Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Land of the Silver birch

Well.  Here I am once again.
I don't think Canada is that keen on me though.  I got a paper cut from my landing card and the plane Andy and I got on in Toronto proptly broke.  You can call me paranoid if you wish, but I think it knew I was aboard and didn't like it.  We arrived in Vancouver just in time to hear the final call for passangers to Kelowna, which is turn then saw myself and Andy sprinting through the departure lounge at high speed. Well played, Canada, hilarious.
In better news passport control and immigration took less than half and hour AND getting my social insurace number took even less than that.  Hooray for fully fledged temporary immigrant status.  So far I have TWO WHOLE WEEKS of work at the end of August on the Victoria Fringe which I think will be fun, though perhaps not the most lucrative. 
As such, I'm am off to do a CV drop.  By which i mean resume drop.
There's no Canada like French Canada.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Blame Canada

I'm going back to Canada next week, via the Hyde park Music festival.

After so many months it comes to this...

Friday, 10 June 2011

I have a tendency to wear my mind on my sleeve

DAY ONE: Trip from Chaing Rai to Lamphun.  After spending a not inconsequential amount of time on the hunt for the Chiang Rai Post office.  It's not my fault it looks like a bank...  In Chiang Mai decide to get a bus to Lampang instead, as buses to Lamphun are not sign posted and veryone seems to think I am asking for Lampang anyway... Hey ! THIS bus stops in Lamphun.  Oh well, paid almost one pound for this ticket, I'm going to get my moneys worth! That Australian on the bus who said it would be easy to find a guest house wasn't telling the truth... Fried Rice!  Bedtime.

DAY TWO: Lampang (not Lamphun).  Wandering round town... Stop beeping at me tuk tuk, I'm not going any where in particular.  Ooh, thats an nice Burmese influenced temple.  Thats an enormous Burmese influencd temple...  Hello monk, oh you are from Burma, really? Is it your plan to take over Lampang.  That is a rude question to ask a monk, I shall move on. Now that I am looking for a ceramics market where have all the tuk tuk drivers gone? Thats a strong smell of incense... Shrine to three pillers of the city.  It is pretty.  I suspect this ceramics market never really existed.  Still seen most of Lampang in my hunt for it, so not so bothered that I have missed the last pony ride sight seeing tour of the day.  I shall go for a walk round a park instead.  Wait a minute... This park is a gym!  There pathways are all marked up with running training distances and they have treadmills that are frames with cylinders as the base for you to run on.  Amazing.  Oh rain.   Damn you monsoon season.  Noodles!  Bedtime.

DAY THREE: Trip from Lampang to Phitsanulok. After being impressed that the minute I got out of the tuk tuk I was asked where I was going, and ushered onto the right bus strsight away, surely this is not right! What if I am on a bus Sanhulok?  My pronunciation is not amazing.  Oh, I am on the right bus.  And the lady next to me is getting off at Phitsanulok too, she will kep me right.  Thank you kind Thai people and non verbal communication.  Driving through Sukothai, it looks nice.  Phitsanulok is not so nice, though wikipedia says  "It is probably best known as the birthplace of King Naresuan, who freed the country from Burmese domination in the late 16th century."  He should go to Lampang.  But everyone says hello, and helps me find things.  I can get a train to Ayutthaya tomorrow at nine, hurrah!  Red Curry. Talking to Andy on the internet.. At half three the place fills with people in school uniform playing internet games.  This is a theme through the rest of the trip...  Take a wander along the Nan river to Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahatat, it is a temple believd to have curative properties.  There are a lot of people praying and monks chants bing pumped out through speakers outside.  On the way back to the hostel I see another one of the gym parks, this one has a Rosmary Connelly- esque figure on a stage by the river bank leading an exercise class for anyone that wants to join in.  Dammit Monsoon season, I wanted to go to the night market.  Oh well, Bed time.  Bloody hell, those are some big spider webs on the ceiling...  Do not sleep well...

DAY FOUR: Trip to Ayutthaya.  Was told to go to platform two.  But platform two is over there, where is the bridge?  Oh I see, we just cross the train tracks in Thailand.  Ok.  Hello nice Dutch Lady, you dont particuarly enjoy Phitsanulok either?  Fair enough.  You are in 2nd class?  I am in third.  Thak you for helping me get on th right train, safe home!  Sitting next to an open window on a fast train for, four and a half hours.  So windswept and interesting right now.  It is a nice way to see the counryside though. Lots of temples, and buddhas and farming and palm trees.  That power line has fallen down into a submerged paddy field... Is that safe..?  Thank you kind lady, but I do not really want a meat ball on a stick.  They are yours.  Sort of wish I was making a stop at Lopburi.  There are monkeys in the streets and everyone made a Wai at one of the temples as the train went by. Thank you again kind lady for helping me to get off at the right stop.  Having a wonder before bed and a man on a bike stops for a chat as he is cycling to work.  Further wandering, man on bike appears at the gate of the university building (where he works) and gives me a much more comprehensive map than the one at th hostel.  Thank you kind bike man!  Bedtime in my non cobwebby dwelling.

