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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Guess how long we rode the ferris wheel?

I bet you are thinking, WHY IS THERE ANOTHER POST! Well that's how we feel too, in fact I thought Alisha was going to cry when I told her that we were not done. So she went to sleep in protest. Anyway as you may recall Phichit is not a thrilling town. We have a curfew of eight o clock and we are generally fine with that because there isn't really anything to do after eight. But this week they have been having the carnival. I don't know how often it comes around but it has been exciting. Our curfew was moved to nine and we have made use of the extra hour. The first night we went we bought random things like ice cream, cd's, and a Thai massage poster (everything is extremely cheap) and rode the ferris wheel. The ferris wheel was intended for smallish children but we really wanted to ride it. So we did. We paid our dollar each and smashed ourselves into the little cages. I happened to be with Laura, we are both really tall and were therefore very squished, but we still managed to have a private dance part. Only one other girl got on (she was probably nine) but they let her off after going around three or four times. We were on the ferris wheel for over twenty minutes before we figured out that we had to tell them when to stop. For a while we thought they just liked watching our dance parties, then we thought the were going to kidnap us and make us join the circus, then we thought that the maybe the one in front just like checking Sarah out. Those may have been true but they did let us out after we gestured vigorously. PS I felt more stared at this night than I ever have before.

The second night of carnival we tried new foods and looked at the fried bugs though no one ate those. I tried something that looked like a desert taco, a potato on a stick, and some banana ice cream. Laura got crab dipped in Ketchup. The third night I bought props for the drama class I am teaching next week (Thanks to everyone who helped out with supplies) and Alsiha bought a green drink in a bag. Now the carnival is gone......SAD DAY.

Chiang Mai! Part Two

Why, hello again friends. This blog entry will be written by the two of us, so forgive us for anything that doesn't make sense. We woke up in Chiang Mai, which coincidentally is the same place where we fell asleep. We then ate breakfast, checked out of the hotel, and then headed to church. PS Our driver is a member. He took us to the branch in Chiang Mai. This building actually looked like a church and they had a lot more members than the branch in Phitsanulok. There were four sets of missionaries, the elders ignored us completely, but the two sister missionaries were very friendly and chatty. For once, we were not the only white people there. There were actually a lot of students from BYU. Laura knew one of the girls from her ward back home, and I talked to a girl who is really good friends with my roommate Sammi. They gave us headphones and the elders were able to translate all of Sacrament Meeting for us. We also had Relief Society translated and went to an English Sunday School class. It really was a nice building with a wonderful atmosphere. PS headphones make it difficult to secretly fall asleep in church meetings, Sarah learned. She nodded off twice, with headphones crashing to her lap noisily. Church was good.

Meeting House in Chang Mai

Afterwards, our driver took us to a "garden." Now, you might be thinking "How nice. A garden. Most likely with flowers and stuff." I bet you aren't thinking the Disneyland of gardens, but you should've been. Ake probably thought that it would be hilarious to send us off to a GIANT garden full of gardens, without giving us advance notice to its largeness. Well, Ake, it wasn't funny. We didn't have sunscreen or water (which is surprising for Whitney because these always tend to be mandatory for her to have at all times). So, he wandered around the large garden for three hours, baking and sweating our brains out. On the plus side, we are all tan now. The gardens were really pretty, too. We enjoyed the International Gardens, the garden palace, and the children's playground the most.

Beginning of the Garden of Gardens

This might be the prettiest view of the weekend.

The Kings Palace?

Turtle Hill


The Netherlands

A leaf as big as my arm

This turtle was hot enough to fry an egg.

A romantic teeter totter and my very white legs

Giant drums

We then went to the train. The ride home was considerably better than the ride there. We got to be on a sleeper train, with nice beds and a lot more room than uncomfortable train seats. Alisha was the only one who ordered dinner, but Whitney ate most of it anyway. We also met a nice German lady who took a year off of work so she could travel. We both tried to sleep, but neither one of us did very long. Alisha had the top bunk, Whitney had the bottom. Somehow, before we reached our destination we switched beds. This was due to the fact that Alisha had climbed down to Whitney's bed after a napping failure, talked for hours, and then fell asleep. Whitney fell crowded, so she went to the top bunk. We arrived back to Phitchit safe and sound in the wee hours of the morning. We still taught the next day.

Chiang Mai! Part One

Whitney: The first thing I would like to say in this blog post is that I sincerely dislike most animals. I'm either allergic to them, scared of them, grossed out by them, or annoyed by them. Go ahead all you animal lovers judge me...I just steer clear of them. Anyhow, keeping this in mind, you may come to appreciate how very brave and "open-minded" I was this weekend.

