Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2012-2013 Fourth Graders

Here is a collage of my 15 remaining 4th graders (started the school year with 16). They have been somewhat of a challenge behaviorally, but they can also be a fun (funny) group. The mischievous behavior sometimes takes a little of the teaching time away from those who want to learn, but when we can get them focused on the material, they do well.

There are obviously the super stars and students who struggle. There are the ones who need and seek the teacher's attention and those who would rather pull their own teeth with a pair of pliers than try to hold a conversation with the teacher. All of them have unique personalities, even if we have to see them outside of the classroom playing with their friends in the schoolyard to see them let loose. Enjoy, they sure are!

Family Blogs are Cool

Pae and I were talking about food today (surprise surprise!) and I couldn't remember when or where we had eaten this one meal. So I went to our blog and searched for that time period and eventually found a picture of the dishes I was talking about.

Before I finally found the photo, I was forced to click through several months of blogs. I even read little snippets of them as the photos brought back memories of those times, even just a few years or even several months ago. As the brain fades (haha) and memories become more open to embellishment, exaggeration or even total deletion, this blog is a type of journal or diary for recording some of the times in our lives together, and also a small window into our lives for our families to peer through from afar. Of course, not every good time or bad time is recorded in this blog's pages because we do have full control over its contents and access. Haha!! We also go missing for months at a time every now and then but eventually get back into the swing of things. Nobody's perfect , right! Our blog is what we want it to be or whatever it becomes! ;)

I'm very glad that we got in on the blog-thing several years ago and started recording in words and photos some of our experiences. Perhaps each individual story is nothing overly special and some things might get a little old (races, students, beaches, FOOD, etc.) but as a whole, as a period of four or five years, I think it's pretty cool and special!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Foto - January 25, 2013

This is one of the only photos of little ceramic bunny. We got him a few weeks back to sit under our hibiscus plant. Last week I ripped out a bunch of bushes in front of our house and put our two hibiscus and another tree out there as a little landscaping and so the hibiscus would get more sun during the daytime. What do you know, in the middle of the day, someone came by and snatched little bunny!! Uncool. Some people are just not nice. Well, I'm sure he's got a nice new home, even if it is with not nice people.
I'm pretty glad that I didn't put Hippy man outside to grow in the sun! Who knows what would have become of him.


Okay, here goes.

Pae and I have wanted to visit the States for some time now, since I moved to Thailand in fact. Six years and plans every year to buy tickets and go, but our plans get cancelled every year for some reason or another. The past three years that Pae has been employed have been nearly impossible, due to our differing schedules and vacation dates. My vacation always falls during April, but hers is just whenever she can get it. And her getting vacation involves requesting it several months in advance.

This year, Pae's vacation is requested and mine is late March to late April. The semester starts in mid May, so I may be able to take unpaid leave from school if our vacations don't overlap. This is not really much of a problem at the moment. We just don't know if Pae will be given 2 weeks or 3 weeks vacation...big difference as far as planning a trip half way around the world is concerned.

This year we are trying harder than previous years, to be perfectly honest but not doomsdayish, because Bill's health over the past two years has been very on and off with heart surgeries, etc. I haven't seen the guy in nearly TWENTY years, and I think it's time that I spend a day or two with him. I've also spent probably a total of two weeks with Mom Betsy in the same TWENTY years between BYU graduation, and a few tiny visits after I got back from Hawaii!!! Crazy when you think about it!!

When planning our trip to the U.S. I have been a little worried about not being able to visit everybody, hurt feelings, etc. But Pae and I have to be realistic and make sure we do three things 1) see Bill 2) try to enjoy our vacation while doing what we can with who we can and 3) spend quality time together, just the two of us, on what might be our last big vacation for the next 4 or 5 years. Is that selfish, I don't know. Is it what we're gonna try to do? Yes.

