Random Photo bomb

Anyone who reads this blog immediately notices the delicate artistry and precision of my photographs – I’m sure it’s obvious that photography is a real passion of mine.

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Just kidding. I can’t even type that with a straight face. In truth, I despise taking photographs. The very act of hauling out my camera (uh…phone) to capture a moment almost ruins the moment for me. However, I also think that photos, even low quality ones, make a blog much more interesting, and so I soldier on. Which is why it pains me so deeply when I flip through old photos, and notice how many I have forgotten to post. Which is a long-winded way of saying that today you’re getting a random photo bomb of pics that I can’t bear to waste. Here goes!

1. Pregnancy Dreams

Hormones have triggered some particularly vivid dreams for me lately, and the photo below represents one of the best: I dreamt that I was chewing a marshmallow. It was extremely chewy, and I think I almost dislocated my jaw in an effort to fully masticate it. When I eventually woke up, I found the following item next to my pillow:

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Nope, not a baby carrot.

One of my ear plugs, looking like a chipmunk had mauled it. It was also much cleaner than it had been before the marshmallow dream. Oops.

Todd has also had some fun dreams during pregnancy, although he can’t use the hormone excuse. Recently, in the middle of the night, he turned on all the lights and started trying to roll his pregnant wife off the bed. He was convinced that a giant lizard was about to eat me, and shoving me off the bed would save my life. I was in such a stupor that I simply stumbled to the washroom with the vague idea that Todd was trying to tell me to wash the drool off my face. I really couldn’t blame him.

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Todd and his friends Theo and Zach forgetting that their wives are the ones carrying the spawn…

2. Carnival

We had the rare privilege of having a traveling carnival park itself at the night market near our house for a few weeks. Todd stopped by on his way home one day, and won this gem (which is now making our bedroom look even more stylish/coordinated than before):

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He was extremely taken with his new friend, and started trying to convince me to visit the carnival with him. After many, many evenings of listening to the discombobulated voice of a huckster yelling “binGOOOOOOOOO!” as we were trying to fall asleep (hence the earplugs), I finally caved in.

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The carnival was sparsely attended, which was strange when you consider how many opportunities there were to win bottles of liquor/household cleaning supplies/high-quality stuffed toys simply by popping balloons or winning a game of binGOOOOOOO.

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Only a math teacher can keep track of FIVE bingo boards at once

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Stakes this high require a handshake.

 Even though he loves playing carnival games, Todd generously urged me to spend the majority of our spare change. Or at least I thought he was being generous, until I realized that the entertainment value of watching my wildly aimed shots was giving Todd far more delight than any cheap prize could.

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The number of balloons that I popped is classified information.

We finished the night with Todd urging me to try the “ferris wheel” with him. Normally, I would be the one instigating such a boneheaded move, but this time, the prego hormones were creating images of my baby daddy burning up in a fiery cataclysm of “ferris wheel” parts, and I begged him to abstain. Instead, we indulged in another round of beer cap bingo.

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But it’s sooooo safe!

3. Ten Ten Day

Many of the students at our school are Taiwanese, so 10/10 (October 10th – Taiwan’s birthday) is a big deal. This year, the ambassador from Taiwan visited our school to commemorate the celebration. I was subbing for high schoolers that day, and the students treated the morning away from class with all the maturity and respect that one would anticipate from this age group.

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The only thing this photo doesn’t capture is how much their mouths were moving.

I just love a good dose of patriotism – the country doesn’t really matter – and I made sure that I got my hands on a high-quality plastic flag. The lyrics of K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag” were running through my head, and I had to fight the urge to stage a moving interpretive dance.

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4. Classical music

I love classical music, and I haven’t been to any concerts since we moved to Thailand. One of my goals before Bannock arrives was to finally attend a concert, so when another participant in my Thai Culture Course invited me to her singing recital, I was all over it. The concert took place in a venue called Sala Sudasiri Sobha, and all the proceeds went to fund the charity that the venue runs. The music was wonderful, but I think Todd was most excited by the fact that there were Pringles at the reception, and he got to transfer them to his plate using silver tongs. Comfort AND style.

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Todd’s dream come true.

