Monday, July 30, 2012

Second Weekend... Fri. Sat. Sun.

Arcoboleno's Italian Dinner

7/27 – Friday.  Again, I must apologize for the delay in blogging.  Our days are getting away from us. But I guess it is a good thing that we are busy rather than sitting around doing nothing the whole time.  However, it is currently an issue because I do not remember much of Friday… I do remember that we turned in my receipt for my plane ticket so hopefully we will be getting that back soon…. not real sure though. (It will be interesting working with office people who do not speak much English.) We also got a few books from my classroom for me to read because I have so many books that I have not read…but yet again we are so busy that I have not read much L Then, Moe   and I went out to a nice restaurant for dinner.  We went to Arcobelano’s which is an Italian restaurant that is very very good.  We have tried to go their twice before but each time was closed for one reason or another.  I had chicken parmigiana and Moe had fettuccine with salmon.  
For dessert we had tiramisu and vanilla ice cream. Again, delicious.  It was rather expensive for Thai standards but again well worth it.  Our total was 650 baht which is 20 US dollars J


7/28 – Saturday was real fun.  We went back to Deyla and Nathan’s for laundry and lunch.  It was great to just hang out and not feel stressed with all of our decisions that we have! After lunch, Deyla and I walked to the market.  It was the first time I had been to the/any market.  It was great! There were so many options and so many new things.  Plus the prices are super cheap as well.  We got a lot of fruit and a few other things.  Once we got back home Moe and I tried some of the fruit that she got.  We tried mango which we both considered pretty good.  We tried guava, which we both considered tree-like and did not like.  We had lynchee, dragon eyes,  which were strange. They literally are on tree branches and you crack them open to eat.  And we tried something else that I cant remember that I did not particularly like at all… Moe found it, mangosteen and he liked it even though it was a lot of work for just a little fruit.

After fruit testing and the kids naps we went to Airport Plaza.  Moe was looking for Soccer or Football (we need to get used to that!) shoes and I wanted to look for a few classroom items to decorate.  We both found what we were looking for.  Moe learned that finding shoes in his size and preference was a little more difficult than we had hoped.  I learned that paper, specifically construction paper is much different here.  They sell it individually and larged size, like poster board.  It comes in all colors and textures which is fun but not all sizes!  I bought some of that and some Velcro and sticky-tack.  We then ate Thai food at the food court and were on our way home.  Another good day!
Moe's shoes

"Construction paper" its the width of my bed!
7/29 – Sunday was also fun. Today’s goal was to get Moe a cell phone so that we could give back our ‘new teacher phone’.  We made plans with Principal to have lunch and then take care of the phone.  As soon as they picked us up they handed us a phone that they had bought awhile ago but did not need anymore… they are the kindest people ever!  Moe tried to give them monies but they would not accept.  They then took us to J.J.’s for lunch. It is an outdoor covered place that serves both Thai and Western food and both are supposedly good.  I had cinnamon French toast, which was good but I have higher expectations for French toast ;)  Moe had a club sandwich which he thought was quite good.  After lunch we went to a mall place and got Moe’s phone working.  Since we had a phone now all we needed to do was buy a SIM card and put money on it.  Most phones work with prepaid minutes, so that is what we did!

We then went back to Principal’s house and made a few phone calls.  His wife called a house that we wanted to see again and set up appointments for us to see them tomorrow.  She also clarified the prices and the ability to have a dog inside the house.  We then went back to the mall and shopped around. I wanted more paper and Moe wanted to see what was available!  We got a few things and then found dinner….PIZZA HUT!! The family really wanted Pizza Hut and I was more than happy to do so. It was very good and refreshing from Thai food. 
This was our ride for the day... Moe was very excited!

