Tag Archives: chiang rai

The biggest lol-iday of my life.

When I first got to Thailand, I stayed in a hostel in Chiang Mai and was put in a room with three other girls; Amy, Pooja and Alex.

These girls turned out to be the three most hilarious, beautiful and ridiculous people I’ve ever met.  Straight away we bonded, and never stopped laughing the whole time we spent together.

Being a girl, it’s common to make friends with groups of other females, and unfortunately find there’s bitchiness and annoyances and other negative vibes happening in the group.  With this group of gals I sensed none of that; and it just felt so care free and fun to be with them.

Sadly, we all got placed at different schools, and whilst Alex and I were close by in Chiang Rai, Pooja and Amy were placed down South in separate locations.

So with this being the last weekend in Thailand for many of us, we agreed we had to meet up in Bangkok for a big old last goodbye.

I flew in from Bali on the Friday, checked into a hostel on the Khaosan Road where I met up with Cailin and Mayuree who I knew from teaching up in the North of Thailand.

IMG_2262 IMG_2266

At 4am Pooja arrived and came and got in bed with myself and Cailin.  It was so awesome to be reunited, and as we spotted each other we screamed and ran into a romantic embrace. The kind from the movies; but for some reason I’m eternally single so share these moments only with other gal pals.

IMG_2281

“Do not PISS” Slightly awkward as I’d already started.

The next morning Pooja and I made our way to the hotel that we would be staying in with Amy. (Unfortunately Alex was not yet in Bangkok so couldn’t join).

As a special treat; Amy had paid the majority of the price for staying in the hotel where the Hangover Part Two was filmed; The Lebua State Tower. The posh bit; not the bit at the beginning, which is more of a crack den really.

Pooja and I got there first; and we rocked up in a tuk tuk round the corner, with backpacks and plastic bags, pulled our heads up high and pretended we belonged in such an environment as we introduced ourselves to the reservations desk.

This place is a five star hotel. There was a man playing the grand piano, marbled floors, insanely comfortable seats. This certainly was no Khaosan Road Palace Inn.  (Which ironically, is very far from being anywhere near a palace, rather misleadingly).

We were escorted upstairs by a beautiful Thai lady in a power suit who showed us to our rooms; later joined by a bellboy with all our luggage.

We squealed with joy and delight as we noted our living room, sofa area, amazing marble floor and bathtub, kitchen area and huge fluffy white beds.

The bell boy then decided to watch and stare in silence as I struggled with the patio doors to the balcony, telling him and Pooja that we’d been given a dud room, before smiling, calmly taking a key from his pocket, and gently opening the door for me with great ease.

IMG_2282

We squealed some more, took some photos, and decided to hit the pool.

IMG_2294IMG_2305

We then went to the back to the room to wait for Amy. When she turned up we absolutely lost it. Although I’d spent New Years Eve with her in Chiang Rai, we hadn’t all been together since October.

It was like we’d never been apart. Straight away we were screaming and laughing together, and doing the whole “wah check us out, we’re at the hangover Hotel” girl thing.

We decided to go downstairs to the pool area, where we lay on the large circular sofas and enjoyed a cocktail each.

10941901_10104854440703811_3956798700730960452_n (1)

Everyone staying at this hotel looked like they belonged. They all had that certain look of class. We all had that certain look of not having had our hair cut in months and could probably do with some make up and clothes without holes in them. We styled it out regardless, and managed to pretend to be classy whilst ordering the cheapest drinks on the menu.

Pooja harbours a deep and intense fear of pigeons. There were loads of pigeons hanging around the pool area. When the drinks were brought over to us, we had a complimentary bowl of nuts to accompany them. Pigeons spotted said nuts, and well…went nuts. And then Pooja went nuts. And Amy screamed. And I got out my iPhone and videoed it.

And then the waiter tried to remove it, the bird got scared and catapulted into the swimming pool. At which point EVERY single posh person sat around the pool was watching us screaming at the flying vermin with total looks of disgust upon their stiff faces.

Being the eternal “want to save the world and all pigeons in it” wannabe hippie that I am, I then proceeded to strip off my dress, where luckily I had my bikini underneath and climb into the swimming pool to save the creature. I was then being shouted at that I would catch something from this bird (I’m not into bestiality so presumably not chlamydia) and was thankfully thrown a serviette rather than a condom.

I’m glad to say the bird was saved, and I didn’t catch any diseases from the creature, and we all survived to tell the tale.

We quickly knocked back our drinks, and proceeded to smuggle our own affordable booze into the room where we were super cool and grown up and pretending to be Biggie Smalls.

We showered, drank, joked about how this would be like the actual film, The Hangover, and generally got our sass on, whilst polishing, shaving and preening every part of our bodies.

