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Pathumtani!

Yes friends, after over a month of being stuck in “The Room” at Kampengphet I am finally back in my original host city! WE arrived two days ago and had to walk through shin deep water- which by the way was a lot less fun than when the flood first hit our town. The water is… well nothering short of the definition of revolting. I can’t actually feel the road when I walk barefoot because it is covered in slime and mushy newspaper scraps. Ewww.
On a better note, things are geting cleaner! Yesterday I spent over four hours washing dishes that were all unfortunate enough to be stored on the floor. This is obviously not an ideal storage place, Meh discovered TWO KNIVES camoflaged under the black muck that filled our main floor. YIKES! Actually we were very lucky that nobody had an accident… After all the dished were scrubbed to absolute perfection my sponge had worn down into tiny pieces and my hands were paler than Edwards stomach. And prunier than a raisin! My host sisters had the time of their lives teasing me.
This morning Meh and Paw were able to get the rest of the water out of our house and they spent the rest of the day removing the grime.
As for me, I went to school! We had a Big Cleaning Day! I met up with some friends and sweeped the remaining nastyness into piles that were then thrown away in garbage bags. Afterwards we had a meeting and recieved a bag of supplies and a new matress. Both very heavy. Both of which got carried along with me to the  internet cafe where I currently am. And ohhh boy am I dreading the walk back home…

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Flood Photos

A Soggy Tale

First let me express my sincere apologizes for not posting sooner. Many of you may be aware of the current flood crisis in Thailand. As it turns out the province I was hosted in, Pathumtani, was one of the worst cases. My host parents sell clothing at the market as well as own a few farms. We moved out to the province of Kampangphet. There I was confined to a small apartment off of a highway for two weeks. Then we moved out to their rubber plantation in the mountains of Phitsanulok. Meh and Paw informed me that there wouldn’t be any electricity and it would be very rural. They weren’t exaggerating. Imagine my surprise when we pulled off of the bumpy road into a field of high grass in front of a little shed made out of corrugated tin. Luckily we had a distant relative who lived less than a kilometer away in a very traditional Thai farmhouse. Made nearly completely of wood with an exception of the roof, which was metal. The only power availably came from a small solar panel positioned outside of the house. We were originally supposed to stay there for only five days. However due to the unexpected delay in progress of clearing up some weeds, five days became ten days and sometimes I wonder if we would’ve stayed there longer if it weren’t for the upcoming holiday of Loy Katong. A Budhist festival that I had been dreaming about since I found out I was going to Thailand. Loy Katong is also known as the festival of lights. Not much different from the floating lights from Tangled . My family built our own katong boats which were made out of purely organic materials, mostly coming from the banana tree. But there were some people selling Katongs made out of snacks such as icecream cones and waffles!

 

September Update

I am happy to report that this month has had many fun activities for me to participate in! Recently I have been helping out with many English camps. The students at my school are on vacation which means I would have a lot of free time, however the teachers from the English department invited me to help out at the camps, which keeps me busy enough. On the weekends Greta “Fa”, the other exchange student, goes running with me at the park. I’ve been getting along great with both of my host sisters. We sometimes stay up late at night chatting. I’m always looking for more opportunities to practice my Thai speaking abilities. Looking back from when I first went home with my host family, and could hardly say “Sawasdiika” and now I can carry on conversations and even read Thai signs.
Some fun stories from this month involve missing shoes, and my adventure going to the AFS camp.

The AFS camp was held at the beginning of September. I remember waking up at around 4:30am so I could get ready and be on time to meet a bus that would take Fa and I to bangkok. I finished my breakfast, and grabbed my bag, and followed “Bpoo” (grandpa) out the door. The first thing he did was unlock the gate, and prepare the bicycle. I got on and he began slowly peddling along. At first I thought he would stop at the end of the neighborhood and I would walk the short distance to the school. But no, much to my surprise, he kept going all the way to the edge of the road. As he edged closer and closer to the endless line of morning traffic, I thought about AFS recieving a notification that I would be unable to attend the camp, because I was being hospitalised and recovering from a nearly fatal accident from being hit by a car while trying to go to school. Lovely thought. There was a small gap through the rushing cars and motercycles and thats when Bpoo decided to go for it! I immediately braced for impact… arms pulled in as tight as I could, tucking my legs in. “Think small, Think fast…”. Miraculously we made it across-to the median… which meant we would have to cross AGAIN!! :O And so once again he began to pedal… not very fast either mind you, but we dodged the reckless motorcyclists and made it across alive! We arrived at the school at a record time of 5:30. So, perhaps a little less than a half hour commute, not so bad I suppose. However, I wasn’t needed at the school until 6:30….Luckily there was a 7/11 just outside the school, and I compared the different varieties of Mama noodles to each other. Then deciding I didn’t really want to eat noodles, and thought it better to buy some coffee instead. I waited for Fa in the school canteen, watching the sunrise around the school. It was actually quite pretty! When she arrived we took a private van to a bus station in Bangkok. However there was a miscommunication, and we found out later, that we should’ve gone to the AFS office. And we spent about 2 hours at the bus station wondering where the other exchange students were. But no worries, because there were plenty of 7/11s inside the station, where we could spend some time looking through magazines until we met up with a staff member who took us to a taxi, taht would meet up with the bus. In the end we made it to our destination ok, and I still had some energy left despite the early wake up call. 🙂

The Missing shoes.

