Friday, January 31, 2014

Shutdown Bangkok, Restart Thailand.

As some of you may have seen in the media, Thailand is in the midst of a political crisis. With the help of the Thai staff at school, and the news I have tried to inform myself as best as I can. Also as I do my best to describe what is going on, know that I am located in Southern Thailand and a vast majority of my area belongs to the same political party, the yellow shirts.

Starting on January 13th protests have been held in Bangkok, the movement is called "Shutdown Bangkok, Restart Thailand" and that is exactly what is intended to be done. The goal is to shutdown Bangkok in order to keep the current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra out of office, and off the new election ballot. Ideally people would like Yingluck to resign before the elections come, but so far this has not happened. Yingluck is the sister of the former Prime Minister Thaksin, who is currently not on Thai soil because of charges in corruption and the jail time that awaits him here. Although Thaksin is not here, it is strongly believed that he has a strong political influence over his sister.

Elections are intended to happen this Sunday, February 2nd. So as many Americans will be glued to their TV's for Superbowl 48 (GO HAWKS!), so will many Thais to watch the election. Nobody is quite sure what will happen come this Sunday, whether the election will happen, if the protests will continue etc. From my understanding regardless of the election happening or not, change will not be immediate. It could be years to come before Thailand is where many residents would like it to be, corruption free. This morning I read an article from The Bangkok Post stating, "It is predicted that as many as 10,000 polling stations nationwide will not be open for voting and poll reruns therefore must be held, which could take at least four to six months."

Outside the Kapong protest
What I have heard from people who were just in Bangkok, is that the protests really are isolated to certain streets. If you wish you can entirely avoid the whole thing. With Bangkok being the home to over eight million people, it is used to the hustle and bustle of people in and around the city. Until lately the protests had not been violent, and seem to have been filled with people dressed in red, white, and blue who truly just want a change for their country. In fact, tonight two other volunteers and I joined the movement here in Kapong! Around 300 people were gathered in the village's center, watching the speeches given in Bangkok, followed by some Thai dancing, and to close the local leaders gave an inspiring speech. Luckily the local people are very open to us being there and taking part, some even like to take pictures of us haha.
Selling ribbons and bows to show Thai support
Local leaders helping to keep residents informed and unified.
So as the next 48 hours are quickly approaching, I am wishing everyone in Thailand a safe and successful election whatever this may mean for you.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Jumpin' through January

 This past month has been weird. It seems like Christmas was months and months ago, yet it’s hard to believe that at the end of this week it will be February. Some exciting things have happened in the last couple of weeks, including I had another visitor at Yaowawit and Children’s day!

My friend Michelle was able to come see me in Kapong for a week! It was so good for us to catch up, and show her a little of where I have been living for the past year. Her first few days here were spent in the classroom and just my everyday routine. Then we went to the beach, where Michelle got her first Thai massage! Riley, Insa, and I showed her our favorite spot, Memories Beach. On Sunday, we went to a nearby waterfall. We decided to ride bikes to the waterfall rather than use the motorbike, which ended up being a nice little workout.

 Sunday was also Children’s day! Children’s day required a four am wake up call and some serious nap-time afterward. None of us had any idea what to expect, but at 4:15 we loaded the bus with about 60 VERY excited students. It was pitch black outside and it felt the Christmas morning. The kids were so excited, nobody was complaining about being up so early. We arrived to find about 100 booths set up with food, a giant bonfire, and a stage with monks all in the yard next to the temple. All of the students had brought plastic bags to fill with food. They had everything from hot dogs and French fries to Oreos to Pad Thai to sticky rice etc. Around 6:15 we headed back to Yaowawit and it was officially nap time for us, while the kids showered and got ready for round two.


This last little January event was today! The whole international team went to Khao Sak National Park, which is about 45 minutes from school. We went on a hike that was supposed to be about 8 km, and turned out to be 12 km. The trip was beautiful, but I think my nature tank is full for a little while. Our destination was a waterfall, which rocked because I was maybe the sweatiest I have ever been in my life. The humidity was not really on our side this afternoon. Unfortunately at the waterfall there were many bees and surprise, leeches. When the leeches were discovered I may have gotten all every man for himself and screeched, “SOMEONE GET ME OUT OF THIS WATER NOW!” Whoops. Once we dried off it was time to start back to the car. Riley and I decided to go into beast mode Marshawn Lynch style, and make this hike our beezy. The way back took us 30 minutes less than it did to get to the waterfall, we were ready to be out of there. As I mentioned before our nature tanks were full, and leeches kept biting people. We ended the day at a restaurant inside the national park, and we were surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Great view, great food, and great people made for an excellent end to the afternoon!

