Mixed Up Mixtape: 5 Songs About Homesickness

Today’s Mixed up Mixtape contribution comes from la France – merci! A very chilled mix of songs that make this blogger feel at home 🙂

Advertisements

Coping with Christmas in a faraway land

I have no shame in admitting that I love Christmas.  There’s nothing better than wrapping up in an awful jumper and heading out for a hot toddy or two in the cold wintry night.  Of course, it’s also a great time of year to take a break from work and to catch up with friends and spend time with family.  And then there are all the gifts – I love shopping, be it for myself or others, and Christmas gives me the perfect excuse to go all out and hit the high street, the department stores, the online shops, the Christmas markets…

Mulled wine, sloe gin, mince pies (not for me, but they are still synonymous with the season), constant cheese boards.  MEAT.  Over indulgence in general is not only acceptable but encouraged, and we revel in it.  Well, I do anyway.

This Christmas will be my second away from home.  Last year I was still relatively fresh to living in Thailand and so everything was new and exciting and although I did miss home I was determined to not let it dampen my first grown up Christmas away from home.

This year is a little different.  Thailand is no longer a novelty and neither is being away from home.  Luckily I visited home not long ago so I was able to bring a few Christmas cards and small gifts back with me to open closer to the time.  Before I left my mum cooked Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and we had the family over.  I do miss a home cooked roast dinner and it was nice to play pretend for the day – my mum always makes a massive culinary effort at Christmas time and I’m glad I got a little taste of it; turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, parsnips, BRUSSEL SPROUTS.  Yes, I love Christmas that much that I also love sprouts.

Sadly my grandfather passed away a few weeks after I got back to Thailand so that is definitely making me feel like I should be at home with my family, especially at this time of year, and also really making me appreciate the visit I had recently.  It’s strange but I think that my visit home just made me feel more homesick once it was over, but at least I got to see everyone especially my pap (writing grandfather seems funny!) so that I got to say goodbye.

Despite being a Buddhist country and being outside of the western world, Thailand is also gearing up for Christmas.  Lights are being hung in the city center, gigantic Christmas trees are being erected outside the shopping malls and even Christmas music is playing in the western restaurants.  The checkout girls are wearing santa hats in Tesco.  It’s odd to see these wintry things in a hot country, there’s something not quite right.  But thanks for trying, Thailand!

A Thai attempt at a Christmas tree…

Last year our exam week fell over Christmas so we were able to take the day off but this year school are making us work on Christmas day which I am super annoyed about because I won’t be able to at least pretend that I am having a normal Christmas.  But it’s OK because I am going to hijack all of my lessons, blast out Christmas music and forget about teaching for the day!

Well, this is all a little bah humbug, especially for me – I think I need to go on a tinsel and fairy lights mission this weekend and try to find a little festive cheer somewhere…!  Perhaps a bit of Michael Buble will do the trick…

Mmmmmmm…. the Bubes……. Merry Christmas!

Adjusting to living in a Thai house

Adjusting to life in a Thai home.

When I first came over to Thailand I was placed in a job in Hat Yai with a fellow TEFL Heaven trainee.  The go-to option for accommodation were single rooms in an apartment block for 4500฿ a piece.  We decided to club our money together and rented a 2 bed apartment with a living room, kitchen diner and plenty of space instead, for 10,000฿.  We had AC, hot water, laundry service, security… it was an easy adjustment, if any, from life in the UK.

Muang Thong Mansion

Once Tom had come out to Thailand and we decided to extend our stay, him and I moved out of the city and into a Thai house.  It was closer to our school, and we were ready for a more Thai way of life; plus the whole big house was only going to cost us 4500฿ between the two of us so we would be saving money.  Now it was time for the adjustments!  No AC, no hot water, no furniture.  No being on the fourth floor and therefore removed from the creepy crawlies on the ground.  Cockroaches, spiders, snakes, even scorpions were now our housemates.  At first I used to freak out, but I have got a lot better – I even dealt with a cockroach without shouting for Tom the other day – Mother, you should be proud of me!  Many Thai homes don’t really have furniture like we would at home – cushions in a circle on the floor around a mat tend to be the norm, so we did just that.

63012_10151826940619923_2044480786_n

Our lovely Thai home

Not having AC wasn’t too difficult as the house is all tiled and has big rooms that stay shady most of the day.  We bought a couple of fans and there was no problem – in fact, using fan only stopped me waking up each morning with a blocked nose and we saved a BOMB on the electricity bills (in the apartment with 3 of us it was coming to almost 3000฿ – the AC in the kitchen was a massive industrial beast – and now we usually spend around 500฿ which is around a 10GBP for the MONTH).

