Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chicken in the bread pan pickin' out dough

I finally got my Pad Thai fix this afternoon at the Bedrock restaurant. It was everything Pad Thai should be.

I'm not sure exactly what they offer in front of their spirit houses (besides the Fanta,) but if it's Pad Thai then I completely understand my lunchtime entertainment:


It makes perfect sense that something would eat the food offerings, but the Fanta does more than just evaporate and I'm not sure that chickens have yet developed the ability to use drinking straws. Half a mystery solved, anyway.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I'll taste just what I please.

Prepare yourself, O reader, for the tragedie which I will this day relate. It is a tale of disappointment, bizarrity and Pad Thai.

I desired Pad Thai. Two doors down from the school there is a little restaurant called Sa's Place. Sa is fantastic, and lately she's been enveloping her pad thai with a big, flat fried egg and providing crushed cashews instead of peanuts. As with many Thai businesses her restaurant is also her home, and she sometimes opens it for the hungry westerners who look pleadingly through her locked gate. On this day, the gate was indeed locked at 4: something in the afternoon. Rather than disturb the mistress, I kept walking to Naughtiness.

I had never ordered Pad Thai at Naughtiness, on account of their green curry and fried vegetables and squid anything being so fantastic. And also, perhaps, because I had never seen it on the menu. The translations are (obviously--they have a dish called Naughtiness) a bit odd sometimes, and there was something on the menu that was "stir fried noodles." That sounds promising, right? So I asked the lovely waitress as I pointed, "Is this Pad Thai?" and she responded in a way that didn't actually answer the question but seemed to come close enough. She said, "You want Pad Thai?" And I smiled and said, "ko Pad Thai goong ka" and that was it.

It took awhile. Longer than usual at this restaurant. I took a picture of a pretty boat in the pretty water while I waited.


I figured that my order wasn't really on the menu so they had gone to get ingredients. That does happen fairly often here. I heard the relayed tale of someone who ordered something at a restaurant on Magical Crystal Island and waited for a long while before a speedboat pulled up on the beach with fresh ingredients from the market. And one time in Cambodia, Elle and Jamie and I ordered pizza and wine at a pizza place and the man who took our order emerged from the kitchen shortly thereafter, and climbed on his motorbike. He then stopped, went back to the restaurant, thumbed through a menu, returned to his bike and sped off. We speculated that he was taking a quick pizza making class, or looking up "pizza" in an encyclopedia or something. As it turns out, he was just buying our wine for us. The pizza was great.

Oh, sorry to ramble. My food finally arrived! It looked a little goopy. I'd never seen Pad Thai with that much sauce. And it was kind of dark. They did roast my peanuts for me, which is fantastic. I took a bite.

It was sweet. Really sweet. That's probably why they didn't give me the usual spice rack with fish sauce and pepper and white sugar. What was that familiar taste though, after the sweetness? Oh, my god. Oh, my god.

It's ketchup.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Golden slumbers fill your eyes

I spent all of Saturday at the windsurfing school. The wind disappeared that morning, and as we approached the school the last of the kayaks were rowing out into the gulf for some nefarious purpose or another. Autumn and I paddled out on a windsurf board and basked in the glorious sun.

When we returned to the beach, the afternoon was warm and drowsy. It took so much energy to contemplate whether a nap on the beach was a good idea that I made the decision just before I wouldn't have had the energy to lay out my sarong. The sun was low enough in the sky that I didn't need to hide from it. As it set the sun dazzled the sky with what I thought was the last glorious ray before sunset, until the next set of colors which really was the sunset. I drifted away...

And the bugs came out.

When I awoke I saw them in clouds, silhouetted against the dying light of day. More quietly, though, the sand fleas nibbled on my feet. The price for a beautiful nap on the beach looks like some sort of pox. I feel a little dirty taking clandestine scratches here and there, letting my flip-flop fall off and then sliding it back on again... over and over.

But there was a better reason to awaken: dinner. The windsurf school has a steady population on weekends, and communal meals are usually a part of this. I accompanied a couple of folks on a trip to the market for ingredients. This was the spread:


The table is a windsurf board propped on two chairs. The gentleman is Khun Mai, the proprietor. Our main dishes were french fries, onion rings and sashimi with various dipping sauces. Traditional Thai food, I tell you what.

Khun Mai ate his first strawberry that evening. He liked it. The rest ended up in this spicy lemongrassy fish soup.


