeth OVER your bottom lip and make the ‘v’ sound. VaaaalentiNe’s Day.

Okay yes.

No, make the sound please. Vvvvv. Double-U is a wuh wuh wuh sound with your lips – no teeth. USE your teeth.

V. Vvvv.

YES! perfect. Now, Valentine’s Day

Vvvvvvv walentie day.

*Blank stare* Okay, excellent work.

————-That is basically how my Valentine’s Day went with my 4 classes of different leveled Thai students.

But first. before all that. before the pronunciation and linguistic aspect came into play.. there was fun to be had.

If you say “Valentine’s Day” to primary school Thai students, it translates into a literally-not-literal translation: “Use every sticker you have to cover everything you have with.”

valentines

And they did.

It was a few moments before 10am and I had just gathered all the strips of paper for Valentine’s Day flower project. I was in a cheery mood, of course, and I walk up to my first class. To my FAVORITE class, of course (see MJ post). Before I made it to the door, I was bombarded. Stickers came out of nowhere. Big stickers, little stickers, pink, white, red, gold, hearts, animals, more hearts. They had no problem reaching up and putting them right on my chest. In fact, that seemed to be the prime location for this display. Big boobs = big heart? Nah. But whatever, I can’t do anything about it. So I go into the classroom and there are MORE students with MORE stickers. Thank goodness it was a long class. Because every student waited for stickers in return. So I pulled out the same stickers that I carry with me every day and started putting it on their cheeks. In return, they put them on my cheeks… and forehead, and neck, and hair.
I got them seated and showed them the project to do today.
They all said ‘Yay!’ and did the project. Some would come up to me randomly to ask a question and suddenly plant a sticker on my shirt. Others wrote notes that said “i love teacher’ and stuck those on my shirt too.
Their paper flowers turned out really nicely. They did a great job and I was proud of these lil buggers.

But alas, no other teacher got completely engulfed in stickers like I did.

The best part was getting my students to learn and sing ‘My Favourite Things’ from Sound of Music. And they sound lovely. 😀

Happy Walentie’s Day

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Light One Up in Thailand

I really enjoy light, however. Thailand has some very pretty light things going on.

Their lanterns are fantastic. It’s amazing to see people celebrate their holidays with cool traditions like that. Thailand just celebrated a couple holidays recently: Loy Krathong and Father’s Day/King’s birthday. The lanterns filled the skies and turning into small specks amongst the stars. It reminds me a bit of Florida when the shuttle took off. Obviously those are completely different scenarios – I’ve probably offended some NASA people by comparing a lantern to a space shuttle – not my intention I ASSURE you.

But the way the light is so close and then just disappears really hits home. If you ever get the chance to send off a lantern, don’t pass up on it. (And if you’re in Hawaii, don’t pass up a lei – those things are fantastic.) You can get different kinds of lanterns too.. there are angry birds, angry pigs, doremon?, and zebra stripes, etc. So get creative with it!

I also reverted for a few minutes to my 5 year old self. I saw a firefly. A lightning bug. Amazing. They’re there and then they aren’t! It’s like magic. I was mesmerized by these little buggers. The Thai folk we were drinking with laughed quite a bit at my expense.. but I couldn’t care. How can one care when a bug that has a light-up butt be anything but the most important thing at that time?

The floating lanterns aren’t the only amazing light spectacles. All along the river the trees and light posts are lit up like christmas. There are these oversized and  ridiculous light fixtures on the side of the road. Some of bunnies that look a bit like a kangaroo, others are strange little people doing random things. I know that was very vague, but look at the pictures and you’ll understand.

There are some very cool lights, lamps, and lanterns all throughout Thailand and I love every moment of it. If you visit Thailand, make sure you take some of these light creations home. They’re not found in the US for sure.

Of course there are Angry bird lanterns.

Of course there are Angry bird lanterns.

 

Handmade floating flower arrangements with a candle and a prayer.

Handmade floating flower arrangements with a candle and a prayer.

Let the lantern go and blend in with the stars

Let the lantern go and blend in with the stars

Coffee shops

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Every traveller knows their favorite asset is knowing where the closest coffee shop is.

In Thailand I live in a southern city called Surat Thani. It’s the place that your guide book says to pass through without a glance back. I don’t blame it. But if by chance you find yourself here, here are a few coffee shop recommendations.

