Wedding Season Is Upon Us

“Wedding season” has begun in Thailand. My friend Yim recently got married here in Buengkan and she invited me to the wedding. I have been to a few ceremonies but I have never actually been a Thai wedding and I was pretty excited to see what it was all about! Now I’m not sure it if was the language barrier, poor listening skills, misunderstanding or a combination of both-but I was under the impression I was going to this wedding to simply watch and instead I ended up a bridesmaid.

shhh

Now Yim did tell me to wear a Thai style dress and the theme was gold. I thought that everyone wore fancy dresses and so I didn’t think anything of it. So I went and I got the dress. Then the night before Yim was drilling me about who I was at the wedding: “Who’s friend are you?” “….yours…” “and what am I?” “…the bride.” So I was a friend of the bride. I just didn’t know that ‘friend of the bride’ was synonymous with ‘bridesmaid’. Since she was making me answer in Thai I just thought she was making me practice my Thai language skills! In retrospect it might have been quite clear that I was a going to be in this wedding and the fault may lie with me for being so surprised come wedding day.

20151122_081924I woke up at 5am on a Sunday morning and hopped into a tuk tuk by 6:30 to meet Yim at her resort. I arrived, threw on my dress, and was directed by Yim to go outside with another bridesmaid and follow her lead. Fortunately I wasn’t required to do much, because with the language barrier I was essentially useless. We stood with a rope blocking the path to the bride and in order for the groom to be allowed to pass his family had to give us each some envelopes with money in it (kind of as a wedding favor..?). I didn’t understand that at first and almost let them through for free! Fortunately I was stopped and everyone got a good laugh out of it 😀 What to do with the envelopes once I actually got them took over half the day to figure out as well 😛 (write your friend’s names on them and give to them for good luck, apparently).

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I have no idea what’s going on…

It was a long but lovely wedding. Yim was beautiful, and her and her now husband Kaow were all smiles together.  A Thai wedding ceremony is definitely  unlike what I am used to. The ceremony starts very early, mostly because the monks will come to bless the new couple and they must return to the temple to eat before 11am. After the monks leave the couple greets and accepts all the guests as they, I think, give their 1448166472405blessings to the newlyweds (as far as I could tell).

Thai weddings seem to be a lot more ceremonial than American weddings. I stood (mostly because I was too afraid my not so Thai sized ass was going to rip out of my rented dress if I sat down) and watched Yim and Kaow sit through many speeches and blessings. After all the ceremonies were finished everyone enjoyed a nice, catered lunch. Everyone, that is, except the bride and groom themselves. First they sang together, which was really cute and what I assume was similar to a first dance together, and 20151122_082009then they had to do the rounds and say hello/thank you to all the guests.

I am so grateful to Yim for allowing me to be a part of her and Kaow’s special day! It was a truly unique experience, and I had a lot of fun meeting her friends and laughing over our height (and general size) difference. One girl was so tiny she literally looked like a mini me.  I  enjoyed every minute of it and I feel blessed to know Yim, she is one of the kindest people I know and I will really miss her now that she has moved to Bangkok!

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Dreaming of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us (or just around the corner depending where in the world you may be) and I think my brain is short wiring a little bit despite this being far from my first Thanksgiving away from home. The first time you are away from home for any major holiday is a bit rough. I thought I was a seasoned veteran by now but apparently subconsciously I still miss those home comforts, especially during a holiday as specifically American as Thanksgiving.

I had a dream the other night that I was enjoying a nice Thanksgiving dinner at a Thai friends home, with turkey and everything! I ate it all and when they asked me if I wanted more I eagerly said yes. I was so happy that I was finally able to eat turkey again (despite it tasting a bit funny) on Thanksgiving.  A woman walked over to a rather large oven and opened it as I looked on. What I saw, however, was definitely not turkey. Instead of the golden roasting turkey I was expecting I found myself (literally) face to face with a giant black beetle. Inside this huge oven was a beetle that rested on three large baking trays. It was almost bigger than me. I gaped, appalled, at the spectacle before me. I looked down and saw part of a beetle carcass on my plate, some bits of leg scattered about. It was as if I had awoken from a trance and I just realized what I had eaten, and how it was actually not turkey as I had previously blindly believed. I felt somehow betrayed, horrified, and in great need of my Mom.

