Saturday, January 31, 2009

Day 31 A Heavenly Experience

Saturday started off by running in to one of the learners starting this Monday. I gave him the rundown over a glass of iced tea at my Thai outside starbucks. Then off to the Oasis Spa in downtown Chiang Mai. What an experience! I was assigned a room of my own which was complete with two massage tables, lots of flowers and a full bath. They started with an orange rind body was morning so you should have your orange juice. Then a quick Thai massage to get you relaxed. Then a full oil massage and finally a facial. I felt 10 years younger when I left.
Went back to my room, packed up and got ready for my ride to the train station. Arrived at the train station in plenty of time even with a stop at the flower market to capture some good pictures. Tomorrow I will update you on my train ride as I consider it a Saturday-Sunday experience. I am now in HOT Bangkok...88 and 92 per cent humidity...UGH

Friday, January 30, 2009

Day 30 We Are DONE!

So here is the Friday posting that I was too tired to do on Friday. I took (past simple verb) the grammar (adjective) test along with some others on Friday morning. I got a comfortable mark which means that I got my diploma in a purple folder. Purple is a huge color here as it is the color of the royal family here in Thailand. Miles, Tom and I went to lunch at one of our favorite hangouts and then Miles and I set off to find the bookstore. Now remember we had some vague directions from Karim our administrator...He was the one that gave me the outdated map of the campus. Well after some real searching we achieved success and located the bookstore. BUT No t-shirts...Well not exactly T shirts for westerners. These would have fit my cat Spook and not me. Here in Thailand virtually everyone has a 26 inch waist, weighs about 132 pounds and is about 5 1/2 feet tall more or less. We had to settle for a purple umbrella and a hat that says Chiang Mai University. So Miles and I parted company - he is off to Hawaii, which is home...Just down the block from Barack Obama's holiday place. I went in to town to do my last walkabout. Kind of happy and sad at the same time. Happy to be ready to start yet a new adventure...long train ride..Sad because I really like this place. 76 degrees more or less everyday in Jan...How bad can that be. However, the heat is coming...
Then I headed to the Italian restaurant where I had Pasta Arrabiata whih was really really great. I told the chef it was as good as what I have had in the west..(where you all live) .
He gave me a nose high wai which is a huge honor and I was on my way home for the last walk from downtown. I stopped at my chicken lady (noun phrase) to give her a good bye and teach her 3 more English words then to my pineapple lady and then packed up my room.
Today I will have a massage and facial, body scrub at the Oasis Spa here in Chiang Mai and then the choo choo ride to Bangkok. (BKK)..I will tell you about both from BKK tomorrow..
No pictures today but will have some tomorrow for you..I promise...Well that is providing I find a internet cafe in BKK. What a silly thing to say - one thing they have lots of here is internet cafes and 7 elevens.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day 29 Last Teach Session

I did it I got a 1.25 which is about the highest score you can get...You have to make some mistake I got it from Jana who is one of the toughest graders in the school.   She handed it to me and said well done I have no feedback for you...YEA...what a great way to end.
I had 33 today, quite a lively group of 13 year olds.   Session went well BUT one whose picture is shown was truly the class ringleader.   We had a funny incident during the class.   My friend Matthew walked in about 5 minutes after I started as he had been teaching just before me in another room.   Well Matthew is about 6'6 inches tall and thin as a rail...The students all raised their heads at the same time to see how far up he went.   
So we talked again about parallel occurances in Past Contintuous with a focus on pronouns of We, They, He, She and I.  The whole class went off well and in the game at the end they were really good at it.   Just a perfect way to have the last class go.   We then had lunch with the "kids" in their cafeteria...Pad already know Thai fast food.    Then a couple of kids from my class stacked themselves on top of one another's shoulders to see if they could reach Matthew's height.   Too bad I did not get a picture of it, we were laughing so hard we forgot to take the picture.  They did a three person stack and they reached his eye brows.  
So tonight we have our big dinner out...Looking forward to it as it has been a LONG month of hard work.   I get to do a retake on the grammar exam tomorrow along with several others but I am very confident now since I have been teaching it so much.  
Oh  we got our power back after a 5 hour outage...I told you they use 20 minutes very liberally here.  The most exciting thing was watching them change the transformer...Now I suspect you will think I need to get a real live here, but 5 of us were kind of watching the process to see if they dropped the transformer.  When they clicked the fuse on it really sparked...Kind of like a Chinese new year's fireworks.
So enjoy my pics...Makei is the one standing next to me even though he told me his name was Don...I think not...
Oh yea...found out today that he   if said like heeeeee is a really vulgar term in Thai.  I won't do that one again...I said Heeeee ______ I was trying to get them to give me the answer only to find out that they all burst out laughing.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day 28 PPP at Shipi Mong and a BIG BANG

