Monday, 22 December 2014

Home Soon

Hopefully by the time this is published I will be home in the Sunny North East, visiting the farm at Whorouly and maybe out on the bike and enjoying a view of Mount Buffalo.
Merry Christmas to all and thanks for sharing my adventures.
More posts in the New Year.
Love Mary

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Elephants at play

I stopped at the waterfall yesterday to see the elephants before heading home.  Another great session of elephant watching.  These two young elephants were having fun playing and pushing against one another.

I have been reading about Asian elephants.
Here is some information that may be of interest.
Asian elephants fall into three types: the grey and pigmented Sri Lankan (Elephas Maximus Maximus), the lighter grey Mainland elephant (Elephas Maximus Indicus) and very light grey Sumatran (Elephas Maximus Sumatranus). Asian elephants are much smaller than African elephants and have smaller ears.  Only males have tusks and some only small tusks or none at all.
Asian elephants have an enormous double-bulged forehead, a trunk with fewer rings, smaller ears and a skull with a 90-degree orientation. Intelligent with a good memory, they are easy to train.
African elephants are relatively safe, with estimated numbers as many as 500,000, whereas there are probably no more than 30,000 Asian elephants left on this planet. One hundred years ago there were about 100,000 Thai elephants. Today there are fewer than 4,000 elephants in the entire kingdom – 2,000 of which are in the wild and 2,000 are domesticated.

Interesting Facts About Elephants

Brain: When compared to its weight the elephant’s brain is relatively small and smaller than a human brain, yet it is the largest of all land mammals. Large areas are devoted to memory and scent. Plenty of curves and notches in the brain indicate high intelligence and a capacity for learning greater than many animals.
Teeth: Elephants have six or seven new sets of four grinding teeth during a lifetime. These teeth are huge by any standard, weighing about 4kg each and are about 30cm long! When the last of these teeth wear out, the elephant will die because it will starve to death. Tusks are an elephant’s incisor teeth, which grow from the upper jaw and become visible when an elephant is 2-5 years old.
Eyes: Elephants have small eyes when compared to their large size, yet they can see things clearly at a considerable distance.
Trunk: The trunk is an incredible organ with multiple uses. There are no bones in the trunk but it contains 40,000 muscle groups (compared to about 60,000 muscle groups in the entire body of a human being). This flexibility enables the elephant to have very sensitive touch, which of course is perfect for painting. The elephant can use its trunk to pick up tiny objects as well as weights up to 100 kg, use it as a pipe for sucking water (an adult can hold 10 litres) and dirt, as a ‘radar’ by blind elephants, for smelling, trumpeting (calling), for throwing things and it is used as a powerful weapon for fighting, to grab a smaller opponent (before stamping on it or stabbing with its tusks). Interestingly, the trunk is not used for drinking, but as a tool for sucking up water and then blowing into the mouth.

Some Things You May Not Have Known About Elephants

  • Elephants sweat only at their toenails.
  • An Asian elephant has five toes on the front feet and four on the back.
  • Asian elephants have ears about 30 x 60cm, one third the size of African elephants.
  • Elephants have very advanced listening capabilities and can communicate over vast distances (as far as 4 km in normal conditions) using infrasound, sound waves which humans are incapable of hearing.
  • An elephant smells by placing the tip of its trunk inside its mouth after touching an object.
  • Elephants can stay afloat for a long time and swim well.
  • Elephants can walk or swim under water, using their trunk as a snorkel.
  • Elephants have a special pouch in their throat from which they can suck out water with their trunk to use as a cooling spray.
  • Elephants live to about 55 to 60 years old, though the oldest known is 82 years.
  • Elephants have a prime working age of 25 years and a “retirement” age of about 50.
  • Elephants can run up to 20km an hour.
  • Elephants cannot walk over 12km per hour.
  • Elephants sleep 3-5 hours a night.
  • Elephant society is matriarchal, with a senior female as head of the group.
  • While females form a close knit bond with each other and their collective offspring, males tend to be nomadic, forming bands with other males that join the female herds only for mating.
  • Females become fertile at age 15-16 up to 50 years old.
  • Females can give birth to as many as 11-12 calves during their lifetime.
  • Male elephants reach puberty at about age 14 years.
  • Elephants will mate whenever she is receptive, but she is most often fertile in the hot season and only for a few days.
  • Pregnancy lasts 17.5 -24 months, with male infants (21 – 24 months) taking slightly longer than females (17.5 – 23 months).
  • A newborn baby elephant weighs 80-100kg and will stand up and be able to walk within two hours.
  • A newborn baby may drink more than 10 litres of mother’s milk a day.
  • Elephants are pure vegetarians, eating mostly leaves and grasses, but they also love sugar cane, bamboo shoots and ripe fruit, especially bananas and mangoes.
  • Elephants drink about 200 litres (90 gallons) of water a day.
  • Elephants eat about 250kg of food a day.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Friday Christmas Flowers - Poinsettias