It was an excellent January, so bring it on February!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

One year.


So it's a little cliche to say, but time is flying by! Everyone warned me when I arrived in Thailand that the time would go by to quickly, but of course I just couldn't imagine 15 months flying by. As Spring term came to a close, I kept hearing from many of the volunteers, "where did the time go?" Well here I am, exactly one year later wondering the same thing.

It's been a year of new experiences, endless adventure, culture shock and crazy foods.

It's been a year of no make up, barefoot teaching, Thai pants and big hair.

It's been a year of snakes, spiders, cockroaches and centipedes.

It's been a year of LEARNING about myself, teaching and the world.

And most importantly, it's been a year full of the most amazing, happy, open-minded, beautiful kids. 

Landing in Thailand I wasn't sure of what was to come, or how I would handle being away for so long. Of course I have had my moments of meltdown along the way, but with ease I can say that this has been one of the most rewarding and exciting years of my life. Thank you Yaowawit for being my home away from home for the past 365 days!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Koh Samui

For a long weekend and New Year celebration, Riley and I took a trip to Koh Samui. Neither of us had been here before, but being the beach fanatics we are… we needed to check it out. It was not exactly what either of us had expected, but all in all it was a good trip and it was nice to get away for a few days.

To get to the island it literally took us a truck, bus, songtaew, ferry, songtaew, and a taxi. Though we used many modes of transportation, it actually wasn’t too difficult to get to Koh Samui itself. Now getting to our hostel was quite the opposite. Nobody had heard of our hostel, although nobody would admit that. More than once we would ask the driver if they knew our place, “yes, yes… 300 baht”. Well 30 minutes later we would just get kicked out of the songtaew or cab. After Riley and I had gotten mad, frustrated and pulled my rolling suitcase down a dirt road, some girls about our age pulled up in a car. They literally told us to get in, and we did haha after two hours or searching you get pretty desperate. They had a toddler singing along in the front seat, so we figured we couldn’t go wrong. Literally two minutes later they pulled up to our hostel, I have never been so happy to meet strangers in my life!

Doing my best bargaining by trying the clothes on haha.
Traveling via the bumper of a songtaew

We were exhausted upon arrival and so ready for bed… and it was like 5:30. Which ended up being a theme for this trip… if you are 24, you are like a grandma. We didn’t actually go to bed at 5:30 ever thankfully, but we weren’t exactly night owls. Although where we were staying seemed to be Koh Samui party-central, we weren’t really into it. We decided to save our party pants for New Years Eve and spend the other nights, shopping/bargaining, eating, doing face and hair masks, and watching Britney Spears documentaries on youtube.

New Years on the other end of the spectrum was insane. We really didn’t have any idea of what to expect, but if I had expectations this exceeded all of them. The beach was packed with thousands of people, lanterns and fireworks going off everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean it. Like I don’t know how everyone woke up with all his or her limbs. You could literally buy fireworks on the beach and just let them off where ever and whenever you wanted. The scariest part, somehow it just works out haha. But music was playing, everyone was dancing and we had an epic countdown to the New Year! So far I have been to Koh Phangnan, Koh Tao, and Koh Samui… next onto Koh Phi Phi!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

a PICTURE perfect year.

Happy New Year, to all of my friends and family near and far! Hopefully everyone had a very fun and safe holiday. Riley and I spent New Years on Koh Samui, an island sort of not really nearby. Getting to and from Koh Samui takes a truck, bus, ferry, songtaew, and a taxi so I had quite the amount of time to reflect on 2013. Rather than bore you with words, and since a picture is worth a thousand of them... here is a look back at my year!




So I knew a lot happened in 2013, but WHOA. It was unbelievably hard to choose just one picture from each month, and I would highly recommend everyone does it. Such a good reminder of all of the happenings throughout the year. Also, today I was told that in Thai culture the year you turn 25 can define your life. If you have a good year, you will have good luck for the rest of your life. Well that this this year for me, bring on the good luck! Happy 2014 :)