Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sweet, sweet, vacation time

I had decided back in August that I would go to Thailand for Christmas break. Mostly because I made friends in Bangkok and could stay there for cheap. Also, other reasons that I'm not going to discuss quite yet on the blog (I'm teasing you!).

Because of the political turmoil in Bangladesh and the upcoming election, our return to school was pushed back a week, which means we had a one month Winter break. The first week I ended up staying at a friend's house in Dhaka. It was filled with Netflix, and other relaxing activities.
Check out the head shots my friend Alicia took:
To see this headshot in action, head over to my landing page
about.com/emilyjohnson314



I ended up going to Koh Samui with a group of friends from Dhaka and a couple who are living in Cambodia (they had previously lived in Dhaka). We rented a condo via AirBNB.com and had a great time scooting around the island, eating delicious food and lounging on the beach. Also, Christmas!

In a taxi!

On a train!

On a boat!
From the mainland to Koh Samui
Who knew the iPhone 5 panoramic setting was so awesome

Big Buddha!

Ham, egg, cheese, mushroom, crepe

Chocolate Banana Crepe

Fishies!

The beach!
Scotch egg. It's a soft boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, and deep friend.

Pork belly with mashed parsnips.

Chocolate souffle. Perfect end.

View from the condo


We had an extended trip back to Bangkok because of the train being 4 hours late. I love me a train ride, but the Thai railway is the worst I've ever ridden. The trains are comfortable enough, but they are never on time, not even close. So unreliable.

The next couple of weeks in Bangkok was mostly uneventful. It started with a visit to a fertility park behind a hotel. Women go to the park to pray for fertility and, if they become pregnant, they return with a phallic statue to place there.




There was also three occasions of honey toast. It's a cube of bread, soaked in honey, topped with deliciousness. 


Lots of wandering through malls. Love these shoes.



Terminal 21 mall had some amazing bathrooms. This one was on the Tokyo level. 

Siam Center mall had some interesting shoe choices.

 Siam Discovery had Tom Cruise.

 Waiting for the BTS.

I went almost the whole last week without taking a picture. Not sure why. Probably distracted by...other things that are not yet disclosable on the blog. Wow. I don't mean to be cryptic.

One last shot, on the flight back to Dhaka. Regent airways, the best Bangladeshi airline so far. Best flight attendant ever. Almost on time, which is saying something.



Saturday, December 7, 2013

3 Things I've been thinking about

I realize it's been well over a month since I posted anything. There could be several reasons, most include procrastination and general exhaustion. It's a busy time of year in any part of the world, but there are special circumstances right now in Bangladesh. I'll get to that.

First, I've been thinking about free time. More specifically, how to build constructive free time into our learning time. Teaching ICT, I find that the most success I have is when introduce students to something and let them be creative and explore it on their own. The big movement right now are Maker Spaces. Where you are given the tools and you can make anything you want with them. I love the idea, but with limited resources you have to limit yourself somewhat. In a couple of months I'm in charge of doing a Leadership and Leisure studies class (after school activities essentially) and I'm going to have an indoor potpourri/maker space/craft time class. I have a lovely Pinterest board with all my ideas, it all depends on if I can get the supplies together (which is why I've started gathering stuff already).


Second, can we talk about the political situation in Bangladesh? I really don't want to, because I find it mostly ridiculous, but inquiring minds want to know. Let me preface everything by saying, I live in the countryside, so things in Dhaka don't have as much effect on me. Also, I'm enrolled with the US State Department's STEP program (and consequently, monitored by the NSA, I'm sure), so I'm not in any real danger. It's election season in Bangladesh, which means the Awami league (the ruling party) and the Bangladesh National Party (BNP, the opposition) are duking it out to organize an election and maintain their power over the country. The Awami League has set the date for elections for January 5th, which the BNP loudly protests. The BNP also protests the fact that the Awami League hasn't set a caretaker government in place to oversee the elections. This caretaker government would be a neutral party that, according to the BNP, would ensure that the Awami League wouldn't rig the elections in their favor. Because the Awami League refuses to instill this caretaker government, the BNP has begun a program of blockades in Dhaka until their demands are met. Blockades are violently enforced, causing havoc across the country when goods and services are held up in transit, but are most destructive to the everyday laborers who can't get to work or are in risk because they can't not work. I'm on the fence (because I don't really have a stake in Bangladeshi politics) about which party is right and wrong, but I do know that using human lives and livelihoods to gain or maintain power is morally reprehensible. I'm not sure how it will turn out, but I certainly hope the leaders of the two parties (both women) guide their parties to a more peaceful solution.

The third thing is going to be a palette cleanser. Something light and airy because politics are depressing. I'm thinking about Thailand...where there are currently huge protests against the Prime Minister. Oy, you'd think going to Thailand for Christmas would be getting away form the protests and violence, but, alas, no such luck. The protests are mostly in Bangkok, I'll be in Koh Samui (an island!) for a week and then in Bangkok, but not anywhere near where the protests are happening.

Okay, for reals, a palette cleanser, look at how my adorable cat is asleep in my lap right now.

Stormageddon, dark lord of all, not really living up to her name

Bonus fourth thing, if you read past the photo, I had Dengue fever! I can cross that off my list now. I'm still feeling/seeing the effects of it, even after a month. Dengue starts as a fever (hence the name), then you feel like crap and are fever-y for 2-3 days, then you get this super awesome rash that covers your whole body and your feet and hands turn beet red, then you're really exhausted and have no energy for a few weeks. Yeah, just what I needed.