Monday, December 29, 2014

Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong is an annual holiday in Thailand. It's not one that people get off work, but it's one that is widely celebrated here and in other Buddhist countries. As with any holiday anywhere, you can ask people what it's about and you'll get a range of answers.

Most Thai holidays fall on a full moon, which is an important part of the Buddhist Calendar. 
Loy Krathong falls in November (this year it was 6th November) and is near the end of the rainy season/beginning of the cooler dryer season (winter). People celebrate by floating (Loy) a decorated boat (krathong) in a body of water. It's a celebration to thank the water gods for the rice season and  a chance for Buddhist to repent/float away their sins, and make wishes for the next year. Also similar to many holidays, it has become very commercial, adapting an almost Valentines Day meaning- something you do with your sweet heart.

We joined thousands of others at  Benjansari Park right downtown. With easy access from the sky train, this was a very popular destination for people living downtown. 

We've been in Thailand for three different Loy Krathong celebrations. At my schools we take time to part take in the celebrations which also include Thai dancing, singing, and games. This year Greg and I joined a group from church (and thousands of other people) to float krathongs in a local park. For us, it took on a different meaning.

My students' krathongs ready to go! 

A few friends from church and our krathongs. 

Enjoy our pictures below, along with handout we read during our experience.


John 1:1-5 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

As you look upon all the lights. Remember Jesus who is the light of the world. How has Jesus provide light in your life? (Optional: Share 2 ways he has done this with a partner)

Light Your Krathong.

Remember that as a Christian you are part of the body of Christ, called to be part of Christ’s light in our world. Think of one way you can bring the light of Christ into someone else’s life this week. Now commit to doing it.

On top of every kratong is a candle and incense. 


1 Kings 8:46-51. 46 "When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; 47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, 'We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly'; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy; 51 for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.

Take a few minutes while looking at your lit Krathong to reflect on your life. Is there anyone with whom you are angry? Are you holding any grudges? What are some things you are involved in that you shouldn’t be? What are some things you are not involved in that you should be?


Here is how the book of Matthew describes the birth of Jesus. Referring to Mary, Matthew says, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Place your Krathong in the water and watch it. As you watch it, thank Jesus for overcoming your sin with his death on the cross.

We really enjoyed the celebration. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Websters Came to Thailand

Over Thanksgiving we were very blessed to have Greg's sister and our brother and law come to visit us. They were in Thailand from the 26th November through the 9th December. Andrew had just finished volunteering for 3 months in the northern UK for a mission's organization. Ann also joined him for the majority of the time and volunteered in the community as well. After their time here in Thailand they returned back to Michigan and their jobs- but we were so happy they decided to swing by on their way home.  To learn more about them, check out their blog at:

Ann and Andrew are excellent bloggers and facebook updaters while traveling. The majority of the pictures you'll see here are taken right from them. We really really enjoyed showing them Thailand. We showed them the beach, two unique markets, and of course the big city.  During their time up north by themselves they saw the mountains, spent a day with Thai elephants and enjoyed the country side. They really saw the best of what this country has to offer, which right now includes US!

Happy Thanksgiving! Ann and Andrew met about 30 of our friends from Bangkok for a Thanksgiving Feast at a local hotel. Yum Yum!

Greg and I both took the day after Thanksgiving off and we took the Websters down to Koh Samet. We enjoyed the island life of laying on the beach, snorkeling, eating seafood and getting massages as they recovered from jet-lag. 

After Ann and Andrew returned to Bangkok from their trip to Chiang Mai we took a day trip to Meklong to see the train market and toured through the nearby Amphawa Floating Market. It was our first time to the floating market as we didn't realize how close the two were located! 
Another day in the city was spent getting massages (boys) and pedicures (girls), going to a movie, venturing up Bangkok's tallest building for sunset and eating dinner at a mall on the river.  Since the King's Birthday- also Father's Day, a national holiday is 5th December was during their stay, we saw plenty of photo opportunities for dads and the Baiyoke Tower was no different!  I had Greg stand by the Daddy Engineer display :-)  (middle right)

Other adventures with the Websters included a bike ride through Bangkok's Green Lung, dinner at our favorite Thailand Wisconsin dive bar Fatty's, putting up our Christmas tree, going to worship with us and ordering dinner afterwards from our favorite kebab vendor Jack.

