Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yee sib haa: Thaigiving and my birthday

The end of last week was pretty great.
almost all the food we had for 1st Thaigiving
Thursday we went up to Pua to have Thanksgiving, or Thaigiving as some of us called it, at Colin's. We stopped at the grocery store and got cheese bread and Choco pies before heading to Colin's house. It was quite the dilemma deciding what to bring because Thawangpha and Pua don't exactly have many western foods around. We had to get creative. Caitlin and Kristin made green beans and this pumpkin dish that was really good. It was chunks of pumpkin stir fried with oil and egg. We were impressed. Colin brought apples and peanut butter, as well as a head of sticky rice. The peanut butter was amazing, but apparently it's quite expensive so I don't think we'll be getting any anytime soon. Tristan and Kelly brought pineapple, chicken and some other Thai dishes. Altogether, it ended up being a really great meal and we were all stuffed when we left. I also ate three Choco pies, so that might have had something to do with my fullness.

Friday after school, the Pua gang met us at our place and we headed out to Nan for the big Thaigiving feast. We came unprepared to this meal as well so we had to go to the grocery store again. We decided to get a whole cooked chicken - smaller than the rotisserie chickens from Meijer - and dinner rolls. We really weren't sure what to expect other than there were going to be about 20ish people there and we knew what a few people were bringing. I have to say that the meal exceeded what little expectations I had. It was awesome! Daylan made macaroni and cheese that was incredible! There was also mashed potatoes (and gravy of course FROM KFC), fried potatoes, salad, several varieties of chicken, pumpkin pie, cookies and no bake cookies. Everyone who cooked did a great job and everyone who brought stuff made excellent choices. Aside from the food, we also had a really great time chatting with friends and sharing more teaching stories. There are quite a few Thai holidays coming up so we got a chance to hear what other people are doing or where they are going. It was really fun and we really feel that there is a sense of community among the group... we are also really glad to be a part of it. We really like Thailand and Thai people, but knowing that you have friends who can understand you and would help you out if you needed is pretty awesome. Anyway, most everyone decided to go out to the bar after dinner and we went for a bit, but decided to head in early. Ethan wanted to go to the hilltop temple to watch the sun rise at 6:30 in the morning.
Ethan with his Thaigiving meal

sunrise at temple
Saturday morning was rough. I was rudely awakened by the roosters in the neighborhood at 5:15 and became extremely irritated very quickly. Thursday night I had not slept very well and I was hoping to get a good rest Friday night. Well that didn't happen and then getting woken up by the loudest rooster on the planet was the last straw. I lost it. The tears started and would not stop. Ethan wasn't sure what to do because he really wanted to watch the sunrise at this temple. I ended up going, but I cried the whole way and most of the time we were there. We ended up having a good talk at the temple once I gathered myself. I determined that I was upset for several reasons. 1) I was exhausted. 2) I was homesick. 3) I was frustrated with my teaching situation 4) I was (still am) severely constipated. Half of these things, we determined, we could do something about. I would get a good night's sleep that night and I could figure out the constipation thing somehow. Unfortunately, the other two things are big things and obviously I can't go home. The teaching thing still has us stumped, but we think we have a plan. My frustration comes from the fact that they have me teaching math and I hate math. Plus I am downright terrible at math. I am often learning how to do the problems I am supposed to be teaching the kids right before class. Also, sometimes I am asked to give examples or explain something in the middle of class that I don't know how to do or wasn't warned about. It's embarrassing. So my plan is to try harder to be upfront with the teachers about what I do/do not understand and make sure I know what we are teaching and what is to be expected of me. Ethan knows first hand that this is much easier said than done given the language barrier. So if this plan doesn't work out, we'll have to consult with Kru Rin. She has a much better grasp of the English language and might be able to translate my issues to the teachers better than me. Anyway, the point is that the breakdown was a big one, but we worked through most of the issues and I am feeling much better. :]

Ethan at the top! 

