08 9 / 2012

Chiang Rai and my 20th Birthday! :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

On Sunday we left to go to Chiang Rai, which is in the northern part of Thailand, more north than Chiang Mai, where we have been staying. We took two vans up there. 
On the way up there, we stopped by to see The White Temple. We’ve seen a lot of temples here in Thailand, but I would have to say this one is my favorite.  

The concept of this temple is really interesting. There is a bridge that leads to the main part of temple. The beginning of the bridge represents hell and the temple represents heaven. You have to cross the bridge over hell to get to heaven. And the bridge is one way only, so you can’t exit the way you entered. 

The architecture of this temple is incredible. All the little details are breath taking. And everything is so white and shiny. The temple sparkles in the sun.

After we went around THe White Temple, we headed to Chiang Rai and went to our hotel. It was a pretty decent hotel, haha. 

For the rest of the night, we went to the local night market and walked looked and walked around. There wasn’t much to do in Chiang Rai compared to Bangkok and Chiang Mai. 

We ended up going to the karaoke bar in the hotel for the night.

Monday, September 3, 2012

On Monday, it was my 20th birthday! Yay! Haha, being legal in Thailand! Wooohooo! The plans for the day were to go more north to the Thailand-Myanmar (Burma)-Laos border and take a boat ride around the Golden Triangle and go to a market in Laos.

Thailand is at the bottom of the picture. Myanmar is on the left. Laos is on the right. 

It was pretty cool that we had the chance to cross the border into Laos for a about an hour. We took a boat to a market in Laos.

There wasn’t much at the market. The most interesting thing there were snakes in Whiskey bottles. I thought it would be cool to by one as a souvenir, but I heard they kill these snakes for this purpose, so I decided against it.

After we toured the area of the “Golden Triangle,” we went to a buffet restaurant near the border of Myanmar for lunch. My professor surprised me with a birthday cake! :)

Later, we had the opportunity to cross the border to Myanmar. I couldn’t go because I have a visa to stay more than thirty days in Thailand, and if I crossed the border, I wouldn’t be able to reenter. Some people were in my situation or decided they didn’t want to go, so we walked around the markets. Then we heard there was a temple on the hill where we could get a view of the other side of the border to Myanmar. It was such a beautiful view from the top of the temple.

Later, we learned from those who crossed the border that there is a drastic difference between Thailand and Myanmar. They said that the poverty was so bad over there and so many kids were begging. It’s crazy how within less than a mile from each other, the worlds are so different. 

It was cool that we got to be at the northern most part of Thailand!

Alex got me these super cool glasses and birthday crown for my birthday.

When we got back to the hotel, I went downstairs to the lobby to use the internet. When I got back to my room, I saw this dress that I was eyeing at one of the stores near by to the hotel on my bed! Bernie got it for me to wear for our night out! 

We had dinner at this European restaurant that served Thai food as well. It was interesting, haha. I had curry, and it was so bommmmmb. I love curry now, haha.

My friends came out with another birthday cake for me at the end of dinner. They are all so nice!

Sarah bought me a pina colada for my birthday since the Thai people here don’t do free drinks for birthdays…which I thought was weird.

We then went to the karaoke bar at our hotel for the rest of the night and sang the night away!

My 20th birthday was definitely one to remember. It was hard not being home with all my family and friends, but I’m glad I got to spend it with all these wonderful people in Thailand. Not everyone can say they had a birthday in Thailand! <3

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On Tuesday, we went to the Hall of Opium museum. We weren’t allowed to take pictures so I don’t really have any. At the museum I learned about the illegal drug industry here and about heroin. It was pretty educational and the set up of the museum was nice. It was very interactive.

Our drive back to Chiang Mai took 6 hours because our van drivers decided to take the scenic route through the mountains home. I basically slept the whole day, haha.

06 9 / 2012

Many of us decided we wanted to take a cooking class to learn how to make Thai food! 

The cooking class was an all day event. They picked us up in their truck and first drove us to the market where our teacher, Turian, taught us about the different kinds of rice and the differences between them. I love sticky rice, haha. 

She also showed us the different kinds of curry.

I thought these chickens were interesting.

After the market we drove to the farm where we were going to take our cooking class. It was a pretty nice place. 

