Thanksgiving, Thai Style

One of the best parts about living in an international community is the exposure to so many different holidays and celebrations. At the end of November, ISB staff had an American Thanksgiving feast. There were so many turkeys, hams, different potato dishes, veggies, salads and desserts (by far the biggest pot luck  I’ve ever been to).

One of the teachers kicked off the evening with a toast, saying that no matter where we come from or where we’ve have been, what we believe in and what we celebrate, we can all find something about Thanksgiving that resonates with us. He challenged us to be more giving in our lives and to be thankful for what we have every single day. It was a wonderful toast, one that made me feel close to home even though I am so far away.

This year I am thankful for everyone in my life who has been so supportive of this adventure. I am thankful for the effort of my friends and family to keep in touch and help me feel connected to home. I am thankful for my amazing colleagues, who inspire me everyday and I am thankful for this entire experience, because it has opened my mind to the world.

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Update

Right off the bat, I need to say a big Khor Thot Ka (I’m sorry) for completely slacking on posting!

It’s really insane how quickly the time is flying by. Since my last post Megan has come and gone (what a wonderful time we had together… I plan to write an entire post about our experiences in Northern Thailand and Phuket), Al and Carol have arrived, I’ve started coaching swimming three times a week, tutoring two students (Grade 2 and Grade 4), working on two online courses, teaching private swimming lessons and instructing an after school activity… not to mention working full time! The beauty of this insanity is how much I love it. Although I am burning out, missing home and counting down the seconds to Christmas break, I’m feeling happy, balanced and settled in.

The after school activity I took on in October is called Community Leaders in Action (CLA). It’s a group of 14 Grade 4 and 5 students who spend an hour on Monday afternoons playing with Thai children from a local low income day care. Here is the link to our blog if you would like to check out what we have been up to:  http://inside.isb.ac.th/cla/.

The past few weekends have been full of swim meets downtown Bangkok at some of the other international schools. I am really enjoying coaching the Junior Varsity Swim Team http://inside.isb.ac.th/athletics/jv-swim/. It’s a nice contrast to spending all day with 20 + kids under the age of 11. (Yes, I do realize that I am smaller than most of them and I don’t need a reminder… although I am happy to say that in Asia I am definitely not short.)

I can’t believe that Christmas is in less than three weeks, which means 10 days in paradise with Matt, some quality time in Bangkok and an entire week in Vietnam. Mom and dad are going to Skype me on Sunday so I can help pick out their Christmas tree (which is going to be so great!). I am sad not to have my own tree, although it is possible to get one. I saw a sign in Villa the other day that said: “Pre-Order Your Christmas Tree for Only 9,999.00 THB!” For those of you who don’t know the THB – CAD conversion, that’s about $323.00 CAD. I think I’ll settle for ornaments on my palm tree.

Paint, Finally!

I decided that even though I will only be living in Samakee Gardens for under a year, I needed some colour in my apartment. I bought paint from HomePro and hired a painter.. and TA-DA!

The orange in my living room / dining room was inspired by a piece of art work I bought in Zanzibar. Khun Rin (our Maebon) thought it was ridiculous that I only painted two walls, but I think it’s more than enough colour.

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Living Room / Yoga Space (behind the couch)
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Dining Room

I picked blue in my room because I wanted a space that was calming and cool.. because everywhere else in Thailand feels so hot! I got navy blue sheets and a white duvet from Ikea, I love it!

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Sutton, keeping the bed warm

The apartment is feeling more like home every day and I’m looking forward to having visitors. Which reminds me… MEGAN IS COMING TO THAILAND! She’ll be here from October 16 – November 13! We’ve conquered Europe together and now Asia! I can’t wait!

Same, Same but Different

In Thailand, I’ve learned that Thai people often use the phrase “same, same… but different” when talking to foreigners. It’s their way of saying “ya, it’s the same.. but it’s different.” For example, when I was looking at Rolex impression watch from a vendor in MBK, I pointed out a particular watch I wanted in her catalog. She handed me an identical watch which happened to be much bigger and said, “same, same.. but different.”

Urban Dictionary explains it quite well:

same same but different 292 up, 59 down
Used a lot in Thailand, especially in an attempts to sell something but can mean just about anything depending on what the user is trying to achieve.
Q “Is this a real rolex?”
A ” Yes Sir, same same but different”

Anyways, this has made me laugh.. and with some inspiration from a friend named Katie, I’ve decided to create a blog spot where I will share some of the things that are the same in Thailand, but just a littttle bit different than Canada.


