10% of the world…

That’s how many places I have been to..

I have visited 21 countries (24 hours or longer) and stayed in 4 other countries’ airports.

1. USA

2. Mexico

3. Bahamas

4. Jamaica

5. Puerto Rico

6. England

7. Spain

8. Italy

9. France

10. Netherlands

11. Belgium

12. Greece

13. Israel

14. Thailand

15. Japan

16. Hong Kong

17. Malaysia

18. Philippines

19. South Korea

20. Maldives

21. South Africa

Airports:

Germany, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Singapore

I am so proud of my accomplishments – but I am also very disappointed that it hasn’t been more. I have not yet been to any South American countries and have only been to a small portion of Europe and Asia. There’s still Africa too.

My bucket list of countries:

Finland, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Egypt, Turkey, Taiwan, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Indonesia, Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and more. I just can’t think of them all because I’m supposed to be teaching right now. Oops.

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The Fifth Housemate: A Scary Story Inspired by True Events

My students are writing scary/horror stories  as a monthly essay piece. I decided to write my sample essay as inspiration for them. The story is based on  some events that actually happened with a huge exaggeration from my fantastic imagination. The names have been changed and the relationships are semi-fictional.

The Fifth Housemate

Shannon

            It was a muggy summer evening in Thailand when the four friends moved into their house. Parkin and Paddy were brothers, and Kim and Shayla were best friends. The four had moved to the new town for work. It had been raining all day.

Parkin unlocked the door and opened it with a creak. The four friends all walked in with their bags. They looked around the big house. It was dark and dusty. There were spider webs in the corners. The house smelled like mold and dust. “This place is creepy,” Kim whispered. They heard a buzzing sound and the lights suddenly came on. Shayla gasped and Kim jumped. They turned around and saw Paddy standing next to the light switch. He laughed at their reaction. “Let’s put our stuff down,” he said. “Our rooms are upstairs,” Parkin replied. They all went upstairs and put down their bags.

As the brothers came back down, they saw the girls waiting for them with cleaning supplies. “If we do this together, it won’t take as long,” Shayla stated. Kim agreed, “Plus it’s raining out, we aren’t going anywhere anyway.” Shayla grabbed a feather duster and started to dust the cabinets. She opened up a drawer, screamed, and ran from the room. “There’s a freaking snake in the kitchen!” she screamed. Everyone looked at her like she was crazy. Paddy followed her back into the kitchen but no snake was found. After calming down a bit, Shayla began to clean again. She opened up a cabinet and gave a startled shout. “Oh my goodness! You guys, come here!” Kim , Parkin, and Paddy ran into the room hoping to see the snake. They saw Shayla holding a little doll. It looked like a laughing baby. It had dark skin and dark hair. It wore a yellow and red frock. Shayla giggled, “It’s kind of cute.” Paddy recoiled, “It’s kind of creepy.” Kim moved away, “It’s SUPER creepy. Please put that away!” Shayla put it down and continued cleaning.

After nightfall, the house was finished being cleaned. “I have never seen so many cockroaches in my life,” Kim remarked. The housemates decided it was time to eat. The brothers went into the kitchen to see if there was any food in the fridge. Parkin opened it up and jumped back with a scream. “Paddy! That’s not funny!” he cried. Paddy looked at him confused. Parkin pulled the doll out from the fridge. Paddy said, “I didn’t put that creepy baby there. Maybe it was one of the girls.” The two girls walked in to see what they were shouting about. “We didn’t put it there. We were just ordering pizza in the other room,” they said after seeing the doll. The housemates argued for a few minutes over the prank. Kim suddenly stopped talking. She looked around and said, “Guys, where’s the creepy baby?”

The terrified housemates looked around but couldn’t find the doll anywhere. Lightning began to strike and thunder boomed loudly. “Is anyone else getting scared?” Shayla asked. “Don’t let your imagination get to you,” Kim replied. The housemates continued to search for the creepy baby doll. They were about to give up when they heard three music notes being played from the pool room. They rushed in and saw the creepy baby lying on its side on the pool table. “I didn’t even know we had a pool table,” Shayla said. Parkin picked up the doll and said, “Apparently it was a music box?” He wound it up but no music came out. Paddy took the doll and tore off its head. “There, now it can’t bother us.”

They went back into the living area to relax now that the creepy doll was out of their hair. Paddy complained about being hungry. The doorbell rang as more lightning lit up the unnerved room. Shayla screamed. “Calm down, will you?” Parkin requested, “It’s only the pizza guy.” He went to the door and opened it up. There was nobody standing at the door. He closed it and went back into the hall. “Nobody was there. The doorbell rang, didn’t it?” he asked. Everyone agreed they had heard it. Then they heard three music notes coming from the pool room. Shayla sat on the couch quivering, “Nope. I’m not going in there!” Kim stayed with Shayla while the brothers visited the room. There was no doll there this time. They agreed to not mention it to the girls. They didn’t want them to freak out. They were assuring the girls the doll was still in the pool room when there was a loud knocking on the door. They all looked at each other. This time all four slowly tiptoed to the door. When they opened it, they found the creepy baby sitting on top of the pizza box with it’s laughing head back on.

 

 

The creepy baby doll that inspired this story ….and the painting I did of it.

Creepy baby

It’s Not Fair to Compare

It’s Not Fair to Compare.

 

my input in the form of an article for the new online magazine Tickets To:

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.

Spa-aaaaaaaah

I have been a massage therapist for 7+ years and have never had a proper spa day. yes, i have gone out and gotten my hair and nails done. yes, i have gone out and received a massage. or a facial, or sat in a sauna. but never all at once.