11075209_10152664807502553_6188336080007883115_n

IMG_2310 IMG_2325

IMG_2322 IMG_2328

We took endless amounts of selfies, ya know, cos we don’t do this kind of vacay-ing often, before our friends Mayuree, Cailin, Grant and Emma arrived.

We applied yet another layer of lipstick before heading up to the Sky Bar at the top of the building, and that’s where the memories start to fade.

We had a beautiful view over Bangkok, and were surrounded by beautiful people in beautiful clothes and very over priced drinks.

IMG_2346 IMG_2354 IMG_2357

IMG_2366

We stayed for just the one before agreeing that as lovely as this was, it was time to hit Khaosan Road; the land of debauchery and backpackers.

IMG_2371 IMG_2372

It started in Burger King. We were there. Pooja had something revolving around crispy chicken. I had a fillet of fish burger. This we remember.

We then met up with the others who had taken a separate tuk tuk. There was a beer tower.

IMG_2404 IMG_2401

There was a club. There were more beer towers. Before we knew it a few hours had passed. Emma and Grant had gone home, Amy, Pooja and myself were in a state of intense slurring. Intensely slurring “I Love You” at each other. And then we had the amazing idea to get tattoos to show our deep and intense love and friendship, which we would always harbour for one another. Obviously.

Mayuree and Cailin have since helpfully filled us in on the remaining facts. We entered one of the many tattoo parlours on the road. Pooja announced that she requested a tattoo, and specified that she would like “one of your non HIV needles”. As if this was an option or service that the business provided.

We GOOGLE searched images unil we found what we wanted. Pooja wanted an elephant. I didn’t, I wanted a peace sign.

We kept running in and out on beer runs to the street vendors outside. We were sat downing Leo’s in tattoo chairs. At this point none of us have any memories.

IMG_2383
 

 

fully aware of how cringe inducing this is. The Wolfpack. 😎

 
We hear there were more trips to fast food chains, and then we disappeared into the night.

IMG_2389

I woke up with a very sore ear. I asked the girls what happened. They had no idea. I look in the mirror and I’ve got a piercing. Pooja says something about her ankle. She looks down and screams at the outline of an elephant blowing a Peace Symbol out of it’s trunk. It’s so sh*t we can’t help but laugh. She immediately explains that having a traditional Indian tattoo representing something through her Indian heritage would have been ok; her mother would respect that. But no. She got drunk as a fart on Khaosan Road and chose an elephant blowing a peace sign. Classic.

IMG_2391

I look down and have an equally as bad peace sign on my toe. Luckily it’s small enough for me not to really care.

IMG_2392

Pooja asks Amy who some guy is. Let’s call him Trevor. Amy replied “How do you know that name?!” in sudden shock and panic. Pooja calmly tells Amy that she was found in the middle of the night, passed out with phone resting on face, with Trevor just on the phone. Pooja walks over to Amy and takes phone, sees Trevor’s name on the phone, and kindly ends call. Trevor is a dark and distant ex boyfriend of Amy’s.

We spent the rest of the day stroking each other’s sore heads, equally combined with a great amount of ribbing of one another for poor life choices.

IMG_2406

And before I knew it Amy had to return to her town, as she had to be back at school on Monday.

I felt so sad, almost like those feelings you get when you break up with someone. My stomach ached form laughing so hard all weekend. These girls were the best. I love that I met them and I love that they entered my life and just made it so much better.

We headed back to Khaosan Road, minus Amy where we met up with Alex who was now in Bangkok.

IMG_2407

Thankfully, learning from the night before we took it easy and just had a few drinks.

Today we spent the day by the pool, laughing so hard again, stomach muscles (which I never knew I even had) hurting so hard through all the deep, intense laughs.

IMG_2459 IMG_2455 IMG_2443

I feel so sad to say goodbye to these people. I came to Thailand all alone, knowing no one. As soon as I met every single one of these girls I’ve met, we clicked. We laughed. We were SO stupid and messed around. I learnt a lot about myself, and learnt to stop over thinking, and to stop worrying about how I look, and learning that being beautiful really comes from having a bloody big old LOL.

I’m ready to leave Thailand now and to start a new chapter of my life, but I just wish I could take all these girls with me. I feel genuinely happy now. It’s not a false or a forced happiness. It’s a genuine warm, glowing feeling inside. I sit and think about all the times I’ve laughed so hard these past 6 months that I’ve snorted or even dribbled due to lack of ability to close mouth through crippling laughter.

