It’s the Little Things That Make Me Smile…Like Purple Dogs สุนัขสีม่วง

It’s the Little Things That Make Me Smile…Like Purple Dogs สุนัขสีม่วง

That’s right, purple dogs. Are they purple because the owner is feeling festive? No. In Thailand there are street dogs everywhere. They are referred to as soi dogs because the alley-like streets in Thailand are called sois. Who takes care of these dogs? Well, many Thai people will feed these dogs on a regular basis, but otherwise they’re on the street.

Purple soi dog in action on the soi near my house

Purple soi dog in action on the soi near my house

So, why are they purple? The color is from a medication that people put on the dogs for mange. Since there are so many soi dogs, there are also a lot of mangy dogs. Mange is a skin disease caused in some mammals (not humans) by mites. It’s very itchy and makes them lose fur.

This little guy I met in Burma, was so cute and friendly, but he already had some mange on his head

This poor little guy I met in Burma was so cute and friendly, but he already had some mange on his head. I don’t know if they use the purple medicine there.

Sometimes if people don’t want dogs, they take them to the local temple to be looked after there. I want to adopt one from a temple or a dog shelter.

Here a woman is applying the purple mange medicine to some dogs at Wat Chang Man.

Here a kind woman is applying the purple mange medicine to some dogs at Wat Chang Man.

Dogs in clothes at Wat Chang Man - some with purple on them.

Dogs in clothes at Wat Chang Man – some with purple on them

Slightly purple dog in clothes

Slightly purple dog in clothes

I spotted this guy on my local soi while riding my bicycle

I spotted this guy on my local soi while riding my bicycle

He walked over toward me and neither of us was sure what to make of each other

He walked over toward me, but neither one of us was sure what to make of each other. He obviously had an owner based on the amount of purple on him.

In the end he seemed friendly enough, and as interested in me as I was him.

In the end he seemed friendly enough, though I wasn’t 100% sure. He very interested in why I was taking pictures of him.

The only reason I haven’t adopted a dog yet is because I’m at work all day and the dog would be left alone. Now having a housemate who likes dogs with a different schedule from mine, there may be a dog in the not so far away future. Maybe soon I can have my very own purple dog! Two of my favorite things in one: dogs and the color purple.


Ch Ch Ch Changes

Ch Ch Ch Changes

Yes, it’s true, things change all the time. As much as we like it or don’t like it, things change, places change, and people change.

I am back in an ancient city that has been modernized. Tourism is not new to Thailand, so as where many developing nations change dramatically from year to year, although Thailand changes, there are some things that stay more or less the same.

Wats (temples) are one of those things that stay more or less the same. Chiang Mai is a city full of ancient temples. It is somehow soothing to visit the wats and have them look just the same as they did years ago, regardless of how dramatically the city has changed around them.

I remember my first day in Chiang Mai back in 2000, stumbling across Wat Chiang Man, and thinking, “Wow, this is Thailand and this wat is a spiritual place.” I didn’t have my camera with me then and I forgot the name, forgot about that temple, and forgot all about that experience…until yesterday. Memories came flooding in like waves at high tide. There is something sacred about an ancient building with elephants and buddhas. I walked into the grounds of Wat Chiang Man and, like in so many temple grounds, suddenly I felt as if I’d been transported out of the city and into a holy place. It gets very quiet and serene.

Wat Chiang Man

Wat Chiang Man

At this temple if you come inappropriately dressed to enter, you can rent a sarong. That is something I appreciate so much about Thai culture: if you are about to make a fool of yourself by committing a cultural taboo, you will gently be shown the right way. This contrasts to Japan where I knew I must be making plenty of cultural mistakes, but no one would ever tell me as for me to ‘save face’. It seems to me the Thai way saves a lot more face in the long run.

In Chiang Mai the slogan is “The most splendid city of culture” The slogan fits. It also reminds me that I should use the word splendid more often because, well, it’s a splendid word.

Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang

On grounds of Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang holds a special place in my heart. In these ancient temple grounds, I celebrated my 30th birthday.

Monk in front of Wat Chedi Luang

For my 30th birthday my friend Andrew bought me a large (about 1 meter by half meter) paper lantern used for the loi krathong festival. I remember him standing near the wat, lighting the lantern at 2 am and then watching it float to the sky. We watched rise so high that it eventually was indistinguishable from the stars.

Example (not my picture) of the lantern

Again, not my picture. This is Loi Krathong, where the lanterns look like stars.

I stood in the exact place today, closed my eyes, gave some love to the memory, and then, like the lantern, let it go.

I am here again now, and so very grateful that I am.

It’s nice to know that despite all the changes, and no matter how old we get, that certain places still retain their magic. Chiang Mai is one of them.

House Hunt, Working with Children, Exhaustion, and Elegance

House Hunt, Working with Children, Exhaustion, and Elegance

Staying in guesthouse is fine for  while, but when you’re working, it becomes kind of a drag. The day after the Komloy festival, I went to go look at a few houses. Unfortunately, it seems that Thailand has taken after the suburban US with having gated communities and houses that all look the same. I don’t think that’s for me.

The Thai version of Pleasantville - the gated communities where all the houses look the same, very small yards, houses too close together, and everything is paved. I don't think that's for me.

The houses are fine on the inside...

...and this is more than your average Thai kitchen, which is often non-existent

I love the orchids, but the entire yard is paved and I'm on top of my neighbors. I am not going to live here.

I got back to Chiang Mai after looking at a few houses near Panyaden School, which is about 30 minutes south of the city. I really don’t think I want to make that commute everyday, and there isn’t public transportation there. I’ll need to live closer to school. I love Chiang Mai and it has plenty of peaceful spots, but it can be loud and polluted in other spots. After walking around the city looking for places to stay, I took refuge in Wat Chang Man.

Wat Chang Man

Naga detail - Wat Chang Man

Elephant (Chang) detail - Wat Chang Man

Luckily, two of my new colleagues, Amanda and Robert, said I could stay with them for a while. After seeing their amazing house, which is conveniently located very close to school, it will be hard to settle for something average.

Amanda outside her lovely house

the gate going into Amanda and Robert's house

Their living room

Entrance to master bedroom

the bookshelf

one of their bathrooms. Yes, Amanda and Robert's house is unique and lovely with a huge yard. I think I'll take some time looking for a good place.

The first week of teaching went well. Our curriculum (International Primary Curriculum) is integrated throughout the subject areas and centered around a theme. We started with a unit called “The Power of Water”, which seemed rather fitting considering the horrible flooding down in Bangkok. We even got 2 extra students from Bangkok who were staying in Chiang Mai for a while, until the flooding situation improved.

The power of water, "How far up do you predict this 'rocket' will fly?"

My students showing the power of water with a 'water rocket'

Panyaden is also a bilingual school, so I share my class with a Thai teacher. I lucked out and got an incredible teaching partner named Goy. She speaks English quite well, is a good teacher, and we’ve laughed together a lot already.

Goy teaching about why floods in Bangkok happened with 3D models

I love the hands on learning at do the students

So far, I absolutely love my job. I was concerned about teaching children again due to the amount of energy it takes. Last spring I had mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus or glandular fever). Apparently 95% of the population has been exposed by age 40. How I missed out is hard to say. Regardless, it completely wiped me out for about 3 months, and I still have moments of exhaustion nearly 8 months later. I mention this because by the end of this week, my throat started hurting and I was extremely fatigued. Shoot! I hope this is short lived. I know the only thing I can do to make myself better is sleep sleep sleep.

It does make sense why I’ve gotten ill, I do have some stressors in my life: a new country where I can only speak a basic amount of the language, a new job, no place to live, no transportation, etc. Settling in takes a while. Patience. Take it slowly and enjoy each beautiful moment.

The view of Panyaden School and rice fields on the way back to Amanda and Robert's house