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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snorkeling weekend trip

I  just came back from an awesome weekend snorkeling trip and I wanted to wait to write this until I got the underwater photo's from a German lady on our tour. She promised to send me her underwater pictures but she hasn't yet and I am tired of waiting haha. So here goes! This past weekend I went with my friend Maurice and another expat guy to a small island about 30 or 45 minutes from where we live to go snorkeling. We had the perfect day for it, the water was crystal clear and the weather perfect!

You know I did want to mention one other thing about driving that I noticed. There is one stop light in my town at our one major intersection. It is a "T" junction. Well NO ONE follows the light. People go when they want, stop when they want lol. So, you always have to watch out when you are making a turn of any kind at this light. The concept of a turn lane does not exist here where I live so rather than being able to make a semi safe protected turn you have to make sure there is no oncoming traffic before you turn AND you have to make sure there is no traffic behind you when you turn so you don't get hit. It isn't super dangerous since I live in a small town and I have never had any accidents but it is frustrating sometimes. You always just yield to the larger vehicle haha. I would imagine even if they did have a turn lane allowing vehicles to continue going straight while others waited to turn no one would obey it anyway considering they use the shoulder as a functional driving lane! :P

Before he left though we watched an American movie, "The Mechanic" With Jason Statham. It was a remake of a 1972 movie of the same name. It was pretty good, action packed as his movies usually are haha. At the end of the movie he is driving away and he is driving on the right side of the road (the American/Canadian side) and I immediately thought in my brain wait, he is on the wrong side! It is so funny that since I have been driving here in Thailand my brain has so adjusted to left hand driving that even on a TV screen the American style of driving looks weird to me! I had to laugh at this fact but it is true. Even when I lived in Australia and New Zealand for well over a year I got used to left hand driving but not to this extent because there I didn't have to do it everyday like I do here.

We paid 11 USD for a half day tour with lunch and snorkel gear included so it was not a bad deal at all! We had a great time and I saw some amazing stuff. If I can get her pictures I will post them for sure. We got to feed the fish and they swarmed up EVERYWHERE once you threw the food in the water. You could hardly see! There was no much coral to speak of, most of it was dead. But, the fish was amazing colours and really beautiful. There was also giant clams you could pick up from the sea bed. We got to catch some live fresh squid and I got to see "cuddlefish" these were big brown fish that just floated on the bottom and you could literally get inches from their faces and they wouldn't move! That was the coolest part of the whole trip for me. 

The day before our snorkeling trip Noong cooked a seafood feast for us with fresh (right out of the ocean) live (for a while anyway haha) crabs and squid. It was so good! That night we had a party for a German friend of ours and Noong prepared yet another amazing meal with lots and lots of meat plus a chocolate cake with rum mixed in. It was SO good! I am so lucky to be so well fed all the time haha.
Maurice had to leave here to go further down south to Koh Phangan to visit his friends so this is the last I will see of him for a bit. We had a good time together though hanging out and going snorkeling and to some other beach towns around here they were much different from where I live but still neat, a little more touristy though. We even got to see Thailand's largest sand dune (it isn't that large lol) It was nice to hang out with my friend for a while. Living in a small town can get isolating sometimes! 

It was just Chinese New Year here. Yes, this is Thailand but they have the Buddhist calender (543 years difference) and they celebrate Chinese New Year. There was many many celebrations because it is now the Year of the Dragon and considered very lucky by many people! Many many women want to get pregnant and have babies this year! I also had the closest thing to a "pig in a blanket" that they have here. It was a doughy pastry with meat in the middle and it was so good! Well that is all I have for you now. I am back to work and back to the usual. As soon as I get those underwater pictures (if I get them) I will post them. Yall take care,Tyler

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Long Weekend!

Monday was a public holiday for us here in Thailand it was Teacher's Day so I had the day off and the previous Friday was Children's Day so I also had the day off. They love their public holidays in Thailand! I went with my friend Maurice and my house mate Noong along with our other house mate Nel to a beach called Bang Berd. This was my longest journey by motorbike thus far. It was 75 kilometers round trip or 46 miles! After that long on a motorbike your butt starts to get really sore haha.
On the way home Maurice (my Australian friend I met here) had lunch at an outside market and we had a chicken that had the feet and head still attached! It was such a good chicken though :) I also had one of the craziest dishes I have had thus far. I wish I would have remembered to get a picture of this! It was sweet whole corn (not corn on the cob) and it looked great! But, then the lady started to add sugar to it and butter and chocolate sauce with sprinkles! I thought oh my Lord that is going to be horrible haha. But it was so good :) man that was one of the best desserts I have had here.

