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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Harroween

Yesterday was Halloween. Not Thai Halloween, but fake Halloween. We decided we needed some Holidays to spice up the summer and Halloween was our first one (Frabjous Day is next week). Now you may be wondering what people do on fake Halloween in May in Thailand. The answer is simple. Dress up, go trick or treating, attend a haunted house, and watch a scary movie while pigging out on chocolate. Alisha and I finally got to fulfill our goal of being Tulio and Miguel from The Road to El Dorado. It was magical to say the least and I looked so much like a man I was freaking myself out. It was the eyebrows. Just so you know Jenna was a ninja, Laura was Mum, and Sarah was Harry Potter. We have some excellent face book pictures. When we went trick-or-treating I got a whole bag of loot it was delicious. Sorry this post is disjointed I'm so tired. Sundays are exhausting and I feel like I am fighting a narcotic (I'm not for those of you thinking that I probably am, I definitely did not take any sleeping pills today). I would like to conclude with a list of things that I am now very grateful for.

1. Church less then 10 minutes away
2. Carpet
3. Cheese
4. Milk that tastes good
5. Trax
6. Sidewalks
7. Wide Roads
8. Ovens
9. The Desert
10. Lack of lizards and ants
11. Clean beds
12. Dryers

Yes I'm sure more will come but today I was especially missing trax and close church. Having church be a seven hour ordeal has really opened my eyes. Now a list of things we are extremely lucky to have.

1. A giant house and the garden house and a clean school to teach in
2. Tang, Ake, and Family
3. Tesco
4. Flushing toilets
5. Heated water
6. Adventure
7. The ability to go to church and people willing to translate for us
8. Excellent customer service even when people know they wont understand us
9. Cheap clothes, food, and services
10. Air conditioning
11. Wireless internet
12. Bikes
13. The school being less then a one minute walk
14. Magnums
15. Everybody being willing to cater to our weird western tastes
16. A cleaning lady and a cook
17. Delicious fruit
18. Mixed Berry Squeezy
19. Fake Holidays
20. The kids

Seriously we are very spoiled here. We are taken care of and we have an amazing opportunity to learn, teach, and become more aware of the world. The kids are so little it has been a challenge to find ways to teach them. They want to play and I can't say that I blame them. Church is also a challenge but it has been very rewarding. In order to catch our train, our goal is to leave at 6:30 so we can walk to the train station by 6:50. This morning my alarm clock did not go off but somehow Alisha woke herself up at 6:25. Don't worry we still made it, no make-up, no hair combing, but we made it. At church the Elders translate for us. They are really funny because they concentrate so hard on translating that everything they say is monotone which considering what they say is even funnier. After our combined meeting we got to watch two baptisms. That was pretty amazing. It continually amazes me how the spirit can be felt whether or not the language can be understood.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Two Quick, Unrelated Stories

My first story is from last Sunday. For those of you who know me you know I hate wearing skirts with a passion. They are restrictive and not very practical as far as I'm concerned. Bunch of malarkey. Anyway despite my intense dislike of being "well dressed" I do wear a skirt on Sunday (with my pants underneath, even in this humidity I cant break that habit). So last week on the way home from church I found myself sitting in a rather unladylike position due to the amount of space on the chair and the fact that it looked like I was only wearing a skirt. I, however, was not that concerned because I knew I had pants on so nothing was showing. Normally I would have just stood but the trains are kind of miserable if you are a sweaty hot white person. (None of the Thai people sweat, but by the time we get to church we are always drenched.) So I'm sitting there being unladylike and all these male teenagers get on the train and sit on the floor. Every one of them tried to inconspicuously look up my skirt, the one closest to me tried repeatedly. I was ready to stand up and take my skirt off just to ease everyones curiosity but I didn't want to give any of the old ladies a heart attack. So I decided just to stand and tough it out; having people look up your skirt isn't comfortable no matter what else you are wearing. So I stand and my skirt starts blowing, then all the boys are watching to see if I will be able to keep it down. I kept it down and on (both of which were difficult tasks). The moral of this story is that skirts are senseless torture devices. I rest my case.

The second story is from this morning. I have been teasing Alisha because she says stuff to me when she is sleeping that she doesn't remember in the morning. Not ever very much just enough to make me laugh. However, this morning it was me. I think I was having a dream where I was giving someone a tour of the house and teaching a lesson. So I knew I was talking but I was very out of it. After a couple of minutes of this Alisha figures out, with much effort, how to tell me she doesn't know what I am talking about. (I had just announced that this was Tang's house). I immediately asked "Why am I talking?" Alisha said "I don't know, did your alarm go off?" But then we heard the guy who bangs on the metal at every hour hit the metal three times (three in the morning). Then we just laughed. Alisha stopped laughing very abruptly and said in a serious voice "Whitney I will laugh more about this tomorrow right now I need to sleep." and she rolled over and went to bed. Candace I apologize for always teasing you about your sleep talking, apparently it can happen to anyone.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Church and Teaching

I am sorry that I have neglected my duty of writing in this blog. I say that because Whitney keeps getting after me for not writing like I should be. Sorry guys, I've just never been much of a blogger. Anyways, I believe that my assignment was to write about church last Sunday, and I will also update ya'll on how teaching at the Imperial Nursery is going.

