Thursday, May 31, 2007

I currently have little time to narrate the extent of my jungle trip. It was a good time and a painful one.

With each stressful step up the steep mountain side I was focibly reminded of every afternoon that I choose to go home and take a nap rather than work out.
Every muscle hurts.

Sweat penetrated every stich of clothing I wore.

At night we slept on bamboo. There are bruises on my backside from the hard.
Then there is the matter of the poisonious snake discovered under my travel buddy's bed.

On the upside, there were water falls and birds chirping. Plant life was everywhere.
Flowers and leafs and trees and tall grass.
Lots of green.
I didn't even sneeze once!

There was also a few elephants. We rode on them through a bit of the jungle.
They are very tall. We swayed with every step. At one point the elephant (whom we named Elie) tried to have a seat.
We were on the brink of falling off before Elie decided she would stay standing.

I have pictures of everthing which I will post soon.
There are rice patties.
And chickens.
And snakes.

Probably tomorrow.

Also tomorrow is something that most of you will not believe. I will take on my most challening task yet.
Something crazy.
Something near impossible.
Something that could easily lead to bodily injury. Possibly death.

I am going to take a Thai cooking class.
I will be near a stove with sharp knives in hand learning how to cook.

Wish me luck!
And wish for bandaids!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Choo choo

Hey all!
And welcome to yet another installment of, "Where are we now?"

Currently we are in Chage Mai, A quaint little-ish town in North Thailand.
We arrived here via the night train, which was an AC-less sleeper. The first 6 hours of our ride on the rails was great. There was much napping and snoozing.

The second 6 hours saw the arrival of the sun and therefore the heat.

Anyway, this morning we arrived in Chang Mai and so far I like it best of our travels. The air is clearer and the traffic is quieter.
Plus, there is a nice breeze coming off the mountians.

Hope you like the pictures I posted and be prepared for a hiatus in posting. The jungle tour I take tomorrow is three days long and a bit too far from a computer, or electricty.

Wish me elephants!

KFC anyone?

Buddha... again

From the river boat

A temple in Ayutthana

Buddha in the Tree

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Greetings from Ayutthana, Thailand.
We hopped a train in Bangkok and rode the rails.
This is a little town with a lot of history. They call it the ancient city and it is the home to many a Buddha.

Like, lots.

Big Buddhas.
Little Buddhas.

Old Buddhas.
New Buddhas.

Colored and gold Buddhas.
Dark and stone Buddhas.

Buddhas standing very tall and whole.
Buddhas laying crumpled in pieces.

Buddhas, Buddhas everywhere!

We took a boat ride to see more Buddhas. I little long boat that took us around the city and stopped at several different sites.

I have many pictures of all the Buddhas. Even the one in the tree.
But, as your luck would have it, I am currently using another computer and have no way to upload my plethora of pics.
Maybe tomorrow.

What I have found odd about much of our trip thus far is the suprisingly low number of tourists. There have been no lines at the neat places to see.
We were one of very few boats on the river.
Crowds of people have not gotten in the line of my pictures.

I mean, I know that Thailand is a little off the beaten track, but somehow I expected more in the way of tourist nonsence.
I guess we are just that much cooler than we thought we were.

Speaking of cool.
This place is anything but.

It's hot.
Very hot.

I know I have mentioned it before in passing, but damn.
I have sweat dripping down my back.
And legs.
And nose.
And between my toes.
And, well, the sweat is other places too, but I am far to polite to go into it.

Use your imagination, you'll figure it out.

Later this evening we are taking a sleeper train north to Chang Mai where we will go on a three day jungle trek.

Maybe I will see the face of the Buddha in a mango...

Saturday, May 26, 2007


A few people have asked the burning question, “What’s it like in Bangkok?”

Tough one to answer. I am on the other side of the world, which makes things all together foreign and interesting.

Think China town but bigger. And not Chinese.

Think old 80’s LA, with smog and pollution.

Think the beach in August, then dial the humidity and heat up a few points.

Think any Kung-fo movie, in surround sound, without the voice-overs. (And also not Chinese)

Think farmers market with stalls of fruit and fish and pad thai and sushi and dead puppies.

Think every smell that has ever graced your nose mixed together in a cacophony of flavor.

Think 7-11, still on every street corner.

Think New York with cars, horns honking, tires squealing, but the expletives in a vastly different key.

Think me, in the middle of it all.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Taking over the bleeding world

View from this night's Hotel

Lucky Buhhda

One night, the musical

Guess what!
I made it to Bangkok!

