Can we smoke in here?


…and elephants, oh my!
October 28, 2008, 7:36 pm
Filed under: touristing

Daily Advice:

In order to attract and keep readers for your blog, update more than once a year.

I just spent a weekend in a working elephant camp. Domesticated elephants are controlled using entirely verbal commands. We saw a tethered young bull elephant who was getting quite agitated  –  a dog was teasing it from just out of reach. One of the mahouts (trainers – one mahout works with one elephant) UNCHAINED the agitated young bull elephant and climbed up – he told the bull to leave and HE DID. He turned back once to look at the dog – clearly wanting to go stomp on him – but the mahout said no so he didn’t. The mahout didn’t even break a sweat – he was smoking a cigarette on top of this angry elephant, TELLING HIM NOT TO DO SOMETHING. It was amazing.

 
Also I thought that the elephant painting was a bit bogus – that the trainer probably did most of it. But all the mahout does is choose the colour and then he hands the paintbrush to the elephant. The elephant does the painting, and it’s pretty obvious usually what they are trying to paint. The elephants painting in the picture below are only 7 and 8 years old, so their painting look childish, but I saw painting OF OTHER ELEPHANTS, some with their mahouts. Pretty amazing.


October 27, 2008, 11:45 pm
Filed under: touristing



worst. day. ever.
October 15, 2008, 4:38 pm
Filed under: being foreign, food, idiocy (my own), idiocy (other people's), moral outrage
Let’s have a recap on my day, shall we?
 
1:30 am – finally get to sleep.
3:30 am – wake up. Decide to check e-mail. In the dark.
3:35 am – break wine glass.
3:36 am – swear
3:38 am – grope way to light switch without shredding feet.
3:40 am – get dressed to go on balcony to get broom
3:47 am – try to connect to internet
3:50 am – do crossword instead of checking e-mail
4:30 am – stop doing crossword. doze off.
6:30 am – wake up. set alarm for 7:30
7:30 am – alarm goes off
7:45 am – alarm goes off
8:00 am – alarm goes off
8:15 am – alarm goes off
8:20 am – alarm goes off
8:25 am – drag ass, red-eyed and puffy, out of bed
8:37 am – dash to cab! get laughed at for trying to make myself (successfully!) understood
 
In the 5 hours I was at work, I:
 
x. Drank 4 cups of coffee – two at a time.
 
x. Gave myself an electric shock (twice) with my external hard drive. The external hard drive that works just fine in my laptop. The hard drive that works on a USB and HAS NO POWER SOURCE. Let’s be perfectly clear: I studied technical theatre in university. I specialised in theatrical lighting at a school that didn’t have the funding for new lights or up-to-date equipment. I hung lights above my head from a shaky ladder. I replaced electric sockets with a screwdriver and an exacto knife. I repaired broken lights and tested them by PLUGGING THEM IN. I dealt with broken and worn out extension cords. I spent hours at a time on grids and scaffolding carrying lights and wrenches around. I dealt with a power grid that had blue-smoke pouring out of it and once, I put out a fire in a table saw. I have gotten more electric shocks in the last six weeks on computer hardware and home-appliances-for-dummies than I have gotten in my entire life collectively. I HATE THAILAND.
 
x. Walked across campus in the heat to the building with internet access. The elevator was turned off, so I walked up to the fifth floor. I somehow stopped paying attention and ended up on the top floor with no more stairs. I turned around to walk down one flight of stairs and went to the wrong office. Turns out the building does NOT have 6 floors, as advertised. It has 7.
 
x. Could not connect to internet. Walked back across campus.
 
x. Was told that there is a SECRET INTERNET SWITCH in the office.
 
x. Walked back across campus. Remember: Thailand is a tropical fucking country. Climbed back up to the fifth floor. Turned on the SECRET INTERNET SWITCH and connected to the internet, and located the map on the website I needed.
 
x. Discovered that the printer didn’t work.
 
ALL BEFORE 10:30 AM.
 
Lunch was “American Fried Rice”. That means: Rice with hotdogs. I didn’t recognize the sauce – it was sweeter than any sauce I’ve had on rice. Halfway through the bowl, I stopped chewing, and looked up at my Thai friend, Pui.
 
“Pui,” I said. “Is this fried in…..ketchup?”
 
“Yes,” she said.
 
“….Ketchup and hotdogs?”
 
“Yes,” she said. “It’s American.”
 
