The Perks of Living in Thailand

During the day the dogs of Buengkan flop lazily along street sidewalks (or lack thereof), too hot and tired to bother with you as you walk past their turf. But just wait until the clock strikes midnight and a simple walk home makes you seriously question your decision to pass on the rabies vaccine. When you are walking all alone at night to the soundtrack of angry barks and growls only to be faced with one of these potentially feral creatures running full speed at you down the dark street it’s difficult to stay calm. If I’ve learned anything since moving to Buengkan, it’s that most these dogs are really just oversized babies. If you stand your ground, raise your arms over your head, and give your best warrior cry they will actually stop in their tracks and back off. It’s worked so far, at least.
Tonight I had to fend off at least three dogs while walking home. Even though so far this approach has a 100% success rate it still freaks me out a little every time I see one of them racing towards me. I was, needless to say, a little on edge by the time I reached my street. As it usually goes, I first heard the clicking of the claws as this creature approached from behind. I waited a few seconds before spinning around and striking my most ferocious ninja pose, arms up and yelling, “RAH!”, only to come face to face with….
…….a leaf.
I was scared senseless by a dead leaf skittering across the road.

And I sincerely hope no one else saw.

But fending off dogs is just one of the many perks of living in Thailand! Some others include (but are not limited to):

Bi-Polar Self Esteem: On the one hand you have a bunch of students asking you if you are pregnant and Thai people calling you fat while at the same time complimenting you on your big nose, and on the other hand you have your mother telling you that you are looking skinnier. Meanwhile the paler you are the more lovely you are, so I end up feeling a little bit like a beautiful beluga whale. It’s very tiring trying to balance yourself out. Eating sticky rice as comfort food isn’t helping.

Becoming a Walking Billboard: For all your favorite bands…
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAlthough on the bright side as a result of these bracelet gifts I have discovered a Korean boy band called B.A.P. While I am slighty perturbed that 13 year old girls are into this, God bless you K Pop, you will never cease to amaze me.

You will watch this video and be all like, “WTF was that??” yet still feel the compelling need to watch another one. This is an endless trail and you may spend hours following each new link. You have been warned. The Beibs aint got nothin on these guys….

New Nicknames: Not only does my last name sound like the Thai word for “hungry”, I made the mistake of calling myself beautiful instead of unlucky at immigration (they sound so. very. similar.), resulting in them calling me Ms Beautiful every time I go in there. But let’s be honest, I’m not complaining about that one. 😛

Language Barriers: You want to know something frustrating? I’ve learned just enough Thai to know when I’m being talked about, but not enough to know what is being said.

System Clearing: You will, after being in Asia long enough, experience firsthand the joys of food poisoning. This includes purging everything in your stomach and more in two-hour intervals and almost pooping your pants when you attempt to stumble to work anyway. On the bright side you lose a couple pounds and have the opportunity to start again fresh! Hooray?

It is now 240am and I’m tired, but I’m sure there will be a part two coming soon!


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.


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

Social Suicide

Thailand has so many little, unwritten rules to follow its impossible not to mess up every now and again. 

I just seem to mess up a lot.

I have already been sent home twice from school by our head teacher Jiraporn for my choice in dress (I’m worse as a teacher than I ever was as a student…). The first week I walked in wearing dress pants and I was sent home to change into a skirt because a woman wearing pants is considered rude. Honestly I think it is only this school that believes that, the visit school down the road lets their teachers wear dress pants and so do other schools in different areas of Thailand, but oh well! All of you who know I never wear skirts because I don’t necessarily like them…feel free to laugh your heart out because I have to wear one every day. The second time I was sent home for wearing flip flops to English Camp. They weren’t just any flip flops though, I asked Jiraporn if they were ok for “causal wear” and she responds with, “Noo no, those toilet shoes. Rude.” Sigh. “Ok I’ll go change.”