I miss my kids from the school every single day, and the lovely teachers who worked there, I miss the girls I lived with in and around Chiang Rai and the girls I met in Chiang Mai at the beginning. I met the best people in Pai, and my travels to Bali completely resulted in me falling in love with the place and feeling feelings I hadn’t had for a while.

10532537_10152561227581345_752514385041272982_n

10599554_10154836140360541_573462910233524619_n 10881545_10154987557810541_4802733254073899543_n

1505531_10155290850185541_6636908436390082139_n

11001831_10155260521210541_7188834701009351436_n

10420390_10154926937725541_6190944354941363735_n 1614383_10152972112325199_162564572589693730_o

10989957_10155301616485541_2132662266705525175_n 11012670_10155347089455541_3585992934555813874_n 10942590_10155350511560541_6226118921645446474_n

IMG_2185

IMG_2187

IMG_2199

I sit here with a full grin. However I’m not sad, I’m ready to leave. I look forward to new developments in my life and to seeing the ones I love again. Thailand; you’re the best decision I’ve ever made. Peace out.

IMG_1924

Good-Bai Chiang Rai. Hello World.

I’ve met some amazing people in Chiang Rai. I’ve made friends that I will 100% keep for life. As a whole, I’ve been extremely happy here.

10689658_10153573719662738_3107248196850196798_n

When I arrived I was in a relationship. Unfortunately that relationship didn’t work, as we both realised that our lives were going in separate directions. It was sad however I think we could both see it coming. It was easier to move on knowing it wasn’t a loss of love; instead the realisation that there was no future between us.

I then became involved with one of my friends I had made in Chiang Rai. It is not my story to tell so I shan’t go into detail, however certain issues surrounding addiction reared their ugly heads, which a couple of weeks ago resulted in a situation which meant I could no longer be around that person, and didn’t feel safe.

So with the school term coming to an end the week just gone, I took the opportunity to leave school and Chiang Rai, spending a month doing a bit of soul cleansing and solo backpacking; getting away from negative influences in my life.

I was meant to stay in Chiang Rai for the month of March, just signing in every morning at 7am and returning again to sign out in the afternoon. Such a pointless idea, however they were still going to pay us for that month. The recent developments revolving my love life, combined with this knowledge meant I jumped at the chance to swiftly be able to leave town.   I handed in my notice, sacrificed my pay, and worked my final week in Kindergarten.

Having this radical change was a shock to me, and I suddenly felt myself completely not ready and terrified about leaving my little kids.

IMG_0587

Maxing and Relaxing after a 3 hour Nap

I had to finish testing them all for the final exams in English, and then awarding them with appropriate grades etc. After this was done I was able to have some fun with them and just play silly games.

IMG_0353

On Friday I went to The Big C (a large shop just outside of town) and bought the kids all sorts of sweets and fizzy drinks and other such naughty things so we could have a little party.

Fuelling them with sugar on a Friday afternoon, just before home time; I can guarantee the parents would not have been very impressed, but we had to celebrate. They all went nuts when they saw I’d got them cake, and all kinds of crisps and chocolate.

IMG_0740

IMG_0739 (1)

IMG_0739


IMG_0737

IMG_0738

A Series of Photos I call “My Spirit Animal”

So we sat on the floor and we watched cartoons and sang nursery rhymes until it was 4pm and time to go home. I gave each one a massive hug and inevitably broke down in tears, thinking what will come of all these amazing children I’ve spent the last few months with every day?

IMG_0652

Yes teaching and living in Thailand has been very hard at times; having to make way for big differences in standards of teaching and general cultural rules. But for every time I woke up and thought about how I couldn’t be bothered to deal with the politics and the bitchieness that happens all too often between Thai staff, I would think of those little kids, and how amazing it is to every morning have them running up to me and hugging me in mass and getting shouted “I love you” at you on a daily basis.

IMG_0521

My Morning Greeting

So with plenty of sobs and cuddles from the Thai and Filipino teachers, I took my backpack full of my current worldly possessions and headed off to the bus station to meet my friends for a last goodbye weekend in Chiang Mai.

IMG_0533

IMG_0668IMG_0675

IMG_0680

11010961_939770859389544_8134122376627207585_n

IMG_0821

IMG_0816

IMG_0817

IMG_0819

IMG_0820

We spent the last two days together; myself, John James, Alice, Grant, Emma, Bethel, Felicita, Cailin, Molly, Hannah and Antonia, eating all the amazing food which wasn’t ever available up in Chiang Rai. (Seriously; try being a vegetarian in a country where they think vegetarian just means anything but pork. I’ve eaten noodle soup every day since November).

Gal

Gal Pals For Life ❤

We all went for breakfast this morning at an amazing place called Good Morning Chiang Mai; where I had a croissant stuffed with scrambled egg and grated cheese; I’ve never been happier to eat something so basic.

