Saturday, September 26, 2009

Believe it or not

Today marks 1-year anniversary of my trip to Thailand! Of course I spent the first 3 weeks of my stay in other countries, but this day was the very start of my trip. A lot has happened in my life since then, and it’s kinda strange to think back on all of it. Oh, what a year it’s been!

Much love

Friday, September 25, 2009


My weekend trip to the monkey town was a success! I left by minibus late on Sunday and got in around 8pm. I left to wander the streets and find a place to stay which was more dangerous than I had expected. Lopburi is famous for it's mischievous monkeys, but when the sun goes down the streets are filled with angry dogs. They're very territorial and will not only growl and bark but will get up and chase you. Frightening! I eventually found a hotel and got some sleep on a very uncomfortable mattress.

I woke up pretty early and set out to see the big Monkey temple, also known as Phra Prang Sam Yot. This is the temple you may have seen on Discovery channel or Animal Planet shows. It’s a giant Khmer temple up on a little hill with the city all around it and it’s crawling with Crab-eating Macaques. I got there super early so it was just me and my guide on the grounds. The guide told me a little about the temple as well as point out the oldest, fattest, and youngest monkeys. She also had a slingshot with her.

The ticket I bought gave me access to a couple other sights around the city so I also went to see the Ban Vichayen, the remains of the official ambassador’s residence. It was actually three large ruined buildings with lots of green space around which was great for walking in. Then I went to the Phra Kahn Shrine, “the site of a small shrine, the remains of a Khmer prang, a few stalls and lots of monkeys. The stalls sell offerings to be dedicated at the shrine, and food and drink. The monkeys eat the food, drink, offerings and anything else going. Good for a few photos. There are signs warning of purse-grabbing by the monkeys, but they appear docile if not provoked.” This was great because as I got there a guy was unloading a bag of milks for the monkeys and they had a big milk party. After that I took a motorbike far outside the city to Kraison Siharat which was a temple where King Narai went to watch lunar and solar eclipses in the 1680’s. By the time I got back from there, it was almost 4pm and time to meet up with Alex.

Alex did the languagecorps program with Ryan and me and has been teaching all semester in Lopburi. He just finished his classes and is gonna travel a bit before he goes home at the start of October. He was grading papers at school so I got to walk around the grounds while he finished. He taught at a gigantic high school and had 19 of his own classes. Yikes! I have 18 but they’re not nearly as large as his. We had a dinner at his usual after-work restaurant and I was back on my minibus to the city.

All in all, Lopburi was a very cool place. Aside from the monkeys, it was a lot like other smaller Thai cities I’ve visited. One thing I really enjoyed was the late afternoon before I got back into the minibus. I was able to soak in the last rays of sunshine on a clear day instead of the sun disappearing behind skyscrapers and into a massive dark cloudbank. One thing I feel I should mention is that..yes, I was bitten by a monkey. I took my eyes off a big ugly one for one second and it jumped up onto my plastic bag of monkey food and, in an effort to bite through the bag, got the tip of my finger. I’m currently being treated for monkeyitis and getting a series of injections at the hospital. I would be lying if I said this didn’t add that extra something to my trip that makes it extra memorable.

Much love

I went a couple different places before the monkey temple, but let's be honest, this is what you came to see


So many monkeys

The youngest monkey. Only 2 days old!

Later I went inside the prang and got some close-ups

At the old ambassador's residence. Considerably fewer monkeys.

At Kraison Siharat where King Narai went to view the eclipses.

At the Phra Kahn Shrine where this woman was constantly hitting pesky monkeys off the top of her souvenir stand. This is also where the monkeys had their milk party.

The milk party

The sun setting on another great day in the kingdom.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Upon further review..

I've been researching more and more about my trip to Lopburi and certain quotes have only strengthened my resolve to visit this "Monkey Town"

"Lopburi is very laid back, and its convenient location less than 3 hours from Bangkok makes it a good place to escape the stress and pollution of the capital"

"Lopburi is famous for the hundreds of crab-eating macaques that overrun the Old Town, especially in the area around Phra Prang Sam Yot and Phra Kaan Shrine, and there's even a monkey temple/amusement park where you can buy snacks to feed to them. "

"Depending on your preference you can choose a place with lots of monkeys running around, or opt for somewhere with low or no monkey presence" (lots of monkeys, obviously)

"...Prang Sam Yot, a Khmer temple north of the train station. Entrance is 30 Baht and you are given a stick that will help you ward off over inquisitive monkeys."

The whole time i've been typing this, my co-worker Tara, who lived in Lopuri for a 4 months, has been telling me great war stories about monkeys snatching lunches, and monkey/dog rumbles in the streets. I'm very excited.

much love

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jim Thompson

I took a little trip last weekend to one of the city's main tourist destinations, The Jim Thompson house. Jim Thompson was a very cool dude who did a lot of things but is most known for his work in the Thai silk business. He's the guy who really reinvented the industry and opened it up to the world. The reason his house is so cool is because he built it by connecting 6 small traditional Thai houses together. Aside from that he was an avid collector of Southeast Asian art and so his house is full of ancient artifacts which he basically had up as decour. He also has a giant jungle garden which is really neat because his house is in the middle of the city. His house is about a 5 minute walk from the skytrain down a small soi and is astoundingly quiet amidst all the hustle and bustle. I just liked how his house is a museum now. Even his table settings are prized chinese porcelain. Pictures weren't allowed in the upstairs parts of the house, so I took a bunch of the garden area.

This must be the place

The house was raised up on stilts in the tradional style of 'not wanting to get flooded'

Located right here

This was at the Skytrain station. Whee!