The weekend was overall great! We were thankful to do semi-normal things. Shopping always does the heart good.  We are beginning to get our bearings and tend to know where we are most of the time.  We still need to work on our public transportation skills and Moe needs to keep practicing the scooter so that we can explore on our own more.  We desperately need to find a place and hopefully tomorrow can bring some more closure on that!  That is my prayer but we shall see.  Thank you all for your support.  We can definitely feel all your prayers and support.  We are so blessed.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

7/25 and 7/26... Wednesday and Thursday

7/25 – Wednesday. House Hunting International – Knechtel Edition actually happened.  It was a craaaaaazy day.  We probably saw 10 houses in 1 day. It was unbelievable.  None of them were the perfect house for us but it definitely gave us a LOT to think about.  Moe has detailed pictures on his facebook.  I have tagged myself in them so you should be able to see them through my facebok as well. If not please let me know.

Anyway, I was quite overwhelmed after the day.  We saw so much and learned so much about our new home, Chiang Mai.  First I was challenged yet again to let go.  We were completely trusting two local Thai people who knew little English to take us around to these places and make sure that we did not get scammed.  They both work at CMIS and were super, super nice people so that always helps.  One of the ladies is an office worker and we bonded right away.  She was so cute and fun. 

We also learned that there is quite a variety when it comes to housing here and we saw it all! We saw average housing. We saw expensive housing with its own pool and top of the line everything! We saw a traditional Thai style house with open air rooms with everything made from wood. We saw dirty and grimy places as well as new and clean places.  It was interesting for sure.

the pool :)
Moe and I have been battling over a lot of things with housing so please pray for us.  We are trying to decide on a budget as things are so cheap here we are not real sure where to start.  The people we have talked to have different opinions on what is expensive and what is not, so it can be challenging to figure that out.  Plus, we are struggling to decide if we want a furnished or unfurnished place.  We do know that where we are is uncomfortable and not where we want to be. But that is about the only thing we know for sure!!

Getting a lesson
7/26 – Thursday.  Thursday was another learning day. We started the day by learning how to ride/use a motorbike.  Principal has graciously let us use his extra motorbike for a few days so we can get our bearings.  He explained how everything worked and the major functions. It might be important to note that neither Moe nor I had ever ridden or driven a motorbike.  We were both fairly worried about it, but I was definitely more worried. I had no intention of getting on or driving today.  Moe was ready though and itching to get out.  He got the hang of it quite quickly too.  We have a parking lot that goes 3/4ths the way around our building so Moe was practicing going around the building and 
in our parking lot
getting used to driving.  Then we decided he was ready to try some open roads.  We went to the side and back streets of our building where the school is and practiced there.  While he got the hang of the back roads, Principal took me on a quick tour so I experience motorbike driving and flow of traffic.  It was very scary at first. I was holding on tight through each acceleration and turn.  After a few minutes I realized that it was actually quite fun!  It was so much fun that I even released my grip and relaxed…except for a few scary moments J I did learn however that my goal as a passenger is to resemble a sack of potatoes in that I want to move as little as possible.  I definitely think I can handle this as the fear of God and everything else is quite imbedded in me after all the stories we have heard about driving here!

Anyway, we had a great time learning that.  It surprisingly did not take long either.  After that I took a nap. I was tired! Then we had lunch and I began a few teacher things….it’s getting so close! We made plans with the principal and his wife to go furniture shop (just so we could get an idea of prices…don’t worry!) and then have dinner at their house.  We were longing for a home cooked meal! Furniture shopping was quite revealing. Again there are lots of options. Rattan furniture is very popular here but surprisingly expensive.  We saw cheap sets of furniture as well as mattresses that could get us by. We then went to expensive furniture places. It was crazy how expensive some things were, like office chairs were like 300 dollars and a leather sofa for $9000dollars….crazy. It was fun to see all of the different styles and what was available though.  Most of the furniture is expensive for Thailand but somewhat reasonable compared to America.  There were things that Principal said were expensive but when comparing to American prices were still cheap. So again we have a lot to learn about pricing and what is what here!
lots of wonderful furniture

And finally dinner: it was WONDERFUL! It wasn’t really home cooked but it was so nice to sit a table at a house and relax.  We had what was basically rotisserie chicken, sticky rice, breaded pork chop, some noodle thing that was spicy, and something else I cant remember.  It was all finger food which is something Moe and I have to get used to. Eating with our hands is not something we enjoy. For dessert we had home made chocolate chip cookies that were to die for! Best thing we have had since being here. J Moe also had some coconut ice cream which I think he enjoyed.