When I returned from the toilet there was a notebook and some handmade organic soap on my seat. They’d all written me a personal message, which was just the loveliest thing ever. I feel so lucky to be so far from home yet have the most amazingly caring and wonderful souls surrounding me. There’s so much love in the world; it’s amazing to think all these random people all shoved into a situation side by side can form such strong and lasting bonds. It really touched me deeply.

10845662_10101777174814285_6196491903339811897_o

After saying our goodbyes, I wandered off to the bus station. I was suddenly overwhelmed with this feeling of total freedom. I was on the road again. I know everyone back home sees my Facebook and thinks my life is just a big old holiday, but I have been working really hard, and living in a small town such as Chiang Rai, you are somewhat restricted when it comes to freedom.

In my head, I started singing Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”; feeling free and proud to have achieved what I have on this trip. I feel as though I have bettered myself in more ways than one. I’ve tried to take on principles surrounding positivity, and more feelings of self-love. However don’t get me wrong; I’m still filled with moments of self-doubt and anxiety; but I feel I’m slowly learning to recognise what you should prioritise in life to fill yourself with happiness, rather than negative doubt.   Very slowly. But its happening.

As well as these philosophical improvements, I’ve also given up meat since the beginning of December (my favourite meal would have to be an absolutely massive, juicy sirloin steak, and Saturday’s are known to me and my friends back home as “Bacon Sandwich Day”); and have given up a ten-year DISGUSTING habit of smoking. (Sorry Dad). Its weird how I’d inhale that crap on and off for a decade, and now when I am next to someone smoking it repulses me. You can smell the stench on them and it’s utterly vile. I know I won’t go back to that. I guess I’ve finally grown up.

As I write this, I’m sat in a circus school and resort, in the small town of Pai; situated in the Mae Hong Son Province of Thailand. It’s renowned for being a hippy town, and although I’ve yet to explore, I can certainly say it’s living up to that. I’m sat with a Chang beer, whilst surrounded by dreadlocked travellers, practising fire juggling and tightrope walking. I know I won’t get dreads but am quite interested in juggling with fire to be honest.

IMG_0815

I finally feel free and at peace. I’ve got no one negative around me; I look around to mountains, forests and fire pits.

IMG_0809

Home for now

The accommodation is basic. I’m staying in a triangular hut, with holes in the floor and the roof. I’m living in fear that a snake will rear its head through the gap in the bamboo floorboards. Yet I’m insanely happy.

IMG_0807

A Lesson in Remembering How to Teach

Coming back to school after Christmas and New Year, I feel as lethargic and tired as I did when I was a student. The kids have been running riot, certainly not helped by the fact that their parents kindly fuel them with sugar for their breakfast, so it’s like having a class full of hyperactive monkeys flying around my ankles, literally jumping on my back and tugging on my skirt.

It’s been a wild few weeks, with “Children’s Day” where the children get to eat so many sweets and just dance all day, amongst other events that has filled them with excitement and cheer.

I'm in there somewhere

I’m in there somewhere

IMG_9168

IMG_9167

A picture from Children’s Day, where they get to dress “freestyle”, and many choose to wear princess dresses


Butter wouldn't melt...

Butter wouldn’t melt…

So after resuming normal lessons again this week, it was a challenge to regain control of the class, and to keep their attention.  It was time to step up my lesson planning game.

It’s easy as a teacher to deliver lessons, in which I just regurgitate junk, which is not interesting to a 5-year-old child, however you feel like you’re doing the right thing in the name of education. Maybe my TTT (Teacher Talking Time) needed to be reduced.

Therefore, I felt with their lack of interest and attention lately, I had to remember that I am teaching Kindergarten, and fun is the name of the game if I’m going to keep them interested and engage them more than I have been.

They don’t seem to get much story time; next to none from the Thai teachers and I am left with a very small selection of books printed in the English language. They’ve heard them all already and don’t seem to be inspired by hearing these dull stories about Terry the Turtle or Floppy the Rabbit for the millionth time.

So after a bit of using old trusty Google, I found some cut outs for paper puppets to go alongside the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

I coloured these in, and stuck them to old Popsicle sticks once they’d been cut out.

IMG_9298

First I used YouTube to play the fairy tale, alongside an animation. After this, to ensure they’d understood, I used the paper puppets I had made to retell the story, using stupid voices, and adding extra twists to the tale.

After this I handed out the paper cut outs to the children, asking them to colour them in and glue them to the Popsicle sticks themselves.

