Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sweeping in the Morning

There is a lot of sweeping here and I frequently wake to the sound of sweeping in the morning.  Good brooms.  Each morning as I walk to work I pass this lady or one of her off siders sweeping the paths.  They always smile and give me a sawadee hello.

Roof top Phuket Pool with a Frangipani

I spent the weekend at Karon beach on the island of Phuket with Libby Hosking and Ross Taylor, dear friends from Beechworth.
It was wonderful to see them and talk about Meg's death and then talk about it again and then toast Meg with a poolside G&T, which she would have loved.
The pool quickly became my favorite spot, lovely water, frangipanis by the poolside, built in seat and table (under an umbrella) - what's not to like.  The view over the roof tops of other resorts, to the beach and beyond to the fishing boats on the ocean was gorgeous - especially at sunset.
" Let's Frangi Up" was the quote of the weekend.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Flowers for Friday

The vegetation at school and throughout Chiangmai is lush and green and colourful.
I'm enjoying the floral displays, not that I know what many of the flowers are.
 These are some flowers I found growing in the surrounds of a temple in Chiangmai. The cannas and the frangipani are familiar. The red flower in the middle grows everywhere and is called the needle flower and I don't know what the white one is.  Friday flowers for you!!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Shopping in Chiangmai

Maya Mall, Nimmanhaemin

Last night I went into Chiangmai to do some shopping.  On the list - Thai phone, pens, pencils, markers and rulers for my classroom, museli, detergent and CHOCOLATE.
This meant a visit to two shopping malls. 
While I have been posting photos of temples, street life and elephants, the mall is probably a truer indicator of life in Chiangmai today. Both were very busy, and don't close until 9.30pm each night.  The Rimping Supermarket (a western orientated supermarket)at MAYA mall is open until midnight. There are Cinemas, as well as Starbucks, KFC, international fashion chains, food halls and technology shops - its just like Highpoint.
 On the weekends they are really crowded.  At Airport Plaza mall the sign tells car owners to park with the car in neutral and the hand brake off as the park cars behind each other.  If you return and your car is jammed in, the attendant comes and pushes the other cars out of the way!!!
The shopping was a chore,  although deciphering which detergent works in a front loader provided a challenge, but now I have markers that work, rulers with a straight edge,  a Thai phone number and of most importantly CHOCOLATE.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

It's not an elephant

This lion provides an alternative to my elephant fixation. I was wandering through the old town of Chiangmai and explored this Wat. Lion statues commonly guard the entrance to Wats.
The photo looks scratched and old as I spent time playing with iPad photo effects.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Saturday Afternoon in the River

The girls from the boarding house had an outing on Saturday afternoon to a local riverside resort/cafe.  It's by the river and in the river.
As you can see some of the seats and tables are in the river, with umbrellas. There are also tables on the bank and in small bamboo shelters built over the river.  It was very busy.  Its very popular with the locals and there are men in uniform on the road guiding cars into parking spots.  The girls had to wait quite a while before getting a table in the water. You can order at the table and food and drink are delivered by the waiters.  A fairly surreal experience, but fun.  Would it take off on the banks of  the Ovens River???
There was a swing over the river and a walkway as well as the rubber tyre structure.  At the top of the photo you can just see the tightrope across the river which provided a challenge to some of the students.
I rode down, but gladly put the bike on the bus for the ride home as the heavens were about to open and I was happy to have an excuse to ride up the hill.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Back to Blogging - More Elephants

After a late start (how unusual) I spent Sunday morning at the waterfall near school, reading in the shade and then watching the elephants.
Reading in the shade means perching under a grass thatched roof on a rickety bamboo platform above the water's edge.
Only one elephant was there when I arrived, the others were out taking tourists for a ride through the jungle. They returned to be washed in the river by the tourists.  The water was flowing quite quickly but looking at the color of it I'm not sure I would be too keen to jump in.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Riding up that hill with Meg

It has been a surreal  and devastating week for me here in Chiang Mai and no doubt even more devastating for all my dear friends in Beechworth.  My close and beloved friend Meg Warren took her own life on Sunday.  We are all in shock and truly sad. 

Meg helped me in so many ways - up and over hills - on the bike and in life.  We also enjoyed the thrill and joy of the summit, the speed of a flat (but Meg preferred something "lumpy")  and relished the ride down.  It would be impossible to count the number of times Meg waited for me on a hill - climbing up  Buffalo, La Serrena or Mt Pilot  or to Falls Creek or here on the back road to Stanley.

Please Remember - cycling is not a photogenic activity - bad hair day here !!!

