Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas!

So as you might have guessed, Christmas was a little different this year. For starters it wasn’t cold, there was no real Christmas build up, and my family wasn’t here. Although it wouldn’t be what I am used to, I was excited because the kids were bouncing off the walls. Anyways, our Christmas Day looked a little like this…

-       Insa, Riley, Mira, and I had a fairly “normal” Christmas morning. We woke up early, sat around the tree my family sent me (you guys are the best), opened our packages from home, and ate breakfast. It was even kind of cold, which made it feel even more home-y haha.

-       Since Thailand is primarily a Buddhist country, Christmas is not usually a holiday that is celebrated… therefore we had school. Insa and I just had classes in the morning, which were filled with Christmas coloring pages, music, musical chairs, and treats.

-       The party started around two with the entire school. The theater was decorated with a tree, balloons, signs, etc. Everybody was so excited! It began with many traditional Thai dances, and a few silly dances as well. All of the students that were danced in beautiful costumes, next time I will try and get some better pictures of them!

-       About half way through the party, Santa Claus made an appearance. Oh, and how did he arrive?! VIA ELEPHANT! Yes, we were all freaking out. All of us volunteers and staff knew that this would be happening, but we were still through the roof ecstatic. So Santa came up the hill, waved to all of the students, and proceeded to the theater. Each student got to go up on stage and receive a present from Santa. We were SO impressed because the kids got their present, and they all were waiting so patiently to open until everybody was ready. Of course there were a few sneak peeks, but for the most part they did so good!

-       While Santa was talking to the students, many of us were taking pictures with the elephant. I will admit, I was terrified. But then Riley and I were offered to ride the elephant, and of course we jumped at the opportunity. You will notice Riley is holding my hand, trying to calm me down hahaha.

-       Everybody ate dinner together in the theater, and the party wrapped up. All of the kids were playing with their new toys, students were dancing and everybody was smiling.

Overall, Christmas was a huge success! Being away from family and friends was weird, but I actually has an amazing holiday. Thank you to all of my family and friends who sent me cards, packages, or messages… it made me feel so special J Also to top it all off, I got to skype in Christmas morning. I watched everyone open presents and was totally part of the action! I know it sounds crazy but it felt like I was actually there. I am so thankful for modern technology! Anyways, I hope everyone is having a wonderful and safe holiday season back home.

Brough family Christmas 2013!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December, wait what?!

Happy December ladies and gents! I can't be the only one totally weirded out that it is almost Christmas time, right? Here in Thailand, it pretty much seems the opposite of Christmas season. Not that our holiday spirit is at a low, but it is so hot out! Since all of the volunteers will be missing Christmas this year with our families, it is nice to feel like we have a home away from home. We are all in the same boat, so we have tried to incorporate the holidays as much as possible! Ten of our students along with a few volunteers recently sang at the Le Meridien hotel in Khao Lak. The students worked so hard over the last month and learned the lyrics to Jingle Bells, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Clause Is Coming To Town. Riley and I came to enjoy the show and were absolutely impressed. Of course we couldn't help get our picture taken with Thai Santa either. I also forgot to mention that the Le Meridien was absolutely gorgeous! It was right on the beach, the pool was so inviting, and everything we saw looked great. If you ever need a place to stay in Khao Lak, I would totally look into it!

The Yaowawit kids caroling at the Christmas tree lighting.
Our Santa picture this year, haha :)
As I mentioned above we have had some excellent weather lately. This has allowed for us to have quite a few beach days, and a trip to the waterfall. When I first got to Thailand Anna, Lan, Robbie and Seeba brought me to Memories beach. Anna and I returned almost every weekend and made friends with some of the workers. Anna you will be happy to know they remember us! After being closed all rainy season, I went back with Riley and Insa for the first time of the season. It was everything I remembered it to be! Being the beach bums we love to be, I think it is safe to say Memories beach will be our number one beach hang out for our time here.

Beach sunset in Khao Lak
On Tuesday, we had the day off of school for Teacher's day! So Insa, Riley and I decided to celebrate our teacher-ness and go on a hike to a nearby waterfall. I had been there once before when Chrissy and the Linfield boys were here, but I had not been back since. Since I was the only person that had been there before, I was in charge of directions and getting us there. Being the directionally challenged person I am, I was a little nervous but it all worked out! We had lots of fun, and the water was refreshing aka freezing, which is a nice change of pace for Thailand.

And lastly, the grade three kids acting as a transport system to their friend who had just had some teeth pulled at the dentist. They were cracking me up!

November Happenings.

Lately it seems as if the weeks have been flying by, and I cannot believe that it is already almost mid December! Since it is half-way through November, I figured it was only appropriate to write about November...whoops. We have been very busy here at Yaowawit with school, Loy Krathong, Thaisgiving, Patong beach, etc. I know I still have a few months left, but I am already slightly panicking that the days are slipping away too quickly.