IMG_9302

IMG_9303

IMG_9310

This was a huge success, and the children loved it. Once they’d finished and had a full set of puppets each, I could see them acting out the story themselves too: quoting lines of “Who’s been sleeping in MY bed?” with their own puppets.

IMG_9308

IMG_9312

IMG_9316

IMG_9315

Helping to clean up the aftermath

It was lovely to see them so excited and captivated, speaking English when recognising parts of the story, and engaging themselves within the lesson, rather than sneaking off to exchange sweets and plastic rings in the toilets; which they seem to be rather fond of doing as of late.

So the lesson I’ve taken away from the past couple of hectic weeks, is not to forget that a good teacher is not one that just stands and talks; but one that intrigues and captivates. I must remember to get them to be as hands on as possible in order to ignite their lust for learning as much as possible.

Next week, the topic is “Eggs”. Having just finished my week’s lesson planning, there will certainly be a lot of hands on learning and experiments.

Christmas in Thailand

The last couple of weeks have just passed me like a whirlwind.  I feel as though I haven’t blogged in an age, and that Christmas was just a tornado of too much food and drink and nonsense, and now it’s all just gone for another year.

Christmas Eve saw the Christmas show here at the school.  I came in, full of Christmas cheer, which was amplified tenfold when I saw all the children dressed up in Santa Claus outfits, and sparkling dresses.  Even though this was not a huge holiday for them, they put such a lot of effort in which was really lovely to see.

IMG_8792

IMG_8806

We all walked over to the main hall, where Kindergarten all sat together, and the other grades sat behind.  After some speeches from teachers, it was time for the songs and dances to begin.

My class was second to go up, singing their rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”.  They were great, if a little shy with the rest of the school as their audience, however I was so proud, taking photos and videos like some over enthusiastic Mum.

We then sat and watched as the older children took it in turns to perform their songs and dances.  There were so many great acts from the kids, and it was so lovely to see smiles on everybody’s faces.

IMG_8817

IMG_8839

After the days antics it was time to get ready for the grown up side of Christmas.

IMG_8855

All our friends we have here in Chiang Rai and the surrounding towns live in accommodation that mainly consists of a double bed, a wardrobe, and a shower / toilet room.  Eating out here is so cheap; we don’t really have a use for kitchen.  As we were all away from our homes and families this year, we agreed that it’d be nice for us to have use of a house with a kitchen.  After looking online, it was clear that using Airbnb.com was our best option.  Not only did we manage to rent a place with a kitchen, it just so happened that it was a beautiful villa, with swimming pool and next to a little lake.

IMG_8852

The best bit being that as there were so many people wishing to make use of the house, split between us all, in only came to £7.92 per person.

A few of us went to the shopping centre, where we bought all the provisions necessary to see out Christmas, before returning to the house.  We had a lovely Christmas Eve with a handful of friends, where we wore Christmas hats, drank wine and danced to festive songs.

IMG_8857

We awoke on Christmas day to a beautiful misty haze hovering over the pool.  After cleaning up some clutter from the previous night, Emma made pancakes and eggs for breakfast, as we drank our coffees in the rising sun.  Being the first Christmas I’d ever spent out of England; it was certainly preferable to the freezing cold mornings I’d experienced every other year of my life.

1422410_10152520904446345_8210695313696862144_n

IMG_8863

IMG_8864

IMG_8866

IMG_8867

From here on we lazed by the pool, enjoyed some drinks, and slowly more and more friendly trickled in from finishing at their schools.

IMG_8870

IMG_8912

IMG_8889

IMG_8897

Finally, everyone was present, and an amazing Christmas dinner was cooked.  We all sat around and said Grace, before tucking in round a big make shift table, before retiring to the living room to watch Elf and feel fat.

IMG_8905

IMG_8908

There are some things that remain the same whether in the UK or Thailand.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

I Skyped back home to my parents last week, and was at first a little confused when they told me they were just sat by the log fire, relaxing with some sherry, after finishing decorating the Christmas tree.

Although it’s gotten noticeably colder here, its’ still 17 °C; a lot warmer the Christmases I’ve experienced so far in the UK. That, along with it being a predominantly Buddhist country, I had almost forgotten all about it being “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.

Another little nudge and reminder, was a meeting that was called between all the English teachers of the school; to announce that we shall be celebrating the festive season, next Wednesday, with a school show, where each year group must perform something for the rest of the teachers and students.

So this week has certainly helped to make things feel a little more festive. My kids have teamed up with the class next door, to perform a rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” It’s so lovely to hear them shouting and screaming the words, whether or not they’re actually the right ones, and their little faces light up with glee. Obviously you get the kids that aren’t really too keen on singing, like you do everywhere, however, I find the vast majority of the Kindergarten children absolutely LOVE screaming songs at the top of their lungs whilst dancing along at their own tempo.

