Saturday, October 25, 2008

The rest of the world has it Backwards

So you know how the rest of the world works 5 days a week and takes 2 days off? Well I've decided that's backwards; I got my teaching schedule the other day and I work Tuesdays and Fridays. Yep, and then I have 5 days off :) 

I love my life.

(okay so that's a slight exaggeration, I tutor on the off days to make enough money, but I only work two days at my real job)

I've been back at school for a week and this semester is great so far, I have a conversation class (as opposed to just writing and grammar) and it's really fun, my students are all really into the class and have a pretty good level of English!
I also have the 2nd semester continuation of courses I taught last semester and several of my favorite students have switched up their schedules to come be in my section (I'm really flattered!) so that's fun. 

Here are some pictures from the party I had with my favorite class at the end of last semester. I told them they should "bring in some snacks or something" and we ended up with like 4 desks covered in Thai snacks and desserts so I got to try lots of things I never would have experimented with on my own (like salted dried mango, tamarind candies, dried squid snax, shrimp rice crackers, etc....)!

Hmm, this tastes funny...

Ko Chang Chill

The second part of my vacation, after Bangkok Dangerous, was hanging out at the beach for a week. We went to Ko Chang (Elephant Island) which is about 5 hours southeast of Bangkok (close to the border of Cambodia).

It was gorgeous weather and I spent most of the week swinging in a hammock/sitting in a lounge chair (re)reading book(s) and looking out at the ocean.

We stayed at Paradise Huts which had this beautiful pavilion with hammocks and a fountain

It was a little ways from the beach and the action but super-nice because it was quiet, and when you wanted food or party you could wander down the beach to the Treehouse (a cool restaurant with a pavilion built over the water that always had fun stuff going on at night)

We also went swimming and kayaking around the nearby islands, 

and did a little acroyoga,

This was a perfect morning: a tropical smoothie and a blank page in my notebook

it was a perfect break from work and Chiang Mai and I'm back at school relaxed and refreshed!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bangkok Dangerous

I had about 3 weeks for vacation so I went to Bangkok for a few days to visit my friend Kate, then to Ko Chang (and island about 5 hours south of Bangkok near the Cambodian Border) and then to an Organic Farm for a 3-day Vegetarian Thai cooking course and farmstay. 

I always find it amazing how, once you hit a certain city size, they all start to look the same. Except for the Thai script on signs, I could have sworn I was in Toronto (and knowing TO, there's probably a "little Bangkok" where you would see Thai letters). Bangkok is known for it's shopping, and so part of our orientation was to check out the Malls. There are several of them in one area connected by walkways above the street. You start on one end and you can walk for at least an hour going from one to the next, gradually increasing in ritzyness until you see names like Prada and Gucci. There's a lot of hi-so, rich people in Bangkok and travelers as well; and again you could be anywhere in the world when you're inside.

In on of the ritzy malls, we decided to do it right and see Bangkok Dangerous in Bangkok

While it was quite the terrible movie in it's cheesiness (sorry Nicolas Cage, you're just not professional hitman material anymore), seeing it gives you free license to use the title as an adjective synonymous with badass, like: "whoa, that was so bangkok dangerous" or "tonight's gonna be bangkok dangerous." Watching it in BKK amped up the cheesiness because in the opening scenes Nicolas Cage says in a dark, intense voice "Bangkok: dirty, corrupt, dense" and then there's a montage of city scenes that's supposed to be shocking and drive home the dirty, corrupt, scary message, but it loses a lot of it's power if you can say  "I think I ate at that street stall for dinner" or "hey Kate, don't you live down the street from there?" 

Forget the Grand Palace, forget the Reclining Buddha, the ultimate, true Bangkok experience is sitting in traffic for over two hours just to get out of the city. 

This is Kao San Rd. 

otherwise known as Backpacker Row, where you can get everything from a sarong to a fake degree from Oxford. Most backpackers never leave this area, but it's really just a bunch of souvenirs shops that has more expensive version of what you can get at Chaduchak Market. Chaduchak is HUGE, and completely overwhelming, it has pretty much anything you could ever want and if I ever open a coffee shop/restaurant, I'm coming here to decorate it!