The soup looks like a terrible idea, but was actually tasty. The strawberries maintain their flavor without sharing with the rest of the pot, so your spicy Tom Yum-like flavor is just punctuated with sweet strawberriness. You'll just have to try it sometime.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy ever after in the market place

Every night in Ban Phe, there is an evening market that sells food in a little covered area. On Mondays and Thursdays, the market expands, literally and figuratively, to encompass the surrounding land and sell clothing, shoes, perfume, housewares, and pirated movies.

When I'm not searching for rad new tee shirts or practical new belts, I generally visit the same few stalls.

This lovely lady is my Cha Nom Yen smoothie dealer:


She doesn't even ask what I want anymore, because though a rose apple smoothie does sound appealing, I can't think of anything else when I see that steaming, orange, caffeinated nectar waiting patiently in its pot to mingle with sweetened condensed milk and ice in a blender until it's all smooth and perfect.

And these two hook me up with vegetarian spring rolls. They're full of glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, egg, carrot, cabbage I think... probably other stuff too. Anyway they're divine.


And mango sticky rice, the food of the gods, is the first thing I bought (which is why I didn't get a picture of the goddess who provides it to me) and the last thing I ate, which is why it's the only food item of which I have a picture.


Sticky rice and fresh mango, drizzled in warm, sweet coconut milk.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Into the light of the dark black night

Directly across Soi Suan Son from me, there looms a strange building. It follows the same basic model as the other units on the block, but stands a full two stories taller and, most ominous of all, lacks windows. Instead, aside from small vents where the windows would live on any other building, the only apparent entrance is an unguarded opening visible on the top floor. At night, between the wafts of karaoke and snarling dogfights, I'm sure I've heard unnatural noises coming from that building.

Kinda weird, right?

This is a fairly common sight on the street:

The strange, windowless building in this otherwise vacant block is the only part that appears to be well-maintained and painted. My strongest hypothesis was vampires (of course) who don't understand enough about human culture to realize that painting their building made it more conspicuous. They enter and exit through the roof when they take the form of bats.

I learned the truth this week, and I was correct that it is indeed a part of an entirely new dimension of reality. It has existed for more than 400 years, but I had never known of it until now: bird's nest soup.

Bird's nest soup is, well, exactly what it sounds like. It's not something people eat here in Thailand, but it's a rare, expensive delicacy in China. The nests in question are those of swiftlets, and are made from the bird's saliva. The birds naturally build the nests in caves, but since the things sell for something like $2000 per kilogram, it's a profitable venture to let them get cozy in your vast, empty concrete building instead.

So the creepy windowless buildings are actually birdhouses, and now I'm seeing them everywhere! The reason I learned what they are in the first place is that my coworkers Annie and Ryan just moved into a house down the street, right next door to a birdhouse in the making.


People apparently spend lots of money to modify the inside to be damp and jungle-cave-like, and construction on this house should finish in a couple of weeks. Then (with luck,) we'll then get to tour it before it's closed up and the birds (hopefully) move in.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ain't there one damn song

I didn't finish work until just before 9:00. I assigned myself the mission to go to the little shop and get some soy milk, but I recognized the looming temptation to walk down to Oliver's instead.

As I left the building, I saw Tim's silhouette returning from Oliver's, so I walked down to meet him and we talked a little and I decided to head down there, at least long enough to pass along a Hello from Celine.

It was a good decision. There were some cool people, some bad jokes, and I sat through the entirity of The Wall album (and giggled through drunk people describing the film to one another) and then... and then there was surprise karaoke!


At first it was just me and Annie (my boss...ish...person) and Pete (how can I describe Pete?)


Soon other people came too, including Oliver himself which is a thrill.


We chose a little karaoke place between Oliver's and the school, where the English song selection is limited to a hip-hop remix of "Zombie," which I sang. I was reminded that Annie can actually sing.


And that Pete can make some glorious death metal growls. It was a fantastic, unexpected evening.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You eat ants?

I have a gecko. He doesn't have a name, and normally just chills behind my air conditioner. He's been very excited lately, though.

Along the main drag in Ban Phe there sits a string of stores that sell seashell curtains, dried fish, jewelry and candy. There are four or five of them, and they all sit in a row and have nearly the same selection as one another. The best thing they sell is coconut taffy. I bought a bag right before I left for Cambodia, and left it unopened in my suitcase for those three weeks and a bit after.

