Thursday, August 12, 2010

I've made the switch

Well guys, as you may have seen on facebook, I’ve made the switch from blogger to wordpress. There are many reasons for the move, photo captions for one, but basically it’s just a better blog host. The new address is Please bear with me as I figure this thing out. I’m sure there will be many formatting problems and such.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I didn't know it was possible to get kicked out of a bar in Thailand...!

Today the entire Mirror Foundation flooded. It poured all morning, and within a few hours, this is what the walking path looked like. There are 3 steps to the bridge that are under water.

Last Saturday we did karaoke at a bar in town. Unfortunately, the fun didn't last long because we got kicked out of the bar. A volunteer had bought a few bottles of whiskey for everyone, and by about 11:00 everyone was pretty smashed.

Alex singing Radiohead's Creep with Mike on the drums.
Steph and Britt
Sam, Britt, Kaitlyn, Aaron, and Adrienne

Mike rocking out on the drums.
Dancing at R&B bar.

Party at P'Noi's. Everyone usually shows up there on Saturday nights for a barbeque, but this week it seemed like an especially large crowd because of all the new volunteers.

The clock tower in Chiang Rai changes color every night at 8:00. This isn't a great picture, but it's really beautiful.
All of us crammed into a songtow on our way to Big C.
Riding on top of the songtow. You can't tell, but we're actually sitting on the roof of the truck. It was really fun, but we had to dodge branches the whole time.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

25 Things I LOVE About Thailand/Mirror Foundation

  1. Fisherman pants. Greatest invention ever.
  2. You can get your laundry done for 40 Baht and it comes back neatly folded and smelling fresh.
  3. It has forced me to overcome my fear of animals. I have embraced the natural world and all it's critters.
  4. Waterfalls abound.
  5. Movie nights in the orientation room.
  6. Knowing the words and actions to every children song known to man is considered a valuable skill.
  7. Discovering the healing powers of Tiger Balm.
  8. Working with little kids and watching them actually get what you're teaching.
  9. Craftiness is next to godliness.
  10. Mangosteens = heaven.
  11. Playing charades is mandatory.
  12. Thai massages. Enough said.
  13. Barbeques at P'Noi's tattoo shop.
  14. Modest is hottest.
  15. Even the boring parts of the country are some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.
  16. The kindness and generosity of the Thai people.
  17. No makeup is required.
  18. I get to teach monks. Who else can say that?
  19. Sweet sticky rice with custard.
  20. Baby Buddha aka Ouan (meaning fat in Thai) aka the cutest kid ever at Mirror. No one knows what his real name is.
  21. Shaved ice at Baan Jalae hilltribe village. Amazing.
  22. The pancakes at the shop next to P'Noi's.
  23. Riding on top of a sontow.
  24. The ice cream man who rides up on a motor bike with the freezer attached to the back.
  25. Everyone LOVES the banana song.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Malaysia Madness

This weekend I went to Malaysia with two other volunteers to apply for a 60 day visa at the Thai consulate in Kuala Lumpur. After a 3 hour bus ride from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai ($6.00 including a bottle of water and cookies) we took a flight to KL. I went through some hassle leaving Chiang Mai because I had overstayed my Thai visa by 2 days. The immigration officer took me to another desk and left me there alone, saying "One moment, mai pen rai (no problems)." However, that one moment turned out to be about 25 minutes. Finally, worried that I was going to miss my flight to KL, I asked someone else if they could help me. Officer #2 then went to try and find officer #1. Again I waited alone for 10 minutes. Fortunately officer #3 came to my rescue and filled out the necessary paperwork for me to get out of the country. I arrived at my gate in the midst of boarding, just in the nick of time.
I had no idea what to expect from KL. Zoe wouldn't tell us anything and I didn't do any research before we left. Mostly I thought it would be similar to Thailand (mostly poor and kind of dirty), but boy was I wrong. It's one of the wealthiest countries in Asia and you can certainly tell. KL is a beautiful city full of amazingly expensive cars, rich Arab tourists and very high end shopping malls.
Twin towers: tallest buildings in Malaysia

Boy Zoe (there are two Zoes here at Mirror, boy Zoe and girl Zoe) lives there, so we stayed at his house. The house is split into several different apartments. Zoe's is on the bottom floor and his sister lives on the upper level. Julian stayed in a back building (the old maid's room and his father's prayer room) and I stayed upstairs with Zoe's sister, brother in law and nephew. The family were amazing hosts. Imagine the nicest, most warm people you have ever met. Multiply that by 3 and then you're somewhere close to describing them. I felt right at home there.

Zoe's house in Kuala Lumpur

We got our visas without too much trouble. Just a long wait at the Thai embassy. The rest of the time we spent hanging out with Zoe's friends and family. Again, his friends are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Zoe drove us around and showed us around the city. Most importantly, it's filled with DELICIOUS food. Zoe took us to all the best restaurants. I must say, Thailand has got nothing on Malaysia when it comes to food. Thai food is really good, but it gets a little monotonous day after day. There's so much more variety available in KL. I was really grateful I didn't have to eat rice 3 times a day. Julian is a vegetarian, so we ate at a lot of Indian restaurants because they always have good veggie options. I didn't mind at all though since Indian is my favorite kind of food.
Tosai and Dahl: a really thin rice flour crepe with lentil curry dipping sauce (sort of like Indian hummus) = PARADISE

Italian and Mexican food makes an interesting combo, no?
The toilets are much nicer in Malaysia (not to mention you can flush the toilet paper) but some people still don't get it.

