Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Central Trip

Okay, this is really late. I go on Northern Trip in about 2 weeks...

Anyways, Central Trip was a blast! I hope I never forget how incredible it was. But, quite honestly, even now I don't remember everything we did. I made the decision to write this post because even though it's ridiculously late, I figure I will at least be able to enjoy the reminiscings as I age and my memory fades.

Day One: Had to be at the hotel to catch the Bus at 5. As in, 0500h., 5 a.m., Dtee Ha. Whatever you call it, it sucks. 5 in the morning is not a happy time. But it wasn't that bad because I at least got to sleep on the bus.

This bus was pretty cool. It was one of those massive, Asian, double deckers with the living room and bathroom on the first level and the seats on top. The upholstery was patterned with rainbow pot-leaves and they gave every person a blanket to use for free! (Which already gives them a leg up on Air Canada).

Then we went to the Sukothai Historical Park. It was really beautiful and over 700 years old! That evening we stayed in a hotel comprised of adorable little bungalows.

It was a good day.

The Second Day was much better. But it's not really a fair fight because I didn't have to wake up at 3:30 the second day. But that day we went RAFTING!

It was LEGENDARY. I mean, first we were all crammed into these two little super-sketchy cattle cars for like an hour over very bumpy roads. Then we got to the river, and climbed down the rather steep embankment. Waiting for us was a large bamboo raft and a lot of life jackets. We put on the latter, got on the former, and were off!

Rafting ended up to be more swimming than rafting. The water was just cool enough to be refreshing but still warm enough to be nice and we all just drifted along with the current. The scenery was gorgeous - think Forrest Gump in 'Nam and the sun was scorching hot. It was one of the most chill moments I have had so far in Thailand.

For lunch that day we got burgers. Not very good burgers. But burgers all the same. Chantale, my Californian friend, found Thousand Island dressing and got ecstatic. (Something about this Californian fast food place called In-n-Out...)

Then we went to our hotel, had dinner by the ocean, and hung out on the beach that was directly in front of our hotel until curfew.


Day 3 was pretty sweet. For some reason that I don't remember/didn't understand, we didn't have to be ready to leave until 11. So Chantale and I walked around, found some awesome shops, including one that kept disappearing! I bought contacts (though the whole putting them into use took about 3 more people and was...well...long and drawn out...and very interesting).

We went to visit Buddha (cause it's Thailand). It was awesome (cause it's Thailand). And then it rained (cause it's Thailand). So instead of going to the beach :( we went to a mall. But that was okay because we found EPIC pins for our Blazers with pictures of the King and Queen on them.


We went to a night market that evening. Bought a sand bucket. Ate at a restaurant that said the translation of it's name was Bird Chili. Our Golden Oreos told us the truth: it really said Mouse Shit Chili.

Why you would name a restaurant Mouse Shit Chili is beyond me. But maybe it's kinda like Ratatouille....

The Fourth Day we went to this super old wooden palace. The summer palace of King Rama VI. It was pretty cool, but they had tons of rules (like not wearing shoes) to help preserve the wood. And I definitely felt like the 100+ year old wood was just gonna give up while I was standing on it :/

We went to a floating market that was kinda stinky. But they made this coconut candy that reminded me of maple sugar candy... It was really good and I ate way too much of it.

The ride to our hotel was... fun. Not. Because I'm pretty sure our driver usually drove something a lot smaller than a bus. He kept on trying to take us down these tiny little side roads that our bus was about twice as big as. Maybe he was a tuk tuk driver in a previous life...

That evening we went to go see fireflies on the river. But it rained instead (cause it's Thailand). Instead a bunch of us hung out in my room and we watched a super-cheesy 90's chick flick. (Drive Me Crazy, if you were wondering).

The fifth day we woke up at 5:30 so that we could feed monks at 6. But that was pretty cool, cause the monks rowed up to us in little boats and we put food in their bowls.

Then we went to Bangkok (Or GrunThep, as it's actually called). We visited the Grand Palace, saw the Emerald Buddha, took lots of pictures. Then we went to the Rotary Center in BKK.

After that we went to our weirdly sketchy hotel. I say weirdly sketchy because it looked really swanky. But there was a pack of condoms on the nightstand, 90s slow jams in the CD player, and a card advertising the 24 hr massage service. Prices were as follows: Thai massage 400 baht/hour, full body massage 1,700 baht. Can you spot a happy ending when you see one?

Day 6 we went to this teak palace that had ridiculous security. As in, there were super-armed guards everywhere and you weren't allowed to bring cell phones (or really anything) in with you. I had to go through a metal detector and then pass through a door. Between the door and the metal detector there were two thai chicks. Who felt my butt and thigh as I went past to make sure I wasn't sneaking anything in. And after all that, it was kinda ugly. They had painted over all the gorgeous wood with ugly paint.

That night we had our night cruise, which was really pretty and fun. And I avoided buying the rather unattractive, way over-priced, tourist picture. Because my daddy taught me well :D

The seventh day was so amazing. For our last day we got to do... anything we wanted!

We just had to follow our generic Rotary rules and be back at the hotel by midnight.

So we went to the area with all the malls - and saw crazy Thai people waiting in line for literally hours just to buy some Krispy Kreme donuts. We went to a bookstore, and I got a hardcover set of the Chronicles of Narnia in Thai for 60 bucks (go me!).

We also went to JJ market - it was HUGE! I bought some awesomely sweet watches and a 7-11 shirt. Because Thailand has TONS of 7-11s (everytime there's a traffic jam in Bangkok, a 7-11 gets its wings).

Central Trip was great. I loved hanging with the other Inbounds. I'm so looking forward to Northern Trip, and everyone should go check out photos on FB!