Our teacher, Turian, first showed us around the farm to pick some vegetables and fruit and tell us about them.

After she showed us around the farm, we were ready to start learning how to cook! We put on these aprons that made a lot of us look naked and super cool hats that made us look Mexican, lol.

This is the list of what I learned to cook!

We first had to prep for the curry.

After we prepped for the curry, we set that aside and started our soup! 
I decided to make Tom Yum Soup. 

After we finished the soup, we took a break to enjoy it!
Then we started our second dish. Mine was green curry!

Then after that, we started cooking our “Thai fast food.” I chose to do chicken cashew.

After we cooked all that, it was time to eat again! Lunch time!

After being so full, it was time to make dessert! All of us chose to learn how to make mango sticky rice.

We were all so full so we decided to take our last dish home. I cooked pad thai! I will perfect this dish one day, lol. It was funny because I burned the garlic, lol.

This cooking class was so much fun! I learned a lot about cooking. I honestly didn’t know how to cook before but now I have a good idea about how to cook. When I get back home, I’m definitely going to try to cook a lot of these dishes we made and many more. The only hard thing will be finding all the correct ingredients…haha. Hopefully it will taste as good as when I made it here!

05 9 / 2012

THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE. 

Honestly, one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Thailand was to go see elephants. Elephants have been my favorite animal since forever, and I really do love them. Everyone who is close to me know about my obsession with elephants. I think they’re the cutest thing everrr.  

The elephant park we went to was called the Elephant Nature Park. This park was founded by a woman who wanted to rescue elephants who have been treated poorly and needed a safe environment to live. Many of these elephants are disabled.

While at the park, we had the opportunity to feed them, pet them, and wash them in the river. Truly one of the best experiences in my life.

This is an elephant’s tooth. They have four teeth.

This picture of this elephant straight being lazy, not wanting to carry it’s own trunk is probably my favorite picture I have ever taken, haha.

So many of these elephants’ stories touched my heart.   There is one that has broken hips so she walks with a limp. You can see how different her hips are than all the other elephants. There are also a few blind elephants. One in particular, Jokia, touched my heart. She had a baby elephant and it fell down the mountain while she was working up there. The baby elephant died and after that, she refused to do any work. Her owner abused her and poked her eyes when she didn’t want to work, so she became blind. It saddens me so much that a lot of elephant owners can be so cruel. :( I had the opportunity to bathe Jokia in the river. 

It also amazes me how elephants make friends and they stick together like glue. There are a few pairs that always are there for each other. That’s another reason why I love elephants. They are so smart, and they have good memory. There are seeing elephants that help out the blind elephants. 

I honestly wouldn’t mind taking care of elephants for a living. What we did that day, I could do every day and I would be so happy. Elephants make me so incredibly happy. 

I want to save all the elephants in the world. I should be an elephant activist.

I definitely want to come back here sometime in my life and volunteer here.

05 9 / 2012

These four days have been pretty structured with class and site visits. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday was our first day of attending class at Chiang Mai University. 

After the introductions, we had the opportunity to tour the nursing school. It was different because I’m not a nursing student but it was cool to see their facilities. Apparently, their are more nursing school teaching rooms here at Chiang Mai University than at the University of Washington. I found that really interesting because UW’s nursing program is one of the best in the nation. 

Later, we had lunch with the Chiang Mai University Faculty of Nursing at a nice restaurant with some gooooood foood, haha. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On Tuesday we toured the university hospital at CMU. One thing that I found interesting was that people here came to the hospital reallly early, even before the doctors are ready to take their appointments. People would rather go to the university hospital because they believe the doctors their are the best rather than going to their local hospitals for acute medical reasons. 

After the hospital visit, we went to the New Life Family Center where they help people with HIV/AIDS. HIV is a big problem here in Thailand and it’s nice to see organizations like this one helping those with HIV. 

Then we went back to the school and heard a lecture from Dr. Warunee Fongkeaw. We read about her research on HIV prevention programs and she lectured about her programs. In the program, students are the leaders who promote HIV education for their younger peers. We got to hear the stories of some of these leaders. It was nice seeing young people around my age that are passionate about helping educate others about the effects of HIV. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On Wednesday, we visited the Chiang Mai Drug Dependence Treatment Center. It’s a drug rehabilitation center. Most of the people that were there were in there for methamphetamine addiction. It was kind of cool to visit the patients there. 