We also went to the grocery but nothing important to share there. We got crackers, chips, Gatorade and few apples. Nothing fancy, but in case you want to know every detail.  We love sharing and are having a wonderful time.  We are ready to be settled and explore more easily and comfortably!  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday and Tuesday 23rd & 24th

7/23 – Monday. We thought we were going to make a lot more progress Monday than we actually did.   We went over to Deyla’s house.  We had a wonderful lunch of Pork on a stick (really good!!), sticky rice (which you eat with your hands, I had no idea.), chicken and mushrooms with Italian seasoning on a bun, and some carrots.  Altogether a WONDERFUL meal. I was very impressed.  I guess I need to back track a little. Once we arrived they realized they did not have all the ingredients for lunch. So Moe got to take his first motorbike trip. While out he saw lots of interesting things… specifically a 2 pigs heads sitting on top of the counter while the butcher was chopping up the body.  It was quite the experience for him and he is very sad he did not have his camera.  ((Matt Austin he thought of you the whole day!! Not sure if you even read this though))

After lunch we relaxed at their house and talked about all sorts of things. It was quite nice to be comfortable in someone else’s home. Hopefully we will have more of those experiences soon.  We took a walk around their moo ban (neighborhood) looking for houses that were for rent and took a couple pictures of places that were available. 

Then we called Principal and asked him to help us call places and find a few more options.  He picked us up and took us to the grocery store which has a bulletin board of available rentals.  We also went to Airport Plaza to see about getting my phone hooked up to Thai times but that is a story for a later date!  Airport Plaza is the huge mall in Chiang Mai.  It has 5 floors and is wicked nice.  But apparently another mall is coming soon (Thai time soon so who really knows when) that is supposed to be even nicer. We had dinner at the food court. I had fried chicken over rice and Moe had something… he wasn’t sure what! It had veggies and rice and chicken I think. We also tried some chicken on a stick with peanut sauce and pork egg rolls. Both of which were very good. The mall was huge. It was very interesting to see. I hope to go sometime and actually shop, even though we were told that most of the stuff you can get cheaper elsewhere.  
the top two floors of the mall
7/24 - Tuesday.  It is raining. A lot. Apparently it is supposed to be like this for a few days now. I am very very thankful that our first couple days were not like this. I guess I am going to have to get used to the rain!

Today we had a list of places to potentially rent that we wanted to call and find out more information about.  We had NOOOO idea how to move forward on this as we know nothing of the language and the city. The school was so helpful though and using us as guinea pigs to figure out how to prepare for the other newbies coming soon. The principal met us at the school and talked to the office people.  They ended up taking our list and made phone calls for us today. They said that tomorrow they will take us around in their van to all of the viewings that they will have set up!! It is unreal how nice they are and happy to help us.  Hopefully I will be able to be equally as nice and learn their names!

We then got to see my classroom as well as some other classrooms which we did not get to do the first time around. Throughout the tour we met lots of other employees which all greeted us with a smile and warm welcome!

My classroom is lovely.  Here are some pictures.  There were some bean bags in the room that they told me were being taken away but if I wanted some they could get me some! I jumped at it; I even got to pick my colors. I also was asked if I wanted a teacher stool and jumped at that as well.  I did later have to fill out a form for the stool. Who knows why or what that means but I will soon find out I'm sure. 

Sunday 22/07

We again woke up very early. But we are getting used to it.  We relaxed in the morning and Skyped with our families.  For lunch my coworker Deyla and her family came to pick us up for lunch.  We got to ride in a songtaew.  It was fun and different.  The back of the truck has 2 long seats on both sides and an open back.  We had 4 adults and 2 small children plus stroller and fit comfortably.  (Often there are many more people riding in them!)  We wanted pasta but that place was closed so we ended up at Dukes.  Dukes is a western place with a variety of foods ranging from salads, pizza, calzones, burgers, and steaks.  Moe and I both ended up with pizza. It was great.  Each pizza was 195 baht which is about 6 dollars. Most of the stuff was fairly reasonably priced….except for the steaks! Steak is a rare find in Thailand but it is at Duke’s, but imported from Australia.  The highest priced steak was almost 40 USD, unreal.