We will keep practising this every afternoon until the show on Christmas Eve, so hopefully I shall be able to get a nice video of them on the stage.

Back in the classroom, the topic this week is “Magnets”. The children are really enjoying this, as it’s science, which of course allows the students to become more involved, and be mind blown by lots of cool experiments.

I started off introducing magnets to them by giving examples of ones we may find around the house or classroom.   We then wrote a table of objects, and then proceeded to test these items to see if they would be attracted to a magnet.

I then went on to explain the north and south poles of the magnet, and how these can either attract or repel. The kids tried this themselves, loving being able to feel the push and pull of the magnetic force.

We then went on to play a game of fishing. I tied some string to a blunt pencil, and on the other end, tied a small hoop magnet. I then printed out lots of paper fish, and on each fish, placed a small paperclip. The children then got into teams, where they had to race, one student at a time, in a relay fashion, and each catch a fish. The first team to catch all their fish were the winners. The children loved this, and it was a nice little treat, at the end of a topic.

IMG_8487

As the week draws to a close, and magnets have been discussed in as much depth as possible with 5 year olds, it is time to start the Christmas festivities.

I’d been to the educational supply store earlier in the week, where I’d picked up some tinsel and things, to make the classroom look a little more festive.

We’d also previously made some elf masks, with paper glasses and hats, which the children loved, and looked incredibly cute in.

IMG_8363

IMG_8357

We began today by going over “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” again. We are getting closer to not having “you’d better watch out” as EVERY LINE.

Even though being of a different religion, the children are more than familiar with the Christmas songs, and images of the big man in red, Rudolph, and the decorations that surround the holiday.

So therefore I thought it’d be a nice idea for the children to make their own stockings. I drew a rough template of a Christmas stocking, which I drew around on red craft paper, and cut out one for each of the children.

IMG_8516

IMG_8517

I then asked them to draw a nice picture on their stocking, of anything that reminded them of Christmas. I got lovely results back, with the children drawing pictures of reindeers, snowmen, and writing sweet messages on them to parents. I then gave them all some cotton wool balls, with which they made a white trim at the top of the stocking. These were then hung on their personal cupboards at the back of the classroom.

IMG_8525

The children returned from their snack, and I had the second part of their Christmas crafts ready to go.

I’d been to the local shopping centre earlier in the week, and bought enough candy canes for them to have two each. I then gave each child one pipe cleaner, two goggley eyes, and one red ball.

Wrapping the pipe cleaner around the candy canes, which were turned away from each other, this bound them together, so that they looked like antlers. They then put a little PVA glue on each of the eyes and the nose, and then stuck these to the pipe cleaner to make a face.

IMG_8529

And ta-da: just like that the children had their own little Rudolphs to hang on their stockings. This was so simple, but the kids absolutely loved it, and couldn’t contain their excitement. Luckily I managed to grab a few quick snaps just before the pipe cleaners were hectically cast aside and the candy canes devoured like there was no tomorrow.

IMG_8526

IMG_8539

IMG_8544

IMG_8547

All I can say is with that much sugar, I can only apologise to their parents, for how energetic those kids will at bedtime. Sorry.

IMG_8552

Trip to the zoo \ new experiences as not to become ostrich-cized

Last week I was in school, carrying on, business as usual with my Kindergarten class.

In the middle of teaching, another lady from the Kindergarten department politely knocked on my door, and asked me to sign a piece of paper, all in Thai.  This was nothing out of the ordinary, however I later released that I’d just agreed to being held partly responsible for helping to take all the kids to the zoo, and if any were lost or harmed, I’d be in a lot of trouble.

So the next day, in I came to school in my trousers, and best mind frame, to help take several mini bus loads of 5 year olds to Chiang Rai Zoo.

IMG_7982

Only my 5 year olds come with this much swag.

So all the kids were lined up with military precision, bar the odd finger up nose and kicking each other in between the legs; and I was assigned 17 little people, who speak no English, and told not to lose them, and to meet at “The Zoo”.

Onto a mini bus we climbed, whilst the driver lowered the television so we could all view some child friendly cartoons, as I’m sure you would imagine.  However; no.  Instead he decided to play a series of incredibly sexualised music videos, full of scantily clad girls, making very awkward suggestive dance moves, whilst all the five year olds on the bus sang along to every word perfectly.

After a 15 minute journey of both disbelief and actual travelling, we arrived at “The Zoo”.  We all offloaded from our separate mini buses and made our way to the front entrance, where there was a big sign in Thai, which one can only assume said something along the lines of “Welcome to the Zoo’.  Or perhaps no one even really knows.

