Monday, September 27, 2010

Chaing-Mai is Pretty All-Right I Guess (UNDERSTATEMENT)

Sa wad dee khrab. Pom chɔɔb yuu tii Chaing-Mai. aka Hello. I love living in Chaing-Mai. There's more Thai where that came from too, and where it came from was my mind!

So I'm in Chaing-Mai for 4 weeks to learn Thai before I take off to Mea Hong Son to join up with my partner organization. 

So, the second day of Thai class we were learning some pretty basic phrases such as “My name is ...” It was my turn to recite the sentence which I had proudly prepared, so I sat up straight, took a deep breath trying my best to express the proper Thai tones and said, 
“Pom chuu Brandon-khrab”. Our teacher Ah-jhan Waraya, thinks for a second and promptly says, 
“ Very good, but it's not Brahn-din (as I pronounce it with the emphasis on the first syllable), it's Brahn-dohn (pronounced like a question with a high tone at the end.)” In shock, and without thinking I responded, 
“Did you just tell me how to pronounce my own name?” I didn't mean to offend her – I was just really shocked and the phrase escaped from me. In hind-sight I think I made her feel bad.

Anyways, Thai classes are going really well, and the teacher is actually super great (I don't want to give the wrong impression).

Yesterday, I climbed up a mountain for 3 ½ hours to get to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep which is a temple. The view from the top is stunning, especially with the crippling, fiery, burn in my thighs that reminded me of my accomplishment. From Chaing-Mai at night it's especially cool when its all lit up with nothing but jungle for miles around.

Chaing-Mai is full of life, and people for the most part are super friendly and helpful. I've been enjoying restaurant meals, often for under a dollar Canadian, that will knock your socks off with deliciousness. I enjoyed a Thai massage yesterday – wow. This weekend we're going camping in the nearby National Park. Can't wait for the nature walks AND I've been promised swimming under water falls!!! I know, I thought I was supposed to be working too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why I was shitting my pants 24 hours before I left

I was stuffing the last of my tee-shirts into my overly-stuffed bag when the phone rang. It was Katie Boomgaardt the co-op coordinator at U of T who has worked tirelessly the past two days trying to get me out of the country for the year, all the while at home with the flu – thank you Katie!

She called with the news that the Canadian Government's travel advisory, which advised against travelling in the boarder regions of Tak and Mae Hong Son, may prevent me from going to the city of Nai Soi – one of the two cities my placement will have me working in, and thus I may have to stay in Canada and look for another job in Thailand with CUSO-VSO.

This would have been job #3 with CUSO-VSO. It was 18 hours before my flight was scheduled to take off, and 15 hours before it was too late to reschedule my flight.

I found myself in a blizzard of emotions. Part of me was dying to leave, and part of me was glad at the chance of staying with my family for a couple of extra weeks. I would be able to see my friends and family again, but I'd also have to say good-bye again. I was mentally and physically prepared to go, and now the carpet was getting yanked from under my feet.

Katie said she'd send me and email by 8:30 Toronto time/ 5:30 Vancouver time. I could barely sleep and was waking up at least every hour just to be disappointed by the lazy pace of my clock.

At 6:30 Katie called to tell me that she still hadn't heard back from the Canadian embassy in Thailand, and I'd have to reschedule, but our conversation got cut short by a call on the other line. It was someone from the other side of the world telling her that Nai Soi was perfectly safe!!

So after a few more tearful good-byes, I got to the airport. I'm sitting on the parked plane to Beijing right now realizing that I forgot to call my dad from the airport. CURSES!! The good-bye from home will have to do. At least this way he'll be learning how this whole Skype-thing works a little quicker.

I'm also eye-balling the two seats across the aisle. They're still empty and I'm hoping they stay that way so I can catch some Z's on the 11 hours hop to Beijing. ACE OF SPADES!! We just started moving and the seats are still empty!! Now it's off to Bangkok for some in-country training.