Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Taiwan-derful Week with Blake

So after leaving Mirror, I had a week to spare before I needed to be back in Provo
So I figured why not stop by in Taiwan on the way home???
Luckily I have such an amazing mother that's willing to facilitate the visit

Cause besides wanting to visit this beautiful country, I'm not sure I could last another day without seeing this sweet boy!

This is Blake's church building
Love the sign.
Ok, so I totally slacked this week on pictures.
But it's not completely my fault!!
1. I was too happy to see Blake to care about pictures!
I promise though,
I will try not to slack again!
2. There was a massive typhoon. So it limited transportation, and caused most places to close down.
So naturally, to prevent boredom
we ate

He is such a sport
always willing to pose in a picture
even if it is the same pose for each... ;)

Taiwan has the BEST fruit I have ever tasted
In fact it has been crowned the fruit kingdom
See that fruit the size of his head? That's a mango.
So good!

This is the Taiwanese hot pot
Although more traditionally there would be one big pot and everyone would share
This individual nonsense is the Japanese style
Either way though,
it was delicious
It consisted of octopus, an array of different tofu, beef, and veggies

The man in the background is Blake's coworker Alex. 
We were very fortunate to have his coworkers treat us to dinner most of the nights I was there
I never met one even slightly rude Taiwanese

But anyways...
This is Blake and I enjoying our first dish of 
Lamb Bone Marrow Soup
Yes, you literally suck it out of the bone through a straw
I will explain the process.
The bones come in a broth
(hence the soup part)
You take one bone out and pour the broth into the bone hole/tube part
Take your straw and swirl it around so the marrow and the broth mix
and slurp up all the goods
you repeat the process until all of the marrow is gone
It was surprisingly very tasty
at this same sitting I also had lamb stomach
It was good, but the lining of the stomach has grooves on it that kinda freaked me out. 
I admire Asian cultures and how fearless they are with foods.

On my last night, the weather gods blessed me with a clear night
and I was able to go see the "Love River"
Which as you can see is beautiful

Sorry for the PDA
But we had to!
 It's called the LOVE river.

 Sadly enough
I left Taiwan the day of one of the biggest festivals of the year
The Dragon Boat Festival
Luckily they just happened to have a couple out and about while I was at the Love River
Very cool.
But anyways the festival originally started as a way to ward off evil spirits
but over the years it has transformed
now it is more of a day of remembrance for their patriot Chu Yuan
The story I was told was that Chu Yuan was a high member of the government who loved his country
he was honest and loyal to laws and the people of Taiwan
But one day he learned of his fellow government officials discrepancies
and offenses to the people of Taiwan
He felt so betrayed and hopeless that he threw himself in the river and drowned.
In response, the people of Taiwan show their love and respect for him by pouring rice into the rivers to keep the fish from eating and tampering with his body.

Along with eating and enjoying the Love River
We went shopping!

Blake worshipping and praying to the hipster gods. 
Just kidding.
But really we were both drooling a bit when we found these.
A huge selection of Lomography products
Lomography is the company that sells my precious Diana Mini

And went to a local night market
Had a bunch of carnival style games
so much fun
I loved Taiwan and hope that I can come back again someday 
and properly visit it

No matter where I go I cant seem to escape these...
I guess I just best be getting back home,
Bye bye Asia!
I will miss you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Final Days at Mirror

My last weekend in Chiang Rai was SO depressing.
I made sure to get out and experience absolutely anything and everything that I haven't yet
and I come to find out there is something about the city itself that I did not realize 

Every hour the clock tower has a light show!
Fun Fact: every major city in Thailand (Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Chiang Rai) has a very elaborate decorated main street. 
In Chiang Rai the main road has the clock tower and gold fence sort of thing following the road
and Chiang Mai has a river and water fall sort of thing.
I wasn't able to film the entire light show
since well the thing lasted for ten whole minutes
I will just give you a summary though
A lotus flower thing from the center raises up and comes to the top while a song about 
Thailand and the Monarch blasts in the back ground.
It sounds like it could be the theme song for Mulan
In fact, the whole thing seems like it would be a great addition to Disneyland.
I'll call some people about it. 