I finally opened the bag and ate a couple of pieces, and then made my tragic mistake and forgot about it. The taffy ended up in my box of stuff I bought for people but didn't send them.

And then there were ants. Tiny little brown ants, much smaller than even the littlest ants in the states. Not a whole highway of them, praise Buddha, but more than a few. How very strange, I thought, since I don't have any food in my room. Except... for... the taffy! There were some happy ants in that bag of taffy! I threw it away, but I don't think the other ants believed me when I told them. They're still looking for it, or seeking their fallen comrades. Or revenge.

My gecko, on the other hand, is super duper excited to be alive right now. He's been running around all over the walls. I tried to get a picture of him but I scared him and he actually fell down and ran under my bed. Since my bed is only about an inch and a half above the ground, I hope you appreciate the difficulty I had in getting this horrible photograph:


He is going to get super fat despite all this exercise. I'm glad for him.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lady Godiva

I felt a little like Lady Godiva yesterday coming back from the market. I received a box full of dresses from home, and I wore one of two that doesn't require a belt. I went to the market and bought some belts, and rode back sidesaddle due to the complicated nature of my dress (for those of you who are into that sort of thing, it's the 1952 Walkaway Dress from Butterick.) The overskirt billowed, my hair fluttered behind me, my array of shopping bags... nearly inspired me to dig up a thesaurus. I smiled at everyone. It was kind of glorious.

And I more than doubled my wardrobe, an even gloriouser feat.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'll take you to burn.


Recently a couple of fresh-faced 18 year old Australians have started hanging out at the windsurf place. They're volunteer teaching through i to i for the month, and their enthusiasm is infectious.

On Saturday, the monthly free speedboat to Magical Crystal Island for TEFL students left at 9 am. I was on it, because it's free and because Ali and Celine would be on the island this weekend. Josh, one of the Australians, hitched a ride too along with three TEFL students, Bert and (at the last minute after being persuaded by how close we were and how much fun we would have) Autumn.

The island was magical as ever, but actually overcast most of the day, and it was a little chilly in the water.


The sand was still white and the water still turquoise, and more fun can be had at night anyway. Every night at Ploy Bar, there is a big fire show. Josh was eager to see the fire show (as he is eager for anything.) I've seen the tail end of it before, but this time we caught most of it. It's shiny, muscular Thai guys with poi and flaming sticks and giant sparklers and it was actually pretty amazing.



After the fire show, I finally got to release a lantern called Khoom Loy. You hold the top of the lantern and make a wish until it fills with heat and flies away.


Where does it land? What happens to its parts? Isn't this a fire hazard? These are not questions people ask here. We just admire the pretty lights.

We ordered a hookah and then danced our asses off until late.


The bungalow I stayed in, like many in Thailand, does not offer a blanket or top sheet. Normally this would be fine, but it was very cold that night. I slept in my jeans and tee shirt, and was so cold I took the only other dry piece of fabric I had, which was the dress I would wear Sunday, and wrapped it around my head and arms. I looked it up today and the overnight low last night in the nearest city was 22c, which is not quite 72 farenheit! No wonder I was freezing! It's supposed to get down to 20/68 later this week.

In the morning: mosquito net, beach hair, awesome new beaded necklace I bought on the island.

In the morning after I thawed out on the beach for a bit, I finally got a massage on the beach which is just as wonderful as it sounds.

The ferries all have pretty fabric and flowers and sometimes feathers at the front, for the spirits. It must be good luck, because instead of just climbing through other ferries or up on the stacks of tires at the pier, my ferry home had an actual 1x8 plank that each passenger had to walk to get onto the boat. And we all made it! Thank you spirits!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Don't rock the boat, baby

Not a secret: I am not a good swimmer. When I came to Thailand, I got nervous when I couldn't touch the bottom with my feet. As time went on I became comfortable with swimming in the ocean without worrying about the bottom, but I'm not generally confident in the water.

Last Sunday I went out in a little sit-on-top kayak while Autumn practiced windsurfing and Bert paddled around on a windsurf board without a sail, giving instruction. I'm totally comfortable in a kayak and enjoyed myself immensely, actually. But after a long couple of hours in the sun, when my hands were sore and I was ready to go back to the beach, my kayak started rocking violently with each wave. I was maybe hundred meters from shore, and had some flashes of panic as I realized that there was more water than appropriate in the bottom of the kayak, and it really wasn't supposed to be so tippy.