So lets work backwards...I was in my apartment at 3:00PM when we had this HUGE BIG LOUD Bang...get the picture we are talking big here. Usig two adjectives and an adverbial is a little over the top but was BIG. In a split second no electric, no internet and dead silence...well a scream but that was just some drama. A transformer blew up outside our apartment building..quite cool.
Well after we figured out no one was dead or otherwise seriously hurt we inquired about how long it would be out. 20 minutes...Hmm everything here is 20 minutes so that is suspect. So here I am at an internet cafe at 5:10 PM and no electric in the apartment. I have discovered a practical application of Future Tense here...Sometime in the future we will get electric. But alas you all know T.I.T.
The school day was interesting. One my colleagues ...British I might add decided to do some early celebrating of her successful course completion. She misjudged and was not well this morning. Then the school sent too many students to class for 10:30 AM...Who was teaching at 10:30..that's right ME? So instead of 10 students I had 37 and material for only 12. So like the loaves and fish story I had to make it expand...Not quite the 5000 from biblical times but a bit of a challenge anyway. So I found a copy machine...NO one at BA better ever complain about copy machines if you saw the one I had to work with...Just short of cranking it up to get it to work...It was a Xerox...1 copy per 10 seconds...
I was talking about fruit and parallel actions...I choose Durian...Local fruit from southeast Asia that you will see on this blog. However, the key feature of this fruit is that it STINKS. When you open it up you feel like you have arrived at the Local Boy Scout Outhouse. So why would people eat it...well it tastes like custard inside...SO you combine the outhouse and custard and you get the picture. They all loved that I used the Durian. For parellel actions I choose swimming and jumping....So while of students was swimming I was jumping...It got the point across...
I got a great evaluation from Jana...and headed back to celebrate at my outdoor Thai style starbucks. BUT ice tea is only 0.60$ good deal...
So, some pictures are included of my gang today...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day 27 PPP ...More Advanced Classes on Grammar LOL

So Tomorrow I am going to my favorite teaching school and we are doing Past Tense Continuous parallel actions and Past Tense Continuous Atmosphere.    "I was ironing , while Debbie was fixing the car."   So while that may seem like a simple enough sentence it can be a real challenge to give them a context they can understand.   I am doing parallel tomorrow, so I think  I am going to be doing a running and dancing scene...I contemplated the singing aspect but there are a lot of dogs near the school and any bad noise sets them into a barking frenzy.  Additionally, there is a rooster that lives on the grounds of the school and if he dislikes something you do he just starts to do his cock a doddle do  and he is LOUD.
Oh here is the big adventure of the day.   I went to get a T shirt for Chiang Mi university.  So I ask the administrator Karim where the bookstore was.   He said oh here is a map and it is easy to find..that statement coming from a Thai is suspect.  So I set off to go to the far reaches of the campus to locate the book store.   OK I found the library...hard to miss big building with lots of books.   NOW per the map the book store was right next to the library..but there were two buildings on the campus that were not on the map..That leads me to believe the map is faulty..
So I ask someone...I was in luck the map had the building name in Thai and English...So the girls both laughed and told me in PERFECT English...even their tense was right that the bookstore closed a year ago...So tomorrow I am going to hunt Karim down and tell him to get a new map.  
I went to my chicken lady tonight and my Thai Starbucks...Note the love is blind T shirt...I saw it there.   Also, you will see the local dog, who ALWAYS barks at me when I go there...I am trying to work out a truce with him NO SUCCESS so far.  
So now I have 25 little cards to cut out one which has a picture of a durian on it...I will tell you about the stinky fruit tomorrow...SO enjoy the pictures...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Day 26 BAD DAY IN Chiang Mi

Bad grammar day...More difficult than I thought and well did not pass....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day 25 Happy New Year, White Water Rafting and the Sunday Market