So, last Sunday we all woke up bright and early to be at the train station at 6:50 A.M. The five of us plus Ake speed-walked to the station, where we got our tickets and hurried onto the train. We were headed to the city Phitsanulok, a city bigger than Phitchit, with an LDS branch of about 50 members. The train ride was only about 45 minutes, so it was a lot like riding Trax to Salt Lake. Once we got there, Ake arranged for a driver to come pick us up and then he took us out to breakfast. We explained to him afterward that we would rather not have anyone spend money on us on Sunday, so this coming week we will be prepared with our own food. The breakfast was the usual rice with stuff on it. I think it was eggplant and egg stuff (Good news: Tang is letting us eat our own breakfast everyday now. Instead of eating rice porridge with hairy pork stuff for breakfast, we now will get jam, toast, fruit.. things that aren't quite as foreign to us. This is a good thing).

After breakfast, we met the missionaries and then went into the small church building. I have never felt more welcome to be in church than I did here. The people were all very friendly. They all greeted us in the usual Thai fashion and if they knew any English whatsoever, then they would try to talk to us. There were a few members that spoke English really well. During Sacrament Meeting, Whitney and I were sitting next to Ake. He was able to translate a lot of the meeting for us. Even without his translation, there was an incredible feeling there. The members have very strong testimonies that we had the ability to feel and not just hear. Something about the first talk just blew us away. Whitney and I both felt like crying, regardless of the fact that we didn't understand the language. It was an amazing thing to see that the Church is the same everywhere.

Ake also helped to translate Sunday School for us. The man who was teaching had us introduce ourselves and even called on us individually to answer questions throughout the lesson. Ake would translate the question for us and then he would also translate our answer for the other members. I was surprised that they went out of their way to help us feel more included and get us to participate. They also wanted us to participate a lot in Relief Society, although it was harder without Ake sitting next to me. They had us help with music a little bit, and have already asked us to play the piano for Sacrament Meeting next week. Laura and I will be taking turns playing the piano whenever they ask us to play.

After church, we had a lot of time to kill before our train would leave to take us home. Ake mostly just had the driver take us to random Buddhist temples in the city. Ake gets a little bit excited about us taking pictures, so he had us take lots that day.

One temple included lots of blinged-out roosters.

We made it home and relaxed the rest of the day. It was a wonderful Sunday.

We also just finished our first week of teaching. It has been a challenge to come up with ideas of what to teach. I have basically come to the conclusion that I will have to plan out three lessons for each day, because each age group is completely different from each other. The youngest group will sometimes just sit there and stare at us, oftentimes bursting into tears at any given moment (this happens to be my assigned group). Another group will speak in Thai a lot and refuse to sit for too long. The oldest group are three boys, and we definitely get the most responses out of them. All of them are cute and fun to teach. It has just been different teaching a group that young. We have a fun and exciting summer to look forward to, that's for sure.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blogger is now in Thai

Well it may be time to face the facts when it comes to blogging. Alisha made me use blogspot for this blog cause wordpress is "too hard" (-Whatever. I, Alisha, do not remember saying this. She is purposefully trying to make me sound pathetic and controlling-) so everything is under her e-mail address and mine keeps being in Thai and Alisha can't sit still long enough to do it. She can however write long luxurious e-mails. I'm sorry that I don't write long e-mails guys, someone has to keep the blog going. So for the record Alisha's assignment is to write about our seven hour church experience on Sunday and mine is to write about our culture class last night and our first day of school.

So skipping ahead, Tang, Ake, Mum, Dad, and Ton took us to a Buddhist thing last night. Apparently it was some giant Buddhist holiday yesterday that neither Tang or Ake could explain. Thank goodness for Dad, from what I gleaned from his explanation, yesterday was the day Buddha was born, and discovered the truth, and died (busy day). It is also the full moon of the sixth month (apparently back in the day May was the sixth month, and the moon was fullish looking so...yeah). The ceremony was bizarre and by bizarre i mean unlike anything I had ever participated in/seen. We had to light incense and hold lotus flowers and circle the temple three times. During this procedure I nearly caught Laura on fire because I was sure a bug was in my shirt but I couldn't get it because everyone was staring at us, and filming us, and taking pictures of us. I didn't think it was the best time for me to rip off my shirt and scream. I told Alisha to get it but she told me there wasn't anything there so I calmly walked around that temple breathing smoke trying not to be paranoid. (PS I'm paranoid about everything here, I'm quite certain rats will eat my feet if I don't cover them up even though I have not seen a single rat here). Anyway we circled the temple wearing our shoes because Dad is so important that he can keep his shoes on when no one else can.

Then we went inside and everyone prayed to the Buddha except us rude Americans who took pictures of the Buddha (Mom told us too).

