I just spent almost three weeks in Malaysia with a Singapore chaser, and it was a most grand adventure. Our trip took us criss-crossing the nation – we visited beaches, highlands, port towns, and cities. We ate mee goreng, nonya laksa, hummus, paneer masala and vegan sushi. We stayed some fantastic and cheap hostels and some expensive and aweful hotels. We searched for a “decent” cup … Continue reading Meandering through Malaysia
So many travel blogs, Instagram posts and Facebook statuses bragging about their epic and unique adventures. They aren’t always so quick to share the exhausting journeys, dirty rooms, bad food, and missed connections. Here’s a picture from breakfast at our hotel on the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. Beautiful, isn’t it? But I can’t say the trip was worth it. We took the overnight bus leaving … Continue reading Travel isn’t always sandy beaches and perfect sunsets
I’ve just spent about three weeks in Malaysia, visiting beaches, seaside towns, highlands, and the cities. But what intrigued me most was the people. Malaysia is a diverse mix of mostly Malay, Chinese and Indian, and the majority of the population is Muslim. Malay is the official language, but English is widely used. Malaysia is the first country I have visited that’s predominately Muslim, and … Continue reading Malaysia, Headscarves, and My Cultural Education
It’s ONLY 37°C but my skin feels like it’s on fire. It’s the worst waiting at a stoplight on my scooter. I can feel the sun’s rays penetrating my skin. It hurts. It’s so hot that riders are hiding in bits of shade made by trucks and buses. And it’s an inferno waiting next to a running vehicle. My skin has had enough. My face … Continue reading It’s Too Hot for Skin
The 4-day Makha Bucha weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to take a road trip north. While Buddhists went to temple to make merit, I went to Chiang Rai to be a tourist. This was my longest trip road trip so far. I managed to put over 700 km on the bike in four days. Not bad! Especially decked out in all my cool biker … Continue reading Road Trip to Chiang Rai and Phu Chi Fah
It’s a hard life as a foreigner working in Thailand. You might think it’s all sunshine and massages, but it’s not. Right now it’s winter, and it’s been overcast and rainy for a whole week. Temperatures dropped to 20°C and at night I had to wear a jacket. It was horrible. Even though I teach 16 50-minute classes a week, I work much more than … Continue reading Lamenting My Thai Life
You know that thing where you have a 12-hour layover in a country you’ve never been to, and a friend you haven’t seen in almost 20 years offers to show you around? That’s how I got to visit Seoul in a day. They layover wasn’t part of the original journey home, but after some cancelled flights, the new itinerary left me an entire day in … Continue reading Layover in Seoul
“Pattaya. Sin City. Don’t go.” That was the first piece of travel advice I had been given from a Thai person. We weren’t even talking about Pattaya, or sin, for that matter. I met him on a snorkel trip in Koh Chang. We were talking about swimming and beaches, and then he just said, “Pattaya – sin city,” and shook his head. But when … Continue reading Pattaya – Sin City
Hi All! I have a new website for you to enjoy! This one is all about living in Chiang Mai, so I’ve called it Lanna Living. You know how much I love to share tips and instructions – so this one will include things like best restaurants, local road trips, and fun stuff like getting a drivers’s license and paying your phone bill. I’ll keep this site … Continue reading New Website – Lanna Living!
Last year, there were huge celebrations for the King’s birthday. Everyone wore yellow (because the king was born on Monday, which is yellow). Many people wore yellow for the entire month of December. There was even a bike rally, Bike for Dad, just so show love and support for the ailing king. This year there is no celebration.
It’s been 50 days since the Father of Thailand passed away. I have been avoiding posting anything because there has been some uncertainty. Also because of Thailand’s severe lèse majesté laws. This means that is illegal to insult or defame a member of the royal family. Punishment can range from 3-15 years behind bars. Wikipedia tells me Thailand has no legal definition of defamation – it’s wide open to interpretation.
On the 50th day of mourning, the crown prince was declared King Rama X. The coronation won’t be until later this year, after the late king’s cremation.
We first heard about the king’s passing from outside new sources. Both Chinese and Dutch news agencies were reporting the that King Bhumibol had died. It wasn’t until a few hours later that the Thai government confirmed it. Then we new it was true.
By the next day the government had declared a country in mourning. All entertainment and festivals were suspended. Major concerts cancelled. Even the local pub quiz was on hiatus, out of respect.
Everything turned to black to reflect the country’s mood. Here black and white are mourning colors, and swaths of fabric surrounded every image of his majesty. Television, website (government and corporate), and newspapers turned to black and white. Entertainment programs on tv were replaced with videos of the king.
Dress code changed too. All black was expected, which government employees will follow for one year. Thais chastised each other on social media for wearing color, until it was pointed out that not everyone can afford new clothes. Plus the stores were selling out of black fast. The government set up free dyeing stations in every province. And people started to wear a black ribbon on their left arm.
The moratorium on entertainment lasted for 30 days, and gradually things have gotten back to normal. But many people continue to wear black or the ribbon, and the black and white decorations still stand.
The school followed the government’s lead. The school play, the annual fair, field trips, and overnight camps were cancelled. Even Christmas celebrations were cancelled. A big deal for a Christian school. The teachers were directed to wear black. White shirts are acceptable, if the black ribbon is included. This will continue for a 100-day mourning period.
The school participated in a national oath to declare their respect and loyalty to the royal family. And we stood for 89 seconds of silence, one second for every year of the king’s life.
The following day the entire study body formed a Thai 9, representing King Rama IX. Side note – This took one rehearsal and two takes, and was recorded on a student’s drone.
Some of my co-teachers have adjusted their curriculum. They have had students sing the English version of the king’s jazz composition. I had no idea, but the king was quite the musician and played saxophone with the likes of Benny Goodman.