Lots of Love.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Over the Hill - Wait! That's my Mother

Just kidding Mom. I love you. Please don't put coal in my stocking :)

So I’ve told you guys all about RYLA.

(By the way - the answer is: you put a little booger in it!)

The week after that was also a lot of fun. From October 11th to 14th I ended up going to a Hill Tribe village to help build a school. I went with my exchange student friends Aya and Lorena (Lorena’s host Dad being the one who organized this for us). We worked on the school (actually, we were renovating an old building) with students from Chinese International School (Hong Kong) and Concordian International School (Bangkok). We painted, fixed shutters, painted, put tables and benches together, painted those benches and tables. And when we thought we were all done, we painted some more! I kept my paint-stained work gloves and pinned them to my Blazer :) Now, the students from CIS and Concordian stayed at a camp a good 20 minute drive away from the work site. But us Rotarians were special. We got to camp out in a tent right beside the school. Which meant just on the edge of the village. Which meant we were woken every morning at about 4:00 a.m by a rooster. A rooster who was blessed with enough lung power to crow continuously for about 3 hours. And, of course, the village people woke with the rooster. So about 30 minutes after the rooster began his incessant noise-making, the trucks would start rolling through the village. My guess is that the truck drivers were engaged in a vicious competition to see who could honk their horn in the loudest and most annoying fashion. And let me just say: they were all in it to win it.

But that rude awakening was just the start, because after we woke up, we had to shower. (Thais shower obsessively: every morning and evening, and any other time they change and/or have time). When we first went looking for the showers, I thought the person we asked for directions was confused; he kept pointing us towards the toilets.

Oh, toilets in Thailand. The infamous squatty potty. Now, having been raised by a Father who took me hiking and canoeing in places where toilets were a laughable idea and having said Father also take me to Japan twice, I was well familiar with the act of squatting before I came to Thailand. But the Thais have taken it to a whole new level - because they don't have flushing mechanisms, they have large buckets of water beside the toilet with small, handled buckets floating on the top of the water inside. One uses the small bucket to draw water from the large bucket and then pours the water into the toilet so that the pressure of the water makes the toilet "flush". Going to the mountains, I was expecting this. What I wasn't expecting was for the same room (SCRATCH) stall to be our shower. But it was.

We showered by drawing water from the big bucket with the small bucket and then sloshing it over ourselves. So imagine this stall. About 5 by 4 feet, entirely concrete, roof not really connected to the walls. Two nails above the door for clothes and towel, a squatty potty (about 1 ft x 6 in) and a bucket the size of a rain barrel filled with water (and a few drowned bugs). Not a lot of wiggle room. And when you splash water on your self, it tends to spray in the other direction. So to keep my towel and clothes at least somewhat dry, I had to essentially straddle the squat toilet while showering.

But I did it - I even washed my hair. And I know now that wherever I go, whatever I need to do: I can handle it.

Now, all joking aside, it was really hard to see the type of abject poverty these villagers were living in. I mean, a two-room school for 60 students isn't much - but for them it was an incredible luxury. And the collection of stuffed animals we bought for them wasn't large - but it was huge to them. It killed me to think that I probably had a similarly sized collection in my room growing up - and I would scream and fuss if someone tried to take even one away.

I think this experience was good for me. I mean, I'm not an idiot - I've always known there were people in the world in such situations, but there's a big difference between watching the Unicef ads on TV or buying something at Ten Thousand Villages and actually being in a poverty stricken hill-tribe village in Northern Thailand.

Did I mention that the last night of our stay there we had an impromptu dance party and I taught a little 5 year old boy how to "raise the roof"?

Sairung Out.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wow I've Been Lazy

Okay, it has been longer than I thought since I last updated this blog... no wonder everyone's been getting on my case. :)

I blame my lack of writing on the AWESOMENESS that was the month of October. Seriously, it was really good.

I'm going to go back in time and just work through my month, but I'll do it in multiple little posts. That way, if you're using Google Reader you get more exciting notifications. If you're not using Google Reader, well, find your own way to be super-duper-happy about the lack of one monster post.

Now, as some of you may already know, October begins on October first. But for me it really started on October 6th-9th: RYLA!!

RYLA Camp was mandatory for all Inbounds, and for all Thai students wishing to be Outbounds. There were also a few kids hanging around who had already been on exchange.

Despite the fact that it took our bus 9 hours to get from Chiang Mai to Uttaradit (the return took 4 1/2???) it was well worth the lengthy ride.

Getting to hang out with the other Inbounds was, as always, fantastic.

Staying up til 3 in the morning talking with people - part of which involved an hour long conversation with my Californian friend Chantale about burgers - hanging out with a whole group of new Thai kids, trying to teach Thai kids how to Soulja Boy... It was all a blast!

There were many, many presentations - but three of them were truly memorable.

The first of these memorable presentations was having a total BO$$ old Thai guy (seriously, he wore his shades inside and drove a super old Mercedes) showing us a PowerPoint presentation that included: happy jumping M&Ms, Dragon Ball Z animations, and a Harry Potter clip. And then he sang "Smile, and the World Smiles With You" to us and led us in a chorus or three of "If You're Happy and You Know It".

The latter of which involved the verse "If you're happy and youn know it, Rotary!" At which point we all shouted ROTARY! (Or, really, Lotalee) and triumphantly fist-bumped the air above us.

The second, oh so memorable presentation was by a monk. Yes, a monk. A monk who did stand-up comedy. And showed us video of cats falling and running into things, as well as... wait for it.... Charlie Bit My Finger!! Yes, I witnessed a MONK show an auitorium full of teenagers a random, funny YouTube video.