We took some family shots then we had to shake some sticks to get our fortune/horoscope thing. Don't laugh about shaking sticks yet because it is hard. There are a whole bunch of fortune sticks in this tall cup and you have to shake the cup till one flies out. If more than one flies out it doesn't count and you have to start over.
I couldn't do it. I couldn't shake the dang sticks correctly. I kept having this vision of me shaking them so hard that they flew out of the can and littered the whole temple (right in front of the Buddha and the monks). I didn't want that since everyone in that room was staring at me anyway. After some minutes of obnoxious shaking it became clear to all in the party that I was never going to get one out. Tang literally had to hold my hand so that I would shake the can correctly. That eventually worked and the number 16 came out. I then went to the magic drawer and pulled out my Thai fortune. Boy I wish I could read Thai.

(As a side note Ake eventually translated both of our fortunes. Alisha's said something about how someone already loves her but nothing has developed yet and how she will get everything she wants from life in good time. Mine said that I would have a wonderful partner, succeed in everything I tried, accumulate great wealth, and be happy my whole life. These were really good. Sarah's said that no one would ever be there for her when she needed them unless she donated money for electricity in the temple.)

When we went outside to find our shoes (even dad isn't cool enough to wear them in the actual temple) we discovered that a bird had liberally pooped on Laura's shoe

and sparingly pooped on mine. I just stood there holding my shoe at arms length trying to decide if I would rather put it on and walk in pooh or leave it off and step on bugs (still hadn't been able to find the bug in my shirt). I went with the former cause I'm terrified of bugs. Don't even worry though. Ake told me that here it is lucky to get pooped on by a bird because what are the chances? Ake is pretty funny, he is getting us an oven so that we can make him tuna casserole with Lays on it. Last night in the car Alisha and I informed him that there are more than one kind of casserole and he was stunned. He now wants to try them all. Apparently, he knows a guy who can get us cheese if we need it...

Anyhow, after the bird incident we went to the different food vendors and tried several things. The first was a tortilla that tasted like a sweet corn chip, i managed to drop a whole giant one. Then we tried squid but only after we watched them grill and smash the life out of it. Boiled peanuts came next, which I regret to inform you all, still tasted to much like peanuts to be enjoyable, plus they had the consistency of an eraser (I dropped some of those too). But don't worry, after that we had popsicles, those were delicious and I only dropped a little.

After that we headed home and when I went to have a shower the bug that Alisha told me I had imagined fell out of my pants when I took them off. That may be to much info for everyone but its important that you know that I have a good reason for my paranoia. Bugs are everywhere. In the doorway Alisha stepped on a cockroach (on purpose, she is the only brave one among us).

Anyway it is now Wednesday and we started teaching. Turns out little Thai children are not as racist as the adult Thai's thought they would be. For the most part everything went really well. The kids are really young (1-5), however, and everything we teach will need to be a little bit different then we originally planned. They are all adorable and we are optimistic that we won't have to many problems. The routines need work but they are smart kids.

Oh and one more thing. Me and Alisha got shiny blue bikes today and helmets with visors which is what all the cool kids wear. Well everyone got a new bike actually but ours are blue (different shades) so they are the coolest....punny :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Home Sweet Home

So we are officially moved into our new home. Wednesday morning we took a ferry and left the Phi Phi Islands. I feel like after the exciting adventures we had in Phi Phi, we are ready for anything. The ferry made us a little sick because there were still giant waves. I am used to getting motion sick though, whereas this was a first for Whit. We got back to Phuket and then stayed in the same hotel as before for four hours. The owner helped us get a ride back to the bus station. That night, we took the bus back to Bangkok where we met Tang, our coordinator. She is very nice and friendly. She speaks very good English because she graduated from college in England. PS this is Whit now, I was sick for all of this. All of it, boat, hotel, all night bus, next day at Tangs house, four hour car ride to just kept going. I don't think I have ever so prayed hard in my life. Also we watched a terrifying Chinese movie dubbed in Thai. I don't have a clue what it was but people just kept dying and there was a tsunami... yeah it was bad.
Anyway the house we are staying in is huge. The first story is the doctors office (the doctor is Tang's dad), the second story has the kitchen and a living area, the third floor is where we sleep and we have a flushing toilet, the fourth floor has laundry stuff and a garden on the roof. Me and Alisha share a room and a bed but the bed is so hard I could jump on it and not wake her up so it works. Jenna and Laura also share a room (they got their own beds) and Sarah has her own room. The school is about four houses down so we just have to cross the street and we are there. Though we might cause a wreck at the intersection because every driver who passes us stops to stare, we are quite a novelty here. Tang's parents also have two other houses. One is in Bangkok and the other is here. They kind of go wherever so sometimes its just us in this big house. We hung out at their other house last night, however, and they have a pool and a giant garden, and Tangs brother is a tech smart guy who let me watch anything I wanted (there were like a billion movies and I was still sick so Sarah made me some concoction and had me eat rice). So that was kind of a jumble of information but it feels like a lot has happened.
Basically Tangs family spoils us. Tang is getting us bikes and pretty much anything else we need. When I was sick Tangs dad came up and checked me and gave me all the medicine I would need then they let me sleep in the air conditioned room all day and took me to other house and let me lay on the couch and watch movies. Today we went to the school and trained forever. I'm getting really excited to start teaching but the fact that the kids are tiny scares me (2-6 years old). I'm sure Alisha has a lot more to say because she went on the tour of the city and did stuff on that day I was out. My point is we are in good hands and the summer is going to be great. We just came up with our fake birthdays and holidays. Just so you all know my new birthday is July 14th, we are probably going to celebrate by driving to Bangkok to see Harry Potter, just sayin :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Short and Sweet