“…..That’s not American!” I said.
 
“What’s in American Fried Rice?” she asked.
 
“THERE’S NO SUCH BLOODY THING.”
 
 
 
In Thailand, construction workers work in bare feet or in plastic flip flops.
 
 
I went to the market and listened to Thais talk blatantly and loudly about ‘farangs’ as I walked past.  Seriously – ‘Farang’ is the first word all foreigners learn. I know you’re talking about me, and while I don’t know what you’re saying, I’m intuitive enough to figure out that the raucous laughter is hardly complimentary. We’re not idiots. Be discreet with your racism.
 
 
I found out at 12:30 that HARPER WON AGAIN. I’m not coming home until Canada sanes itself up.


class act.
October 10, 2008, 3:37 pm
Filed under: idiocy (my own), idiocy (other people's)

Right now, the childrens are on vacation from school. That means that for on whole month, I am not teaching.

I am also not on a beach in Thailand drinking margaritas and looking at pretty mens, because I am on probation still and do not have vacation time yet. That means: I have to go into work for six hours a day for the month and sit at my desk, reading novels, learning Thai, chatting, and occasionally doing some lesson planning.

It’s boring as fuck, let me tell you.

Today, however, is Friday, and my boss sent us home early. There are only four or five of us not currently taking vacation days, and we’re all twiddling out collective thumbs, so he sent us home. So now it’s 1:30 pm on a Friday afternoon and I’m in my underwear, enjoying a rare moment of internet connectivity, and drinking beer.

Yep, I’m drunk in my apartment on a weekday afternnoon, and I LOVES IT.

 

FUN FACT:

In Thailand, motorcycles and scooters are incredibly common. Motorcycle taxis are more common than the more famous tuk-tuks, and when people ride them, they usually perch, side saddle, behind the driver, with their shopping on their lap. I’ve taken one a few times, but usually insist upon sitting forwards, straddling the seat. The last time I went on the freeway, and the driver darted between a bus and a transport truck.

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING, I thought, but I trusted and sat calmly on the back of the bike as I drove through the shadow of death.

Recently, I saw a family on a motorcycle (I assume it was a family, but of course it could have been three people relatedin any number of ways). The man was riding the bike. A toddler was stnading between the man’s knees, holding the handlebars. The woman was sitting behind the man, carrying a bloody bicycle. The man was the only one wearing a helmet. When they got to where they were going, the man did not do a u-turn on the bike (roads in Thailand have opportunities to U-turn around the median every few hundred meters). No, instead the woman got off the motorbike and carried the bicycle over the pedestrian overpass – up three flights of stairs in tropical Thailand heat – as the man roared off with the toddler.

CLASS. ACT.



Oh dear
September 29, 2008, 10:47 pm
Filed under: students

My little babies, the kindergarten kids, like to come flying at me with hugs, which is really adorable. However, they are at just the height that my stomach takes the weight of their head, and at 8:30 in the morning, after a weekend of food poisoning,  I realllly couldn’t handle that. So the Thai teacher explained that today, high fives were ok but that hugs were not – so when we were doing our warm up, prancing about and such, and I said “show me your stomachs!” (we had just learned the body parts and OH MY WORD you should see their little 5 year old wiggles and sashays when they have to show me their hips) several of them decided to show me MY stomach. Rather pointedly.
 
groooaaann.
 
This next happened in my last class, and all of these things happened in a single 50 minute period. Grade one students. I have no curriculuum right now – exams are done and we’re playing the waiting game until end of term. So they all gathered around on the floor for storytime (you should see them RUN when I pull out the book, and 30 six year olds chanting and acting along with you – beat THAT, bedtime story!).

28 of them were sitting. One boy was lying on his back, giggling. One boy was massaging and grabbing said boy’s penis, also giggling. THAT’S RECESS PLAY BOYS.

Another boy grabbed my skirt and tried to pull it up as I walked by. KID’S SIX.

Then, because we had read “Where the Wild Things Are” , I sent them back to their desks to draw their own monsters. WELL. One boy drew enormous breasts on his monster. Kid beside him yelled “Teacher! Teacher!” but, being an ESL student, he needed to mime, so he told on the kid by demonstrating breasts on himself. I walked over, and walked away trying very very hard not to laugh audibly and several boys, upon finding that Hun was not in trouble (because what can you do, really?! Right now he just associates breasts with his mom) and that teacher was amused, all stood up and started demonstrating their rather large breasts. Anything to make teacher laugh.
 