Ann and Andrew also spent time in the Bangkok exploring the Grand Palace and partaking in a cooking class, "Cooking with Poo" as well as just relaxing before heading back to their home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can read all about it on their blog.  We feel so blessed to have now had a majority of our immediate family come and see us here in Thailand. Thanks for coming!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!

It's been awhile, a LONG while, since we have updated The MacLeod Thaimes. Instead of trying to update it all now... let's just start with where we are... Merry Christmas!

While people know what Christmas is in Thailand, people don't really know what it is about. Sure, it's about Santa and gift giving, putting lights on trees, decorating things with snowflakes and snowman, and eating yummy food- but Jesus is usually left out.  Just take a look at every mall in Bangkok and you'll see evidence of this.

Some of the pre-Christmas traditions that we participated in this year included caroling and cookie making- albeit Thai style.  Caroling was organized by our church and was on a river boat up and down Bangkok's Chao Phraya (we did this a few years ago with my mom as well). Cookie making was done at a co-worker's (who happens to be from Milwaukee) apartment that has an oven (we don't have an oven).

After the hours of baking we delivered cookies to our school and also kept plenty for ourselves. Greg and I provided platters for our building staff as well as his co-workers. 

Setting off around 4:30  on a Saturday afternoon we enjoyed being on the river at it's prettiest time: sunset. We were led by a worship team to sing church classics such as Silent Night and kid's favorites like Frosty the Snowman. My favorite time was when families/groups from different countries came and sang carols in their home language. We heard songs in Thai, Japanese, Persian, Tagalog, Spanish,  a few different African languages, Malay, Urdu and plus a few I think I'm forgetting.

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year were very different. On the 24th we enjoyed a dinner out at a favorite local restaurant.  Because of Greg's extra long commute we did not make it to church. We then opened just one gift each from our stockings. On Christmas Day Greg went to work and I spent the day with a few groups friends eating too much. Greg joined in the second gathering which included eating roasted turkey, turkey enchiladas, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, carrots, stuffing, and a choice between pumpkin or pecan personal pies from a local Mexican restaurant. It was a modest gathering and our eyes were bigger than our stomachs when ordering- so we all even took home large plates of left overs!  I even snagged the turkey carcass to make some homemade stock. We just finished opening gifts today (27th) and somehow even though they aren't even here in person Baby Mac got the most...I wonder if this is how it will always be....

My morning at Sam and Jamethon's home was just lovely! Their friends Zach and Neung (in the picture) also joined in a relaxing morning of eggs, bagels, fruit, moneky bread, and even egg nog! I especially liked their poinsettia Christmas bush!

From Sam and Jamethon's I traveled by taxi to my friend Chris's house for another gathering. Our meal was catered by a local Mexican restaurant and was just fantastic. Chris lives in a house with yard just north of downtown in quiet neighborhood so visiting him really feels like going over to someone's house in the US. The top left photo shows the day after stock making with the turkey carcass. My plans for that include making a turkey and bacon split pea soup.  

Even though Greg had work this week, he said it was fun time to be there. On Christmas Day he wore his light up Santa Hat (see middle bottom picture taken by our tree before heading to work) and brought chocolates to give the guards and toll booth workers on his commute.  He participated in the office Secret Santa festivities that accumulated with the New Year Party on Friday night with  dinner and bowling. He was on the blue team. 

Of course all of our Christmas activities have been planned tentatively because we are anxiously awaiting Baby Mac's arrival. Their (we don't know if it's a boy or a girl) arrival date is scheduled in just 10 days! We are also anticipating the arrival of our lifetime friends Steph and Danny Kimball in a few days.  They will join us for 4 days around Bangkok and then travel to Cambodia, then Chiang Mai Thailand before spending one last day with us (maybe the 3 of us!) before heading to Japan for some more traveling.

We hope this blog post is the first of a string of them to help keep you (and document for ourselves) what we are up to over here in Thailand. Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 3, 2014


I started this blog a year ago, but forgot about it.  Mary and I had an almost identical experience tonight that reminded me to go back and finish this blog.  Here you go.

We observed some interesting local wildlife on our way home from dinner the tonight.  Bats.  These were not your run of the mill mosquito munching bats (although we saw those too).  These were big bats.  It was as if someone strapped bat wings to a local stray dog and sent it sailing through the sky as a Halloween prank, except these were no prank.