I Whitney, having been born of goodly parents, will get right to the point, today we were normal tourists with no adventures. We had breakfast at our favorite place, then because we are crazy we had to come back to our air conditioned room for hours to e-mail, skype, and do whatever else people who actually brought their computers on vacation do. I, not being one of those people, read about 100 pages of The Count of Monte Cristo which I am really into even though it's my third read through. Thank goodness everyones friends/family finally went to bed, me and Jenna were getting bored with our non laptop lives. So at the ripe hour of two we got to go to the beach which wasn't at low tide. This was a fantastic thing because it meant we could actually, well, swim. Alisha, Laura, and I took full advantage of this and stayed on the beach for hours while Jenna and Sarah sunbathed and shopped (see now we sound like legit tourists). We then frolicked back to our cool room and prepared for dinner in a cozy little joint known as the Phi Phi Garden Home. The menu was full of tasty treats, sandwiches, hotel rooms, and scuba trips (yes it was all in the menu). We then went shopping and bought some souvenirs, took a stroll along the moonlit beach, drank out of a coconut, bought crispy M&M's (which Alisha really really needed for some reason, oh she was reunited with a long lost love that is the reason evidently), and avoided the Slinky Kinky limbo contest. Meanwhile, (forgive the "graphic" nature of this statement) I was ready to pee my pants (an occurrence that is rather common on this trip). So I'm leading the group at a rapid pace back to the hotel crashing into metal poky things and almost falling into gutters and dodging bikes on the uneven cobblestones and freakin Alsiha decides that that is a good time to buy postcards, thank goodness for Sarah she took me home. Now we are being lame and chilling in the room again (literally chillin) its fantastic!

Monkeys, Fish, and Bugs... Oh My!

Absolutely nothing! Nothing was under our bed and nothing was in my (Alisha's) luggage. This was even more scary because we had no idea where it could have possibly been hiding. It had apparently found a good spot, waiting for the perfect moment to jump out and get us. Whitney and I couldn't take it anymore. We went downstairs and asked if we could get an upgrade. The lady just nodded her head and said they had a new room with air conditioning. Was it really that easy? Why did we not do this before?!?! We each paid like $20 to live in a small slice of heaven. Totally worth it. We walked up to our new room with huge smiles on our faces. I am currently sitting in a room that is clean, cool, and not falling apart. It feels SOOOOOOOOOO good!

After we spent the morning basking in our wonderful air conditioning, we got breakfast/lunch at our favorite place, Tom Yam Restaurant. We've started to make friends with the little Thai lady that owns the place. After breakfast/lunch, we prepared for our trip to go snorkeling. We had bought a package to spend a half day of snorkeling and boating until sunset for only $15. It was so much fun! Our day of snorkeling and getting air conditioning definitely made this trip to the Phi Phi Islands feel more like a vacation to be enjoyed, rather than endured.

The snorkeling trip mostly entailed riding a large boat around all of the small islands of Phi Phi. We first rode the boat to Monkey Island. The boat stopped a good distance away and we got our snorkeling masks and flippers on. As soon as you jump in there are lots of yellow striped fish to greet you. They tend to collect around the boat because oftentimes the people throw bread to them. I thought that it might be weird to swim with fish close enough to touch me, but it was actually really cool. We swam all of the way to the beach, looking at the coral and all the strange looking creatures that live on the bottom of the sea. The beach was high tide, so it didn't really seem like a beach. But there were monkeys! There was even a mommy monkey holding her baby. We didn't have a lot of time to be with the monkeys, but i did get pictures and a video of them.

-I stood on the beach and tried not to be scared, I apparently have a fear of monkeys. PS surreal to be standing in the ocean under trees with monkeys above you. -Whit

We swam back to the boat and rode around, hearing stories about a bird that lives in some of the caves on the island. They use this bird to make a soup, or maybe they use the nests to make the soup, that supposedly makes you stay young. I could barely see the white birds because they were so far away at the top of the cliff. We would have had to pull a Nacho Libre and SUMMON OUR EAGLE POWERS to find something that would help us be uunbeatable. Just around the rock from the birds, we came to the Phi Phi Lagoon. Our mission: to kayak through the lagoon and be back in time to also snorkel a little more. Kayaking was fun. I went with Jenna, but Whitney, Sarah, and Laura's kayak was tipped over by one of the Thai boatmen. I heard him chuckling to himself evilly as our kayak passed by him.