As all cyclists know its not about the bike.  We rode, we talked, we had coffee (and cake), we cursed Tony Abbot and celebrated Cathy McGowan's campaign, we planned adventures, dinners, celebrations and weekend escapes. We shared stories of our mother's health and illnesses and tales of childhood and of family.
We enjoyed the company of the Beechworth Mafia and being part of LFZ.
With tears in my eyes I cannot believe we will not  once again ride up to Stanley or walk around the lake.
It is impossible to understand the depths of her mental illness and how one so full of life could leave us. 
I struggle with my faith at such a time but can only believe that she is in with a loving GOD- who ever she maybe.
As my wise friend Shane has said Meg lived out the gospel message of "love one another as I have loved you"
Love to all and take care

Monday, 15 September 2014

When it Rains the Power Goes off.

And that means no air conditioning, no lights, no wifi and no internet.  And that means a hot and boring evening last night and no daily post.

It also meant for a hot and tiring day.  The power did come on intermittently last night, but we had to search for the circuit breaker so it actually went on in the teacher's quarters.
Today I had Chemistry under the shade of tree - acting out physical change and chemical change.  Earth science was in the ping pong area with mineral samples set out on the tables - nothing if not adaptable.

The photo above shows the heavy rain falling yesterday afternoon.  This was as I was riding back up the hill.  I pulled over just prior to the downpour.  Luckily for me the verandah I had chosen to shelter under belonged to Ban Pong massage.  So I had a foot and calf massage for one hour.  By that time the rain had stopped and a rode the remaining hilly 10 kms with relaxed legs.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Time for a cuppa - More elephants

In Chiangmai for the weekend. Spent Friday evening with other stasis at an ex pat ladies evening hosted by Angela, the headmasters wife. Angela was a lovely hostess and had arranged pampering treats for us to indulge in- pedicures and manicures and feet massages along with a jewellery display. An nice evening with good food and some wine and I now have respectable looking feet.
Exploring Chiang Mai again today. Had an afternoon stop at the Raming Tea House. Lovely spot with a green courtyard and a shop selling celadon ware. Mt tea came in this elephant tea pot and celadon elephant cup. The teapot did not pour well and I was reminded of the urinating elephant I saw last week as the tea spurted out.
Cute cup, but would it be too kitsch in Finch Street?

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Rice Paddy

The "rice paddy" is the staff name for a bar/restaurant just near school.  The words bar and restaurant imply a level of service, comfort and food that convey an overly exaggerated image of the place.  You can buy a coke and a beer and there is a menu with pictures that you can choose from.
I had a bad day on Tuesday - rude Year 10 boy - say no more.  When Muyassar, the Uzbeki art teacher, asked how my day was, I became a bit upset (in typical Mary style).  At dinner time Muyassar knocked on my door and suggested the "rice paddy".  So I had a beer, some chicken and hot basil and a debrief about life at APIS with Muyassar and an American couple and felt much better.
The food was fine, the beer was cold, the view was green and conversation cathartic.  Hope you all have a lovely weekend.
I am off to Chiang mai for an ex-pats ladies night hosted by the Principal's wife.

Wai Khru Ceremony

The Wai Khru ceremony was affirming for teachers.  Staff were called onto the stage in groups, high school, middle school and elementary.  Students from these grades then came up on stage in groups. They knelt down, performed a wai before presenting us with the flower cones they made yesterday.  We had a brief chat with them - difficult if you didn't teach the student who ended up in front of you - and wished them well for the academic year.
The ceremony was coordinated by the Thai language staff.  Teachers were encouraged to wear traditional Thai clothing, hence the men in the photos are wearing collarless cotton shirts.  However Zane (red hair, white shirt) said he bought his in Bangladesh from a mate who runs a sweat shop!!!
Luckily I had packed my Laos wrap around skirt, which was appropriate.
The ceremony began with "The King's Song", followed by a Thai chant and concluded with a song praising teachers.  The school captain - who I fondly call "Our Leader" spoke about respect for teachers and how wonderful teachers are and that students should show gratitude to their teachers.  Amazing!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Wai Khru

Wai Khru is a ceremony held at the beginning of the school year to show respect for teachers.  A great concept!!
Today we had the Wai Khru rehersal.  I learnt that a wai is a gesture with both hands together, as in prayer, and then bowing.
After the rehearsal the students worked in grade level groups to make cone flowers for their teachers.  These will be presented in the Wai Khru ceremony tomorrow.  The orchids were beautiful as well as the other flowers.  Students made their own arrangements and then placed them in a cone made with a banana leaf with a small candle and two incense sticks.
Above you can see Kevin, from China, who is in my Geometry and Earth Science classes concentrating as he arranges his bouquet.
Ah Mun below is also  from China and one of my Earth Science students.  She is very quiet and a  lovely student.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Another Elephant

This one on top of the ridge of roof of a garden structure.  There are a lot of decorative elephant statues as part of the architecture here.  Elephants on gates and gate posts, elephants on bridges, elephants at doorways.  This is the highest one I have seen. Cute, but not as good as the real thing.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

More Elephants

They were so gorgeous, I thought I would share another elephant photo today.  This time of a family group.  My morning at the waterfall with the elephants has been the highlight of my time in Thailand so far.

