Monday, March 29, 2010

Island weekend

We spent the weekend on Koh Si Chang, a small island within easy striking distance of campus. Our total cost per person to get to the island: about $2.70. I love how cheap some things are in Asia.
The island is nice because it isn't very touristy at all, and the tourist who do come are mostly Thai. We went to the beach one day, and spent our time kayaking and snorkeling. I did see one fairly large fish that scared the shit out of me. (I'm not sure what it was, but it sure looked a lot like this.)

The next day we saw some of the island's culture: old palace buildings and other old stuff. Then it was time to head back.

I know the weekend doesn't sound too exciting here, but it was relaxing and fairly interesting.

Next up: In under two weeks is Songkran, an important national holiday. We'll be heading to another beach for more beachy fun. Yes, it is a tough life I live.


More photos can be found here.

Lastly, one interesting thing about the island is that the squirrels there are white. I have no idea why.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sitting safely south

I have arrived safely at our secluded campus near Pattaya. While the protests did not reach the level some had expected, there were several interesting actions and episodes of violence. In protest against the prime minister, one of the groups poured human blood on a government building, and then later tossed blood at the PM's house.

There have also been two soldiers injured in a grenade attack on a military base.

Fortunately, we are fairly far away from the violence where I am located. The teaching is going well, and we are enjoying ourselves.

This weekend we'll be spending some time in Pattaya, a city best known for its women of price-negotiable affection and its "sex-pats," a term for expatriates who have come to Asia looking for a certain something.

Since none of those things have any appeal for us, we'll be checking out the Pattaya Music Festival and the opportunity to eat food that isn't mass-produced for 70 summer campers.

I'll try to keep you updated on the political situation as things develop.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Twenty hours away

I'm currently in the Seattle airport, waiting for my flight to Taipei and amusing myself with the airport's free wi-fi.

I've been aware of potential civil unrest in Thailand since my last visit, or perhaps since the protests at the airport in late November 2008.

But when I decided to check my email at the airport, I found that my friend and soon-to-be boss in Thailand had sent us a message about potential political craziness this Friday. I land on Thursday.

Hopefully I'm not flying into a shit-storm. As my friend pointed out, neither side really has anything to gain by doing anything to harm tourism or the foreign population of the country. Still, it never hurts to be aware of a potential situation.

I'll try to keep everyone posted.

Thanks, America. It's been fun.

In several hours I will get into a car to Portland. From there, I take a short flight to Seattle. (I looked into taking a train from Salem, OR, to Seattle, but it would have taken SEVEN HOURS to go the 189 miles. Way to go, Amtrak.) From Seattle, I have a 14-hour flight to Taipei, then a four-hour flight to Bangkok. I'll spend the evening with some friends, then take a three-hour bus ride and then a half-hour van trip, and then I'll be at my destination. Easy. The plane ticket was cheap, at least.

I had a good time in Portland. In addition to the Blazers game (a blowout for the home team) and the concert (quite good), we did karaoke one night (my songs: "Queen of My Double-Wide Trailer" and "Safety Dance") and went out to the ocean another evening.We caught the end of sunset at the Pacific, went for some pizza and beer, then had a bonfire on the beach. I've been away from Alaska for too long; even in the moderate climes of Oregon I've felt fairly cold. Good thing I'm heading to a hot place, where it's currently in the upper-80s.

I hope to get back here some day, but for now it's time to move onward. Goodbye America, until we meet again.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Last days in the desert

Still down in the desert for now. I fly out on Tuesday to Salem, Oregon, for a week in the Pacific northwest. My buddy Steve has lined up an excellent week, including an NBA game, a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concert, and some beachy bonfire excitement. Should be great. Then it is back to Thailand in mid-March.

It's been good to sort of settle back into "normal" life for awhile. Living at my brother's place and reconnecting after years away. Working normal hours and hanging out.

We have experienced a little culture down here, including a Renaissance Festival.
We got to throw a variety of weapons (ninja stars, knives, and axes), go through a very low-budget torture museum, and drink beer and relax on one of the most beautiful days, weather-wise, since I've been down here.

I'll miss the people, the weather, and the setting when I'm gone. (And good beer. And cheese.)
I'm a little nervous about heading into a new environment and culture and diving back into teaching. (We have a two-day orientation and then we're face to face with the kids.) But I'm also excited. After the camp is over, I'll be doing some traveling. Angkor Wat is the main destination, but I'll see what else happens. Then I really have no idea what happens next. For now, I'll have to be alright with that.

Hasta la vista, Arizona, y muchas gracias.