-Yeah what the heck that man was pretty proud of himself. Dang Jenna splashed us hard and after that the sinking was so bad that I couldn't paddle (in the front). Sarah had to take us back singlehandedly, thank you fearless leader.- W

As we started off to our next destination, the wind picked up and it seemed like there would be another storm. The waves were huge. We came to a place where there was a beautiful beach to go swim in, but the only way to get to it is to swim to this rope thing that leads to a rickety, wooden staircase. It was a challenge to swim against all of the big waves, let me tell you. The trick was to swim to a rope in the sea that was attached to the bridge and then pull yourself in. I did this, but when I got to the bridge I somehow got tangled in all of the ropes. The giant waves made it incredibly hard to get myself out of the ropes and onto the stairs. The guy in front of me was taking forever (you could only fit one at a time), so I was stuck. Suddenly I heard the men helping everyone onto the bridge start yelling that a bad wave was coming. I braced myself but was still flung into the rocks, tangled in the ropes. I have cuts on my legs and feet to prove it. It was rather terrifying. I was pretty shaken up so I had an even harder time getting myself up that bridge/staircase. After we got over the stairs we walked until we got the Maya Bay. It was absolutely gorgeous, with the warmest water yet. Too bad my favorite beach almost killed me to get there.

-My swim wasn't nearly that traumatic but I still thought death was immanent. The ocean is freakin scary. I'm adding it to my list of fears I have sort of conquered. -Whit

The group has labeled me the "Damsel in Distress." Throughout this whole trip, I have constantly been receiving help from some very kind, considerate men. I have brought a rather large and heavy bag here to the islands (-who does that-), but I have rarely had to carry it anywhere. Its not like I am looking for help (Okay, well sometimes I am. But not always!) All I have to do is make the motion like I am about to pick up my bag and POOF - a nice man appears to carry it for me (-which is ridiculous, no one does that for anyone else-). All of the other girls have had to mostly carry their luggage. I am spoiled. I was also helped by a very attractive Brazilian man with looks comparable to Enrique Iglesias after I struggled so much on the bridge. After you finish climbing the stairs, there is an area of rough shells and small rocks that you have to cross over. I was shaken up and my feet were already hurting, so I was trying to take the rough sand slowly. We didn't have our shoes because they had us put them in a bin right from the start. That's when he showed up, holding out his flip flops to me. I graciously accepted them, while he took off. He wasn't even from the same boat as me, but he did not seem too concerned about whether or not he would get them back. Luckily, I did see him again as we headed back to the boat. Thank you, beautiful Brazilian man. You are a real life saver. :) (-I will admit he was fun to stare at-)

We completed our tour by watching a sunset, although it was unfortunately too cloudy to really see it. I am sure it was truly majestical behind all of those clouds. We pulled up into shore and they fed us dinner. During dinner, they had a fire dancing show. The first kid was probably only like 10 years old, yet he was flying fire everywhere. It was awesome. We walked back to our place (after all getting the Magnum ice cream bars that we are all addicted to) and breathed a sigh of relief as we felt the cool air in our new, air conditioned room. Oh, how well we slept.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What up slumber party?

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, the Lords day (say with a Nacho accent). Oy, well let's just say the room from hell was hotter than usual but it was still better than the bungalow. After breakfast all five of us crowded on our tiny bed in our teeny tiny hot, hot, hot, hot, room to watch conference and Megamind. lol :) I may or may not have gotten Megamind from a sketchy back room in Phuket... Anyway that the sweltering heat and my perpetual paranoia that bugs and all manner of other creatures will get in if the door is left open (which it was). Luckily, we made it through the movie without any incidents.

Unfortunately, that was where our luck ended. After a dinner at our favorite restaurant (we only go to two restaurants because we are lame and everywhere pretty much has the same food) Alisha and I returned to our cozy pit to find the bed crawling with what look like maggots and larvae of whatever the heck they are (If I were ever to take up swearing now would be the time). For the second day in a row we were ready to cry. I think we must have been very brave to come here when I realize that this is what we thought the whole summer would be like. Anyway, we went down and talked to the lady at the front desk/bar and asked if we could have some new sheets since ours were infested with who knows what. Eventually, they brought us one, keep in mind we don't have a sheet to lay under just the sheet on the mattress. They swept the room and bug sprayed it and changed our sheet and left. After that I was feeling like I might be able to curl up on the edge and attempt to sleep, which is better then nervously pacing the jungle because there are bugs in the bed (that was my previous plan). Then the power went out. And for those of you who don't hang out in jungles let me just say that it is scarier to lose power when you can hear everything because you don't know where it is. The bungalow didn't lose power though so we went and hung out on their mattresses in their mosquito nets and watched While You Were Sleeping through mesh. That was a first.

