Saturday, May 24, 2014


We went to church on Sunday.  They have a Thai branch in Phitsanulok which is a 40 minute train ride away.  We had to catch the 6:50 train since the next one would get us there too late.

We left the school around 6:20 and rode out bikes to the station.  They ask us to wear helmets, so here I am on my bike with a helmet.

(I know it should be further up on my head, but my hair gets in the way... and apparently I choose looks over bicycle safety.)

We got to the station and bought our tickets around 6:40.  We got on the train really quickly, but there weren't many seats.  An old woman asked us to take her seat and so we alternated and let people take turns sitting while she stood almost on top of us.  There were a couple people walking back and forth on the train selling food.

We showed the old woman out train ticket and she told us when to get off.  Interesting fact.  It's free for natives to ride the train but foreigners have to pay.  Nobody asked for our ticket on the way there but they did check on the way back.

We didn't know exactly how to get the the church building from the train station.  Stevie had a picture of the map showing the building and the old bus station.  So when we left the train station we got a tuk-tuk and squished the 6 of us in there to ride that to the old bus station.

At the old bus station we couldn't find any street signs so we had no way to orient ourselves.  We asked a couple people but they couldn't help.  Eventually we called the sister missionaries and they told us which way to go.  It was only about a 2 block walk.

By this time it was about 8:00 and we had an hour until church started.  We took pictures by the sign out front, sang some hymns, and looked around.  The building there had the same wifi password as the buildings in the states!  One of the girls figured that out and thought that was so incredible.  Sine I had internet I decided to Skype with Tanner since I hadn't talked to him the day before.  I got to chat with him and that is always nice.  The building is part of a row of buildings.  On one side there is a restaurant and the other side looks like a business.  The building itself is 3 stories tall.

The bottom floor is big and open with a pulpit at the front and a font at the back.  There is a itty bitty bathroom under the stairs.  The second floor has the branch president's office, a few classrooms and a kitchen.  The 3rd floor has more classrooms.  Even though it was small and 3 stories, it felt a lot like the churches at home.  There was artwork and hymn books and lots of white shirts and ties!  I did a quick count and there were between 60 and 70 people there.  The missionaries said that since Pitsanulok is a college town the numbers fluctuate a lot.  They said since our group was there (6 of us and 2 from the school in that town) it was the highest the attendance has been since January.

We got headsets and one of the missionaries translated for us.  He was nervous about it because he said he only had a 30% comprehension of the language, but he did a good job.

They took us upstairs to the young single adult Sunday school class.  I know that I'm not single (or very young) anymore, but 2 missionaries were going to translate for that class and it seemed like the easiest choice.  One of the Elders is from Mesa, AZ too!  I don't know the kid and he lives further east that I do, but it was comforting to have a connection like that.

Relief society was back down stairs and I was glad I had the manual to read in English because they missionaries said the teacher was hard to translate for.  Apparently she goes off on lots of tangents, says things more than once, and speaks 'old Thai'.  So I mostly read the lesson in English.

After the block they had 4 baptisms!  We got to stay for those.  They had us all go outside and take pictures before the baptisms.  The last two baptisms were done by someone who has received the priesthood the week before and was performing baptisms for the first time.  The first one had to be done twice because he didn't all the way under the first time.  The last baptism it looked like he didn't get all the way immersed either.  The baptizer realized this so in the way up before coming all the way out of the water he pushed him under a second time more thoroughly.  It caught everyone off guard and was a little bit funny.  After the baptism service everyone went upstairs for a potluck lunch.  I guess that is something they do every week since some people have a ways to travel.  By the time we got done eating it was about 2:00.

The train is scheduled to leave at 1:45 and since it runs late quite quite frequently we thought we'd see if we could still catch it.  We got to the station around 2:20 and it was already gone.  That meant we'd need to wait for the 5:25 train.  We walked the streets, window shopped and went to a delightful little bakery.  By then it was 3:00 and we decided to go to the school there.  One of the volunteers here at our school has a little sister who is volunteering at the school in that city.  We went to their school and they showed us around and we chatted with them for a couple hours.

Little shops like this are everywhere! 