After Duke’s we went to CMIS to tour the school. However most everything was locked up so we only got the outside tour, which was fine.  Below are a few pictures. 

Admissions and Office 
high school classrooms

Then we went to an international church.  It was a large building with open doors for walls all the way around half of the building. The other half was enclosed and where the stage was.  There was a guitar player, piano player, and 2 vocalists. They sang a total of 9 songs all contemporary. We started service with Revelation Song, which is one of my faves! There were some stops in between songs for prayer and the sermon.  Oh and at the beginning there was a time for announcements and new people to stand up (no Moe and I did not stand up, maybe next time). It was so cool to see how many new people there were and where they had come from.  There were people from Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Chicago, Los Angeles, and others I can’t remember.  Over all it was a great experience.
After church we went home and relaxed. Oh, I guess it is important to mention that church was at 430pm and over about 6. Church is in the afternoon because a Thai church uses the building in the morning.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 1.... 20/07/2012... Got to get used to that

Sleep was a wonderful thing for us.  We went to bed about 1230, shortly after we got to our place and figured everything out.  We were given a cell phone to contact the Principal so that we could arrange plans for the next day and so forth. We woke up about 830 because of time change and everything crazy. We got the internet going and relaxed a little here.

view from our balcony on a cloudy day
At about 11 we called Principal and his wife and they came to pick us up.  They took us to a Western brunch which was wonderful.  I had pancakes and Moe had a ham and Swiss sandwich.  They were both delicious.  They then took us to the grocery store, Rimping, which would be similar to a Kroger. It only had groceries.  There we saw many things that brightened our western tummies. They have peanut butter, ranch dressing, chocolate chips, and many other things that we were happy with that I can’t remember right now! Some of the western things that they have are very very expensive.  For example cereal exists here but it is ridiculously expensive.  For a regular sized box of Life Cereal it costs 350 baht which is about 11 dollars!! And I thought 4 dollars was bad for the big boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios (which they don’t have here and if they do is just as expensive as Life L) They do however have other cereals that are more local and do cost what regular cereal should cost.  There were other things as well that were ludicrously expensive but available if ever we should be in want (but again, I can’t remember what they were).

We also went to Big C Extra which is similar to a Walmart. It was HUGE!!! We were quite impressed. Inside this same building is a Home Pro shop which is like Home Depot and has household items galore. There was also a food court including McDonalds and other Thai food.

For dinner we went to a Thai place that is Principals favorite. Moe had yellow curry and rice and I had chicken and rice with soup.  It was very good. After dinner we went to visit a townhouse that is available 1 block from school and other shops. It is a PERFECT location. Moe has pictures on his facebook.

Throughout the day we asked tons of questions and learned lots!! We learned that Chiang Mai is very safe. (yay!) You can walk anywhere at any time and not be worried. The people here are very nice and accepting of foreigners.  A smile goes a long way and pointing is wonderful. Asian culture is a very happy and pleasant culture. ‘Saving face’ is very important. This means that arguing in public, getting frustrated, losing your temper, all are big no-nos here. It also means that children are very well behaved (yay for me!). But if ever you hear a baby crying here it is a foreigner’s baby; Thai children don’t cry (is it possible for me to have a Thai baby??....just kidding)  Moe was excited to learn that they have coffee here and American kind as well. He learned that they make it much hotter than in the States but I’m sure he will get used to it soon. We found watermelon and all sorts of other things that we are very happy about. 

Today, Saturday, we did nothing! It was good. We needed to just relax. We watched movies and slept a lot. We walked to get food and then right back and did it all over again. So we are thankful for that. 