Wait wait…toilet shoes?? About two months ago my flops broke. This is very distressing news as my feet are about 8x’s bigger than the Thais’ and women alike. It was hard enough trying to find shoes that fit me in Bangkok I and was pretty pessimistic about finding anything in Bung Kan. However, a trip to the Tesco Lotus proved fruitful and I walked out with a brand new pair of white and blue (albeit mens) flippity floppers…they were the only ones in the whole store big enough for me. Of course I put these on instantly and shamelessly wore them every day. As I found out so suddenly at English Camp, these were toilet shoes. Tha’s have shoes that you wear specifically for the toilet, and I have been rocking those bad boys all around town for weeks and nobody bothered to inform me. They are bright white and blue so it’s not like they blend in at all, but even after I found out I have no other sandals and I sometimes still wore them despite feeling extremely self-conscious about it. I wore them to dinner on Walking Street one night and some of my students were there selling things on the street. Fortunately I was aware of my faux paus and could make a joke of it as all of my 13 year old kiddos saw my shoes and keeled over laughing at me. Leave it to my students to point out my social mistakes…where were they two weeks ago?? Emma went on a visa run to Laos the other day and found me a nice pair of plain, black, flip flops that were my size and kindly brought them back for me. 🙂

I spent the first two months in Thailand eating my food with a fork like a barbarian. In Thailand stabbing food with your fork is seen as aggressive. Instead, use the fork to help push food onto your spoon. I eat like a lady now. Hah! Right.

A couple of the Thai teachers and I joke about having a food baby after we eat too much all the time, so naturally when we were out for dinner and one of the teachers put her hand on her stomach and said “baby”, I assumed she meant food baby and I enthusiastically replied, “Me too!” How was I supposed to know she was actually pregnant? Her baby bump was hidden behind the table. No one said anything about my comment so now I have a feeling half the staff at school thinks I’m preggers.

I’m that weird, possibly pregnant foreign english teacher at the high school who eats like a rabid dog and wears toilet shoes in public. It’s a miracle I’ve made any friends in this town.

Chasing the Naga

Last weekend Emma and I joined our Thai friends in a quest to find some Naga fireballs-a phenomenon that occurs on the Mekong River once a year, every year, on the full moon in October that marks the end of Buddhist lent. During this night it is reported that hundreds of fireballs of various sizes rise up from the Mekong; IMGP0837some use science to explain it, many Thais believe it is the breath of the Naga, a serpent that lives in the Mekong and brings good luck.

Either way, we were keen to check it out, so Emma and I hopped in the back of a pickup truck with Bright (a student from our school who is also being tutored in English at Mundo Exchange) and P. Maew (who is also associated with Mundo) and made our 1382345_10200653806659985_708789008_nway east about 23 km to wait along the river for the sun to set and the fireballs to rise.

The sun did set (as we ate a delicious dinner of fish, noodles, lemongrass and sauce wrapped in lettuce) but the fireballs did not rise. I was kind of ok with it, thinking that no one else was seeing them either, but then Bright’s dad called him and said from their position about an hour and a half west they were seeing about a hundred fireballs! After that call I was pretty gutted that our section of the river remained dismally dark. I think I may have to come back next year because now I really, really want to see them!  IMGP0853

Our night, however, was not without entertainment. I was named Miss Universe by our rather drunk Thai friend, and Emma Miss Canada (she was later upgraded to “Miss the Moon” though, because she was beautiful as the moon). We were granted the opportunity to set off our own lucky lantern, sending our misfortune flying away with it as it floats silently upwards. Emma’s lantern tried to fly but instead fell haphazardly into the bushes alongIMGP0856 the riverbank, leaving me in tears of laughter as the men went to retrieve it and send it off again. So much for good luck…

I guess the Naga was too busy partying it up with the crowds farther west to come any farther down the river that night, so no fireballs for us. 😦 Maybe next year.

Correction: I did see one fireball, but this is a rather embarrassing admission on my part. Once we got home I was reading my book and decided to light a candle next to me. On my bed. The last thing I remember is looking at the candle and thinking it’s so…prettyyyy……. Next thing I know my eyes are fluttering open and there is a giant fireball in front of my face! No, the Naga was not bequeathing me luck. Yes, I lit my own bed on fire. Fortunately it was small enough to frantically wave, blow on, and pat out because that’s all I could manage in my panicked half conscious state. Now I understand why my mother never let me have candles…apparently I’m a bit of a hapless pyro.


Seriously I don’t even know what I was thinking.

Engrish with Kayra!

I’ve gotta focus on having them say the “el” sound.


Ok, I survived the first day of school!
Seriously, I almost didn’t make it.

When I was back in Bangkok talking to my employer from the hiring agency I was told that I would be teaching high school aged students who may be fairly advanced and creating my own lesson plans. They also informed me that I would probably be seeing the students only once a week and have maybe two classes, so I only had to come up with two lesson plans a week and the classes would be about 30-35 students on average, sometimes more. They emailed me a sample lesson plan and said the classes lasted for an hour. Oh, that sounds easy! Mostly. Right? Create a grand total of two different lesson plans for the week and see maybe 80 students a week. Yeah I can do this. Piece. of. cake.

