Wrapping Up September

Wrapping Up September

September is usually the time of year where students head back to school, the days start getting shorter, and the weather starts getting cooler. Here in Thailand, we are finishing first semester of school, which started in May, it’s the rainy season, but still warm, and due to the proximity to the equator, the change of day length is hardly noticeable. I’ve managed to work hard, and balance that with a lot of laughs.

Still love the view from my porch in the rainy season, euphemistically known as ‘the green season’. You can see why here.

Getting final projects done at school, with portfolios, and report cards is always a substantial amount of work, but we also had a final presentation for the students to show their parents what they’ve learned over past semester.

One of the topics my students learned about was the environmental impact that humans have caused on Earth. They chose a topic that they felt passionate about, and presented their findings through art work and an informative poster. The students used mainly recycled materials to make their art and posters. They not only stated the problem, but researched and gave suggestions for potential solutions. We turned our classroom into an art gallery and invited parents and guests to come see their art opening, have Q and A with the artists, and enjoy some homemade refreshments.

Dolphin slaughter in Japan

Oil spills

Air pollution – note the different sources of pollution, the acid rain, and the dead flower

polluted beaches

polluted oceans

Kru Goy and I are very proud of them

This was only part of the subject matter they taught our adult guests, they also had PE, art, math, and music. Each class got 15 minutes for the students to teach the activity. It was like ‘speed teaching’.

In maths class, the students challenged the adults to see who could make the perimeter of a shape the quickest using wooden pegs, string, and measuring tape. Um… the students won, but our string was all tangled – unfair! It was good fun anyway.

In music class the students played a song, then taught the adults to play the same song on a variety of instruments.

I was too involved having fun doing the PE and art activities to take any photos.

At the end of the day it was time for cleaning the classroom Gangnam Style.

Cleaning Gangnam Style

Sadly, we are saying goodbye to two wonderful teachers. We sure will miss you Kru Claire and Kru Yuzu.

Kru Claire as the princess looking for her lost friend.

Kru Yuzu, playing the lost friend

Outside of school, yoga, ceramics, and Thai classes, I’ve managed to find time to have fun with friends in lovely Chiang Mai.

Getting coffee and croissants for 25 baht with Claire, Yuzu, and Jessica at ‘the farang farm’.

farang farm foliage

Enveloped in verdant hues – more evidence of the green season

As long as it’s not raining, Chiang Mai looks about the same at night all year long. Here are some pictures taken from the sweetest sidecar in the city – Christophe’s Aum Mobile. Their blurriness gives them an ethereal sense of movement that I feel represents Chiang Mai nighttime.

Songthaew driving around the moat

Christophe shopping late night at the flower market

Rose in the Aum Mobile. Seriously, look how beautiful that vehicle is! (Obviously, look how beautiful Rose is too:) While Christophe drives with Rose and me in the sidecar, both Thai people and foreigners smile.

Tuk tuk drivers and passengers giving us the thumbs up.

Christophe and Rose in the sweet side car near the moat.

laughing in the sidecar…

…as we drive the wrong way down one way street. Mai bpen rai it’s Thailand.

After a night of laughing and sidecar adventures, I love that the gardenias (ketawa) still smell so good the next morning.

Now September is done, we’ve had a full moon in Aries and it’s the beginning of a new month – new beginnings abound. Unlike teachers in other places, it’s now our holiday here. I have the majority of October off and tomorrow I am heading to a place I have wanted to go for about 15 years and that is Burma (or Myanmar). When I was here in 2000 I thought I’d visit there, but the political situation left much to be desired, so I didn’t. Burma still has a lot of restrictions on travel and modern conveniences: no ATMs, limited and slow internet, and I won’t have a cell phone.

I’m signing off for about 3 weeks, but will return with photos and stories-o-plenty. Enjoy October in all its autumnal glory.

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Local Market Heaven

Local Market Heaven

One of the many favorite things I have about Thailand is shopping for food at the local markets. Thailand is brimming with all sorts of markets selling everything from engine parts, to herbal medicine, to clothing, to Buddha amulets, to food.