On my days off I also took Maurice to the caves here in town (the caves from my Facebook pictures) and we really enjoyed that. He liked feeding the sacred catfish as much as I did the first time I did it. After seeing these caves for the third time now though I am all caved out! Maurice and I also went to a beach town down the road a few clicks. We went to Ban Krut and it was really nice and different from my little town. We spent a good day in the ocean and on the beach. In contrast to my previous two hour almost fifty mile round trip journey this time we were only on the motorbike for about a half hour. So now I have explored most of this local area. There is one notable exception though. I have been wanting to go to a local island called Koh Talu but haven't been able to do so because the weather hasn't been right for the trip out.

Well we finally had a great day to go do it and we rung up a local guy who claimed to have a boat to take us out there. He was charging a pretty fair price so we said ok. He said he would pick us up at 9am. We waited and thirty minutes pasted. Then he said he would pick us up at 10am. We were frustrated but this is Thailand this happens all the time so it was not a huge deal to wait an extra hour. Then at 10:30am he calls me and says he is canceling the whole trip and gave us no reason why! We were really angry and frustrated but here this happens all too often and there is nothing you can do about it. At least we didn't lose any money and only time. So, instead of doing that I went into town and bought a replacement phone charger (I got sold a fake non functioning one in Bangkok,damn the luck!) and fixed my motorbike (even though it is a rental I am responsible for anything that needs fixing it seems) luckily I only needed to add brake fluid and fix my license plate that was falling off. Both of those things cost me the equivalent of 1 USD.

Noong has been stuffing Maurice and I to the gills with great food and we plan to take her out for a proper dinner soon to say thanks for her. I do enjoy living here and I am very lucky to have found her. The last place I want to visit that I haven't been able to so far, is Hua Hin. So that is on the list for soon-ish. I have heard they have a great night market there. I love all the fresh food and neat stuff you can find there. Well that is about all I have for you now. I am just back at work back to the norm. I am taking Maurice with me to school tomorrow to meet the kids and that should be good. Yall take care,Tyler

Monday, January 16, 2012

The going's on in my life...

Well, lately since my holiday from Hell I have been pretty boring but I wanted to give you a little update anyway. Things are still going well at school, I am teaching the older kids about contractions and the funny rules of English having to do with "too,two and to" and "their,there,they're". I can imagine trying to newly learn English that must be hard, three different words that sound exactly the same but are spelled different and mean different things! I know the kids thought my lesson was boring (mostly because I made them write it all down haha) but I think it is really important to know!

Recently, after school I left (after saying "see you tomorrow" to about 100 kids as usual haha) to go get something to eat. So I stopped into the little street stall that looked pretty good, now I freely admit my Thai is pretty bad so when they say something to me I don't understand I generally reply with a "yes'' in Thai. nine times out of ten I have still gotten pretty good food that way. Well It happened there and the woman I assumed recommended me some food. I could understand that whatever she was giving me came with rice so I was pretty happy. Well soon she brought out a whole cooked fish! the head, the eyes,everything! It also had all the bones inside! It was good but certainly not what I am used too lol.

After I was done I went to pay her for my meal (50 baht, thats less than two USD for rice and a whole fish and water!) but I had forgotten my wallet! I can't remember a time in my life where I have forgotten my wallet! It was really embarrassing and I had no idea what to do since I couldn't communicate with this woman! So I had to call my house mate and tell her what happened and she laughed and came into town to save me thank God! Then all was well until that night at dinner and I had chili pepper on my hand and accidentally rubbed my eye. It hurt REALLY bad! After flushing it with water I was fine though. That will be the last time I ever touch my eye at dinner!

I got a birthday card from my grandparents which was sweet of them and really nice and now since Hugh (my friend from NY) has left, I have a friend from Australia coming to visit me here and also fairly soon a friend from Sweden and one from England! So I am excited to see some of my friends again. Friday (today) we will have "student day" at school so we have a party and monday is yet another Public Holiday here (they love their holidays in Thailand!) so I don't have to work. Tomorrow I will be going to a cool beach fairly close to here called Bang Berd. It should be nice. I also plan to take Maurice to Ban Krut (another beach fairly close to here) and to the local caves we have here. Busy few days ahead of me!