5. Thai wildlife

What would Thailand be without a few random dogs’n’bugs?

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I love how graphic this sign is. Just in case anyone was confused about what dog poop looks like…

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Every time I visit Koh Samet, this fella is encased in sand. I think it’s like swaddling a baby – he seems to find it very comforting.

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This landed on my neck when I was waiting for a bus. For some reason, I thought Todd had thrown a snowball at me, until I remembered that we live in Thailand.

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I don’t know where this was taken (thanks, Kim, for sending it), but a stuffed crocodile “wai-ing” is pretty great.

Ahh. That was profoundly cathartic. I am feeling a deep sense of peace now that I know that these high quality photos have not been wasted. I hope viewing them enriched your life as much as hauling my phone out of my bag and taking them enriched mine.

Thailand’s growing population

It seems that EVERYONE in Thailand is procreating these days:

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A friendly neighbourhood dog and a few of her septuplets. Her eyes just scream: “All I want is a good night’s sleep, and a chance for my teats to breathe.”

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Our friendly neighbourhood crocodile farm. I have no idea who produced whom.

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Not sure if these two are parents yet or not, but I think they would make a good go of it. 

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Ugh. But no one can say she didn’t give it the ol’ college try. (http://www.boredmd.com/science/unique-spider-pictures)

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“What is it?”

With all these procreating friends, we had to hop on the bandwagon: Baby Facetious Farang coming in November 2013. Just doing our bit to ensure the continued viability of Thailand’s farang population.

Paddling the Mae Taeng, Part 1: A Voyageur and His Wives

Today’s post will focus on da paddlers. Next post will talk details – river, camping, gear, surprises etc. for anyone who wants to do a similar trip.

Last Sunday, T-bone gathered his two wives, David and Ruth, and headed to the Mae Tang river. No, Todd does not actually endorse polygamous behaviour, but his favourite historical paddling heroes, the Voyageurs, sure did. Every time T-bone gets near a river, he starts dreaming of being a Voyageur, and this trip was no different. For the uninitiated, the Voyageurs were a hearty group of French-Canadians who routinely paddled across Canada in the 18th and 19th centuries to collect beaver pelts from First Nations communities. They played an important role in founding Canada, and are at least partially responsible for the fact that an overgrown swamp rodent is our national animal. They also had multiple wives – city wives and country wives. City wives were the official/legal wives, and they were fine for doing city/wifely things, but when you’re on the river for months on end, you need a husky broad on location who can skin beavers/lug your boats/maybe sew you a coonskin cap or something. The concept of a country wife was just too darned convenient for us to pass up, so we nominated David for the role.

Todd cannot believe his good fortune

The highly delineated roles of a Voyageur and his wives really worked well for our team. The tasks weren’t always traditional, but they got done with a certain je ne sais quoi that just wreaked of French-Canadian history.

Voyageur Todd: Fishing, Bannock-making, Navigating, Looking Visionary/Noble

Voyageur Todd did his best to fill those large francophone shoes by fishing and making bannock.

Sadly, he never caught anything. Perhaps this was because every man, woman, dog, child, and monk seemed to be out dredging the river with nets and spears at all times.

How can fish not want to be caught by such kindly folks?

Fortunately, his bannock making experiments were more successful. A nice hunk of beaver fat would undoubtedly have cranked up the flavour, but the Voyageur did pretty well with vegetable oil.He was also very good at gathering fire wood in his  birchbark canoe kayak.And navigating rivers. His navigation may not have saved me from flipping my boat, but it did provide some pontificating-full photos.

 

Country Wife David: Jumping off stuff, hauling wood/water/tents/boats/everything, being perpetually perky, and offering the best facial expressions a photographer could hope for

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Poses like this cannot be taught 

David had a knack for simultaneously making photogenic expressions while being ready to launch himself off the ground and haul stuff around the campsite. The perfect Country Wife.

The Voyageur doesn’t even realize what’s lurking behind him…

Mere words are inadequate.

David also enjoyed hauling boats and assorted schtuff on bizarre portage routes that he and the Voyageur dreamed up.

