Monday, December 29, 2014

Yi Peng and Loy Kratong

At the end of October, we drove over to MaeJo University on our motorcycles for the annual Yi Peng festival.  The highlight of Yi Peng and Loy Kratong is the spellbinding show that happens when thousands of people join together to release khom loi (lit lanterns) into the night sky. Prior to the big spectacle, monks perform chants during an on-stage ceremony.
During the other key ritual of this beautiful festival, participants let go of krathong—small floating vessels made from banana stalks and decorated with incense, offerings, flower and candles—into rivers and lakes creating a beautiful sight. 
Surrounding events include bright parades, musical performances, beauty pageants, traditional dances, lantern-making contests, fireworks, and lots and lots of food.  
After this event, we heard there were close to 20,000 people here to witness this lantern release.  We got to the event around 4:30 pm to find a spot to sit in the immense crowds.  As in anyplace in Thailand, food and drinks were plenty and then we just had to wait almost 3 hours before the lanterns were released. 
Here is Millie getting her lantern ready to be lit from below and released with thousands of others into the night sky. 
It was amazing to see them all being released at the same time.

At the end of the night, it was a mass exodus of those same 20,000 people all leaving down the same pathway between the canal and river and it took a very very long time.  After walking 45 minutes (it should have taken only 5 to 10 minutes!) we made it to our motorcycles and lots of weaving in and out of traffic, we made it safely home again.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Loy Krathong dancers

Here in Thailand, we just finished celebrating the 3 days of Loy Krathong.  This beautiful festival is when sky lanterns known as Khom Loy are sent off into the sky and krathong are sent floating into the rivers with candles and incense.  Millie is part of a Thai dancing afterschool club.  Friday she performed traditional Thai dancing to the song Loy Krathong for the school's 60th Anniversary Celebration.
Here she is getting into costume and makeup put on.

This is my preschool building at school.  It was decorated for the holiday, as well.

The girls practicing before going on the big outside stage.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Railay Beach, Krabi Thailand

In mid-October, Chiang Mai International School had its' midterm break for one week.  We booked our 2 hour flight to Krabi, Thailand and headed to Railay Beach for 5 days.  The only way to get to our hotel was a 45 minute van ride from the airport and then a 15 minute speedboat ride to the hotel.
Here we are arriving up to the beach at the hotel, The Centura Grand Beach Resort and Villas Krabi.

Millie enjoying the beautiful beaches.

The view from our room.

Relaxing on the deck.
Since the hotel is located in a national park, there is lots of wildlife out and about the grounds.  This was a minotaur lizard that ran across our path on the way to the beach.
There were so many monkeys running all over the place.  They were so smart that you had to lock the door from the balcony to your room. Even if the doors were closed, the monkeys were smart enough to have learned how to open the doors and head straight for the mini bars located inside.  I even saw this one jumping into the jacuzzi to take a bath.

Monkey sneaking in between our deck sun shades to figure out if he can make a run for the mini bar, bottles of booze and packages of M & M's.

Mike had an umbrella that he used to chase them away.  The Thai staff all carried sling shots.  Mostly, Millie and I thought it was fun to have so many monkeys playing around.  Mike liked them too, until they yawned and he noticed how big their fangs were.
Millie trying out paddle boarding on the ocean.  It was a bonus to learn that the hotel offered free watersports everyday, so we also spent an hour sea kayaking. 

We were pretty isolated at the hotel, but discovered a path through the jungle called the monkey trail, that lead us to another beach around the next cove and into the town of Ao Nang.  So we went everyday on this crazy steep path into town to explore and eat dinner.  All the cheap massages were there in town too. 
Sunset over Ao Nang Beach.

Our boat ride back to civilization and home to Chiang Mai.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sawadee ka (Hello), Chiang Mai

At the end of July, we moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand.  I am working as a pre-school teacher at Chiang Mai International School. Millie is in third grade at the same school.  I used to live and work in Chiang Mai back in 2000.  I am amazed at how much the city has grown.  It used to be very easy to get around and traffic was bad only at rush hour before and after school.  Now the city is huge and has grown and expanded more than three time the size it used to be.  The traffic is intense, as well.  But we have settled in and it is all becoming normal in a way everyday that we are here.  We are always hot and sweaty, but doing well despite it being the monsoon season.  I take Millie to school on the back of my motorcycle.  Those days it is raining, we are happy to have Mike drive us in the car. 
We live about 15 to 20 minutes from school in a subdivision.  Here they are called moo baans.  Our moo baan is called Pimuk 1.  Lucky us, we have a swimming pool that is just a short bicycle or walk from our house. Here is Millie swimming with a friend.  She lives about 5 minutes motorcycle ride from us. 
One of our first weekend trips was to Bua Tong waterfalls (also known as the "Sticky waterfalls.")  Here is the beautiful view standing next to the top of the falls.  We drove in our car to get there.  Mike has been embracing the very crazy Thai traffic.  It was a bit nerve wracking for us passengers, but he is now driving like a local.  Which means never looking as you merge in traffic, going the wrong way down the road, parking on the highway and going shopping if you feel like it, etc.  There will be more posts and pictures dedicated to our traffic here in Asia.
Me and Millie posing on the sticky waterfalls.  The rocks are not slippery, so everyone has so much fun just climbing up and down.  
Millie loves how big some of the leaves are here.
Going for a bicycle ride here in the back of our neighborhood.  We took this trail to get to our local Sunday Thai market.  They sell lots of delicious cooked meals, desserts, drinks, clothes, and really any cheap trinkets/plastic things for your house.  They also have a bouncy house they put up for the kids.  
Some pretty cool plants on the ride home.

Here I am with Millie and the other pre-school teacher making play dough for our classroom.  I have been so busy settling into our new home overseas and starting school at the same time, so more detailed posts and pictures to follow shortly.