Me Touching an Elephant

Alisha Touching an Elephant

We set out on our adventure Friday after class, and by after class I mean we took the 11:00 (PM) train to Chang Mai. Now this is Alisha. Whitney wants me to write about the train ride for some reason. So first off, our train was significantly later than the time our ticket said it would arrive at. Secondly, those seats are not comfortable in any way. I unfortunately do not possess the ability to sleep sitting up without at least leaning against something, and there was nothing to lean on. If I so much as slouched, I would slide right off my chair. So there I was, late at night on a train, not sleeping but completely exhausted. Sounds miserable right? Oh, but wait! It gets better. After about two hours of being on the train, the temperature dropped to a temperature that I have only felt in Utah (I didn't think it was even possible to be that cold in Thailand). It was freezing! The train people were kind enough to give us "blankets," but I am convinced that they were towels. Imagine sleeping with a beach towel when it is freezing cold. Got the image? Doesn't exactly cover your whole body does it? It wasn't that warm either. At probably 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, I said to myself, "Forget assigned seating! I'm going to lay down over two seats." Although I do not have the gift of sleeping sitting up, I do have the ability to sleep curled up in squishy, uncomfortable positions (just as long as I was laying down). So I got a couple of hours of sleep doing that. Whitney, meanwhile, had come to this conclusion long before me and had been sleeping peacefully across two seats. She got the most sleep of all of us. We got to Chiang Mai at about 7:30 in the morning. PS (this is Whitney). Alisha is pretty sure I am paranoid and over prepared, both of which may be true, but I was the only one who brought a pillow or took sleeping medication on the train from ...uh...Phichit.

So after sitting in the freezer for eight hours we emerged into the wet heat. The blessed wet heat. We were met by a ward member from Pitsanoluk (who we didn't know was going to be there). She took us to our driver, who was also a member of the church. He then tried to take us to the market to buy breakfast but like the children we are we begged for McDonalds. After we got past the language barrier he rolled his eyes at us and took us to McDonalds. It was delicious. We then proceeded to go to Maesa Elephant Camp. (Oh ps the bus we were in was a red backless van....). The first thing I saw upon entering the camp were elephants (go figure). They were everywhere, in the river, crossing the bridge, hogging the road. We got tickets to see the elephant show and ride the elephants up the mountain.
During the elephant show the elephants did tricks, played soccer, and painted. One painted better than me which was a little but disheartening but very impressive. After the show we looked in the gift shop and I found a real live spider that was the size of my palm. Then we climed the platform to mount our elephants. Me and Alisha were on the same one which is not uncommon, we are actually rarely separated. I was scared to get on, I don't like being out of control especially when it comes to animals. So we climbed on and our elephant immediatly started acting rebellious. His name was something like Poo Boily and he had a frightening habit of stopping to eat things that were hanging off the edges of the cliffs. I was on the scary side of the elephant and was fairly certain that Poo was going to jump and we would go down the mountain in a wooden elephant basket and my legs would be crushed and paralyzed. Alisha was having the time of her life. SPOILER ALERT we didn't die and the ride was amazing. It was so green and beautiful and we were on elephants.

Sarah looking skeptical

Us on the elephant at the top of the mountain

Leaving the platform

Our driver actually smiling

The Elephants dropped us off near the village of the long neck women. The long neck women have rings around their necks that they slowly add to over the years until their necks are so long that they need the rings to survive (or so we were told). The place was kind of bizarre. It seemed like the culture was exploiting itself for profit. They sell pictures of themselves and other long neck women memorabilia. It definitely had a different feel then any other place we have been so far. It was very pretty and some of the houses really amazed me. We are so lucky in the U.S. to have everything that we do, every time i see people sprawled on the ground in the middle of the day I am extra thankful for air conditioning.

Me With The Elephant Stump in the Village

Alisha with a long neck and a woman

Me with a long neck and a long neck lady

(Oh PS my shirt does say SEXY, it was a three dollar Tesco shirt :). I buy lots of them because they are funny. One of my shirts says


No one knows what that means but it is a hilarious side note.)

