Monday, August 31, 2015

Sneak preview of the new classroom!

Figured I ought to give everyone a look at the new classroom.  I have not taken many pictures outside the room as a lot of it is still under construction, but hey, new building, hard to complain right?

The building itself is amazing, and I will add a lot of photos of it when I get a chance, but I thought I would do a quick post and show everyone what the classroom looks like so far.  I still have a lot of decorating to do to make it a proper "Tumin" classroom.

AKA a coffee maker and tacky posters/post cards.  All of my old students will understand this for sure.  
If you want to see google sphere of the room, click here.

Google spheres are these awesome spherical photos of places that allow for a person to move the photo with their mouse or finger if it is on the cell phone.  You can take a virtual spin around my room at your leisure.

The view from the front of the classroom towards the back.

The view out the window

The view from the back of the classroom towards the front

Obligatory selfie

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wandering around Phutthamonthon

I wish that I could do this location justice. From my limited knowledge and the sheer expanse of the park, I will do my best, but I know I will not be able to come close to explaining just how amazing this place truly looks and feels.

Phutthamonthon is an expansive park that is situated a few kilometers from my house in Salaya, Thailand. It was built sometime in the 1950's, during the Buddhist year of 2500. Because everyone loves number play, the park is 2500 rai (unit of area measurement of about 40m by 40m). This translates into about 4 square kilometers. 

A.K.A. Huge.

I was able to explore the middle and one corner of it over the course of a few hours of walking today. It is teeming with birds, winding paths, gazebos, monitor lizards, and fish. It resembles any Asian themed garden, just on a scale that I never knew was possible. Seriously, it is that big.

The main feature is the large Buddha at the center of the park. I went fairly early on the weekend so I was able to see it without many people wandering around. 

This family had a very young child with them and were teaching her how to kneel and pray. It was very cute. She would copy what they did, and then immediately run off and play. They would chase her down and repeat the process. Very fun to watch. 

The park itself must have countless meandering paths in it, which take you along beautiful canals and lead to some amazingly scenic places.

The canals are rather pretty themselves and are teeming with fish. You can purchase bread bits or bags of fish food and sit and feed the fish all afternoon. The above picture is what the larger canals with these fish look like, but the below picture is more of what the smaller criss-crossing canals are like that dot and cross the park.

If you ever happen to be in the area, this place is definitely a great location to spend the day and find a shady spot in which to nap or read. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

It is 5:59pm and all is quiet...

There is something truly beautiful about running around Mahidol University. The beautiful Thailand sunsets, the canals, the Asian fusion architecture, and the wonderful tree-lined boulevards all make for a memorable experience. It is amazing just how well this university and its' setting would fit in perfectly in any college town in the United States. 
It is also quite inspiring how the university is both so incredibly modern while still preserving the Thai feel of the locale. 

It has all the features that make it world class, while still having those Thai moments that remind you that you are not wandering a New England university. One of those is the six-foot monitor lizards. The other is what happens as the clock strikes 6:00 pm.

I love to run in the evening because it offers a bit of a reprieve from the oppressive Thailand heat and humidity. I am obviously not the only one who feels this way, as the joggers start to come out of hibernation at around 5:30 pm.

The really interesting thing is that even though the sidewalks and roadways are full of joggers and bikers at 6:00 pm, everyone comes to a respectful stop as the loudspeakers come alive. First you hear an announcement, followed by a quick piece of music, then you hear the Kings song/anthem. The first two items last about a minute and people continue to do whatever they had been doing, but as soon as the Kings song comes on, everyone stops.

This is not a stop and stretch sort of thing.

This is a full and complete stop. 

There is a very respectful nature in the evening air, as people wait for the song to end and them continue their jogging and walking. There is no talking, no checking of cell phones, just a respectful waiting period.

For those of you who are wondering, no, it does not feel staged or false, it really does feel like a genuine love and respect for their long-reigning monarch.  While I doubt anyone would raise a fuss if I were still running during that time, it just would not feel right. Plus, there is something that is just right about taking the time to respect a tradition.

Again though, what a beautiful evening for a quick four-mile run.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Celebrating 100 Posts

I just wanted to say a quick "thank you" for all the support over the last 99 posts.  So far I have been able to talk about traveling in different countries, teaching, becoming an expat, and some other humorous (or dangerous) stories.

It has been a wild ride, and I have loved sharing it with all of you.  It is amazing how much support that I have had on this journey so far. 

Thanks for getting me started on this process Danielle.  I think this was always brewing in my mind, but it took you telling me to get off of my ass and start it.  I appreciate all the help and encouragement.  This would not have happened without you.

Thanks to my family and friends for their unwavering support.  I appreciate all of you - new and old. 

The stats so far.  As of my writing of this post, (2:30 pm Thailand time, on Saturday, August 22), I have had 8,089 readers from scores of different countries.  I have had readership from almost every continent, and had posts get shared in the hundreds of times.  Thanks to all of you, most of whom I might never meet or know for your support.  

Thought it might be fun to post some of my favorite pictures from the past 99 posts.  If you have caught up with the reading, then feel free to zone out here.  Thanks all!

Fun ride so far, looking forward to the next 100 posts.  Thanks everyone!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thailand has an obsession with cute sheep

I am not sure why, but there is a major obsession in Thailand with sheep that have awkwardly huge grins.  I know that many "cute" things become a national craze, but these sheep are so cute they are downright creepy.

Every single market/area/tourist trap has some form of sheep good to sell to people.  They range from small ceramic sheep...

They have sheep in candle form...

They have creepy smiling sheep...

Not to mention sheep signs...

Even with all my cynicism, I have to admit the sheep signs are pretty cute.  They definitely are better than some of the creepy smiling sheep that have "welcome" or "come in" written on them.  Sorry, but a huge grinning clay sheep that doubles as a stool saying welcome is not inviting... it is terrifying.

Though, I guess sheep fever catches on, because this happened...

Judge me all you want, I purchased that awesome beanie/hat thing.  I mean, it was only $4.20.  I actually did consider haggling it down a bit, but yeah, totally worth it, right?

Just for good measure... more sheep