wander process


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Battle Hymn of the Tiger Balmer

My first real experience with this magic goo came on a train ride from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I was riding with an art teacher I had met in Koh Tao. We were in desperate need for a change of scenery (she was sick of her travel companions, I had burnt myself to a crisp) so we left the sparkling beaches for the mountains of northern Thailand.

The train snaked around mountainsides, often stopping for long periods of time. While we made conversation to pass the time, I noticed that my friend was vigorously applying Tiger Balm all over her mosquito bites. This ended up being one of those odd moments that is kind of inconsequential, but came up pretty frequently while reminiscing.

Fast forward to less than a year later. I was wandering around Bali by myself. As they are wont to do, the Balinese mosquitoes quickly began feasting on my skin. I popped into a small store carrying household items (I think I had also forgotten a comb? I usually do that). Browsing small stores that normal people shop in is one of the best things about traveling, to me. It’s endlessly fascinating, seeing what constitutes household items in different cultures. I found my comb, I picked up some sticky peanut candy that I had loved in Thailand, and then by the checkout counter, I spotted the Tiger Balm.

I thought about it for awhile, and I decided that it would be in my best interest to purchase some. It couldn’t have been more than $2 or $3. I plopped my purchases on the counter and the skeevy men working at the store started laughing at me! Now I’m used to getting laughed at, but I didn’t really understood.

And then I thought about it. Tiger Balm is mostly for old people to rub into their sore joints. Like an Asian Ben-Gay. (I read the wikipedia article just now to verify this – it does mention Tiger Balm as a means to relieve itchiness for bug bites). They were laughing at me because they thought I was a stupid white girl buying this sepia-colored muck to rub on her aching joints. I think I ended up laughing and shurgging and bought the Tiger Balm anyway, bringing it with me around East Timor for when I was in the districts and in mosquito-y areas.

Now I’m in Providence, enjoying the sweet time I have left here. These past few days, I’ve been sorting out all of the crap I’ve accumulated during the past four years. And I’ve also been picnicking and walking around at night with friends. This has led to two things (well, more than two things, really, but for the purpose of this blog post, two things): 1. Mosquito bites like I’ve never experienced this summer. 2. Rediscovery of my Tiger Balm.

I’ve been fairly judicious about tossing things out, but it’s a good thing I decided to keep this.

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Preparations and the Run-Down

Thai Visa Application - the second time around

Now things are getting more real.

The title of this blog has been changed back to its original name, from What’s the Time in Timor back to What’s the Time in Thailand. I could have changed it again to something more vague and dreamy and wanderlusty sounding like most travel blogs are. But I am kind of corny and lame, so What’s the Time in Thailand will make its triumphant return.

From September to the somewhat unknown future, I will be a learning facilitator at the Darunsikkhalai School for Innovative Learning (from now on, this will be referred to as DSIL) in Bangkok. DSIL is located within King Mongkut’s University of Technology (kind of like the MIT of Thailand, I think), and because of its unique style of teaching, it’s also affiliated with MIT (ahhh, it all makes sense now!). I always told myself I’d return to live in Bangkok for awhile, and here I am.

DSIL is a hippie, free-thinking, bilingual, Montessori-like school for kids 5-16ish. The only required classes are Math, Thai, and English. Unlike most western teachers in Thailand, I only have to teach 3 hours of English class a week! The majority of my time will be spent in the classroom facilitating bilingual learning. The runs under the ideology of “constructionism.” Instead of dividing time into different subjects like a traditional school, each trimester at DSIL is focused on a different subject of interest decided upon by the learners (they’re not even students here! learner-centered education is great). This could be anything from dinosaurs to human anatomy. As a learning facilitator, I help arrange study materials, lessons, and field trips to help the learners explore their topics of interest and achieve the learning goals they’ve set for themselves.

How did I end up in a school even more liberal-sounding education practices than Brown?

Tomorrow, I’m making a trip up to Boston to get my visa.

Thursday, I bought my first one-way ticket not knowing when I’ll return to the US.

Friday, after a silly mistake and lack of oversight on my part, I bought another one-way ticket. Turns out I would have arrived at 11:50 pm the night before classes were to start for the new semester. Thai humidity + jet lag + refamiliarizing myself with the craziness that is Bangkok + new job on the first day. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Or it just sounds like my life. At the prompting of Kirstin and Sheuli and after only half and hour on the phone with Expedia (plus talk with my momma to cover the cost of the new ticket while the refund came through), I was able to cancel my first reservation with a full refund and move my flight up a few days. phew.

So that’s it.

I’m starting to think in terms of things I need when for life in the big, bad city. I need work clothes (eek). I won’t be able to get away with just anything. Teachers in Thailand have to dress up, since teaching is a highly respected profession. When I volunteer taught in schools a few summers ago, I would often wear a black skirt and button-up shirt. Luckily, all of my shirts will be tailored for me. I have a feeling that there aren’t many options in the way of pants for 5’8″ females in Thailand, so I will be scrounging thrift stores up until the last minute. One plus to the job – I GET TO TEACH BAREFOOT. I can’t complain about that.

I’m trying to think of pieces of technology that would be great/helpful while living abroad. I’m interested in:
– a smart phone of some sort that would have a moderately-priced plan that would allow me to text/stay in touch with my family on a daily basis.
– a Kindle/nook. I haven’t warmed up to the idea of e-readers completely. I like pages too much. But I’m not sure how broad the selection of reading will be and I don’t want to be stuck choosing between well-worn copies of beach read paperbacks in second-hand backpacker book shops.
– a flip cam! To make little movies of the things I do, places I go, things I see. It would give me something to do and you something to watch. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Any sage advice or experience with these gadgets would be greatly appreciated! You know where to find me.