@Mycup is on Donnok Rd. it’s a two story adorable shop that offers hot, cold, and frozen beverages. There are a few sandwiches and snacks. There are lovely cakes and ice cream options also. The decor is a quaint collection of garden style seats and tables. The cabinets are filled with beautiful tea and coffee sets that are definitely only for display. The main display is covered in nonfunctional clocks and bicycles. Internet is available depending on the weather. The upstairs is more comfortable in the lounge type of feeling. There are Thai and English menus available. I highly recommend you try the Green Teacinno. The service and food quality rival each other in mediocrity.

ADay Cafe is on Chonkasem. It’s a large single floor cafe that is decorated in bright green and yellow walls. It’s frequented by Thai students as there are several schools around. The coffee is good and the service non existent. Once your order is placed you only are another grain of sand. While conveniently located its not my favorite place to frequent.

My newest coffee discovery is on a road that I ride on everyday and couldn’t tell the name of. It’s called Hom Coffee. It’s fairly new and undiscovered. It’s lovely. I walked in and was immediately greeted and given a verbal English menu. The shop is decorated with vintage knickknacks. I’m sitting at the table featured in the picture. It’s a block of tree trunk holding a glass table top displaying a Thai version of the Batman comics. My napkin holder is a pumpkin trickortreat bucket. My mocha yen (iced mocha) was great. The owner brought me almond wafer cookies and water as well as the wifi password. The terrible 80s style Thai pop was replaced with English R&B including songs by Otown and Destiny’s Child. The owner actually hummed some of the songs. It’s brilliant. It’s quiet and sweet. It will be frequented on weekends though due to their store hours mirroring my work hours 10-8pm.

If you come to Surat I recommend this spot but doubt you’ll find it. The easiest for visitors is probably MyCup.

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Blame it on the..

It’s been a long while since I have posted an update. My apologies – I blame the heat. Actually, one can blame the heat for a lot of issues here:

A certain laziness sets in that makes joining a gym or working out just seem torturous. I luckily have looked past this (and into a mirror) and joined a gym that does not have air conditioning. They have fans, but I haven’t seen them on yet. I spend more here on a gym membership per month than I did in the States.

A rash is inevitable. Heat rash mostly. The constant Florida summer heat can make sensitive skin break out in ways and areas that make ZERO sense. Luckily, pharmacies are as accessible as the drugs they sell. I picked up some cortisone for 180Baht (roughly $6).

I blame the heat for bad hair days! Being a native Floridian, having a ‘good’ hair day keeping long hair straight for longer than 2 hours. Here… maybe there is, maybe there isn’t an excuse. It’s too hot to blow dry and straighten my hair. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used a blow dryer… which was actually used for drying my paintings. The straightener bit was a few times more I think. I end up sweaty before I get through half of my head. However, Thai girls have good hair days everyday. I think they may wake up hours earlier than they should to make sure they look like dolls. Thai teachers especially. They rarely have an ‘off’ day. (Maybe I can blame the heat for the laziness of not getting up early to sweat from straightening my hair!)

I blame the heat for dirty clothes. Darling English people.. I know you LOVE to wear white in the worst combinations but white + heat = sweat stains. And they are obvious. I have a couple of white shirts that I have not and will not wear in Thailand. If not for the heat and sweat, then the rain that will give the Thai culture a real sense of spring breaks in Florida.

Full Moon Party (Part 1)

At some point in our young adult life, we hear about this legendary ‘Full Moon Party.’ Sometimes these parties happen around the corner from your home, in the desert, in the woods, etc. But there is none as great and LEGEN (wait for it!) DARY as the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party! Koh Phangan (Kho Pang-yan!) is a small island off the east coast of Southern Thailand. At the southern point is a beach called ‘Haad Rin’ (Hahd Rin) and it’s nice. The water is blue, the sand is sand-colored, and thousands of people flock to this beach once (or rarely twice) a month for this specific party.

It’s a THE full moon party. This party contains buckets, THOUSANDS of people, Burmese & Thai people, mushroom shakes, sex, fire dancing, fire slides(!),”music,” and of course glow paint.

BUCKETS are filled with whatever small-sized liquor bottle (yes, the entire bottle) and mixer. A famous one involves Vodka, Red Bull, and Coca-Cola. My personal fave involves gin and sprite or HongThong (Hong Tong – Thai ‘blended spirits’ aka rum-ish) and Red bull and Manao soda (like a lemonade spritzer?). These buckets range from 150Baht to 500Baht. Or – get creative and buy all the ingredients and mix it yourself.