Today I was driving home from the store on my motorbike and it was quite windy. So windy in fact that one of my bags of groceries flew right out! My ice cream landed right in the middle of the highway! Luckily it didn't hit anyone and no one ran it over! I was able to save my precious cargo and be on my way haha. I did make a few other odd observations I wanted to mention. Here in Thailand if you buy a bag of chips/crisps/whatever you choose to call it. It is almost impossible to pinch the two ends of the bag and pull them apart and open like we would at home. It is so strange because the bags physically look the same as ours and are made of similar material but I think they are thicker and more air filled because the only way to open them is to rip the bag vertically! Weird huh? Also, I wanted to mention that I have been to many different countries each with it's own set of unique laws as you know.

Texas and America in general have some odd liquor laws but Thailand takes the cake! At my local Tesco/Lotus (Thailand mini Walmart equivalent) you are allowed to buy alcohol between the hours of 11am and 2 pm and 7pm to midnight seven days a week. But, NOT between the hours of 11:01am and 6:59pm. So strange! Ok, one last night. I have told you many things about driving here in Thailand and I have been doing just fine now that I have my own motorbike and have learned the quote, unquote "rules" of the road here haha. It is crazy but you get used to it. Well one that really is no fun is that there is zero emission controls for vehicles here that I can tell so if you get stuck behind a big polluting slow bus or truck and you are on a motorbike it really sucks!

Well I guess that is all for now, yall take care til next time,Tyler

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Back to Bangkok!

Well lets see, where did I last leave you? Ah after my trip from Hell! Well I came home and met a new friend. One of the regulars who lives here in  my little town has a son who lives in New York so he was over here visiting his dad and we decided to hang out. Hugh was a really cool guy and I had a great time showing him around town and just hanging out. Well being in a small town life gets a little suffocating sometimes so we decided to leave to the Big City. But before we left I decided to take Hugh to my school to meet the kids. They had never met anyone from New York before so they loved it! It was really good to have a visitor for show and tell haha. He told them all about his life and his job (Advertising/graphic designer) and I let them ask him questions. It was a good time

Back to Bangkok! He had never been there before so I volunteered to play tour guide. After our seven hour bus journey we got there to Bangkok and got settled into my favourite guest house.
From there I took him on a canal tour of the river in Bangkok ( I was really saddened to see that it was covered in litter and trash, people just don't respect the environment here!) then we saw the floating shopping market and the Sitting Buddha. I took him around the typical touristy stuff but we only had 1.5 days to do it in! I made sure we hit up my favourite restaurants (for the steamed duck and baby clams!mmmmm) and got the best food and drinks. I took him to my awesome fruit shake lady and saw all my friends in Bangkok and hung out. I also told him he has to do some shopping at the huge shopping mall MBK.

My train ride back home from Bangkok was uneventful but really long. We were delayed and I was not able to get the sleeper train which means I had a nine hour journey in an uncomfortable sitting only seat. Train travel in Thailand in first class is actually pretty good. In second, it is ok and in third class is pretty terrible! The trains are not the most modern or comfortable (in second and third class the windows are always open to let air in) so you get smoke and smog and dust all over you, the toilets are just holes that lead down thru the train onto the tracks! But anyway its a cheap (fairly reliable) way to get around.

I know I didn't cover much in this little update but now I am back home and back to work again! Yall take care and happy 2012-Ty

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Holiday Hell

Ok, so I had a pretty awesome birthday (thanks to my amazing roommate Noong and my friends here) but after my Christmas Eve/Christmas and birthday things started to go south quickly! :( It all started with my decision to go on a little four day holiday to the Islands down in southern Thailand. Simple right? Wrong! My destination was 8 hours south of where I am currently living. It was supposed to be a one bus journey down to the last major city before the islands. Then a ferry to Koh Lanta and that would be it.

