Wednesday, September 30, 2015

And Just Like That, My First Semester Is In The Books!

Seems like only a short time ago I was struggling to learn names and figure out how to teach 40+ students at the same time. I've since moved into my own classroom and feel very comfortable teaching them possessive pronouns and demonstratives.

Here's my empty classroom after first moving in

Ready for class

My four classes

We held a teacher training where I ran into Jung again. She was the counterpart of another PCV before I arrived. 

Recognizing two retiring faculty for their service at our school's 77th anniversary celebration.

Angkor Wat Marathon 2015

Traveled into Cambodia with other PCVs to Siem Reap to run the Angkor Wat Marathon. The overland journey getting there was rough. I don't recommend it. Easier to fly. Spent all day Saturday exploring the many temples through the Angkor Wat area with Pete. He gets credit for the photos below with me in them.

The marathon was on Sunday. Only part of it took place inside the park area, which would have been more scenic had I not seen everything the day before. Marathons are painful, so it's hard (for me at least) to appreciate what's around me. Also, I had to go #2 for half the race, and there weren't any port-a-johns on the course.

But, I made it to the end. Here I am with Alyssa completely exhausted. 

All of us in front of the Angkor Wat temple with our medals.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Life in Chanthaburi: Welcome to my house!

I've had many requests to take pictures of my home to share, so this post is devoted to my happy place here in Thailand. Whether it's crazy students, pouring rain, angry dogs, or chaotic traffic--I always have the peace and quiet of my little house to escape to. I feel very fortunate to have found it.

I live at the end of a cul-de-sac which means there is very little noise from cars and mopeds. It's a split level house, meaning I share a wall with my neighbors. They have since moved out, but when they lived there, I never heard them. Not even once. Must be a thick wall.

I'm on the left in the picture. You'll notice that my house is well above street level. This is a huge plus living in the rainiest region of Thailand. I also like the built in bench on my front porch. Directly across the street is a garden area cared for by an elderly lady who lives a few doors down. It allows me to see storms rolling in, which I like.

My front room is pretty much empty except for my shoes and useless bike, which I mainly use as an indoor drying rack for my laundry. I walk everywhere, or catch a songtow if headed downtown. I added the curtains for privacy.

A long hallway extends to the back of the house. There are two bedrooms on off to the left. Like most of Asia, flooring is either tile or wood. Carpet is disgusting. America is slow to realize this.

First door on the left is my bedroom. This is where I spend most of my time. I set up a cardboard box for a desk and I use my bed as a chair. Another box is used as a fan stand. My dresser is made from plastic and my closet is a clothing rack. Furniture is expensive and difficult to get back home. I had the A/C unit installed after moving in. The Peace Corps doesn't have to mean suffering :)

It was important to me to have a real bed, not just a mattress on the floor. I don't like critters crawling atop of me while I sleep.

I turned the second bedroom into a pantry/storage room. Since I don't have a real kitchen, I put my fridge and other kitchen items in here. The top of my fridge makes a great shelf.

My kitchen nook is really just a sink with a small counter top. I recently extended it out with the folding table to keep my butane stove and pans on. If you hear music blasting from my house, it's likely because I'm in this area, cooking or doing laundry.

Around the corner, looking out from the bathroom.

My bathroom. Much roomier than my tiny Japanese bathroom. Complete with TWO towel racks, shelf, sink, and mounted mirror.

No hot water heater on the shower. The cold showers haven't been that bad--not enough to make me buy a water heater anyway. Water pressure is great, which goes a long way. I'm just thankful for not having to take bucket showers using standing water from a trough like many other volunteers.

So that's my house. I'm pretty happy with it. Stop by anytime.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

School Begins!

My life has gotten a lot crazier lately now that school is back in session. We are currently 3 weeks in and I can honestly say I'm enjoying it. My students are great, I'm getting along with my co-teacher Jeab, the school has been very supportive, and I'm finally getting the opportunity to test out all the new ideas I wanted to try out.

I teach two Matayom 1 classes and two Marayom 2 classes. It's like our Jr. High level. I see each class four times a week, which I really like. Other PCVs don't get to see their classes as often, which makes it much tougher for the students to actually retain anything.

Being introduced to the student body by our school director

I currently teach in what's called the ASEAN room. It's where all the important school meetings take place, so it's nicer than most of the classrooms. The classroom we will be teaching in is under construction and will be done soon. 

This is my co-teacher Jeab. 

I also teach the school faculty on Monday afternoons. I make sure to keep it light and fun, just like my student classes. I'm basically teaching them the same things as my kids. 

Meanwhile, rainy season is doing its thing. I love this shot from fellow PCV Danica of her school after a big rain storm. The school continues with lunch as if a foot of muddy water was no big deal.

Brandon, a PCV friend of mine who went home early, visited Mary and I with his girlfriend. We had a fun dinner out. 

The next day we traveled north to Brian's site where we hiked to a waterfall. 

Last week was Wai Khru, a special school day where the students pay respect to their teachers. Here's a shot of our 700+ students.

I was up on stage with the other teachers

Some of my students presenting gifts. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summer Break 2

Songkran is the three day water fight festival throughout Thailand. This was the scene in front of my host family's house.

It was also during this holiday that I moved out on my own earlier than anticipated. It's a complicated story that those in my journal email ring are privy to. Sorry general public :)

First things first: set up the wifi

Brian, a nearby PCV, came into town and we hit the awesome weekend market downtown. Too many food options to choose from.

Rainy season came early. Thank goodness, because it's been a million degrees lately, and the rain cools things down a bit, despite the humidity. 

Weekend trip to Rayong for a Peace Corps Consolidation test. It's what we do if there's a natural disaster or anarchy breaks out. We consolidate to a meeting point. In my case, it's at this sweet hotel with a pool. We made good use of it.

Shortly after that about 20 PCVs took a little vacation to Koh Mak, and island off the coast near where I live. It was a relaxing four days with this view.

School is starting this week and life will dramatically change. I'll try to get some pictures up of my rental house too.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Summer Break

We are currently on summer break until the new school year begins on May 18th. As such, I've had a lot of free time to explore the city of Chanthaburi with my host family, eat delicious food, and take a three day teacher retreat.

Chanthaburi is famous for having the largest Catholic cathedral in Thailand. It's an impressive looking building on the waterfront. 

At the King Taksin Great Shrine and City Pillar Shrine with my host family. 

Day trip to the National Maritime Museum 

Dessert on Chanthaburi River

Vietnamese dinner at home. I could post dozens of amazing food pics here, but I'll let you visit my Facebook Timeline for those. 

I was invited to join the end of school year teacher's retreat to Kanchanaburi, the other side of Thailand from where I live now. They chartered a party bus, and as you can see below, there was plenty of karaoke, drinking, and gambling the entire drive.

One of our first stops was to the famous River Kwai Bridge.

Srinagarind Dam

We visited several wats (temples), including this one at วัดบ้านถ้ำ

and this one at วัดถำ้มังกรทอง

But honestly, the highlight of the trip was this wonderful foot massage.