Even if the rest of RYLA had sucked, that would have made it a totally worthwile weekend.

The last memorable video was very, VERY memorable. And not in nearly so pleasant a way as the other two were. This video was of a woman giving birth. And not the whole woman or anything like you get in Bio 30. No, this was just a close up of the -shall we say, critical area... Actually, when it first popped up on the screen I thought the guy had actually opened the wrong video by mistake... Because it was truly just a close-up of the woman's vagina and I (and apparently most of the other YEs) thought that he had opened porn by mistake.

I wish I could forget this video. It was gross. And there are some parts of it that did not look at all like what we learned about happening in Bio 30....

Apparently, this video was to show us how grateful we should be to our mother, because of what she had to go through to give birth to us.

Don't worry though Mom, I don't have some appreciation-guilt-complex now. I know you copped out and had a C-section. :)

So RYLA was great, the team-building exercises were pretty fun, and all in all I had a way better time than I thought I would.

Now, as for: PICTURES!

The first is a pretty great story: I was hanging out with my friends Chantale and Dominique. But I went back to my room at about 11:30/Midnight to shower and put on PJs before we stayed up talking super late. I was sharing said room with my ADORABLE Japanese friend, Aya. I knocked on the door and when there was no answer I assumed she was either asleep or off in someone else's room. I walked in, turned on the light, and found Aya. She was curled up on the bed, still wearing her clothes from the day, with her towel and PJs lying on the bed beside her.

So I booked it to Chantale and Dominique's room and made them come see how CUTE she was.

And then we took pictures. :D

The second is of me and Chantale, after she used her Thai costume lipstick to give me a rather obvious kiss on the cheek.

The third is of a bunch of the YEs. Not all of us. There are about 30 of us. So that for sure wasn't all of us. But it's a cute picture anyways, eh?

I need to go to school now. So I will sign off, and leave you all in breathless anticipation of my next scintillating update.

And the answer to this question:
How do you get a Kleenex to dance?


Sunday, October 3, 2010


I will write a longer update sometime soon (before Wednesday, hopefully).

However, I would just like to say that I saw the most BEAUTIFUL pair of shoes the other day.

They are adorable little black booties and would be comfortable, durable, and practical.

However, they cost me more that a months Rotary allowance.

Thus, contributions in either Thai Baht or Canadian Dollars (actually any currency, I'm not picky) can be made to:

209/1 Charoen Muang Road
Tambol Wat Gate, Amphur Muang
Chiangmai #50000, Thailand

This address can also be used by those of you claiming to be too technologically-challenged to e-mail or comment.

Or if anyone would like to send me a care package. They don't have real hot chocolate over here, so a couple of packets of Land o' Lakes (the BEST hot cocoa ever) would probably make my life.

Okay, I'm done. I love you all.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Different Faces, Different Places

I have noticed an interesting trend in my day to day life here. When walking with my classmates (e.g. to the Chemistry room) I often end up in front. I don't try to do this, but somehow all my attempts to stride along safely in the middle of the pack are thwarted and I am seemingly unconciously thrust out in front. Now, I don't mind leading - some might say I enjoy it really - but there is one big problem about my leading the way in these situations.

I have no idea where I'm going.

But it's alright. I have learned the skill of walking so slowly I'm almost stopped until one of the students near me takes the lead.

In other news, I have now eaten Durian. My parents lied to me when they said it was gross. I think the infamous smell is actually very pleasant, though the squishy texture takes some getting used to but I look forward to eating it again.

The food here is still incredible. The other night I had this curry-esque dish made with Chiang Mai sausage. It was a creamy, spicy ambrosia of love. Maybe my Por will teach me how to make it... :)

And again on the subject of food, on Sunday a group of us (Nicha, Mai Thai, Aya and I) went to Nicha's house. While there, we learned how to make traditional Thai sweets/desserts. One was rainbow candy, made with layers of coconut milk and coloured gelatin. The other type was hot coconut milk with either bananas or pumpkin. I prefer the one with the bananas. But I have recipes so maybe I can treat you all when I get home.

Today I will teach you some Thai. Meuan means "the same" or "similar". Gan is used to say "each other" and lae is used for "and". Putting mai in front of a word or phrase makes it negative. Thus Bprated Thai (Thailand) lae Canada mai meuan gan ka. Te chan chob Bprated Thai mak mak ka.

Got it? Kidding. For those of you who don't speak Thai, I said - or tried to say - Thailand and Canada are not the same. But I love Thailand a lot.

Next week will be interesting. I don't have school because it is Semester 1 exams, and then the entirety of October is a between-semesters break.

In Canada this would be a SUPER YAY!

Here, it's more what am I gonna do?

And maybe if I'm lucky, some of my Thai friends will invite me to hang out with them.

Also, I have some Rotary events lined up for this month. October 6th to 9th is RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, for those of you who do not speak fluent Rotarian). All the exchange students in my district will be there and I hope to meet some cool Thais as well.

Then from October 18th to 25th.I have... wait for it... CENTRAL TRIP. It is going to be LEGENDARY! We're going ton Bangkok and other places, and I very well might just post my itinerary up in next weeks post (too lazy to do it now).

A quick side not, if you are not on Facebook and thus do not get the joy of seeing all my lovely photos, you can e-mail me at jocelyn.boere@gmail.com or jboere@yex5360.org

But back to the story telling. It seems as though every week some new, interesting thing is going on at my school. This week, it's been presentations about the different parts of Thailand. So on Wednesday, us White Chicks ambled over at lunch and watched some extremely sweet and innocent Thai girls dancing to music filled with, uh... suggestive... noises. And by suggestive I mean à la restaurant scene in "When Harry Met Sally". It's times like that, or when I see girls with Playboy brand purses and other such paraphenalia, that I wonder if they really get what it all means. :/

So that's what's new in my life - not very much, I know. My life is in essence pretty average. Why are people reading this anyways? Jk, I love you all.