November 17th was the Loy Krathong festival. This is a time when people build these elaborate little floats made from banana leaves, flowers, and a piece of tree trunk. In the middle is three incenses and a candle. At night, we all went to the river to set our Krathongs free as a symbol of letting go of the negativity in your life. It was truly a beautiful experience, and so fun to see the kids truly in their element.

This year a new holiday was born, Thaisgiving! Riley and I being the only Americans here, felt it was necessary to introduce Thanksgiving with our own spin on it. It turned out we had a nice family style bbq, and then the celebration began. We dressed in our most American clothing and it ended up being be more like the 4th of July than Thanksgiving, but no complaints here!

The last weekend in November the students went home, this meant a free weekend for the volunteers! We decided to venture to Patong beach, which is in Phuket and about two hours from Kapong. It was a wild weekend full of dancing, food, and beach time. Patong is one of those places you don't need to go often, but when you do it is a guarantee for a great (exhausting) time. Also we FINALLY saw Catching Fire! It was so good, I could sing its praise for literally an hour or two. I was so impressed by how they literally brought the book to life, and after seeing it I wanted to immediately watch it again.

Needless to say November was a complete success. It is hard to believe that I have already been back for over a month, time is FLYING!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Nerding out.

So I have kind of turned into a Youtube feen. At home I usually fall asleep watching Netflix or reading, but here in the jungle (when the internet works) youtube has filled my Netflix void. I think I am about 10 years behind everyone, because I just realized people have there own channels, you can subscribe, and yada yada. Also the more you watch a certain “youtuber” you realize all of the “youtubers” know each other in real life, and they appear in each others videos… it is kind of like a cult… that I am getting great entertainment out of. I figured since I am now an avid youtube user, I can share some of my favorite videos. I also realize that most of you might never watch these videos, BUT there are lots of freezing cold, rainy days when you will have nothing better to do :)

If you are looking for a youtuber to subscribe to:
My go to girl on Youtube goes by the name of Zoella. She is from the UK and posts anything from beauty tutorials, hanging out with her friends, favorite videos, lookbooks, etc. Her accent is awesome and as of recently in my head I am speaking in her accent hahaha, creepy I know. Well anyways she is quite funny, and around the same age as me and we have similar interests. Below is the link to her channel in case you find yourself bored. 

If you feel the same way about Taylor Swift as I do:
This is from when she recently received the Pinnacle award! It goes through many of Taylor's accomplishments, and you get to see how proud she is and rest of the world is of her. Obviously it goes without saying that I am Taylor obsessed, but don't worry if you cry when you watch it, I did of course.

If you love hearing other people laugh:
Literally that's what the commercial is haha, but considering I love to laugh... it is one of my favorites. Simply a good message, and a really cute old man.

If you love a good proposal:
So this guy went totally above and beyond, way over the top.. and it's awesome. This girl obviously was so happy. Yes, I know it's long and some parts are cheesy..but just watch the whole thing. This guy just earned brownie points for life.

If you liked the couple above:

If you need to hear someone who knows what they are talking about:
Ashton or should I say Chris Kutcher, makes an awesome speech while accepting an award at the Teen Choice Awards. It makes you feel good to hear his speech, and it is very motivating. I absolutley loved this. Also if you need a little "kick in the pants" it seems pretty alright to have a hot Ashton Kutcher tell you if you ask me.

If you need another reason to love Jennifer Lawrence:
In my eyes she is one of the funniest, most down to earth celebrities. Literally you can watch any interview with her and crack up, she just seems so normal! Also, I saw Catching Fire this past weekend... AMAZING. You should also check out any video between Jlaw and Josh Hutcherson.

So I realize as I am writing this that I look like I sit on my computer and watch youtube all day. I swear I actually do real life things in Thailand and love it. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Living a parallel life?

Somehow while going from website to website, I found this list. It's a list of 100 things you learn while backpacking. At first I thought I might write my own; but the more I read, the more I realized how many similar experiences this author and I share. Also I love her wording and the way she writes! But seriously when I was reading this, I felt like she must have been traveling with me (besides when she talks about Europe haha). Enjoy :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Welcome (back to) the jungle!

Here I am, back in the jungle! After going home for about 6 weeks, I am here again in Thailand and loving it. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about returning after being home and seeing all of my friends and family. Turns out, six weeks at home was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries.

Once I landed in Phuket I was so excited to see the kids, I could barely stand myself. Unfortunately I didn’t get back to Yaowawit until after 11pm, so I had to wait until the following day. The next day seeing all of the kids, meeting the new volunteers, and seeing the staff was the Thai staff was the best! It felt almost as if I never had left but everything was exciting and new again. Also the Yaowawit volunteers welcomed a new volunteer who is a friend of mine from home, Riley! Having someone from home here in Thailand can make a world of difference. I am so excited that she decided to take the plunge and join me in Kapong.

