Eat, Eat, Love

It is true that fried rice with mixed vegetables topped with a fried egg (Khao Pat Paak, sigh Kaai Daao) is still my go-to favorite dish to order at a Thai restaurant; however, I’ve started to record and track other dishes that spark my palette more than the average Pat Thai or Pat See Yew (still favorites of mine!).

Khao Kha Moo

This dish has been a favorite from the start. The pork shanks braised in cinnamon, soy sauces, garlic and anise flavors, melt in your mouth. Combo that with pickled mustard greens, steamed bokchoy and green chili sauce and I’m in nirvana!

 

Khao Dtom Gai

This simple rice soup with chicken is a zesty classic for a rainy day (I ask for a bowl without the chicken feet). Fun fact: the brown nuggets are coagulated blood blocks!

Khao Man Gai
Simple shredded chicken on rice with the BEST ginger sauce ever! I crave this sauce…I plan to blend up a batch and store it once I buy some of the fermented soy bean sauce that the recipe calls for.

Khao Kluk Kapi

I adore this assorted dish; closest meal I’ve found to a salad and full of so many flavors! Shredded green mango, omelette, red onions, dried shrimp, sweet pork, sausage, chillies, cucumbers, carrots and top with cilantro and green onions.

 

Khao Paak Khing

Surprisingly, down south, I find it difficult to order just a simple stir fried plate of vegetables. In the more central regions, when I catch sight of fresh ginger in a food cart, I ask for them to cook up some veggies with ginger and chicken, and now this is a staple dish I cook on my own.

Joke

I’ve posted about Joke before. Another boiled rice soup, with a soft boiled egg, that you can eat in the morning or for 4th meal late at night. I love the fresh ginger of course and the fried dough on the side.

frieddough

Mangosteen or in Thai “Man-Coot”

Considered the Queen of Thai fruits, it is beautiful, fun to peel even though the rind’s juices stain your fingers pink, and the white part is pleasantly sweet.

 

Dragonfruit or in Thai “Gaeeo Man-Gon”

Also a beautiful fruit that is refreshing and light to eat.

Almost everything I eat is homemade and fresh (except an occasional salty cup of Ramen or Joke from 711) and there is always fruit available to snack on, which is healthy, but I’ve never eaten so much meat in my life!

Pork is daily here and many meals are simply rice and fish or rice and chicken (rice+anything) plus sugar-heavy (and very spicy) sauces. I eat eggs everyday so I am getting tons of carbs and proteins, and an overabundance of sugar, yet struggling for my doses of vegetables.

I question the nutritional choices of my students who eat fried chicken or an assortment of weird processed meats dipped in sweet sauces for breakfast, and always have an ice cream, sweet drink or sugared kanome in their hands after lunch. Not that American children make better choices, but it still bothers me because children are still building the foundations of their constitutions and there are so many better choices available!

I am lucky to be living in a country so many rich in culinary choices; nonetheless, the daily Thai meals I eat are not all flavorful masterpieces and the struggle to eat a balanced diet is a real struggle.

Here is a quick list of the foods I miss:

  • avocados
  • fresh olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • peanut butter
  • berries
  • bread
  • any type of sandwich
  • any type of salad
  • any type of cheese

Luckily, I am able to travel to Bangkok or other touristy destinations to satisfy some of my cravings…

Japanese Soba Noodles

A treat in Bangkok! If it’s not a pizza, hamburger or burrito, Japanese food is a great break from the daily Thai food. Never had cold Soba noodles until this meal; very enjoyable and vegetarian.

Cappuccino, Biscotti and Almond Croissant 

A treat from Kho Samui! I remember when I could eat this for breakfast everyday in Italy…

There’s no Praying on my adventures. Just Eating and Loving 🙂 xoxo

Stormy Reflections

An imagined conversation with Alan Alda:

Lauren: Hi, Alan. Nice to talk to you. I am currently in a foreign city away from my friends, family and comforts and I’m feeling a bit lonely. Any suggestions?

Alan: You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.

Lauren: Okay, so I have. Against my comfort, my intuition told me to dive into Thai waters, to explore the wilderness of fruit trees and tropical storms. I can see myself in everything and everything in me. It is wonderful AND frightening to see the sky reflect the storms in my soul. What now Alan?