Until Next Time


And yes Becky, I did steal the title of this post from a Between the Trees post. :) Thought of you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

If I Should Die, It's Because of Muay Thai

This past week I started normal classes. This means that instead of Mai Thai, Nicha, and I standing around in a group, confusedly watching what the Thai kids were doing as we moved from class to class, we were split up and put into real, normal classes. Now don't get me wrong here - we're happy about this. It actually took a great deal of fast-talking to convince the teachers that we wouldn't be bored out of our minds - and that our Thai would fare better if we didn't just talk to each other day in, day out.

And thus began the saga of my time in 5/5. M5 (Maw Ha) is the Thai name for grade 11 and the /5 is my class number. All the /5 classes at Satit (My School) study French as well as English - probably not a shock that that is where I was placed.

I have many friends in my class, but to be brutally honest I can't remember most of their names. However, they are all super nice and take very good care of the white chick who is now a part of their everyday lives. Gee, the girl who sits beside me, went to the U.S. on exchange, and so she translates for me if/when I need it. The English teacher finds it amusing that I give her answers in class that she couldn't have otherwise known - such as idioms.

On a side note, I realized how stupid most English idioms are when I was forced to explain them to my Thai pals.

So school is fun - Mai Thai, Nicha and I still eat lunch together; a nice compromise between being with them all the time and never seeing them at all. And every Monday and Thursday we leave class early to go to Aerobics and Weight Training.

I never, EVER, thought I would say this, but Aerobics is really fun. And I actually use the treadmill in weight training. (I know, I know! Who am I? And where's Jocelyn?).

On Wednesday I went to my first real Muay Thai session. The best way to imagine ridiculously out-of-shape me attempting to do intense Thai kick-boxing is kind of like this: imagine a person who has never gone swimming in their life and who has only a vague idea of the theory behind it attempting a Channel Crossing as their first swim.

I floated, then I flailed around like a squid having a seizure, and then I died.

And I was only there for 2 hours.

I almost fell asleep at dinner that night, but it was good fun. I go back again this week so wish me luck (if you haven't already realised, I desperately need it).

Thursday was an interesting day. Every Thursday the boys have military training. This training allows them to opt out of mandatory service at 21, but leaves the government with enough well-trained, able-bodied young men should they ever go to war. Because of this training, I do nothing until the mod before lunch. Then I have a class that consists of sitting in an air-conditioned room, watching American TV shows on a big projector screen. Last week, it was Castle; the week before, Prison Break.

After lunch, we were told the M4's were to be putting on a play - Snow White. So Mai Thai, Nicha, and I decided to go. We figured that even with the language barrier we would get what was going on.

We were wrong.

For starters, the entire show - EVERYTHING - was lip synced to what I think were recordings of the kids (maybe). But that wasn't the really weird part.

It started off with groups of kids dancing (& lip syncing) to popular songs - but only for about 1 minute sections of each song. O.O Then - and I mean after many confusing dancing performances, Snow White started.

There was a teacher telling his class that Snow White was their assignment of the day and then it began. Snow White's costume was one of those little girls' princess dresses pinned to the front of her uniform. She and some 'birds' danced to "A Happy Working Song" from Disney's Enchanted. Then the 'dwarfs' danced to what I assume is a Thai or Korean pop song.

There ended Snow White.

The final performance of the day was a short & sweet Cinderella in which everyone save for the step-mother and -sisters wore traditional Thai clothing. The step-mother was played by a lady-boy who was way more feminine than I am.

Now, my description may sound slightly disparaging, and I don't mean to convey that spirit. The entire entity of these myriad performances was made deeply enjoyable by the gusto with which the Thais immersed themselves in every part. The actors had worked hard and were having fun - and the audience was having a blast. It was incredible to see how they enjoyed the plays for what they were, rather than sitting there, disappointed because of what they could have been. I thing Canadian teenagers could stand to learn a thing or two from the Thais.

Friday, I went to a party with my host sister and a bunch of girls from my class. Essentially, we had delicious food (and TONS of it) and then just sat around singing, playing guitar, and having a generally good time. I met a very nice American University Student named Ted who is here on a study abroad program. Good times were had by all.

On Saturday, Mai Thai and I went for a mosey around the city, and ended up in this busy market street filled with stores selling beautiful Thai silk hangings, and clothes. I almost managed to restrain myself and ended up buying a small ring. And shaving cream. Funny story about that.

So we walked into this tiny little drug store, probably about 40 by 40 feet that had about 80 Thai people in it. And lots of shelves. Essentially, it was almost impossible to move. But I was on a mission. I needed to find shaving cream. So I approached a kindly store attendant - who spoke about 4 words of English. After having her show me about 10 different variations on Nair (hair removing cream) I finally gave up and threw my dignity to the wind (like it hadn't left forever ago...) and I made aerosol noises and patted my hands against my face - mimicking a man putting on shaving cream and then shaving. So now I own Nivea (For Men) Shaving Cream and some random Thai lady probably thinks I shave my face.