I know, you were all questioning whether I would make it.

So, remember that old song, "One Night in Bangkok"?
Well, through this first day we sang that song over and over again. Sometimes with the correct words. Sometimes with vastly different.

Here are a few renditions.

Please keep the tun in mind.

One Night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster. (That would be the correct way.)

One Night in Bangkok and you sweat your ass off. (This is a direct reference to the hotel and it's broken AC)

One Night in Bangkok and you see some Buddhas. (We have seen two so far. We prayed at the Lucky Buddha, after being taught how by a very nice man, who for lack of a better word, was the curator of the Wat. Then we saw the standing Buddha and damn is it tall.)

One Night in Bangkok and you walk for miles. (No explanation necessary.)

One Night in Bangkok and you buy a wallet. (It is made of stingray. I named it Steve.)

One Night in Bangkok and you sing stupid songs. (But for me, that is pretty much a given.)

Oh, and tomorrow we will be heading north to Chang Mai. This is a slightly different trip than we had planed but forces out of our control are pulling. (Mostly that of the jungle and pretty elephants. Plus that silly little possible coup. )

Until I internet again.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

So very close.

Hello all! I am currently sitting in Tokyo, waiting for yet another flight.

Amazingly, I survived the 13 hour transit to this side of the world with only a sore arse. It has been a long day. And I still have another 5 hour flight ahead of me.
Pity this poor girl.

Tokyo, from what I can see out the airport windows, is a nifty place. Very few people speak English.
I am going to have to go an entire month without ease dropping on a single conversation.

Now, normally when I am hopping from one airport to the next, flying high in tiny tubes of pain and suffering, I have a habit of bitching about all the bad. This time I have good things to say.

Air Canada rocks.

Thats right, Air Canada, the airline that has brought me across an ocean or two, totally rocks.

They were nice, clean, gave me and my travel buddy exit row seats the entire journey, and even provided tasty free food.
Freaking exit row! Lots of leg room! Even room to dance if I wanted to!

Every meal (there were three!) was accompanied by chop sticks. Including the cup of Top Shelve Ramen Noodles.
Good stuff.

So, now I sit. Waiting to get where I am going.
Waiting to see the world from a vantage point that does not include the frame of airline windows.

(I have a picture of the toilet here in Tokyo. It comes complete with a volume control for the flushing sound. I'll post it soon.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


The journey begins.

I firmly believe that my trek has already begun. Though I have not yet hit the tarmak, my odessy to the east has already started.

This summer, as short as it has been thus far, has all been leading up to the Asian adventure. All has been part of the journey.

I went from Alaska to Flordia, and spent a few days there, basking in the glow of the sunshine state.
Then came the road trip north, landing me in Chattanooga, Tennesse.
Now I have headed south, to Atlanta, Georgia where, in a matter of hours I will board a plane to the Orient.

I could bore you with another tale of anticipation. But instead I will tantilze with my evenings adventure.

Upon arriving in Atlanta I met up with some friend's (or family members) of friends.
Due to the extreme early-ness of my flight we decided to forgo actually sleeping in favor of hitting the bars with full force.

The first bar was exacty what you would think of as a typical town watering hole, with everything from frat boys to dart boards. Average as apple pis in a diner.

The second (and final) bar was much more interesting. We hit the Atlanta gay scene and attended a rainbow bar on Karoke night.

And let me tell you, the sights were amusing, entertaining, and a little scary.

The first thing I saw upon my entrance was a man, a man like no other.
I am usually good with the required pronouns. "He" becomes a "She" when wearing the appropriate clothing, but sometimes it is not possible to actually make the pronoun switch. This man was that "sometimes."

Think of Family Guy*. Peter Griffin was at the bar tonight. He wore a black dress, far too tight and far too form fitting. A blonde wig brushed his shoulders and a string of Betty Rubble pearls circled his neck in an almost mocking fashion. If that were not enough, the bracelets adorning each thick wrist made the outfit an utter success.
It made me stare.
It made me gag.
It made me wish longingly to have the stones to walk up and take a picture.

I tried so hard to avert my eyes. I searched the scene for something to take my rapt attention from the atrociety before me.
My wish was graned.

Standing mere meters from me was the most pictureque image.

A "drag queen." (the quotations are due to the extreme-ness of his outfit.) Think Marline Manson meets Boy George.
The red corset.
The fishnet tights.
The sparkely over reaching make-up.
The fact that he was wearing little else.

It was beautiful.

Now we are back at a friend's apartment, waiting one more hour before hitting the airport bound road to a journey that has already begun as one hell of a ride.