Then we went to the Nong Harn Primary Care Unity (Occupational Health Center). It is like a clinic for a town outside of Chiang Mai. We learned more about the Thai Health Care System.

At night, a few of us went to the Night Bazaar part of town. We did a little shopping there. And then some of us decided to go to the bar and play some pool. Mr. Clean (Alex) and Germz (me) won! Haha.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Thursday morning, we went to “The Temple on the Mountain.” It took awhile on bus to get to the top of the mountain. And then we had to climb a long stair case to get to the temple.

The view from the top was beautiful. You could see all of Chiang Mai.

Later during the day, we went back to CMU to listen to a lecture from Dr. Hunsa. She talked about substance abuse and mental health care in Thailand. 

Then we went to the trekking company to meet with them to find out more information about the trek we will be doing later. I’m pretty excited for the trek. We will be gone for three days to go stay with the Hill Tribe people!

05 9 / 2012

On Sunday we left Bangkok and flew to Chiang Mai!

Chiang Mai is where we are spending most of our time here in Thailand because we will be staying at Chiang Mai University. 

The college here is very different from the University of Washington. When I look at UW, it looks so beautiful and picturesque. Here at CMU, the buildings are old, especially the dorm rooms that we’re staying at. It was really different than schools that I’m used to. 

When we were all settled into our dorm rooms, we went to the Sunday Night Market here in Chiang Mai. Out of all the markets we have been to, this one is by far my favorite. It isn’t as crowded as the others and the vendors do not bug you to buy their goods. Also, the stuff they are selling are less touristy. I definitely am coming back here to do more shopping, haha.

One thing I did that I have been wanting to do for awhile was eat bugs. While in Bangkok, Alex and I decided that we wanted to eat bugs and she’d do it with me. She found some at the market and we knew it was finally the time! 

It actually wasn’t even that bad. The first bug I ate was a silk worm. It wasn’t that bad so I kept on going. I then ate a cricket and then a beetle I think. The silk worm was the tastiest out of all of them. Hahaha. It was a great experience. I can finally say that I have eaten bugs, lol.

In Chiang Mai, the main way of getting around is using the red trucks. It only costs 30 baht (which is a little over a dollar) to go anywhere in Chiang Mai. It is pretty convenient! We rode one of those home. At night, it looks like a party van because of the lights, haha.

26 8 / 2012

On Saturday, we had a free day where we could do whatever we wanted. There was an optional trip to go to the Chatuchuk market, and everyone decided to go. The market was huuuuuuuuuuge. They had everything you could possibly imagine. From souvenirs, clothing, food, and even puppies! There was sooo many stalls and you could easily get lost. I ended up buying only a few things. I’m trying to save my money for Chiang Mai, where apparently, things are cheaper. After a long few hours of walking around in the hot weather, we really wanted some coconut ice cream, and we finally found some! It was totally worth the wait. It was so good!!!  

Later on in the day, a group of us went out to get dinner at the street cart. Later, more people wanted to go to Cabbages and Condoms to get dinner, so we decided to go with them too and get another dinner, haha. Two dinners! I love food, haha. So this restaurant is apparently famous here and some of their proceeds go to HIV/AIDS, which is really nice. When we got there, we saw condoms everywhere! There were statues, light fixtures, and other decorations all made out of condoms!

The food there was relatively pricey, but it was really good! 

26 8 / 2012

Today we went to the Mercy Center in Bangkok. It’s a place that provide children whose parents don’t want them or are gone a home and a place to go to school while the center finds extended family such as aunties, uncles, or grandparents. They also provide care for children with HIV/AIDS. It was nice seeing all the little happy children in their classes. Around the time we were there, they were preparing to have lunch. 

After touring the center, we went into their art room where they put the children’s art onto fabric items and sold them. They had pillows, cloths, bags, and other things. I was very happy to buy these items because we know it is all going to a good cause. I bought a lot of my souvenir presents there for people. 

After that, some of us wanted to go see another temple, called The Golden Mount because it had the view of the entire city of Bangkok when you climbed all the way to the top. It was such a nice view!

And later, we went back to MBK. This is my fourth time this week at this mall…haha. We had dinner there and I bought two pairs of fake Rayban aviators, haha. 