We continued to get the children into some kind of order, with the head of Kindergarten bringing with her a microphone, attached to a mini amp, held in her handbag.  I thought that was a great touch (!)  Again, the children got orders screamed and shouted at them, which saw them stomp their feet in unison and scream things back in Thai.  I looked on in bemusement, trying to help with whatever I could, which generally speaking is trying to get them to stop eating whatever they find up each other’s noses.

IMG_7994

The chaos of organising Kindergarten

Thailand wouldn’t be Thailand without around a half an hour interval for photo taking, with an array of different poses, from the one finger in the air (bringing back thoughts of The Fugees singing “Killing Me Softly” from the 90’s) to a very enthusiastic thumbs up from all involved.

IMG_7999

IMG_8003

After this, one of the staff from “The Zoo” took the microphone and handbag amp, and took us over to an open shed, where lots of cages lay.  From these cages, he proceeded to pull a series of reptiles.  Showing these to the children, they were all amazed, some a little scared, however it was good fun and a few of us enjoyed holding them.  And then he brought out two tarantulas,  at which point I made a fierce jump to the furthest possible point.  Still holding some form of lizard, too petrified to go near the staff / tarantulas, I spent a good 15 minutes watching from under a far tree, as the guy proceeded to shove these massive spiders in the faces of screaming 5 year olds, even placing one on top of a child’s hat, and laughing as the child had no clue.

IMG_8007

IMG_8011

IMG_8013

blluurrrgggghhh

blluurrrgggghhh

Once I’d been fully assured by a fellow teacher that these spiders were back in their boxes, I approached the staff, to remind them that I was still holding one of their reptiles.  With great thanks, (as he’d certainly not realised) he took the lizard and replaced it in its cage.

From there we moved on to these angry looking “Alligator Snapping Turtles”.  I’ll tell you this much.  They were not crocodiles; which is what this guy informed the children they were.  However, I chuckled and we moved on to the goats.

The ever famous "crocodile".

The ever famous “crocodile”.

Or the goats moved on to us.  We were all stood around the water tank when a herd suddenly charged, and joyfully jolted around these 5 year olds. The same height as the goats.   Which was beautiful to watch.  I don’t know who was bleating / screaming in each other’s faces more.

IMG_8020

After some goat feeding we moved on to the giant tortoises, and then some snakes kept in Tupperware (I didn’t agree with this place at all, and did have continued sympathy for these creatures), finishing with the salamanders kept in a tank roughly the same size as them.  It wasn’t nice, and it was far from a zoo, and I did point this out many times, however this is the norm for them, and they’ve never seen a zoo, or an animal rehabilitation centre like we have in the West, and I guess I just felt obliged to go along with it, even though this did result in me feeling somewhat guilty.  However, I still found myself taking a selfie with a giant tortoise.

IMG_8027

IMG_8036

We then made our way about ten minutes back towards town, to Wana Ostrich and Horse Farm.

Here, we sat on mats that we had brought with us, and unloaded the packed lunches whilst the children fed themselves on rice and juices.  Meanwhile, the Kindergarten department had seemed to have paid for quite the spread for the teachers; as we tucked into piping hot roasted chicken, crunchy pork, and steaming rice with coconut milk.

After this, THE WHOLE group of children queued up to take it in turns to ride on a horse and carriage.  The horse and carriage took about 8 children at once.  There was one horse and carriage.  So I spent an hour and a half entertaining the rest of the waiting kids, by pretending they were aeroplanes and flying them over my shoulders.  Who needs the gym when you teach Kindy, hey?

IMG_8054

IMG_8057

IMG_8043

IMG_8219

When the children had finished their turns on the horse and carriage, they were allowed to enter a paddock, which contained a few sheep, some goats and a couple of small donkeys.  Before this, the kids were encouraged to spend their 20Baht they’d each brought with them, on buying a bunch of grass, with which to feed the animals.  However, in this case, the animals had thought of a cunning plan, in which to outsmart these tiny people.  As soon as the children entered the paddock, the animals bombarded them.  All being the same height, whilst the kids were screaming with joy and excitement, the animals went straight for them, and grabbed the food right out of their hands.

IMG_8059

IMG_8065

This, I have to say, is where most of this month’s wages went.  On me buying them all a fresh load of grass, and carrying it to the middle of the paddock for them, so that they could get further than two metres inside, without the whole lot being grabbed.

They ran around some more, playing arcade-like games, shooting targets, and throwing darts at balloons, before we all made our way over to the ostrich section.