Happy Lunar New Year, the year of the Ox.  
So on my last Sunday, I decided to head off to a day of rafting on the Manam River which flows north of the city.   They have class 3 and 4 rapids on the river and it is very fast moving river..I was team up with 2 brothers and sister from Peru.  Andrea was a naturalist, who was a specialist in Asia wildlife.   I can tell you I saw every butterfly, bug and bird along the river.   >>Oh she also pointed out great flowers...not picture.  She had eagle eyes and could spot stuff really easily.  Additionally, every time went through a rapid she would scream.  Her brother told me that she did that for effect.
However, let me back up a little.  Before we hit the river we had lunch and then a quick instruction on how to survive on the river and then off we went.  My instructor was great ..English was excellent and turned out to be a really nice guy. His picture is on here today.   He showed me the footbridge...put me out on it and then started to jump up and down....It was like a giant trampoline.  
Then we headed back to Chiang Mai and since this is Sunday...what do I always got it the Sunday Market.   I got trapped in the throng...then I got hungry so it was time to eat.   So finally, after keeping you in suspense I had PIZZA.  It was interesting...looked will see picture, but then they served chili sauce with it...Of course they serve chili sauce with everything here so why should this one be any different.  Oh yea, forget to tell you,, I had a jacket made while I was here, and did a fitting on it ...just 35 dollars for a custom made jacket ..not bad ..he then conned me in to making a shirt...gave me some line about that with this jacket I should get this shirt made...Somehow I fell for it...Then I felt guilty and had to skip my normal stop at Starbucks.  BUT I did have PIZZA yea..
The pizza was huge and guess what I had for breakfast this morning.  Yes cold pizza, felt like I was back at Penn State...
Note the raft and then the bamboo rafts...we did not use them BUT you can...They call it a more primitive experience.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day 24 Cooking School Number 3

Ah it is Saturday here in lovely Chiang Mai and and that means cooking school day.  So today we made the following
Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup...HMM this one was excellent..but the idea of taking the shrimp apart does not totally work for me...The shrimp kept staring at me from the pot...Kind of creeped me out.  
Then Pad version...This is called Thai Fast food by the locals as you can make it in 5 minutes..
Green Curry with chicken....VERY HOT...Lips still was awesome
Chicken Salad...this one was really great...totally different than anything I had anything like it before...Note how nice it looks on the plate....
Thai Fish Cakes...these are widely available in Thailand and are really delicious..
Lastly Ruby Chestnut dessert...This one was really colorful sparking on the plate
At the request of some of you I am posting some pictures of some of my masterpieces today.   Sorry the Dessert did not get posted...I ate it before I remembered to take a picture.   However, you can just see the edge of my cooking neighbors next to my chicken salad. I love these cooking classes.  You make it and then eat it...Now how good is that..
Then I took my usual town stroll, stopped at Starbucks to hang out with some frang had my normal western ice tea.  Then haggled with the Tuk Tuk to take me home.   Now I am writing  my blog and STUDY grammar...Now that is a pretty exciting Saturday evening don't you think.
Hope you all have a great Saturday,  mine was great..

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 23 Watermelon, Losing Traffic Dodge Ball and Bogus Films

So first how many words can you spell with the word "watermelon".  Other than water and melon  you can spell up to 100 words.   That was our task today in teams to figure out how many we could get.   Matthew, Christian and I got 50 words  in 10 minutes so we were pretty proud.    Today was all about listening and writing English and we did some great exercises on listening.   Got some ideas Ursula and Sarah you might find interesting.  
We finished early today at 2:00PM as we were all caught up, it was Friday,  T.I.T. and our instructor was sick so we went home.   That means for me heading to downtown on a mission to find some films for my long journey by train to Bangkok.   So I got 4 great films on CD for just 6 dollars.  Seven Pounds, Changeling, Revolutionary Road and W.   I checked them out, no hands sticking up in the middle of the film or jumping videos.   They have no copyright laws here so anything pretty much goes.   I think they put the film out before Hollywood does... On my way home, I had to cross the street and play my usual traffic dodgeball and well this time I lost.   A motorbike ran over my toe...UGH it is fine but of course I had to sooth my pain and sorrow of losing at traffic dodgeball so I went and had a foot massage...Just two big US dollars for an hour.  Toe is sore...but I will survive it was a small bike and Thai's aren't very big so not much weight...He gave me a lift part of my way and he felt really bad. 
Oh yea, I totally forgot, haircut today at the local shop down the street from me...The woman was all excited, here I am frang with silver hair so she  she said in her best English...(not that great) that she had never touched silver hair before...I suggested she might want to open up a shop in Florida...So she saved a piece of my hair for what reason I don't know but I suspect it is at her home being examined by her family all who I know have jet black hair.
On my way to downtown..we are not talking midtown manhattan skyscrapers etc...well the Sofitel hotel is kind of tall..anyway I stopped by my sewing lady to pick up my shirt that I had altered.   She said she gave me her best price..45 cents for altering two sleeves and fixing a small tear. 
Oh Andy I passed by a Chinese restaurant tonight and they did not have General Tso Chicken...   

