Monday, November 10, 2008

Long time overdue

Well I'm probably the worst blogger ever. It's been about two months since the last update and I guess I will fill you in on whats happened since I last wrote about ping pong. In addition to normal day to day activities I have had some pretty interesting experiences in the last two months. The most notable would be vacationing in Ko Samui for school holiday.

Ko Samui 10/15-10/19
My initial impression of this island was surprise at the number of foreigners there. The whole island is covered with tourists driving their recently rented motorcycles and nearly crashing into each other as they went. I went with three other exchange students; Lucy from California, Kaaren from Oregon, and Stijn from Belgium. The first day after getting off the ferry we checked into the Montien House. It was a nice hotel on the beach and conveniently owned by Kaaren's dad's friend. Her host family arranged for us free rooms and a driver to take us around the island. During the days we toured around the island and saw different sites like the Big Buddha statue (see picture below) and Grandmother and Grandfather rocks. Those attractions were interesting but like most of the Thai islands, nightlife is reason tourists come. Thailand is known as a one of the most popular destinations for sex tourists in the world, so it was no surprise when we saw the streets filled with older gentlemen and their younger Thai "girlfriends." Most of these women come from very poor upbringings in the Northeast part of Thailand. They normally worked manual labor jobs in fields or factories before deciding prostitution was a better source of income. Besides the prositute bars Ko Samui had some crazy reggae and nightclubs. My favorite club being the solo bar which opened from 2am-6am and was packed with the craziest European rave dancers ever. I met a wide range of characters at this bar most notably the bathroom attendant (see picture below) who gave out free neck adjustments. I can't think of much more then that, life on the island is a daily routine of waking up late and doing whatever you please. I told my dad that chaweng beach felt like a modern deadwood. We went during the off season so the "normal" tourist families were non-existent. In their place were a different bred of tourist, a more friendly "rough around the edges" crowd that included backpackers and Thais.

This Buddha statue is the one of the more popular tourist destinations because of it's enormous size.

A pretty normal representation of a Ko Samui off season tourist

My friend Stijn and our favorite bathroom attendant. (the best masseuse)

Stijn in our hotel room

The view getting off the ferry.

The ferry we took to Ko Samui.

A market near the grandmother and grandfather rock.

So I will try to be better about posting more into this blog. Right now I have a lot of stuff to do, most importantly mailing my sisters birthday package (2 months late ahhh) and working on online psychology, which I'm super behind in.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Protests and Ping Pong

For the past couple of months I have been training hard in the art of Ping Pong and it has finally paid off. I started my official table tennis class yesterday and came away the undefeated class champion. My last opponent was probably the hardest. A short boy of 13 years who could put topspin on the ball like you couldn't believe. I was put into the M1 class which is equivalent to 8th grade in the U.S. because the guys my age are way too good for me but one day I hope to duel them as well. In more exciting news, Jackie (the other exchange student) and I passed through a mob of anti-prime minister protesters and were greeted warmly. We got the normal series of questions shouted at us. Whats your name? Where you come from? As we passed by they all started getting on mopeds and it looked like something out of the movie "the road warrior." We continued walking as they gave us the call outs, waves, peace signs, and fist pumps. I gave one particular rambunctious moped driver the fist pump back. I think that made his day, a farang who was for the cause.

Friday, September 5, 2008

More Photos

I uploaded some more photos a few days ago and you find the link on the right side of this page. Most of the photos are from my AFS camp. We stayed for about 5 days in Pathumthani (not sure on that spelling) a province about an hour away from Bangkok. The camp served to help us AFS students adjust to living in a house with a Thai family. As expected there are a lot of differences between how families function in Thailand compared to the U.S. Hmmmm what else, I had to take the bus instead of the train to Bangkok from Songkhla because the train union shut down all the trains to help the cause of the protestors that want the Prime Minister to leave. The Bus was an uncomfrotable and smelly experience. Sitting next to the bathroom kinda sucks but at least you dont have to walk far in the middle of the night. Well I just probably wrap it up because my host brother is looking to use the computer but I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm doing good and I'm safely away from the civil unrest in Bangkok.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back from the Hospital

So you may have heard that I spent five days in the hospital. I begged my host mom not to take me there but she insisted that I go after suffering from off and on high fever and headaches. When I first checked into the hospital my temperature was at 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). I didn't think it was amazingly high but the doctor insisted I stay. What followed was a pretty uneventful next four days except for the occasional awkward moments that are better kept awkwardly untold. I left the hospital on Monday with a lot of drugs for Typhoid and some cell phone pictures attached below.

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Blog

After some pressure from the family i have set up a blog to keep those of you who are interested informed on what I'm doing here in Thailand. The life of an exchange student allows for a lot of "as you can get it" internet usage so I'm not sure how often i will be able to keep you updated. In the past couple of weeks i have been able to stay connected on the internet a fair amount and I hope that it will continue in the future. For those who don't know, I'm spending a year here in Songkhla Thailand (you can check the map below). From what I've heard the population of Songkhla is about 50,000, close to the size of Corvallis. It is a tourist town for other Thais in the south but there is a lack of western tourists here because of the security situation. There is a beach close to my house thats good for swimming and Hat Yai the biggest city in the province is a 45 minute bus ride away. Right now I'm waiting out a storm so I can take a tuk tuk home (see photo below). Well, I hope to keep you updated regularly and you can always check out my photos by following the links on this page.