When we thought about visiting home, this is how the "dream" visit would have gone...***FANTASY*** Fly from Bangkok to Korea. Stop two days in Korea for food and Cherry Blossoms. Korea to Honolulu. Hike through the bamboo forests to Manoa Falls together, visit Maunawili falls, ride horses on the windward side, eat Waiola Shave Ice, L&Ls, moonlight beach walk, and now that Rae and Ro are there, visit with family for a day, high five some Marine buddies on the way back to the airport. Honolulu to NYC. Bronx or Brooklyn Zoo, Statue of Liberty, go to the place where we first met, picnic in Central Park, walk together in Central Park, the lights and frenzy of Times Square, Day trip to Niagara Falls, Day trip to Boston, Red Sox game, visit Family (Anne Marie and Auntie Judy). NYC to Florida. Visit Bill, Shark fishing or just regular fishing depending on health, Visit Mom and Katie, Tubing Ichetucknee, Disney. Florida to Utah. Visit Dad and Utah family, take Pae hiking up the canyons, too early to go to Seven Peaks probably, Hawaiian food dinner prepared by the Uda family (I'll massage the pork), Day trip to Las Vegas, night on the Las Vegas Strip. Utah to Chicago, visit Naomi's fam, Becca's fam, have a run with the family runners. Chicago to NYC. NYC to Bangkok...

Now, this FANTASY itinerary would have to cover a two to three week period, minus a day before and two days after just to be safe in case of cancelled flights or delays...Pae cannot miss her next duty after her vacation finishes and I can't miss my first days of the new school year although my employers would be more flexible on that.

This FANTASY itinerary already has 8-9 travel days or days where there are flights!!! HOLY CRAP!!! How does this work??? How can this "vacation" be anything but AIRPORT SECURITY stress, BAGGAGE CLAIM stress, CHECKING IN AND OUT OF HOTELS stress, GROUND TRANSPORTATION stress, etc. For me at least...I mean, Pae does this every day...but it's a vacation, she's supposed to be getting away from this, right? Am I sounding too negative and dramatic here? Too much TSA grabbing your junk and bell boys giving you dirty looks because you don't tip them well = grrrrrrr, no?

I dont' know.  Recently, we found out that several of the Utah sisters are meeting in Chicago in late April. This, plus hoping that Mom and Dad Utah would perhaps be able to fly out at the same time, would take Utah out of the equation, meaning that Pae wouldn't be able to meet lots of family like Auntie Dink, Uncle Bobby, pregnant and almost delivering Scar and Jake...and not sure if Sarah is going to Chitown or not? Miss some of the family and Vegas, but save a flying day and Utah days.

Florida, again, is a definite...but the amount of time that we will likely spend there is less than three days, mostly because of the travel...same with Chicago, less than three days. We want to spend most of our time in New York. I guess you can call the New York segment of our trip "our time". And again, I don't want this to sound selfish. If it is, then it is, but we have very few chances to be together and New York holds special meaning for both of us.

If Pae's vacation comes back as three weeks, I am seriously tinkering with the possibility of flying through Honolulu on the way to New York...This would cost us a little more, and finances are a factor unfortunately, but two nights in Hawaii could be a wonderful start to our vacation, and we would even get to have dinner with Rachel's family...Pae is in Honolulu about once a month, but it's all Waikiki hotel based and sleeping after a cross Pacific flight and preparing for the next cross Pacific flight less than 24 hours after she arrives. So, unfortunately, she is unable to enjoy "my Hawaii" and unable to spend time with family there who she's never met :( but are literally within touching distance. The positive about her flying to Hawaii is that she is making a "her Hawaii" and someday we will be able to share our Hawaiis with each other!! After all, my Hawaii is a 20 year ago memory, back when dialling up to Yahoo to check email took fifteen minutes and mobile phones were the size of a brick!! It's a different world these days

I feel the same about Auntie Judy and Boston...If we're in NYC, we're so close to Boston, so close...I wish we could say, "Ah, we'll visit all of the people we miss this time around next year" but again, "next year" or "next time" for us is likely around 2016-2017! I think Aunt Katy lives up in that area these days too.

Aaaaah, right now I'm just thinking out loud, but at the same time, letting many of you know where we're at in our struggle to plan our travel to the states. We wish we could see everyone we care about. I hope everybody understands that if we can't make it to your neck of the woods, it's because we just don't have enough time. And if we are able to spend time with you, but it seems like it's just a hit and run, two days only, please forgive and know that we love you but are strapped for time. We'll try to make every moment of those few days count!!

