Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sirindhorn Dam… or English Camp with M1

Even the weekends are not immune to the rigor of learning.
And so, I found myself at Sirindhorn Dam with M1, participating in English Camp.

(Come to Thailand if you ever need a banner made.  These banners are made for every event!)

To see just how far it is from the city of Ubon Ratchathani, you can click on the link below.

Students are required to come to camp as it is paid for by the school.
The weekend is spent participating in a variety of activities entirely in English.
You have to remember, this is the first year in EP for M1.

But the surroundings were beautiful, and the food (for the teachers) was delicious.

 We stayed in small houses… 3 bedrooms and a living room.

And the Queen's house was right there along with the rest of us.  Notice the lack of fences and security.  Of course, she does only come here once or twice a year.

There is also a golf course on the "resort".  (I'm not a golfer).

Patsanee woke me up Sunday morning at 5:15 to go for a bike ride to see the sunrise.
A little too early for me, but worth it.

The dam was constructed in 1971 very near the Laos border.  It's still pretty controversial as many people were displaced and never adequately compensated.
It provides hydroelectric power domestically.

We made it back in time for breakfast, followed by the last day's activities for the students.  
Saturday night they held debating contests, but this morning started out with songs, games, and a Shrek activity.  Elias and I started a discussion solving the world's problems (yet again).

While Elias and I solved problems, some of the Thai teachers took a quick trip to Laos for ant eggs, among other things.

Although they really do look gross, I'm told they are very flavorful.  I'll probably never know!

The end of camp always brings awards….

and the awards are always junk food and chocolate!

Another great weekend and we boarded the buses.

On the way home, we stopped at another wat on the river, across from Laos.

Looking across at Laos….

I couldn't believe it was so close!

And then it was really time to leave.

Parting words for those of you who have ever ridden the field trip bus. 
A full bus with a karaoke machine pumped to full volume is an enhancement only the Thais could dream up.

Next class trip…..
Malaysia and Singapore!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Khuan Ban Mai ขึ้นบ้านใหม่ A Housewarming

As a finalist for "The King's Award", the importance of completing our brand, spanking, new EP building took on a whole new level of intensity.  When I arrived in October, the building was simply scaffolding.  A little over two months later, we are ready to move in….  well, we may not be exactly ready, but move we will!  The panel of judges
was originally coming January 13th to review our status,
that's been pushed back to the 21st.

Two days ago….

7 AM this morning.

The monks waiting for all guests to arrive.

A "housewarming" is a very auspicious event for Thai people.  It encourages good fortune and prosperity.
It is important to choose the right date for this occasion as some numbers are unlucky.  Today is January 9, and 9 is one of the luckiest numbers.  There are also 9 monks.

The monks pass a ball of string to their left and lace it through their hands.  The "sai seen" is to tie all of the "magic" from the monks together to bring to the new home.

The sai seen is also tied around the Buddha image that will be kept in the house. 

The monks begin chanting "magic words", that apparently nobody knows what they mean.
The chanting goes on for quite a while.

Then, those in attendance begin bringing their gifts of merit to fill the monks' baskets.

As you can see, the baskets get filled to overflowing in no time.

Students helped by filling very large plastic bags with the food items so that people could continue to fill the monk's baskets.

The leader of the monks takes a slender candle, lights it, and allows "a tear from the candle" to drip into a bowl of holy water.  It is believed that this washes away disease, sorrow, and evil.

After the prayers, the monk blesses the people by dipping a lotus into the bowl and sprinkling the water on their heads.

A hot meal is assembled on a tray for each monk and presented to them.

When the monks have been fed and the blessings completed, the guests are treated to a huge banquet.  There was plenty of food to feed the entire staff, invited guests, neighbors, and students.

This is an absolutely delicious green curry soup.

I like sticky rice, but really, I'm just obsessed
with the basket it is served in!

I was very hesitant and even passed by this until Elias told me it was Bua Loi, a Thai dessert soup.  It has taro, coconut meat and lotus seed in a coconut cream base.  Very delicious, but only in small quantity.


Needless to say, classes for the rest of the day were a bit casual.
And, I just couldn't finish a blog without a few pictures of my beautiful students!


Still loving life in Thailand
(but I just found out a friend was hired at a school in Quito…..)

Happy Birthday to my future daughter-in-law!
We love you, Christina!