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Category Archives: Living in Thailand

A Canadian saying sorry in Thai

I had been in Thailand for approximately 6 months. At this point, I was feeling pretty good about my ability to order food and barter at the local market, all in Thai. While that’s about the extent of my language abilities, I picked up a few other random bits of conversation right up until I left.

However, one day I realized something. I didn’t know how to say “sorry.” For 6 months, I had literally been apologizing left, right and centre for bumping people or not knowing what they were saying to me… in ENGLISH.

Now it wouldn’t be that big a deal, but when the rest of your conversation is, for the most part, a combination of basic Thai, smiles and giggles and then you throw in random words that they may or may not know means an apology it’s just plain inconsistent.

So, without letting on to my friends, I had a little panic attack.

I ran to my English – Thai dictionary and looked it up. Of course, when I had been “learning” how to speak on my own and I’d write down phrases, sorry may or may not have been one of them. But those stupid books have so many unnecessary words and phrases that most Thai’s are too lazy to even speak.

Once I had learned to omit those certain phrases (unless speaking to certain people of authority, however) figuring out the book made a lot more sense.

A simple “kor tod ka” became a regular phrase in my vocabulary. But I didn’t just learn that! Something that I would have substituted sorry for anyway was “excuse me.”

So, “kor tod na ka,” a simple extended, politer version of sorry was also added to my vocabulary. Used mostly in crowded shops, when trying to get someone’s attention or to push past a crowd of unobservant teens on a crowded BTS train in Bangkok, people thought I was Thai until they looked at me.

Panic averted. I was able to keep my Canadian-ness while speaking Thai.

Love note to my passport

Because of complications with obtaining a work visa (I couldn’t) I was forced to do Visa runs if I wanted to stay in the country and work for my school. Along the way, I completely filled my 25-page passport and was worried about having the space to get home. So literally as soon as I rang in 2013, I headed to the Canadian Embassy to get a new passport.

Despite having the forms printed off the internet, and filling everything out thoroughly, plus extra, I was asked to fill out a new form. I handed in the new form, my two pictures, and my fee and that was it. “The new one will be sent to you.”

Seriously easy. Despite worry that I didn’t have a guarantor that could sign my photo or the documents, despite fear that I would have to spend the entire day running around Bangkok finding a lawyer to act as a guarantor for me, sign everything and follow-up with my four references and previous addresses of the past 5 years, it was the most simple process. To be honest, I think it was easier even than in Toronto.

I am excited to have 48 brand new pages to start stamping and plastering with visas. My passport hasn’t seen me through a million countries; it hasn’t been all around the world with me. But it does clearly define the last 5 years of my travel life: Amsterdam, South Africa, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and of course those random stamps through American customs despite not ever leaving the airport. WHY do they do that?

Looking through a passport is always one of those things that you reserve to do while you’re waiting in line at the border, when you’re terrified that you’ve overstayed, when you’re trying to plan the next few months of your life and wonder how in hell a visa run is going to fit into it, or simply when you’re feeling nostalgic. I love the pages in my passport. I love looking at all the stamps and all the visas and remembering the exact moments that I crossed the border and with who. I’m glad that they returned my passport in pristine condition so that I can continue to be nostalgic.

Maybe if I’m feeling crafty, I’ll make sure to save my passport in a scrapbook of the past year so that I can accurately remember dates when I look back.

I do have a favourite page, simply because I love the variety of stamps that share these two pages.

South Africa, Amsterdam, Laos, Thailand and America all on two pages..

South Africa, Amsterdam, Laos, Thailand and America all on two pages..

Do you have a favourite page in your passport? Do you sit and look back through it in the same way that I do?

The last hoorah

I’m back in Lopburi. Although in approximately 24 hours, I start my journey home in a bus that will take me and my accumulated mementos to the airport.

I thought that I would have time to write and relax and catch up on everything that I haven’t been keeping up with while I was travelling. I have not. Instead, I’ve been catching up on the gossip, drinking until the sun comes up and sleeping until I have to peel my melting skin off the blankets. Then repeat.

Instead of writing about the monks in Yangon, the feet steering fisherman in Inle Lake, the art and architecture in Penang, or love notes to this crazy little town I’m leaving, I’ve been lazy.

Being in this unemployed transition is quite depressing, and I’ve had no shortage of craving to stay. Most people that are here at the moment are no longer in this transition. They’ve moved into houses, moved into new jobs, started their regular routine again. It’s making me wish that I had decided to stay on for another term, another year, for life.