*If you don't know the show, find it and watch it. It makes me giggle.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Counting down the hours.

Almost there.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


8 hours in a car.
8 hours driving north, and a little west.
8 hours with punch buggy red, are we there yet, I need a napkin, spilled my ice cream, a suitcase just fell on me, good times.

8 hours with two kids (not mine) and a fierce driving friend.

The consumption of junk food and sugar was at epic proportions. McDonalds, Dairy Queen, numerous gas station candy stops, and big gulps a plenty.

I feel a diabetic coma coming on any second.

Anyway, I sit on the passenger side, feet up on the dash, attempting, in vain, to shield my eyes from an ever-moving sunlight. Damn sunlight, always in my way. I missed it very much when it was gone from my sites, but now that it’s back it seems to be taking extra precautions to make its presence really felt.

Damn sun.

Damn driving.

Damn road trips.

Damn the multiple hours of sitting in a car directly proceeding many more hours of sitting in a plane. This week will be tough on my tush.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Updating my life

Alrighty, lets play a fun little game of “where am I now”!

Who has a thought?

Is it Alaska?
Am I stranded in yet another airport?
Could I be frolicking in a meadow in the Midwest somewhere?

Any of these guesses would be logical and completely incorrect.

I am, instead, in the shiny happy state of Florida. Soaking up the sun, lying poolside, and enjoying the exciting pavement that seems to be everywhere. (Pavement rocks).

The next few days might be lacking in posts due to my mother. She has the bad habit of dragging me away from my computer very often for long periods of time.
And those who know me well, know that that is a difficult feat to accomplish.

If you are looking forward to the day I leave Florida, thinking longingly of an onslaught of stories and posts.
You might be, once again, disappointed.

As of this coming Wednesday I will be backpacking across Southeast Asia with a fellow teacher. I will post pictures and what not as often as possible.

So, please try not to hate me for my non-prolific nature as of late.
And do keep in mind that in just a few days I might be riding an elephant!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bear Naked

As I was wondering around the bumping busy burb of Anchorage, Alaska I ran across an interesting bit of wildlife.
A wild black bear hanging out in someone's front yard.

Poor little guy.

I wanted to take him home, but the hotel has some sort of goofey rule about carnivors in the rooms.
Fascist bastards.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The road to somewhere

I deeply appoligise from the bottom of my heart about how disturbingly slow I have been in the writing and posting.

There has been much in the way of excitement in the far north.
A friend from long, long ago came to visit me. She has been here for a week and has seen all the sites that the arctic has to offer.
You know:
Gravel roads.
The AC grocery store.
The frozen expanse we dare to call an “ocean.”

But having a guest was not my only source of distraction. I also had to contend with something far more dangerous.

The last week of school.

The fun of grading last minute homework, turning in said grades, cleaning my classroom, and saying goodbye to the little hellions.

Then there was the atrocity known as my apartment. It had to be cleaned and scrubbed and totally packed. There were many trips to the PO.

Basically what I am saying is that I just moved out.

I am homeless.

I am currently in the air. (Both litteraly and figuratively)

And traveling to Anchorage for a few days of fun and pavement before I head out for the shopping portion of my next traveling leg.
Yes, that sentence made little grammatical sense.
No, I do not care.
Go with it, it’s been a long day.

A place with driving and trees and people.
I am back to the “real world.”

Friday, May 11, 2007

Chill factor

You know that scene in Monsters Inc.
The one that takes place in the human world.
The one with the snow and the abominable snowman and the lemon snow cones.

One of my students was staring at the screen during this snow filled scene.
He said, “Hey, I bet that’s Barrow!”

And I bet he’s right.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

He who smelt it

Students are those people that make my job significantly more difficult than it has to be.
They are the ones that do strange and unexpected things all day, cause my hair to turn a shade of gray.

Having been with this particular group of munchkins for nearly an entire year I sometimes think I can predict their actions. I sometimes suffer the delusion that I know what they are thinking.

Today I had one such hallucination.

I left the classroom while the kids was engrossed in one of the more adventurous moments in the movie to make them a few bags of popcorn.

When I returned, popcorn in hand, all the boys were congregated around the trashcan. Four boys giggle at the garbage.
This does not bode well.

Opening the door caused the boys to scatter like so many cockroaches when the lights come up.
The snickering suddenly stops.

Something is amiss. Students sitting stonily in their seats smiling suspiciously. *

Suddenly there is a POP from the direction of the recently intriguing trash. A smell slowly seeps around the room.

