Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's Laundry TIME!!!

I've said this before and I'll said it again...If my (hypothetical) children ever misbehave THEY WILL BE DOING THEIR LAUNDRY (AND MINE) BY HAND!!!

The following is the step process that goes into getting my clothes nice and clean (clean??...well that's

Step 1: I stare at the detergent* and fabric softener** and make myself want to open them. I purposely bought these because they are in my favorite colors...I knew I was going to need the extra motivation.
*In Thailand, you have to be very careful when buying detergent, because you could be buying something very similar to fabric softener (so no bubbles).
**The fabric softener does not really make the clothes soft...

Step 2: Create a water and detergent mixture in this medium size bucket.
Step 3: Place clothes in the mixture.
Step 4: Let the clothes soak in the mixture while I a) dance around in my room b) clean my room or c) forget that I left my clothes soaking.

Step 5: Grab each individual piece of clothing and scrub the "main" areas (i.e. armpits, stains, and etc).
Step 6: Rinse out soap from clothing.

Step 7: (optional step, I only do this step when I'm in a good mood) After rinsing clothes create a water and fabric softener solution in a smaller bucket (my Twilight popcorn bucket from the movie theater).
Step 8: Let clothes soak in the fabric softener and water mixture.
Step 9: Walk away from the clothes soaking in the fabric softener and prepare the next load of clothes to be washed.

A look at the rubber gloves that I wear to hand wash my clothes. I cannot wash my clothes without these or my eczema would make my hands look like I was suffering from stigmata.
Step 10: I make sure to have enough hangers for the clothes that I just washed.

Step 11: Hang clothes to dry. I have a special mobile looking thing to dry my undies.
Step 12: Put clothes in my closet.
Step 13: Miss the feeling of clothes just out of the dryer.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

L.O.V.E- Valentine’s Day/Season

In honor of love and friendship (and Valentine’s Day--yes, I know it’s a consumer driven holiday, but hey it’s a holiday that reminds us not to take each other for granted), I will introduce you to one of my favorite quotes:

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”-Buddha

L is for Lotus and Language

Lotus- (pronounced “Lotas” in Thai) is a word that has been very present in my mind lately. Side note: There are many English words that have been adapted to Thai language, one of those words being “lotas.”

Examples of English words that have been adapted by the Thai language:

English Word - Thai Adaptation

Lotus -Lotas

Apple -Appin

Strawberry- Strabelly

Central- Centran

Glenda- Grenda
And many more...

O is for “Oh and did you know...?”

Oh and did you know that the lotus grows in mud? Did you know that the lotus is a symbol of resilience and rebirth? Did you know that you can find lotus flowers amidst rice paddies. One can stand mesmerized by the flowers’ ability to embellish endless green fields. Oh and did you know that a major shopping center/grocery story/Thailand’s version of Wal-Mart is called Tesco Lotus? Also, did you know that the biggest Tesco Lotus Extra is located in Khon Kaen City (just a 45 minute bus ride away from me).


I started my Valentine’s Day festivities on February 4th. My mom shipped me a box (mentioned in my last entry) with a lot of VDay goodies that I used to teach about the lovely holiday. Soon after, I received a love package from Kelly Bender--my dearest friend, teacher, and confidant. On February 11th, I had the loveliest Valentine’s DATE everrrrr. On February 14th, I was decorated in stickers by students. They placed stickers all over my blouse. My students gave me chocolates, roses, and handmade crafts. Side note: In Thailand, it is not customary to give Valentine’s Day cards instead you place stickers on your friends' shirts and give them hugs!! Side side note: Hugging was my favorite part of the holiday, because Thais (with the exception of my host teacher) don’t really hug...and apparently I really like hugs. Today I received a Valentine’s Day surprise from my college friend/partner-in-crime Priscilla Addison!!!! All and all, this Valentine’s Day season was one of the BEST!!

E is for EUGENIOUS comes to VISIT ME!!!!!

Eugene (aka Eugenious) is my fellow Fulbrighter and dancing partner! We both love to boogie and get our laugh on (we agree that our sense of humor is very different but complimentary to one another). Eugenious is one of those people that I am deeply grateful to have in my life, because he makes my heart smile.