While I do have to be home for some of the best moments of my best friends’ lives, things that I wouldn’t miss for the world, I really only have a 6 month obligation to Toronto. I love my city, and it will be where I eventually settle down. But, unless I find the job of my dreams, meet the man of my dreams or am simply too happy to get the itchy travellers foot (how likely is that, really?) Than it’s quite likely that I could pack my bags and leave again once those 6 months are up. Now that I know just how easy it is, and just how happy it can make me, I’m ready to take on the world.

We’ll see just how much of the world I can afford in 6 months’ time though…

March is Phoneography Month: A day in the life

While these aren’t from today, or yesterday, or even one day in general, I thought it only right to compile photos from my (now outdated, but still awesome) Samsung Galaxy 2 Android that best describe a day in the life of an English teacher in Thailand.

Hugs make this job worth it

Hugs make this job worth it

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March is Phoneograhy Month: Weird and Random

As part of Phoneography Month I’m focusing on some of the strangest things I’ve captured with my phone in Thailand. What else is having a good cameraphone for than to instantly take shots of things that make you raise your eyebrows and giggle out loud?

There are definitely a lot of random things I’ve captured throughout the year. Things that I can’t even believe I’m seeing. Here are a select few that make the cut as being ridiculously random.

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Found in a sticker book at the market… sold for kids…

6 more after the jump!

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Road Rage in Thailand

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There is only one road rule in Thailand: don’t hit anything.

Everything else is pretty much open to interpretation. Despite my failure at learning to drive at home, I’ve been driving a motorcycle in Lopburi for the past year.

On the wrong side of the road!

Despite everyone saying that everyone has at least one, *touch wood* I have yet to have an accident.  I have only 3 more weeks of driving left before I head off on another month long travel and then return home. I haven’t come off my bike, I haven’t laid it down, I haven’t gotten any scrapes or bruises from any sort of accident. I’ve definitely had some close calls, but beyond some insane driving from everyone on the road, I’ve steered clear of anything major.

But I’ve learned a few things along the way about driving here.

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March is Phoneography Month: Pets

As part of my continued participation in March is Phoneography Month, I’ve organized a collection of my Thailand pets. Seriously. Sometimes I think that people have a camera on their phone for one sole purpose: To show the world their pet.

I’m a victim as well. There are so many photo’s of my dogs Rocky and Buddy that I think my phone should just self-implode.

But since I’ve been in Thailand, I have had a chance to have, or help others have, some other amazing pets. First there was the kitten who was too young to be in a pet shop and whom my boss instantly adopted.

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Then there were some seriously adorable puppies who just helped themselves up onto our porch. A photoshoot ensued, obviously.

Then, the best of all, Jing Jai. (Means “real heart” in Thai)

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March is Phoneography Month: ‘Aww Yeah’ shots

Once again, I have a random addition to my forthcoming series of phone pictures, idea thanks to WordPresses Phoneography Month. These are ones that I’m proud of. That make my little camera seem like a God when it does things that I want it to do without even having to think about it.

Honestly, these are the pictures I’ve taken and gone “awwww yeaaaah” because it captured the moment perfectly and I didn’t have to rustle around in my giant purse to locate my point and shoot camera.

I’d also like to take a moment to announce that I haven’t, and will not, edit a single one of my phoneography pictures in order to more accurately emphasize the awesomeness of both the photographer and the camera. (Does this make me sound like I have a big head? Really, I’m just proud that my purchase of 2 years ago still continues to amaze me.)

Monkeys hanging out on a wire in Old Town Lopburi

Monkeys hanging out on a wire in Old Town Lopburi

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Say Cheese! March is Phoneography Month

A view of some ruins by the train station in Lopburi

A view of some ruins by the train station in Lopburi

So I’ve decided I’m going to participate in WordPresses March is Phoneography Month.

I’ve actually taken an amazing amount of pictures from my phone that I don’t even know where to start. But having this little beast in my pocket at all times always comes in handy, and always allows me to capture the moment spontaneously – if I remember that my phone even has a camera.

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Reminiscing before it even ends

On the verge of getting too sappy too soon, I’ve compiled a slideshow of pictures of my Thailand family. The people who were strangers once upon a time, but who are currently the closest of friends.

Today is officially most people’s last teaching day. And while I may not be officially leaving Lopburi until the middle of May,  people are going to start shipping out. Whether they’re taking an epic train journey through China, Russia and Mongolia ending up in London, travelling around South East Asia, or jumping on a plane home, my home away from home is going to start thinning out. So I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic about the last year. The things we’ve done together, the laughs, and the experiences. It makes a girl start to get really sappy.

So without further depressing ado; here’s my recollection of a year spent with some amazing people.