A bit of research led us to believe our flying friends to be Ptoropus lylie, also known as Lyle's Flying Fox.  Apparently there is a colony of them that spends a portion of the year based in Lumpini Park, just down the road from our condo.  Thankfully these particular bats pose little threat to humans, preferring to feast on fruit from local trees.

We've actually seen a flying fox before, at the zoo in Singapore.  The version we saw in Singapore was the Malaysian Flying Fox which is actually slightly larger than their Thai relatives.

Here's a picture we took at  the Singapore Zoo a few years back of the Malaysian Flying Fox hanging out in a tree.

We've spotted these bats on almost the exact same dates two years in a row.  If you're on Rama IV road or near Lumpini Park in early November, keep you eyes to the sky in the evening.  You just might spot one of these fascinating creatures!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Babymoon on Koh Lanta

Lately, I've been quite jealous of all the fall photos people have been posting to Facebook, sending us in email updates, or even the showing up on my pinterest homepage. Looking at homemade apple crisps, trees in all shades of neon yellow and orange, groups of friends in matching Hawkeye hoodies tailgating before a game, and families coming together for a cousin wedding in a picture perfect New England setting a can add up to two homesick expats!

However, we really have nothing to be jealous of....

Last week we headed to Koh Lanta in southern Thailand and were blessed to have 5 days away from the city. It was just the two of us and at 7 months pregnant... a babymoon.

Flying into Krabi airport, then taking a shuttle van on two ferries we arrived to our hotel on Ba Kantieng beach just in time to catch our first sunset. This beach was stunning. Soft sand, clear water, quiet and a peaceful vibe.

One of the best things about Baan Kantiang was the balance of quietness, yet some options for dinner and nightlife. Our favorite spot was the Why Not Bar which offered chill floor seating, friendly staff, live music and a fire show right on the beach.It's was a popular spot for people to gather as the sun went down.

Our first full day on the island didn't go exactly has planned. Koh Lanta is located in one of the world's best areas for snorkeling and scuba diving. We planned on hiring a boat to snorkel around, but no one would take me being nearly 7 months pregnant. So, plan B: Hike 25 minutes to a local beach. Ao Nui Bay was the best beach we have ever been to hands down. As we hiked down from the main road, we made the day's first footprints along the shore. Greg enjoyed snorkeling around and I enjoyed the cool water, cloudy skies, my book, and just all of God's beautiful creations. Besides for the two long tailed boats that stopped by for 20 minutes with a handful of tourists and the monkeys roaming the jungles, this was our private beach for the day.

Our second day on the island we stayed on our beach walking to the southern end in the AM and making our way back to the northern end by dinner time. Each taking turns cooling off in the ocean, reading lots of our books, and just enjoying being away from work!

Interesting Fact: Like most of southern Thailand, Koh Lanta is mostly Muslim. A majority of the restaurants did not sell beer or alcohol directly, but were conveniently located next to a bar (presumably owned by a Buddhist Thai) that did. How easy!

Our third day we hired a car/driver to explore the island. Again, we would normally rent a motorbike, but having a car was making a safe choice. Don't worry moms- we are taking care of your grandchild! Our first stop was on the other side of the island in Old Town. This town was originally home to local Chinese traders and until tourism arrived in the last few decades, was the island's biggest city. When the ferry pier was put in on the on the north of the island, this trading town quite literally got stuck in time. The main street still with its original light poles and old wood buildings create quite a different feel than the western side's built up tourism focused towns. We stopped for lunch on a cliff just outside of Old Town and enjoyed the jungle and ocean views before heading back to south western tip of the island to explore the Koh Lanta National Park. 

Located at the very southern tip of the island Koh Lanta National Park is one of Thailand's smallest parks. We skipped the 2km jungle nature hike and enjoyed it's nice beach. Greg hiked up to the park's lighthouse to capture these amazing pictures. Can you spot me in the upper left hand photo?

The park is known to be infested with mischievous monkeys, so we tried to keep our distance. Greg walked by one exploring another visitor's things just in time to scare it away. Luckily we weren't carrying any food so we felt safe that they'd skip over us when eyeing up who would be an easy source of dinner!

