Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's Feeling Offical

On Friday I sent home a letter with my students' reports about leaving. Now it feels official. Everyone knows now.  Eric has returned to help Melanie get packed up and they leave for good in on December 7th.  Yikes, that's so soon.

Right now I am preparing for the last few weeks of school and researching Eau Claire, WI. One nice thing about it is its location.  After skyping with my family on Thanksgiving I've been missing people lots. Knowing we will be spending weekends with family and friends soon will help me step onto the plane in about a month to head back.  More on good things of Eau Claire soon...

Our new car. 1990 Geo Prism, 48,000 miles when Greg bought it, no rust, no damage, runs like a new Toyota Corolla .  So ancient it doesn't even have a tape player. Looks old yet works like new. Maybe you'll get to see it in person if we use it to come visit you!

EC to Cedar Rapids 5:06

EC to Madison: 3:14

EC to Twin Cities: 1:43

EC to Des Moines: 5: 17

EC to Atkins Lake (heaven on Earth): 2:53

EC to Sheboygan: 4:28

EC to Oak Park: 5:43

EC to Hutchinson: 3:03

EC to Duluth: 2:46

EC to Grand Rapids: 8:44

Sunday, November 20, 2011

School Celebrations

One of the things I've enjoyed most about teaching internationally is the celebrations. While schools in the US have strayed away from celebrating holidays, our school embraces them all! We celebrate Thai Holidays, Western Holidays, Christian Holidays, and Buddhist Holidays. Everyone participates as well. This year I have families from all over the world. My students are made up of the following nationalities.

  • Thai/American 
  • Filipino/British 
  • Filipino
  • French 
  • Chinese
  • Thai/Japanese
  • British 
  • American
  • Georgian (the country)/ British 
  • Syrian 
  • Thai

It's amazing to see their awareness for the world around them, cultures that are so different from their own, languages, and the acceptance and respect they have for diversity at such a young age. I think having all of these days to experience the holiday helps them develop these important life long skills.

Two weeks ago at school we celebrated Halloween and Loy Krathong. While I wish we were planning a Thanksgiving celebration like the US, I'm really looking forward to Christmas. We'll have a big program with songs and family fun!

When we celebrated Halloween everyone arrived in their costumes ready for a fun day! Before going trick-or-treating at the business next door I had a student ask, "We are going trick-or-treating?" I answered, "Yes" she replied, "WOW! Just like the storybooks!" It was the highlight of my day to make the story book story come true!

Loy Krathong (literally means floating boat) was another great day. Many parts of Thailand did not celebrate the holiday this year that pays tribute to the water goddess. Celebrations did take place in designated spots in around Bangkok and I crawled into bed on Thursday 10th October I could see the krathongs floating in Benjakitti Park. Our school festivities included Thai costumes, a parade with the Loy Krathong song, and of course floating our krathongs.

Here's some photos to these celebrations to see for yourself how the Rabbit Class celebrated....

Friends :-)

Playing on the playground.

Does the US have Ben Ten? This is a character from that show.

Trick or Treat!

Not the best picture, but here's my class by our Halloween board in the computer room.

Jumping for Donuts! No hands!

Face Painting Room

Walking like Frankenstein!

Welcome to school!

Loy Krathong is a family event!

My assistant Ms. Pu 

Ms. Pu, Ms. Caiti, Ms.Oh, Me, and Ms. Mary

Waiting to "Loy Krathong"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Solo Trip: เชียงใหม่

*Here is the first of many blog posts to come to keep everyone update on life (at least my life) in Bangkok. 

On October 18th Greg left to go back to the United States for work and I thought I would be going back to work as well. I did return to work for 2 days, but with the floods threatening Bangkok my school along with all others in the province were ordered closed by the Ministry of Education.. Along with my friend Melanie, who has also been husbandless for the pass month, we choose to stay in BKK. Besides for the constant anxiety, it was a great decision. Empty roads, blue skies, and most importantly no flooding in downtown.

After a week of being home though, I needed to go somewhere. I went to the train station to book my trip to Chiang Mai. Ironically, I wasn't allowed to book train tickets, but did get a bus ticket to go up and air tickets to come back for pretty cheap. Found a $15USD per night guest house with great reviews online and I was ready.

My trip was really great. I  slept, read, ate some yummy food, got pampered, and saw God's beautiful world.  Here's a photo journey of my trip. For all my photos you could click here, just remember these were not taken or were edited by Greg so have low expectations! 

My classy ride up north.

My first breakfast.

Beautiful Wat Phra Sing

I stayed at Wat Chediluang  for around an hour just watching the monks, reading , and  resting. So peaceful

One of the oldest temples in the Old City, Wat Chiang Mai,  was right behind my guest house. The main gate a 5 minute walk away.

Chinese lanterns were part of the Loy Krathong decorations. 

My trekking trip stop #1: Orchid Farm

#2: Karen Longneck Village

#4: 1 hour hike to waterfall. (#3 was elephants)

#5 White water rafting with my trekking tour. Right after this picture was taken we saw the 2 wild elephants in the jungle. AMAZING.