We got back to the station with plenty of time to get the 5:25 train.  It was less crowded and we got about 5 seats.  It started raining on the train ride home.  I took a video on the way home.  (I can always hear my mom's voice in my head saying things like "Lindsey, take a video of that!  I would love to see what it's like and feel like I'm there."  So this is for you Momma!)

I think the rope are funny... it's like they are trying to make it safe-ish, but really what will those two roped really do? 

Once we got off the train we rode back to the school in the rain.  It was a long day, but it felt so nice to get to church and I'm looking forward to going again this week.  I have a feeling that once I get back to the states I'm going to be a LOT more grateful when I can get to church in less than 5 minutes.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Teaching and Dolphin Legs

May 23, 2014

Today I woke up feeling really, really dizzy!  I stood up to go to the bathroom and everything was spinning.  I had to lean against the fall so I didn’t fall over.  I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to teach in the state I was in.  I logged onto Facebook for a minute and the head teacher had messaged me saying there was no school today!  That was a little blessing because of how crummy I felt.  I talked to a couple Thai teachers and confirmed that that was true.  Words like “martial law” and “military coup” have been thrown around.  I guess school was off due to the national peace and order council...

I don’t care for (read: hate) politics, so I don’t really want to know all the details.  I’m safe and the stuff that’s going down is mostly happening in Bangkok, which is about 4 hours away.  I don’t feel like I am in danger or anything—just grateful that I have today off to try and feel better.   I went back to sleep for a few hours and ate a really good lunch and I’m feeling 85% better!  Hooray!  It’s amazing how just a little bit of feeling yucky can make me so grateful for my health.

It’s been about a week since I wrote last and I have a lot to catch up on!  I started teaching, went to church, went out with the Thai teachers, and had my birthday. I’ve had the most requests for details about teaching so I’ll start with that. 

Here I am teaching.  I'm wearing my school uniform.  The shirt has their school logo and was tailor made for me.

Those are Elementary 2 kids 

Elementary 1 kids

They come in every day and take pictures.  Those are from the school’s Facebook page.    Yesterday Tang's mom and dad came by to bring us some fruit and wanted to see me teach.  So the two of them came in for about 20 minutes with a couple strangers and sat in the back of the room watching me, taking pictures, and filming.  

Tang came in and we team taught that lesson and it was really good!  It was nice to watch her a little bit and feed of each other’s energy. 

On to the nitty gritty!  So… I started teaching last Wednesday.  The first day was a little bit crazy.  They are building a new building where I will have my own classroom and the students will come to me for their English classes.  The building isn’t done, so I am currently going into the 2 classes when I teach.  That means I feel like a wanderer without a home J.  I have a tub that I put my supplies in and carry around, but it’ll be nice to have my own pace soon.  They think it’ll be ready at the end of the month—so just another week. 

The morning wasn’t great, but I think the day got better as it went on.  It’s REALLY noisy in the classrooms. All the windows were open because it was so hot and they weren’t using the air.  The construction workers were cutting things and it was so noisy.  Then the white board installers came and were drilling into the block walls as we were trying to have a lesson.  We were able to use the situation to talk about what they were doing and the tools they were using.  It wasn’t a terrible day, it was just different that I was expecting.  Not the first time that’s happened! J

I have been trying really hard to focus on the good things, but to be honest the first few days were really tough and had me feeling pretty insecure about my teaching abilities.  I learned a lot those first few days and I am starting to get the hang of the new style of teaching.  I am remembering to laugh and try to be fun with the kids.  We had a science lesson a couple days ago and the kids said "That was so fun!"  It was nice to hear that right from their 6 year old mouths.

While teaching in the states the big focus is to teach higher-level thinking.  Get the kids to really think and work through problems.  Promote group work and collaboration.  Here I’m teaching language and NOT content.  I’m supposed to do everything opposite of what I am used to.  They aren’t supposed to have to think in a problem-solving mode.  I’m supposed to ask questions that are so easy that they don’t have to think at all to come up with an answer—that way they can answer quickly and use more language.  The content has already been taught in their native language and now they just need to learn how to talk about it in a new language.  It isn’t good to have them do a lot of group work because I need to be able to correct and model proper language.  Each student is supposed to talk every 1-2 minutes!  It’s a big shift from what I’m used to and it’s taking some adjusting.  I am already starting to get the feel for it and I think that soon it’ll feel more natural.  It already feels SO much easier and the lesson planning is getting easier.  It’s been stretching me as a teacher and I know this whole experience is going to make me a better teacher and person.