On Saturday, February 11th, we met up in Khon Kaen City (a tuk tuk and a bus ride away for me and a 8 hour bus ride for him). Side note: Eugene teaches in a high school located in the north of Thailand, in a province called Uttaradit. He is a Sagittarius and is obsessed with comic books.

After meeting up in Khon Kaen, Eugene and I headed to the spiffy hotel (Pullman) in the city and indulged in AMAZING (read: finger-licking/heavenly) pastries. Eugene had an apple crisp and a chocolate croissant and I had a ham and cheese croissant with a side of tiramisu! Side note: It had been a VERY VERY long time since I had indulged in western goodies...I think that’s why I might have overdone it... :) After catching up and people watching at the hotel, we preceded to our hotel...the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of the Pullman...but hey we're pretty low-maintenance ladies.

We dropped off our bags at the hotel and headed to Central Plaza--a very large mall with a bowling alley, western restaurants (including Starbucks), movie theater, dancing studio, and an array of stores for all your needs and pleasures. We had every intention on catching a flick. Side note: I LOVE GOING TO THE MOVIES NO MATTER WHERE I am in the world!! Unfortunately, the movie theater had no viable options for us. Then, we both decided to eat McDonald’s. Side note: At this point, you should be surprised that I opted for McD’s, because I always ALWAYS get sick eating at this fast food restaurant...but hey I can’t have burritos, tortas, tamales, or chilles rellenos, so I had to settle for the next (not really) best thing. Side side note: I sometimes catch myself Googling pictures of burritos or tortas... :(

After eating, I mentioned to Eugenious that we should check out the largest Tesco Lotus Extra in Thailand. I, also, said that it was within walking distance from Central Plaza. We commenced our journey to the Tesco. During our walk, we shared many stories of our past and A LOT of laughs. Side note: While on our walk, Eugenious mentioned that he had realized that it had been awhile since he had really laughed (you know the laughs that fill you up inside) and I agreed. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of funnies going on in Thailand. After 45 minutes of walking, I started to panic because the Tesco Lotus was obviously not as walking distance as I imagined. I, then, felt really guilty that I, as a host, had dragged my friend on THE LONGEST JOURNEY EVER TO THAILAND’S VERSION OF WAL-MART!! He kept saying that he didn’t mind, and that all he really wanted to do is chat...and I agreed. After reaching Khon Kaen University, I made the executive decision of catching a song-tao (mini-bus/taxi) in the direction that I knew the Tesco Lotus was located. We finally arrived at the Tesco Lotus--I was dehydrated (from walking in Thailand’s weather) and Eugenious’ feet were covered in grime (from walking in Thailand’s [unpaved] “sidewalks”).

After shopping (and what seemed like a 10 hour hike to Tesco Lotus), we freshened up and headed to Khon Kaen’s Walking Street (read: massive bazaar, but not at massive as Chiang Mai’s Walking Street). At Khon Kaen’s Walking street, we shopped for goodies for our friends (back home) and ate yummy food (including: gyros, fried chicken, strawberry smoothy, and a pancake with the word "Love" written on it). As we sat down and ate our food (and watched a group of teenagers perform a dance number), I realized that this was by far one of the best Valentine’s Day everrrr. I was in company of a very dear friend, eating delicious food, and living an adventure!!
Eugene and I at Khon Kaen's Walking Street!!

On Sunday, we met up with Gracie, Jane, and James (three other Fulbrighters who live in provinces within an hour away from Khon Kaen City). Alongside the other Fulbrighters, I continued my western indulgences!! For brunch, the five us went to a spectacular Italian restaurant. I had Penne Bolognese-- it took me back to Louise's Tarttoria in Los Angeles. Afterwards, we all headed to the nearest (and BEST) massage place. We all got full body (and THE BEST) massages.

And... in the blink of an EYE, I was being forced to say good-bye to Eugenious.

Being around fellow Americans reminded me of reminded me of times when my jokes did not fall on deaf ears. It reminded me of existing effortlessly.

What do I mean by existing effortlessly??

I mean that Thailand is known as the land of smiles for a reason. In Thailand, you smile if you are angry, sad, happy, annoyed, and every other emotion on this planet. Thais take smiling to another level. When I don’t smile, the people around me are truly concerned, and make me feel guilty, that they are guilty for me not smiling.

