Finally!!! A new blog entry!

Trip Start Jul 18, 2009
Trip End Jun 08, 2011

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Tai Ping Towers Condominiums

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Friday, August 28, 2009

WWWOA! It has been forever since the last time that we have written in this thing so saddle up because this is going to be a long one. Let me first say that we are both happy and healthy and no, I have not been arrested yet (somebody somewhere just lost a bet). The reason why it has been so long since we have last blogged is because we have moved into a new place!! More on that later, but this new place did not have internet. Now one of the cultural things in Thailand that is different from in the states is that there is no such thing as "do-it-yourself" (insert line from the 40-year-old virgin movie here). The Thais insist on doing everything for you and believe that by doing this they are helping you and being incredibly courteous. The problem though is that if they do it for you, they do it on their schedule/time frame, not yours. So something that you could do by yourself in a day, they insist on doing for you, but it may take them 2 weeks. That's basically how it was with internet. Its like in America where the cable man says that he will be there from 12-3, and you just have to be available during that time, well in Thailand they tell you they will be their on Thursday but not necessarily which Thursday. So anyways we seriously have been waiting 3 weeks for internet and finally have it! Hooray. And we have so many pictures and video that it was impossible to go to an internet café and upload everything. So lets move on to the good stuff.

Yes, we finally moved in to a new place! We decided to move into a 3 bedroom condo in a complex called Tai Ping Towers which for all you Google map people is between Ekkamai Soi 28 and Ekkamai Soi 26. We have included a video of our place that we took right after we moved in. I also have included some pictures of the courtyard and our beautiful balcony view. We slowly but surely have been adding different home furnishings to it to make it feel more like home, but still have a lot more to go. Im just really happy because we recently got cable and it has 5 soccer channels and ESPN World so I can actually watch some sports. So we have a TV in our living room with cable, a TV in our bedroom hooked up to our AJ DVD player, and that’s basically all I need in a condo (and a fridge filled with Singha). We decided against just a 1 or 2 bedroom and decided on a 3 bedroom. Its nice and big, we could afford it, and now all of you have a place to stay when you come visit us. Right!?!?

One of the coolest things about our condo is that it is located in a great spot just Northeast of the heart of Bangkok. We have tons of restaurants (including an amazing and cheap dim sum restaurant), shopping centers, clubs, pubs, art stores, etc., within walking distance from our place. But the best part is that there is a really big open air street market right down the road in front of our complex. This place has everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, to street food, to clothes, jewelry, purses, etc. And everything is dirt cheap. We go there at least twice a week for our fruits and vegetables or to grab a huge meal for only $0.60 USD. One of the jewels of the market is a stand selling deep fried insects. Yes, we found one. One of the first questions I always get when I tell people in the states that I am in Bangkok, is “do you eat all kinds of bugs and stuff?” Well, the answer is yes. And not to be cliché, but if you go in with an open mind to eating them, they are really not bad. Now don’t get me wrong, it is no southern Conway delicacy, but I could certainly eat them regularly. Thus far me and my friend Daniel (who I teach with and who now lives right next to us) have tried Locus, Water Beetle, and Grubs. The Locus taste like a roasted pumpkin seed, the water beetle just tastes like pooh, and the grubs are actually really good. They are nice and creamy inside and remind me of a jelly bean with a little bit more rubbery outside. Ok, now that you have all thrown up, lets move on.

Another major event that has happened since our last blog is that we both have started teaching at our schools and have met all of our students. Lauren absolutely loves her job. She rotates between 4 schools and teaches students ages Kindergarten to 2nd grade. She has all of the joys and issues that a young primary school teacher has every day, but she loves doing it and says that it is a great profession (all together the teachers reading this say “DDuh!”) And I started teaching school on August 8. It was a little rough to start so early because I just think about all my colleagues back in MB and how they were all still enjoying the summer and how I could be living it up on a Bahamian cruise with them or something, but instead my summer has been cut short and the games have begun! In actuality though, I love my students and all of my classes. The students here treat teachers so different. There is such a higher level of respect and they don’t view you as a mean authoritarian person but as an important and revered instructor. Just a slight contrast from SC. HA! The schedules are a bit different so I see and teach about 140 different students in a 2-day rotating cycle, but I have gotten used to it. I have included pictures of my classroom. I tried to make it look the same as how it always is, and yes, I brought that stinkin map with me to BKK. The faculty at RIS is a bit different from the faculty at CFHS and I certainly do miss the faculty at CFHS more than I can describe. The faculty at RIS come from all different countries and all different walks of life, so you have many different ideas and opinion circulating the school. No worries though. They actually put me in the middle school building because there were no available rooms in the high school, so I am kind of by myself. I love it. Oh, if I may go on a tangent here real quick, one thing that I dew miss (ha ha pun) is diet mountain dew! I am seriously having withdrawals from it. The only soda that they have here in BKK is Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Blue Pepsi (its gross it takes like mint), Coke Zero, and regular Coke. That’s it. No Diet Mountain Dew. And anybody who knows me knows that that was my vice. Every day at school I would have a diet mountain dew in the morning or would walk down and get a mountain dew, and it seriously was the best part of my day! Any of you who are coffee drinkers know what I am talking about. Now though, I have no mountain dew and seriously am a zombie to my students until like 11am. I am dying for some Diet Mountain Dew. Im seriously starting to get the shakes. If anybody out there can send me in some Diet Mountain Dew, I will forever be in debt to you. Don’t do it for me, do it for my students. Ok, sorry, anyways I am teaching Asian Studies, Modern World History, and Peace Studies. They are all quite different than anything that I have taught before and I am certainly enjoying learning all of the information while I am teaching it.