The kids (as all kids do) have been pushing their limits to see what they can get away with.  I didn’t start out as structured as I would have liked, but yesterday I set up a new reward/consequence plan and it worked well.  I am hopeful that it’ll continue to work well and we will get in a good groove. 

The kids are really cute!  They have dynamic personalities and I am getting to know them better.  They are a smart bunch and I know that in the next year I’m going to love them so much!  I already love a lot of them! (Some are harder to love than others... haha)

Here’s a funny story from a couple days ago.  I was in a chair and I had the students on the floor around me as we were having part of our lesson.  It was hot and humid (like always) and I was sweaty (like always).  I was wearing a skirt and one of the kids felt my leg.  I had shaved that morning and I was sweaty, so I imagine I felt a little bit like a dolphin… Pordee felt my leg a couple times and them this conversation happened:

Pordee: Teacher, why your legs like that?

Me: Like what?

Prodee:  I have (he lifts his leg up and pulls on his leg hair), why you not have?

Me:  I don’t like the hair so I cut it off.

Pordee: (with a disgusted face) I don’t like that.

_ _ _ _ _ _

It's weird to think that as I am starting school, summer vacation is just beginning back in the states! Head on over here to read what my mom and I have to say about summer vacation.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A bug's life...

Last Tuesday night at 11pm this conversation went down on Skype:

Lindsey Layton:
i was in bed
and i should have been asleep
but i was watching a movie and wanted to finish it
and it's late
and i don't want to be tired tomorrow
and i was so sleepy
but u was just going to finish it and drift off to sleep
and then i saw something move by my head
and i used the light form my iPad to look

Tanner M: oh no....not a bug

Lindsey Layton:
and it was satan in humogous insect form
SO SO big
like 3 inches
and i jumped out of bed
and i didn't want to turn on the light to see how terrible it really was
but there was no way i could just let it be
so i turned on the light
and he was terrible
and I got out my tennis shoe
and threw it at him
while my heart was raging
and i missed!
and luckily he didn't move
then i had to get close to smash him
and i crushed him
and his body fell between by bed and the wall

Tanner M: you defeated the satan spawn

Lindsey Layton: and now adrenalin is rushing through my veins
and i don't think i can to go bed
because what if his family comes

Tanner M: lol

Lindsey Layton: and what if i didn't really get him all the way dead

Tanner M: :|
I think you will be ok now

Lindsey Layton: i don't know...

Tanner M: well you have two options
go to bed

Lindsey Layton: die or sttay up all night

Tanner M: or make sure he's dead and go to bed

Lindsey Layton:
if i look to see if he'd dead then i have to see what he really looks like
and see the other bugs that i am SURE are between there
it's so bad
and I'm gonna start crying...

Tanner M:
I'm sorry

Lindsey Layton: I'll just sit at my desk
you go get on a plane
and come take care of me!

Tanner M: ok

Lindsey Layton: it was so so horrible
and now i'm a wreck
and i'm going to be tired tomorrow
and fail

Tanner M: but think of the story you have on your hands now

Lindsey Layton:
NOT worth it!
i checked
he's dead
at least I'm 95% sure
there is a plastic bag back there

Tanner M:
Now you can sleep
he is dead
take a picture
brad loves dead things

And then somehow I was able to go to sleep on the 1/3 of my bed furthest from the wall...
                                                          - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A couple pictures just for good measure:

These lizards make a clicking noise.  They click 3-5 times and it's surprisingly loud for such a bitty thing.  The first night I was here it really scared me!

Train station Buddah

Next up: Pork chops, Thai friends, scooter rides, church, tuktuks and a train ride.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mister Donut

May 13, 2014

The volunteer teachers are here!!!  It’s really wonderful having other English speaking teachers around.  I’ve had the chance to get to know them and they are delightful.

Sunday morning (Saturday in AZ) I did face time my brother.  He just happened to be at dinner with our parents, his wife, two other brothers and another sister-in-law!  They were out eating Mexican food and I got to talk to each one and pretend like I was really there.  My mom ‘fed’ me a chip with salsa on it through the phone.  I may have cried when I didn’t really get to eat it… I miss Mexican food fiercely!  A couple days ago I was craving a Chipotle burrito bowl.  I would have given just about anything for one.  My mouth is watering just writing about it! 