I’m not too sure what that dream meant because I actually kind of enjoy eating bugs. I think deep down I am actually quite missing the good ol’ US of A right about now. I miss the traditional American Thanksgiving fare of western culinary delights. I have spent many hours today just daydreaming about turkey, green bean casserole (my favorite!), sweet yams and marshmallow, stuffing, cranberry, mashed potatoes, you name it. It ‘s been a while since I sat together with my family around the dinner table; able to touch, talk face to face, and share moments together. Thanksgiving really is something special.

My family Thanksgivings in the past have been a mixed bag of misadventures of sorts, but they are the sort of things that we can look back and laugh on each year and wonder what will happen this time. I quite miss that.

If you are in America this year for Thanksgiving, consider yourself lucky. And if you happen to be surrounded by your family, consider yourself blessed. It’s times like these that I recognize and appreciate the value of simply being with the ones you love. So stop reading this and plug into some real life moments instead! Also….eat a lot of turkey and casserole for me. 🙂

 

Songkran Snaps

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If I have learned anything about my time living in Thailand, it is simply this: the Thais love to celebrate! In Thailand they celebrate western new year, Chinese new year, and (probably my new favorite) Thai new year! This celebration is called Songkran, and DSCN1257while traditionally it was a more sedated and family centered event it has evolved into a noisy, fun-filled nationwide water fight. And it is too much fun. 🙂

This year was my second year celebrating Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand with thousands of other locals and foreigners alike. Both years have brought unique DSCN1279experiences to the table and I have loved them both in their own ways. Last year I was running around Silom Road and RCA like a wild woman shooting everyone in sight (with water, obviously), and this year the highlight was, again, RCA but surprisingly Khao San Road came in a close second.

Last year I was with B, and this year I got to hang out with Emilie, Jillian and James. Anyway…I could talk all day about how much fun it was, but Ill show you instead 😀

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So. many. people.

Game face haha

Game face haha

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New friends and old!

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No, it wasn’t raining.

Until we meet again, April 13th! (plus 14th-16th)

A Day in Bullets

 

*Wake up. Chop up some mangos, pineapple, and dragonfruit for breakfast. (Must do at home because I like to suck the remaining fruit off the mango seed while juice drips pretty much everywhere and it looks rather undignified.)

* Walk across the street to school. Make my necessary cup of coffee and get ready for the day.

*Go to morning assembly and spend the 15-20 minutes wondering what the heck they are saying. Distract myself by counting the number of students who are sleeping.

*Go to my first class…not feeling quite awake enough yet to deal with 50 thirteen year olds. Tao takes my bag and carries it in for me as Fern grabs my hand and walks with me. They really are cute sometimes. (ok most of the time.)

*Get tickle attacked as I write on the board by Mas. Almost a daily occurance after one of them discovered this particular weakness of mine.

*Go to my next class. 10 minutes in I tell Jo I will throw him out the window if he does not stop talking. He understands after I act it out.

*Teach parts of the body. Place my hand on my chest and say “chest.” Potay pipes up with “nome!”(Thai word meaning milk..also what they call boobs). Chided him and wondered how I survived my first term before I learned any Thai (blissfully ignorant I think.)

*Eat lunch with some of my students. We have som tam (spicy papaya salad) and rice.

Screenshot_2014-07-08-08-50-37-1*Hop on my teacher facebook and find a message from one of my M6 (17-18yr old) students. He asked what the meaning of this picture was and after concluding he was genuine I doubled over laughing while thinking of a way to explain “invasive”, “skinny dipper” and “testacles”. He said he found it on “a website of science.” Oh the joys of teaching.

*Finally go home, shower, and go for a run in the park.

*Grab dinner and visit some friends. See another one of my M6 students who asked me what “Oh gee, Mama” meant. I had no idea. Boat cracked up because he thought she said “orgy”….and then I had to explain what an orgy is. It was an eventful day for translations.

*Practice some Thai, curl into bed and fall asleep while reading Game of Thrones.

Reunions and Full Moon Round 2!

After a rather emotionally trying final week of school I packed up some essentials and made my way south to reunite with Jeneane in Bangkok for a much needed escapSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESe.

