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!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Part 2: A Tasty City

Have no fear, we are still here! Sorry for the long delayed conclusion to the June post: A Tasty City. We accomplished what we set out to do; never repeating a dinner throughout the entire month. We definitely ate more western food in June than a typical month and ate at overall nicer establishments. It was a treat. Kudos go out to you who noticed I wasn't drinking in any of the postings! We are expecting our first baby around New Years. Enjoy reading this conclusion of our month of eating our way through Thailand! (Pictures in a collage or with one of us we took ourselves, while pictures by themselves were pulled from the internet.)

14 June- Bei Otto (Greg only)
Detail: Traditional German Restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 20 (same soi as my school). 10 minute walk from MRT/BTS trains at Asoke.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Maibock Beer and Spatzel
Cost: $26
Review: Bei Otto is a great place to meet friends. They offer inside and outside seating and great food. We also like their little market where  you can pick up homemade pretzels or sausages to take home. Highly Recommended.

15 June- Chu Chocolate Cafe
Detail: This cafe  features all day breakfast as well as lunch/dinner options. Great coffee and other drinks. Located in Interchange Building directly off of BTS skywalk at Asoke.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Roast Beef Panini, Ham and Cheese Panini, fresh lemonades
Cost: $24
Review: Chu is amazing! Everything we've ever had there is divine! Highly Recommended

16 June- Pala Pizza
Detail: Italian Restaurant located between MRT and BTS at Asoke. Offers a small area for sit down service, but there is often a line at their street side window where you can pick up pizza by the slice.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Pizza (Diavola, Brie and Speck, Margarita)
Cost: $10
Review: Our favorite pizza in Bangkok! Highly Recommended.

17 June- Vincent's
Detail: Connected to a small guest house on Soi Ngam Duphli it can be found easily from Lumpini MRT.
Meal: . Dinner
Our Food: Masaman Curry and Som Tum (with rice of course!)
Cost: $15
Review: Vincents is one of our favorite Thai restaurants. They have a lovely covered garden area as well as air conditioned inside seating. Highly recommended.

18 June- Boccone Trattoria
Detail: Restaurant located inside the Ramada Hotel, which is about a 7 minute walk down Sukhumvit Soi 12. We won a gift card to this restaurant in a charity raffle.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Virgin Mojito, Wine (buy 1 get 1 Happy Hour), Fish, Chicken Parmesan, Chocolate Mouse
Cost: $14 (drinks and tip, would have been much much more without the gift certificate)
Review: It was a peaceful setting just off one of Bangkok's busiest roads. However, any environment can be peaceful when you're the only customers. Many of our first choices were not available, but the food we did get was good quality. Not recommended.

20 June- Rich Man Poor Man
Detail: Restaurant and Guest House in Jomtien Beach, hole in the wall with a local feel. Decorated in sports paraphernalia from the US as well as old US license plates.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Pizza, Jalapeno Poppers
Cost: $21
Review: We visit Rich Man Poor Man almost every time we go to Jomtien, which is a few times a year. The owner is from New York and makes wonderful pizza. Honestly everything that comes out of the kitchen smells delicious. Our first time visiting was a few years ago when flash flooding extended our stay by 1 day. As the rain continued to fall we sought shelter inside the same way we enjoy a cozy bar during a snow storm in Wisconsin. Highly Recommended.

21 June- Just Burgers
Detail: Semi-Permanent street stall in Jomtien Beach.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Burgers and Fries
Cost: $16
Review: Another place that we are very loyal to in Jomtien.. Yes, we go to a beach town for burgers and pizza. This is another place we discovered a few years ago on our first trip down from Bangkok. Flame charred burgers fresh off the grill with your choice of imported cheese (including pepper-jack) makes this place great. Highly Recommended.

After a day reading at the beach a burger can hit the spot!  Greg also enjoyed a drink at the Aussie bar on the way back our guest house. 

22 June- Sunrise Tacos
Detail: Mexican food chain in Thailand and Cambodia. Easily accessible from the Saladaeng BTS Station/Silom MRT, we visited the location at the corner of Silom Soi 4.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Tortilla Soup, Taco Salad in a tortilla bowl, Southwestern Taco Salad, water
Cost: $22
Review: We thought the salads were pretty good and with fresh ingredients. We liked the free salsa bar to doctor up our salads to our liking. Recommended.