I have just finished nearly a year of teaching English to students in Surat Thani, Thailand and all I wanted was to spoil myself. But first, I needed to complete some massage courses in Chiang Mai. I discovered a pamphlet (well- many pamphlets). It offered a special promotion:

1 hour aromatherapy massage
1 hour facial (mask, cleanse, scrub, etc)
30 min body scrub
15 min jacuzzi
15 min sauna
_____________=1600 baht (USD $50ish)

I booked that for right after a cooking class (a different entry for later).

There were some technical issues concerning people not showing up on time, but otherwise, the owner picked me up from my hotel and drove me to the spa. It was in a quiet neighborhood-type of area. It was an old huge house converted into a spa. I was immediately given iced tea and slippers. I confirmed my preference and was given a sarong to change into. I was led to a small wooden box: the sauna. I didn’t make it through the entire 15 minutes (although it felt like 20) due to boredom. Then after some bananas and warm tea, I was shown outside to an enclosed patio with a HUGE jacuzzi. It was a perfect temperature and had plumerias floating in and around the water. I enjoyed this for the full 15 minutes with an ice cold glass of water at my disposal. Mind you, it had been over a year since the last time I sat in a bath. When my 15 minutes was up, I dried off and changed into a robe and went into the massage room.
The body scrub came next. I have given plenty of body scrubs before and have rubbed my own legs and feet with it, but have never gotten a full body scrub. DAMN. That shiz is rough! I realize now why the scrub is BEFORE the massage: a person gets tense when being scrubbed with mango scented salt for 30 minutes. She started with the legs and feet, continued my back and arms. She then turned me over and did my legs and arms again. Then without hesitation or warning, my upper body was exposed and she scrubbed my stomach and tatas! WHOA! I didn’t have time to react. In the US, draping is required and we normally put a towel over a lady’s chest before exposing the stomach. Magawd it was not pleasant. WORD OF ADVICE: when receiving oil massage or body scrub outside of the US – let them know in advance that you do NOT want your tatas rubbed (unless you do). 

After that awkward body scrub, I was taken to a shower and brought back to the room. She started the massage. Her pressure was way too deep Thai-style so i asked her to ease up a smidgeon. It was nice after that. But I caught her before she took the top of my blanket off this time – I said ‘no chest or stomach please ka’ and she didn’t.

I know that the next part was the facial. But I don’t remember it. I was passed the fuck out. I dreamed heavily as always. I dreamed the massage was over and I realized I had fallen asleep so I woke up in my dream and then in real life. I took off my eye covers to realize that I had the mask on and my session was NOT over. So I laid down and passed out again. Dreamed of school peers from middle school. ((Matt Heafy, lead singer of Trivium, and other school mates were gathered to ask me if I was attending their concert the next day. No offense, Matt, you have talent, but metal is not for me!)) Anywayhoo – I didn’t realize she was back in the room until a cool compress was washing away the mask. She continually tried to clean the mask from my nose and nostrils and I thought she was trying to suffocate me. . . until I drowned in a frozen lake felt the ice cold compress covering my entire face. You wanna wake a girl up???? Put an ice cold compress on her face!! Asshole. Way to tense me right back up. Goddamn. Anyway, facial was finished, I was utterly exhausted. My face felt soft without me even having the touch it. My body was floating down the stairs and into the changing area. I tipped the lady, and the owner drove me back to the hotel.

If you ever visit Chiang Mai, I recommend you treat yourself to Sinativa Spa.

Secrets of Surat Thani – a short movie by RTapps

Video

A Refresher in a Friend

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it. I have spent the last few months quite unhappy in my situation – ready to quit at the drop of a hat. I wasn’t homesick – but I was finding myself lonely in a room full of people. My comments were ignored, my jokes missed and disregarded, my laugh was forced (if I laughed at all). It was a form of depression that I wasn’t accustomed to.

Today I feel great. The conditions are a little different I think though. It’s the last month of school and all the tests are done. The light at the end of the tunnel has finally appeared. But the real booster was a visit from a friend.

It was not his intention to come to Thailand to see me – he was just going because he could and something told him it was a good idea. And it happened that I am here. I found out 2 weeks before he came out (about 2 weeks before he knew he was coming out for sure). I was stoked. I have known my friend since high school. We were never particularly close but our mutual friends kept us in minor contact.

Anyway, the sun started to shine a bit more since he decided to come to Thailand. I had something to look forward to that wasn’t the end of school. The schedule got blistered a bit and it took another 2 weeks for him to get to my part of the country. But he got here and my soul’s thirst was quenched. I felt like a little kid – wanting to show him all my classes and what my students can do. (He missed the best class – but they’ll be famous in their own rights one day). I wanted him to try this and that and everything.

But the best part was finally when I relaxed, my words were heard and my jokes were laughed at. I ventured into humor that is borderline incredibly offensive. But the timing was good and it was influenced by my friend. I observed his style and realized it was similar to mine – and none of my coworkers really got what either of our styles. I wasn’t alone for once in this room full of people. I was here and with someone who I could be myself around. My ridiculous attempts at different accents was met with even more ridiculous attempts at accents. I was encouraged to speak my mind rather than hold it in. I realized how great of a person this guy is (not that I didn’t know before – but hey .. haven’t seen him in years!).

I’m only a minor part in his experience here but it’s something to relate to later and a story to share with our friends. I realize how much more fun I could be having here if I had someone like him around: someone to bring out the best in me because I can actually be me. I laughed more this past weekend with him around than I have in ages (sober or not).

 

So, my friend, I dedicate this entry to you.

I hope we can share more adventures in the future wherever we may be.

IMG_1362

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