Ionic Footbaths

I know, I know…probably an unusual topic for a blog, especially on this page.  Since I’ve been back in Florida, I had the chance to have one of these done at a local health shop.

I didn’t really know what one of these was, but my mother has been going for several years for them because of her health.  Essentially, they help pull out toxins from the body.  The setup is pretty simple…the lady boiled some water (via standard coffee maker, ha) and combined it with some room temperature water.  The customer needs to be able to withstand the water temperature for about 30 minutes, so it should be comfortable.  There was a black piece that attached to a monitor–whatever the part does gives off a color based upon the toxins in a person’s body (probably easiest to see the time-lapse picture below).  Depending on what’s inside the user’s body will dictate what color the water color turns.

The foot bath is totally painless, just a bit weird to see the water change colors…goes to show how many bad things are around us and how they can affect our bodies and our health.  For example, it’s apparently bad for us to drink from many of the plastic water bottles we think are fine.  Heat can activate toxins inside the bottle and once we drink the water, they enter our system.

I figured I’d write about this as many of the spas in Surat or the islands probably have these treatments.  It was amazing to see and I plan on going again!

 

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Finding a House/Apartment in Surat

It’s no secret finding a house or apartment in Surat can be a challenge.  I was lucky when I first moved to Surat I had a friend and former SE teacher tell me about his spot.  I figured if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me.  That apartment, APP Place, was great for my first two years.  Off of Soi 3 on Karunrat, it was easy to get just about anywhere–the market, school, gym, etc.  It was clean, modern, and furnished (a big plus!).  The part I didn’t enjoy was not having a couch or sitting area.  Everything I did was on my bed–eating, working, sleeping.

I looked around on DDproperty.com but didn’t have much luck.  While there were some properties that appealed to me, they were either too far outside Surat city or way over my budget.  Luckily, my girlfriend happened to find a home very close to Thida and all the places I frequent on a weekly basis.  It’s off a Soi on the cut-through from Chakloratt to the Stadium.  Fairly modern and spacious and not too expensive–6,000 for the home (utilities extra).  I was paying in the neighborhood of 5,500-5,800 at APP Place previously, so the extra money didn’t seem like much of an issue to have my own home and the privacy that comes along with it.

The only part of the new digs I haven’t enjoyed was shelling out a bit of cash for a few necessary items–a bed/frame, fridge, and sofa.  Luckily my old deposit helped cover most of the expenses, but makes me appreciate the luxury of having those things already in place.

Of course, there have been several condo buildings pop up in town over the past year.  The Garden Condos, Plus Condos (both along Talad Mai), and D-Condo (across from Central) are all very nice, but typically in the 8,000-10,000 Baht price range.  I originally gave these properties a thought, but that’s a lot of money to shell out each month.  However, for somebody looking for a fully furnished spot with kitchen, bedroom, and living area, they might make some sense!

 

Songkran Festival

Apologies for not writing about the Thai New Year, Songkran, sooner.  I immediately left the next morning after last Wednesday’s celebration to start the long journey.  After flying from Surat to Bangkok to Hong Kong (for a night’s stay at least) to New York to Washington, it took a few days to get my body back on Eastern time.

I was glad I stayed for Songkran!  I missed the festival last year and heard so much about it this year during school.  I had a vision of what to expect, but the reality exceeded my vision.  My first exposure was stopping at the New House to pick up Alex so we could caravan over to a friend’s house.  Driving down Karunrat, an older Thai man motioned to me to pull over/stop.  It was fairly obvious he wanted to drench me with water….but something about that first soaking that’s tough to accept.  Kind of like hopping into a cold pool.  Once it’s done, great, but should be almost treated like ripping off a band aid.

The day was great fun!  I wished I’d bought a water gun ahead of time.  I thought I’d get by with just a little bucket.  Definitely annoying when somebody shoots you via a blind spot.  Naturally, I made the obligatory run to 7-11 to buy an overpriced water gun that promptly broke on me within 10 minutes.  Everybody seemed to have great fun and it was pretty cool to see the large trucks/tuk tuks, etc. driving down, prepared to do battle.  At least the patrons who wished not to be soaked motioned a ‘no’ signal and were on their way.

Of course, I’ve seen some pictures from some of the larger celebrations, such as Chiang Mai and Bangkok.  While they no doubt would’ve been a lot of fun, I liked having a homebase with food and drink readily available.  It was hot!!

Not really sure if I’d offer any ‘advice’ for Songkran…just be ready to get wet and don’t take it personally!  Of course, you’ll save a bit of money planning ahead and buying a gun ahead of time (bring a friend), but live and learn!

Summertime in Surat

School’s been out about a month now, but I’m ready to get back to teaching!  I’ve missed seeing those little cute faces each morning–picks up my spirit 1,000%!  I stayed back in Surat this month to teach some extra lessons until Songkran, at which point I’ll head home for a couple of weeks.

Being out in the community, I never quite noticed how many times I ran into students/parents/other teachers.  At the market, at the pool, at a stoplight, etc.  They’re everywhere, ha!  I’ve actually found these moments to be more valuable teaching times (albeit short ones) when I can interact outside the classroom.  Their natural personality flows and I get more a sense about them from their style of dress, hair, etc.  They’re more relaxed and usually at ease talking with me.  I’m not viewed as a teacher or authority figure, but just  another person on the street.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the unique chance to work with two brothers from Thida each day.  In the mornings, we’ve worked on grammar and tenses, which can be troublesome to kids.  I’ve tried to implement real time examples of why and how we use the various tenses.  They’re English ability is excellent and they’ve been able to grasp many of the things we’ve reviewed quite quickly.  The boys have a very busy schedule and our usual 9:00 start time has been bumped to 10:00 due to tennis lessons.