Thousands of people flock from all over the world (mostly European, especially Irish) to experience this crazy extravaganza. I don’t mean a few thousand. Up to 40,000 people. Typically that number is reached during high season and/or New Years. My party allegedly had about 10,000 people but I can assure you I didn’t count that many. Or at all. I was wasted. The majority of the people (as stated) are from Europe. The sexiest European award goes to Holland!! DAMN DUTCH ARE FINE!!!! The quantity award goes to Ireland! Them bitches be everywhere! And being Irish, they can drink. And they can stumble. And they fall. One particular Irishman I met was dressed in an orange and white tank (vest, for you weird English) and was painted with orange, white, and grey/blue stripes on his face! Naturally, I approached him with ‘Tony?’ and he had no clue what I was talking about. I tried to school him on Tony the Tiger only to be reprimanded. He was, in fact, NOT tony the tiger.. but a were-wolf. Were-wolf + Full Moon Party = get it? Yea, he looked like a tiger. The most ridiculous award goes to Spain! It only took two guys and one simple conversation:

Spain: “You are beautiful. We are two guys who are the most attractive men in the world. You are the most beautiful woman. This is a sign. We should be together.”
Me: “No hablo espania.” And I walked away.

England and America of course get points for conversation. I chatted with an Englishman named (Wenton? Weston? Wimbledon? Wyoming? Whatever – I called him James, the only name Englishmen should have). We chatted about his semi-sad semi-heroic life choices of taking care of adults who have severe social and mental disorders, including his best mate who started showing signs of dementia at age 15. Sad, heroic. Good for him. Good luck in life.

From America, I met some cool and still douche-bag-like people. I met a complete ARSE-HOLE who used “wanker” in an American accent on several occasions. ((((SIDE NOTE: IF YOU ARE FROM AMERICA, SPEAKING WITH AN AMERICAN ACCENT – DO NOT SAY ‘WANKER’… you sound like one, stupid.)))) I kissed him to shut him up only to find he was as bad at kissing as he was at talking. He said “This was meant to be. I feel like I know you.” I laughed, and managed to get away. He then came to me and said ‘Are you serious? This is not the girl I have come to know! You don’t mean this. Come with me to my bungalow and we can sort this out.’  ???? Psycho? ????

Other people include Burmese and Thai locals. They are the ones cleaning up after you and selling buckets and trinkets, respectively. While the thousands of tourists come and ruin their God-given paradise, they stand by and watch. The strange groups of Burmese people with most of their faces covered and bandit-like clothing will go around and pick up the buckets and bottles and other various trash items that us beloved farang leave behind. They probably clean them out with water and give it to the Thai people, who turn around and sell it back to us filled with our favorite beverages for another 500Baht a pop. The Thai people each have their own stand that they will yell at you from. They write English words on their hands and arms in hopes to attract you. “Free hugs! Kiss me!” and other phrases that remind me of those little valentine’s candies.

 

There are the infamous mushroom shakes to consider also. Different people like different drugs for different events. Here in Kho Phangan they have Mushroom Mountain and Kangaroo Bar or something rather. If you face the water, follow the beach to the left until there are steps. Ascend these steps, buy the ugliest ‘shake’ for 500B per cup and choose your adventure. You can stay up in these safer parts where people are trippin’ to blacklight paintings and funky music. You can go back down to the beach and proceed to party at one of the many dance/music areas. You can watch a sweet fire show. Do whatever! But be warned, with the high comes the low. At about 4am when everyone is beyond intoxicated in so many different ways, things can get scary. People turn into zombies and just when you think they’re falling to the left, they’ll stumble to the right and knock you down. They may try to grab you and make out. They may just fall asleep before they hit the sand. There are people sleeping EVERYWHERE on the beach. Likely getting robbed too. Some of the Thais and Burmese will watch over the sleeping darlings to make sure they’re not getting raped or robbed, but no guarantees.  But when ‘shroom shakes are involoved… you see what the drug lets you.

Sex on the Beach is not just a drink. It’s right in front of you. Literally. I’m pretty sure people were doing the dirty deed while dancing and wasted. There definitely were people having sex in the water with lots of onlookers. These people may or may not have been hookers. I have a ‘friend’ who claims that while he was fucking a hooker in that very water, his possessions were stolen from the beach. Sneaky bitches. . . gender questionable also. If you decide to partake in this activity, put your belongings in a safe and have a condom ready… Thai hookers are nasty.

 

Thais are famous for their fire dancing. They can swing fire around better than any hippie I’ve met in the States. They perform for hours making sweet designs in the dark. There was also a fire slide. Say WHATT!!!!!! A rather steep slide that goes straight through a ring of fire? Yea… it’s here. And I’ll bet that is what going to hell is probably going to be like. One last fun thing before descending into the flames. I didn’t try it. I was on a different adventure.