Oh dear.



Gross
September 28, 2008, 8:16 pm
Filed under: being foreign, food, idiocy (my own)

I just spent the weekend in the hospital. WELCOME TO THAILAND!

As part of the process to get a work permit and extension of stay for my visa, I need to take a course in Thai Culture. A two day course. The module on culture takes an hour and a half. I don’t know if that’s more insulting to me or to the Thais. I was signed up for this course, which was to take place in Bangkok very early in the morning – requiring a 4:30am wake up call and a 5:30 meet up. The gentlemen who were accompanying me and I had decided to travel together to split costs and to help each other find the way – one of them has a Thai wife that was coming along for the ride.

Both were shocked that I managed to make it to the meeting point without getting lost and, I imagine, simply giving up. The people I work with think I`m a helpless idiot, but that`s a story for another time.

At 2am, shortly before my alarm went off, I was curled in the fetal position in the bathroom, sure I was going to die. My stomach was killing me. However, this has happened before, where my grogginess in the middle of the night has led me to paranoia, and I went back to bed. In the morning I was rather sick, but I chalked that up to getting up at 4:30 in the damn morning and sucked it up.

By 7, I`ve taken a cab, a van, and another cab into central Bangkok where the kindergarten that was hosting the course was. The others went off to find some coffee; I wilted. And got dizzy. And couldn`t keep my head up.

Shit, I thought.

Finally, weighing my options, I went to the course instructor to ask him when the next time one of these courses would be offered: would it be worth waiting for the next one, or should I suck it up? He did me the enormous favour of having me sign in for the day and sent me home to bed.

However, not long after reaching home and getting to bed I realized that I was, in fact, dying. I won’t go into the gory details, but it turns out that I did in fact get food poisoning, and the stay in the hospital was not one of my high points. I needed help to shower, and that wasn’t the worst it got.

Now I’m at home, hoping I can go to work tomorrow, with a plethora of medications, each on a different schedule. The nurses were kind enough to get instructions printed for me in English, so I know when to take the pills, but I have no idea what they are. I have gotten used to taking mystery medicine from doctors who don’t have enough English to explain.

I wish that I was writing about some exciting Thai adventures or mishaps, crazy food or tourist attractions or trips but! alas – a hospital visit will have to do.

Gross.



quick! while the internet’s a-cookin’!
September 16, 2008, 12:15 am
Filed under: food, idiocy (other people's), Uncategorized

I have incredibly unreliable internet at the moment. Why oh why do people insist on putting passwords on their wireless connections? It just makes it harder for me to steal.

(For the record, I do pay for internet. However, foreigners cannot legally sign up for internet and things in Thailand until they have a legit work permit. It could take me a few months to get all the paperwork through. )

 

In Thailand, you can buy pig uterus at the grocery store; it’s packaged up nicely next to the steaks. Fallopian tubes and everything. You can replace pieces of human heart with pig heart: could you do the same, I wonder, with pig uterus? If so, would a shiny new pig uterus stop me from Puking My Guts Up and Passing Out In Public every month?

If anybody has any ideas as to what you can cook with pig uterus, please – send them, and any recipes, along.

 

Today I went shoe shopping. I detest shoe shopping. I only own three pairs of shoes – I cut down from four when I left winter behind. I hate only one thing more than shoe shopping, and that is jeans shopping. I steadfastly refuse to go jeans shopping, and instead have my father periodically mail me new batches of the exact same pair. That doesn’t work as well with shoes, however, and I think I went into every shoe store in the gigantic four storey mall I found myself in today. Apparently, plain black flat mary jane shoes are not in fashion. Apparently, flimsy ballet flats in an array of ridiculous colours and with no arch support to speak of are in fashion. Apparently, everybody and their mother wears stilettos all. the bloody. time.

Listen: polka-dotted ballet flats are amusing, and I am sure look simply charming when one is prancing about with one’s friends. But I need Clothes I Can Wear To Work, and pink and yellow polka dots don’t cut it. Not to mention, I am on my feet all day, and I teach 5 and 6 year olds. 120 5 and 6 year olds. Who think, at times, that I am a tree, and try to climb me, or fell me. I would not last five minutes in stilletos or satin ballet flats, even if I managed to get them safely through the rain on the way to work.

 

A flat pair of mary janes in black leather, however, seems like it is Too Much To Ask.