Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spin me

There are people in the world who take Hula Hooping seriously enough to shell out some $50 or so for a fold-up travel Hula Hoop to take with them on adventures.

These people develop *ridiculous* bruises on their hips, and then switch to hands and develop *ridiculous* bruises on their hands and just push through the pain because there aren't many body parts for a novice hooper, and I don't particularly want to explain a new crop of ridiculous neck bruises.

In case you didn't catch it, I am one of those people.

Unfortunately, I do not have pictures. But I will!

Instead, here is a video of a ridiculously awesome hooper on Youtube. Be amazed!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Circular Motion

This week, I am observing and giving feedback to the current TEFL students as they do their teaching practices. The teaching practices are at the monastery school where I took my TEFL course in October.

I remember this room well. In the beginning was so intrigued by the windows, and the early afternoon rainy season thunderstorms. Sometimes cats would yowl on the roof outside those windows, or come inside and say hello. Sometimes enormous insects would fly in and swoop down at us.


Everyone who taught that class is gone now, off on different adventures.

And I'll be an unemployed vagabond again after this week. With a hula hoop.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cups and cakes

Autumn and I went to Naughtiness for something light in the afternoon, and Say, the ever-smiling teenage waiter, brought us menus.


Autumn looked through the menu and I asked if they had any coconuts. Say shook his head but then paused as he thought of something and sprinted out of the restaurant just as Autumn started to give her order. She looked at me, confused. "I think he ran to get a coconut," I laughed. Say returned triumphantly a few minutes later with a freshly-slain coconut from the stand down the street. He presented it to me with a big smile. Autumn ordered one for herself and off he ran again...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shawty fire burning on the dance floor

I got some cookies in the mail from my Grandparents today and it made me happpyyy!

But it also reminded me to tell all y'all that I'm leaving Ban Phe at the end of this month to travel around for a bit. I will come back probably before I go on to my next adventure, but... you probably shouldn't mail me anything because I may not receive it for a few months.

Anyway. Bert recently started to DJ at Sunrise Bar on the island. Here he is looking cool, as usual.


Songkran weekend was very laid-back, due to Songkran and due to the weather, so Autumn entertained us by giving hula hoop lessons.

Now Autumn has a collapsible travel hula hoop, and when I learned this I thought that it was very silly. It is a little ridiculous that someone, apparently, takes hula hooping seriously enough to make a collapsible travel hoop. Right? When I first used Autumn's hoop, though, I was converted. It's much bigger and heavier than those little things I played with as a kid. It stays up indefinitely, and Autumn can do some neat tricks with it.


And kids kinda love it.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Riders on the storm

After the Songkran festivities, I didn't bother changing out of my wet clothes to go to the ferry dock, since I got soaked again on the way there. I did wrap my clothes in plastic bags before putting them in my backpack. On the ferry ride over, I saw ominous clouds gathering above the island. And then this!


My friend Laura had a much better vantage point from the beach, where she says that the waterspout actually picked up some beach chairs a couple of beaches down.

As we approached the island, it started to rain and I was glad that I was wearing my already-wet clothes. It poured as I walked through the town.

The next day, Autumn, Bert and I took a songthaew down to a beach about halfway down the island where Autumn had gotten a great massage before. Unfortunately, the massage place was closed for the Songkran holiday, but we watched as another storm brewed.


The storm passed over the island, leaving the water angry and gray.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rubber tommy water gun


Ban Phe celebrated Songkran on Friday. In the morning, the school staff rode in a songthaew down to our base in town. The streets were so crowded with pickup trucks full of people that the songthaew crawled along the road at a speed that let townsfolk board it to throw water on us. We set up shop in front of a hair salon with a giant tank of water and some freshly delivered ice.


Songkran is a fantastic holiday. Pickup trucks full of people rode slowly by and we splashed them and they splashed us. People politely came up to each other and smear colored powder on one anothers faces, so that you alternate between caked-with-paste and rinsed clean.



There was a big wet dance party in the heat in front of Christie's restaurant. People let loose like I've never seen people let loose in Ban Phe! It was fantastic.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

When it rains and shines

In Ban Phe, Songkran will be biggest on Friday, but my first attack was on Monday. It's grown since then. There are mobile and stationary groups of children and adults, and both have advantages. Stationary groups are easier to refill, usually have fresh ice and less spillage, and access to hoses. Mobile groups (almost always a barrel of water, a dozen or so people, and scoops and water guns in the back of a pick-up truck) can attack without warning, and from higher up, though they tend to be less efficient at reloading.

