The Low Down (like.. really low)

IF there is one actually a thousand thing that people overlook when traveling to Thailand, it’s the toilet situation. In most tourist places (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Samui, etc) you’ll find the good old fashioned sit-your-ass-down toilet seat. But there is a little squirt gun (similar to what you find to do the dishes with) next to it. It’s there to spray your ass after you $hiT. And with all the curry and spicy food your body isn’t used to, it comes in handy. You’ll also find hopefully a trash bin next to the seat and you are expected to throw your toilet paper into it. Thai sewers aren’t quite as updated as our western ones are. Just respect the country and toss it in the bin.

BUTT – there is something else to warn you about. If you are like me and don’t go camping every weekend, or hike, or do the nature thing in general, If you are the type who will hold it until you get home (or at least somewhere you’re comfortable going to the bathroom at), some of the smaller towns and bus stations will come as a shock. You will politely excuse yourself from the table and find this stall that may or may not have a door attached. In the middle of the ground is a what looks like a metal toilet seat with ridges on the top. “Why is this toilet seat so low?” you’ll ask yourself.
.. it’s a squat toilet. You have to squat. Don’t work out? Too bad.

If you are a woman, you stand on the ridges facing the wall and squat down like a baby would to pick up a bug they found on the ground. Then you do your #1 and hope you remembered to bring the tissues. Should your bowels be a moanin’ and a groanin’ you will face away from the wall and squat (see previous description) and let it all out. And then hope you brought EVEN MORE toilet paper. And sanitary wipes. And a Glade scented candle.
When you have finished doing your dooody, you will (hopefully) see a trash bin with water filled in it. You will take the bowl that is floating in that water and proceed to ‘flush’ your by-product down the hole. A few good bowl fulls should do it. If not, you’re shit out of luck (ha!!).

It’s disgusting. Some people don’t mind. Some people say it’s better for your posture and blah blah blah. I will NOT miss this. I went 5+ months without having to use one of those bastards. Then I had a reallllly bad stomach one day during class and had no choice but to do the squat. And it was HORRIBLE. You may dribble on your shoes, you may miss, you may spatter, you may want to throw up. And no, you don’t get used to it. At least I didn’t.

My favorite quote concerning squatters: “F- that.”

Advice:

  • ALWAYS carry wipes or toilet paper
  • Have toilet shoes/sandals
  • carry hand sanitizer
  • avoid if at all possible
  • learn to hold it
  • wipe tiger balm under your nose before going in – it wreaks.

That’s the toilet story. I had to warn you, my cyber friends. Good luck.

Secrets of Surat Thani – a short movie by RTapps

Video

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

Holiday Show Happiness

"Mai" a student dressed in MJ garb

“Mai” a student dressed in MJ garb

In August, our manager informed us of a ‘holiday’ party in December that we were expected to perform at. Cue: Collective groan. Then she told us we needed to prepare our students for a performance as well.

I played a few songs for my P3 class (7-8 y/o) including the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, and India Arie. Apparently this was NOT cool. They wanted Lady Gaga. I scoffed because we had just gone over ‘Like/Dislike’ and in my ‘Dislike’ category I had written Lady Gaga. Then it hit me: Michael Jackson.  The students were familiar with the name and enjoyed rockin’ out to his music during dance time.

So we played lots of MJ songs until I  we collectively decided on singing “man in the mirror”. We started rehearsals immediately. I taught the students the words and we sang a few times a week at the beginning of class. They loved it. I loved it.

After they learned the lyrics I choreographed a fairly complicated easy dance for them. They caught on quickly. I caught on to the few that were not coordinated and put them in the back – as any good drama geek turned teacher would do.
We rehearsed with the other half of the class that another teacher taught. Without sounding too cocky – my class was WAAYYY better than hers.  they were all very good.

December came along and we gave them the outline for their outfits:
Black button down/zipped shirt with long sleeves
white t-shirt
black pants
white socks
black shoes
fedora

Students were bringing in amazing outfits to put together. I realized that there were 2 key element being forgotten about 2 weeks before the performance: the sparkly glove. No MJ performance would be complete without it!! So they brought gloves and we decorated it with the devil glitter. Also, they needed to know how to moonwalk! So they practiced moonwalking down the hallways for about 30 minutes. Not an easy task. But HILARIOUS to watch.

Our director loves me and came to watch the students perform a couple times. She loved it. I loved it. We all loved it.

Holiday-show-day was upon us. I walked into the GIANT convention hall and saw the itsy bitsy stage the students were to perform on. All i could think: “SHhhhiiiiiit. Someone’s going to fall off stage.” But then I saw their adorable little faces in the brilliant collection of MJ style costumes and no longer cared. For a few hours, I filled the room with Thai MJ impersonators.  No MJ fan could have been happier.
The performance itself was good. Not great.
Reason 1: No microphones. They took away the microphones because there was no room for it. So you couldn’t hear a damned word they said
Reason 2: The kids were so afraid of ruining their precious glittered gloves that they didn’t actually clap. They fake clapped! ((Insert: SMH))

———————–
On a side note: the girls of my P3 class decided to sing “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. Of course when I say “decided” I actually mean our Thai director told me they were going to perform it. They dressed like divas and threw roses into the audience after the performance. They did a fantastic job.

I’m uploading the videos to youtube so you can see the performances at the show and the ones from their classroom (which are WAY better!!)

The P3 girls and the solo sax player

The P3 girls and the solo sax player

The singers after the performance

The singers after the performance

Little MJs

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

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.

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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