Saturday afternoon we went back to the caves, but this time with Tristan, Kelly and Colin. Tristan and Kelly had never been and we also wanted to hike up to the view point that we were too tired to check out last time. The hike was kinda long and really hot and Ethan had to take an emergency poop under a tree. He had to use a leaf....it was hilarious and traumatizing all at once. Fairly close to the top there was a little pagoda that we decided to eat lunch under. The boys decided to make the rest of the trek to the top, while the girls hung back. It was way to damn hot and they weren't sure if there was really a path up to the top. The boys figured it out though and were back after a while. The way down proved to be almost as tough as the way up since there were so many leaves on the ground. I kept slipping on the leaves when the ground was slightly slanted. It was a little nerve racking, but we made it. Tristan and Kelly wanted to check out the caves so Colin, Caitlin and Kristin were there guides, while I took it slow and Ethan did some exploring. I was exhausted and had already seen the caves so I really couldn't be bothered to do all that hiking again. Ethan explored a little and made a video of himself climbing through one of the caves. When we got back to Thawangpha we grabbed some market food and ate it down by the river. Colin showed us how to order sticky rice from the vendors. The teachers always have it at lunch, but we never see it at the market. Turns out the keep it in giant thermos containers behind their counters. Aha!! We're really excited about it because sticky rice is filling and cheap. Woohoo!

my birthday "cake"
Saturday night we both passed out at 10 and didn't wake up until 8. It was glorious! Ethan got breakfast Sunday morning and we took our time getting ready to celebrate my birthday at one of the waterfalls near where we live. We grabbed some market food and met the Pua gang along the way. This waterfall, called Tad Luang, was much cooler than the one we visited with the vice director and his family. It was clean and there were actual falls. There were also big rocks that you could chill on. At first I was nervous to go in the water. I don't really know why, but I was. Ethan went right in with the other guys and pretty soon they were sliding down the big waterfall. It look terrifying and slightly painful, so I held off on that for a while. Below the big falls there was another set of rocks and a pool that the guys figured out you could slide into. It looked much less intimidating than the big one, so after some coercing from Ethan I finally did it. It was fun, except the current was pretty strong one side of the pool so I had some trouble getting out. Fortunately, Ethan was there to help :]

Ethan on the "big slide" 
After we ate lunch, Ethan surprised me with a box of 4 slices of cake and a cupcake with candles. He stored the cake in the under seat storage on the motorbike and snuck away to get it while I was distracted. It was really cute and the cake was delicious. Tristan, Kelly and Colin brought me a birthday "bread krathong." It resembles the krathongs the Thais float down the river for Loy Krathong. We're still not sure if you're supposed to eat it, but it tasted OK so I ate some. After I had mastered the "intermediate" waterfall slide I was feeling confident so I worked up the courage to do the big one. It was fun, but it hurt my butt and I leaned over pretty far so I got a nose full of water when I splashed down. I wasn't sure I could do it again. After a trek up to the higher falls, a near death incident involving slipping on a rock and almost sliding into a very dangerous looking crevice, and an attempt to float a pretty large log down the river, I got up the courage to do the big waterfall slide again. And again, really cool, but painful. This time I leaned over even farther so my chest slammed into the water - Ladies....my right one took the full force...it's still sore.

so much fun. so much pain. 

A little while later this guy came up and starting talking in Thai to us. We all just stared at him and tried to understand what he was saying. After a whole minute of watching him talk and mime things to us, we just decided it was time to go. We still don't know if that's what he wanted, but he left shortly after us (we know because he passed us on the road), so we think we're right. We got some dinner at a place on the way back, then went our separate ways. It was an awesome day and I have to say that birthdays Thai style are pretty cool. However, nothing compares to being with my family and I really missed all of them. I think it will be a while before we spend any more holidays in foreign countries. :] Oh and "yee sib haa" means 25 in Thai.

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