Flight and Arrival

We have arrived in THAILAND!!! I dont even know where to start.  

At the Chicago airport
I guess with our flight.  Chicago was a breeze.  All of our bags were under weight and had no problem. It was wonderful. I however forgot about the rules of carry-ons. I thought you could take 4fl oz. of liquid but it was really 3. So I had to throw away my contact solution, which meant that I had none! (I was very nervous for this) But we passed through security just fine.  We had about 2 hours before our flight and were starving. Surprisingly there were little options for us so that was depressing. The ‘food court’ was BEFORE security and there were only little stands passed security. But we made it nonetheless.

Our flight was great. We had adequate space.  We were in second to last row and only 2 seats with 3 seats in front of us which meant we had more leg room than most!! LOVELY! Each seat had screens in the back so we could watch movies.  Moe watched a TON of movies but I only watched 3 I think! (I got to watch Hunger Games and I was very very very excited about that!) Our flight was 12 hours and 55 minutes so less than we thought and honestly it wasn’t that bad.  Korean Air is wonderful. During this flight we had 2 meals which were pretty good: chicken and rice with vegetables and then chicken and pasta with vegetables. (They had pork and beef but we stayed with chicken). We also got offered a drink of juice or water probably 5 times at least. It was beautiful. Overall a great flight.
Sprite can that I had with dinner
It was quite cloudy on the flight. As soon as we passed through the clouds we were on top of the airport literally. It was crazy.  Thank god for great captains! Seoul airport was huge and slightly stuffy. Once we landed in Seoul we had to go through security again with our carry-ons. My bag got checked because I had a bottle of cherry coke in it! But they let me keep it because I was going to Thailand ;) Moes bag however was a different story! He had his desktop computer in pieces in his carry on. They did not like this. He explained what it was and they finally understood. They had to take out pieces; he explained what they were and they scanned it all again. After about 3 scans they finally let him through but his bag was a mess, so we had to take a few minutes to put it all back together again! We then had about 2 hours to wait! Honestly it went a lot faster than we thought it would.

Our next flight was bad for me. It was only 5 hours but still. We were to arrive at 10:50 pm and wanted to be able to go to sleep. So we wanted to not sleep on this flight and get there exhausted…. This plan did NOT work. I was pooped. I was fighting sleeping for an hour or so. I had another meal and barely ate any of it because I was so tired. My tummy was upset because I hadn’t slept in so long. I started watching a movie in hopes that it would keep me awake but it didn’t. Eventually I gave in and slept for probably 2 or 3 hours!! It was wonderful, but not at the same time because I felt like I had failed! Moe only slept about an hour. He is much better than me ;)

Upon arrival the city looked so cool all lit up. We could see all the roads and houses lit. It was beautiful. Customs was fairly easy as well. On the plane we had to fill in these papers explaining why we were there and our visa numbers and everything. We handed that and our passports to the people. They verified everything and let us through. It was as pleasant as customs could be in my opinion! We then got our baggage. THANKFULLY everything was there. I was quite worried about losing our luggage but it was fine! We then had to get our checked bags checked ;) which again was fine. Deyla, the other 4th grade teacher, and the high school principal picked us up at the airport. They took us to our apartment which in my opinion is a lot like a hotel room. The driver took us on a remote route. They said we would never see these roads again! (honestly that drive made me very nervous. It didn’t look safe or friendly or anything but it got better). But we arrived at our place just fine.

At our place we had a bag of goodies, mostly American things like Lays potato chips, granola bars, juice boxes, etc. Deyla was so so so kind and brought me a box of contact solution!! Our place has a microwave, fridge, beds with sheets, towels, bathroom, and lots of storage.  We haven’t gotten too comfortable by unpacking our stuff yet but we are managing.