Alisha again - Our next place of adventure in Chiang Mai: Tiger Kingdom. We decided to go pet tigers rather than hold snakes like our driver wanted us to because lets face it, tigers are a lot cooler. We have heard Sarah mention multiple times that if she were to choose how she would die it would be death by tiger. She figures that the most awesome one-upper to be able to say in heaven would be, "Well, I died by tiger." She is not the only one to think that they are awesome. I have always been rather fond of large cats but I never imagined that I would pet one. I may like them, but I still think they are scary. We signed up for the package where a photographer would take lots of pictures to put on a CD for us with the two biggest tigers. For some reason, the baby tigers were more expensive, so we didn't get pictures with them. Whitney was very hesitant to do the whole thing, but I am proud to say that she showed her courageous side and she came in with us. Even I became very apprehensive while we were sitting outside of the cage waiting for our turn. It wasn't actually that scary when we were there with the tiger, though. It mostly just laid there and let us pet it. The second tiger was slightly more active. It ran away from us after we got some pictures with it. That definitely made my heart rate speed up: seeing a tiger prepare to pounce and then run away was slightly terrifying. BUT, I got to pet a tiger! Seriously, how cool is that?

After the tigers we went to a well-known Buddhist temple at the top of a mountain which is at the base of the Himalayas. It was a touristy area, with lots of small shops and places to buy food. We walked up a series of stairs to get to the temple. Once we got to the top and went to a lookout area, we were impressed by the incredible view of Chiang Mai. That city is absolutely beautiful. Not to mention the fact that we watched storm clouds and mist suddenly appear and move quickly over the whole city. While we were up there it started to pour. I was wearing flip-flops, which are dangerous to wear when the ground is wet and slippery. I ended up taking them off and then trudged through all of the puddles on the stairs back down barefoot. Lovely. Whitney and I didn't have umbrellas with us, but we enjoyed the rain.

Imagine walking down these stairs when they are wet in your bare feet.

Alisha being HOT by the temple.

Me being tan by that tree at that top of the temple.



 Chang Mai the top of the mountain/where the temple is located.

Whitney: P.S. Alisha became sick from the mountainous, treacherous, winderious road to go up to the temple. She didn't even eat corn by the temple. You just can't enjoy a temple (Buddhist) without corn. After said temple + corn + stunning views = happiness, we headed to an unknown destination that neither our driver or translator could explain to us. Turns out it was the Walking Market, which also turns out to be different than the Night Bizarre, which ALSO didn't have a Subway. You may be thinking, "Who cares about Subway when you are in a cool place like Thailand?" We do, dang it. I will tell you why. I have not been full for the majority of this excursion to Thailand. And Alisha + Group were getting grumpy due to the lackage of food (except the corn). Anyway, suffice it to say: WE NEEDED FOOD. So, rather than stay at the Walking Market, we communicated to our driver (rather poorly) that we needed Subway stat. He rolled his eyes at us and drove us there. Our meal was silent as death as we hurriedly devoured our sandwiches. I ate a whole foot-long. Huzzah. Then presto magic, everyone was happy again. We hung out at the Night Bizarre for approximately 11 minutes, in which time Laura managed to buy her first two elephants of the night, a strange lady kept holding on to my wrist, and we got to see a parade of transvestites who were prettier than the lot of us. That hurt. So naturally, we left, returning to the Walking Market where we were once again the most fair of them all (well, at least the most stared at). We all bought a lot of stuff, due to the fact that the money feels like toy money and elephants were plentiful. Then, we got to our hotel, took showers, and collapsed in bed. Yes, all of this did happen in one day. And yes, this is finally the end.

Walking Market

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chalawan the Crocodile King

Local legend (Phichit province) tells the thrilling and horrible tale of Chalawan the Crocodile King. The story begins with Chalawan, a half man half crocodile with a love of pretty women, living in his grotto with all his loyal subjects and wives. One day he sees two girls swimming and is entranced by them. He steals the older one and sweeps her back to his layer. This girls father just happens to be a millionaire and offers a huge monetary reward as well as his other daughter to whomever can kill Chalawan. The hero, Krai Thong, hears about the dilemma and reward and is willing to accept the challenge. He corners Chalawan, kills him, and brings back the millionaires daughter. He is handsomely rewarded. (This is a retelling of Tang's version of the story).

When we got to Phichit and started teaching we realized that only three of the kids were actually old enough to be in the ILP program. The others are still benefitting from interaction with English speakers but they are not progressing as quickly as the three boys who understand what we are trying to do.




This post is really about them. The reason I began with the story of the Chalawan is because when we were discussing our end of the summer program, recreating this legend was one of our options. These three boys would fit perfectly into those roles.