We're gonna enjoy our time away from Thailand, we're gonna enjoy meeting with family where and when we can. We're going to try to nail down an itinerary that we feel is doable without giving ourselves too much unnecessary stress. We'll update everyone as our plans come together, change, or go the other direction (knock on wood that this doesn't happen like in previous years).


Electric pan and microwave living

My first 5 1/2 years in Thailand was spent in a studio apartment...one for students in a college area. The room was small but enough for me and Pae and even a rabbit ;) We're talking a 10'x10' room with a bathroom. As with most places around here, apartments, there is no cooking allowed in the rooms. Most people cook here with gas and gas burners, as opposed to stoves, so it's common to see a propane tank outside of most homes. People in apartments are stuck with breaking the rules (I've seen grills on balconies) or eating food cooked in a microwave or a small electric pots. Such has been my experience here in Thailand.

Now, Pae and I rent a house. The house has a kitchen, but not the typical American-style kitchen...our kitchen has cupboards and a sink for washing dishes. The real "kitchen" is outside behind the home or beside the home. It seems that all of the food preparation that involves heating, cooking, burning, etc. happens outside of the house. There is a lot of oil involved in frying stuff and there are so many strong herbal smells and even "spicy air" involved in Thai cooking. The "spicy air" I speak of occurs when a cook is frying Thai chilis before adding the meat or vegetables. A fine mist of SPICY oil blows through the air and restaurant patrons are often left hacking and coughing up lungs. Motorcycle drivers passing by often get a sudden pepper spray shot to the eyeballs (these are the worst!!) It's the closest thing I've felt to the CS gas in the gas chamber in Marine Corps boot camp.

So outside cooking keeps all of those odors, weapons of mass destruction and layers of grease off of the furniture and out of the respiratory system I guess. Ginger, lemongrass, scallions, onions, garlic, chili peppers, coconut milk, eggs, fermented shrimp, fermented fish, squid...you name it, Thai food uses it!! Some of these smells stay with you for days, so it's actually better to do cooking out in the open where the smell and the oil in the air can dissipate quickly and not stick to things.

So, I've been lazy and have not filled the propane tank outside of our house. Not really lazy, because the gas buggy passes our home occasionally, picking up and dropping off gas. I guess its more that I'm not willing to go out and spend $300 on pots, pans, spatulas, cooking spoons, and even a second burner to cook several things simultaneously.

Sooooo, I make due with our microwave and a small electric pot. The microwave is perfect for leftovers and cooking pre-made frozen meals from 7-11. These meals, when Pae is flying, make up roughly 50% of my diet!!!
It's not that I'm hooked or that the meals are scrumpdiliumtious, but they are fast and easy and about one and a half of these frozen meals will sustain me until the next meal. Plus, there is a 7-11 on pretty much every corner here! They just built one between our house and the school...let's just say I'm a regular there! Again, comparing to my time in the military, these are far more than "fast food" but almost like MREs, without the non-refrigerated shelf life ;)

I eat spicy southern Thai pork on rice, microwaveable northern sausages, sour and spicy pork salad from the northeast and generic fried rice, curry, Korean style chicken, etc. There are even dim sum with shrimp, crab, pork and chicken...and soups containing aforementioned wontons and gyoza. 7-11 also sells Manapua or Salapao that are easily steamed or microwaved!

As far as my electric pot cooking goes, I had stuck to what I know for the past 5 or so years. That would be chili, spaghetti, grilled cheese, grilled tuna, kimchi jigae, kimchi fried rice, Korean pork and of course ramen and mac and cheese. Lately I've been trying to cook Thai dishes or fusion dishes. Fusion, to me, has become less of a combination of Asian cuisines and more of a throwing together of whatever is in the refrigerator and whatever spices haven't gotten moist and hardened in the cupboard!! **Several times I've had to grate chunks of my garlic salt that had become hard due to the humidity here...and if you know me, I can't live without my garlic salt and Tabasco!! Believe it or not, I almost attempted some Mapo Tofu last week, but I waited too long and my soft tofu spoiled...the pork is still in the freezer though!