So I just realized how long winded I have become. I guess to keep things in line I will do another post about our first day.  Apparently I need to stay on top of this since I have so much to share! If you have ANY questions feel free to ask us.  Also, obviously we have internet and would LOVE to skype with anyone.  If you don’t have it just download skype set up an account and then add us (Brittany.knecthel or matt.knechtel)  Look forward to hearing from you. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's almost time

Wow. This has been by far the fastest week of my life!! Monday we got home from Michigan.  Tuesday had dinner with my brother. Wednesday saw a good friend and celebrated a birthday with the family.  Thursday we did dinner and a movie with Moe's cousins from Cincinnati. Friday I ran errands with my mom, while hubby hung out with friends at home.  Saturday was our going away party, which was wonderful. Sunday we met my grandparents for dinner and said goodbye to some wonderful people.

Anyway, today is our last full day in Ohio.  We only have 1 more night in our bed :( We have a lot to do today! It is slightly overwhelming. But I know that all things will work out for good.

Just to remind you we are going to Chicago Tuesday and staying in a hotel there.  While we are there we are going to see The Bean.  I have been to Chicago multiple times but never seen The BEAN!!
We then fly out of Chicago at 12:45pm there time.  We fly to Seoul and then right into Chiang Mai. We will arrive in Chiang Mai at 10:50pm local time on Thursday which is 9:50am Thursday here.  I will send out an email or possibly a short blog update that we have arrived at the airport.  So please make sure to be following. Or send me your email so that you can be updated. 
Side note: I have caught a cold.  I am very sad about this. I do NOT want to be sick on a plane for 20 hours. So prayers are greatly appreciated.  I would love miraculous healing for my trip!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Leaving Michigan: 11 days

How ironic: this is our last night in Michigan and we are 11 days away from arrival :) Dakota requested a shout out so here it is. Thanks for stopping by to say goodbye D-Bird, D-Cat, D-O, or whatever you wanted to be called!

Not the best picture but you get the idea.
We had a blast while we were up here.  The weather was wonderful!  We spent a couple days out on the boat which is probably my favorite thing to do.  Moe got to spend time reading, playing games, and working on 'his base' for Thailand.  We had some friends up here with us at the beginning of the week which was wonderful.  We LOVED spending time with them and being silly together.  We will treasure that time with them.  Also, we went putt-putting, which has come to be a tradition for Moe and I when we vacation.  Neither of us are amazing at it but we enjoy it.

We were also productive.  We got the last of our luggage needed.  Who knew that finding large luggage would be difficult....well it is! Especially in northern Michigan.  But we found something that I think is perfect; it just took us 4 stores!  I went thrifting a couple times too which was surprisingly productive :) Moe fixed Aunt Lynn's computer and we got everything settled for her to make me a t-shirt quilt.  I am SOOO excited to see it when it is done/when we get back!

This has been a wonderful week to spend with family.  We are so blessed by the support here.  We will truly miss these people.  It's been real Michigan :)

Anyway, even though I said we are 11 days from arrival we are closer to 9 days from leaving home.  It is so so so close!! Moe and I are both getting extremely excited.  We are ready.  Although we still have quite a few goodbyes left and a TON of packing to do, we have come to terms with everything.  We know this is where we are supposed to be and have full faith that everything will work out.  With only a few days left, I am very comfortable with this feeling and know that it is good.  Not sure if that makes any sense but it is how I feel.  And so goodbye Michigan and family.  We love you lots! :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

July...18 days

          Wow, I can NOT believe that it is July already! Where did the time go!?! We are now down to only 18 days until arrival and 16 days until departure.  We are up in Michigan to spend our last week with Moe's family :(  It is going to be a crazy but wonderful week.  

          As far as updates about Thailand: We have chosen our seats for our flight!! Moe and I sit together and have a window seat on both flights.  On our flight to Seoul we are in the second to last row of the I am somewhat nervous about that.  We have our 'guesthouse' reserved for once we get there.  I am not real sure what that means but I do know that it means we have a place to stay for the first while that we are there.  We will hopefully begin looking for a place of our own as soon as we get there.  
          Ok I think this is all for now.  As I said we are in Michigan so not sure if I will update again unless something CRAZY happens :))  
          p.s. I did not bring my calendar with me so this picture is from google.  Googling the number 18 is a bad idea! Just in case anyone was wondering.