On Sunday, I went to the Chiangmai Zoo with Aya (from Japan), Nicha (you know who she is), Isabella and Lorena (from Brazil) and Nicha's host sister Pim (and friends). I'll post photos up on FB but it was AWESOME! I fed an Elephant, saw about a billion kinds of fish, two white tigers, 3 pandas (one of whom, Lin Ping, is apparently famous), and tons of other animals. It was so cool. I think the last zoo I went to was the Melbourne Zoo when I was 9 (I was a neglected child), and the Chiangmai Zoo is to zoos what an old-fashioned Nalgene is to your average water bottle.

Before I sign off I'd like to give a shout-out to Julilla Paul, who always comments and makes me feel loved. To the rest of you, I'd loved to know if you're reading. If you can't figure out how to comment, send me an e-mail or write on my wall. If you're a Rotarian, I give you permission to just tell Gwen on Thursday morning and make her contact me :) (isn't that what counselors are for?).

Last, but most certainly not least, I'd just like to say this. As many of you are no doubt aware, my Grandma passed away on September 7th. I just want to thank you all for your love, prayers, and support as I deal with this loss.

Yours in Love and Rotary,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Think Therefore Siam

I tried to convince MaiThai to name her blog that. Apparently she didn’t find it as amusing as I did (I mean, c’mon guys, you miss my terrible puns).

I’m sorry about taking so long with this post – I’m so tired when I get home from school that I just lay on my bed in a semi-comatose state.

Speaking of school, it’s a pretty sweet place. Essentially, I do almost nothing because we’re not in normal classes. However, the other two girls and I have convinced our teachers to put us in normal classes starting next week.

So far, I’ve gone to art (which I’m really bad at), Thai Dancing (where I stand like an idiot and wave my hands around like a hyper child armed with pool noodles), French (which is just like sitting in an English class), and a few other random classes that we just get suddenly thrown into. Also, the other day I went to Chemistry class. It was so awesome! They were studying Hydrocarbons (i.e. what I studied last year), and they use the same nomenclature as we do in English and draw their diagrams the same, so I was able to understand. In fact, I even gave one of my Thai friends the answer at one point (go White Chick!).

The kids are really nice – though they rarely approach us farang when we’re all in a group. I have learned how to ask people to speak Thai to me, and (just as importantly) how to ask them to speak slowly.

I can now almost read Thai (kind of). There are maybe 7 vowels that I don’t know, and that’s because they are combinations of other vowels but don’t actually mesh those sounds together, as you might assume. Instead, these combinations make completely different sounds that are completely illogical. Not to mention, as soon as I think I’ve learned all the vowels a new one leaps out of nowhere. I swear. It’s as though there are these awkward vowel sounds just lurking in the shadows for whenever I start to feel confident about my reading capabilities.

But now when people come over to my house my Mae has me read for them (yeah…). It’s actually pretty cool, because Thai people continue to be extremely supportive of my struggling attempts to communicate.

The first day, before school, we went to go feed the monks. This is actually a really cool part of their religion, in my (not so) humble opinion, because the monks will eat only what they are given in their morning walk up to wherever they go (I think there’s a temple higher up the hill up which they all walk each morning).

Everyday driving through the city in the morning you can see the monks coming from all over and all eventually converging on the passage up this hill. And they are all barefoot, which is pretty intense – especially in a place like Thailand.

But onwards and upwards, my friends, to the world of Blazers and Banners, Sergeants and Presidents, and rooms filled with primarily middle-aged Thai people.

Yes indeed, I speak of none other than the marvellous world of Rotary club meetings.

The first meeting I went to, there were three Japanese businessmen visiting from the club of Tokyo North. They and my club (Lanna ChiangMai, for those who care) have raised I believe about 30, 000 $ to go towards building dams in some 3rd World country (I didn’t catch the name) which will re-hydrate multiple dried up springs and give water to many needy people.

I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t catch a lot of that presentation – but the gist was that I met cool Japanese people. My Mae warned me in advance that they would be there so I was able to prepare and bring an extra banner for them.

They were very kind, even going so far as to compliment the three stilted sentences I managed to spew out in barely-remembered Japanese. I thought it was really incredible that already I am making connections through Rotary – it truly made me feel like an ambassador of not only Canada, but of Rotary Sunrise Lethbridge and Rotary Youth Exchange in general.

Right now, I am at Orientation. It’s a pretty great time. All the kids here are really nice and we’ve been having a lot of fun. Hopefully I’ll be able to update you all on the entirety of this experience sometime in the coming week.

And, as you can see, I have incorporated pictures of my new shoes (goal 3 - COMPLETE)



P.S. I start Muay Thai next week! =D

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Elephants Stink and Other Stories.

On Sunday, my family went on an exciting road-trip to Lampang. One sign along the road said “Lampoon Thai Silk”, but I’m pretty sure they meant Lampun (a neighbouring city).

Also, Neil, if you are reading this, I thought of you when I saw the adverts for Lactasoy! (See, your lactase deficiencies got you a shout-out on my blog… Kinda makes it worth it, eh?)

Anyways, back to Sunday.

After spending some requisite time at the airport, seeing off yet another YE from our district, we all piled into the car and took off.

First, we went to the Elephant Hospital. It was a pretty darn cool place.

It’s run by FAE (Friends of the Asian Elephant). They take care of many elephants with a multitude of ailments. A few have stepped on landmines and lost or gravely damaged their feet. There have also been some that are addicted to Amphetamines and the like, the hospital works hard to make these guys better.

It’s actually decently sad, this hospital’s efforts have been thwarted at every turn by the government and other meanies D=

But I like this place, it’s a pretty awesome endeavour and I got to see non-zoo elephants (squee!).

They didn't stink that much, really. It just smelled like any barn.


Driving in Thailand is Confusing, Exhilarating, and just a little bit scary.