And then I capsized. And I'm very impressed with myself, in hindsight, for not completely flipping out in panic at that point. I'm not a good swimmer, I was far from shore, and the water here wasn't clear enough to see but I knew that jellyfish loomed in those murky depths. I couldn't get the boat back over, and I yelled for Autumn who was paddling on one board while Bert was farther away on the one with the sail. As it turns out, there was an important plug that had disapparated and my kayak had slowly filled with water. I hoisted myself onto the extra windsurf board and paddled back, while Bert saved the day (or at least the kayak) by windsurfing to shore with Autumn on the back of his board, dragging the waterlogged kayak.

We drained an impressive amount of water out of that thing when we got it back to shore.

Bert's sunglasses were unfortunately lost when the boat tipped over, but praise Poseidon that my (waterproof) camera did not drift out of my dress pocket when I was treading water. I could not otherwise have shared Autumn's windsurfing.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Grooving up slowly

Children's Day was fine, but the evening that followed was better.

When the Thai staff arrived back at the school, they pulled up chairs in the kitchen and dove into the leftover rice and ribs from Children's Day. Somebody filled a pitcher with ice and poured over it a big bottle of red Fanta, then dumped in some dozen straws and they passed it around. I didn't understand much of what was said, but this was such a magical experience of communal eating and bonding over the day that it made me miss communal meals like that. I've eaten in groups in restaurants here, but the focus is always something else. This meal had a great sense of relief and accomplishment and leftovers. It was fantastic.

Later, Bert took Autumn and me on a little road trip in his newly on-the-road-again Mercedes where we visited a village on stilts. There were cows.


Afterward, we went to dinner where I had tasty Pad See Ew Goong and Bert installed karaoke software on his laptop. As we were the only people in the restaurant, it was important that we make sure that the new program worked. We chose "California Dreamin'" and "Unchained Melody." This, of course, was only the beginning.

Bert brought his new portable karaoke machine to Fern Bar! I sang a few songs with Autumn. Later, Bert was singing "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and this guy apparated out of the aether and sang the drunkest, loudest karaoke I've heard.


He was amazing. I tried to get some really epic tunes out of him (Dream On was a failure, but Stairway to Heaven was glorious.) We sang like fifteen songs. I don't even remember everything we sang, but "Come Together" by the Beatles and "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles stand out. I do appreciate that the audience was so supportive of my karaoke problem.

After Bert and his karaoke went home, I went to Oliver's for a bit and then tried to sing more karaoke at the place on my street but they shut down about five minutes after we got there. Instead, I sat in the dark and chatted with cool people for about an hour before heading home.

I'm always happiest when I have a song in my head, and I don't know if it's because singing makes me happy or because happiness brings out song, but karaoke nights are always the best nights, especially after a long Saturday.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I see you shiver with antici... pation

Was it wicked of me to leave you with such a cliffhanger? Did you lose sleep wondering whether I looked like a sausage in a bubblegum-colored polo shirt?

While Thailand is generally not the place to assert your individuality, I changed my plans only a little to err on the side of there-were-people-in-feathered-tophats-at-the-King's-Birthday and decided to wear this:

No one said anything, and I looked super cute. The buttons on the pink shirt are little sparkly beads. And yes, those are jellyfish on my dress! $1/yard mystery fabric: one thing I miss in the States.

Children's Day was lovely! The sparkly sign fluttered in the wind like an octofly!

There was this game, wherein you try to eat a donut armed only with your face.

There was this game, for which the children segregated themselves automatically and efficiently by gender.

There was this game, which appeared for awhile to be an elaborate hoax fabricated from kevlar or something.

There was this game, wherein the real Ryan and the pretend Ryan were dangerously indistinguishable.

And there was this kid, whose tee shirt made my day:

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Donkeypede has the silliest features

Today I will talk about the Children's Day preparations that filled my last week. Tomorrow I will talk about Children's Day itself.

Every year Ban Phe has a big Children's Day celebration. Usually Siam English Training School just gives out delicious (smelling) barbecue ribs, which gives the school quite a popular booth. This year, though, the school wanted games and contests and prizes!