Speaking of food, Karlie this is for you (my sis-in-law has requested lots of food pictures):

Some kind of meat with carrots and bean sprouts.  It was REALLY tasty!  Tonight we had chicken with snow peas and a dumpling sort of thing on the side.  Lunch was green cauliflower with ground pork.  They eat a LOT of pork here.

The volunteers got in around 2am Sunday morning.  I was really hoping that they would get back sooner and we could go to church together.  I found out that in order to get to 9:00 church you have to leave the school around 6:20.  I haven’t ever been to the train station and didn’t feel comfortable riding there alone that early, finding my way to the church from the train station, and everything involved with that!  So I watched some general conference and took notes.  It was really nice.  

When the volunteers went in to town to the Tesco to go shopping I passed.  So I felt like under the circumstances I made good Sunday choices even though I didn’t get to a sacrament meeting.

Yesterday evening I rode into town with the volunteers.  A lot of people stopped to watch 7 Americans pass on bicycles.  It was like a mini parade for them!  LOTS of people look/stare at us.  In the store I caught 5 pairs of eyes locked on us at one point.

They have parking areas for the scooters and bicycles. 

In Happy Plaza there is a donut shop called Mr. Donut.  We got some delicious donuts!  I got two.  One was a Bavarian crème with powdered sugar on the outside.  The other was a twisted one which they had cut in half and filled with custard and crème (on the left in the picture.  it's called Flocky Chou...).  One was 25 baht (about $.75)  the other one was normally 15 baht on sale for 10 baht (about $.30).  We also found an ice cream stand that had ice cream for 30 cents a scoop.  I got double chocolate. (I feel like I should inform you that I didn’t eat my donuts then, I saved them for the next day…)

 Me, Stevie [the head teacher], and Karly

Geneva, Here are the grocery store pictures you requested:

dessert cakes

 Some kind of spiky fruit

 More fruit


Yucky looking packaged meat

Apples that look like noses

 Pringles.  I was amused by the flavors.

Almost all the chip type snacks came in seaweed flavor

The meat section....  ..... 

We were amused by the model in these packages 

I'm glad that's not spelled with one l 

 This is what I bought.  Well, this is what I tried to buy.  They wouldn't let me have the asian pear... The took it and set it to the side.  Two other girls tried to buy one and they took those away too!  We figured that we were supposed to have them weighed in the produce department or something. We'll try again...

 Watermelon seeds!

Cute little cracker/frosting snacks 

I spent a lot of time today planning and getting ready because…..TOMORROW I have my first day of teaching.  I am equal parts excited and nervous.  I hope it all goes well.  The building where I will eventually be teaching isn’t done yet, so we are in a different building and I don’t have a room.  I’ll just be going into the Thai classrooms.  It’s not ideal but it’ll be just fine.

Last night I was walking back to my room and Megan was walking to get her laundry.  We were walking along when we saw something bad!  We thought it was a scorpion, but he didn’t look exactly like one… He was like a spider-scorpion hybrid.  Megan grabbed a big stick and tried to hit it off the sidewalk into the dirt.  She didn’t hit it quite right and that devil started running.  He was quick.  He ran.  We screamed.   He lifted his tail like he wanted to strike.  We were fine, but he was still on the sidewalk.  It was pretty close to the volunteers’ room and we thought it would be best for him to  be gone.  We decided that it would be best to get the guard and let him take care of the little brute.  I went and fetched Bin while Megan kept an eye on the dirty creature.  Bin came, took the stick, and crunched that bugger.  Yuck.  I get the creeps just thinking about it.

Apparently there are centipedes here.  There was one by the girls room the night they got here.  I saw it the next day once it was dead and being eaten by ants.  I do not look forward to seeing those alive.  I DID see a millipede, but that wasn’t bad.

The school gave me a call phone today.  Nothin’ fancy, but it’ll be good to have in case of an emergency.  I like that it has the squiggly Thai numbers.