So far I have seen 2 speed-denoting signs in this country. One was for an extremely iffy mountain road and was 20 km/h. The other was upon entering the area of a school. The second one of these, however, said only “School. Slow Speed.” Which is ambiguous at best.

From what I’ve observed, there is one actual traffic law in this country it is:

Hey, if you don’t mind, could you try to kind of stay towards the left-ish side of the road if it doesn’t immediately inconvenience you to do so?

Other than that, well, let’s just call the lines on the road pitiful attempts at order that should be ignored at all costs.

No one wears seat-belts here, though sometimes the driver will just suddenly buckle up. I don’t mean they get in and think “you know, this is dangerous stuff, I should try to safe-guard myself”. No, I mean half-way through a drive, or just before the entrance to a parking lot, or something like that they just throw that seat-belt on with more nonchalance than James Bond at his most suave.

I’m also beginning to wonder why they have traffic lights over here. I can’t count the number of times we’ve just driven through intersections when the light’s red.

Thank goodness we drive an SUV and no one over here has an F-350. I feel fairly confident that if we get in a crash, it will be the poor sucker in the Nissan getting creamed.


Speaking of cars (which for anyone who wasn’t reading, I was) I saw a Datsun the other day. It was a sweet bright green colour.

But anyways, after the Elephants, we went to lunch. We stopped at a roadside noodle place. I had some absolutely delicious yellow noodles, and we had some awesome drinks. One that made me really think of my Mommy Dearest was chrysanthemum tea. I would for sure recommend it to any of you.

After that, we went on to a temple. It’s a big Temple, a landmark of Lampang. It is also the temple of the cow. Khun Por was born in the year of the cow, and it was his birthday this week, so he went to pray at this specific temple.

It was very nice. According to Wikipedia its name is Wat Pra That Lampang Luang. It was pretty awesome. Check out pics of me on Facebook if you’d like to see it. In the photos of me in front of the dragons, I am doing my best dragon impression. If you don’t have FB, send me an e-mail, or comment and leave your e-mail and I can show you some awesomeness.

Apparently, the Burmese attacked this temple at one point. In the gate around the pagoda, there are still visible bullet holes.

Then we went to the chicken temple. Apparently, I was born in the year of the chicken so this is my birth-year temple.

I think my Na Ood has it the worse off, though. Her birth-year temple is in Burma. Needless to say, she doesn’t go there every year.

The temples are beautiful. They are decorated with gold paint and shards of coloured glass, which is apparently a cost-effective way to make pretty shimmery walls.

I thought the most interesting temple was the one we went to after this, though. It was dedicated not to Buddha, but to a hermit who had closely followed his teachings. It was an out of the way, run down little shrine but I appreciated it way more than the tourist-filled, big, gold temples we went to earlier.

This small shrine, surrounded on all sides by forest, was a deeply spiritual place; even though for me the shrine itself held no intrinsic value as a part of my religion.

Having been to temples with my family in Japan, I was surprised at how this was not at all the same. I found going to the temples to be an incredibly different experience when I went with actual Buddhists. Instead of looking in as an outsider at albeit beautiful buildings, I got to see the actual emotional and spiritual impact such places held for my family, especially Khun Por and Ann.

After the temples we went to the market.


I saw: dried frogs in a bag, live crabs in a bag, a bowl of live crickets and other assorted insects (that one was kind of gross) and much, much more. Mom would have appreciated the extensive vegetable and herb choices available – for not very much money at all. I didn’t see one thing there that cost more than 10 $CAD; and most things were under 1$!

I tried a deep-fried silk worm. It was crunchy on the outside and squishy on the inside and kinda salty.

Not impressed, maybe grasshoppers will be better?

In total that day I saw: 15 emaciated cows, a number of skinny ponies, innumerable chickens, 3 roosters, 2 peacocks, 1 cat, multiple stray dogs (mainly in the temples), 1 busker (pic on FB), 5 kids under 10 trying to sell us lottery tickets, and 1 water buffalo.

On the whole, it was a great day.



Next Time: Monks, Schools, Rotarians, and Japanese Businessman. Coming your way soon (hopefully).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Potentially Less-Than-Epic Saga of My Illness.

I guess it all started one charming Saturday afternoon… I went to the tailor’s to pick up my uniform and it actually fell off. As in completely fell off, was not even held up by my butt and hips if I was standing with my feet together. According to the handy-dandy measuring tapes they had there I had lost about 2-3 inches around my middle.

When we got back home I went to my room to lie down, due to the fact that I was feeling kind of vaguely nauseous. At that point, I was considering the likelihood of this being due to my rather drastic change in diet over the past few days.

I begged off of dinner that evening, took a Gravol, and fell asleep at about 5:45. The next day, I still wasn’t feeling too hunky dory, so I rested up until we left to take Nan to the airport at 11:00.

Ohhh man. You guys would not have believed it! We got to the airport at about 11:45 and it was just our family, and then some of her friends were there. And then more friends were there, and more friends, and parents of friends, and friends of parents, and more friends. I am not exaggerating in saying that in the end there were about 50-60 people there, all standing in this huge mass of constantly shifting and moving and running and milling and gift-giving people in the middle of the airport, saying goodbye to Nan.

We were there at about 12:00 to see her off for a 1:30 flight. This means, essentially, that I and the two other exchange students already in Chiangmai stood at the sidelines of this pandemonium for over an hour while a whole lot of people did a whole lot of stuff in a language we didn’t understand.

Now, I’m not sure how the other exchange students felt, but if you look at photos on Facebook, those of you who know me may notice something peculiar. My cheeks had absolutely no colour in them. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I spent this rather lengthy period in the airport feeling sickly and concentrating on two simple objectives.