Since it was my last weekend, I splurged.
The entirety of my weekend I felt was spent in the Saturday night market 
or the walking night market
But don't you worry. I wasn't only shopping for myself!
But really though, I bought a lot of stuff.

And I indulged in some snacks.
This delicious wrap of joy is a
deep fried pancake
topped with a mixture of
sweet condensed milk
and sugar
I fondly refer to it as the heart attack snack
I had it three times that weekend
sorry mom

While munching away I got to enjoy the most curious of shows.
see the diva in the middle?
working the skirt, makeup, and 6 inch heels?
Yeah, that's a little boy.
For whatever reason this is a very common thing in Thailand
I can't even count the amount of girl-boys/boy-girls I encountered.
after awhile it's just safer to not guess genders for anyone. 
I got to say though,
I have not seen a lady boy that doesn't have nicer legs than most woman I know.
Just saying. 

I just have the best luck with rain storms around here.
I was in the middle of my biggest shopping spree to date
and it starts to completely pour like it has never poured before.

It turned out to be ok though.
The amount of rain made it quite chilly outside.
In actuality though it probably only dropped to like 80
so it gave my fellow volunteers and I the opportunity to try some herbal Thai tea.
It was quite good.
Excuse my utterly beautiful wet dog appearance

 I was getting quite sentimental about leaving Chiang Rai
until I ran into this infestation. 
It reminded me of how maybe it won't be so bad to go home where there aren't
any rats, cockroaches, mosquitos, and an exotic array of other insects with an insidious agenda

I will miss this though.
Teaching english has been the most amazing experience of my life.

This is at Huay Fai School
we were teaching them hobbies, and reviewing body parts.
I love these kids
So much fun, every time
so many personalities!
Most Thais are notoriously shy
but that is not the case for this guy

This kid was such a little punk!
He would never do his work and delegated his fellow classmates to do it for him.

basically he is a real piece of work.
My face tells it all

But at least it never got boring
This is how another kid asked to go to the rest room
Because he didn't know how to say it in english.

This past week was 'respect your teacher" week
but we had no idea when we originally showed up.
All we knew is that we were being ushered into these chairs and being ambushed with kids showering us with flower bouquet things.
then they all proceeded to all get on their knees and bow to us
it was quite startling/awkward
I didn't really know what such an occasion called for.
do I bow back?
Break out in a dance number?
Kob kun Kaa? (thank you in Thai)
females end in kaa, men end in krup

So I just resolved to smiling.
works I guess, right?

They smelled fantastic

And lastly, it was my last week at mirror as well.

I will miss everything about this place.
yes. even the squaters. 

And like all volunteers before me,
I put my handprint up on the wall in the volunteer room.
I wish I could of taken a better picture showing the magnitude of how many 
hand prints filled this place.
the sight really is mind blowing,
to know that you have been part of an effort that is so much bigger than you,
 involving people all around the globe.
seriously fantastic.

On my final morning I was presented with my certificate and a scarf
where I proceeded to say how thankful I am to have spent the last 6 weeks among such great people
experiencing such amazing opportunities
Thank you Mirror Foundation

Hopefully I see you again down the road.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Buddha Festival

Lots of exciting things this weekend!
But I will start with the craziest rainstorm I have ever encountered!
In Chiang Rai there is this huge complex called City Plaza
It's basically a big westernized mall.
(My escape when I'm missing home)
Only problem is, it's a 20 minute walk from Bun BanDan
and who wants to walk in 90+ degree weather with 100% humidity? 
Yeah didn't think so.
But for whatever reason I could not live another minute without getting some ice cream
 So I began the Trek to the City Plaza.
Half way there a massive storm hits--
In a matter of seconds it looks as if I had jumped into a pool with my clothes on.
The wind was beginning to get a little too crazy so 

my friend Aisha and I ducked under this restaurants patio for safety.
We didn't have time to move before we were ushered inside by this random man.
We immediately began to feel terrible!
We were drenched, puddles of water formed wherever we went.
We kept trying to leave out of courtesy, but this man made us sit down.
Finally we gave in.
The man continued to explain that it was ok, he was the owner of the restaurant.

