The Clips and Trips blog was put together in preparation for our leaving the U.S. on an indefinite world travel adventure which started around August of 2009 and returned us home in December of 2012. If you want to see where it all began, read our mission statement from before we left.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

Now that we've finished the rigorous CELTA credential program and have begun the much more lightweight TEYL (Teaching English to Young Learners), we've had time to pick up being tourists again. We visited the highly recommended Grand Palace which is the big time Buddhist temple here in Bangkok. Everything that appears to be the color gold, is actually 24 karat gold leaf. The palace consists of many temples, and a miniature replica of Angkor Wat -- the 12th century temple located in Cambodia.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our CELTA Students, Bangkok, Thailand

Here's a picture from our last day on the course. This is the elementary level group of students we had. We feel so relieved to be finished and have our credential, but looking back, we really enjoyed working with the students. It was a great course.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand

We met up with Eric's friend, Jimmy, last night who's been traveling the world for years now and is especially acquainted with Southeast Asia. We decided to go into Chinatown since Eric and I have never explored that part of Bangkok. It really felt like a whole different world when we got into Chinatown - the brightly lit signs in Chinese characters, the restaurants offering bird's nest soup, and all the shops full of dried medicinal herbs.

One of the first things Jimmy asked us was, "What do you think of all the rats?" And of course, Eric and I ask, "What rats?" We haven't noticed a single rat. Jimmy was incredulous. He couldn't believe that we didn't encounter rats at our last place. He's staying right next door to the place we were at. He continued to tell the story of the huge rats in the building, how they come up through the drains in the bathroom, and how they're so fat that they often get stuck in the pipes. His story left me thinking about how we probably lucked out in getting the less dingy place right next door.

After our bowl of noodles, we're walking along the sidewalks, and to prove his point about the rats, Jimmy points to a massive rat's head sticking out behind a pile of trash bags. Suddenly, that's all I see. There are rats everywhere. They're behind the trash bags; they're running past us carrying huge chunks of food in their mouths; their tails are sticking out from under boxes.

And if I hadn't been grossed out enough, Jimmy made sure to mention how likely it was that they could bite you if you accidentally startled one and then rabies would be imminent.

I hope it's not one of those things where all of a sudden you see something you never noticed before, and then that's all you notice. We're left wondering if the rats are just way more visible in Chinatown because we've never seen them before. It was late in the evening and there were trash bags full of the day's trash all over the sidewalks.

CELTA at ECC Bangkok

We're beginning our fourth week of the course and are ready for it to be over. It's been extremely difficult and the pace, pressures, and workload are unbelievable. I brought my camera in the other day and snapped a few shots of the facility. It's actually a really nice place to train and everyone we are studying with is really kind and helpful. We are 17 total, made up of people from the U.S., England, Australia, Scotland ,Canada, and couple from Singapore (who are technically native English speakers). Our students are mostly young adult refugees from Sri Lanka, the Congo, Laos, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Somalia. They will eventually be placed in various countries and learning English to some degree is a requirement. They are all very sweet, extremely motivated, and wonderful to teach. We both look forward to continuing with this type of teaching in the future. It's simply the observation and critique that we can't wait to leave behind.

The Apartment Rules, Bangkok

Motorcycle Taxis, Bangkok, Thailand

Every neighborhood has a small fleet of boys on scooters waiting to bring you from the main roads to your door step. The buses, subways, and sky-trains will drop you off on the main roads, and if you're too lazy to walk the block or two into your neighborhood to get home, you can pay a few baht to one of these guys and hop on the back of his bike. Every single side street has these guys waiting around on the corner where it meets the major road. The smaller side streets (sois) have just a few guys to cover their neighborhood, and the larger side streets have a long queue of bikers waiting their turn to handle the demand. Interestingly, often you'll see women riding side saddle on the backs of these bikes, which looks horribly precarious to me as the driver zooms off like an eager pizza delivery boy trying to hurry back to pick up his next fare. We have no need to use this service, fortunately we live right off the main road.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Dollar Store, Bangkok, Thailand

Pam mentioned this once, and it's a really accurate description -- Bangkok is like a giant $1 store. Nearly everything costs roughly a dollar or under. It doesn't matter if it's a full entrée or a simple beverage. They're each about a dollar. 34 baht is a dollar and nearly anything you might want to eat ranges from 20-45 baht.

That brings me to my next point. There was some curiosity before we left the states about whether a Thai Iced Tea is simply called an Iced Tea if you're in Thailand. I HAVE THE ANSWER! It's called an Iced Milk Tea. They seem to generally have 2 kinds of tea at most low budget restaurants, green tea or red tea. Red seems to taste like the Thai iced tea we're familiar with whether it has milk in it or not. And yes, it's roughly a dollar depending on where you buy it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Train to Hua Hin, Thailand

Hua Hin

We've been really busy lately now that our CELTA course is under way, and haven't been doing a lot of blogging. It's going great, and there will be more on that. But before we started it, we took a trip south to Hua Hin. We woke up early and took a 3.5 hour train ride to a small gulf side beach town. We spent the day, 1 night and the next day, then headed back by bus(for variety). They were both around the same travel time, but the bus ride was much cheaper and rightfully so.

Water temp. -- around 85 degrees. No joke. It was too hot. Not even refreshing. But still it felt great to swim in the ocean. We'd been in Bangkok for 2 weeks where you drip sweat no matter what you're wearing and at any time of day or night the second you leave air conditioning. And the air quality isn't the best due to fuel emissions. So Hua Hin was a nice change for us. It's actually cooled off a bit in BKK now. I think the season is changing.

It's quite a bit more touristy, and there is a large German and Dutch expatriate presence. We found a higher concentration of restaurants catering to western tastes -- Italian, English, German, Indian. Tourist pricing though. We ate at a top notch Indian restaurant. Some of the best palaak paneer I've had.

We splurged on a hotel room with a balcony and ocean view for $8 U.S. which was 1/2 block walk to the beach. The whole town is small enough that you explore it easily on foot. Lots of night markets, food vendors, restaurants and bars. We wandered around the Hilton and took an elevator ride to get some shots of the city. It's nestled in between some hills and the beach.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fried Rice Balls, Bangkok, Thailand

September 3, 2009

So the cheap food options haven't been what I expected. It tends to be very oily, spicy, sweet, or salty. Plus, proccessed meat is in abundance - entrees are full of proccessed seafood or pork balls, bright pink hot dogs, or other strange unidentifiable meat parts. Don't get me wrong - I love processed meat like Spam and hotdogs. But I do like having real meat more often. I think we're figuring it out now and came across some really really good things, and in one day we had -

For Lunch:
thai/chinese dim sum style food for 65 baht ($2) total for me and Eric

* fried sticky rice balls - green curry flavor and chicken basil
* steamed thick rice noodle stuffed with carrots, bamboo shoots, and green onions (think shrimp wrapped in those thick stacks of noodles at dim sum)
* pan fried version of the above
* egg tart and a corn tart (like an egg tart with corn pieces)

For Dinner:
100 baht ($3) total

* very nice green curry
* fried tofu stir fried with pork and mushrooms

Eric and I were both happy and full at the end of each meal. I'm looking forward to more fried sticky rice balls in my future.