Those are the inages from my trip to Jim Thompson's house. I hope you enjoyed them. I'm thinking of taking a trip to Lopburi this coming weekend which could potentially be my zaniest trip yet. Just so you know, Lopburi is also called Monkey Town and I intend to find out why.

Much love

ps, I went down to Molly Malone's on tuesday morning (the pub where I watched the Super bowl) and was able to catch the 4th quarter of the Pats game! Very cool. I'll be able to see all regularly scheduled MNF games and I think I might make Tuesday morning brunch at Molly Malone's a weekly thing. 100฿ for a big english breakfast and a football game. C'mon!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Be Careful

There haven't been too many strange points of Thai culture to point out as of late. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, or maybe what was once weird has become so common that I don't even think to mention it. It's like when one of us has a visitor and they stop to take pictures of the little spirit houses outside every building, or of the man peddling his fried bugs. I don't even think twice about those now. Well the other day I heard a Thai belief that instantly struck me as weird..

Apparently if you sing while you're eating, a very old woman will fall in love with you. Either that or you'll fall in love with her(i'm not sure which). Frankly both are strange. I was trying to think of where/when this possibly could have originated and all I know is it would've been funny to be there. Hopefully more posts to come soon. Ryan's birthday is coming up next week adn there's talk of going to a classy rooftop bar. suits? suits.

much love

Friday, September 4, 2009


My vacation to Vietnam was great. I took a week off from work and flew to Ho Chi Minh City for some sightseeing as well as friendseeing. I think I mentioned this a couple times but the initial part of my teacher training in Phnom Penh was in a large group that eventually split into three smaller groups (Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.) The Nam crowd has been here a couple times, most notably Songkran, and it was high time I go to visit them and their city. I was expecting the city to be dirty like Phnom Penh but I was pleasantly surprised. It was about as clean if not cleaner than Bangkok, or the parts I saw anyway. (I should say that any observations made were made in just that short week.) The big difference between HCMC and BKK was the traffic. The Vietnamese were almost entirely on motorbikes which I loved. I took a motorbike taxi almost everywhere and really enjoyed the ordered chaos of countless motorbikes rushing through the city streets like a river.

I spent the early part of my trip just hanging out in my friends’ house. It’s actually more of an apartment building but when the Languagecorps program finished there was enough people to get all seven rooms in their building. So I spent most of the first part hanging out (hey, I was on vacation) and seeing the sights around the city. The War Remnants Museum can really bum you out but it’s definitely worth a trip. My friends all worked different hours. Instead of working a steady salary job like me, they cobbled together a few part time jobs around the city which was kinda cool, ‘cause you get to teach a wide range of ages, except that they’d be motorbiking all over town on some days to get to all their classes.

Let me tell you now that a week in Vietnam is not enough. With my timeframe I was only able to check out relatively close things and didn’t have a real chance to get up to Hanoi, Halong Bay, or even Da Lat. That being said, I was still able to see some very cool sights. I took a trip up to the Cu Chi tunnels which was the intricate tunnel system the Viet Cong constructed. There was a lot of history there and it was really interesting. I climbed through one and they were unbelievably tiny, even after being widened for Western audiences.

Next I took a trip up to Mue Ne which is known for its nice beaches and giant sand dunes. I paid for a package deal that would take me to all the ‘sights’ around the town which was great. I was the only one who’d signed up for it this week so it was just me and the guide cruisin’ around on a motorbike. First thing we did was head up to the big red sand dunes for sunrise. The dunes were actually quite a ways up from the waterline so I had a really nice view of the road winding down into the village and the boats coming in. There were lots of Vietnamese tourists on the dunes enjoying the sights and sledding down the dunes on big sheets of plastic. Of course I did it too. One time I came to an abrupt stop and flew over the front into a big facefull of sand, much to the delight of those watching. After the duning, we headed to the fishing village where all the boats who’d been out fishing all night came in to unload. It smelled like diesel and fish and reminded me a lot of home. Except instead of pulling up to docks, the fisherman would anchor off shore, load the fish into large bowl/boats, and row them over to the craziness of buying/selling/packing/moving that was going on for 200 or so yards of beach. It was really neat to soak in the hustle and bustle of the fish market. Giant baskets of bait fish being loaded onto wagons pulled by oxen as fully loaded motorbikes zoomed around them. After that we went to the “fairy stream” which was a little brook that ran from the hills down to the sea and left a neat little gorge with high walls of groovy sand and mud. Groovy like it had grooves. It was still very early in the morning so I was the only one walking in the stream, which was really nice. Apparently it gets pretty crowded later on and even as I was leaving, a group of four or five was just starting. From there, I went back to my bungalow packed my things, and got on a bus back to HCMC. I spent my last little bit of city time biking around and picking up gifts and things for people at my work. I sampled a bit more of the local food. I definitely ate my fair share of bread and cheese which is a little more elusive in Thailand (except for pizza of course). I was really big on Bahn Mi which were egg and cheese breakfasty things on mini baguettes. Yum.

I really enjoyed my stay in Vietnam and learned some things along the way. It was strange to be in a south-east Asian country and all of a sudden not speak the language again. It was like going back to when I first got to Thailand. I could tell I was being ripped off in the market place but I couldn’t haggle my way down. I was powerless! It was also strange to go on a trip which contained sights and smells that reminded me so much of the cape, but then to feel a sense of relief when I finally got “home” and heard the familiar “Sawatdee kaa” of the stewardesses as I exited the plane.

Sorry for taking so long to get this post up!

Much love