Monday, June 30, 2014

Sundays + Me + Bikes = Disaster

It isn’t ALWAYS bad, but I have had enough Sunday bike troubles that it feel that way.

Exhibit a:

The bike I chose to ride was having a hard time on the way to the train station.  After church, on the way home it just seemed to be worse.  The chain wasn’t moving well and when I would peddle it was hard to do and would click a lot.  The back tire was skewed and was rubbing against other parts of the bike every rotation.  To top it off,  the tires were slowly leaking.  By the time I was on half a mile from the school I was red, SO very sweaty, tired, and thirsty.  With how hard it was to ride the blasted bike I figured it would be easier to just walk with the bike.  After walking it a few steps a guy in his shop on the side of the road offered to air up the tires.  I accepted.  After airing them up he realized how many other problems the bike had.  He went about pounding and loosening and tightening things.  He instructed me to sit down.  

When I sat in the sun he immediately motioned for me to move to the shade.  I drank some cold water while he ‘worked’ on the bike.  I don’t things he really knew what he was doing.  He had some tools out, but the work he did mostly consisted of pounding different parts of the bike.  When he finished he let me know it’s be 30 baht.  I gave him 20 and was on my way.  The bike was a little easier to pedal, but still not as easy as it should have been.

Exhibit b:

The train station in across the river which means we have to ride across a bridge.  The bridge has a fairly steep ramp on both sides.  The ride down the incline is great.  The ride up is not my favorite.  I like to build up some speed beforehand and then stand up to pedal as I go up the ramp.  This particular Sunday I gained some good speed and as I was going over the 3 tiny wanna-be speed bumps my tire hit just the wrong way.  The handlebars lurched.  The bike started going toward the edge of the ramp!  I tried to correct and over corrected.  I turned back the other way.  I put my legs down.  I lost a shoe!  Somehow the tire collided with the back of my leg.  I came within an inch of rocketing off the edge of the ramp which would have sent me down 5 feet into a mess of shrubs and trees.  2 weeks later and I still have the remains of bruises on my legs.

Exhibit c:

We were at the stop light in the right turn lane.  The light turned green and we all started to go.  I pedaled once and the pedals stopped.  In the middle of the intersection I couldn’t move.  I hopped of my bike and started running with it.  Once I got out of the intersection I pulled over only to discover that the chain was off and stuck.  We all tried to pull it out to no avail.  Luckily there was a guy a few shops down who had helped us in the past.  I walked the bike over and he unscrewed lots of pieces and got it put back together.   He did it free of charge and now I try to wave every time we ride past his shop.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Market, Temple, and Karly's Birthday

Karly’s birthday was a couple weeks ago.  She wanted us to go to the town temple and dinner and the as a celebration.  Around noon we headed out to the temple.  We went to pull in and park our bikes and were blocked by a market.  We thought that was great!  We locked our bikes and walked through the market for a couple hours.  Apparently they have markets that come for a couple weeks and we just stumbled upon it accidentally.  It was a very happy accident! 

They had clothes and dishes.  They were selling hedgehogs and bunnies.  There were terrible roasted bugs and frogs.  There was delicious coconut water. 

Abby and Lindsie ate the a maggot from the tray on the bottom left in this picture.

Holding this huge, nasty bug was enough for me.  I did NOT eat any of them. 

They have these types of foods everywhere.  None of them look or smell appetizing to me at all.

A game called Cookie Run is VERY popular over here.  All my students adore it!  I got it on my iPad, but I don't love it the way they do. 

Little figurines.

These guys were cutting coconuts, pouring out the water, and carving out the flesh.  They the lady in front was selling the coconut water with shavings of fresh coconut is a big cup of ice.  It was so refreshing and light.

After we had seen all the market had to offer we headed over to the temple.  