Last weekend, Lauren, myself, our friends Daniel and Ariana, and a bunch of other teachers went to go visit a Buddhist temple just North of Bangkok. This tour was set up by the Thai Department at my school and we spent most of the day touring the Wat – Thai word meaning “temple.” This was a really cool experience. The Wat is about 250 years old and one of the smaller ones in Bangkok proper, but it is right on the Chao Phraya River. We were able to walk around the temple grounds and even observe the monks as they were about to begin their holy meditation. Also, if you are curious what the large steeple looking thing is in the background, and you will see all kinds of these if you come to Bangkok, that is the symbol of Buddha. Not to get all history teacher on you, but right before Buddha was about to die, his followers said that they wanted to paint a picture of him so that his likeness could live on and all the world could know what the Buddha looked like (yeah sorry, the Buddhist statues that you have seen are NOT what Buddha really looked liked. He was actually quite skinny too). Anyways, Buddha did not want his likeness portrayed as he feared that he would then be worshipped as a god, and the real meanings of his teachings would become lost because of this. But his followers insisted that they have some sort of sign from him that they could depict for the generations to come. So what Buddha did is he took off his robe and folded it like you would fold a shirt. He then took his alms bowl, turned it upside-down and put it on top of his folded robe. He then took his walking stick and placed it on top of the bowl and robe. “This,” he told his followers, “shall be my sign.” So therefore these steeple looking things are basically a recreation of Buddha’s sign, and over the centuries they have been added with a little more artistic style to look more visually pleasing. So that is what that white steeple thing is supposed to represent. It was just really cool to see something that is such a huge part of Thai culture but which us “Farangs” know nothing about. Side note: “Farangs” is a term that if you are coming to Bangkok you will be called on a daily basis. It is a slang term used to describe a westerner of white skin. It is slang but not necessarily a derogatory term. It means 'Mango’ in Thai. The mangos here in Thailand have a green outside skin and when they are cut open, the fruit in the center is a bright white, hence the reason why we are called “farangs.” After the visit of the temple, we hopped on a Klong (Thai meaning “boat”) and traveled down the Chao Phraya River. The river runs straight through the city and the Klong brought us right to downtown. It was a really fun day and amazing cultural experience.

Besides that, we have just really been getting settled in to everything. We have been having some great times going out with Daniel and Arina. We have found some great British Pubs to watch our English Premier League (Go Gunners!!), some great Italian Restaurants, Thai Restaurants, but sadly no Mexican restaurants yet. I have really been craving some chips and salsa and there is just nothing of the sort here. El Patio needs to start a place here! Lauren and Arina have been doing a lot of shopping lately too. One of the places that they love, which I hope to take anyone who comes to visit, is the Chatuchak Market. To say that this is a flee market on steroids is an understatement. It is a flee market on steroids, crack, meth, speed, HGH, floories, you name it, this place is massive! You can seriously get anything there from TVs to clothes to pets to even a liver transplant (which I may need soon). Lauren and I are heading there later today and will certainly include some pictures of it for the next blog. We are also planning a trip next weekend to a nearby island so stay tuned for that blog too!

Thank you all so much for keeping in touch and sorry that it took so long for us to write. We are going to keep up with this thing like usual, pinky swear! We are still very happy here and are enjoying every day. We feel so blessed to be here and to be living how and where we are. Thank you all for your prayers and for thinking about us. And now we have plenty of room so start planning your visits, we would love to take you around this beautiful city and show you why we love it so much! Until next time, God Bless.

Jason & Lauren :D:D

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