Su brushing her teeth after lunch
So far teaching has picked up right where it left off. I think the month of October was just what everyone needed. The students and staff are all in high spirits and ready to take on second semester. This semester along with the other volunteers, I am taking a thai class from one of our teachers K. Tak. Of course we aren’t expecting to come out of it fluent, or anywhere close; but maybe after this term I will know more than how to order food!

Rainy season is FINALLY coming to a close. It was a longgggggg few months, and I am very much looking forward to some sunshine and a good tan. Right now it is kind of in-between seasons, so in the transition we are getting a little rain every evening along with crazy thunder and lightening. Luckily we haven’t had any power outages yet! We were able to fit in some beach time a few weekends ago, and we will be in Phuket this weekend…And FINALLY will be seeing catching fire!

I hope all is well at home and everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! Do me a favor and don’t post toooo many pictures of your delicious turkey dinner. I’m not kidding at lunch we shredded chicken and I pretended it was turkey; I even convinced myself it smelled exactly like it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Home Sweet Home!

After about 9 ½ months in Thailand and being away from home, I came back to the US for some much needed friends and family time. Before going home, I feel like I was counting down the days and the time was creeping along so slowly. Somehow I was home for 6 weeks and it FLEW by! Although I was very busy in my time I had at home, I would say I spent a fair amount of time curled up in bed with my boyfriend…Netflix. I don’t know if I have ever been so appreciative for things like my bed, shower, guacamole and turkey sandwiches before; but let me tell you I will never take them for granted again! Anyways here is glimpse at what I was up to while in Seattle…

Part of my very patient welcoming team!  Due to a mix-up with bags, it took about 2 hours for me to get to my family.

I was home just in time for one of the final M's games of the season. Thank you Chrissy for getting the group together and Jenna and Brii for surprising me in Seattle!

BEEzys take Seattle!

Linfield Homecoming 2013

Alzheimers walk for Papa with Georgie

Seahawks game, Thank you Chrissy and Steven!

Dani and I went to Spooner Farms pumpkin patch this year. It was such a cool place, tons of pumpkins, pumpkin slingshots, food, corn mazes, etc. After all of our hard work, we decided a very festive hard cider was deserved. Also I learned that if you let pumpkins roll around your trunk for a few days, eventually the stems will break off...

My mom, dad, grandma carved pumpkins together this year. Grandma and my mom successfully made these cool pinterest inspired drilled pumpkins. Everyone ended the night with awesome pumpkins and (barely haha) all of their fingers.
Celebrating Jennifer's 24th birthday, so nice to see these ladies! Where were you Mal?
Finally got to see Bridge! What did we do? Oh just get Chipotle, shop, and end the night taking home a dozen Krispy Kreme...each

They see me trolllllllin. Halloween with Chrissy Baum!

I am so sad I did not get a complete picture of the full meal deal. Here is my grandma making tending to the turkey for our "Thanksgiving Dinner". Since I am going to be in Thailand on actual Thanksgiving, we celebrated in October this year... Don't I have the best family ever?! Thank you grandma, LOVE YOU :)

So happy I got to witness the first of many Smith "wrestling match" between Georgie and Levi haha. I just love them.

Dad and Levi our little Thai :)

As I look through all of these pictures again, I am once again reminded how lucky I am! No wonder I love to home, look at all these people I get to see when I do. It also make me realize how many of the things that happened that aren't pictured, so here it goes.

1. So mid-way home on a layover in Dubai, I was texting my sister. She was talking about being at school, and I am so happy she is loving it so much... but of course I was a little sad I wouldn't be seeing her upon arrival in Seattle. Apparently after we finished texting, she called my mom.. hopped on a plane, and beat me to Seatac. SURPRISE there she was at the airport, sister of the year award! I can't believe we don't have a picture together!

2. I got to see two of my favorite little babes Kyson and Aniya, who have both grown up so much since I last saw them! I can't believe they are both 1, and cruising around on their own.

3. We celebrated my friend Michelle's birthday by going out to dinner! I also got to see Michelle and Molly's new house, and catch up. AND MICHELLE IS COMING TO THAILAND IN JANUARY!

4. I went and saw Captain Phillips with my parents and it was such a good movie. Talk about being on the edge of your seat for 2 hours.

5. Sweet little cousin Levi is... WALKING! I could not be happier that I was home for him to start walking. Let me tell you he is on the move and he is fast. Also he was the cutest little elephant for Halloween and Georgie was a perfect Snow White!

I am sure I have left out about 4,000 things, but long story not so short I had an amazing 6 weeks at home! A huge thank you to everyone for making it so great, seeeeee again soon(ish) USA!