Sunday, November 30, 2014

Island Trips and Holidays Away from Home

Ferry ride to Koh Yao Noi

The above photo was taken en route to a little island last-minute getaway last weekend. We'd been talking about it during the week, but hadn't planned anything yet. After seeing the Hunger Games last Friday (yes, they have movies in English here), we were all hanging out and just decided to get up early and go. So Friday morning we packed a bag, hopped on our bikes and headed to the pier where you can take a ferry to the island (Koh Yao Noi). It's only a few bucks to take the ferry, and for less than $10 you can also take your bike on the ferry. This ended up being a wise choice, because the pier actually has a lot of monkeys who will reek havoc on your bike if you leave it - I literally saw one eating someone's bike seat. On the way there we sat on the top of the ferry, which is where this photo was taken. The ferry ride was really awesome because you could see all the "floating islands" and it was gorgeous.

Once we got to the island we biked to this cute little area where they've recently built some little bungalows right on the water. One of our friends in our group had been there before and it was where he had stayed previously. It's owned by a local Thai family and they're adorable. It's technically "high season" so the bungalows were going for about $30/night, but we talked them down to $25. Not bad for a place right on the water! Shortly after we arrived it rained (booo rainy season is supposed to be over!), but it resulted in this awesome rainbow!

The evening we arrived the tide was out, which made for
some really neat photos!
After hanging out on the island all day, we went to a local Italian place for dinner and it was soooo delicious. They had an English guy there who was playing some great cover songs, and they had WINE! Wine is hard to come by here, and it's expensive...but it was worth it.

Last picturesque photo from Koh Yao Noi
We had to leave the next day, but not before we ordered some amazing breakfast from our bungalow owners - I got some banana pancakes with honey which were so good - but the best part was that they bring it out to you, so we got to eat right on the beach.

So basically island trips are awesome and I can't wait to go back!

Once arriving back in Phuket Town it was back to real life. School went smoothly last week and I was definitely entertained by my 7th graders. They had an assignment where they had to pair up and do mock interviews. The interview questions were ones that are commonly asked, including "What are your weaknesses?" The kids had a tough time understanding how to answer this, but I had to laugh when I saw "I'm ticklish" and "I'm scared of lizards" as answers to that question.

Thanksgiving dinner, not too shabby!
Thursday was Thanksgiving and were weren't sure what we were going to do. Most of the teachers here live in little apartments which don't even have real kitchens, so a potluck or "friendsgiving" was out of the question. We went to a trivia night at a local bar on Wednesday and the bartender was handing out "free Thanksgiving meal tickets" to the first 25 people there. It turns out the bar is owned by an
American and she was hosting a Thanksgiving meal there. FREE Thanksgiving you say? With real turkey? Sign me up! The bar was packed with expats the next night. Luckily we sat close to the food table so we got to everything before they ran out :) It was actually really good - better than I ever could have hoped considering I figured I might be dining on fried rice and pad thai for Thanksgiving dinner. There was turkey, stuffing, rolls, mashed potatoes, GRAVY, the works. I went home fat, happy and thankful.

This past weekend was a fun one. We went out with some of the other teachers on Friday after work to celebrate one of their birthdays. I actually learned that one of our English teachers, Peter, who is from Australia, went to University of Hawaii, which is where my mom went. Upon further investigation, I also learned that his mom is from Hawaii and went to the same high school as my mom, what are the odds!? It's a pretty small world. Another English teacher who came through the same program I did, knows my childhood best friend who lived down the street from me in California. He lives in D.C. now which is where she's from, wild.

Anyways the night continued and we stayed out until 1 or 2 in the morning. One of the other teachers was planning on doing a run Saturday afternoon, and of course in my semi-inebriated state I told him I would love to tag along! Imagine my surprise when he held me to it the next day. The run is actually something this group does every Saturday here - they're called hash runs and their slogan is "A drinking group with a running problem". I believe they have these groups all over, but this is the Phuket chapter. Each week is at a different location, sometimes a beach, sometimes a jungle, etc. This run was a jungle about 15 minutes away. The way the run works is that you take off and follow a paper trail (literally, it's bits of colored paper scattered around). Sometimes the trail will lead to a dead end or be a false trail, which we of course happened upon more than once. After about an hour we finally made it back (the total distance was probably less than a 5K), but it was pretty fun. After the run everyone circles up and drinks beer and hangs out. The majority of the hash running group is old white men who make fun of each other and make people drink for various reasons including doing something stupid during the run, etc. I was called to the middle of the drinking circle with a handful of others because it was our first time there. We had to drink cup of beer without using our hands, and then got iced water poured all over our backs. Fun?

Inside the zorb ball!
After the hash run we were talking to a few other teachers that we ran into there (who work at another school). They said they were going to a big event with a bunch of other teachers from all over Phuket. It was an all-you-can-drink and all-you-can-zorb party. What is zorbing you ask? A zorb is a giant inflatable ball which you get inside and roll down a hill. Obviously we agreed to join and went straight from our run. These zorbs had water in them so you're constantly slipping around - it's impossible to stand. Because we went at night I didn't get great photos, so for the sake of understanding I'll put this photo I found online. If you ever get the opportunity to zorb I highly recommend it, it was so fun! You can also put multiple people into a zorb at one time, which makes it even more interesting (and if your zorb partner has pointy limbs or sharp nails, maybe more dangerous). Perhaps the funniest part of the zorbing was the fact that they had us wear life jackets inside the ball. "Were you zorbing into a pool of water?" you may ask? No....the life jackets were for the 6 inches of water inside the ball that they put in to make it more slippery. Not sure what a life jacket is going to do for you in 6 inches of water, but first?

After zorbing a bunch of people were going to Patong (Thailand's notorious party beach). Of course we decided to join, why not? Soooo what I thought would be a simple afternoon run turned into a zorbing-and-partying-until-4am night. Not even mad about it. I will say showering after all of craziness was great....sweaty hash runs followed by being doused in zorb water makes for a pretty gross feeling.

Atlas moth, larger than my hand!
Ok, this was really long and I think I need to wrap things up. Stay tuned for my next blog, which will include my first full moon party experience, which is happening next weekend! I'll leave you with this photo of an Atlas moth I spotted at school the other day. World's largest moth species!

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