#6: Short journey on local bamboo raft. It was cold!
#7: I was asleep by 8pm! This was my great room. Air-Con, cable TV, warm shower and really lovely staff that helped me get all my touring organized. Definitely recommend Junior House!

Tiger Kingdom!

I was a little nervous to touch it's paw because I remember my cat Fluffy used to bit me if I did this...

It was a great trip, the only way it would have been better is if Greg would have been there too.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom! I hope you have a great day! Love, Mary :-)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Making the Most of It

It's been 1 week since Greg has left for the United States. When HTO booked his ticket to go, I thought I would be working the entire time and that going to work would help the time pass quickly. Well, school got put on mandatory flood holiday and I've been off of work since last Thursday.

Staying in Bangkok this past week has been so nice. The government also declared a public holiday from last Thursday-Monday and that cleared out the city. Monday was Halloween, not too celebrated here in BKK. Skyping with my nephew after he went trick or treating made my day. The roads were so quiet it was wonderful. Tuesday brought back some traffic, but it is still lighter than normal.

A group of us  from church met for Tasei's going away party on Halloween. We went bowling!
It is still frustrating trying to get honest information about the flooding. I can report that there are no floods on our road because I can look out our window and see it. Other information is not so trustworthy because it's constantly changing. It puts lots of people on an emotional roller coaster. News on Monday was positive, News today less positive saying all of Bangkok should be on alert again. I wish it was a real roller coaster because those are fun!

Now this is the place to go for a real roller coaster! Summer 2012 anyone?

In the spirit of wanting to do something fun, I've booked a trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Map It's way up north. I'm taking an overnight bus tonight and flying back on Saturday evening. What will I do there? I don't know yet. I have a way there, a place to stay, and a way out. I may visit a tiger temple to pet the cats and I will can't help but see some of the 300 temples.  It will certainly be an adventure, I just I got to do it with my best friend Greg.

Taken from facebook, this is our friends Anne and Jim with a tiger in Chiang Mai. Now isn't that a cover of a  Christmas Card or what?!?!?!?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

Hope you have a great day! Love,Mary :-)

Life in Bangkok

Life in Bangkok with over a million people gone is really nice. Less people means lighter traffic and bluer skies. After the government declared last Thursday thru this Monday a holiday and the Ministry of Education made it mandatory for all schools (public, private, and international) to be closed until 7th November lots of people left town. Pictures online show crowded airports and full buses. Last week, along with my friend Melanie, we chose to stay here in Bangkok.  I prepared for possible flooding in many ways.

Water that has been boiled, some bottled, and other things to drink! 

A good find on Wednesday. 180Baht ($6USD), I heard prices went up since then!

My tap water supply. Needed if the electricity goes out to flush toilets and to wash!
This past week has been another up and down week. From reports on Wednesday night saying that Bangkok will wake with water in the city, to reports today saying that central Bangkok is almost in the clear. Roads here in downtown are still dry, but many areas with city limits are seeing the same water that devastated HTO turn their neighborhoods into lakes. I continue to keep most updated via twitter, friends' Facebook statuses and least reliably online media sources. If you need a laugh about the floods, some friends of mine who staying in BKK for the floods started a photo blog about how even though it's a crisis your style should not go to the side. Check out crisis chic here

Good links about the floods:
Video 1: 
Video 2:
Good visual of flooding: 

Greg left for the US on Tuesday and arrived safely. I've asked him to post a blog on his unique experience though so look for that shortly. He has enjoyed this week catching up with old friends and enjoying meals that include cottage cheese and IPA beer.

I'm still here to enjoy good Thai Food. Rice with Duck and a coke at our local favorite. 

I have continued to make progress with my online class, Peaceable Schools and Conflict Resolution, and should begin working on my Term 1 reports. Other things include researching my grad school options, some applications, and taking naps. After hearing that trains are running north to Chiang Mai, I may take a short trip up there before returning to school next Monday. We'll see :-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How deep is it?

Not so deep yet. Should we be concerned about the new flood gauge in front of our condo?
Flood waters are slowly making there way into Bangkok, but have not reached our area yet. The fear of flooding has left Bangkok rather empty. I've never seen Rama IV road in front of our condo this empty at 5:30 on a Monday night.

There are plenty of flood defenses up around the neighborhood right now. My favorite is this 7 Eleven. It's still open, although rather tough to get in to thanks to the new 3 ft high concrete wall around it. Really, there is a sandbag staircase over the wall just around the corner so you can get in. It's a bit of a chore.

Here's a picture of the empty streets of Bangkok taken later in the evening.
Here's a similar shot from a few weeks ago.

This little fella was caught on the north side of Bangkok yesterday. Isn't he cute?

Due to the flooding at the factory I will be heading back to the U.S. tomorrow morning to help with production there. Mary is staying behind to keep working at her school. She is well stocked with food and water. Hopefully things stay dry in our neighborhood so she won't need her emergency supplies.

Mary was very sad that I won't be around to help decorate for Christmas, so we put up the Christmas tree a bit early. This made her happier.