We have AC in our rooms, but they don't want us to run it all the time.  I want to offer to pay for it so I can run it all the time!  I think that when I get back to the states I'll either feel really grateful for the constant AC or I'll be used to the heat and feel frivolous running it constantly.  They ask us to just run it from 7:00pm to 7:30am and 2-4 in the afternoon.  We are supposed to set it at 25 degrees celsius (77 degrees fahrenheit).  That with a fan feels really good.  Today it got up to 99 with 70% humidity! Tomorrow it's supposed to get up to 97 but feel like 111.  I get sweaty really easily and usually shower more than once a day.  The Thai people almost all shower twice a day.  Tang's mom showers three times everyday!  I wish the shower water would get a little colder.  I hope my body continues to adjust to the heat and humidity.  My hair is pretty much always up and I plan to keep it that way!

I think that's all.  Until next time! (And remember, I'd love for you to leave a comment!)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Massage, chickens, and coconuts

May 10, 12014 (Here it's the 10th, but in AZ it's still the 9th.)

Thursday was pretty uneventful. I was at the school all day.  I was planning mostly.  That evening I had a belly ache, but by the next morning it was all gone J

The Thai teachers started back this week.  They were here working for 2 or three days.  Yesterday was a Thai holiday so they were off.  Today looks like it’ll be another quiet day.  The construction worker are busy busy working to finish the building next door.  Hopefully they get it done enough my Tuesday because I start teaching Wednesday.  I’m equal parts excited and nervous to start teaching.  I was to do a great job and have fun teaching the kids.  I know that having that to do will help me feel useful and productive and the days not feel too long.  But it feels like new territory too.  I taught English with ILP before, but 1) that was 10 years ago, 2) I taught younger kids (3-4), and 3) I taught all SPEs (Synchronized play episodes—which are all really FUN all the time) before and now I’ll be teaching mainly phonics and reading, sprinkled with SPEs, math, science, vocabulary, and grammar.  I’m worried that for the kids who are the younger group and just transitioning into more focused curriculum and less play-type activities that it will be a little difficult.  But I’ll just do my best, be firm and consistent, and try to make it as fun as I can.  That’s all I can do, right? 

Yesterday it was so quiet all day long and I was itching to get out.  I didn’t want to ride my bike into town because I’m too lazy and it’s so hot that its incredibly uncomfortable.  Plus, I didn’t know what I would do if I went in.  I still have a bit of a fear of getting completely lost, all alone.  I mean it’s one thing to get lost with other people (I have done that plenty of times!) and another to be lost alone.  The inknown language adds to that as well.  So maybe I’ll get over that, or maybe I’ll wait for the volunteers and/or my husband to get here before I explore in depth.  But back to what I was saying: I wanted to get out, but didn’t know what I wanted to do.  Finally I decided it could be really nice to get a massage.  Problem was I didn’t know where to go to get one… So I decided to ask Bin, the guard.  He speaks enough English that I thought he would be able to help me.  I thought he could draw me a map, or write the address for a place in town and I could take a tuk-tuk there and back.  I asked him if he knew where I could get a massage and he asked me to wait a minute and pulled out his phone.  He made a call and when he got off the phone he said his brother’s wife does massages and she could do it!  He said he’s take me when he got off work at 5:00.  He also said he’d drive me to the store while we were out.  I asked if that was going to be too much for him to do that, and he said “No problem!” 

At 5:00 my adventure began.  I hopped in Bin’s car and we headed out.  We communicated the best we could as we drove.  He pointed out the water supply for the town, some farming fields, a temple, and junior high school.  I asked about the burning of the fields and he said they do that to clear the land so they can plant again.  He let me know that his wife is wife #6! He has a son and daughter from his first marriage and they are in their 30s living in Bangkok.  He asked how old I was and declared that I was young.  He told me about working in a factory before he got this job as a guard.  He told me that his parents were in their 80s and died about 3 months ago.  He asked me about my husband and my family.  After an 8-10 minute ride we pulled up to his house.  His house area consists of a little street side shop up front, a driveway, an open covered porch with tables and a fire pit for cooking, a closed in living room, with a bathroom and bedrooms upstairs.  I guess he and his wife live there with his brother, sister-in-law, and their 3 little boys (his nephews). 