Lately, I have also been experimenting with pastas with white sauce, mainly carbonara. Before you get excited about my culinary skills, I have to share a little secret...jarred pasta sauces!! Hahaha, how much more appropriate for someone living out of a small electric pot than to be able to brown some beef, boil some noodles, toss in some Prego spaghetti sauce, garlic salt and Tabasco and call it "cooking"!! hahaha!!

But hey, it does the job! Another thing that hits the spot and is relatively easy for me is French toast!! The hard part about that is paying the $7 for the syrup. I finally sucked up the cost and bought a nice bottle and have been enjoying French toast with bacon regularly!
Even worse than the cost of maple syrup is the $10 for SPAM, but there are substitutes that work just as well...bacon...and who isn't down for bacon!!! I need to go home and nuke some of my spaghetti with mushrooms that I cooked last night!!
Cooked a whole pot, meaning I'll have spaghetti for the next three meals!! For the weekend? I'm thinking something like tuna and egg sandwiches (grilled) on Saturday after taking the knee out for a test run and then a spicy mushroom omelet on rice for lunch. I may have to splurge for dinner as I need to go across town to register for our next race (Malcolm, Eric and I are running a little 10K that we ran last year since none of us are running The North Face 100), so I'm thinking Big Mac, Large Fries, Coke hahahaha!!!

Mom Cindy sent me her recipes for Chix long rice and teriyaki chix, so those are the next to be attempted. Problem is that my electric frying pan's temperature is very difficult to control...We're on our third or fourth pan so far! At $45 a pop, it's not too bad over the six years I've been here!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bye Bye Rubber Ducky

Pae is in Sydney this week and next before coming home for a week off. When she got to Sydney, she and her crew mates went to see the giant rubber ducky one last time before he heads back out to sea. I grabbed this photo from her Facebook page and just thought I'd share since I like the picture so much ;) Bye Bye Rubber Ducky!!

Ultra Marathoner

K-san, a member of Bangkok Runners and the organizer of our fun 55.5 kilometer Ultra Marathon, sent me a certificate welcoming me into the "Ultra Marathoner Club"! He did a great job organizing the event and always motivates me with his words and his example. The guy is nearing 90 lifetime marathons and ultra marathons!!! My five pale in comparison, but as far as I'm concerned ONE is pretty awesome ;)

One day I'll do a 50 miler. Some day, perhaps when I've totally lost my mind, I'll try a 100 kilometer race. No comment on the 100 miler ;) For now, I've reached the 50+ kilometer distance, which is the baby step up from a full marathon and is considered an ultra. I love the line on the certificate, "You are ULTRA MARATHONER!!!" Has a nice ring to it!! And I'm totally happy with a time of a little over 6 hours, the last hour of which was just way too painful.

Right now I'm dealing with a little IT Band discomfort, me and my chicken legs. But I'll get back out there, slowly, and keep running!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Part 3: Nakhon Ratchasima Trip with Family- Elephants

So, while we were up in Khao Yai, we did actually get to hang out for a while with some elephants. It would have been nice to see them in the wild but that wasn't to be. We've seen elephants before, ridden them and fed them, but every time you see one or several elephants, you can't help but be impressed by their size and power.

On our last day, we were driving around checking out little attractions here and there and came across an elephant conservatory, but the elephant man was not there so the only open attraction was the feeding area.
We stopped and gave the elephants, two big adults and a baby, some sugar cane and some turnips or some other type of root vegetable or tuber. Hairy buggers, big animals with human like eyeballs that look at you just like a person.
Kinda strange but when you look into their eyes you realize that they aren't simply animals...but beings...with thoughts and feelings, ideas, intelligence. I guess that's what I saw in their eyes at least! Maybe they were just like "Hey, look at the humans!"

There are several sets of 8 inch thick bars separating the elephants from the guests, keeping the giant pachyderms just within trunk's reach of the humans and the food that they are sharing. Pae, the animal lover she is, wasn't about to let the bars keep her from getting close to them...and they certainly didn't prevent her from giving and getting hugs!!

Part 2: Nakhon Ratchasima Trip with Family- Waterfalls

Khao Yai National Park is part of a larger jungle area that is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During out trip to the area, we spent a day in the national park. We hoped to see some elephants in the wild, but all we saw of them was their trails and lots and lots of poop! Sorry, no pictures of the poop ;)
Elephant crossing sign
We did however come across a countless number of monkeys on the roads and in the trees as we hiked the falls, as well as some deer that were hanging around some of the camp sites in the area.