IMG_8068

IMG_8077

A very lovely Thai man took his time to explain to the children that ostriches are birds, and they lay huge eggs, and people like making handbags out of them, etc etc.  All this time there were two very angry looking ostriches behind him, running in circles sporadically around a pen, with a huge sign saying “Ostrich Riding…Once Time In Your Life”.  (Please note this was not MY typo for once).

At the end of the educational talk, I jokingly asked one of the Thai teachers if she’d take a ride on an ostrich.  Before I could do anything to stop this, she was excitedly telling the farm owner that the white chick wanted a go on the ostrich, whilst the entirety of Kindergarten erupted with “Chai Teacher Kate!  Chai!”.  You don’t have to be Thai to realise they wanted me to ride that massive bird.

IMG_8129

With severe apprehension, but wanting to do anything to make those little faces smile, I ducked under the fence, into the pen, and hesitantly towards the largest bird in the world.  They gave me a little step ladder, whilst one of the younger men pulled a blindfolded ostrich toward me.  Being rather famous for not being the brightest of creatures, not being able to see what was happening, made the ostrich very docile, and it just stood there as I slowly and shakily climbed up its back, hooking my feet underneath its wings.  There were no reins, and no saddle, so I was told to hold on by grabbing onto its wings, right by its armpits….or wing-pits if you will.  I leant back, and was asked if I was ready.  Not being able to speak through apprehension and sheer confusion, I grunted, and the bag was whipped of its head.  The children and staff cheered, as the bird suddenly realised it had a passenger.  I screamed as I suddenly realised I was on an ostrich.

Note the RIDICULOUS bag over its head

Note the RIDICULOUS bag over its head

It ran around the track wildly as I clung on for dear life, screaming and laughing, and thinking “my friends at home have actual jobs and I’m riding an ostrich”.  (Don’t take that the wrong way Dad, I still have a very serious job out here).

Here’s a series of photos to highlight the experience.  SO stupid:

IMG_8195

IMG_8196

IMG_8199

IMG_8202

IMG_8203

IMG_8204

IMG_8205

IMG_8207

It lasted just a few minutes and was scarier than Space Mountain, however I loved it.  My only regret was not having my GoPro camera attached to my head to film it all.

IMG_8210

After

Maybe I’ll just have to go back.

And with that, and very sore back side, it was time to return to school.

I’d had a brilliant day, even though some parts went against what was right in my eyes, the kids were screaming with joy and delight, and when that’s how you finish your day; how can you  be sad?

Wat We Did at Wat Rong Khun.

Although, as I am fast discovering, there is an endless list of things to discover here in Chiang Rai, when researching the city before moving, there wasn’t a lot that came up on Google searches.  However, the one thing that did appear repeatedly, and I feel is the main pull for tourism to the area, is Wat Rong Khun, more commonly referred to as the White Temple.

10808_10154903847190294_947162599358865591_n

Wat Rong Khun differs hugely from the endless amount of temples you see in this country.  Apart from the main fact that it is white, with the majority of Thai temples being bright colours, mainly gold and red, Wat Rong Khun also has contemporary aspects to it, which makes it a more unconventional Buddhist Temple.

10483254_10154903851445294_5083565953100029458_n

1599317_10154861653230541_1466936780872864585_o

The temple is the brain child of Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, and was built in 1997.  What makes the temple stand out as a symbol of the modern world is that it takes the beauty of traditional Thai art, however brings it a modern twist.  Upon first glance, the gardens surrounding the temple appear rather traditional and nothing out of the ordinary.  However, upon closer inspection, you see that the delicate architecture is made up from a pit of twisted hands, reaching up.

10687023_10154903848100294_5622418620165787846_n

Inside the main room, the art looks beautifully ornate, with images of Buddha everywhere.  However, peer a little closer, and you will find some Sneaky Prawns from the film District 9, or perhaps a minion from Despicable Me; and I think I’m right in remembering I saw Chewbacca from the Star Wars trilogy in there somewhere.  Unfortunately there were strictly no cameras within the main hall of the temple, so you will just have to take my word for it.

10422543_10154903849290294_2666454245486246055_n

We wandered around the grounds some more, dazed at how the sunlight reflects in the surrounding moat, and dances on the white walls of this incredibly individual building.  I fear that on a cloudy day, the impact would not be as wonderful.

10392546_10154842143360541_6966589927774983810_n

Some of the building is being reworked, due to damage caused by an earthquake, that struck the district on 5th May 2014.  At first, the damage was thought to be so severe that the temple would have to be demolished; however, upon closer inspection, only some parts need to be restored.

It is a simply breathtaking building, and I cannot stress enough, that if you ever find yourself in this beautiful city, certainly pay Wat Rong Khun a visit.  I don’t know why I waited so long until I did so myself.

10370439_10154903848335294_8094763209488310277_n