Let me tell you smiling all the time is TIRING. Also, being around English speakers was brain did not have to try and guess what was being said or try to respond in my (appalling) Thai and or in my mimes. So yes, being around Eugenious allowed me to exist effortlessly.

After our massage, I remember telling Eugenious “that massage realigned my essence.” Looking back, I think being around friends relaxed my soul and did something amazing to my energy.

And with that...I say DEUCES and lots of LOVE!

Como dice Walter Mercado, “Que reciban de mi, siempre, paz, mucha paz, pero sobre todo, mucho, mucho..... AMOR!!!!!♥”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Isaan LOVE Box!!!!

Introducing The Isaan Love Box (not the official name of "katip/klong kao"): This container is made out of wood and bamboo. Everyone in Isaan (the Northeast aka the place where I live and teach) owns one of these to keep and transport their sticky rice ("kao knee-ao").

Just another ordinary lunch meal in the language and social studies office.

A different angle of our feast...I mean lunch table.

From left to right:
Ajan Glenda, Ajan Pimsilee, Ajan Wasanna, Ajan Watchara, Ajan Oradee, Ajan Pipat, Ajan Pranee

is the Thai word for Teacher.

Tom yum pla (Fish soup)

Som tom (papaya salad): This dish is present at every meal!! I never thought I could like papaya...but surprise, surprise I DO!! (I like green papaya and ABSOLUTELY dislike ripe papaya)
pud pak Ruam-mit (stir fried vegetables with tofu)

yam luam mit-ta-leh (seafood salad)

Mok pla noi (small fish in banana leaf)

Cha quiao yen (Cold Green Tea)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Getting around...VOICELESS Glenda

Side note: This entry was written after I spent three days in bed with a throat infection. My voice isn’t completely back and my nose is leaking snot...but I need to feel productive. I have been thinking about an entry on transportation for a long time.

Yesterday, a majority of the female teachers stopped by my hotel room--reminder I live with a host family who own a hotel in the town I teach in--to make sure I was getting better. They dropped off oranges, apples, water bottles, and jok (aka porridge). I know food is very important in Thai culture, but I wonder if the teachers opted to bring me food because they know how difficult it is for me to get around town. Side note: The hotel I live in is located in the outskirts of my town. The 7-Eleven (they are everywhere in Thailand) and all the other shops are a 30 minute walk. One of the teachers dropped off my mail and a notice telling me that I need to pick up a package at the post office. As soon as they realized what this notice meant, the teachers began to debate over who would/could take me to the post office. Side note: I am too familiar with this debate, because in the beginning of the year the teachers in the English department debated on who would take me and bring me to and from school. Ban Phai Pittayakom School is a 10-15 minute drive from the Highway Hotel (my hotel). One of the teachers mentioned that she could do it, but I didn’t hear a confirmation.

Today, I woke up feeling knives in the back of my throat but I mustered up the energy to get out of my pajamas. As I was walking to the lobby, the receptionist,Ta, asked me what I was doing. In my painfully robotic voice, I told him that I needed to pick up a package at the post office. Of course, I didn’t remember the Thai word for post office. Ta then said, “passa nee” and I tried to mentally go over the Thai vocabulary that I know and I nodded yes. One of the hotel staff members volunteered to take me to the post office (...I mean who would say no to a lovely girl who sounded like a sad robot). Side note: Ta is really funny and nice 24-year-old man. He once told me I was really beautiful and I felt awkward. Side Side note: A lot of people tell me I am beautiful in Thailand and I just don’t know what to do or say...because my physical beauty is not something I have accepted. I don’t think, in America, we tell each other how beautiful we are but here complimenting someone’s beauty is nothing out of the ordinary.

After a 10 minute drive to town, we arrived at the post office and I was able to pick up the package from my mother in Los Angeles. I rushed home--but not before stopping at the 7-eleven, they sell some delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and I am EXTREMELY tired of eating soup-- to open the package.

Contents of the package my mother (aka momz/ma/mami) sent me:
  1. LA/Hollywood souvenirs for the teachers at my school
  2. tons of candy/chocolate
  3. old/important mail that I need to deal with
  4. my birthday card
  5. Valentines’ decorations for my room
  6. energy bars
  7. education materials
  8. (most importantly) hot Cheetos
A picture of my Birthday card!! It's a pop-up card with a picture of a dashboard designed for a lady on the go!! That's me!
Right after I opened the package, a teacher knocked at my door. She asked, “are you ready to go to the post office?” I moved my eyes down and looked at my package and she said “oh you went already!!” I, then, handed her a purse my mother sent as gifts for the teachers at my school and a See’s candy gram.