Generally I’ve had a hassle free stay here. My class mates are really friendly, and I get along with most people in the school quite well. One day I needed to print out some papers, so I went to the computer lab where my sister’s class was and waited to use a computer. Unfortunately, the printers were broken, and the computers were all busy anyway. So, I decided to go back to the office where I could hang out for a bit and maybe borrow the computer there. Much to my surprise as I stepped outside of the room and looked at the hodgepodge of shoes, mine were nowhere to be found! Well, that’s odd… I asked my friends to help me look for them, but still no sign of my shoes. 😦 We decided that maybe a classmate mistakenly took them for their own, and I could switch with them later. So I “borrowed” somebodies shoes and went to the office to print my forms. I had completed one task, but I was still worried about my shoes, so I went back to the computer room to see if they were there. Nope. And as my classmates went to math, I realized that the owner of the shoes I had borrowed had taken their shoes back. So, here I was stranded and shoeless in the computer room. The teachers asked why I was still there, and I explained to them that I couldn’t find my shoes. They searched and searched, still nothing. I met up with my sister before she went in the math room, and I borrowed her shoes to go to the office, where I talked with the teachers there about my predicament. They came to the conclusion that somebody had infact stolen my shoes, because they were still new. I was to buy a new pair and keep them safe. A teacher let me borrow a spare pair of her shoes so I could walk to the nearby Tesco Lotus and get a new pair. I wasn’t to thrilled about the whole ordeal at first, but now looking back on it, it is kind of funny. Fa still teases me about it. But hey, “Mai pen rai”.

Now to answer some of your comments from last month:
I share a room with my sisters, it is the only room with airconditioning. But I don’t mind because we like to talk a lot before going to bed 🙂
We eat our meals around a short table on the floor at home. When our parents our home my sisters and I eat with everybody. But sometimes we get to eat first. Bpoo likes to eat last and then he will clean the dishes.
I haven’t traveled very much yet, especially because transportation is limited due to the recent floodings. I have been to Bangkok often, and I have been to Ayuttaya(before the flood), and Petchuburi, and Chonburi. I would like to go to Phuket (pronounced Pu-Ket) and Chiang Mai.
I’m currently learning Mandirin Chinese, Thai, and French. Despite the fact that I have already studied French for 3 years in high school, I’ve managed to forget most of it. Also the teacher likes to give Fa and I “review” worksheets, however most of it involves grammar, and even some vocab that I’ve never encountered, which is why French is the hardest of the languages I’m learning.

My august update

I went with my host sisters to Bangkok recently for shopping. We saw some “Falang” aka foreigners. I thought they all looked very tall, I’m so used to seeing the same people in my school and town.

It has been raining A LOT and I have to be careful when I take my camera to school, because I would be devastated if it got wet or ruined at all. The rain happens daily. It stays about 30 Celsius here, all year round, which is 86 Fahrenheit. Last month we were actually reading in the news about the heat spell in Michigan recently, where it was 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit). Funny that Thailand would be cooler.
Here is a simple recipe for a popular Thai beverage. It is really sweet and I drink it at school for 10baht almost everyday 🙂
Take a small slice of watermelon and put it in the blender with some ice(or vanilla ice cream if you want) and I think 1-1/2 cup of milk, and a little honey and sugar. Don’t worry about the seeds. I assure you a watermelon will not grow in your stomach 😛 (watermelon seeds are actually sold at the 7/11 here as snack food!)

Thai language is difficult. I’m not gonna lie. Especially because it is a tonal language, so the pitch matters. People say I am doing well speaking, but my conversations are limited by my small vocabulary. Fortunately, it is phonetic to read and write (mostly) and the grammar is actually really logical. So Thai is easy in some ways, but tricky other times.
School is fun, I go to class with my sister(also 17) in class 6/4.
I’m also taking French and Mandarin Chinese here (1 hour each a week) and about 5 hours of Thai, and 6 hours of Thai dance.

There are a lot of dogs, and some are being sent to Vietnam to be eaten! There are dogs everywhere here! Even in school! A few weeks ago, a dog walked into my class, which was on the second floor mind you, and my friends played with it! It was a clean dog 🙂 I miss my dog back home (Ruru).