I won’t reveal the body of water that they decided to portage into, but let’s just say that it rhymed with “Irritation Locale”

City Wife Ruth: petting animals, conducting cooking experiments, growing algae colonies in my hair, sniffing out beverage/bladder stops

The little cow that tried to eat my arm. I think he liked the flavour of whitener-enhanced sunscreen.

I like to pet dogs, but even I drew the line at this one.

I conducted a variety of culinary experiments that ranged from successful to highly dubious and borderline poisonous. Fortunately, the Voyageur and Country Wife were a willing test audience.

I knew that banana flowers were edible. Unfortunately, I forgot which part.

Fortunately, some of the recipes worked out well, so I could hold onto a bit of City Wife cred.

Roasting eggplant, red pepper, and garlic in the coals. The hair/algae colony is only on day 4 at this point.

Sister wives can be friends!

The trip wasn’t quite full of enough hardship/misery/beaver fat to make Todd’s Voyageur dreams come true, but at least he nailed the wife bit, and got to bellow his favourite paddling song whenever the urge hit.

Next up: The River!

More Misadventures + a Taste of Home

I have to admit, I am having a small pity party here in Thailand. While living in the tropics has its undeniable charms, the truth is that I would love to be freezing my buns off in my native land right now. I miss snow, I miss my family and friends, and I am missing Christmas. I just really want to bury my entire head in a pile of Christmas baking. Instead, I am sitting in Ikea, drinking coffee-whitener enhanced hot chocolate and listening to bad Christmas music. While I appreciate the sentiment behind “Happy Christmas (War is Over),” every time I hear Celine Dion singing it, I want to gouge my eyes ears out. Today is no exception. Woe is me. My life is so hard.

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So is T-bone’s.

Enough whining. On to happier things. This past weekend, T-bone and I went on another strange adventure, this time accompanied by The Gurus. The Gurus have many fun qualities, including their faces: all the school secretaries seem to think that Therese and I are the same person, and Eli is one of those lucky souls who could fake basically any ethnicity. Good times.

The Doppelganger and the Serbo-Egyptian-Thai-Israeli-Spaniard.

Therese wanted to check out a park called “The Green Lung” in Bang Krachao, one of the most unique/bizarre neighbourhoods in this unique/bizarre city. The Chao Phraya river runs through Bangkok, and at one point, it loops back on itself, creating a neighbourhood that is almost an island. Bang Krachao was settled by the Mon people in the 19th century, and the area is still a unique enclave. Apparently, it also had good parks, and we were looking forward to lounging in the grass.

We took a taxi to a small pier, and jumped on the first boat that drifted by.

It dropped us off in what looked like someone’s backyard. Cement pathways snaked through the jungle, and we had no idea where the alleged “park” was. “The Lung” was extremely “Green,” but there didn’t seem to be any capillaries that would lead us inside.  A helpful dog from the Thai department of tourism acted as our guide for awhile, but ditched us when she realized we weren’t handing out food. All we managed to find was a sleepy village that reminded me of small town Alberta. A crew of roadside motorcycle taxis tried to be helpful, but they laughed so hard every time we wandered past them that they couldn’t properly form words. I just love bringing joy to peoples’ hearts.

Ahh. Idyllic village life replete with soi dogs and yellow shorts.

After awhile, we gave up and walked back towards the pier. On our way, however, we first saw these two treasures:

Buddha in his “Svelte Youth” phase…

And later, after discovering the joys of Thai food.

And then stumbled upon this gem. The Bangkok Tree House is a boutique hotel hidden in “The Lung,” and offered a partial redemption of our adventure.

The hotel’s welcome committee

“Dude,” says The Doppelganger

Each unit has a hammock bed on top of the roof, perfect for watching the sunset.

We watched the tourists watching the sunset. Not awkward at all.

We ordered a drink, and lounged under the massive trees. Other than the apple sized fruit falling on Todd’s head, it was a lovely and relaxing place.

After a concerted effort (ie: using our peepers), we found the real pier, and boarded a ferry. And that’s when I saw it. A site calculated to banish my homesickness. An oil refinery, gleaming in the twilight.

In all its glory.

Bangkok may be a little short on snow and Christmas baking, but this beauty almost made up for it. Oh Alberta. I am home for the holidays.