What took a lot of getting used to (and I will admit that I definitely still struggle with this at times) was the cold water situation.  Our water comes straight from a well and sits in a water tank until we use it.  It feels a lot fresher but you still can’t drink it because of the nasty things that lurk in the tank.  This water sits in the tank and warms up with the sun if it isn’t used – meaning that when you jump into the shower on a hot afternoon, actually wanting that cool, refreshing temperature, it is lukewarm.  And at night, or if it’s rainy and cloudy, when you wouldn’t mind a lukewarm shower to warm you up a bit, it is freezing!  Sometimes I just resort to boiling some water and taking a bucket in with me to do a bit of a warm bucket/cold shower combo wash, which seems to do the trick.

Luckily we have western toilets and one of them is fully plumbed in so we don’t have to deal with using a squat toilet (not that they are that bad, but sometimes a proper toilet is needed on occasion!).  If you ever find yourself faced with a squat-or-hold-it situation, check out this funny but actually informative post.

©Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures and Arkom (Kwang) Sriyaprom, 2009. All rights reserved
©Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures and Arkom (Kwang) Sriyaprom, 2009. All rights reserved

So here you are, enjoying Thailand for all that it has to offer. You’re walking around in a Thai part of town, or maybe you’re on a long trek, when you realize – oh no! – that pad graprow you had for lunch was a little too spicy. You need a toilet, and you need one right now. There’s no time to get back to your comfy western-style hotel with that familiar looking toilet.

You ask someone near you “Hawng naam yu tee nai?” because you’ve done your homework, and you know that’s how you say “Where is the bathroom?” in Thai. They point you towards a sign that says “ห้องน้ำ” or “สุขา” and you take off running.

You open the door, but – oh my Buddha! – it’s a squatter (cue ominous music). “Now is NOT the time!” you think. But then you take a deep breath, and remember to just follow a few simple steps.

©Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures and Arkom (Kwang) Sriyaprom, 2009. All rights reserved

Click here for the full article – with illustrations!  It’s brilliant.

I’m so glad that we moved out of the city and into our own Thai home.  We can now spend the afternoons lazing away in the hammock in the front yard rather than watching cable TV in the harsh AC, sat on an awful leatherette sofa.  And I can still sit down to pee!

Daily Prompt response: Home Sweet Home.

A few weeks ago I was in Thailand looking foward to coming home to the UK, now I’m in the UK looking forward to going home to Thailand.  I keep referring to home and people have to ask me where exactly I mean.

So what makes a home, and is it really possible to have more than one?

Cornwall is my real home.  It’s where I was born, grew up, went to school and made most of my oldest and dearest friendships.  It’s where I made the memories that stick in my mind like old photographs.  It’s the familiar, the comfort blanket, the home cooked meals.

Thailand is where my house is, my job, new friends and of course my cat (does a day go by where I don’t mention her?!).  It’s where the man I love is (pass the sick bucket, I do apologise).  Things are starting to become familiar, we have gradually made a home for ourselves over the past year and we have most definitely created a whole load of memories.

Some say that home is where the heart is, but when your heart is in two places I guess that means that you can have two homes.Just a quick note in response to this post over at The Daily Post.

 

Sleepy Sunday (just how they should be at home).

Last night my Mum threw a welcome (temporarily) home party for me, and my old school friends came along for a bit of a reunion.  The wine was flowing freely, Take That was blaring out of the stereo and the laughs didn’t stop – old friends are always guarunteed to make a good night.

I would upload some pictures but they all came out a bit blurry (like my vision by the end of the night)!

I woke up bright and early this morning – apparently jet lag doesn’t allow for hungover lie-ins.  Damnation!

I’ve spent the day doing not a lot and it’s really nice to know I can do exactly the same tomorrow – I’ve got plans for the rest of the week catching up with various people and getting plenty of little jobs done.  So tomorrow I’m going to get through as much Breaking Bad as is humanly possible (I’m only on Season 3 – NO SPOLIERS PLEASE)!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, so this post has been pretty pointless BUT I am trying to post once a day as part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge so I thought why not share my doing of nothing??

I will be back tomorrow with the letter “E” of the A to Z of me.  Now to think of something to write about… E is for…?