23 June- Snapper
Detail: A Kiwi owned upscale restaurant known for Fish & Chips. Located just inside Sukhumvit Soi 11 a short walk from Nana BTS.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Fish Fingers, Fish and Chips, IPA beer
Cost: $40
Review: Drinking good beer at a restaurant really adds up fast! However, Snapper is known for it's Fish & Chips for a good reason. Recommended.

25 June- Kenny's
Detail: Thai Bar serving mostly Thai food. Located just behind us on Soi Sribunphen.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Chicken Green Curry, Sun-dried Fried Pork, Local beer and Sprite.
Cost: $13
Review: We love Kenny's and it's one of our go-to Thai places to take visitors. Good service, outside (but covered) setting is perfect for a week night meal or weekend night out. Highly Recommended.

26 June- Pizza Company
Detail: Just like Pizza Hut, a pizza restaurant that offers delivery to your home on a motor bike. What's not to like?
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Hawaiian Pizza (served of course with your side of  red pepper flakes, oregano, and of course a Thai favorite: ketchup packets.)
Cost: $12
Review: Pizza Company is our go-to delivery pizza place. We especially like it when they run their buy 1 get 1 deals. Delivered to our door in less than 30 minutes, we can't complain!

We weren't using the English version of the site, so this Google translate's take on Pizza is in the Oven. 

27 June- Trajai
Detail: Thai style western steakhouse located on Soi Sribunphen (just opposite Kenny's). 15 minute walk from Lumpini MRT or a short motor bike ride.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Crispy Scalloped Salad, Ham Steak with Baked Potato, Beer Lao Dark, Mango Smoothie
Cost: $16
Review: This is one of our neighborhood favorites for when we want western food. Great service includes peanuts when you sit down, hot bread and butter, and a consistently great meal. Covered outside seating and indoor air-con section make it perfect for any type of weather. Highly Recommended.

28 June- AmCham Picnic
Detail: Picnic/Fair  hosted by The American Chamber of Commerce Bangkok at KIS International School. There was a convenient free shuttle from the Huai Kwang MRT station. We paid an entrance fee and then it was the one of those buy tickets, use tickets to get food and drinks. Very American in organization!
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Hot dogs, Cheesy Fries, Beer, Ice Cream cones (free from DQ!)
Cost: $30 (food) $15 (Tickets for entrance)
Review: As with many events like this, it was the friends we were with and the live music that made it fun. A bit overpriced, some really good food, some not, and beer on tap made it feel just like home. Recommended.

Gotta love the 4th of July Picnic having wrist bands made in China. Our friend Jamethon is showing us the power of his beard. 

29 June- O'Brien's Pub (previously called O'Reilly's)
Detail: Located just off the Saladaeng BTS/Silom MRT spot, this is what you think of when you think of a pub: Dark, yet cozy. Soccer on the TV.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Beef and Guinness Pie, Fish Sticks, Beer and Water
Cost: $32
Review: O'Brian's is one of our go-to pubs in the Silom area. We took my dad here a few years ago for St. Patrick's Day. Good food, a good place to watch sports, and some import beers on tap. Recommended.

30 June- Le Petit Zinc
Detail: French Crepe restaurant located on Yenakart Road about a 15 minute walk from our condo.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Spinach/feta/tomato crepe, Tuna Crepe, Red Wine and Mint Soda
Cost: $30
Review: This cozy little restaurant offers a wide variety of food featuring sweet and savory crepes. This was our first visit and it won't be our last. Highly Recommended.

3 July- Just One
Detail: Thai Seafood restaurant located on the corner of Sathorn Soi 1 and Soi Sribunphen. 15 minute walk from Lumpini MRT.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Steamed Sea Bass with Lemon (limes are called lemons here) and Garlic, Shrimp rolls, coconut Smoothie, Beer
Cost: $18
Review: This place offers a great outdoor atmosphere and can be crowded with tour groups. There is a small indoor setting, but we have never sat there. Highly Recommended.

6 July- Beirut
Detail: Lebanese Restaurant with a few locations throughout the city. Our usual location is on Silom Road just off of the Saladaeng BTS/Silom MRT walkway, but this night we opted for delivery.
Meal: Dinner
Our Food: Chicken Shawarma wraps and hummus fata
Cost: $17
Review: After visiting Lebanon this past summer, we can say the food here tastes authentic. The only Thai influence is a spicy Thai chili mix that is served with the traditional yogurt and garlic mouse that comes with every meal. Between visiting in person and having it delivered, this may be are most frequented restaurant in the city.  Never had a bad meal, Highly Recommended.