Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ready, Set, Go!

Well, here I am, day three in Uttaradit. Where do I begin? For starters, I plan on using this blog not just to post about my personal experiences, but also to share resources about Thailand and archaeology as I come across them. For this reason I will employ "tags" to organize my posts. If you're family, and only interested in checking in on what's going on in my life, just look for the posts tagged "personal" and ignore the rest. As always, I will feature my favorite photos on this blog but all of them can be viewed on my Flickr page.

I flew into Chiang Mai late Friday night on a direct flight from Seoul (5 hours). Al was waiting there, tired after a five hour train ride (which was 3 hours delayed) and so we just shot over to our hotel to pass out for the night. We stayed at a cute guesthouse called Smile, recommended in the Lonely Planet. It was old but had a nice, cozy atmosphere. According to Lonely Planet it was an old hideout for Chinese opium smugglers-- cool! I saw my first starfruit tree there. There was no chance for sleeping in as the resident parrots decided our early start. We decided to head straight for Uttaradit-- we'll spend time touring Chiang Mai at a later date. We caught a comfortable bus which was actually faster than the train (4 hours instead of five) and relaxed while watching the jungle and farms go by.

Uttaradit is a pretty small city, but the provincial capital, so relatively well stocked with stores and activities. Right now we're getting around on Al's motorbike until we get international licenses and can buy a car. As there's a bike lane, and low traffic, it's pretty safe driving. We can cross the whole town in about 15-20 minutes.

We have a condo-type home out near the train station, in a cul-de-sac off the main town road. On our street are two huge homes and our row of 4 condos. We have a gated entrance/driveway and a small backyard with concrete walls. Right now the yard's covered in weeds but the landlady has promised grass soon. The place is two-story with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Of course, Thai style housing is different from in the West. A lot of people here live in wooden stilt homes, ours is concrete and Western-style but has a lot of parts that are open to the outdoors, which is more Thai-style. For this reason, we have to share our house with geckos. I don't mind though because they're cute and they eat all the bugs that I presume are also making their way in. I haven't caught one yet but Al assures me that they tire easily-- once I chase one long enough I'll catch it. :-) We use fans and only have AC in the bedroom. The top rooms all have balconies and huge windows so the breeze helps a lot too. Our landlady speaks English, which is great, and she has helped us with everything like getting Internet and stuff like that. The place is furnished, which has also been a great help in getting settled. I think Al did a great job in picking out a place for us!

He's already shown me around quite a bit including the most important part-- the best cafe!

We went out with Matt and Jiyoung (Al's friends who got us the jobs here) to a lake and temple in a neighboring town. So far, so good.

Al took me to school today to meet everyone. The university is Uttaradit Rajabhat University; it's quite nice. I won't know until September or October what exactly I will be teaching but they are already talking to me about how I can get involved in local archaeology.

As far as wildlife goes, this region was once rich in native Thai species, but, like everywhere in the world, sightings of some animals have gone down. The most exciting thing I've seen yet is a few Myna birds in our backyard.

OK, this is it for now. I'm glad to finally be here!

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