Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Best Meeting Ever??

The plan on Tuesday was a full-day meeting on Sustainable Tourism in the MaeTaeng District. It is a topic I"m really interested in, but I also knew it would be all in Thai, so I wasn't expecting anything exciting.... Turns out their definition of "meeting" here is quite different than the American version.....

We had a quick discussion on what the website should look like, then ate a fanatastic lunch together. After lunch, we took a long-boat ride to a floating house in the middle of a huge lake surrounded my mountains.

After another 30-minute conversation about nothing important, trays and trays of food came out and were placed in front of us. I was confused because we had just eaten lunch not even 2 hours ago... but the food kept coming. Then someone busted out 2 cases of Leo (a Thai beer) and another full case of whiskey.... This was all before 3pm.

After a little bit of eating and drinking, any more discussion of Sustainable Tourism was clearly closed. Someone turned on kareoke at the other end of the table, and then another round of food was brought out. It was like Thanksgiving.... but on an island-house in Thailand with government officials, pretending to have a meeting. The Nayok sitting by me took a liking to me and made sure there was always a Leo in my hand, clinking glasses with me every 5 minutes.

Here's a view from our table.


Nayok Satyien... a friendly but distant man, usually found in a suit, talking on his cell phone or meeting with important people, was the first and last to kareoke at our s0-called meeting.

We drank and kareoked until dark, then took a long-boat ride back to mainland under the stars, and ... as if we hadn't drank and eaten enough that day.... Nayok took us to a bar to get snacks and more drinks. Needless to say... I love my job.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

the jungle component

What a week. I guess I'll start from the beginning.

We arrived at the elephant camp last Sunday just in time to see some election results. Nayok Satyien- a local government official (and kind of My Boss) was running for re-election. He has been in office many years and is (apparently, but also quite obviously) loved and trusted by nearly the entire province. BUT his opponent is a slimy devil and paid off two entire villages to vote for him.

So - long story short - the election results were close - but Nayok Satyien still won. :)

But his opponent is causing a big ole' fuss about it and there's some legal drama going on at the office.... so needless to say, I wasn't working for Nayok this week. Instead, I stayed on the elephant camp all day and night, riding, washing, playing with elephants, inbetween creating a new website for Ban Chang Thai (Thai Elephant Home).

OK SO - riding elephants - awesome. It's quite easy, but pretty rough on your body. Ban Chang doesn't use wooden seats or whatever on them - you just ride bareback. Pretty intense, and definately bum-bruising.

I was SO exhausted after my first night, so I was completely conked out by 9pm. When I awoke in the morning, I was in bed surrounded by a mosquito net - and looked out my bedroom window to see elephants wandering by mountains and jungle. I had no idea what was going on. It was amazing.


I've definately had to make some adjustments to the "jungle factors" of living here.
This includes:

- waking up to hungry elephants trumpeting every morning at 6am.
- constantly hearing the call of some animal, whether it be an elephant, cow, dog, rooster, bird, or just a motorbike
- a variety of critters in my bed/bathroom including but not limited to: spiders (big and small), cockroaches (I like to think theyre grasshoppers), ants, and small lizards.
- beetles the size of my face
- the fact that my legs look like i have chicken pox from the variety of mosquito/bug bites on them. honestly, multiple people have commented with looks of awe.

But honestly, it's been so great. A very limited number of mahouts speak English at the camp - so more often than not it's pretty boring and the nights can certainly be dull. But ever since I've arrived, I've been so grateful and happy to be here. I'm looking forward to many adventures ahead....

Next time I'll hopefully have some picture of my host "family" - Joe, (the manager of Ban Chang)- his wife, and their baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Baby Oishi is probably my favorite thing at the camp.... yes, more than the baby elephant. He's 9 months and unbelievably adorable. Unbelievable.

more soon. much love

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Arrival in Chiang Mai - It's so hot in the C!

Sawat dee Kaa from Chiang Mai - a quaint little town full of ex-pats and coffee shops. Nothing like the insanity of Bangkok, but with all the kookyness of Thailand.
Here's my first meal in Thailand - iced coffee and mango sticky rice. If anyone's heard me say anything about Thailand , they've heard me talk about mango sticky rice. On my last thrip to Thailand, it quickly became of my favorite things on the planet. Even though its more of a dessert, I couldn't help but eat it first thing in the morning. It's been too long.
I arrive at my placement tonight - a sustainable elephant camp in the mountains. Apparently theres a serious lack of internet and cell phone recpetion, but I'll try to have videos of elephant as soon I can. Until then, here's a video of a "famous" blind-band that plays at the Night Bazaar downtown Chiang Mai. There're actually really good. (Although this vid may not prove it).