Lays Chips… Seaweed Flavoured

Burgers… With Sticky Rice Patties

More to come I’m sure!

Chao Phraya, Staff Party and Lumpini Park

This weekend was great! On Friday night we went to a staff party at the Royal Orchid Sheraton downtown Bangkok, right along the Chao Phraya River. We took a ‘water taxi’ full of ISB staff to the party. One big difference between Thailand and Canada is that it is perfectly acceptable to drink alcohol in public places, such as: on mall steps, on buses and on boats (just to name a few). Needless to say, we had a few beers on the boat!

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ISB Staff en Route to the Staff Party

My friend Kari (who is from Colorado and an absolute blast.. definitely one of the funniest people I have ever met) took this picture of me hanging out on the front of the boat. Notice how gross the river water is.. I don’t think anyone could pay me enough money to go for a swim in there.

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On the Rive Taxi!
Photo Credits: Kari Backes

We were on the boat for so long that the sun started to set. This was perfect because we got to see the Grand Palace lit up at night and a glimpse of the city that never sleeps.

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The Grand Palace at Night

The venue was stunning and reminded me of a fancy pants wedding. Our wine glasses were bottomless, the food was unreal, and the live music was even good! The band played everything from LMFAO to Lady Antebellum. Which reminds me, in big box stores I keep hearing country music. It’s beyond bizarre to hear Jason Aldean in Bangkok, yet comforting at the same time.

Kari, Katie and I stayed in a hotel close to the Sheraton Friday night, which was easier than making the hour long trek back to Nichada. We also wanted to spend Saturday downtown exploring Bangkok. Our hotel was called “Win Long Place,” it was fairly nice and cheap.. not like staying at the Hilton or anything, but it did the trick. I had my own room and the internet connection was great so I was able to Skype with Matt for a while which was really nice!

In the morning we took a taxi to meet another teacher from ISB and a friend of hers for breaky. It was hilarious because when we walked into the restaurant I heard someone calling my name.. I couldn’t believe it when I saw my friend Kelsey and some of her colleagues! It worked out perfectly because we had planned to meet up later in the day anyway! What a SMALL world! For breakfast I had classic “American Pancakes” with butter, bacon and maple syrup. They were UNREAL! Sorry mom, but they were hands down the best pancakes I’ve ever had!

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Pancakes and Americano Coffee!

Kelsey gave Kari and I the low down on getting around in Bangkok. She showed us how to buy passes for the BTS (sky train) and tokens the MRT (subway). It is such a cheap and quick way to travel in a city that is constantly backed up with traffic.. and the air conditioning was refreshing!

We got off at Lumpini Station and spent a few hours exploring Lumpini Park. The park is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. There are paved pathways, a man-made lake where you can rent peddle boats and lots of green space (similar to a park in Toronto). However, there is also a public library, an open concept gym with jacked Thai men working out, people running (mostly Thai men), random exercise equipment scattered throughout the park free for anyone to use, a food court (which was closed when we were there), tables and chairs shaded by large umbrellas, and monstrous lizards swimming in the water.

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Saturday Afternoon in Lumpini Park
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Kari Staying Dry!
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Exercise Equipment (they were being used all over the park)!
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Lumpini Park Lizard.. Absolutely Terrifying!

There was a wonderful Thai woman at the library who directed us to Lumpinin Stadium where Muay Thai boxing matches are held. Muay Thai in Bangkok is like the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto, everyone is into it. We had our first Tuk-Tuk riding experience, which was so cool! Kelsey, Kari and I squeezed in together, held on for dear life, and laughed when the entire machine lit up at the touch of the breaks.

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Fist time in a Tuk-Tuk

Although we had full intentions of watching a boxing match, it was 2000 THB for 20 minutes (about 66$), so instead we decided to get some yummy food and shelter from the rain. We huddled together under a canopy outside of the stadium and ordered my first traditional Thai street food dish. I didn’t know how to say what I wanted in Thai, so I just pointed to what someone else was eating, always a good strategy when you don’t know the language.

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Thai Street Food, YUMMY!

It was very, very tasty. The thing about Thai food is every bite is a new surprise. This was a good spot to get out of the rain, warm up, and start planning next weekend’s adventure to Ko Samet!