I am going to conveniently ignore the fact that I haven't said 'boo' for almost 6 months and show you the highlights.
There are a bunch of photos from Mom's visit on flickr if you want to see them. We had a great time and it was so lovely to see her.
Mum brought a bunch of Halloween stuff for the kids so we had a massive party on Halloween. They thought it was Christmas and were so geeked about all of the goodies.
We played pass the parcel.
We also bobbed for apples.
Pachara brought in a pumpkin and drew a face on it with magic marker.
The whole class after we'd had our fill of junk food and party games.
That weekend the teachers had their own Halloween party at Tuskers. Nic is a mime, Nomes is a cat, and I'm a Roman.
The gang at Tuskers.
Hunter Thompson, the mime, the cat, a beautiful Thai woman, Ziggy Stardust, and Pablo Escobar. All homemade and very creative costumes.
I guess Nomes never learned not to take strange shots from death.
Check out Rachel in here scary black wig! She's usually a blonde and nobody recognized her.
Silly drunk people.
I turned 23! I had a great day with Nomes, we had a lazy morning at home, went to the gym, saw Stardust, and then had a big staff night out on my boss Lek. Here's some guys I work with really enjoying each other's company. That's Lee and Les.
Nomes and I at Riverside where we went for my birthday night out for some live music.
This is my favourite picture from that night. Dave and Rachel are fascinated by the light but even better is the zombie behind them. Classic.
No birthday is complete without the police coming to shut down the late night bar and then asking them if they'd mind posing for a picture.
The International Sumo Wrestling Championships were held in Chiang Mai this year. It was free and over a weekend, so of course we all went. And yes, we made t-shirts. They said "Go Yai or Gab Baan" which is a Tinglish bastardization of "Go big or go home." Here is a picture of us very excited and ready to watch some fat dudes push each other out of a giant circle.
This is at the 700 year stadium in Chiang Mai up the canal road from my house. Sean insisted on taking this picture. Actually on taking 5 or 6 of these pictures, this one is just the least blurry.
I think the bigger guy is from New Zealand (those Maori guys are huge!) and the smaller one is from an Eastern European country.
Carmen was invited to be a member of the elite International Sumo Fan Club. Consisting mainly of women we're pretty sure it should be called Sumo Groupies Unite!
Afterwards we took a songthaew downtown and I really like this picture of Sean and Nomes watching fireworks out the back while listening to music together.
Then came the end of November and with it Loy Krathong (a festival) and a visit from my two favourite imeem programmers that are named Joe and Craig. It was so wonderful to see them and show them around Chiang Mai. I think they had a good time, but with Craig you never know. Joe on the other hand loves everything.
A cute shot of Nic and I from Loy Krathong. I'll miss this girl when she goes.
Aww, I have friends! And they came to visit!
During Loy Krathong every surface of the city has a lantern hanging from it. The middle of town has a huge display of lanterns and pictures of HM the King. Here we observe foreigners in their unnatural habitat exhibiting some worrisome behaviour.
We took the boys out to Riverside for a massive meal and some Loy Krathong fireworks.
Nik prepares her Krathong for floating. The festival is in honour of the river, and is all about saying 'thanks' for providing us with the ability to grow rice and therefore prosper. Well, not really us because I've never farmed rice... but you get the idea. We say thank you buy polluting the river with loads of small boat like things (called Krathongs) filled with money, hair, candles, leaves, and other odd things. This is meant to give us good luck in the coming year. Check out the state of the river behind Nik. Kinda gross.
Tha Pae Gate at night. So beautiful.
Sunday night there was a huge parade through the city and I stood outside the boys' hotel room with them watching it go by.
Another float, this one is spearheaded by a fleet of naga, or snakey dragony things.
The other traditional activity during Loy Krathong is to float kham loys, or these beautiful paper lanterns that come in all sizes. Inside is a flammable disc that you light, then everyone holds onto the bottom while the air inside heats up, and when it's as hot as possible without catching fire you let go and watch it float away with the hundreds of other lanterns. Another way of saying thanks: let's pollute the air with lanterns!
Thai people know how to do a festival. The end of November harvest moon was out and it looked like someone had thrown a massive orange ball into the night sky and it just stuck. Couple with the lantern-filled sky it was impossible to look down.
Lucy, Nomes and I did our own girly lantern far away from the busy downtown area. We drew pictures, wrote things we were grateful for and things we wanted all over the lantern, then we went outside out house on the quiet street and set it off. A perfect ending to a lovely festival.
Quam Suk Mak Mak= very happy.
In December Nomes, Lee, and I took our MEP students to a competition at one of the biggest schools in town- an all girls Christian school. Coming from a small government school we did not expect to do well against the rich kids, but we had a great time. This is me with my four competitors: Saridtaa, Khiangjai, Tatchai, and Siwaporn. They're stars.
