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JenUwin Adventures Blog

Jenifer has left the US and is traveling in S.E Asia, specifically Thailand, to study Kung Fu, volunteer in rural villages and to teach English in North Thailand. Follow my JenUwin Adventures blog for insight into my journey!

Hua Hin - My Thailand "Home Town"

Living and Working in Hua Hin, Thailand

January-March 2019

Halio Alternative Learning International School

Teaching at Halio has been quite an adventure! The school has 1/2 Thai 1/2 European or other kids aged from preschool to age 12. There are 33 primary kids and 11 kinder kids. There are 5 other teachers besides myself. Monday is yellow day and Wednesday is green day here in Thailand. I really enjoy my teaching outfits of slacks or skirts with blouses or nice t-shirts. You can see a selection below in the pictures. We work barefoot at school which I really like! I’ve made quite an impression on the school and have many bonds with the children. This term I designed my own classes for these elementary kiddos including: World Mythology, Storytime Drawing, Bubble Science Club and of course Music!

Storytime Drawing is a class where I read a story aloud and they draw a picture that shows the “important aspects of a story”. For example, magic beans, a cow and a beanstalk with a castle in the clouds would be Jack and the Beanstalk! I read them folktales from around the world and fairytales from the book Land of Stories, classic fairytales retold by Chris Colfer (author of a the Land of Stories book series I really love - check it out! ) You can see pictures of the students works in the gallery below. I also read them the Moomin story and also the Itz Weeble story - 2 of my extra favorites! I also introduced them to Dr. Seuss.

In Bubble class, we explored bubbles using our hands and various implements such as string wands, pipe cleaner wands, circle hoops, and coat hangers. The class was a lot of fun for the kids and a lot of work for me with all the set up, gear and classroom management that was required. It was also very messy and there were issues with tainting the grass or kids slipping on non grass surfaces. It’s hot in Thailand and it was a challenge to get the bubble mix just right for the long amazing bubble forms. See, the air inside must be hotter than the air outside to float…. and…. hot sun makes water evaporate quickly which makes bubbles pop sooner. We did indeed use J-Lube and vegetable glycerine. The water here is also heavy in minerals which can also weigh down bubbles. All in all it was a great experience to do and brought a lot of joy to the kids and school environment. You can see in the gallery a lot of the wild fun with had with this experimental class!

World Mythology was so fun to design and teach! I taught them about how myths are different than fairytales or legends. I covered the topics of origin stories and the Greek Pantheon. At the end of term they were to create their own creation myth using the guidelines of character, god/goddess of _______, from ______, that made the world by _____________ and their supernatural powers are __________. They also were to either perform a myth (rewritten for them by yours truly) or to create a presentation board about a Greek God/Goddess and present infront of the school the character, symbols, stories and significant elements. This encouraged imagination and deeper comprehension of the elements of Mythology.

In Music class, we sang and danced to a variety of songs from my teaching repertoire. I also brought in my saxophone, taught them rhythm games with cups or hands, and of course used music from my album, JenUwin Joy!

The kids are so fun - one day they started drawing my tattoo on their arms. Another day I caught them playing dress up during their free time. We love to draw and sing and play and explore and adventure around. They also have ‘football’ games that I attend and cheer on both teams. Albeit wild, these kids were a delight!

On Fridays we take adventures to different places. One day it was waterfalls on the top of a Stone Mountain and we visited 6 levels before arriving at the top. Another day we went to a water park called Vana Nava and HAD A BLAST! We’ve gone to the beach and to the river, to the mountains and to the parks. These days are super special and I really enjoy just spending time with the kids, seeing through their eyes and doing what they want to be doing. Its so easy and interesting to be present with children, very rewarding this time was.

People I’ve Met!