Today I will focus on food.

My local market is between Canal and Hang Dong Road, but honestly, I don’t know its name. It is on my way home from work and is most active on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Upon entering there is usually a little Je or vegetarian stall where I almost always make a purchase of salai – seaweed, khao niaow mamuang – mango with sticky rice, sometimes a salad, sometimes the mushrooms that look like and have the texture of meat, sometimes a spicy dish with fried tofu, it’s different and tasty every time.

Even though I’ve lived here for a while now, I still have a bit of reverse sticker shock with how cheap food is. At the moment it is 31 baht = $1 USD. Here are several examples, but by no means all, of the food available at the market on any given day.

Leaf wrapped sticky rice with a variety of fillings.

Sticky rice and banana, or sticky rice and yam wrapped in leaves. 5 baht each.

Grilled fish stuffed with lemongrass. I haven't bought this yet because it's too big for one person. I have bought it closer to my house and it's delicious. Price range: 100 - 150 baht (with all the fixings) depending on the size of the fish, but big enough to feed two people usually.

Tomatoes, onions, and cute little green eggplant. 5 baht a bag of about 10 each.

piles of manao - limes. 4 for 10 baht.

Spicy Thai chilis - phrik. A plate full for 10 baht.

Insect larvae. I don't know how much they cost. I haven't tried them yet.

Green mangoes mamuang and passion fruit saurot. These are by the kilo, but nonetheless, they just don't cost very much and they are scrumptious.

A small portion of the gargantuan variety of greens available. 5 baht a bunch.

More fish, but I don't buy these...

...I have bought these. Live little fish for my pond. 5 baht each.

There are also turtles available. I'm not sure what kind they are or how to care for them.

It's also a good place to buy food for the fish in my pond.

...or one of these brooms, which are ubiquitous in Thailand. 20 baht.

Just in case you need one there is 'Just's bra' and underwear. Not sure where you could try these on. I bought a pair of underwear for 35 baht. Unsurprisingly, they are a little small. Don't even get me started on bras. I digress, time to return to food...

The mushroom hed lady. The aroy Thai mushrooms called eringi are 20 baht a bag.

Jackfruit, bananas, long beans, basil, and other unidentifiable edible items for sale.

Banana flowers, broad beans, mushrooms, and more!

Here's a new one - spices. I bought 2 bags for 20 baht total.

There is so much more available: prepared food that looks and smells delicious, but is almost never vegetarian. I’ve bought perfect vegetarian fried spring rolls for 5 baht each. The meat skewers always smell wonderful, but worry me when I see the flies attracted to them. The curries almost always have pork, chicken, or my least favorite – the coagulated blood chunks. I ask if things are vegetarian and I even try a lot of food that isn’t, but certain things I still can’t eat. I ate the coagulated blood in a chicken curry once at a friend’s house and almost gagged. I thought it was a mushroom. It took all my composure to swallow and not spit it out. My friend loves it.

Although I can’t deal with meat, I do consistently expand my food assemblage by trying new fruits and vegetables each time I go to the market. That in itself should keep me occupied for quite some time.

Today I tried long purple beans and cut them up for a Thai curry. Yummy!

The nice things about this particular open market are: it’s never too crowded, though there are always a bunch of people, and I am usually one of 2, at the most, foreigners. The variety of pungent scents that accompany so many Asian markets, is kept to a minimum. People are friendly. Thai people at this market are starting to recognize me and that feels very welcoming. Prices are ridiculously cheap!

My usual cost of dinner, cooked and ready to go in a plastic 😦 bag always sealed impossibly quickly and tightly wrapped with a rubber band: 20 – 40 baht. If I cook dinner myself with local ingredients the cost is similar. If I go to the grocery store to buy foreign food, the price escalates significantly. As the weather gets hotter, and the novelty of having a kitchen is wearing off, I find myself eating street or market food on a more regular basis. The way I see it, what’s wrong with that? It’s Thailand, the food can be healthy, and undoubtedly is always delicious. Aroy maak! อร่อยมาก!