Sold in pots at home to provide some Christmas colour, in Thailand Poinsettias grow profusely and in the wild.  These are planted at "Star Bugs" a road side cafe I stopped at on my bike ride this afternoon.
Great name!  Star Bugs only opened in the past week or so as when I rode past last month it was an overgrown shack with weeds, climbers and some car wrecks near a shack.  The first time I rode up the hill I stopped near by to admire the view, and rest, and would have loved a place to stop for a drink -now it has materialised.  Some serious whipper snipping, some burning, new concrete and a lick of paint, some kitsch table and chairs and suddenly its a cafe,

Friday, 19 December 2014

Why Was the Field Trip Fun?

Because we were happy to be off campus.
Because we couldn't find the Science building at CMU.
Because the two school mini vans were separated. With only Korean and Chinese speakers on the lost van.
Because we travelled in this little people carrier.
Because we had no idea where it was taking us.
Because we all squeezed into a Song Taew with Miss Mary hanging off the back.
Because it was a crazy day and we had ice cream.
Because we were all happy to have to exams over.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Field Trip to Chiang Mai University and Ice Cream

 Today I took the Grade 11/12 Chemistry class on a field trip to Chiang Mai University, to visit the Chemistry Department. We toured a laboratory where researchers work with algae.  They have two main areas of research, using algae to predict water quality and using algae to produce biofuel.  The kids thought it "was cool research" and surprisingly got into the algae story.  They liked the research into the quality of the water in the Chiang Mai moat.  Each year the team sample the water to ensure it is safe to throw.  Throw not drink.  Song Kraw festival in April is all about throwing water.
The lab roof looked out to Doi Sutep, the sacred mountain overlooking Chiang Mai.
Later we went to IBerry for an ice cream treat.  Yes there is a big pink thing with glasses in the background.
When we got back to school tonight, Lisa, right front, said it was the best field trip ever.


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Steep Strawberry Fields

On my bike ride on Sunday I stopped and bought some strawberries at a road side stall/ cafe.  The  girl in charge was lovely and spoke reasonable English.  She is studying in Chiang Mai to become a teacher.  The land belongs to her family and her mother is in the photo sitting amongst the strawberries. The photo gives some idea of the steepness of the field.  It must be hard work planting and then picking the berries.  Cousin X and Sue have it easy growing strawberries on the flat at Bowman's Forest.
By the way the strawberries were lovely, but expensive.  150Baht which is $5 for a large punnet.  Cousin X's strawberries are a bargain at $2 per punnet.  Hope to be eating them soon.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Seasonal Changes part 2

Now that the rice has been harvested the rice paddy is bare.  The stalks were burnt last week - we had a hazy few days.  Now it seems the paddies are being flooded.  The man in red has a hoe and seemed be clearing the channels. There was also a worker, just out of the picture, who seemed to be putting handfuls or clumps of black dirt in a grid like pattern in the paddy- maybe it was fertilizer?
You can also see the changing colour of the hillside.  Some trees have autumnal tones.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Washing the Elephants