This morning I arrived at the school only to be told that I will be teaching 11 different groups throughout the week, all junior high age, all of varying degrees of proficiency, in class sizes of 50, and in two hour blocks. I sat there with a little lesson plan that would maybe last an hour. And I now find out we have to teach each class for 2 hours? And each class has 50 students? And I have 11 classes? WHAT. So let’s just change that conservative 80-90 students a week to a whopping 550 students, and those two different lesson plans into eleven different lesson plans. Oh, and have fun trying to keep the attention of fifty 13 and 14 year old students for two hours.

Martin, a fellow American who has been here a week already, warned Jeneane and I before we left for our classes, “Its not easy teaching here. The first week is gonna break your heart.” Oh that’s just great. “Sometimes its a real nightmare. There are the ones who will want to learn and the ones who don’t. Just ignore the ones who don’t and focus on the ones who want to be there. The first week… *shakes head* rough. The last American couple that was teaching here left when the girl came in and broke down crying at her desk, she couldn’t take it. These students will test your limits.” Well, what an encouraging start.

Some of the classes are in shells of buildings, windows are just cage bars and there is no door, just wide open doorways. As I walked towards my classroom children were leading their arms out from between the bars, yelling, “Teacher! Hello! Hellllloooo teacher!” What is this, a child prison? They reminded me so much of inmates as I walked past the buildings it was almost too eerie to be funny. I walked into the classroom and was greeted by 50 students all standing up and saying “Good morning teacher!” in unison and something else I couldn’t really understand. I had them sit down and taught them the basic commands of the classroom before starting to the lesson. They sat there quietly, calmly…shy little creatures just trying to understand what I was saying.

I put them into groups and asked them to draw a picture of their best friend and introduce themselves and their friend to each other before leaving them to draw for a few minutes. And then all hell broke loose. These children morphed from timid little mice into wild, bloodthirsty, crazed hyenas in a matter of seconds. As soon as I focused on one table for a minute the other groups saw their window of opportunity for creating chaos. The volume jumped a couple decibels and I turned around just in time to see crumpled wads of paper flying through the air. There were about four students chasing each other around the room, running across chairs and desks to escape each other, and two boys were wrestling on the floor. I told them all to calm down but they just weren’t listening. Three other boys were rough housing with each other and pouring baby powder in each others hair, a group of kids in the corner were just playing a board game, and some other kids were listening to music or playing on their phones. I just stood there helplessly, paper airplanes breaking the clouds of baby powder that hung suspended in the air around me; it was like a scene from a movie.

I tried yelling to be quiet, to settle down, to look at me…nothing worked. Then, just as I was walking past the baby powder boys, one of them threw a huge handful of it right into his friend’s face. We were told to not get upset, keep a smile and stay calm; it’s the Thai way. I didn’t. “That is ENOUGH!” I commanded to them as the culprit looked up at me all wide eyed and guilty. “No more.” His eyes reflected fear as and he apologized by giving a wai as he sat back down. All the kids were shocked into silence, but at least I had command of the classroom again. Clearly, group work is the opposite of productive. Lesson learned. I got everyone to put away their ipods, phones, games and cards and focused on repetition for the last 20 minutes of class.

I thought that the classroom I was in was “my” classroom, and so when time was up I said, “Ok, class time is over! You are dismissed!” They looked at me blankly. “Ok…goodbye! See you next week!” I waved. They stared. “Ummm…were done?” No response. “….You can leave?” I looked at one of the girls who had been well behaved throughout the class and whispered, “What do I do?” She yelled something in Thai and then the whole class stood up and recited, “Goodbye teacher! Thank you!” and sat back down. Turns out I am the one that leaves the classroom. Not them.

Thus my first experience with teaching came to a close. I left that classroom wary of what was to come with the students in my next group, but they ended up being an entirely different type of crowd. They got a little loud, but, that’s kind of expected when you have a classroom full of fifty 13 year olds. Until we got really into the games this group was quiet, respectful, attentive, and involved. I spent the time having them write down a couple facts about themselves and draw their favorite animal before having them name animals found in Thailand and imitating how they sound. We ended the class with a competitive game of Pictionary and they got really into it! It was cool actually because instead of being quiet and non responsive they were all eager to raise their hands or yell out answers for me. As a final tie breaker I pulled up two students and had them draw “teacher” for the others to guess. One student drew me as a human female and the other one…he drew a bat. Like, the winged night creature. I could not stop laughing. There were times when the whole class was laughing and cheering and other students were looking in to see what all the fun was, so I think I can at least count one of my classes as a success today.