On Tuesday, we had a big meeting about Children's Day in the afternoon. Autumn and I would get to make a big, sparkly Children's Day sign:

And I painted a pin-the-tie-on-the-teacher teacher, complete with glittery maple leaf buckle:

And example drawings for the Animal Magic contest, an assignment which Emily relished more than should a professional woman of 26:

Before the big meeting on Tuesday, Autumn and I had planned our outfits over lunch. We settled finally on full-skirted dresses that would allow the glorious combination of freedom of movement, washability and breathability required for a day of herding children in the sun. Our faces gaped in horror when, almost as an afterthought, one of the Thai staff asked what color *shirts* we should wear and the answer was provided: pink.

We knew what they meant. They meant the bubblegum-colored polo shirts from the King's Birthday. Could I endure a *second* well-photographed day looking like a pepto sausage? Bubblegum polo shirts offer little in the way of breathability or freedom of movement. A dark cloud settled over Ban Phe as the rest of the staff emptied the meeting room and Autumn and I sat, staring at one another, unable to speak. The weather spoke for us, and the darkened skies cracked and released more sorrow than we could have expressed in words.

I hate to end on such a terrible note, but you can read about the actual occurrences of Children's Day, including my wardrobe choices, tomorrow.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sick Again

I frequently exclaim "How Romantic!" at anything that reminds me of Romantic poets, old movies, or dead rock stars. This entry might be a bit too much information for you. I'm just so excited and amused (by the able light of morning) that I had to share the... romantic thing that happened last night.

I was sick all day yesterday, and the only thing I ate was a half serving of rice for dinner. I was a bit hungry when I went to bed, which I thought was a good sign.

I awoke in the dark. Suddenly, I was in a sweaty, feverish rush to maneuver myself to the toilet downstairs. It was a daunting task, with uneven stairs and crazed, dizzy Emily. I sat down on the throne, worried that I was finally going to lose the only food I had eaten in 24 hours. In nauseous, dizzy agony I bent my head down between my knees and tried not to vomit.


A few seconds later I opened my eyes, confused about why I was arranged in such an odd position on the bathroom floor. I slowly pieced together that I had passed out and fallen off of the toilet, like ya' do. If you're Elvis Presley. Thankfully I had not made any mess of myself, so I started the endeavor of hoisting myself back onto the toilet and eventually back upstairs to my bed.

I feel much better today, save some sore spots from toppling onto the tile floor. I had some more plain rice for breakfast. Hopefully this will be completely over before Children's Day tomorrow.

I have no related pictures. You're welcome. Instead, to reward your fortitude, here is a picture fo my favorite beach at Ko Samet, Ao Nuan:


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Do you want to know a secret?

I'm posting this now because, unfortunately, it's no longer a secret. Probably for the best.

I said before that most of the buildings on Soi Suan Son are vacant. It might be because the street is haunted, or it might be... actually I can't think of any other reason why someone wouldn't want to live here.

One of the most glorious vacant buildings is right at the bottom of the street across from the beach.


As in America, vacant buildings often have broken windows. They don't tend to be boarded up, though, and the strangest thing of all is that they don't tend to be full of beer bottles and dirty magazines, just dirt and rubble. Or the one I explored was, anyway.

The back of the building has a lovely view down the block.

(That's Autumn)

But the front of the building has a better view of the gulf.


And the roof, of course, has a great view of everything.


This building is was a strong candidate for Top Secret Clubhouse of the Fabulous Moustache Club.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tambourines and elephants

My favorite place to go for lunch is a little restaurant at the bottom of my street that we call "Naughtiness." The name of the restaurant is written only in Thai, but the menu is translated into English and includes such dishes as "The Ham is Mischievous" and "Naughtiness" which I have never been brave enough to order, but which have caused enough amusement for me to name the restaurant after them.

As with many restaurants and bars along this part of the strip, there are little grass-roofed shelters jutting over the beach, with a fantastic view of Ko Samet.

On top of the view, I recommend the green curry with squid. Mmm, tentacles.

Last week there was also a surprise visit from an elephant, just walking through the restaurant like ya' do. I barely had my camera out in time to catch this:


I've seen a lot more elephants lately than I did when I first came here. Their handlers sell bits of sugarcane-or-something for 20b (65 cents) and you can feed them. You could also eat the sugar cane yourself and just take a picture of the elephant, as one of the most recent TEFL students did. It's probably tasty.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Come into my enclosure.