It was awesome seeing Jeneane again! I really missed her an enjoyed comparing life in the north vs the south of Thailand. I took the train down with my friend Sarah and she stayed with us for a couple of days before heading SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESoff to meet another friend of hers. Of course Jeneane had our big night out, filled with the usual micheif and mayhem, and I got the chance to meet her family who were here for a visit.They are all lovely and I joined them on the 59th floor of the Banyon Tree Hotel’s rooftop bar, Moonbar. What gorgeous views! My camera doesnt even do it justice, just we enjoyed our (definitely not cheap) cocktails as we surveyed the brightly lit metropolis that is Bangkok. I said goodbye to Jeneane as she went back down south and I took off onc again for Bungkan. Bangkok was fun, but it put a bit more of a dent in my wallet than I anticipated.
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Although I meant to go back and save money until April, that was apparently not going to happen. On the bus back home I get a text from Boat, “Hey Kayla, I am going to do full moon maybe go to the island the 13 or 14”. We had talked about doing Full Moon with Brittany, and since I didnt have the chance to say goodbye to her before she left the offer was tempting. It was already the 11th though and I responded by saying I didnt think I was going to go its expensive and I was already on my way back but we will talk when I get back. I get the response, “Ok so lets do the full moon.” I guess that decision was made for me.

10009615_10152364560561654_1421516776_nAnd can I resist a chace to party til dawn on a beach with thousands of other people all covered in paint? No, of course not. So two days after getting back we made the 24 hour trip to Koh Phangan. Since Boat and I are both so good at planning ahead we failed to book a hostel before getting there. After talking to one girl on the ferry who said she and her boyfriend had trouble finding a place to stay online over a month ago i got a little apprehensive. Sure enough, almost all places were booked for the night of the Full Moon party but no matter, we left our bags at Brittany’s hostel and decided to just stay up til dawn. Who needs sleep?

We did in fact party til dawn..well, I did at least, Boat left the beach early but stayed awake til the sun rose so I guess that counts too 🙂 I would have more pictures in this post, but I forgot that I had my camera in my pocket and decided to go swimming in the ocean at one point during the night. In a panic I must have taken out the battery so it could dry and left it somewhere, because when I did finally get around to checking everything the next day my camera was still in my possession but missing a battery. I think it still works, I will find out soon enough when I find a replacement battery. And then I get to look at all the pictures hidden in my mermory card! It is kind of exciting I guess.

Camera accidents aside (which Im not even too upset about since I surprisingly still have the camera…)  the night was a blast! Boat and I lost Brittany and her friends in the first 5 minutes, and after 2 hours I lost Boat as well. We all had our own party experiences and Brittany found me again around 4am. It was a night full of buckets, dancing, fire limbo, and swimming. I’m pretty glad I decided to go again; I think it was more fun even though I lost everyone at different points of the night.

A couple days later Boat and I rented a motorbike for the day for only 200 baht and took off to explore the island. Koh Phangan is not the most beautiful of the islands, but you can’t beat a day full of sun kissed skin, wind blown hair, snorkeling and swimming on the islands various beaches. We left the next day for Koh Tao. I only spent a day on this island, but what I saw of it was wonderful and I am keen to go back when I finish up teaching for my open water certification. I left Boat on the islands to do just that, actually. I left as Boat was just beginning his course. I was incredibly jealous.

 

 

 

 

30 Days of Thanks

November is a time to be thankful for the things we have (ironically just before December, a month full of wishing for things we DONT have…) I saw a whoooole lot of facebookers posting daily updates about what they were thankful for each day, and I decided that rather than pepper my wall (and everyone’s newsfeeds) with daily thanks I would write them all down day by day and share them all at the end of the month. Without further ado I give you to….(at least) 30 things I have been thankful for this passing November (with an occasional thought flitting through my brain at the time of writing it):