I usually have an hour break where I eat lunch with the kids and then have some free time.  It’s been amazingly hot and humid in Surat recently, so there’s no point driving across town back home for such a little time.  I typically go to Central and have coffee, where I usually run into a handful of other students!

In the afternoons, we have more relaxed sessions.  Five hours is a lot of time to spend on grammar each day…learning or teaching!  The boys have a basketball hoop in their backyard and a ping pong table inside, so depending on the weather, we’ll take some time and play one of those games.  They’ve asked me the process of becoming a teacher at Thida, why we can’t simply cross a country’s border with a passport, and cultural differences between American and Thai students.

I’ve really enjoyed the afternoon talks and think they’ve been valuable for speaking practice.  They ask some really good questions and I have to make sure to prep a good deal of things so we don’t have dead time each day!

 

New Sandwich Shop in Surat

With the unfortunate news the Nature Cafe will close their news at the end of March, a new sandwich shop came to the rescue.  ‘Big Al’s Sandwiches/Turn on Cafe,’ located on Chalokratt Road down the street from the Amphur Rd. intersection, offers great submarine style sandwiches.  Big Al’s offers the following choices of sub:  Italian, meatball, chicken, and ham.  Wraps are now available as well if that’s your preference.  Additional toppings include lettuce, tomato, cheese, mustard, and mayo.  Top if off with some Italian dressing, and you’re set!

It’s a good thing big Al’s gives you a knife and fork with your sandwich, as the bread is stuffed with the previously mentioned items.  You’ll need to cut it in half and then squash the bread down so all the deliciousness doesn’t fall out!

So far I’ve tried the Italian, ham, and chicken subs.  I’d recommend the chicken one most–tender slices of chicken freshly cooked before eaten.  I also enjoyed the ham and Italian, but haven’t tried the meatball…that one is next!

Big Al’s, immediately next door to the Cubic Place apartment complex, runs 120 Baht for a sandwich.  They also have extras like chips, coffee, desserts, or even a Leo to wash down the sub!  They will deliver for a small additional charge or can even provide subs for an event/party…just give them plenty of notice! I’ve only seen two workers behind the counter, so they’re definitely working hard!

In my opinion, Surat has needed something like this!  It’s nice to be able to get a good sized sandwich and take away some of the home-food craving feeling (and walk away full!).  Big Al’s isn’t the only new restaurant in town, though.  On the opposite side of Chalokratt/Amphur intersection are two new spots–Gisuli, an Italian restaurant, and Oniku, a shabu restaurant.  From the eye test driving past, they’re doing great business right now!  I haven’t tried them, but they’re on the ‘to eat’ list.

 

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Great Week at STIS!

Recently, I had the opportunity to work for a week at our International School.  With Thidamaepra having its long break, I thought it would give me a better insight working with Anuban level kids in a relaxed setting.

I definitely had a great time!  I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but it was great fun showing up each morning and seeing the little smiling faces.  A part of me felt a bit confused after working at Thida the past two years–the morning assembly blasted on the microphone, the endless stream of kids running around, the sounds of motorbikes everywhere.  It was a nice change to be able to great parents on their way in and see the kids sing the morning anthem and play on the playground.

What was really nice was being able to work with all the STIS teachers.  They were all very welcoming and allowed me to come into their classrooms.  Often times a new teacher can disrupt classroom flow, so I appreciated them allowing to help–big thank yous to Lauren, Candace, Cati, Aleya, Marcus, Terrance, Danielle, and of course Peter to put the whole the whole thing together for me!

Throughout the course of the week, I got to work on reading, phonics, and conversation among other things with the various students.  I was very impressed with their English ability!  They have impressive vocabularies and great singing voices!

Perhaps my favorite student was Guideline.  A pre-k student, he tackled like a linebacker at only two years old.  I loved watching him play in class and eat his lunch (food everywhere!).  Apparently he enjoys wearing a super hero one-piece each day (pictured).

It was a great time at STIS and it even made my knowledge of Surat Thani town a bit more intimate as well.  I previously never traveled much on the highway and embarrassingly didn’t know the highway connected from Big C to the turn off for STIS to eventually go to Central.  I guess one learns something new each day!

Here are some pictures from the week!

 

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Sports around Surat Thani

When I first moved to Surat Thani I was unsure how active I would be. I am used to playing a lot of sports and being very active. However, when I arrived I found there are many ways that you can be active in Surat. There are many gyms to choose from and there is an island dedicated to outdoor workout machines . Also, there is a stadium with a variety of fields and activities.

My own experience of being active in Surat started from joining a gym. There are a variety of gyms to choose to from, but the best one I found was Premier Fitness. They offer different deals based on how many months you pre-purchase.

I also played for a football team here in Surat. It is ran by some other expats and every couple of months we competed in tournaments against other teams all over Southern Thailand. Throughout the year we played in Krabi, Koh Phangan and Nakhon Si Thammarat. Playing for the Surat Penguins was a great way to stay active while seeing new parts of Thailand.944946_463231357220749_7033684247384494703_n.jpg

There are many other different sports that people participate in. I know people who play touch rugby, tennis, golf and Thai Boxing. These are mainly organized on Facebook through the Surat Thani Teachers. This is also a good place to ask any questions that you may have.