One of the great things about traveling is meeting people from all around the world. Often I see these people only one and have a great day or experience with them. Sometimes I get to see them again if they live in Hua Hin. My hotel is a common place for people to stay while they study Muay Thai (Thai boxing) and so I meet a lot of Germans that way. I met a Canadian man in Bangkok with the same arm tattoo as I have! I hung out with him and his GF for a portion of the day. I met a woman and child from Indonesia and they taught me how to say purple! I met some Americans who are ex-pats living in Chiang Mai and we played music 2 Sundays in a row at SSHHH bar and had an epic whistle duo solo which was amazing. I went out with my sax one night and jammed with a guitarist in a restaurant. BTW - Thailand has live music everywhere, everynight, all the time. My Thai gal friend Tippiwan is a parent at Halio (and actually introduced me to the school) and a teacher of Thai cooking. My Thai police man friend Sunan and I practice English together. His wife and child are very lovely. He likes to ride his bike out to different nature areas and I meet him there on my scooter for some culture and adventure. Sunan introduced me to Adisorn, another police man, this one works at the King’s Palace, who has become a great adventure buddy. We got to temples and waterfalls and caves. Thru Adisorn I’ve developed my Thai and he his English (who spoke very little at the start of our friendship). We enjoy laughing and sharing and of course eating! The little dog I’ve named “squibbles” and he greets me every afternoon and evening when I come home. I also met a traveling solo female from Holland who was fresh off the train and I gave her directions to the hostel I once stayed at. The next day I took her around Hua Hin and we got lunch and a massage and walked on the beach, went to the night market for a snack and enjoyed great conversation all day. I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting so many interesting people along this journey and I’m so glad to know they exist.

Places I’ve Gone & Adventures I’ve Taken!

I get out regularly for adventures going about 1-2 hours north or south of Hua Hin. One day I went to a Thai wedding. On the way we stopped by a temple and climbed way way high amongst monkeys to get a panorama view of 3 bays. Beautiful flowers and statues along the way.

One weekend I bipped out to BKK for a day to visit the FORDEC children’s charity founded by the author of a book I read and was inspired by, Boy with a Bamboo Heart. There I help feed the children, played music on the piano, colored, shared Tue Tue and Dodi Li in dance and song, bubble playtime and offered my light and attention to the children. Donations are welcomed and much appreciated at this lovely organization and I’d like to do whatever I can to help them. They are doing very well and have a strong foundation and infrastructure. I would like it if people would donate to this charity for my birthday this year. FORDEC stands for Foundation for Rehabilitation and Development of Children. If you feel inspired to give to them, here are the details to do so. [ Wire Money thru the bank to: Account number 130-5-86325-8, Bangkok Bank, Bangna Brach Swift Code: BKK BTH BK. They will use the money for Milk & Food lunch. See pictures below.

I’ve been to amazing viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls and mangrove forests. I’ve been on boats and safe on my scooter. I visited a beach place where there was a giantess woman who fell in love with a man playing the flute and she died because they couldn’t be together. I visited a cave with many many many buddhas in it. I got a “sak yant” which is a sacred Buddhist tattoo - mine is of a Das Bua (lotus) with the Thai “Om” symbol along with a blessing that it similar to “good luck”. Here in Thailand, monks cannot touch women. This monk has left the lifestyle and continues his sacred practice of bamboo tattoo. My ink healed quickly and the process was not super painful. He sang a chant before and after and chewed a seed that made his teeth red.

Lifestyle

Squibbles meets me outside my apartment and joyful humps my leg or skips around. I pet him and play with him for a while every day. Most food comes out of a bag and with a stick. My favorite market food is Moo Ping (milk soaked BBQ pork) with rice and a pineapple shake. I order all these things speaking Thai and can also make them laugh or feel appreciated using my Thai skills. I see monkeys often and they do cool things. I found a purple unicorn in the airport! I go to dance class to learn “cover dance” which is great for your mind and body coordination and new moves! I go play badminton often and really love the game! One gets very hot and sweaty inside and its a great form of exercise. I also teach ukulele lessons to Russian kids every week. I am practicing speaking more and more Thai each week and really enjoying it! I go out and play music and am becoming known to the local musicians here. I’d love to find a way to play on one of the outdoor food garden stages. My apartment is beautiful, not big nor small, colorful and cozy. I drive safely on my scooter and know my way all around Hua Hin. I brought my Jima Unicorn Robot back from the US and did some programming on it here. The kids really enjoyed interacting with it (of course!). I’m really having a great time being immersed in the culture, having gotten over the various stages of culture shock and adjustment, having made friends and have a variety of activities to participate in, I feel good - happy, healthy and relaxed.