Situated just a few hundred meters outside of the "Welcome to Ban Phe" sign with its fancy gold Sunthorn Phu statues, this is the space I call home:


I'm on the fourth floor and the door in the picture goes out to a little balcony overlooking the street. I have windows on two sides which get afternoon sun, and a bed and a closet which is all I need. I share my space with a few geckos, and the karaoke down the street can be noisy at night but my air conditioner drowns it out. I still think it's romantic to fit all my belongings into a suitcase or two. I couldn't ask for much more in a place to stay.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sitting watching picture slides

Since leaving the USA in September, I've kept a list of things I'd never done before. I thought that the beginning of 2010 would be a good time to share some of them.

To start, I hopped on a plane with no one to meet me on the other side. My first few days in Bangkok, I was a basket case. I couldn't sleep, I was lonely and confused. I got over it and kinda fell in love with Thailand.

I drink only bottled water. It is kind of weird to have to go buy water all the time or (now) go downstairs and refill my water bottle from the big drinking water dispenser. Potable tap water is something that's easy to take for granted.

I ate a mangosteen! I had wanted to try one when I first came to Thailand but they weren't in season. It was a chance stop at a fruit stand in Pai to get bananas when I saw the small, brownish-purple fruits. I asked the man what they were and jumped up and down and squealed for longer than necessary before tearing into one with my fingers. I was soon shown how to open them without making a mess (lace your fingers together holding the fruit between your palms and squeeze gently until the shell cracks open.)

I played darts. And won my first game. I played snooker, and lost completely and totally.

I rode on a motorbike, sorta drove a motorbike (ha!) rode sidesaddle on a motorbike, rode with 3 people on a motorbike, burned my leg on a tailpipe. Oh, motorbikes.

I sang with a live band!

I haggled.

I used a squat toilet, often, and occasionally managed not to wee on my feet.


On that note, I managed not to make a little post about squat toilets. This picture is one I encountered on the way to Pai, and it's pretty typical of the more rustic ones. You've got your toilet, your bucket and scoop for flushing, and no toilet paper. Many of these aren't designed to accommodate toilet paper and instead (if one has the forethought to bring some with them) one is supposed to dispose of used toilet paper in a waste bin. There are some stinky stalls in Thailand. Usually there is a muslim shower, fondly known by some as a "butt blaster." This one was not so well-equipped.

Hopefully 2010 will be equally abundant with firsts.

Friday, January 1, 2010

What's in your head?

This week I discovered that it's possibly a bad idea for a couple of girls to go kayaking at night. There are rocks in the ocean. We had to carry the kayak across the beach for a bit but made it back safely. Back on the beach I came the closest I had yet to singing "Zombie" in Thailand, but the guitarist didn't know the whole song and neither did I.

Rocks, by the cold light of morning:

The next day I got to skip class to go on a fruitless field trip to the labor department. The staff of my school took the opportunity (being in the Big City of Rayong and all) to get the tires changed on the van, so I had a couple of hours at the mall to kill with Autumn. I've written before about this mall, where all the clothes are too small and quite expensive. What I discovered last time I went there, though, are the little glass karaoke rooms on the top floor. Autumn and I copied the Thai staff and rented one. It took awhile to figure out how to show actual karaoke instead of a music video with no lyrics, but once we got it down we got it down!


It was in this small glass room that I came even closer to singing "Zombie" than I had the previous night. The song in the catalogue was called "Zomble" which was apparently not a typo, and it was a crazy dance version of the song...with no lyrics on the screen. Foiled again!

The following day was New Years Eve which was fantastic! I have no pictures of the evening, but a group of us went to dinner at Christies and then moved to the Tawan Inn for karaoke! This time, Autumn and I requested "Zombie" right off the bat. We didn't want someone else to sing it before us, since it is probably the most popular English-language karaoke song in Thailand. I think we rocked it. Other karaoke highlights not sung by me include "My Heart Will Go On," "La Bamba," and "Looking Out My Back Door."

New Years Eve was great for other reasons, too. I've made sweeping changes in my life and it feels like a great opportunity to recognize that. I also got to see the fantastic Alan (who taught me to teach and now works in Singapore.) All the company was great, actually. There was dancing on the lawn! There were fireworks at midnight! We kept going until about 3:30 in the morning, but I felt plenty refreshed this morning. I only dislike the unfortunate pattern of singing karaoke at the Tawan Inn with awesome people who will shortly leave the country.

I hope that your 2010 or 2553 is fantastic!

It is perhaps worthy of note that almost every adjective in the preceding tale was going to be "fantastic" until I made a conscious effort to change most of them. I think "fantastic" might be the word of 2553.