Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Adventures in Definitely NOT Daily Life...

Since arriving in Chiang Mai, I've been trying to avoid mentioning the protests in Bangkok. I've been hearing about them, thinking about them and praying about them; however, this blog is generally about boring stuff I do during the day, not about events on the world's stage.

Yesterday, since I had a front row seat when the world's stage raised its curtain, I'll share my experience with you. It was an interesting day. I spent about an hour in the morning watching live breaking news as the military's armored vehicles broke through the Red Shirt barricades and started securing the protest area in Bangkok. I was hopeful that things might finally be resolved - or at least settled for a while.

Around 11am, I went to meet some friends for lunch down by the river. After lunch, I had some errands to run on the other side of the bridge. As I was crossing the bridge, things seemed...odd. My spidey senses were tingling, so instead of crossing the street where I had planned, I continued walking and thought I'd take a more circuitous route to my destination. Along the way, I ran into 2 other students in my program, and joined them on a short detour to the flower market (lovely!). About 20 minutes later, I turned back to finish my original errand, but when I got back to the bridge, police were setting up barricades, and protesters were burning a pile of tires in the middle of the bridge (where things had seemed odd to me earlier). I had my camera with me, but I didn't think about taking a picture, I just got in the first songtaew I could find and headed for home. By the time I got home, I heard that the major shopping centers in Chiang Mai were closing, a curfew had been ordered for the night, and a firetruck near the bridge was burning.

On another front, when I woke up yesterday morning, there was a tiny dead lizard in my bedroom being assaulted by ants. Instead of inviting a row of ants to invade my bedroom, I scooped him up in my dustpan and deposited him in the hall outside my door. When I left for lunch, the ants had already carried him (and his detached tail) 1/2 way up the wall to their 'home crack'. I DID take a video of that, which is why I had my camera with me to not take pictures of the tire fire with. (?) I remember thinking "They'll never fit him through that crack." 4 hours later, when I got home, it was just in time to see the ants execute a 3-point turn with the lizard and then disappear with him into the crack. Amazing little critters.

Now, having said all that, things in my out-of-the-way neighbourhood are quiet as usual, and if I hadn't have been on the bridge yesterday, I would have had no idea that something was awry. Even last night, the protesters ignored the curfew, and many banks and buildings in Chiang Mai were damaged - but I didn't hear or see a thing from this part of town. We'll see what happens over the next few days, but I still feel safe in this area.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Adventures in Daily Life...

I thought I'd take some pictures of my daily routine, before everything starts to look ... well, routine. I have class 4 mornings / week, so these are some pictures from what I do on schooldays.

When I leave my apartment, this is the road I walk down. The university is at the very end.
There is a baseball / cattle field on either side of the road.

As I get closer to the university, there's a cluster of snack carts and restaurants. Sometimes I get fresh fruit or an omelet here, and carry it to campus.

Just past the snack carts is the bridge that leads onto the campus:
I walk past green spaces and wet spaces before I get to my breakfast space.

I usually sit at a picnic table, enjoy the view, and either eat my fruit, omelet, or if I'm really hungry, pork & rice wrapped in a banana leaf:

After class, I have lunch with my friends from the Philippines. (One friend is missing, since she's taking the photo).
After lunch, I go home and rest. Sometimes, my mini lizard (who likes to play hide-and-seek) will have found a particularly clever place from which to surprise me.
After my heat-of-the-afternoon rest, I usually start my homework before heading out to find some dinner when it gets cooler.

There you have it. My daily routine.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Adventures in Bare Digs...

Here are some pictures of my new apartment. As I mentioned earlier, it's bare, beige and bland. After I get a little bit of personality injected into it, I'll post some more pictures. For now though, this is what I'll be calling home:

This is the living room.

*Note how comfortable the park bench/church pew sofa looks! I'm getting a perkier sofabed delivered on Wednesday. You're welcome to come visit anytime after that.
The Pseudo-Kitchen

My blue tiled bathroom

The bright sunny bedroom, and view from my bedroom balcony

And finally, a quick shot from my daily walk to campus

Monday, May 03, 2010

Adventures in Epic Battles

I've just been watching a battle between the cat and the lizard. Usually, the lizard stays up near the ceiling, and the cat chills out on the floor, and all they do is eye each other. A few moments ago, the lizard descended, and poor sot chose to descend into the cat's scratchin'n'relaxin' corner. Some sniffing, scuffling and scurrying ensued, and resulted in the lizard climbing 1/2 way back up the wall, and the cat jumping up on the dresser to staunchly defend her assets.

I've also been waging my own battles with illiteracy in restaurants. I have no cooking facilities in my apartment, so breakfast is usually fresh fruit from a vendor on my way to school, and lunch is always at the same eatery whose proprietress is always bang-on with her suggestions. That leaves me to fend for myself for dinner. Since I have yet to meet a Thai dish I don't like, it makes the random point-and-order method of choosing a meal relatively catastrophe free. I have run into a few problems along the way though. A few nights ago, I tried to order from a restaurant I've had good success with so far. Unfortunately, I pointed to something on the menu that was just underneath what I'd previously ordered. The man must have thought I had mis-pointed, and brought me what I had ordered (and enjoyed) the last time. Although it tasted great, there really is only so much stir-fried kale and crackly pork rinds on rice a person can handle in a week. My second mishap was this evening at a new restaurant. I thought I was just pointing to the menu and asking what things were...apparently the woman thought I was actually ordering more than one entree. I thought I was getting some sort of beef soup...which I did, along with a huge plate of curry fried rice, a chicken thigh, and some pickles. I ended up paying double what I expected to pay, but $1.80 for a dinner-for-two (even though it was just dinner for one), isn't a bad deal at all. At least now I know that the chicken and rice there is really good, while the beef soup is just pretty good.

Oh, the cat now has her back turned, and the lizard has taken this opportunity to creep over to the doorway and make mocking faces. I do believe the little fella is actually sticking out his tongue at the ferocious feline.