We spent our last night watching the beautiful sunset from the Same Same Bar/Restaurant and just wished our holiday lasted one more day. On Sunday we squeezed in a morning swim before heading to the pier to catch our van back to the airport and back to Bangkok. This was our last trip just the two of us and it was a great one! We feel very blessed.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Rain Rain Go Away

It's that time of year in Bangkok when residents start wishing the rain would finally stop falling.  Previous years have brought fears of flooding, but thankfully that has not been the case this year.  Flash flooding is always a problem during the monsoon season, but widespread floods have not been a significant concern around Bangkok this year.

That said, we're still very ready for a break for the rain.  It doesn't rain all the time, but most evenings recently have been greeted by a deluge of water from the heavens.  Not only does this affect going out in the city, it also wreaks havoc on Bangkok's already notorious traffic.

October is the second wettest month on average in Bangkok, but that things typically dry out quickly in November.

The recent rains haven't been all bad.  There have been plenty of opportunities to enjoy spectacular shows of lightning from our 22nd story condo.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Weekend Away

Sometimes you just need a weekend away. In the US, that usually meant a trip up to my family's cabin on Atkins Lake. In Thailand, it's a bit more difficult to get the same experience. A few weekends ago we came close. Making the most of a long three day school weekend, we traveled on Saturday-Monday. Greg took Monday off as well. Our good friends Sam and Jamethon were our weekend travel companions.

It was our fourth time visiting the Kanchanaburi area. The last being about a year ago.  After having lunch and walking on the famous Bridge Over the River Kwai, we followed the River Kwai Noi  up into the mountains to our lovely riverside resort: Erawaan Escape. An escape it was....

We stayed in the resort's two boat houses right on the river. We even took a short swim to cool off, but quickly got out when the fish started jumping. It was after my second dip that Greg informed me that an episode of Animal Planet's "River Monsters" was filmed on the river. Oh my goodness!

Our Sunday consisted of a lazy morning of reading, watching local fisherman collect/set their nets, and enjoying the beauty of the junglous mountains while the butterflies frolicked by. The afternoon we spent exploring the Seven-Tiered Erawaan Waterfall inside the park, It was beautiful.

All four of us made it to the 5th Tier, while Greg was the only one who hiked to the highest level. At each level the waterfall sculpted the land in its own way and most offered pools for swimming. The trail was well maintained until the 5th level, but was significantly more difficult between the 5th and 7th. We took dips to cool off in level 5, 3 and 2 but were not alone. This is a popular spot for Thais and foreigners alike as well as lots of fish! The same kind that fish spa owners use to stock their tanks for fish pedicures live in the swimming pools, some getting very large! If you kept moving, they didn't bother you too much (by bother, I mean try to eat you).

The park offered other sights to see such as caves and another waterfall, but we only left time for Erawaan. After having a dinner of local delicacies (river fish and frog), we spent the evening playing bocce ball in the resort's garden area and having drinks on our small porches. Monday morning we drove about 30 minutes out of our way to see the Sai Yok Noi Waterfall (third time visiting there) and purchase the best banana chips in Thailand. Another popular thing to do in the area are the monuments and hiking trails at The Hellfire Pass Museum about another 30 minutes from Sai Yok Noi. Next time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My New Class

This year I am lucky to have 15 wonderful students in my Year 1 classroom. That's fifteen 5 and 6 year olds that are members of the Echidna class. Can you pick out the 11 different countries represented? I definitely work at an international school. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Happy Thai Mothers Day

August 12 is Queen Sirikit's birthday.  It is a national holiday, and is also when Thailand celebrates mothers day.  With neither of our mothers around to celebrate with, I chose to do the next best thing.  Go watch another steam train!  Steam train specials run a number of times each year in Thailand, including on Mothers day.  Today's trip left Bankok's Hua Lamphong Station at 8:15 AM and for a round trip to nearby Nakhon Pathon.  Riders can spend the day on an organized tour around the area before returning on the train in the evening.

After catching an extra hour of sleep this morning, I headed down our street to the train station around 6:30 AM to catch some pictures of the train leaving the station.  It was a sunny morning and I was glad to be back to our air conditioned condo by 9:30 with a handful of decent pictures.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Summer Holiday

I'm not sure why, but I really haven't caught the "blogging bug" again since returning to Thailand. However, I think it may starting up again...