DAY FIVE: Ayutthaya.  I don't agree with the non believers, I suspect they are people who do not enjoy wandering around ruins.  I, on the other hand, LOVE wandering around ruins.  Spent a good few hours just on 2 temples.  Be glad my camera has broken, people at home or you would be subject to many photos of crumbling bricks and half built buddhas.  39 exposure disposible cameras are limiting.  Went to see this first.   Then nipped across the road to a temple where two princes once duelled to both their deaths on elephant back.  Spent the afternoon at the Ancient palace complex and wandered over to the Historic Studies centre. Historically Ayutthaya was powerful.  Lots of trade with the whole world, and a strong base for the capital, as it is surrounded by a river on all four sides. Then the Burmese sacked it and the ruins have been left as they are ver since apart from th odd excavation here and there to remove precious artifacts and relics of Lord Buddha.  It's a really interesting place.

DAY SIX. Going home today, but not untill the wee small hours or the morning so  a temple out of town is on the cards.  And probably buying an insane amount of incense.  Then last bus to Bangkok.  I haven't even spent one night there.  There goes that blog entry title...

It's been aces.  But I am looking forward to coming home.  Cause there is aces too.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Chaing Rai : A Retrospective.

Well.  Chaing Rai is a rather pleasant wee city to spend time.  A pocket guide to Thailand cites it as a place best to base yourself to take trips out an about.  The Middle weekend of our time teaching the School headmaster donned his tour guide persona (literally, he used to moonlight as a tour guide...) and we all bundled into the back of his car to see what we could see.  He took us to what he calls the 'Black Temple'.  It's not actually a temple, though it is built to look like one.  It is an art gallery and meeting space built by eccentric artist Thawan Duchanee Aside from the temple, which does actually feel like an evil wizards castle, there are an assortment of meeting houses and guest rooms decorated with dark wood and animal skins/skulls.  Its a bit like an evil wizards commune, really.

After that we went up to Doi Tung gardens.  Its a sustainability project initiated by the monarchy to get folks growing something that isn't opium.  That being illegal and all.  There is a beautiful garden there now, and they grow lots of coffee.  One of their major suppliers is Thai Airlines.  Good economy points. 

We spent the afternoon at the Golden Triangle.  Golden because of its past days of lucrative opium sales (as we learned at the opium museum) and triangle because it is where the boundaries of Laos, Burma and Thailand meet.  They have a number of enormous Buddha and elephant statues on the Thai side and on the Burma/Laos side there are huge casinos.  Cause Gambling is illegal in Thailand (apart from the lottery) so people drive up to the border, get a boat across for a few hours, gamble to their hearts content then boat/drive home again.

We had a wee drive through the ancient city (which is now quite a modern city with a fair few ruins in it) of Chiang Saen and Mae Sai, were I don't think you really go much unless you are doing a border run to extend your visa or looking for fake versions of expensive sunglasses.

The next day we went looking for some hill tribes.  Now hill tribes don't always wear their traditional dress any more (and why should they)  But they live in bamboo huts in the hills, speak their own dialect and see to mostly be Christian.  We ended up in one that has a home stay program with the tourist bored of Thailand, where a lady in traditional garb and a kid strapped to her back brought us into her house for tea in a bamboo cup and a banana before whipping out her handicrafts to sell.  Naturally.

Spent most of the time in Chiang Rai after that just chilling.  Temples and Markets.  And a Reggie bar.  Good times.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

School Daze and Village People

Leaving the school was a sad time.  One of the kids made little note with sad faces saying 'I love you, and they all followed us back to our bed/class room saying home.  Apart from the little ones who didn't really notice what was going on... They never even learned out names actually, just called us all 'Khu Falang'.  Khu for teacher and Falang as in, the first people to travel to the area where cheese eating surrender monkeys French, and the way the villagers said France was 'Falang.'  So Khu Falang = foreign teacher.  DO YOU SEE.  I will miss singing songs and playing games at great length.  Especially 'What time is it Mr Tiger.'  They never did grasp the concept of 'Dinner time' though.

I wont miss the bugs though.  Christy. Got a couple of scorpions on the go by the end of the week.  And I set my dress on fire on a mosquito coil.  Not my most suave moment.

We inadvertently got adopted the last few days we were there!  Just having a wonder through the village, and were called over by a group of elderly ladies that spoke no English... Then another woman rushed across the road and said "5 minutes!  5 minutes!"  We smiled ... for about 5 minutes straight actually... At which point a Thai girl with striking blue eyes made a dramatic entrance on a scooter, her name was Bee and she spoke fluent English.  We were invited for dinner there 2 days running and Bee took us round the town pointing out papaya and banana trees and another kind of fruit tree that she didn't know the name of in English but people wrap paper round the fruits so they look like little paper lampshades round fruity bulbs.  It was nice, sitting watching the sun set over the paddy field and having conversation with people through the medium of arm gestures.

Back in Chaning Rai now, notionally heading to Lamphun tomorrow.  But I may change my mind at the last minute BECAUSE I CAN.