And now I want to here from you! My mom recently proposed an idea to answer questions on my blog.
So if you have any questions you would like me to answer about my stay in Thailand, please feel free to post below!

Ex.Q. Do you have to do any chores at home?
A. Not really. My house is much smaller, than my home in America. My host mom prefers to do the cleaning when she is home. But I will Iron my shirt and skirt before going to school. And sometimes I will wash the dishes.

Bye ❤ nahmwan นัำหวๅน !!

Sport Day!

So every year my school has a fun,3 day long event called “Sport Day”.
It is similar to american highschool homecoming, except instead of competing in football against a rival school; the student are split into 4 colors (red,blue,yellow,and purple), and compete against eachother in different events. However, Sport Day also includes competition for best parade displays, best “crowd cheering” -younger students are on the bleachers and do a cute cheer routine,mostly sitting- , as well as Cheer Leading itself (it has its own category!).
I was on team blue along with my oldest host sister. We won cheerleading, and got second in parade!
My younger sister was on team red. Red team got 1st in the parade.

Overall it was a really fun experience and a nice break from studying! Because I was in the oldest class of students, we were considered
“staff” and got to run errands, and get snacks for the athletes.

My Host Family

Ok, I have finally organized all my photos so it should be easier and faster to upload 🙂 

Any way here are some photos of me with my host family. They are all really nice!

A tour of the Grand Palace!

On our last day before meeting our host famillies we got a tour of Bangkok

Including the Grand Palace

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One of the most well known historical landmarks of Thailand, The Grand Palace was constructed in 1782.  This was where many of the Ramas (name of the kings) lived. It became especially famous from the plays and musicals “Annie and the King” and “The King and I” , based on a true story of Annie,an english tutor, who went to teach in Siam in the Grand Palace, during the reign of King Rama V. We actually walked into the actual classroom Annie taught in! 

The palace is incredibly elaborate, and features a lot of gold! In fact most of the structures have gold-leaf decorating, either on murals, or on the entire roof.

Safe Arrival!

Hey everybody,
Well, I’ve been with my host family for about two full days now! I had a safe 14+ hour flight from Washington D.C. to Tokyo, then from Tokyo to Bangkok ( an additional 5 hours) . The food is delicious as should be excpected. The people are very nice as well. I love my host family although I depend mostly on my oldest host sister who is the only one who speaks english. Otherwise I get to practice my sherades skills and try to mime what I want to say… or just nod and smile to whatever they say 🙂 Don’t worry I will put photos up soon, but the  internet connection here is very slow, and I fear it may cost a lot, so they will take a while to get posted. Till next time,
Heather Jackson
P.S. I hve a thai name “Nam-Wan” it means sweet water/honey, because I have a sweet face. 🙂

The reality of it all

Yesterday, I had just gotten back from a camping trip with a few friends as a last good-bye. I stepped inside my house for the first time in three days, and KA-POW! It hits me like a giant tsunami! I’m only a few days away from leaving to D.C. and about a week away from leaving the country!

My mom, had pages and pages of notes that she took while I was away. She usually takes notes on everything anyway, so I was expecting a rather large amount of information, possibly only 30% would actually be relevant as well.  But I was actually quite surprised!

1. My dad,who was appointed to be a project leader in Costa Rica, had called home a few times.  Evidently it is very rainy there right now, but he is doing well.

2. I have my host family! This bit was what I was anxious about the most. And now that I have them, they’re still the topic I think about the most.  A brief bit on my new family: I have a father and a mother. Two sisters who are about the same age as my own sister and I. And the grandfather lives with the family to as well!  I’m currently not going to release their town because of a few reasons. First of all, I’m not actually sure what the name of the town is, although my exchange student claims to know where it is (I’ll trust her on that). Secondly, for their own security, perhaps I get there and none of them are thrilled about having their name+location on a relatively public site. Also, it is a long and complicated name, which is hard for even me to pronounce let alone any curious viewers.

3. The internet connection at my house has most unfortunately gone faulty. So it is nearly impossible to get connection. Luckily the public library has wireless (with limited hours) so I have been catching up best I can.

She talked about tons of other things as well. Some of it was probably important but I don’t really remember much of it… shhh don’t tell her. haha! Well, none the less she managed to talk through my entire dinner! I will miss her despite this.

My exchange student was in full packing mode, which made me realize I too should probably start packing. And let me tell you, it is not as simple as it sounds.  Airlines have a tight weight limit, and I’m not really supposed to bring half of my current wardrobe with me either. I should fix that….

In the meantime I’ve been enjoying the sunshine in Michigan, which is rare.  I’ve also been messing around with my camera, and playing with some of its settings so I can take super awesome shots to share on this blog.

Take Care!   I really should get back to packing…. I think I’ll watch a movie with my exchange student first though… 🙂 Well, I’ll post again soon! So much is going on these days!

Sincerely,     Heather Jackson