Day…
1: my adaptibililty
2: having a job   even though it can be a real pain in the ass
3: new friendships
4: the opportunity to live in different countries
5: having so many reasons to smile and laugh
6: friends that have become family
7: Mundo Exchange
8: my hobo blanket and sleeping bag    two things I could never travel without. These poor things have been through a lot.
9: my education   
10: puppies!    I just saw THE CUTEST puppy in the street and played with it for 10 minutes. Almost brought it home.
11: the roof over my head    God bring love and relief to the Phillipines
12: my Little Brother!!    I love you so much
13: music
14: my 1/5 class    they keep me sane
15: the vast dfferences in our world
16: coffee
17: flip flops!    that finally arent “toilet shes”…because how embarassing.
18: color   I freaking love color.
19: my family
20: skype
21: Bas and Yuii at Buengkan Passport
22: my native english tongue    as much fun as it is learning Thai, I am so glad I speak fluent English. It is so helpful in this world
23: Ben George! And toast.
24: water     Running water if we are being specific. You never realise what a great thing you have until its gone and you have to take bucket baths.
25: my old teachers   because good Lord being a teacher isnt easy
26: chocolate
27: Thai pop music   I know I already said music but that was before I discovered this
28: having people to spend the holidays with
29: the one long sleeve shirt I bought in Singapore  Thailand is not supposed to be this cold…is it?
30: Daksha and Nancy

Karaoke Queen and Loy Krathong

IMGP0950Every year in November Thai’s celebrate Loy Krathong, a tradition of bringing joy and luck and ridding yourself of all negativity. Here in Bung Kan we went to the Mekong IMGP0946River to float our krathongs. We used the trunk of a banana tree as the base and decorated our krathongs with various leaves and flowers. As you prepare to float your krathong you put in some fingernail clippings and/or hair (sending away the old and decaying) as well as a few coins and you make a wish and prayer as you release your krathong into the water and send it on it’s way.

Emma and IMGP0947I got the chance to create our own krathongs, and while mine looked like a kindergartener sIMGP0959tapled a bunch of leaves onto a stump (until I cheated and stole someone elses pretty braided looking leaves) I had a lot of fun! We spent the day making krathongs and selling them and went to the river that evening to sIMGP0972end them off. Great way to spend a Sunday!

There is a song for the Loy Krathong Festival and way back at English Camp I told teacher Udom I wantIMGP0953ed to learn it. He gladly taught both myself and David and told me to memorize it. Last Thursday he informed David and I that we would be singing this song, in Thai language, for the 3,500+ students, teachers, and administrators at morning assembly on Friday.I had a one day warning that I had to belt out a Thai song in front of all these native speakers! David and I grabbed some students who love to sing and bribed them with extra credit to go on stage with us. It totally worked.

I would like to take a moment and thank Maia for making me sing karaoke so much at the Irishman- because I used to be terribly shy. After all those nights of belting out Hotel California, Livin on a Prayer, and Vanilla Ice during my Irishman hours I am now at least IMGP0999fairly comfortable sounding like a dying cat over the microphone for all to hear!

Much to our delight Ajarn Jiraporn sprung it on the rest of the foreign teachers the morning of that they had to go up and sing it with us. Hah, suckas. Since they didn’t know the song at all they had to try to keep up and do some background dancing. My genius plan to step back a bit and let the voices of our student helpers drown me out failed miserably when the boy holding the microphone kept holding it closer and closer to me (I think he sensed my master plan and wanted to thwart it).

I have discovered something previously unnoticed about myself that day. When I get nervous I apparently try to raise my voice a whole octave, and quite frankly my vocal chords are not down with that. I think it was a bit of a disaster, and it was all caught on film by one of our dear administrators. I have no idea where that video is or will end up, and I don’t think want to know…I’m not to keen to hear the playback on that one. That’s the last time I let Mr. Udom teach me a song, I’m making him sing American Christmas carols next month.

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Here is the song in both English and Thai! (Well, Thai written out in a way you can understand it…)

Loy Krathong (Thai)
wan pen deuan sìp sŏng 
náam gôr nong dtem dtà-lìng 
rao táng lăai chaai yĭng sà-nùk gan jing wan loy krà-tong 
loy loy loy krà-tong, loy loy loy krà-tong 
loy krà-tong gan láew kŏr chern nóng gâew òk maa ram wong 
ram wong wan loy krà-tong, ram wong wan loy krà-tong 
bun jà sòng hâi rao sùk jai, bun jà sòng hâi rao sùk jai    

Loy Krathong (English)
 November full moon shines
Loi Krathong, Loi Krathong
And the water’s high in local river and the klong
Loi Krathong, Loi Krathong Loi Krathong, Loi Krathong
Loy gratong is here and everybody’s full of cheer
We’re together at the klong Each one with his krathong As we push away we pray We can see a better day.
Loi Krathong, Loi Krathong Loi Krathong, Loi Krathong Loy gratong is here and everybody’s full of cheer