He had told me about their coconut tree and wanted to pick one for me.  He pulled out a long stick with a blade on the end.  He cut one off and when it came crashing to the ground his wife scooped it up to prepare for me.  They have a little roadside shop out front that his wife runs.  It has a small table out front and he directed me to have a seat.  His wife got out a large knife-chopper (I’m certain that’s probably the technical name) and cut it open for me. While she was working on the coconut Bin was showing off his chicken.  They were roaming around and he picked one up.  I asked if they had names and he said they were called “guy” (a drawn out u).  I asked if they had any names like Bin or George and he laughed and said no, but I could name them.  We named the rooster Bin #2 and he got the biggest kick out of that!  Once I got the coconut the chickens hopped up on the table.  Apparently they love coconut and wanted to share.  The wife pulled a partially eaten coconut and a tool that shreds the meat.  She shredded coconut meat and the chicken munched it right up!  They had me take a turn feeding then too.  They then asked if I liked mangoes and when I said yes his wife quickly cut two up and handed them to me in a bowl.  I hadn’t eaten dinner so it was actually really great!  While I was eating a couple neighbors stopped by to say hello (and look at me).  One neighbor offered to send some mangoes with me, but Bin quickly told them that they were going to send some home with me!  During this time Bin’s sister in law had arrived and was ready to give me my massage. 

 Bin with his chicken in front of their little shop

My fresh coconut

Bin's wife with the rooster

Feeding the chicken and rooster coconut

Feeding the rooster coconut

You know when you picture how something is going to be and then it's not like that at all…? That’s how my massage was. 

Expectations                                                   vs                              reality
On a massage table in an isolated room                 on the living room floor, on a mat covered with a blanket

Private room                                                              in a living room with the door open and people coming in and out      

Quiet with faint music in the background             Children talking, laughing and squealing, and chickens squawking, with the sounds of motorbikes/scooters on the road

Undressed covered with towels                              fully dressed (in a skirt which was not the best choice…)

This is where the massage happened.  Door opened just like that.

The masseuse really knew what she was doing and gave a good massage, it was just in a much different environment than I expected.   She started on my lower legs and feet.  She worked her way up my legs and when she got to my skirt she just moved it up.  She them proceeded to lift my legs and ben, and push and twist them (like I said, skirt was not the most fitting piece of clothing…).  When she got to my upper back and shoulders she aid something to me in Thai followed by an awkward laugh (The kind of laugh that seems to accompany most conversations where neither party understands the other).   I don’t know exactly what she said, but it was probably something along the lines of “My word, you have some really tight, nasty knots up here!” (She mentioned to Bin afterwards that she needed strong hands to work on my shoulders!)  When she finished I was very relaxed and could have easily gone to sleep.  The last few minutes when she was finishing up someone had bathed her 3 little boys (my guess is that they are 2, 3, and 4).  They were running around naked for a few minutes while waiting to get dressed!  Once I was done I went back out the the shop out front where Bin and his wife were waiting.  I needed change so I could pay, so Bin's wife got change for me from someone down the street.  I paid for my massage (it ended up costing about $8.50) and got a picture with everyone.  

Bin and some random visitor in the back row. Bin's wife, me, and the masseuse in the middle and the little boys mixed in.  They little boy right next to me is the cutest!  When I was about to leave he held his pinky up to me.  I didn't know what that was about, but they told me that means "I love you".  He did that a couple times as I was getting ready to leave!

Then Bin took me to the store and back to the school.  At the store I picked up some more hangers, apples, a pair of flip flops, and some laundry soap and fabric softener.  The packaging is really funny to me!  The fabric softener is romance scented!  Thai marketing...

I’ve been able to do a couple loads of laundry this morning and now they’re up on the drying rack.  I’ll probably spend a bit of time working on lessons and finish up laundry.

Language lesson:

Thank you: cop cum kah (if you’re female) cop cum cop (if you’re male).  This is said with your hands pressed together by your chin while bowing slightly.

Pineapple: Zup a rote

Mango: Alloy

Coconut: coconut (I can certainly remember that!)

Two other things:

1    1)   Tanner and I have been in the process of selling our house and it closed today!

2    2)   I LOVE, love LoVE, LovE reading your comments, they seriously brighten my day considerably, so please leave one now and then (or every time!)