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)