As an unarmed pedestrian, I got soaked by both.

Here, a stationary team and a mobile team soak each other. Those folks on the street had giant floating blocks of ice in their buckets.


On Friday, the staff of Siam English Training School will all take part and douse people together.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I really dig those styles they wear

Songkran festival is the traditional Thai New Year. Those who have heard about it in the west know that it's during the hottest part of the year, and people celebrate by throwing ice-cold water on one another. One thing I didn't know until last week is that Songkran is also Ugly Floral Shirt Week.

To celebrate properly, one must first purchase jaunty shirts from one of the many shops around Ban Phe.


Choosing a shirt is a difficult process. Do you try for the least-ugly ugly shirt and make it look presentable? Or should you instead choose the ugliest shirt available, to demonstrate to others that you embrace ugly shirt week fully? I tried for a less-ugly ugly shirt. Unfortunately, the prints are the only negotiable part. All shirts are big ugly rectangles.

The next challenge is trying to look presentable (unless you're just embracing the ugly, which is admirable.)




These were my three best attempts with my less-ugly ugly shirt. I chose the last one.

But what happened when I went outside?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Doin' all right

There are some scary things happening in Bangkok right now, and I'm keeping up with it at the Bangkok Post, but it's now on a lot of the Western news sites. Ban Phe remains serene. I spent the weekend on the island, again, and was surprised to learn what was happening when I returned.

This town is preparing for Songkran, the third New Year of the year. Luckily I've got a waterproof camera.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Come, my lady

I took my immersion student on a field trip to the Sobha Botanical Garden here in Ban Phe. The gardens include a museum in a traditional teak house. Impressive door handles, eh?

Unfortunately, I don't know the names of most of the plants at the garden.

But the English word for this is "butterfly."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why does the sun go on shining?

I finished last week with a newfound purpose in my life, but that's all over now.

On Sunday, I successfully removed the flesh from the inside of a young coconut (using only my fingers) in one whole piece. It's a little unappetizing to look at, which is appropriate when one considers that it leaves my life without meaning once again.


The glorious white sand of Ko Samet sparkles behind it. The island is part of the driest archipelago in Thailand, and it frequently stays dry while there are storms on the mainland. I took a picture of these ominous clouds on the ferry ride back. They represent my future so well.


Monday, April 5, 2010

here we are now going to the west side

On Saturday, I finally saw the west side (and the southern tip) of Magical Crystal Island. It was, of course, magical.

Bert, Autumn and I squeezed (oh, there was necessary squeezing) onto an ATV and took the steep, cratered, rocky road to the end of the island.

The first breathtaking viewpoint looks a lot like California:

Or Lost Island...

We continued down to the very end of the island (a spine-compacting ride) and I got to see the little island that lives off the end of the big one.


Then we stopped to bask in the hot, shallow water of this southern beach.


The entire trip was well worth the sore bum the next day.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Brother bought a coconut, he bought it for a dime

Reasonably, you're going to pay at least ten baht. At least in Ban Phe.

But young coconut is my favorite thing. Stop using superlatives, you might say. What about mango sticky rice? What about karaoke?


Pish. I just really like young coconut. Let me count the ways.

1. It's in a coconut shell. Food that comes with its own vessel is better than food that doesn't. It reduces litter, and it looks cool.

2. It tastes wonderful. Before I came to Thailand, the closest I came to coconut water was the few teaspoons of water in the bottom of one of those old brown coconuts at the grocery store. But the young ones are full to the brim with sweet coconutty goodness.

3. They slaughter it in front of you. With a big, sharp thing.

4. It's also a snack.

5. Which makes it perfectly acceptable to play with your food. The soft, rubbery flesh is an extra treat that you can scrape into the coconut and drink up, or (and this is kind of my goal in life now, actually) in a young enough coconut remove in one piece from the shell. I can only imagine the satisfying "sqwlupp" sound that would probably make.

6. After consuming the flesh and juice, you can use the shell to make a mobile, helmet, canteen, fish bowl, small boat, flower pot, ash tray, trowel, spitoon, bra, pencil holder, piggy bank, egg cup, ceremonial urn, firewood, jellybean jar, rain gauge, solar oven (suitable for one muffin at a time,) or just use it as a projectile weapon.

More fun than birthday cake. (And on that note, Grandpa, happy 90 today! Have a coconut.)

The rest of the market haul pictured is a barbecue flavored spiral potato on a stick, and vegetarian spring rolls.