Another weekend on campus, so another visit to the elephants.  Today went mid afternoon.  I was in time to see the tourists scrubbing and washing the elephants.  Everyone, mahouts, elephants and tourists seemed to be having fun.
The lady in blue on the right is just about to be lifted onto the elephant via its trunk.  Five minutes later she went past, smiling and lying on her stomach, on the elephant's neck, facing its tail.   A very odd position, but she seemed happy.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Saturday Stroll

I didn't get lost on my Saturday stroll this week as I stuck to the main roads.  A few hills and bends and a walk through the village.
I often seen this local gentleman out walking in the afternoons.  I thought he looked fit and healthy and stylish with his pink checked scarf at the waist.  No need for fancy walking shoes either.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Friday Flowers from the Forest

While Helen was here we walked for two days in the hills north of Chiang Mai, close to Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand.  The vegetation was lush and diverse.
These delicate white flowers were on a creeper, filling a hill side as we descended toward a waterfall and river. Very pretty.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The resort next door

Suan Bua is the resort next to the school.  It is owned and operated by the same couple who own APIS.  The gardens are lovely and well kept and it is always nice to walk through them on the way to the nearby shop. There seem to be constant renovations going on.  The rooms where Jenny, Helen and Julie stayed while here are now being stripped bare and redone.
The hotel seems to busiest at weekends, especially with corporate groups doing leadership and team building programs.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Watermelon Baby

Both Helen and I admired this cute watermelon baby in Pran Buri.  What an outfit.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A Weekend on the Coast

Pran Buri near Hua Hin on the Gulf of Thailand, South of Bangkok; a relaxing location for a seaside weekend.  I was lucky to spend the weekend with great friends, the McIntyre family from Stanley.
Great food, especially the fish cakes and the snapper with red curry served at the "Very Good" restaurant.  The "Very Good" restaurant was near the "Good View" restaurant and the "Holiday Massage".  Inventive business names.
The view was beautiful, especially the reflected pinks in the sky at sunset and then the full moon rising over the water.
Helen and I enjoyed a very relaxing and peaceful massage at "Holiday Massage" looking out on this view the next morning.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Yellow for the King

Yellow was the color of the weekend.  Thais of all ages were out in their yellow t-shirts on Friday and throughout the weekend to celebrate the King's Birthday.  This family capture the mood.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Friday Yellow Flowers. Yelllow Mexican Sunflowers for the King

These Mexican sunflowers are brightening the roadsides near school.
Yellow ribbons, banners, clothing, bunting, shirts, flags etc. Everyone is in their best or tackiest yellow Tshirts for the King's Birthday holiday today.

Friday, 5 December 2014

It's the Kings Birthday

Tomorrow is the King's birthday. It is celebrated here as Father's Day as he is the father of he nation.
There is a display at the entrance to the school about the King, his family and his good work.
He is also a composer so students sang some of his songs this morning at a special ceremony.
Students such as Grade 2 Rachel were encouraged to wear yellow to honour he King.
Love the pants.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Season is Changing

The rice in the rice paddy behind the rice paddy restaurant has been harvested.  The weather is getting cooler.  The air conditioner in the class room wasn't turned on all day yesterday!
I even work my light polar fleece last night on the way to study hall in the dorms.
The kids are wearing hoodies and jackets and one Korean girl even had a rug, Aunty Nell style, on her lap today in class - a bit extreme - I was about to turn the fan on as I was hot.
Its like a lovely autumn day really, crisp in the morning, sunshine and warmth in the afternoon.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

My Advisory Group

Just as well my snap won't be used in the year book or any official documents.
The Grade 12 Advisory (homeroom) group prior to the class photo look distracted or half asleep.
 Dr Naji (from Iraq) has been at APIS for over 15 years and is the other Grade 12 advisor.
On the same morning as the class photos the students voted on the destination for the Grade 12 CWW (Class room Without Walls) trip for February.  If all goes well I will be accompanying this group to Hanoi in February.