 

The music. The “MUSIC” is shit. But I also happen to think that electronic/dance/trance is bullshit. And every single bar that lines this beach plays something with major bass. I would have danced, but how do you do dance to DOOOOOOm DOOOOOOm DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOm DODODODODODODODODODODM ——————– BIEEWWWWWWWW DOOM DOOM DOOM . whatev. I can’t make the sound via typing and I hope I never have to try again. You know it and hate it or love it. Again, at about 4am the music changes to dark trance… and depending on your intoxication preference.. this could turn your high into a really dark and scary place too.

 

What to wear: Neon. Cheap clothes that are bright or look cool in black lights. You can wear white like at Day-glo parties. Just know you’ll probably throw it away the next day… or not be wearing it at all when you get back to your room.

 

What to bring: minimal. Money and maybe a small pouch or secret place to store this money that is not easily picked (pick pockets), cut off, or opened. Bring an iPhone and you’ll probably get it stolen, lost, or broken. Shoes will likely be lost also. light up anything and glowpaint.

 

There are plenty of food options and drinks are always flowing. There are phramacy’s around and plenty of shops. No worries, you’ll find whatever you need there.

 

I’m over this entry. Maybe a proper entry to come about my personal little adventure during the Full Moon Party.

United we stand

Anywhere you go there is a Fourth of July. But not everywhere celebrates America’s Independence. The Brits call it America Day and go about banging their mash and drinking their tea wearing red coats and being British. (jk they just go about their own business)

I personally only claim to be half American most days of the year (south African mother). But when it comes the day to don my red white n blue, I make America proud.

My plan was to get hamburgers and hot dogs goin on a grill, but that proved to be difficult on a Wednesday (my busiest day of the week).
I was lucky enough to have found a great group if Americans at the beer pier and we drank merrily. The number one rule: Drink when someone says America.
We drank and sang songs we dont remember the words to obnoxiously the way all Americans do. We got Thai people to sing Happy Birthday America.

Another group of Americans called up and they happen to have hamburgers n hotdogs! And a few good southern boys found serious fireworks in a Chinese ice cream shop.

At some point the discussion got onto east coast vs west coast and north vs south n Yankees vs red sox. I listened and noted each point then I stood up and said (more or less):
We are Americans. We are the east coast and the west coast. We are the north and the south. We come from all over our great nation representing our teams and states and cities and towns. We can argue about baseball til the cows come home…but in the end what is baseball? It’s an American past time. American people. That’s what we are. Let’s put our squabbles aside for this one day and celebrate what unites all of us. We are Americans in a foreign country. Together we stand, divided we fall.

United we stood. Together we sang at restaurants and on the back of the motorbikes, together we ate, together we shot off fireworks from the roof of a house. Together we waited quietly inside while someone talked to the police that came out to tell us to stop shooting fireworks at midnight on a Wednesday.

We lit some sparklers and listened to some loud drunk American girls sing American turned religious songs. I’m sure they actually howled at some point as well.

Ah well, it was a beautiful night anyway.

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Real Men Wear Pink

The King is Awesome. Surattanians love the King. How do you show love for the king? (And you had better or your in big trouble)

Well you can start by having his likeness somewhere in your house when you first walk in. You can also respect your Baht since every piece has his picture on it. Whereever he is (or his lovely queen) do NOT be disrespectful. Do not drop his picture or step on it or be rude. If he comes up in conversation, just smile and don’t say anything. ((Do not talk politics unless you’re ready for it..which is never so just don’t))

But the best way to show your love and respect for Thailand’s favorite guy is to wear PINK! Everyone wears pink. Men and women. And men drive pink mopeds! So all you proud guys who are too macho to rock the pink can finally break down and show your true colors!

In fact, every day is a special color day:

Monday – Yellow
Tuesday – Pink
Wednesday – Green
Thursday – Orange
Friday – Blue
Saturday – Purple/black
Sunday –  Red

Now you don’t have to go around sporting an entire ‘color of the day’ outfit. Most people don’t, but they do have something small to represent it. Sometimes a belt, tie, handkerchief, etc. When I get to, I’ll wear a shirt or skirt of the color.
You will find yellow to be a really popular color here though. Mostly mustard or sunshine yellow.

The king’s color is truly yellow because that was the day he was born on (monday).  But with recent political uprisings, colors are starting to have new meanings. The pro-king colors are yellow, and the not-so-pleased-with-things people wear red. The king is recently associated with pink because he had some health issues and came out of the hospital wearing a pink blazer. This initiated a new fashion trend for pink to support the king’s health.

People associate their ‘lucky’ color with their day of birth (weekday). I was born on a monday so I share the color Yellow with the AMAZING King as my Thai Lucky color.

 

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