We had been told that we needed long skirts to be respectful.  I had one in my backpack that I just slipped on over my shorts.  The girls that hadn’t brought one were provided with one there.  We went inside and there was a monk, some candles and a very large Buddha statue.  We didn’t know what we were supposed to do and was was allowed and what was frowned upon so we watched the natives to see what they were doing.  Some of them prayed, a few knelt and recited with a monk, one make noise on an instrument of sorts and a lot of them were taking pictures.  We felt that since we aren’t Buddhist the best/only thing we ought to do was take some pictures.  We snapped a few in front of the large Buddha and headed outside again.   We were inside for less than 5 minutes.  We wandered around the grounds, took some pictures, and looked at the river/canal that holds early river racing.  Apparently people come from all over the country to watch the races.  

Around 3 we headed home.  I stopped at the bank and Tesco with 2 of the girls and everyone else headed home. 

That evening we hopped back on our bikes and headed out for dinner and Swensens.  We went to the Swiss Steak House.  About half of the girls got steak and they said it was divine.  I got a veggie omelet that was okay.  When we go back I will most certainly get a steak!  Swensens after was delicious as usual.  I got the Oreo brownie Sunday in a waffle bowl. 

It’s always nice to get out of the school for a bit and experience the town.  And of course it’s always good to eat ice cream!

The next day we had cake for Karly’s birthday.  There isn’t an oven here at the school, so we ate microwaved cake in cups, which was surprisingly delicious.  We also didn’t have any candles, so Abby putted up a cake with candles video on YouTube. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

School and teaching

 I’m teaching in the new building in my new room now.  It’s really nice having my own space!  The kids and I are getting along well and I have established some good discipline and routings.  I wrote about that over on the teaching/parenting website my mom and I have if you want more details about that.  

My classroom is nice.

Here are some of my students:

Me, FeiFew and Yindee collecting leaves for a science experiment. (photo credit)

More of the science lesson (photo credit).

Auto, First, Aishi, and me 

Gui, Mhew and me

Praewa, Yada, Mhew, and me

Crazy faces

More crazy faces

The rest of the building still isn’t done.  There are construction noises all day and it’ll be even nicer when that is finished and it’s quieter.  The bathrooms in the building still don’t have water and aren’t functional so the kids have to go to another building to go to the bathroom.  In addition to that I am waiting for the cork boards and the other white board to be installed in my room.  We are getting there slowly but surely. 

I was chewing a piece of gum after lunch.  I went back to class after and forgot to throuw it away before getting the students.  Pordee saw me and asked, “What are you munching?”  I thought that was such a great word for him to use! 

I had cardstock cut into squares with letters written on them up on the board.  We used them in the E1 (Elementary 1) class.  E2 was in my room later in the day and the letters were still on the board.  There were some students at my desk getting their work checked.  Phuvit was waiting for me and was standing by the letters on the board.  A few moments passed and he said, “Teacher, look!”  He sounded so proud of himself.  I looked and he had used the letters on the board to spell a swear word!  I always thing it’s preposterous when kids aren’t completely fluent in a language but know naughty words…  People on the streets like to shout out to us as we ride by on our bikes.  They usually know 1-3 things: “Hello!”  “How are you?”, or “I love you!”  There are a few young boys a little ways down from the school.  They alternate between “Hello!”  “I love you!” (while blowing kisses), trying to get high fives as we pass, and flipping us off.  Interesting the things that people learn in different languages. 
The other day in class we were practicing phonemic awareness.  We were ‘cheering’ so I’d say, “Give me a /c/ /a/ /t/” and they’d shout “cat!”  Well they were having so much fun with the activity that I thought I’d continue and do some of their names to be fun.  I did the sounds in Pordee’s name and the class shouted him name.  Pordee burst into tears.  I went on to do other kids’ names and they all loved it.  I had a hard time getting Pordee to tell me why that had upset him so much.  I told him I was sorry if I’d made him say, that I was just trying to be fun and would never do something like that to be mean.  Tunwa was a good friend and comforted him and he calmed down before too long. 

For our lesson in gym last week we had a water relay.  There was a big bucket on sine side and we were about 5 feet away.  They had to take a cup and go get water to fill their bowl.  They had a great time and didn’t want to stop.  I taught the lesson on Wednesday with E1 (they’re a year younger) and I tried to give the directions while we were outside.  It didn’t go real great.  When I taught the next day with E2 we did all the directions and instructions inside then went and played and it was SO much better that way!