Excuse my whale arms.
 He turned out to be the sweetest man.
He gave us free drinks and refused to let him pay him for allowing us to stay,
so instead I ordered food and snuck the cashier my money.
But anyways, the entire time we were there he was making conversation with us.
He had very excellent English.
   He is a doctor at the local hospital and owns the restaurant on the side.
I have not met a richer man since I have been here.
He was quite impressive
and charitable!
He offered to drive us the rest of the way to City Plaza.
Such a nice man. 

I dont know what was up with me this weekend 
but, I was craving all things western!
I ate tons of American junk food and saw two movies.
The Men in Back
Snow White and the Huntsman
I know what you're thinking..
You're in Thailand, why would you waste your time watching movies?? 
well it was worth the experience
For one, when you buy your ticket you pick your assigned seat.
I felt like I was going to a base ball game or something.
Two, after the last preview everyone stands up to watch a video about the monarch.
Scared me the first time around. I had no idea what was happening!
The video seemed a bit manipulated and kinda brain-washing material 
but it was so interesting to be a part of it. 
P.S. Men in Black was great! and Kristin Stewart ruined Snow White. Most awkward kisser ever. Makes me cringe to watch.   

With all of the other western treats I got that day this had to be the best.
I was tearing up from happiness.
Toilet Paper And a normal Toilet
I felt like such a lucky girl.

Besides that it things were pretty normal

I went to the Saturday night market

Ate at my favorite Pad Thai place
Only cost 30 baht (one dollar) for the best pad thai around

You just have to consume at your own risk.

I got picked up in a Song Tao filled with mattresses
Vehicle safety isn't that important around here. I've only seen a seat belt once, and it wasnt being used.

I ate some bugs
Tastes pretty good
Almost like popping popcorn into your mouth
I'm not sure why the picture looks like I have two massive beauty marks on my face

Recieved a crayon colored rock from a student
It was pink

 Cuddled with a stray cat
Sorry blake.
It was great. Best cuddle sesh since i've been here

Had a great lesson with somemore monks

Couldn't leave the school without taking pictures.
typical me.

 Saw a bunch of cows herded randomly by the highway

Went to the border to get my visa renewed for another 15 days
so now I've technically been to Burma and Thailand.
I think it's cool.

Couldn't stay long though cause I had to get to Mirror in time to go to the 
Buddha Festival
Which is a celebration of Buddha's Birthday
So a normal week.. right?

So the Budda Festival was split into two events.
Our first stop was at a Temple in the city.

When we got there we did a ceremony of sorts.
First thing required was to take off our shoes.
Buddist consider the head holy and the feet to be unclean
so you never touch another with your feet, step over them, or touch thier heads.

Second, you are handed a flower bouquet-thing that also has a candle and incense.
You only light the incense on fire.

Then you must walk around the temple three times
with the incense blowing into your face and eyes.

After your three times around you light up your candle, drip some wax and stand it up on this table.
Then you sit down and listen to the monks chanting and singing inside the temple.
So amazing 

Then we moved on to the 
Light temple. 
I have been dying to go.
 So happy I got to see it during one of the biggest Buddist holidays of the year!

 It was absolutely breathtaking


 And the ritual here was about the same as the other temple.
From a nice lady I met I found out the three laps around the temple symbolize
and Buddha.

Big difference though was that at the end thousands of these lanterns were set free into the air.
One of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

And if the lanterns weren't enough, there was a firework show afterwards!
These Thai's really know how to celebrate.