What a way to start my teaching career.

Humor Me

When it comes to Singaporeans on the MRT, humor is non-existent. There is no smiling, laughing, joking or talking. Everyone stands side by side without seeing each other, eyes too focused on their ipads and smartphones to take in their surroundings or even nod to the person they are rubbing shoulders with. Eyes ahead on the station platforms, walking forward and avoiding all eye contact. Turns out if you don’t look at anyone you don’t bump into them either, which is a cool little trick. It’s always a rush to be first; first off the train, first on the train, first to reach the escalator or stairs. Cheryl and I find our amusement by, well, mocking the system. We talk in the trains, we try to get people to look at us and return our smiles, we laugh when we stand nose to the glass while waiting for the next train. I think the biggest MRT faux pas happened within my first two days of being in Singapore.

It wasn’t even a faux pas, really, we just found that our humor doesn’t quite match up with everyone else.  Cheryl and I had spent the day at Marina Bay Sands and surrounding areas, and we were making our way back home after a stop by Long Bar in Raffles Hotel to try the famous (and overpriced) Singapore Sling when we decided to take the MRT for the final leg of the journey. As we began our descent down the escalator we saw that our train was already at the station. We took off running down the escalator and across the platform towards the already packed train. Cheryl managed to slide in just as the red lights began blinking, and I picked up my pace to reach her. I heard the automated “Doors are closing” as my window of opportunity began to disappear. I could have stopped and waited for the next one, and probably should have since there didn’t appear to be any room for me, but I was already in motion and moving too fast. It was now or never. I leapt through the doors like a modern day Indiana Jones, spreading out my arms and pancaking myself into Cheryl’s back. pulling my leg through the doors  just seconds before they hissed shut behind me. I don’t even know how I made it on, and apparently neither did Cheryl by the look of bewilderment on her face that I had managed to somehow fit myself into that compartment before the doors shut. The whole situation was funny enough to make even the Royal Guards chortle, we ourselves were lost in a fit of laughter, but no one else even cracked a smile. “Oh come on,” Cheryl said quietly as she looked around, “that was funny!” I was trying so hard to suppress my laughter that I was snorting, and we had to shuffle ourselves around to face the door so our backs were to everyone else in an attempt to stifle the giggles. It didn’t work.

Transportation is a very serious matter. No laughing allowed. Cannot lah.

Georgetown Heritage Festival

I happened to arrive in Georgetown at the right time. My first full day there was spent wandering the National Park with my new Pennsylvania friends Jolene and LDSCN1160iedeke, where we ended up spending a couple of hours reading under the shade of a palm tree on Monkey Beach after an hour or two of easy trekking through the park. We ended our day back in town eating roti banana (banana pancake) and kopi ais (ice coffee), creating a nightly ritual that would continue as long as we were in Penang. The Georgetown Heritage Festival, a celebration of culture, started the very next day.  We spent two days wandering the crowded streets of Penang checking out the activities. We saw puppet shows, theatrical productions, and story-telling. All of this was in a different language, of course, and despite not understanding DSCN1193a word of it I enjoyed watching each culture showcase its traditional activities. The night ended with a very impressive show of strength, agility and balance. Atop a row of upright posts of various heights, two men dressed in a dragon costume leapt from post to post, precariously balanced on each one as well as each other. I held my breath for most DSCN1244of it, praying neither of them would miss a landing.  Of course we went back to the restaurant from the night before to get our usual roti banana and kopi ais before going to bed. But oh! the horror! There was only one banana left!! “One banana!?” we cried, “We’ll go buy some!” The man shook his head sadly, “the banana stand is closed for the night, we can’t get any more.” We were devastated, but let him talk us into some sort of sweet, sugary roti and roti chocolate as well as the last roti banana. “We will have more bananas tomorrow.” We left with this DSCN1454promise, happy bellys despite the lack of bananas.

The next day was full of street dances, ethnic food, and even more performances. Penang certainly lived up to its reputation as being the “food capital” of Malaysia, I have never eaten more in a day than I did in Penang. I feel like I was always snacking on various foods from street hawkers. There were street dances and performances going on throughout the day, but things got exciting once night fell in Little India. The three of us found our new dorm mate, Sarah, near a snake show and joined forces. The snake show was cool, he had a massive python wrapped around his shoulders and was letting other people hold it. I wanted to hold the snake, but we were in the back of the crowd and he didn’t see us. Dejected, we moved on to some sort of weird combination of fighting and dancing going on farther along down the road.