I've truly been blessed this summer to have a long  holiday away from teaching. I've done quite a bit and feel rested and ready to return to my Year 1 classroom at The Australian International School Bangkok in a few weeks. This summer for me has been about three things; 1) Finishing my master's program. 2) Working on completing requirements for my Wisconsin teaching license and 3) Researching what it means to be having a baby! (Let alone a baby in Bangkok!) We also went to the beach! I've also watched a lot of TV, but it's summer!

Finishing My Master's

I have received notice that I have completed all requirements and in August I'll officially graduate from the State University of New York (SUNY)- Buffalo with a MS in Multidisciplinary Studies. My degree program focused on preparing me to a more professional-qualified teacher, especially in an international environment with a diverse student body.  I started the program in 2011 when we lived here previously and was forced to stop when we returned to the US in January 2012. It's unique international program that's only offered in co-horts all across the world. Most of the classes met over the weekends at a local school. Professors were either already working in Thailand or nearby countries or were brought to our location just to teach their class. While there were things I did not like about the program (like needing to complete an extra class this summer because I was never notified that some transfer credits would not count), but overall it was an excellent source of professional development and time/$ well spent. I met a great group of friends and other teaching professionals. My professors prove to be great resources and contacts as I continue my career. I'd definitely recommend the program to someone interested.
My final in class session with Professor Kim (pink shirt) surrounded by some great friends who are either just beginning the program or just finishing with me.

License Requirements

I would not change my teaching career experiences for anything, however I'm not sure I'd recommend my exact path for everyone. Since graduating in December of 2006 in my BA in Elementary Education/Special Education I have taught full time 5 1/2 years and substitute taught 2 years. All of this across three states and in Thailand. Three different teaching licences= three different hoops of requirements to jump through. That's how after nearly 7 years of experience and being finished with a masters, I'm still working on qualifying for an initial teaching license without any stipulations. Currently, I'm  finishing up my minority relations and a environmental education professional development classes to satisfy Wisconsin's unique requirements.  If I were a politician I would make professional licensing (teachers, nurses, etc) my issue- it's ridiculous and expensive for everyone involved. Ok, excuse me why I step off my soap box.  I love being a teacher and that's why I will jump through hoops. (but I do really hope we never live in any other state!!) 

We spent a long holiday weekend in Koh Chang in July as well. We love this island and are loyal customers to a resort on the south side. I think this was our third or fourth time there. We had one beautiful day at the beach and other rainy day spent reading on hammocks under a shelter at our hotel. We enjoyed evening dinners on the pier and even found a shop selling Iowa State T-shirts. It was a lovely get away!!

We're Having a Baby!

I'll definitely post on this more  (my plans for work, gender, expected visitors, etc) soon, but we are having a baby. It still seems surreal to me, but as I post this I'm already 18 weeks along. I found my doctor and my hospital through a friend's recommendation (and our insurance approved list!) and couldn't feel more comfortable and happy.

My doctor is located at this highly respected and well-known hospital. 

The only baby items we've purchased are a used pack-n-play and maternity clothes. Baby things are SO expensive here it's not even funny. I've connected with different mom (usually spelled mum here, but I won't let that slip into THIS blog) groups here through facebook mostly and realized that buying used is the way to go.

New in the US: $80-$100. New in Thailand:  $600,  Used (can't tell at all)  in Thailand: $170 (See what I mean about outrageous!)  Here's our pack-in-play set up. I wanted to see it in our space, measure it, etc. However, it's not out permanently yet. It has an infant level and came with a mattress to use as well. It's about as neutral as I've seen advertised and goes quite well with our color scheme. 

I've also joined a Mom to be/Mom & Baby Group that offers classes, resources, and events. I've attended two Babies and Bumps meetings where I learned about baby wearing (a must in a big city that sidewalks aren't stroller friendly) and hypnotherapy techniques to use during pregnancy and labor (very interesting and included a 45 minute session with the therapist).  I hope to go to a moms who work get together to get the advice from those moms on how they did it as well. Overall, I've been able to connect with a few other new moms and pregnant ladies which as been great. I'm looking forward to their huge yard sale in September.

Bangkok Babies and Mothers International 

There's an update on my summer! Teachers go back to school in 1 week, kids come on the 19th!  Time to get into school mode.... after I take a nap!