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day 22 Thasatui School Blindside.....

New School today on the other side of the river.   Thasutui is a middle school in a fairly affluent neighborhood.  BUT T.I.T hit me...I went to my presentation on advanced English when I was told that my age group had only BASIC english..I suspected when I was told they were 8 years old .  ...So we are talking colors and numbers only...hardly able to handle Lately and Recently...I have hard time with it and I am suppose to speak English...well American English anyway...My friend Matthew tells me I talk funny.  What does he know, he is from the UK and I remind him all the time about strength in numbers  326 million as opposed to 62 million in UK .   So I had to dump everything and go with a VERY VERY basic English class.   Simple sentences present tense....Not even past tense...So we are talking See Spot run...See Spot chase Puff.....This is Mom this is Dad...really basic stuff here.  My coach was John from California..Yea this program here is run by the American English Mafia.  So we use Color, Not Colour, Center , Not Centre.
Anyway, he told me I did a great job of taking it down to the lowest level possible.  
The kids were great but their English was MINIMAL.  But as usual they stood up gave said GOOD MORNING TEACHER and then  in unison all sit down.   I find it amazing even after  6 times that they have such a high level of respect.  Once the class was over we were invited to lunch...Pad favorite...was outstanding...then back in our truck and back to campus.   We got an early release today after two hours of grammar articles and conditionals.   The big 3 hour grammar test is on Monday morning.   I have not taken a 3 hour test since I took the SAT for college at 17...I constantly feel like I am in Mrs. Findley's third grade grammar class...I am waiting for her to smack me on the back for dipping Nancy Leichenfelts hair in the ink well.
Anyway, all is excellent my end.   Here are some pictures of my KIDS today...they were amazing to work with...even if their English was not so hot.  The girls were shy, would not let me take their picture....
BBQ lady coming later.   I am off to see the street sewing lady to get a shirt fixed.   She has her shop sent up on my corner.   She is lovely.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day 21 Pub Party, Graduation and Teaching

The last 24 hours have been awesome!   My instructor called me around 8 last night and told me I had to go to the inag party with him.   However, when I explained that I had a lot of work to do because of him; he said so what, you can't miss this event.   So around 930 he picked me up on his motor bike and off we went to the UN Irish Pub in downtown Chiang Mai.  
When we got there it was filled with about 200 plus displaced Americans who were there for the same purpose.  To be together as one to see the inauguration.    We had spring rolls,  Thai fish cakes and a glass of wine to celebrate the event.   So at exactly midnight our time it all happened.   I hit the sack here in Chiang Mai at 130 am and it was worth every minute of lost sleep.  A few shots of us at the party and the guy with me is my instructor Tony from Mobile, Alabama.
Go up at 630 and off to my school to teach.   I was tasked to teach how you use Recently and Lately...So Recently, I saw a tree in the park....I have been dining at 630 PM lately.   Try to get that point across to people who have a fully logical language.   But we had some success, they know you don't Lately, take up basketball but more likely recently.  Picture of my class posted.
Today was also graduation at Chiang Mai University as the spring semester is over and they are now off to get jobs while the undergraduates start summer recess.  So all over campus today students were around in their black caps,  gowns and very very colorful scarves indicating their major.   They also were all wearing white suits under the gowns.   It was cool to see them riding around on their motorbikes with robes blowing behind them holding  their mortar boards for dear life.   I have posted a picture of the flowers the graduates got.  
Then I headed to home and stopped at my favorite local coffee shop ..Thai version of Starbucks ...note it is outside and lovely setting and right by my apartment.  I also thought I would show you my drink  Thai Ice Tea...just 25 cents.  
So tomorrow a new school for me...and a new lesson...present tense simple sentences.  
Tonight I am going to see my b b q lady...She knows me know now, so tonight I will try to get a picture of her for all of you to see.  
So enjoy the pictures and oh by the way it was 92 here today...We are dying in a heat wave...But a cold front is enroute so we will be back in the 70's on Friday.