Imagine you're in the center of a shopping mall filled with designer stores. Wall to wall Gucci, Prada, Lious Vitton. Food court with $50 per plate restaurants. Then you go to the top level, exit into a hidden hallway and emerge into this crazy Asian food court. THIS is where the locals eat.

If you couldn't tell, I had a great time. I met a lot of great people and ate a lot of good food. However, I don't think it would have been as fun without a local to show me around. I wish we could have stayed longer. We only had 2 days to spend there, half of which was taken up with visa stuff. On Wednesday morning we woke up at 4:00 am in order to get to the airport in time for our flight at 7:00. After a very long day of traveling we made it back to Mirror. Although I had so much fun, I was happy to be back. Mirror has really begun to feel like home.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My first real goodbyes

On Saturday I had to say goodbye to two guys from the group I started with. I was so sad I almost cried. And you all know how rare that is. It's amazing how quickly such strong bonds can form. I really have come to love some of the people here in only a few weeks. It's hard to think about not seeing Paul or Mike again. They live in Australia and England, and who knows if we'll ever visit each other. I can't even think about saying goodbye to the people I will spend my entire 10 weeks with. Luckily I have Molly and Rachel's visit to look forward to, so leaving won't seem so sad. I'm sure there will be tears though.

To clear up the confusion, I'm going to Malaysia this weekend to apply for a 60 day visa at the Thai embassy. Two other volunteers, boy Zoe and Julian, are coming with me. Zoe lives in Kuala Lampor, so we're going to stay with his family. It will be fun to have a few days away from Chiang Rai. I love it here at Mirror, but there's not much to do in town except hang out. Zoe promised that I'll eat the best food of my life there and I'm going to hold him to it. I tell everyone that I make up for not drinking with eating. That is why I'm giving up treats for Buddhist lent. Well, I'm giving them up for the week to start. We'll see how it goes after that ;) Thailand is making me fat, so I need to nip my snacking in the bud. It's hard to resist oreos though when they're right there and they only cost $0.15. Plus I am officially addicted to peanut butter here. I discovered a bakery with real wheat bread, so I eat a PB&J nearly every day. Not good. Not good at all.

Teaching last week was super good. I taught for the first time by myself and it was so fun. We played a clothing relay race where the kids had to put on the clothes. The class loved it, especially when the boys had to put on a skirt or a dress. I'm amazed at how much you can convey with my very limited Thai, their very broken English and a lot of charades. It just proves that when it comes to communication, where there's a will there's a way. I think most people are just too afraid of looking stupid to try. I've found that the locals really appreciate it when you try your best. Particularly if you try speaking a little Thai. I taught some 4th graders about recycling on Saturday, which went better than I had hoped for. It's a complex subject to teach any kid about, and the language barrier makes it that much more difficult. They really picked it up quickly though. I think they really understood it. I'm amazed at how excited I get when I can see the kids learning. I get pretty giddy.

The people here are so hospitable. It really is the land of smiles. They would give you the shirt off their back and the food off their plate if they thought you needed it. As a teacher you are shown an incredible amount of respect, by both the kids and the other teachers. It's something that was totally foreign to me as an American.

Today is a holiday because of lent, so teaching was canceled. I gave blood in the morning with several other volunteers. A couple of girls had to go to the hospital anyway. One to get her tooth looked at and one to check out a reaction she was having to all the mosquito bites. Both turned out to be ok, which is good because they're both here for another couple of months.

Although I'm sad to see old people leave, I'm excited to get to know everyone better and meet future volunteers. I cannot believe that I've been here nearly 4 weeks. My time here is flying by.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mirror Foundation Tour

Sorry about the Blair Witch Project camera action, but at least you can get a sense of where I'm living.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


A few of you have asked me if there's stuff that we need here that they can donate. Here's our volunteer wish list if you want to collect some stuff to send over. It's expensive to mail, but you can probably send it with Molly and Rach when they come if you're feeling generous. Anything would definitely be appreciated.
  • cardboard
  • cleaning supplies
  • whiteboard markers
  • poster board
  • stapler and staples
  • large scissors
  • play dough
  • TONS of craft supplies (stickers, glue, tape, markers, glitter, etc.)
  • butcher paper
  • that blue sticky stuff that you can use to stick papers on the wall
  • world maps
  • story books
  • learning games (matching games, memory games)
  • any sorts of learning toys
  • musical instruments
  • basically anything you would find in a kindergarten or pre-school classroom
Address here at Mirror:
Mirror Foundation
106 Moo 1, Ban Huay Khom
T. Mae Yao, A. Muang, Chiang Rai 57100 THAILAND