The whole group of us. The best part taking the kids out for Kao Man Gai and ice cream afterwards. Mmmmm.
That same day happened to be sports day back at school. We missed the morning but when we got back to school the festivities were in full swing. This is the yellow team's cheerleaders showing off their spirit.
Pink went for a cowboy theme.
Red did too, I guess...
My two favourite teachers at Watweruwan. Khruu Waow and Khruu Tuk Tha. They're hilarious, I will miss them.
The next day Nomes, Lucy and I took off for Pai (a town up north in the mountains about 4 hours bus ride away) for a few days. Lucy found this place to stay that was just stunning. Our room opened up onto a rice paddy with mountains in the background. There was a pool, which they enjoyed, and hammocks, which I spent as much time in as possible. It was perfect leisure.
We may have brought up a few bottles of wine (a big treat in this country) and spent the better part of our first evening chatting, snuggling up in the warm bed, and drinking it. It was cold in Pai!
Badasses? Not quite.
Nomes stole my new hat and convinced herself she was a cute Swedish girl named Heidi. The accent was charming.
The second day of our mega relaxation session.
I did not want to leave that hammock for anything.
Prathom 2 took a field trip in December. I got to tag along to a paper making factory and the hot springs (nam poot ron) which was a blast. It was fun to hang out with the kids on the bus and outside of the classroom. They're hilarious.
At the paper making place the kids made books. Getting 120 7 year olds to glue stuff together in an orderly fashion is not as easy as it sounds.
Here the monkeys are playing in the hot springs. They were definitely warm, like a bath, and took some getting used to.
Playing in the hotter of the hot springs.
This part was boiling, so some brilliant entrepreneur sells eggs that you can boil right there and eat. The kids loved it.
Cowface is unimpressed with the smelly sulphuric eggs.
Saridtaa loves them.
Be careful to slide! Brilliant English on the signs in this country.
On Christmas Eve Sue and Karla invited me over to Karla's parents' house for a Mexican themed dinner thing. In between preparing and cooking we drove up the mountain behind their house to the temple on top. Buddhist temple for Christmas Eve. Awesome.
This dude's just chillin up there. Sue and I both said it reminded us of The World's Largest Outdoor Seated Buddha in Hong Kong but in miniature form (and more Thai, of course).
The sunset's shadows on the mountains.
A happy family Christmas Eve. Karla's parents are Canadian but have lived all over the world. They're hilarious and it was really great to spend the holiday with a sarcastic, wine drinking family. Just like being home. :) We even discussed Tortierre recipes!
I had to work Christmas Day (funnily enough Buddhist countries don't take off for Christian holidays) so I tried to make it as much fun as possible, both for the kids and me. In the morning Nomes and I threw on Mr. Bean's Christmas for both of our classes and if they saw a Christmas vocab word they knew (bell, angel, Santa) they had to raise their hand and say "I see a bell" and they would be rewarded with festive candy. The rest of the day was the same sort of stuff: a Christmas quiz, giving gifts... it was an easy and fun day.
After work we shot home to change then headed to Tuskers for Christmas dinner. It was fabulous. Chas and Rach put on a wonderful spread and the whole gang was there. A huge improvement on last year, which was more than a little depressing. This year I was sad to be away from home, but at least I had my good friends around to celebrate with. I even took my computer to the bar and made a few Skype calls. How cool is that?
Chris is ready to tuck in.
My less than beautiful but fully delicious buffet selection.
Rach's parents were over for a few weeks. They're lovely.
Onto New Year's, I went out with the Tuskers staff to Riverside for drinks and fireworks. It was rammed but we found a spot on the pier. Here's Rach, Note, and Off enjoying the festivities.
This is my favourite picture of Chas and Rach.
Fireworks! No, they were not black and white.
We all went out for Nik's birthday for some Middle Eastern food. Mmmm.
Followed by karaoke! Sweet.
We went out for a staff dinner a few weeks after New Year's, and our boss decided to bestow upon each of us a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label. Warrie is very happy about it.
I am finishing up my time in Thailand and that makes me sad. I'm ready to leave. My job isn't as stimulating as it once was, there are elements of Thai culture that I find frustrating and not conducive to long term living, and I miss people from home. That being said I am really going to miss this place. A lot of my friends are staying, but some are moving on to other places and it hasn't really occured to me that we won't be a phone call away anymore.
I am looking forward to being home for a bit. To doing nothing, to making some money, and to seeing long lost friends and family. I don't think I'll be terribly mobile though, which will be frustrating after jumping on my motorbike anytime I want. I plan on drinking lots of dark beer and red wine and eating as much of my father's food as possible.
I'll be in San Francisco for a few days visiting Craig and Joe, and I should land in Detroit on the 23rd of April.
And that's about it. You don't have to say it, Trace has said it enough for everyone. I suck at blogging. I'll see you in 6 months.