Friendly neighborhood 6 point
Mountainous area plus rain forest equals waterfalls.  We stopped off at several of those along the way. It hasn't rained lately so the water flow in all of the falls we went to was low, but they were still pretty and peaceful. I'm not sure if I'll get all of the names or areas correct, but here are the three waterfalls that we went to.
The gang at Haew Suwat Waterfall
The first one is called Haew Suwat Waterfall. It's said to be a 20 meter drop from the top to the pool below, but it looks less than that to me. I could have the translation of this waterfall's name totally off, but I think it means "Face of Beauty"...but again, that's translating from bits and pieces of the name and combining the words the way that makes sense to me ;) There are usually two good size falls side by side, but again, the water flow is very low this time of year.
Haew Suwat Waterfall from above
Our second waterfall is called Haew Narok Waterfall. 150 meter drop. This waterfall was a good kilometer or more hike pretty much straight down. The name translation is just great! "Haew" = "Abyss or Chasm" and "Narok" = "Hell".
Into the bowels of Hell? Beautiful!
How great is that for a waterfall that you have to walk down 200 dangerously steep steps to get to?! Abyss of Hell! Awesome! This was by far the most spectacular waterfall of the trip, if not the most physically challenging. Mom actually destroyed everyone going back up the stairs! Powerful woman!
Reminds me a little of Bridal Veil Falls
The last waterfall we took in is called Jed Sao Noi Waterfall or 7 Little Girls Waterfall. This waterfall was a series of seven small drops of less than two meters between levels (vertically). Each waterfall was situated anywhere between 100 to 400 meters from the next fall.
Along the river, 7 Sao Noi Waterfall
When we went, the first level was full of swimmers and picnic-ers, but the lower levels along the river were relatively empty. It seemed like we had the whole river walk to ourselves. The falls were lovely and the color of the water actually looked like it had a smooth texture.
Hey! It's us!
I had walked over to the edge of a fall in the water at the first level, but was quickly whistled back by a park ranger as I was in a no swimming area. The 6th and 7th levels of the waterfall were taped off so we weren't able to continue down the path. As we drove away from the area, along the river, I kept seeing one level after another of small waterfalls similar to the seven advertised. Must be nice to live in that area!
Family mini-vacation
I only included a few photos of the falls here. There are a couple awesome panoramic photos in a previous post. It was quite an enjoyable trip to the Khao Yai area. Being out in nature after being stuck in the grind of the big city for so long was super nice!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Bangkok Runners Ultra Marathon 55.5km

My first race of the year was less of a race and more of a celebration. My running club, Bangkok Runners, decided to organize an Ultra Marathon of 55.5 kilometers to celebrate our club president's last day of being age 55.

55.5 comes from the Thai language translation of the number 5. We say "ha" for five...so 55.5 sound like Ha-ha-ha!! Also the reason why we started at 5:55am and had a time cutoff of 5:55pm.

There were no t-shirts, no medals, no volunteer staff to hand out water. We were just out there, thirty plus runners, giving our president a unique birthday gift! I think 10 of us were running the 55.5km solo, with 20+ doing it as relay groups, either 5 runners each doing 11ish km or two runners pulling half of the distance. For 6 of us, it would be our first attempt at the ultra distance.
We started in the dark, quite late for Thailand standards. To beat the heat and the sun we usually start races of marathon distance or more around 3am. Running 55.5km would likely take us between 6-12 hours so we were looking at a long time in the scorching heat...and when I say scorching, although it is the cool season here, I'm talking about running at the edge of your body's ability and your brain's sanity at temperatures in the 90s once the sun comes out!