1 – Don’t vomit
2 – Don’t faint

Now, I managed to successfully complete both my mission objectives, though I did get really dizzy at one point and fell into the poor Brazilian girl standing beside me. But I’m pretty sure she just thought I was clumsy enough to trip over my own two feet, standing still in a crowded airport. (Which is really more up Allayna’s alley than mine…)

After the big celebration and innumerable “Sawatdeeka”s (which is how they say goodbye over here) we – Khun Mae, my Aunt, and I – were back in the car, headed home.

Or not.

Actually, we stopped at this adorable little Japanese restaurant to meet up with my other aunt and her two kids. I was, at this point, decently feverish and I had some intense nausea. So while everybody else around me sunk into absolutely amazing looking food I drank a cup of cocoa and tried to ignore the fact that I saw a cockroach skitter across the floor.

After that, we finally got home. I went to go lie down and I think the rest of my family ate dinner. Then, Khun Mae and Na Oot (my aunt, and the spelling is a total guess) went to the hospital, it was maybe 7:00, 7:30 in the evening.

The hospital was a pretty spic and span place. And man were they efficient! I signed in and went to sit down. Then I was called up to this little desk thing in the ER, weighed, and had my blood pressure taken. After that, I took a seat again and after not too long I was seen by a doctor.

Those of you who have suffered through the lengthy waits and privacy-lacking admissions in our hometown Emerge would have appreciated the setup they have at McCormick hospital. Instead of being admitted back into some area filled with little cloth-separated cubicles, they have multiple small rooms in a row along the wall in the ER, with sliding doors. My doctor was a brisk and efficient, and extremely kind, Thai woman in her mid-fifties, with surprisingly good English.

She prescribed me a blood test, which I went to immediately. I was told that we would have the results in an hour. When the hour was up, the doc said she was worried I had Dengue fever, gave me an electrolyte drink and some antibiotics, and told me she wanted to see me again tomorrow.

What really surprised me was that I’ve had that same doc my entire stay. I don’t know how it all works here, but obviously Doctors in the ER aren’t exclusive to that one area.

But anyways, when I went back the next night (Monday for those of you who didn’t want to have to exercise simple logic) I was admitted, and given the happy news that I didn’t have Dengue fever.

Then I spent the next few days in a Thai hospital. Thank goodness for Jack McCoy and Lennie Briscoe, they kept me from being bored out of my mind. (Law & Order reference, for all those who aren’t obsessed with crime shows from the 90s).

The nurses here still wear those classic nurse outfits. They have these little short-sleeved buttoned up shirts and pencil skirts and those awesome nurse hats – you know which ones I’m talking about. But instead of being classic white, their outfits are all pale purple. They are very nice nurses and all seem to get a kick out of Oster Hause (my stuffed rabbit, who just happened to climb into my luggage).

Most of them seem to be ridiculously efficient, though something interesting happened Tuesday. The nurse fumbled when attaching the line from my antibiotics to my IV line of saline solution, I think it had leaked out and was kind of wet and so she accidentally popped out the attached part from my main IV line too. Did you know that when there’s nothing going into the blood from the IV, the blood decides to see what life is like on the outside? That’s right; some of my blood took a field trip up my IV line. But she got it sorted, and I haven’t died from a bubble yet, though Law & Order tells me it’s possible.

But onwards and upwards my friends, as this is getting to be a fairly lengthy post.

I was staying, as previously mentioned, in McCormick hospital. From what I can tell, it’s a missionary hospital – it’s certainly Christian. My medicine came in little baggies that said ‘We prescribe medicine but Jesus Christ is the Healer’. Which I thought was a very nice sentiment. A little funnier, however, are the sugar and creamer packets. They say, in nice big block letters. GOD BLESS YOU. Isn’t that adorable?

I know being out of hospital isn’t a clean bill of health. It’s gonna take awhile before I can go out and eat anything I want to, but at least now when I go to sleep I don’t have to worry about where my IV arm is and whether or not the flow of my IV is being impeded because I’ve decided to sleep curled around Oster.

Thank you so much for all the warm wishes and prayers.

If this posting is slightly disjointed and doesn’t read quite right – I was sick, cut me some slack.

Huge bundles of love and cuddles to you all,


Friday, August 6, 2010

I Would be Perfectly Content to Eat Nothing But Yellow Mangoes for the Rest of My Life

So, here I am. Sitting on my bed in Chiangmai, listening to some awesome post-rock, and studying my Thai. Well, I was. I can now string short sentences together, mainly about eating, and when people talk I am able to pick up some vowels like ‘to be’ and ‘to go’.

My host family is extremely kind. Just a quick recap so I don’t have to keep on explaining: Khun Mae is my mom, Khun Por is my dad, and Ann and Nan are my sisters. Nan is to be living in Raymond, AB, for the next year. I hope you guys will make her feel as welcomed in Southern Alberta as I have felt here.

Khun Mae is very kind, when we go somewhere in the car she teaches me short phrases in Thai and is extremely encouraging. Quite frankly, if it were I having to sit there while some strange foreigner pointed out rot si deng! Every time we saw a red car, and rot si kao every time we saw a white car, and so on and so forth I don’t think I would be nearly as kind about it.

Khun Por doesn’t speak much English. However, he is a very good cook and has taken to piling food on my plate and adding all the little spices and such that they eat with their food.

My sisters are very nice and always more than suitably impressed when I attempt to utter some terribly-accented Thai phrase.