2. Ongry:
Ongry is a very polite boy. He knows what he is supposed to be doing and he does his best to ... well .... do it. We all love him because he makes our lives easier and he is adorable. 
  • We did once catch him peeing in a bush at the garden home. When he noticed that we had noticed he looked ridiculously ashamed of himself.
  • Ongry may or may not be in love with Sarah our head teacher. He always picks her for duck duck goose (which is pretty much love if you are five) and he likes to grab her butt with his tickle fingers.
  • Last week Ongry was trying to get Laura's attention, "Teacher Teacher" he said. Laura said "Yes Ongry?" and Ongry said "Yes Teacher." That was that.
Alisha, Whitney, Pordee, Phuvit

3. Phuvit:
Phuvit is the oldest child at the nursery, he is pushing five and a half. He is tall and skinny and loves girls. He is always trying to hold someone's hand. He also spends much of his time outside of his body. We pretty much beg him to pay attention, not because he is disruptive more because he is just not there. Wherever he goes inside his head must be far more interesting then class.
  • Yesterday, Sarah was watching me teach the boys and I looked over and Phuvit was holding her hand. It turned out that she had actually been trying to remove it from her thigh.
  • The most alive I have ever seen Phuvit was when we were swimming. It's like he turns from a boy, who spends his time on Mars, to a stealthy little ninja. He was doing tricks and attacking people for the whole hour.

Prea, Ivy, Fei-Fei
4. Fei-Fei:
Fei-Fei is brilliant. He generally catches on to any activity faster than the other boys but he is a little rebellious. He loves to play guns (well actually they all love that), they make their guns out of blocks and run around shouting "Bong! Bong!" not bang bang. Fei-Fei also like to put Phuvit in his place; when Phuvit acts up Fei-Fei tries to bring him back. He is very sweet and makes sure to tell Teacher Jenna hello in the morning.

  • Fei-Fei's mom rode past us on her bike today. Fei-Fei was in the back basket, he pretended he didn't know us while grinning.

Anyway, we figured that for the play (if it happens) Phuvit could be the lady loving crocodile king, Ongry could be the bereft millionaire, and Fei-Fei could be the dashing hero.

Ongry is in the whitey tightys, Phuvit is in the blue body suit, and Fei-Fei is on the end in his speedo.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"You look ravenous." "You mean ravishing." "I do."

We have recently returned from a lovely weekend in Phitsanulok. Friday was an average day.. teaching, watching Hunchback of Notre Dame (1 & 2), getting ice cream, and exploring a new street in Phitchit that we had never before been down. Saturday morning also entailed us mostly just moseying around the house (especially since Whitney and I slept in until 11:00). But at 3:25 we caught a train to go to Phitsanulok. Apparently it is much more ideal to ride in the afternoon because the seats had more room and were padded, and THERE WAS AIR CONDITIONING. Air Con's (as the Thai people like to say) are pretty much the greatest things ever. No joke. Our ride there was really quite luxurious, not to mention our friend Mink ready and waiting for us to take us to get ice cream. We got ice cream, shopped around a little at the mall, and then were picked up by another friend, Sand. The seven of us then went bowling. For three hours. That was indeed the package that we chose, although we hardly paid any attention to the game at all by the end. I was just content to break 100.

Sand and Mink took such great care of us. We went to Sand's house, where she ordered us pizza and we rented the movie The Tourist. We spent the night at her nice house and then went to church with her in the morning. I am always so surprised and impressed with the way these wonderful people go out of their way for us. The members in this branch have always made sure we were included and felt welcome to be at church. I love the feeling here. Not only do we have members doing kind acts of service for us, but I feel that the Thai people around us in general are very willing to help us. On the train ride home, Laura, Whitney, and I were trying to figure out which stop we needed to get off. Although we try to act as inconspicuous as possible (and we really should know which stop is ours by now anyway) it is still obvious to everyone around us that we aren't quite sure what we are doing. As we were deciding which stop was ours, a man came up to me and asked where we were going. He then told us which stop to get off of, shook my hand, said "thank you," and then got off of the train. Things like that seriously happen all of the time. We really are well taken care of.

After church we had another baptism. This time it was the branch president's wife, so he got to baptize her and welcome her into the church. You could tell that they were both just so happy. It seems like the elders are having some good success. They are really funny. Elder Iverson was called to be the first counselor in the branch presidency and sat on the stand today, so we had the pleasure of having Elder Dixon be our translator. He has only been here for a couple of months. After Fast and Testimony Meeting was over, he apologized to us and said "Sorry. Everything I said was mostly just my testimony." That explains the funny faces Elder Iverson kept making when he would hear a little bit of what Elder Dixon was saying to us.

Teaching has been going great. We are really getting into the flow of things and the kids seems to like us a lot. Thursday was a lot of fun because we got to go swimming with the kids at the garden home. Aw man, the kids couldn't be cuter.