Alan: Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.

Lauren: My assumptions, hm? Well, I assumed I was lonely based on the fact that I started a fake conversation with your famous quotes I found on Google, but maybe I’m not lonely… Maybe I’m just finding a unique way to entertain myself. Maybe I’m just bored? Ah yes, let the light shine through!

Alan: Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been.

Lauren: Well, I’m not sure that anyone has ever had a fake conversation with you, while in Thailand, wearing a green flowered paa-sin, at 2:30 in the afternoon and eating an instant noodle soup before. Here, now, in this moment, I am in a place and time where no one else has ever been.

Alan: Be as smart as you can, but remember that it is always better to be wise than to be smart.

Lauren: You’re right for calling me a smart-ass (then again, that’s an assumption). Wisdom is telling me that personal reflection is healing for the stormy soul and that sharing it on social media makes one feel less alone even if no one actually reads what one is writing. Now, I think I should go write a poem or meditate or something…

Alan: When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing one another.

Lauren: True. I’ll keep humor in my heart to stop myself from killing this jumping spider hopping around my desk. I can’t just assume he is a he or that he/she desires to bite me. Maybe the spider is just as bored as I am and wants a companion. Maybe the spider just wants to be happy.

Alan: It isn’t necessary to be rich and famous to be happy. It’s only necessary to be rich.

Lauren: Looks like I’m doomed for unhappiness for the next few years if that is the case…

Although, I’d argue that “rich” in experiences, fueled by boredom and loneliness, that often breed creativeness and a search for humor, can challenge one’s typical ideas and assumptions and ultimately lead to a unique discovery of oneself and a clearer window of wisdom in which to view the world…

Thanks for the chat Alan. I feel like the storms have subsided for now. I’m going to go spend some time in the sunshine.

Phonics Project

*to see cute mugshots of first graders and their nicknames, scroll to the end

I never wanted to be a classroom teacher. As I knew it would be, managing a classroom is HARD WORK.

The reason I accepted a volunteer position that spends most of its time in a classroom is twofold:

  1. I enjoy the coaching – my main goal is to empower the current Thai teachers with extra skills to improve their English teaching.
  2. I also enjoy language – exploring how best to learn a language and analyzing language at its most fundamental core.

One thing I am currently enjoying is implementing the basics of Phonics across all the grade levels. I even have my 9th graders learning Zoo phonics (letter name, letter sound and animal movement for each letter) and playing games creating CVC words (C=consonant and V=vowel). I am using a lot skills from the LIPS program I used at my former Educational Coaching position that are multi-sensory and used in speech therapy.

Consider for a moment, what these kids are expected to learn:

  • In first grade, these students start to learn Thai
    • 44 consonant symbols
    • 13 vowels (which make about 26 vowel combinations)
    • each letter has a name, sound and a special position (vowels may go over, under, to the left or to the right of a consonant)
  • THEN these students are learning English
    • 52 new symbols (capitals plus lowercase letters, the former of which they don’t understand the concept since there are no capitals in Thai)
    • although we have 5 vowels letters, there are over 30 vowels combinations
    • learn which letters match (“A” and “a” do not exactly look alike)
    • each letter has a name, sound and with many “rule exceptions” to the latter

Needless to say, this is quite a challenging task compounded by the fact that the Thai teachers do not feel comfortable teaching the fundamentals of English, yet are given a curriculum that does a poor job of setting a foundation paired with standards that are morbidly unrealistic. Yes, children do have minds like sponges, but it’s difficult to soak up a foreign language when the content skips the basics and when your teachers are speaking in your native tongue.

I am lucky that even my counterpart in charge of teaching English from grades 4-9, is on board with starting from the basics. Below are my goals stated in a 2 year plan I must submit to the Peace Corps staff and the Thai government by the end of the month:

  • Year 1, Term 1
    • Phonics across all grade levels
    • Teacher trainings
  • Year 1, Term 2
    • Conversational English at morning assemblies and school-wide participation
  • Year 2, Term 1
    • English leadership roles: Morning English News, English Theater Project
  • Year 2, Term 2
    • Reading program
    • Thai Teachers training other Thai teachers

 




 

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