Last week I told E2 that my sister-in-law was going to have her baby in a few days.  They were really excited and started asking all about my family.  They wanted to know everyone’s names and who was married and who had babies, and how old they were, and who was going to come visit Thailand.  I went through all the names on my side of the family.  They loved it and after I was done they said, “Some of those names are weird and silly.”  I explained that in America they thought they were normal and that the Thai names were silly!  I shared some of the names with my dad and he enjoyed hearing them.  The kids in my classes are Phuvit (‘ph is pronounced like the letter p in English—you don’t hear the h), First, Aishi, Post, Pordee, MeePhoo, Aomsin, Tunwa, Nick, FeiFei, Yindee, Ongry, Shogon, Max, Mhew, Auto, MeMe, Pan, Maeni, Gui, Bonus, Praewa, Ioon, Lin, and a couple more that I can’t think of at the moment.  After I told them about my family they wanted to see a picture so the next day I showed this picture:

Speaking of my new niece, here she is!

(My mom had my brother take this family picture a week before I left.  I didn't want to get pictures taken, but now I'm SO glad we did.  Thanks momma, for making that happen.  Thanks Brad for taking the pictures.)

They loved it.  Bonus pointed to Curtis (the redhead in the front) and said, “What’s this one called?  He’s cute!” 

I'm loving my students, the planning is getting faster (not AS fast as I want, but it's getting there), we are getting in a good groove, and my body is getting adjusted to the heat (and it's cooling off a bit).  I'm excited for Tanner to get here!

Truck Ride, Fruit, and White Skin

A few Saturdays ago Ake took us around town in the back of Ton’s truck.  Stevie sat in the front with Ake so he could tell her what kids of things we were passing.  The rest of us (me and 4 others) sat in the back of the truck.  He showed us where a few good western restaurants were.  We dorve by the town temple and the recreation center (where there’s a pool and the soccer games are held.  Phichit has a soccer team and they play other teams from around the country.  There is a game in a couple weeks and we’re planning to go.)  He showed us where there were some food stands.  One sold pizza—sort of.  We stopped at a place called “Amazon CafĂ©” and  I got a strawberry yogurt smoothie. 

I applied sunscreen since it was early afternoon.  We drove around from 1-2:30.  My poor legs got so burnt.  I guess I didn’t put enough on, or it wasn’t string enough, or it was expired (which is unlikely since I’m 95% sure I bought a brand new bottle to bring), or my legs are just too white and sensitive.  It has since peeled and I have a little bit of a tan there, but the rest of my legs are still white.    Speaking of being white…

Yesterday I was in the kitchen cutting up a pineapple I had purchased.  (Fruit is really inexpensive here.  I got a pineapple and a mini watermelon for 20 baht.  30baht = about $1).  They have some unique fruits here. 

These are called Rambutan.  You cut them open and the inside is white and has a jelly texture.  There is a big seed in the middle that you eat around.

Those green apple looking fruits have the taste and texture of jicima sort of .  I don't care for them.  The small tan fruit grows on a vine.  You pick them off and squeeze them and the peel splits so you can get it off.  The inside is clear/white and juicy and a little gummy.  It tastes a bit like citrus.  I like them!

Anyways… yesterday I was in the kitchen cutting up a pineapple.  The 3 cooks/maids were in there along with a gardener and one other random person.  I got a knife and cutting board and started cutting.  They all started laughing and looking at me.  People talk, laugh, and look a lot so it wasn’t out of the ordinary.  They kept laughing and looking at me.  I looked back at them and finally one of them said, “You so white!”  I agreed and chuckled.  I tried to take is as a compliment.  Thai people don't like to get tan and stay as white as possible.  Some will even wear long sleeve shirts in the terrible heat to avoid the sun on their skin.  At church the other week in Sunday school we each put our names on a piece of paper and passed it around ,  Then we each wrote something nice about everyone else.  It was a little tricky for the people I just met that day.  One person wrote in Thai something to the effect of "You are very beautiful white."