I live in a nice house in essentially the center of Chiangmai, I have a room to myself, and my bed is about 16 times more comfortable than that I had at home (but that’s not really saying much). I start school a week from Monday, because they want to wait so I can start with another kid. This mean that next week I get to stay home alone. Khun Mae said she would give me a key and I could go out and explore the city. I will attempt to upload some sort of map on this here blog to show you all where I go each day.

But anyways, that being said let’s move on to the important stuff.


Oh man, you guys would not believe the fruit over here! The yellow mangos are so juicy and sweet. They have lychees too, and persimmons. OM NOM NOM (That was for you, Carlson).

And yesterday my host mom took me for lunch at this incredible little hole-in-the-wall. We had green curry and red curry (the difference being that green curry is made from green chilli and the red curry is made from red chilli) at least, that’s how Khun Mae explained it to me. I just ate it, and it was delicious. Then for supper we went to this Restaurant inside this big sports-building-place (don’t blame me, it was dark) and we had more delicious rice with seafood curry. And this really good thin noodle dish. Which, incidentally, they also eat with rice. This morning we ate this soupy rice dish with liver and pork. And then they add in ginger and onions and all sorts of stuff. I am going to have a much stronger stomach by next summer.

I am trying to master the art of eating with a fork and spoon. I’m pretty sure I look like a slightly demented goat attempting to use utensils despite the lack of opposable thumbs (or any digits at all, really).

I think that’s about it. Next week I will give you all the low-down on my Chiangmai adventures of epicness.

Next time on SlightlyAwkward TV…

Crazy foreign girl makes complete fool of herself, Weird chick uses the wrong tone when speaking, and Canadian in Thailanad burns the roof of her mouth off.

Stay tuned for even more embarrassing stories…

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

StarCraft Airplanes and other Excitements

So, I’m sitting in the Korean Airport, signing to myself my little airport ditty: “hopefully boarding the airport soon dah doo dee doo/American tourists doing the wrong thing dah doo dee doo/That announcement was in Japanese that’s so cool” and so on and so forth, when suddenly I glance to my right and see – wait for it – the Air Korea StarCraft Plane! So I booked 4it to the window and essentially threw all my stuff to the ground, simultaneously attempting to extract my camera from its spot at the bottom of my purse, all so that I might catch one decent picture of a really cool plane. And I did.

In other news, I watched “The Joneses” on the plane, I would totally recommend it as David Duchovny was some hot stuff.

After the whole crazy-girl-StarCraft thingy, I managed to safely board the Air Korea flight to Chiangmai. Much like the flight my family took from Narita to Sapporo, the average sized plane was fairly close to empty. I was in a window seat with only one seat beside me, but it wasn’t occupied so I curled up and slept for 5 hours.
I got off the plane, stood in a big line-up for quite a while to get through immigration, grabbed my baggage and walked out of Security.

Standing at the area where people stand to pick people up from the airport was a group of about 15 Thai people with a banner that bore the words "Welcome to Chiangmai Jocelyn Boere" and some pictures of both me and famous places in Chiangmai. I kid you not. So I met a whole bunch of people and got given this massive bouquet of roses and it was very nice.

Then I was brought home by my Khun Mae (Mom) and Ann and Nan, my two sisters. I was fed fruit (absolutely delicious lychees) and sent off to an extremely comfortable bed. The next morning I was woken up fairly early by Khun Mae. Then row bpai dtalad, i.e. we went to the market. Oh man, the market. Of course this was just the ‘little’ market near our house – it was still pretty big, to my mind. The first part was fairly normal looking. It was just a lot of people selling cooked – mainly deep-fried – food. I tried deep-fried chicken skin! It was delicious… But anyways, we walked around the cooked food area and then we moved on, to what I assumed would be the fruit & veg area. NOPE! One big area of this market was devoted to the sale of meat and fish. Mainly meat. And I mean raw meat. There was raw pork, chicken, there was even – just laying on a table somewhere – a raw cow's stomach, looking all green and sickly. Actually, it bore a striking resemblance to how I always envisioned the skin of a tauntaun, only greener. It was pretty cool. Then we went to the fruit and veg area and that was great too. There was so much stuff! I’ve already eaten yellow mango, green mango, and persimmon!

Later that day we went to order me a uniform, and set up a bank account.

Chiangmai is the COOLEST PLACE EVER! I’m so glad I was sent here.

I ate Chinese food for dinner last night. We fed nine people full to bursting, with food left over, at this nice restaurant for about 2000 baht (which is just over 60$ CAN.) that’s pretty darn cheap for the quality of food we were eating. Think about it guys, about 7$ per person.

I also saw my new favourite store in the world, even though I haven’t been in yet. It’s called My Shoes! I think you can figure the rest out for yourselves.

Alrighty, that’s about it.

I love you all, and think you should comment so that I know I’m not doing this solely for Rach’s benefit (though you know I wouldn’t stop, babe).


Sai-rung (that’s my Thai name, it means rainbow)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Korean Stewardesses Know Where It's At!

Seriously, they are well dressed. They are sporting cream coloured pencil skirts, shiny aqua shirts (literally, shiny) and great shoes. And they have those awesome little stewardess scarves.

Anyhoo, I am sitting here, in Vancouver, waiting for the party to start!

That's right, almost time to board that plane!


So far, I have been hit (or leched, depending on how generous you're feeling) on by a security guard, partied with some Japanese people and discovered my Disney Princess Huggies Wipes are scented.

Essentially, I'm having a great time. I should probs go. we're gonna board soon but Thanks for Reading!

Post a comment about how YOU feel about ridiculously small pizzas, or sanitation challenged Pizza Huts, or insanely ADORABLE Korean 2 year olds, like the one that just sat down beside me.

I love you all,

Jocelyn (AKA Woman Soon to be in Thailand)