Tuesday, February 27

a shiny eye on you

I seem to have some picture posting issues to deal with. Not sure if it's the kind of pics I'm trying to post or what. Anyhow, here's one cool one of the dragon eye on the walk up to Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. I will try yet again to post more later.

The only news is that I am really loving reconnecting with community here and excited about starting to teach again tomorrow, even though I haven't prepared for that yet. I am teaching two classes this semester, only two days a week: Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Yay!
I tried my hand at Thai cooking for my first time last night. I made curry and sweet and sour vegetables, which were good, but the steamed banana cakes which were so cute and good at the cooking class were not such a success. Ah well, two out of three is not so bad.
I just had a lovely skype chat with my sister and brother in law with their webcam hooked up for the first time! Fun times.

Thursday, February 22

home in Yanji

I said goodbye to Bangkok last night on the back of a songthaew to connect me to the bus to the airport. Such a beautiful, warm night. I arrived in Yanji today at 4 after spending all day at the Seoul Incheon airport because of crazy thick fog that lasted all morning and delayed my flight by almost 5 hours! The airport was so full of people because nobody was leaving. I had slept a little on the flight from Bangkok to Seoul, then a little in the transfer lounge, but I was nervous that I would miss my flight, but it turned out I had PLENTY of time. It was kinda a wasted day because I was too tired to really focus on reading or anything else, but anyway, now I'm back and it's good.

I got to meet with some friends tonight for good fellowship and it feels so good to be here. A lot to do in the next few days to get my apartment cleaned up and get ready for class. I still don't have internet at home, so it'll take a few days to get that sorted and then I'll try to post the last of my Thailand pics that I've been trying to unsuccessfully for the past few days.

Monday, February 19

last day in Chiang Mai

I am trying to post pictures, but it's not working. It might have to wait until I get back to China. I met up with a friend of a friend yesterday, ate at her mom's cafe, and then she showed me around a little. She took me to an import food store where I bought chocolate chips and some really great bread. She showed me where their fellowship meets and then I took a songthaew up the hill to Doi Suthep, where there is a wat and a nice view of Chiang Mai. She also bought me Thai iced tea to go- my first drink in a bag! Pictures to come later, hopefully.

Today, I'm taking a one day Thai cooking class. I'm looking forward to it. I'll be off to Bangkok tomorrow morning, spend the day there, and then take the night flight to Seoul then back to Yanji on Thursday morning. I'm ready to get back, but I'm certainly gonna miss this sunshine.

Saturday, February 17

sunset and trek

Sunrise on Koh Samet, Ao Nuan beach.

Yesterday's trek began with an elephant ride. I got this elephant. She's been pregnant for almost two years! That means she's due sometime soon.

We walked through and around some beautiful rice and soy bean fields then up to a waterfall.

Some of us took a quick dip in the cold water after a few pictures.

Then we visited a Karen village of weavers. I'm sure they see a lot of tourists everyday, but they were still full of smiles and we enjoyed learning a little about them and seeing them working. We took a bamboo rafting ride at the end of the afternoon and then came back to our hostel to dry off before heading out to a night market last night for street food and shopping.

Bangkok, beach, weaving

I didn't get these pictures up in the same groups as I intended, but anyway...Isn't Thai writing beautiful?

This is on a boat taking us home one afternoon in Bangkok. Wouldn't it be cool to have a boat as part of your commute? Notice how Thais have a fondness of yellow. We asked some questions about this and apparently (correct me if you know better) the king was born on the day of the week that is represented by yellow, so people honor him by wearing yellow.

The day before we left Bangkok, we went to the Vimanmek palace (which was beautiful, but we couldn't take pictures). On the same grounds there is this building, which is a throne palace, I think. It looked a lot like the capital!

A collage of beach pictures. We had a wonderful, relaxing time on the beach. The part of the island we went to was recommended in my Let's Go book that my mom sent me. It doesn't have a phone, so it doesn't take reservations, but we were lucky and got a bungalow there. It even had my name as part of the name of the bungalow! We slept under mosquito nets, took dips in the beach multiple times a day, watched gorgeous sunrises, sunsets, and stars at night, and ate really delicious food cooked by the family that owned the spot in a beautiful tiered courtyard. A wonderful, relaxing time.

Yesterday, we went on an organized trek south of Chiang Mai. This is a Karen weaver in one of the villages we visited.

Friday, February 16

in Chiang Mai

We spent three nights and two days on Koh Samet on a lovely cove shared with only 8 other bungalows. It was amazing. I had no idea Thailand was so wonderful. I will try to post some pictures in the next few days.

Now, after a songthaew, ferry, bus, taxi, plane, and another taxi, we are in our hostel in Chiang Mai. It's a beautifully cool night. We walked down the street from our hostel in search of dinner and stumbled on an absolutely delicious French restaurant. I had beef slow roasted in wine with salad, pasta, and fresh baked bread for less than four dollars. Do I have to leave this magical country?

