Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ten minutes in Burma

Thailand gives a thirty day tourist visa free of charge to U.S. citizens upon arrival in the country. This allotted amount of time has always been enough for me in the past. However, when two and a half weeks of classes and a week of conference is tacked on, any sort of traveling after conference means I'm over the limit. There are several options for solving this predicament. One option is to pay 500 baht (30 baht to 1 USD) per day over the limit upon exit. Rather pricey, I think I'll pass. Another option is to go to the consulate, fill out a form asking for an extension, and pay 1,500 baht. Once again, pricey. Option three is to make a border run--travel across the border into Burma and then come back into Thailand, receiving a new visa. This option seemed to be the cheapest and offered the added bonus of seeing a new country. However, with all costs included the trip ended up only being about 500 baht less. In addition, the trip involved nine hours in a van speeding around curvy, hilly roads. Such a route was less traumatic for the adults drugged up on Dramamine; however, some of the kids' breakfasts...and then lunches...came back up. Oh yes, good times. But, I made it to Burma (for about 5 minutes, enough time for a new stamp in the passport and a picture) and now have my renewed visa. Conference begins Wednesday; I'm looking forward to seeing everyone. Currently, China is getting hammered with winter storms, which makes the warm temperatures here seem that much nicer. It's going to be a rough transition back to long underwear.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


It's been nice this week to relax and soak up the sun around Chiang Mai. After only one week of intensive classes, I hardly feel deserving of the break (especially since most people are still in class). But I have been enjoying the freedom and the leisurely pace. Yesterday, I took the afternoon to wander around with my camera. I stumbled upon two unique Wats (temples), and at one enjoyed a long conversation with one of the monks. He was actually Cambodian and it was interesting to hear about his background. As I walked around I was just hit with how incredibly blessed I am by the opportunity to see and learn about so many cultures different from my own. This job and life is never one I would have chosen for myself, but I'm continually encouraged and surprised by the paths the Father leads me down.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

My first semester of class is now completed! After lots of pre-course work, a long week of classes and cramming, and pushing out a final long paper I'm done. My mind is jam packed with Chinese history and modern day implications, and my intellectual juices are completely zapped. I can now move onto enjoying the sunshine and just hanging out. Not such a bad life at all... :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

I'm outta here!

I've now accomplished the yearly challenge of packing for two months for multiple climates in a small bag. In a couple hours I'll be headed to the train, on my way to WARMTH and sunshine. It's been beastly cold here lately, so I'm quite excited to be back in flip flop weather! After two weeks of alternating between being a couch potato and cramming for my grad class, I'm ready to get moving again. I can only take being lazy for so long. :) I'm looking forward to seeing "old" friends, being in a place where English is spoken by a majority of people, wearing short sleeves again...and I'm even looking forward to being a student again. We'll see if I'm still saying that in a couple days!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sad day

Two years in a row...the national title has eluded the Buckeyes. The Scarlett and Gray warriors now have some pathetic record like 0-9 against SEC schools. Tressel managed to rid himself of the Michigan curse, but it looks like he's got a new one growing. Since the day was already somber, I also went ahead and took down the Christmas decorations. When I was a kid I used to beg my mom to leave up the decorations as long as possible--and not much has changed since then. I hate the emptiness of the house after they're taken down. However, I know it would be slightly ridiculous to come home to Christmas decorations at the end of February. To console myself and lift my spirits, I started pulling out short sleeve shirts and skirts for Thailand. Warm weather and sunshine here I come!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Bye bye birthdays

With the celebration of Will's second birthday yesterday we have completed the long stream of celebrations from mid-December until now. As if the holiday season isn't packed enough, here in Siping we also celebrate four birthdays between December 15th and January 3rd. That's a lot of celebrating! Unfortunately, this means some of the parties have not been so elaborate. However, we rounded them off well with the rowdy round-up of Will's birthday. We all came in our cowgirl and cowboy get-up for some good old western vittles and healthy cowboy competition. Check out my flickr site for a full recap! I am now at the official one week countdown to departure. I'm hoping the pressure of impending departure will kick me out of "lazy vacation mode" into "grad work & travel preparation mode". Hmmm...maybe tomorrow. I'm off to watch a movie!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

We rang in the New Year by celebrating Jason's 25th birthday. Sonny planned out a spectacular party complete with games and we had enough junk food to feed a small army. Everyone managed to stay awake until midnight--except Samantha. Poor girl, she missed her first new year's eve. I slept in super late and took a nap on New Years day to prepare myself for the nighttime football marathon (daytime in the states). Wu and I fought sleep all night to catch the action--Daren had a nice attempt, but snoozed through most of them. The most exciting game was definitely Michigan/Florida. I must confess that I actually cheered for the Wolverines. My animosity towards Florida has grown quite large after last year. Plus, as I explained to Wu, it's not like the big bad maize and blue is much of a threat anymore. Saddest game? The Rainbow Warriors...I would have loved to have seen them topple Georgia!