We caught the end of that show and began walking back towards the main road when officials started yelling to make room for the fire dancers as they ushered people into a circle. We were crammed in the middle of a huge throng of people, and by lucDSCN1417ky chance we happened to be in the front of the circle! Without even trying to, we had managed to find ourselves front and center for the fire show. “Move back! Make more room! More room!” they officials yelled, urging people to take a couple steps back to widen the circle. Not wanting to lose their viewing spot, people were hesitant to budge, and the circle hardly expanded. Sarah and I were in the front, rows of motorbikes behind us. This was good because no one could push in front of us and no one was behind us, but it also meant that we couldn’t step back any more than we already were. “Back, back” a man urged us as we shrugged and pointed helplessly at the cluster of bikes behind us. “What is the problem?” Upon seeing the bikes he muttered under his breath about stupid people and why would they park their bikes there anyway? as he picked some up and tried to force more room by moving them around.

The performance started, young men running into the circle, their bare chests and arms painted up in tribal looking designs and wielding batons of fire. They would fill their mouths with kerosene from a water bottDSCN1428le (which I thought had to be so bad for them…) before spitting it out on the flames, not only creating huge fireballs but showering each other in kerosene. More men would come into the circle, each with a new lit up instrument. About 3 minutes into the show someone came in with two batons, chains running down the ends of them with a huge glowering ball of fire at each end, swinging them exuberantly around as part of the show. Suddenly, one of the coals broke loose and a fireball went flying into the crowd. Screams broke the cheers as people jumped back, leaving a burning hole in their wake. The fire was quickly dampened but fear had been instilled, and as the circle instantly grew wider without any urging Sarah and I realized with horror that we couldn’t back up. And there was nothing in front of us to stop a fireball from flying into us. We cringed just a little bit each time they came near us, hoping we weren’t going to be the next victims. Flying fireballs certainly add an element of danger to the show I guess.

DSCN1432We survived the show burn free and followed the crowds, finding ourselves back at the snake show. It was over and most people had left, so I jumped at the chance and finally got to hold the snake! Win. We stopped in front of an information board on the street, deciding where to go next, when someone asked for my name. I turned, not quite realizing how loud his voice had been, and was shocked to find a microphone in my face. “Um…Kayla.” My voice reverberated around me for all of Georgetown to hear.

“And where are you from, Kayla?”
“America” I looked to the girls for support but they had backed well up against the wall and stood watching me, cameras up and letting me unwillingly take the spot light.
“And how do you like the food here? Would you recommend anything to try?”
Unfortunately with his accent I didn’t understand a word of what he said, so I stared for a second before looking to the girls. “the food!” Jolene offered. “Oh!” I said, “…It’s delicious!”
My interviewer looked at me a second, waiting for the rest of my answer. Correctly assuming that I had nothing else to say on the matter he asked me if I could name anything that I had eaten that day. My mind blanked, wiped free of everything as I tried to remember the name of…anything.  I stole a glance back over to my “friends”, who were currently laughing as Liedeke had the camera rolling and Jolene was helping me out. Nasi kendar she whispered.
“Nasi rendar. And, uh, roti.…” I offered, blanking again “rotiiiiiii….(canai! I hear from the sidelines) roti canai!” (I would make a horrible celebrity)
“Ok,” he laughed, “and would you come back again next year for the festivities?”
“If I’m here yeah, it’s been a lot of fun”
“Ok thank you Kayla, enjoy the rest of your night.” With that closing comment he was gone as suddenly as he had arrived.

I now know why people say the dumbest things on Jay Walking with Jay Leno, I know why they can’t remember simple things like the presidents name or the capitaDSCN1460l of their own state. When you are accosted with a line of questions and caught off guard, camera and/or microphone flung into your face, you just…forget…everything. Like a deer in the headlights, you stand there stunned into stupidity. I’m onto you Jay.

On our way to a traditional Indian dance performance we passed by our new favorite roti provider. “Hello girls!” He called out to us in the street, DSCN1461waving happily with a huge smile, “We have bananas tonight!” Elated, we promised to return in less than an hour. After a great show we did in fact return, and ended the night with our usual, thus establishing ourselves as regulars in this picturesque town.