Then a Skype call sound emanated from my Mac and a ring tone from my cell phone and a teacher sitting with me on the ground of my hotel room. At that moment, I felt so happily overwhelmed by all the love around me. I told Kelly Bender on Skype to hold on a minute and I told my mother I would call her back. The teacher then realized that I had a lot more conversations to have on this lovely Saturday with my almost there voice, so she thanked me for the purse and told me she would see me later. Soon after another teacher knocked at my door--she’s who I consider my best friend here in Thailand-- and I pulled three purses and asked her to choose one. She choose a black glittery tote bag with a Hollywood sign design and she handed me a bag of BANANAS!! My favorite! My Mac and phone started making sounds again...and she then told me she was headed to her grandmother’s house in Khon Kaen City (where I spent the weekend last weekend).

Side note on my Thai best friend: She is 27-years-old and as outgoing as I am (or even more). She was my dancing partner during the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. She has been my singing partner in MANY karaoke sessions. She volunteered to teach me how to do Thai style laundry at her grandmother’s house. She gave me a lesson on how to properly use a squatty potty. She has a great affinity to break out in laughter with me. Her mother was her grandmother’s second daughter, JUST LIKE MY MOM. Her father died when she was a little girl, just like my father.

But I digress from my entry on transportation...

Before I delve into this topic there are a couple of things you should know.

  1. I don’t know how to drive a car/motorbike.
  2. I can barely drive a bicycle.
  3. The following are modes of transportation in Thailand (for those of us who aren’t good on wheels):
  • the back of a friend’s motorbike (and you’re lucky if they own a second helmet)
  • Song-taew: a pick up truck with a roof and a makeshift mini-bus
  • charter bus- transport from one city to another (i.e. Ban Phai to Khon Kaen City)
  • family cars- I usually get invited to travel or go out with my host family or teachers ask me to go out with their families
  • co-worker’s cars
**I might be forgetting other popular modes of transport, but I cannot recall them at this moment.

I have lived all of my life without relying on a private form of transportation and never had it damper my independence like it has here. Side note: In Somerton, AZ not having a vehicle made my life challenging, but that small town had: restaurants, laundry mats, and basic necessities, but the outskirts of Ban Phai really don’t have much.

Side side note: Ban Phai is a town within the Province of Khon Kaen and everything of interest (i.e. post office, 7-Elevens, hospitals, Siri Book Store [my favorite], police station, banks, KFC, and etc) is in the center of the town. The Highway hotel is 30 minute walk from the center of town...but if you’re sick walking for 5 minutes seems like an eternity.

Places I have lived and my ratings on their public transportation (1- being atrocious and 5- being stupendous):

Los Angeles, CA-- 5 (yes, you have to plan your trip way in advance but you can get anywhere with the MTA)
Carlisle, PA- 0 (What public transportation???)
Gawchiboli, AP, India- 3 (the autorickshaws would never want to go to that part of Hyderabad, but the mini-buses had a stop there).
Washington, DC- 5 (pretty darn SPECTACULAR)
Somerton, AZ- 2 (the one bus that went down my highway came every hour)
Baltimore, MD- 4 (you had to plan your trips 1.5 hours in advance and they have the free lines--Charm City Circulator)
Ban Phai, KK- 1 (once you get to the center of town you can catch a tuk tuk or a charter bus)

So this isn't the be-all and end-all of my entry on transportation...SO expect many more entries on transportation and all things Thailand. I leave you with somethings I've learned and want to do. Have a lovely day!

Things I will do more in America...
  1. Tell people that they are beautiful
  2. Tell people that I love them

Things I won't take for granted...
  1. Hot showers
  2. My mother
  3. My friends
  4. The pot of (black/brown) beans at my mom’s house
  5. Effective public transportation systems
  6. Washers
  7. DRYERS and soft clothes
To do
  1. Get well soon
  2. Stay Healthy
  3. Learn to drive
  4. Take the GREs
  5. Be Happy