At some point the power came back on and since it was Mothers Day all of us crowded into our previously insect ridden bed and Skyped our mommies. We had one incident with some giant flying bug during that time but nothing our fearless leader couldn't throw out the door while we all screamed. After I said goodnight and handed the computer over me and Laura went to get some food (which involved walking passed the "poo garden", through the flooded streets, in the jungle, in the dark). We found Oreos, however, so it was totally worth it. When we got back to the room Skype was still happening and the air was even thicker. Choosing life over suffocation we headed to the Bungalow till everyone was ready for bed. Jenna came back first and we kept talking then Alisha and Sarah show up with our fan. This is a bad sign. We do not move the fan because we would die without it an that room. Alisha and Sarah proceed to tell us that there was some giant lizard rat thing in our room and that they couldn't find it.

Whitney has now passed the computer over to me (Alisha) to [insert my story here]. While everyone was Skyping their mothers and friends, I was laying on the bed trying to convince myself that if I didn't move then it would be less hot. It didn't work. It was hopeless. I took two cold showers within two hours of each other. Whitney and Laura went to go get food, but I was exhausted and wanted to sleep. I curled up and sort of half slept. Next thing I know, Sarah jumps up and stands on the bed exclaiming "What was that?! Something just fell off of the wall onto the floor!" Instantly awake, I just looked at her like she was crazy. I figured part of the wall fell off (I had been waiting for the ceiling to collapse honestly, so part of the wall falling wouldn't have even surprised me). A minute later, I saw it. Barely. It was this really fat, dark thing that moved like lightning. We think it was a lizard, but if it was, its stomach was huge. But what else could it have been? Sarah looked around the room for a big stick, but finding none, picked up a water bottle instead. We never saw the animal again. If that thing could get in, what else could get in the room? I refused to sleep there, so I grabbed the fan and booked it. Back to you, Whitney.

Due to this unfortunate animal and breach in architecture there was no way we could sleep in that room. We did decide to go back and get the pillows at which point we heard something shuffle through Alisha's luggage. We ran back to the bungalow and the five of us slept on three single beds under mosquito netting. Two people on a twin mattress under a mosquito net in burning heat. Also a new experience. Casey, our coordinator, promised us we would have a horror moment and this might have been mine. I was snuggled up with Laura, sweating my face off, in a mosquito net, in my underwear, praying that I wouldn't get eaten, wondering what on earth I was doing. I think I managed to sleep for maybe three hours last night because as soon as it was light I was up ready to find us a new hotel. I'm a spoiled Marriott child who doesn't camp so this experience is really taking a lot out of me, I'm exhausted (as is Alisha, I can tell by all the sleeping). Alisha was up with me and we decided to be brave and go look in our room for the beast (even under the bed) da da da......

Tune in next time to find out what was under the bed (say with a gameshow host voice).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Conflicting Feelings

Today we find ourselves in a beautiful tropical paradise with views and water the likes of which we have never seen. However, with all this beauty comes everything that we ever feared when tossing and turning at night thinking about Thailand. Yes we were scared. Scared of bugs and humidity and snakes and squatter toilets and heat and humidity...Just to give you a small taste of life for the next four days I'm fairly sure I (Whitney) just ate a bug, it flew in my mouth..or crawled there... Anyway we are in some crappy guest room on the side of a jungle hill. It is definitely not up to my Marriott standards and I will need to drug myself heavily before I can sleep, Alisha on the other hand killed the giant cockroach on our wall and is almost out cold. If only I could do that. Other scary things that have happened today include: a giant freakin monsoon that felt like heaven because its so hot/wet here that we just walk around dripping, squatter toilets on ferries (as if that isn't hard enough when you are not moving), bugs in our bed (little nasty ones that look like baby millipedes), a room like a sauna....Although a side note, the other three girls are staying in a legite bungalow which is furnished with mosquito nets because the ceiling doesn't necessarily connect to the wall, so if one happens to be in the shower during a monsoon then one gets leaves and other debris blowing into their bathroom, or so I have heard. I feel like I'm getting lice as I type this. What is the deal, this situation is ridiculous I feel like I'm a hobo in Asia but we still have wifi.

...I think someone just locked us in our sauna but I don't know, there was a click and then...Good thing I have water. Alisha just told me I will get lice and no one else will. That would go perfectly with the jellyfish sting. It is so frustrating to be the more prepared than Alisha but still be redder, more bitten, and probably have lice. Oh I forgot we can totally see the kitchen/bar from our half curtained window so when we stand in front of the fan in our underwear everyone can see us. I just waved. Laura pointed out we are like Amish people on this island with the amount of clothing we wear, I'm about ready to wear my bra hiking, Alisha almost stripped down mid hike today...its not really a bad plan. anyway maybe I should explain where we are and all the good stuff that has happened so you don't think I'm an ingrate.