Since it’s Friday night, of course we went out! We went to this one bar that Jerald knew the owner so he hooked us up. After that, we went to a karaoke bar and had such a blast!!! We were definitely the life of the karaoke bar, lol.

I can’t believe I’ve already been here for a week! 

23 8 / 2012

Today was the earliest we started off our day. We had to get ready by 7am because we were going to go a bus to Ayuthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand. Here is Bernie and Jerald sleeping on the way there, haha.

Our first stop was to a palace. We were told we could dress casually today, but when we got there, we discovered that we had to be conservative so a lot of us had to borrow some coverups to cover our legs and shoulders. We looked super attractive…lol.

The architecture was interesting at this palace. It was very un-Thai-like. It was a mixture of Chinese influence and European influence. I believe, at the time when the palace was being built, the King purposely designed it that way. 

There was a tower where we could climb up 120 stairs to see the view of the whole palace. 

There were also these trees shaped like elephants in the garden. I fell in love with them. When I have my own place with a yard, I’m definitely going to have someone shape a tree like that for me. I wanted to take the elephant tree home with me, haha.

Next on our tour were three temples. 

The first temple were in ruins. I really enjoyed this one because I have been wanting to see a super ancient place like this here. 

There is also a Buddha head wrapper around a tree, which is pretty cool. A lot of the Buddhas here didn’t have heads. 

The next temple housed one of the most beautiful Buddhas, according to our tour guide.

Also next to it, there was one of the oldest Buddhas. This one is about 1,500 years old and there are 6 I think in the world that are this old. Next to this Buddha, there was Monk and he gave me a bracelet.

The last temple we visited was a reclining Buddha. This one was nice because it was outside so it was easier to see the whole Buddha. This one is the third largest reclining Buddha.

After the temple tours, we went on a boat and had a buffet lunch on it! It was super nice to have as much food as possible because the food portions here are not as big, haha. After eating on the boat, some of us went outside on the top deck and sat on the edge of the boat and enjoyed the ride!

23 8 / 2012

Monday was a long and hot day! 

We had an early breakfast and met up with some of the other people. Everyone had to dress conservatively, meaning knees and shoulders must be covered, in order to go into the temples.

The plan for the day was to go visit the Grand Palace and the Reclining Buddha. 

Our day started off by walking to the skytrain station to go to the pier where we were going to take a long tailed boat on the river and canals to the Grand Palace. The long tailed boat is another means of transportation Thai people use to get around. 

The boat ride was really cool because you got to see the city from a different view. One part I liked was going in the canals because we got to see a lot of how the local people live. 

It seemed to me this area was like the slums of Bangkok. Their houses were built on stilts beside the water. 

After the boat ride, we arrived at the Grand Palace. It was amazing! 

This Buddha is called the Emerald Buddha, even though it is made out of jade, lol.

After the Grand Palace, we went to Wat Po. “Wat” means temple in Thai. This temple houses the second largest Reclining Buddha in Thailand. Before going there, I knew that the Reclining Buddha was huge, but I didn’t think it would be THIS BIG!

23 8 / 2012

Wednesday, we had a first “structured class time.” Haha. 

Gail, our professor’s talk allowed to really think about what we thought the meaning of disease was and what it means to be “healthy.” These terms are very broad so it was interesting to see how our group defined these. 

Next, Michael, our other professor talked about sexuality. What I thought was the most interesting was that Thais define sexuality as self defining whereas in the West we define sexuality as who you are attracted to and who you want to have sex with.

After our talks, we went to a Snake Farm that was walking distance from our hotel!  When we first got there, we watch a snake handling demonstration where we were shown many different snakes. A bunch of little kids were there watching with us and they were really cute. I believe they were Thai children who went to an English speaking school. At the end of the demonstration, we had the opportunity to hold a python and take pictures with it. I was super excited because I haven’t held a snake before! I was expecting the snake to feel a little slimy, but it wasn’t. It was soft! 

After the demonstration, we watched them extract venom from a cobra to use as anti-venom treatment. 

Later that day, a group of us when back to MBK to do a little shopping and eating.

Then when we got back, we had a group dinner. The food was so good! I saw that this fried rice came in a pineapple and I HAD to order it!!!