Monday, February 12

off to an island

Three of us are off in just a few minutes to an island, Ko Samet, just 4 hours or so Southeast of Bangkok. A few last pics from Sunday before I go:

Various bugs on sale at the market for snacking:

They have even better flavors of potato chips here than in China!

Sunday, February 11

back in Bangkok

We got back into Bangkok yesterday. Last night we ate at a great little open restaurant and had roti with our meal. The ladies are making it below.
Today, we went to the Grand Palace. It was impressive, sad, huge.... Interesting architecture, for sure.

Taken from the reflection of a mirror tiled wall. (My friends idea, not mine, unfortunately.)

We're all beat after a long day. A few of us are still having issues adjusting to the heat. The past few days have been much hotter than what we're used to!

Sunday, February 4

somewhere north

We will soon be off to somewhere north of Bangkok, so I'll be away from internet for a few days.

A few more pictures:Fans at the market.Popsicles. I tried one. They're only 3 baht (10 cents or so?) and the last taste you get has a bit of salt in it because of the salt ice water that freezes them.
I was watching this kid play in a plastic bag, thinking about all those warnings about bags and children we hear in the West. This kids parents were watching, though.

Then, the kid chases a dog and puts the dog in the plastic bag! I gasped when I saw it and almost rescued the dog, but then this lady told the kid to stop. Poor little dog!

Bangkok 3

The colorful traffic of Bangkok, near Siam square.
For the dog lovers. Notice his cutoff denim jacket!
I tried my first real coconut today. Served with a straw and spoon.
Riding the songthaew (the pickup truck I described yesterday) on the way back tonight.
Thai diet coke (coke light) on my desk here at the guesthouse. A nice way to finish a day: diet coke and wireless.

Bangkok 2

Above are a few more scenes from yesterday at the market: my lunch, strings of lights, fruit juice sales, my dinner, squid, the rush for the bus, more fruit, and mice for sale.
Today, I went with friends who came in last night to a fellowship meeting and then to the downtown, name brand shopping section of Bangkok. Not much to report on there, just a nice food court. We wandered around the streets outside the nice malls for a while. This altar had lots of red drinks with straws in them as offerings to the idol.
Shrines like this seem to be pretty common. The flowers they sell nearby to offer to the god are really beautiful. So sad that it's a waste.
We took the sky train to the market I went to yesterday because they wanted to look for some souveniers for friends. These signs are on the end of each row of seats.
When we got off the skytrain, I envied this guy taking it easy in the park.

Saturday, February 3

Chatuchak Market

I'm lucky to be staying in a place for these first few nights in Bangkok with wireless internet for only 10 baht per day, which is like 30 cents or so. So it's easy for me to make that collage and post pics from my laptop. I found out how to use the songthaew, which is the only public transportation that comes by where I am staying, to get to the bus line this morning. I got instructions to go out to the road, cross it, and wait for the car with two seats in the back to come along. I went out to where I was told, but then I realized I didn't really know what the car was supposed to look like. I got near some other people who looked like they were waiting and followed what they did. The songthaew is like a small pickup with the bed covered like a covered wagon. There are two parallel bench seats along the sides and when those are full people stand in the middle. You ring a bell to tell the car when to stop and then walk to the front of the car and pay the driver. I took that and then a bus to this huge weekend market. I read that it's the biggest market in the world.
They have lots of tempting food vendors as well as cafes. These litte guys were at work making fried quail eggs! In Korea, these are usually boiled and then peeled to eat. I've never seen them fried. How cute!
There were a lot of vendors pouring strange combinations of liquids in these metal tubes. I figured out later that they were popsicles.
I walked around the market from about 10 until 6, with a lunch and dinner break plus a rest in the adjacent park. There are people who will rent you a mat to sit on so you won't have to sit on the grass. I chose to sit on the grass. I noticed these guys not too far from me who managed to fit three men lying down on one mat.
The brochure for this market says that if you can't find what you're looking for at this market, you probably can't find it in Bangkok. They did have an amazing array of stuff. In the vintage section of the market, I walked past one booth that even had Cabbage Patch dolls. That brought back a few memories of my childhood!

Friday, February 2

in Bangkok!

I got into Bangkok last night after a 6 something hour flight from Seoul. I followed the very helpful directions to take public transportation as far as I could to the place where I'm staying and then took a taxi the rest of the way. I have to say that the experience of finding my way on public transportation is fulfilling in a way. Of course, part of it is because I am a cheapo in many ways (thanks to my Dad, I think), but part of it is because it feels like I'm more a part of the real life in whatever city I'm in. I took the free shuttle to the bus terminal and found that the bus I was told to take had stopped running for the night, but a nice security man who spoke just enough English told me another bus I could take and then helped me get on with my luggage. I told the ticket lady where I wanted to go. A nice guy got up and gave me his seat so I wouldn't have to squish in the back with my luggage. The ticket lady took my money and then told me where I should get off. Then I took a taxi. Everybody along the way helped me with a smile.

I woke up this morning to birds singing. I opened my window to a beautiful blooming bouganvilla. I'm wearing sandals and short sleeves and I'm off to the market. Yay!