Seven of us solo runners finished under the harsh Bangkok sun! For six of us, it was our first 50km+ run!! Many of us had thoughts of quitting before the distance. I thought, once I got near 50km, that it would be good enough...it was hot, I was not happy...I wanted to quit! But I couldn't quit...I didn't make my time goal of 5:55:55, but I didn't quit! Seeing the faces of your running friends on the course, enduring the same pain as you are and trying to flash smiles of encouragement and utter words of motivation, helped me to keep on plodding along! With plenty of drink breaks, coconut eating breaks, "recommit to the run" breaks and of course bathroom breaks, I was able to finish at 12:12 am...considering we started late at 6:16am (just found this out from another runner), I reckon that's just under 6 hours of running, but I'll just stick with 6hours 12minutes cuz it's easier to calculate (and it's already on Runkeeper!)

It was a great experience, but I've promised to never torture myself like that again ;)

Part 1: Nakhon Ratchasima Trip with Family- Flowers

The province is named Nakhon Ratchasima, but for me, it's all Khao Yai, an area of hills and some of the most beautiful jungle around. Khao Yai, to me, means nature, wine vineyards and cows and it tells me that we're almost home when we are taking the bus back from Ubon to Bangkok! With all of the ranches and steak houses there, I felt like it would be a good idea to get my cowboy on!
Giddy up!
This year it took on a little more meaning to me as I had been planning to run The North Face 100 trail ultra marathon in the Pak Chong area of Nakhon Ratchasima, right next to Khao Yai. It was an opportunity for me to see some of the conditions that the runners would be running in. I've since decided not to run the race, but considering it and learning more about the area helped me to spread my horizons a little bit and learn a little bit more about places in the country I now call home.
p'Neung had to work this weekend and is the only one missing from the photo
The best part of the trip was that Pae and I would be able to be together for three days, away from the city and with Mom, Dad and p'Nut. I haven't spent much time with the family since our wedding two years ago, so this was nice to hang out with them and share the time together.
P'Nut had reserved two rooms in a small resort, not certain if I was going or not, but two rooms would be good for four or five people. I called in sick on Friday and went with them, three of us kids stayed in one room and Mom and Dad got their own little pad to hang out in during our down time. The resort was called Good Lake Take View Resort, or some other combination of those five words ;) For the life of me I can't figure out why I didn't take a photo of the resort signage!
This is where we stayed. We had two of these for five of us.
The resort itself was 10 huts on low stilts, set up in a row. They had open topped bathrooms and the walls were tent material with windows and doors rolling up like a tent. One night, p'Nut had to catch two large "Sneaky Frogs" as Pae called them. The type that just sit there with their big bulgy froggy eyes and watch you, ready to hop!!! Looked like Kermit to me! p'Nut bagged them and I flung them out far away from our tent.
The girls
The resort was about 150 meters off of the main road that went half way around a big lake with a dam. I would get up and run this early Saturday morning just to check out the area, run on a more rugged surface and to see what running in the altitude and the cold felt like.
The boys
The first thing we noticed our first night there was that there seemed to be a thousand times more stars than we're used to being able to see in Bangkok. We took a walk in the dark to a crossroad between a couple corn fields where there was no light and just spent fifteen minutes marvelling at the heavens and trying to recall the names of the constellations that we may have only really seen so clearly in a textbook back in school! It was beautiful and the countryside was so serene. The millions of stars seemed to make the night sky a hundred times more vast than usual. Absolutely stunning.
Other than eating, we did three main activities during the weekend; visit floral park displays, visit waterfalls and drove around Khao Yai National Park.
The hills are alive...
The weather was cooler than in Bangkok and felt like a proper Spring when we were at several floral gardens. So many flowers arranged in small plots. Many plots were still being cultivated, but it was raw and fresh. Lots of people travelling the area would stop to roam around and take in the floral displays.
My favorite person in the whole world ;)
I sometimes wish that I could even have two or three flowers at our home, without them shriveling up and dying...but I just don't have a green thumb. Our hibiscus plants here at home got bugs on them and caterpillars started eating the buds and leaves...I sprayed the plants with cockroach spray, hahaha...sounds like a gardener?? Well, just so you know, in the past week four flowers have blossomed on the hibiscus plant and there is no sign of bugs!!
This was a hundred meter long tunnel made from bamboo and all sorts of gourds
So we roamed around the flower parks and took pictures, smelled flowers, watched bees busy doing what bees do and just basically enjoying a little cool weather, time together and beauty of nature.
Mom among the beautiful purple flowers and Flora Park in Wang Nam Kiew
We have hundreds of photos of flowers and everything else. This is just a small sampling of Flora Park and another flower display along the highway in Wang Nam Kiew, the area where we stayed.

