Well, my second semester at Interlingua is now in full swing and I have to admit it is off to a much better start than the first semester! It’s always difficult taking over another teacher’s classes, but when that teacher is loved by students, management and colleagues alike, it’s a little hard to match up. Somehow I persevered and have proven my abilities.
Since our return from Thailand, I’ve had several parents come to the school specifically asking for me to teach their children. Mostly these parents are referrals from parents whose children I already teach. I’ve also had great feedback from management at the school, who appreciate my organizational skills and diligent lesson planning. I’ve been asked to extend my contract here and even the other teachers have begun to ask for my help when they are having difficulty with particularly shy students. I feel like super-teacher again!! I can’t even explain how great that feels!!!
But none of that can top how valued my students make me feel. My kindergarten students in particular are sweet, affectionate and love coming to my classes. This week I’ve been teaching them family member vocabulary (Mommy, Daddy, Sister, Brother, Grandma, Grandpa…) and then also teaching them phrases that they can use this vocabulary with (Mommy is happy, I have 2 sisters). On Sunday I taught them a new phrase: “I love my ______”. I play a game with them where they have to throw my fuzzy dice at the black board and whichever drawing they hit, they have to make a sentence with it. So if they throw the die and it hits my drawing of ‘mommy’ they have to say ‘I love my mommy’. Of course, I always draw myself on the blackboard as well, so they have a reference as to how these bubble drawings are related to me, and before I knew it, they made it a game of throwing the die at MY picture, so that they could say ‘I love my Marie!!!!’. It was so sweet I could have scooped them all up and hugged ’em forever!!!
But I suppose I’ve gushed enough now. (If you hadn’t caught on yet…I love my job)
BACK TO THAILAND!!!
Ayutthaya was founded in 1350AD by a King trying to escape a small pox epidemic. It became the capital of Thailand or Siam, as it was known at the time. Fast forward to 1767, when the Burmese army invaded and burnt the city to the ground. What’s left today are the stone structures that survived the sack of Ayutthaya…
We took the train down to the old city, which was apparently the cheapest way to get there but provided the best views. It cost us a total of 40 Bhat to get there and only 30 Bhat to return ($1.54 and $1.16 respectively), so we definitely didn’t break the bank on the trip. Also, it’s a fairly popular destination, so it was no problem to get help at the train station, even though many of the staff didn’t speak much English.
I had done a bit of reading ahead of time, so when we arrived in the ancient city, we knew our best option for getting around was by scooter. I would have never been brave enough to drive myself (in Thailand, they drive on the opposite side of the road), but Dave is brave that way, and before long we were cruising around the city, in search of some lunch.
We found a tiny little restaurant (we weren’t even sure if it was a restaurant at first!) before too long, and the woman who greeted us quickly set off to cook us something we hadn’t yet ordered. This was probably for the best, as we know basically none of the Thai language and wouldn’t have known what to ask for anyway. What she brought us was delicious 🙂
Next we set off to find us some ruins…
We found 3 different sites, and each was unique in its own way. Three happens to be the perfect number of items to have on a list such as this, so I shall continue this post in list form. Also, I can’t remember the actual name for each site, so I’ve dubbed them by their defining features instead.
Sight #1: Wat Maheyong
I saw the very first elephant I’ve seen in my life as we drove up to this site. It was being ridden, which wasn’t ideal, but it was still there…He was an enormous male, with long tusks. He had 2 people in the chair and a mahout riding his neck. Before long we saw many more elephants, all being ridden around a beautiful scene of burnt stone and open fields.
We didn’t know it at the time, but these were actually the most plain ruins that we saw the whole day…we were still impressed!!
Before long, we decided to see what else Ayutthaya had to offer, so we began to head back to the scooter. That’s when the rain started…
You know what they say though…February shows, allow Marie to make new friends??? We ran inside where there was shelter. Nobody likes scooting in the rain!!! That’s where I met this lovely lady.
I didn’t want to ride the elephants, but I had no problem feeding her so that’s where we spent our Bhat instead. Elephants are SUCH cool eaters!!! Their trunks are absolutely amazing!!!
When we ran out of bananas, we bid the sweet girl farewell and wandered over through the market for a while. There wasn’t much to see, but we did run into some tigers that were quite obviously drugged for picture taking purposes. I won’t go into too much detail here (I’m planning a whole post on how to be an Eco-conscious tourist in the near future), but neither of us were disappointed when we couldn’t get pictures of the sleepy animal. Instead, we went and visited some more elephants, who weren’t drugged. They were mostly just curious of us (and hoping we had bananas for them!!)
After a run in with some sales people claiming to sell ivory jewellery (see my post: Thailand an Overview Part 1 for more details on that little adventure…), the rain cleared and we left in search of some more ruins. What we found…was more elephants!! (and some INCREDIBLE ruins!!)
Sight #2 – Wat Phra Kam
It wasn’t long after we left Wat Maheyong that we started spotting more elephants. We figured there were probably ruins nearby, so we turned in and found a place to park the scooter.
There was an entrance fee to this set of ruins, but it was well worth the 50bhat ($1.91) we paid to get in. I’ll let the photos do the explaining…
When the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya, they didn’t just burn the city to the ground. The plan was to annihilate the population; nothing was safe. Their buildings were burnt and their culture was destroyed. Not even their sacred places were spared. When I was in Inner Mongolia, years ago, I witnessed the same sort of defilement. When the Japanese army had invaded China during WW2, they destroyed many temples. One particular temple stood out to me…the temple itself is still in Baotou, but every single Buddha that had been carved into the stone (there were hundreds!) had had its nose chipped off. Desecration of religious space is common in times of war.
Sight #3: Wat Barom Buddha Ram
There are so many sights to see in Ayutthaya. Although I’d read online that it was a cool place to visit, I hadn’t realized just HOW cool, so we’d only scheduled a half day to see it all. As a result, we missed out on many of the neat things there were to see. With our tight schedule, we had to pick and choose where we would stop, so after visiting Wat Phra Ram, we quickly zipped over to the most famous sight in Ayutthaya: Wat Barom Buddha Ram. You’ll see why it’s famous in the pictures below.
So that was Ayutthaya! If you’re ever out near Bangkok, I HIGHLY recommend taking the day trip! Especially if you’re a history nut, like me! It’s a neat city and we didn’t even see half of what there was to see! I guess that just means we’ll have to go back…
I’ll be away until next week (I won’t be popular this weekend…it’s test time!!!), but when I return, I’ll be blogging about The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand!
Hope to see you back soon!