We left Phuket this morning via sketchy bus. The "bus" dropped us off at the dock? And we took a ferry to the Phi Phi Islands (particularly Ko Phi Phi). It's beautiful here, the water is a color that beach water should be and it pretty much feels like I could be on Lost. Last summer I watched it this summer I'm living it. So anyway we got to the dock and found the "pick a place to stay out of the five billion advertised" booth and made the mistake of letting Sarah negotiate by herself. This place is dirt cheap but it feels like it, though I suppose four days of what we were expecting all summer is doable...we are so spoiled. We can't decide if we're happy that we got the sauna prison room or if I want the mosquito net bungalow, won't lie I would love a mosquito net. Moving on, after we saw this exquisite palace we went to find lunch, I had french toast and it has never tasted more divine. Then on the way back we saw this sign that said Pee Pee Viewpoint. That sounded promising so we were like "oh lets walk up these stairs and see the viewpoint" (keep in mind it is about 1:00 in the afternoon). After 350 steps and half a mile of hill we got to the top of the freaking mountain. They should really tell you what the viewpoint is for at the bottom. Pee Pee doesn't help cause it is spelled wrong and everything here is Phi Phi something or other. So we get there and, unlike Utah were we always joke about there being ice cream on the top of the mountain, there was ice cream on the top of the mountain. We just got water though because we were all dying. Except Jenna who is much like a mountain goat when it comes to sweltering hills in the middle of the day on tropical islands.

The view was worth it though, we had to bask in it for at least twenty minutes before facing those stairs again. After we made it down the hill we went to the beach which was beautiful (very much like a postcard). After all the jellyfish research, however, I have been a little paranoid about so I watched the stuff. Everyone else walked like a block into the water and were still only up to their knees, bizarre I tell you. I laid out in my t-shirt and shorts to get a nice farmers tan. My goal is to not be crippled by then end of this vacation. We are excited to get to Phichit, I think we all need some stability. We have never done anything like this. It is surreal to wake up in one place and have no idea where you will be by the end of the day, evidently sometimes its better than others :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Nap Time!

Since getting off the bus in Phuket yesterday morning, our lives have slowed down dramatically. At first it was a little sketchy because we had absolutely no plan after that point but it worked out well. Some random Thai guy kept telling us to go to this travel information booth and after Sarah did some "extensive" research in her Lonely Planet travel guide we ended up exactly where the Thai guy had been pointing the whole time. We had decided we wanted to go to a quiet beach that wasn't big on nightlife but the travel guide, who spoke English, decided we should go to Patong Beach. (This is the beach we had decided against during the extensive research). Anyway, he had his friend take us to an ATM to get more baht(s)? Its so interesting to walk around here, everything is so different. Thailand is not a third world country but its nothing like any part of America we have ever seen. People sell stuff (which ranges from food to flutes) everywhere, 7 Elevens are prominent, dogs pretty much roam free, the air is so thick it always has a taste, and people sleep wherever they fall (okay that might not be true but we have seen some random napping spots), its wet everywhere, and it just feels cluttered (dirty in some places). That being said, it is awesome here. We are looking forward to going to less touristy places, however. The place where we will be living, Phichit, will probably be even more different than this.

So the guy that took us to the ATM also was kind enough to drive us to Patong Beach for super cheap. (Everything is cheap in Thailand) We all piled into his taxi truck thing - no seat belts, and no back to the truck. People drive around like this all of the time. We often see people sitting on top of normal trucks on the freeway (like stated earlier, anything goes). We arrived to our hotel and then headed to the beach. The beach is beautiful, with really warm water and space to do whatever you want. We stayed out for a couple of hours, got fried, (even with 50 SPF sunblock, the sun is just so hot here!) and then went back to our rooms. Whitney also had the unpleasant experience of being stung by something in the water. We have concluded that it was a jellyfish because she has a whip-like looking welt on her arm. No worries though, we bought vinegar. Apparently that helps... Back in our rooms, Whitney researched all she could about jellyfish and creepy things that could be in the waters in Thailand. Alisha, on the other hand, passed out and took a three hour nap (it was heavenly).

We took it easy for the rest of the evening. For dinner we went to a really cheap but nice place for Thai food. On this strip where our hotel is there are tons of American food places to cater towards the tourists. Since we had had McDonald's for breakfast (McDonald's has never tasted SO good) we figured we should have authentic Thai food. It was a good move. Glass noodles are delicious. We recommend them to all of you. We are slowly adjusting to the food. It would help if we stopped getting fed crap from the airplanes and buses that we have been on.

It was so nice to sleep in a bed. We both had the privilege to fall asleep to the tunes of Lady Gaga, Queen, and a Pavarotti wannabe. We don't know what it was exactly, but there were some live bands right outside of our hotel. Plus also, our windows don't shut. Apparently they enjoy American music. We also had some fireworks going off literally 10 feet from our window. We oohed and aahed together while sitting on our beds. This place in Phuket sure has a great nightlife. Too bad none of us can stay awake past 10:00.

And so we continue to relax in our wonderful hotel. Tomorrow: The Phi Phi Islands!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

One Night in Bangkok...