Reality: I had to take a minibus and two regular buses just to get to the drop off point to Koh Lanta. On my minibus to Koh Lanta it was a nine seater bus and we had 18 people on our minibus including our driver! I was supposed to meet my friends on Koh Lanta but due to my bus arriving late I missed the last ferry to Koh Lanta so I had to spend New Years Eve alone in Krabi. It wasn't all bad though because I met some really cool people.  I spent the vast majority of my night with a beautiful girl from South Africa and we shared a very special great New Years Eve together we got to release lanterns to the Heavens together just like on my birthday. Unfortunately for me I failed to get ANY of her contact information. It is really a shame because I had a great time with her and will always remember this new years eve because of her. I guess if we are meant to meet each other again we will. What is interesting is that I remember every detail of what she looks like,what we talked about,what she smelled like (lilac perfume if you are curious lol) and a few other details but sadly not her name or how I can contact her :(

So Jan 1 I wake up and go to book my travels to Koh Lanta to meet my friends. Again for me more unfortunate news... I made the bad mistake of trusting some random travel agency to take care of my travel needs. I booked my travel to Koh Lanta, from Koh Lanta and my stay on Koh Lanta all with "Happy Travel" in Krabi. Well it turns out I wasn't very "Happy" because it was terrible!! First they were late getting me to Koh Lanta, then once I got there I found out that the "cheap cheap" resort they booked me into didn't even have indoor plumbing!(just a no flush toilet with a bucket)  Not only that but it was a Muslim run resort. Now I want to be clear that I respect all religions of the world but if you observing your religious practices wakes me up at 5 am everyday by LOUD praying then I tend to get a little angry. That on top of the fact that I couldn't get any beer or pork there was more than a little frustrating!

It rained most of the time I was on Koh Lanta and I never got to see my friends because there was no phone service where I was and I never could find them. I did meet some cool Austrian guys while I was there and I got one good sunset so I tried my hardest to stay positive! But it got worse for me when I rented a motorbike to tour around on and they gave it to me with almost ZERO gas in the tank so while I was desperately looking for a place to fill up the tank I ran out of gas. Completely. For the first time in my life. At this point I was trying hard not to rip my hair out. (It was really hard!) Luckily a nice Thai guy got me back on the road and helped me. I still didn't find my friends though :(  Now about my journey back home... Keep in mind this is only an 8 hour journey.

I was dropped off by taxi at the designated pick up point so I could be taken back to the ferry by minibus so I could get back to the mainland. Well I got the the drop off point to wait for the minibus just fine but then the problems started :( I waited. One hour later he still hadn't showed up. So I called the company they assured me this was normal and to wait. So I waited (having them be one hour late in Thailand actually is not all that unusual) Then I waited another hour still no minibus. I had my connecting bus back home to catch at 3:30pm! So it is nice 12:45pm and he is two hours late, my patience is running out. I call them again! They tell me the driver will be there at 1:45pm a full three hours late! I am stuck outside a 7/11 with nowhere to go and nothing to do! :(

Finally at 1:45pm he arrives three full hours late and I am so angry I tell him he better get me to my connecting bus home. He assures me we will make it. Well we don't! I miss my connection and not only that but on the minibus home for two full hours I had to sit next to a local person with foot rot. Talk about gross! So I finally arrive back in Krabi and I am told I have to stay the night there because I have missed every bus back to my town (and I have to work the next day!!!) I am so angry! and they want me to pay them MORE money for me to stay the night there!

I demand a refund for their bus driver being late and making me miss my connection. Which they refuse to give me, tell me it isn't their problem. (Don't even bother getting a refund for anything in Thailand it won't happen) so I lost 15 dollars USD right then and there. Well since there was NO buses going back to my town and I HAD to be back for work the next day I had to take a private taxi to a town three hours away. For 60 USD! :(

I get to this town and  I want to get the train back home (6 hour train ride) I am told the ONLY seating left it 3rd class standing room only with no airconditioning (Could my holiday get ANY worse! lol). So, packed in like cattle for 6 hours I rode that damn train. The only bright spot was I was crammed in right next to some really cool Thais and a few French and Swiss guys. (It was nice drinking whiskey with you Alex,Daniel and Thomas) the whiskey made the journey slightly more bearable. So I arrive home at 6:00am after twenty something hours of continuous travel. Not to mention I spent a whole month's rent for a four day holiday.

Other than meeting that gorgeous South African girl and hanging out with the guys crammed on the train and the Austrians on Koh Lanta, I truly had the holiday from Hell! Next time I will just stay home lol. Yall take care,Tyler