I'll have to post pics from the National Park in the next post. I don't want this one to take a week to type.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Giant Rubber Ducky

Now here's a post that just puts a smile on my face to type it and to look at the photos!
Florentijn Hofman's giant rubber ducky has made its way to Sydney's Darling Harbour for an art festival there. I wonder? Did Ducky swim all the way from his Netherlands home  Pae just happened to be flying out of Sydney this week and was able to go over to Darling Harbour and check Ducky out!

At five stories high and five stories wide and bright bright yellow, he's very noticeable! I recognized Ducky when Pae sent me pictures because I had used it in a science presentation on buoyancy earlier last semester. Pae and I had talked about how cute it was, and what do you know!! She was able to actually see it in person! These are the photos that she sent to me, cute huh!


Well, I'm supposed to be in a mini resting period from running...and there I found myself, an hour or so ago, clicking "Yes, I will attend" on an invitation to run a long run with one of the running clubs that I run with on occasion! I guess I'm a little hooked or crazy or something.

The best part is that the run is TOMORROW, like, less than 15 hours from now! It's been given the name The Bangkok Runners Ultra Marathon 55.5km (HaHaHa Run). I've not run much in the new year. I've not been hydrating or eating well the past week or weeks. I'm in trouble! Haha!

So, the run is celebrating out club president's last day of being 55 years old...so the run is 55.5 kilometers long, begins at 5:55 in the morning, costs 55 baht to participate (to buy a gift for Iain) and has a cut off time of 5:55 in the evening. If you haven't seen a pattern here...Bangkok Runners is full of goofballs. The word "five" in Thai is "ha"...so it's a "fun" run of 55.5 km or "ha ha ha"...anyway...

I'm going to goal myself a finishing time of 5hours 55 minutes 55 seconds. I probably won't beat that time, but I sure will give it a try...

**Yoda ringing in my head, "Do or do not, there is no try!"

Okay, okay Master Yoda, I WILL FINISH IN 5:55:55!

22+ laps around Lumpini Park in Bangkok...I may just go a little crazy by the end of the run!

Friday Foto - January 11, 2013

First Friday Foto of the new year...and who knows, the way I post (sporadically) it may be the last one for a while ;) I couldn't help but post this photo that Pae and I took over the New Year period. Perhaps I've rubbed off on her a little, hahaha!! She may just thump me on the head for posting this! **Many more where this came from **

2012 Annual Show

This year's Annual Show was pretty much like the past five I'd been at (notice I didn't say "participated in"). This year's theme was ASEAN as there is a big ASEAN conference coming to Thailand in two years.

The kids sang and danced. The teachers, foreign and Thai, talked to parents, stood around, etc. Here are some photos of the occasion. Some were taken backstage as several of us waited to be presented with certificates of "longevity" haha. The funny thing about the photo below is that it was taken in the dark. The teacher who took it just told us to smile, and we could see the orange focus light...what better chance to be a goofball!! Nobody had any clue that I ruined all of the photos of the award recipients until a little bit later ;)

Malcolm was receiving his 10 year certificate as he has been with the school for an amazing 10 years! I'm finishing my 6th year so they decided to take a bunch of us who had five or more (but less than 10) years of service to the school and give us a 5 year certificate. Yay. The funny thing is that all of our 5 and 10 year certificates just say "Certificate of Achievement" with no reference as to what it was given for (ie. "For 5 years of dedicated service, this Certificate of Achievement is awarded to...")...so, for all anyone knows, mine could be for 25 years of service ;)

Surprisingly, our school has had very little turnover in the past 6 years that I've been here. Other schools here have reputations for changing foreign staff much more often that my school. Unlucky for them. Lucky for me that I found, in my first school here, one that I felt comfortable with and they were comfortable with me.

Will I still be here in 4 more years? Hahaha, who knows! We'll see...one thing is certain though...NO MORE SHAVED HEAD HAIRCUT!! It does temporarily hide most of the silvery hairs that have become more prominent amongst the thinning black hair, but I think I've probably gotten used to having a little bit longer hair (finally).
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