Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tigers, Markets, and life in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Sunday Night Walking Street has so much stuff!

Chiang Mai Sunday Night Walking Street

The "Fingernail" Dance at the Chiang Mai Cultural Center

New friends having dinner at the Chiang Mai Cultural Center

Tiger Kingdom! Just another day in Chiang Mai...

Hello from Chiang Mai!

Everything is still great here!  I've only been here a few days but already I have seen so much.  I have some pictures up on my picassa page.  So far I've uploaded some shots of just around Chiang Mai, Tiger Kingdom, and the Sunday night market.  - http://picasaweb.google.com/AndieVaughn 

Saturday night about 9 of us went to the Night Bazar.  This was really cool - it was kind of like Chinatown with knock-off goods everywhere and lots of people trying to get a good deal.  I didn't buy anything, but I was definitely glad I went.  After shopping and a delicious and cheap dinner, our group went out for a few hours and then came back to the hotel and went swimming.  I've already made some great friends and although everyone is really, really different, the group is interesting and fun.  

Sunday I went to Tiger Kingdom with 4 other girls.  We took a tuktuk out to this place that is kind of like a zoo, but it only has lions and tigers.  We paid to sit in the cage and "play" with the lion cubs.  This was really cool although even when those things are tiny they are pretty scary - their teeth were still intimidating.  After this, we got to go into the tiger cage.  I was peer pressured into this one. . . the entire time I was in the cage with the 2 tigers and 4 Thai handlers I could only hear Siegfried screaming as Roy got attacked by their pet tiger.  One of the Thai men kept taking my camera and telling me to get down next to the tiger- he would say "You touch! You touch for photo!"  No way.  Anyway, the afternoon went by quickly and those girls and I got to be good friends.

I have a roommate now too... her name is Jen and she is from Ottowa.  She rolled in with as much luggage as I did so I liked her immediately.  We get along really well and I'm glad she is my roommate- we are pretty similar.  The funny thing is though is that I am almost the youngest person here.  I thought there would be more recent college grads here but there is only 3 of us.  Most of the people are about 26 or so.  One guy is in his 40's.  I guess it doesn't really matter, but I just thought it was kind of surprising.

Sunday night was the best part of the day.  We went to the Sunday night market down the street from the hotel.  This was about a mile of the best stuff I've ever seen.  It was tons of little carts with umbrellas above them and lights strung around with Thai people selling handmade goods.  I bought so much stuff!  It was so much fun and the entire atmosphere is hard to even describe.  I loved the market.  It was way better than the Night Bazar.  

Yesterday was our first day of class.  We have an American teacher and two Thai ladies helping.  Yesterday was mostly Thai cultural lessons and language help.  Besides class every day, during the next three weeks we'll spend about 6 days in Thai schools working on learning to teach English.  The class is going to be pretty fun I think...there are only 19 of us here and we've already gotten to know each other so the class is fun.  Last night the program arranged for us to have dinner at the Chiang Mai Cultural Center where we ate traditional northern Thai food (fried chicken, fried bananas, sticky rice, chili, etc) and watch dances done by (according to the brochure) "actual mountain people.  Not village people dressed as mountain people." Haha.  It was really interesting and I enjoyed this too.  Unfortunately, although the food is good, it is catching up to all of our stomachs and most of us haven't felt super great in a couple days.  I guess that is what I get for eating pad thai and fried chicken for 5 days straight.  Tonight I am meeting up with my friend Landon who lives here and I'm bringing some people from the program.  We are planning a trip to Pai this weekend!  

Miss you all!  

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