Well, we survived a freakishly long plane ride (among other things). We flew to LA and waited for four hours to catch a plane to Taipei at one in the morning. Whitney sat by a nice Chinese couple on the plane and they tried to get her to eat some questionable looking Chinese airplane food. The stewardess felt bad for her and gave her both breakfasts. Surprisingly, the Chinese porridge stuff was better than the eggs. Chinese airplane food is nasty. We're pretty sure that airplane food has made is so we question eating anything here. Anyway, we got to Taiwan at six in the morning their time and had to wait in the airport till one to catch the flight to Bangkok. That flight wasn't too bad. When we got to Bangkok this lady was hired to meet us at the airport and take us to Ake (Pongsak) our contact here. She had what might be the equivalent of fast passes to get us through the immigration line. Then we found Ake and he took us and our bajillion bags to the hotel. (PS all 12 of our checked bags made it, that is a miracle). The air as soon as we left the airport was so sticky we could taste it.

Traffic here is insane! In Thailand you drive on the left side of the road and in the right side of the car. Nobody signals which direction they will be turning and motorcycles can do whatever they want. In Bangkok there are so many cars, but it seems like all you have to do is honk twice for the others around you and then anything goes. (even in a double decker bus) After we got to the hotel, Ake gave us 30 minutes to clean up and then he took us to the mall (Fashion Island) to exchange money, buy cell phones, and eat dinner. Alisha did not go because her feet were so swollen from the flight. She could barely walk at all and she mostly looked like a puffy lobster. We did end up getting two phones primarily so that when Whitney gets lost she will be able to find everyone.

The hotel was nice though Laura and Jenna had a lizard in the shower incident (they are everywhere here). Ake told us we had to wake up at four in the morning because we had a busy day ahead of us that he had planned. He arranged for us to be driven around by this hotel guy all day so we had our own private bus which was way better then a taxi. Whitney had the entire backseat and since her pillow is now a world traveler she could just lay back there and sleep (they also don't believe in seatbelts here, so we don't have those pesky things to worry about). So anyways, our very pleasant personal driver took us to the floating markets, which are amazing. You get in this boat and you get ferried around and people sell you stuff from other boats. It is pretty exciting to barter in a language you dont know. When they can tell you are American they get out their calculators and they type a price. If it is too high (and it always is) then you take and type your price until you settle, although it is considerably harder to walk away when you have to wait for your boat to move. It was difficult to barter when we aren't exactly sure how the money works here. It sort of feels like it is play money to us. Whitney ended up buying a big beach bag for like 210 baht (7 bucks) which probably wasn't a fantastic deal but a lot better then the 500 baht the lady wanted. She also bought coconut pancakes right off the griddle that was on a boat. They were delicious. At one of the places that we stopped, a man pulled us off the boat to show us his python snakes. He then started to put them around our necks so we could take pictures. Whitney wouldn't let him near her with the snake, but Alisha had two pythons wrapped around her neck at one point. When we were in the boat, the boat guide also took us to a temple where we put gold leafing on a giant Buddah...that was interesting.

After the exciting floating market, our bus driver (who's name we wish we knew) took us to this beautiful resaturaunt (that was closed) talked them into opening it and I had crab rice for breakfast outside in a garden with the fountains going. After breakfast our tour guide drove us two hours to the Grand Palace. It is amazing how it took us two hours to get somewhere and we never even left the city. On the way there, we stopped by at a random gas station for a potty break. This was our first experience ever in using a squatter toilet. It was intense. Actually, it wasn't that bad because our guide gave us toilet paper. :)

We went to the Grand Palace which was shiny enough to give us sunburns (especially since Alisha thought she was above sunscreen and Whitney is an albino). Out tour guide there was named Lek and she was very funny. She told us stories of the murals and Thai temples. We also took another boat ride across a long river in Bangkok to the Temple of the Dawn. We climbed to the top of the temple, which involved the steepest stairs our legs have ever encountered. It was slightly terrifying to get back down. Lek somehow found our bus guy and he took us to Health Land, which is a school for people who are going to be massage therapists and we all got a two hour deep tissue massages for like 15 bucks. However, it was terrifying. As Laura says, "That was the most intimate experience of my life." We were very impressed that the little Thai ladies could throw us over their knees and crack our backs. The two of us plus Laura were together and we had on their weird pajama things backwards and they kept talking in Thai making fun of us. The massage was intense enough that Laura was literally praying that she would make it. We pretty much all have bruises. The driver just laughed at us when we got out and he drove us to the bus station to go to Phuket.

The bus was crazy. It was double decker and hot pink and they gave us really nasty sandwiches for our enjoyment. We were starving though, so we ate it anyway. They did put in Twilight for us, however. They probably thought to themselves, "Oh, there's some young American girls so we had better show Twilight today. All American girls must love that show after all." (Gag me) So we got to watch it in Thai with English subtitles. That movie is even worse when you have to read the subtitles. But it was a nice touch. We were on the bus from 6:00 last night to 7:00 this morning.

This first entry has been pretty long, but like Ake warned us, our days have been packed. It is so cool to be in another country and being a minority for once. People here are staring at us constantly. One guy even came up to Alisha's face and took a picture of her. Weird. Anyways, we will have more stories to tell of Phuket and the Phi Phi Islands soon.