Monday, 8 September 2014


So excited to see some elephants today.  They were at a resting place and waterfall not far from school.  They come from an elephant farm near school which runs a "Be an elephant owner for a day" program.  I would like to do that one day when I have visitors. I had cycled past the farm yesterday and stopped in. The manager told me they would be at the waterfall most mornings and it was OK to visit and look.
Today I just visited the water hole and watched the elephants and the tourists.  They were great, gentle and gorgeous - the elephants - not the tourists. The baby is about four months old and was very cute. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Friday Night Pizza Night in Chiangmai

On Friday night we had an advisory group outing.  Advisory is the same as homeroom.  I share the Grade 12 advisory group with Dr Naji (in the blue shirt).  So far we have only met as a group on the first day of school.  However from next week the administration is re-instating advisory meetings each morning for 9 minutes.  I'm not sure why the practice was stopped this year, but its good that we will be able to meet regularly.
Our outing was to an Italian restaurant in the Airport Plaza mall in Chiangmai.  It was also Cindy's (back of the group on the right)  birthday, so we had ice-cream cake as well.  Another cross-cultural experience - eating Italian in Thailand to celebrate Cindy's birthday with one Thai student, one Korean and three other Chinese students, my French/Arabic colleague and Mary the Australian. It was a pleasant evening and a nice way to get to know the students.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Downpour in Chiangmai

Last Saturday in Chiangmai it teemed with rain for about 30 minutes.  Luckily I was in the room at
 my guesthouse.  When I came out the streets were flooded.  The locals weren't phased at all.  Walking, cycling, driving and riding their motorcycles and scooters through the calf deep water. Look at the color of the water!  I did not want to walk in it!!!!!
The water made it impossible to cross the street or to walk along the footpath.  I managed to make it to the corner and amused the passing traffic by taking photos.  Then I  spotted  a sign for a Thai massage, in the beautiful building below. I jumped a small barrier and came out an hour later, slightly sore, but also relaxed and the water had disappeared.

OHS Practice

In need of a toilet (Marian!) in Chiangmai I decided to go into the hospital, but it wasn't the hospital.  The hospital was still a block away.  I discoverved that the building was the Nursing School. All the students and lecturers were sitting outside watching this safety demonstration.  They happily ignored the mad Australian pushing her way up the stairs and then wandering with purpose through the ground floor.  After finding the toilet I stopped to watch the performance.   There was a man with a megaphone, audience participation and cheering and lots of flames.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

My Favourite Place at School

The pool is great.  It certainly helps keep me sane.   I have been trying to swim three of four times a week.  The best time is actually at night so I have been having regular starlight dips at eight o'clock.  One night I even saw a shooting star.  During the day the water seems too warm, and the students are often using it.  Its clean, but you don't get out smelling of chlorine.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Rusty Bananas

Rust is the theme for today for the city daily photo community.  They have a different theme for the first day of every month.  I liked the striped patterns on this rusty roof.  The banana plant is there to add context.  This is the back of a village house that backs onto the main road near school.  Some of the home built in village  Lanna style - built from teak and elevated from the ground -can be seen in the background.

Back on the bike

Yes, I have bought a bike.  A ladies mountain bike a Trek skye.  It was the quickest cycling decision I have ever made.  I caught a tuk tuk between two stores and within two hours had negotiated a deal, got the bike set up and  was ready to go.  This shop, Jackybike seemed the most professional and although we couldn't communicate beyond hand signals and the odd word they were very nice and looked after me and set me up with lights, rack and paniers. 
There were posters of Lance on the wall - not sure they had caught up on the drug scandal.  My attempt at a conversation about Cadel Evans didn't really work.
I rode back to school (about 25 km), an effort considering I am not bike fit at all- it took 4 hours.  I did take a wrong turn and so wasted about 45 minutes - some of that cooling down in the office of a condominium development and asking the bemused staff if I could please use google maps to find my way.
Half way up the hill I stopped at the Bamboo House for a coke and to wait out a storm for over an hour.  Then a stopped and looked at ants for a while on the steep sections.  Hopefully it won't be such a long trip the next time. 
I am looking forward to exploring the area around school and if necessary using the bike to get in and out of town. As this article describes Chiang Mai offers great cycling.  It is becoming an eastern cycling epicenter.