The giggles start up again.

I sigh, repeat “just one more day” in my head three times, and then made my way to the fascinating receptacle.
“Hidden” under a few sheets of paper was a shiny wrapper that told the whole story.

Fart Bomb.

Just one more day.
Just one more day.
Just one more day.

* I freaking love alliteration.


There is something magical about the last week of school. Grades have been turned in, projects are completed, and there is a general feeling of nearing an end in every nook and cranny.

Classrooms are gradually becoming more and more bare. The walls are returning to their former state of white and cork.
Shelves are, for the first time in a year, clean, strait, and color-coded.

There is but a day and a half left of the school year.

To honor the institution of education and the importance of teaching out every last once of learnin’ left in them, we are watching the second “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.
The lesson in this flick, “What happens when good grammar fails to manifest.”
Also, “An in-depth look at buoyancy, geography of the south seas, and what happens when barnacles grow on your face.”

The forefathers of the schooling profession marvel at my skills.

My current classroom by numbers.

-- 3 are playing Gameboy in the corner. The beeping and dinging noises are heard every time the movie hits a quiet moment.

-- 2 are making planes. Attempting to create the finest high flyer every fashioned from lined paper.

-- 4 are painting their names with watercolor on large pieces of construction paper. 13 year olds love their names. I have a stack of paper and inch and a half thick, all beautiful paintings of names. Their own name, their friend’s name, my name, any name will do.

-- 1 is eating soup. I have no idea where the soup or the bowl came from. It does smell good though.

-- 1 is sleeping atop the window sill.

-- 3 are chatting “quietly”* in the corner.

-- 2 are watching the movie.

It’s a fairly educationally motivated day.

* the quotations marks around “quietly” indicate that I am using the word in it’s loosest possible meaning. It might be more appropriate to refer to their conversation as “boisterous” or “rambunctious” or even “bloody insane.”

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Less than a Week

4 short cycles of the sun.

79 hours.
(78 hours and 20 mins to be more accurate)


Cue Alice Cooper*.

The children have been demons. They see the end is near.
They are out late at night playing in the midnight sun.
They are hunting and snow-go-ing and basket balling.

They do not want to be in the school house.
None of us do.

We are scratching at the walls.
Tearing to go places with pavement and people and beer.

Waiting for that very last bell. The bell that rings to a rousing cheer and signifies the end of yet another year.

Almost there…

*”School’s out”—great song from the 80’s, will be played on Friday**.

** Over and over and over and over again.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Balancing Act

Spring is a wonderful time. It is a time of green leaves and pastel flowers.
It is a time of warmth and bunnies and shorts.

Or, if you live in the Arctic, it means none of those things.

Instead, it is the time when the fluffy snow comes back. Big bold flakes that can only form when the air is at least a few degrees above zero.

Light and carefree snow that, in mere moments, covers everything in a thick layer of powder.
The view from my window should be a bloody Christmas card.

However, as beautiful and warm as these white crystals pretend to be, they come with a very dangerous problem.

They cover the ground.

Big loose piles of prettiness cover the earth, concealing everything below in a cheerful and fluffy kind of way.
Including the ice.
Ice that is finally warm enough to get a little melty. To get a little slick.

I was walking home today. Confident about the state of the road. Seeing nothing but happy snow to walk upon.
Unknowledgeable to the treachery beneath my feet.

My foot, on that first step into the deep, snuck below snow level and slid on lurking ice. But, being as graceful as I undoubtedly am, I was able to save my arse from a fall.

There might have been a bit of flailing.

From there I walked with trepidation. Carefully stepping my way home.
Until, of course, I was in site of the house. A happy tune was playing on my ipod.
Fear of bruises fled from my mind.

I bet you can guess what happens next.

I stepped.
I slipped.
I fell directly on my tush.

It gets worse.

Getting up became a trial of errors. My feet had no traction. My hands couldn’t maintain purchase. My knees were slipping and sliding.

I fell another 6 times before I managed to make it to an upright stance.

There was snow on every bit of my clothing. Caked on my jeans. Filling my pockets.
Even a bit in my hair.

Projecting a laughable image to the world, and passing motorists.
Giggling, pointing, motorists.

Damn spring.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

To the Flag

The Pledge of Allegiance.
A time-honored part of a school’s morning routine.

But in an area such as this, sometimes the English rendition is just not enough.
We say the pledge each morning in both English and Inupiaq.

Here are both versions.
Including a pronunciation guide.

(Click on the picture if you need a bigger view.)

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