I realize that my whole life I've been buying clothes, jewelry and decorations that come from Thailand. Of course they're much cheaper here, but it's not just the import cost, I think basically you're paying someone to come through here and pick stuff out for you, narrow your options, because it's utterly overwhelming (for me) to find so much cool stuff so cheap. I've made the commitment to myself not to buy anything I don't absolutely love because otherwise I'd get sucked in by the cheapness and end up with lots of stuff and no money!

I think my favorite thing about Bangkok was watching about 200 Thai people do synchronized aerobics in Lumpini Park.

The pollution sunset wasn't too bad either. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Go Clean Your Room!

I feel like my internet life is a dirty room. You're too busy to clean it, and once it starts to get cluttered, it's even harder to put stuff where it belongs, you just stop trying and things pile up on top of other things and it gets to the point where you don't even want to go into your room because you can't stand it. 

I cleaned up my apartment yesterday.

Today, the internet! Tomorrow the Worl--oh nevermind...just gmail? (I actually need to spend about 3 days straight online to deal with all my backlogged stuff). 

The end of the semester was busy with grading and getting things organized and then I went to Bangkok and Ko Chang (island in the south) and then You Sabai/Pun Pun (organic farm and seed-saving operation with vegetarian cooking school) for a 3-day cooking course (funny how we are in such a rush to get ON VACATION, that we stress ourselves out and leave our life in shambles just to GET THERE), so I haven't blogged in about 3 weeks, never mind replying to e-mails, facebook messages, wall posts, past blog comments, reading blogs I follow, reading the news, or skyping people (I actually stopped even opening non-urgent e-mails a few weeks ago). So for that, I apologize (However, I DID have a great vacation!)

It's funny though , if I sneak on to post a blog so I don't feel toooo guilty and so people know I'm still alive(even if I don't have enough time to respond to personal e-mails) I know that people KNOW I've come online so I COULD'VE replied to them but didn't. I don't mean anything by the not replying, I'll get there. I guess what I'm saying is I love you all and I appreciate all your personal communication and I promise I will reply soon (snail mail too, it's coming - I swear!)  :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Raw & Juicy Music Exchange: Try This at Home!

Hey, I've been on vacation (hurray!) and haven't posted, but now I have lots to share so there will be many in the next few days. I start teaching again on Monday for my second semester - how time flies!

Last week Wild Rose (the yoga studio I practice at) held a Music Exchange and Potluck party with the theme of Raw Food & Juice (several people in the WR family had just done a juice fast and wanted to continue that theme of food). It sort of morphed into healthy food + any form of chocolate, but I was completely okay with that. We decided that chocolate is exempt from all the rules: it's vegan, raw, and calorie-free. The idea was bring some food and the 10 best songs you can think of and share.

It was a great party, and WOW, I ended up with some really cool music. I wouldn't hesitate to say the WR community is eclectic; we have people from all over the world who have lived and traveled all over the world. It's funny how you still gravitate towards what you love though. I listen to a playlist of all the collected songs and a song will come on and I think, "hey what a great song - oh, I put this on here." In the spirit of love lists, here are 10 songs I love that I chose to share.
1. World Spins Madly On - The Weepies
2. Helen - Nizlopi
3. These Streets - Paolo Nutini
4. What About Everything? - Carbon Leaf
5. I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
6. Rainstorm - Matthew Brookshire
7. Closer - Joshua Radin
8. Collide - Howie Day
9. Tears & Rain - James Blunt
10. Wait for Love - Matt White

What are yours?

Even though I took the time to look through all my music, I could have just cliked the "Top 25 Most Played" button in itunes, because my top 10 were, of course, the ones I have listened to the most, each with a play count of over 50 (and that's just in itunes - when I get into a song, I listen to it over and over again!).
Despite my gravitation towards my own contributions, I do love a lot of the music I received, especially "Sweet" by Jehro, check it out and do a music exchange in your community!