of soaring & dreaming

September 1, 2008

Field Trip to Chiangmai (Part 1)

Filed under: Events,Sustainable Communities Course,travel — carnationzky @ 10:19 am
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I just loved the color & design of the bus upholstery!

I just loved the color & design of the bus upholstery!

We were excited to see in the training schedule that we would be traveling up to Chiangmai, one of the major tourist destinations in Thailand. The last time I was there was about a year ago, on my way to Phayao province. During this training we would just spend one day in Chiangmai due to limited time. We flew by Air Asia early in the morning and then took the last flight on the same day back to Bangkok. I was both excited and also worried since we were scheduled to leave AIT at 430 am, and gauging by my waking time during the past few days, I was not sure whether I could wake up that early. Everybody had the same thought. So the night before we left, I set three types of alarm in my mobile phone as it has no snooze function. I am using a simple and cheap one. In addition, I also set my husband’s mobile phone to ring, which has a snooze function. In this way, I had at least four different alarm sounds trying to wake me up. Target time was 330 am. Too early for all of us. I also slept late that night so I barely had 5 hours’ sleep. But wake up I did when the phones started their chorus. I still had time for a cup of coffee and a shower, and off I biked to AITCC to meet with the rest of the group and arrived there before 430.

With my SEA-UEMA colleagues.

With my SEA-UEMA colleagues.

Most of us slept in the van on the way to the airport and even during the flight. Some of us had breakfast on the plane even though we had our own snack box. I had a cup of hot chocolate and tuna crackers.

When we arrived in Chiangmai, we were led to the parking lot where a big tour bus was waiting. It was good so we could all travel in one group. During the past days traveling we had to use four vans and travel separately. And we had to be with our own group! It would have been nice to also travel with the others for more exchanges and varied experiences.

Since we had some time still before our appointment with the Chiangmai city officials, we toured the old city and then stopped at one of the temples. Most of us took photos of the buildings especially the ones with interesting art works. Then it was time to go meet the officials. We were there for the whole morning, listening to presentations. I had to stand many times and walk around just so I would not doze off. I knew the minute I closed my eyes, those camera flashes would go off. Actually nearly everyone was watching who would sleep and we would take photos of them. Just for fun! The sessions in the morning were both interesting and thought provoking. But our group was too big and there was too much information for an effective interaction. So by lunch time we were nearly out of energy, and so sleepy. We were glad there was some coffee and snacks to perk us up. Nice Thai hospitality again!

Keeping eyes and ears open!

Keeping eyes and ears open!

We had our buffet lunch at Centara Grand Hotel which was quite nice as there was a variety of food. We had about 1.5 hours before our afternoon field visits. Then it started to rain. We were hoping that it would stop by the time we arrived at the first field site but it was still raining a little bit. So they distributed raincoats and we all felt like we were from outer space going into the community. After a short walk we felt so hot in our raincoats, as the rain had already stopped.

Seriously considering urban planning & tourism issues?

Seriously considering urban planning & tourism issues?

Housing provided by the city to relocate residents living on the river banks.

Housing provided by the city to relocate residents living on the river banks.

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August 2, 2008

have time? will travel …

It was in June when my sister in Manila informed me that she and my niece, Kate, will be going to Singapore towards the end of July. My niece, who is a student at the Shirley Halili-Cruz Dance School in Quezon City, is joining the school group for some ballet competition (the 10th Asia-Pacific Dance Competition). I was so excited to hear about it and immediately I started to check my calendar. It would be nice to meet up in Singapore, it being nearer and easier to go to (from Bangkok, that is) than to the Philippines.

Fortunately, I had so many days of leave credits which I need to use up before my contract ends in August. As the case here at AIT, as a fixed term contract worker, we could not carry over our leave credits to the next contract period, even if it is within the same project. And it could not be converted to cash either. So if you do not use them, you lose. After all the hard work … hmmm… It was also a surprise that I accumulated that many leave credits because there was no official announcement from our HRO that the monthly leave credit was increased from 1 to 1.5 days. I dunno even when it started. Am just so happy to learn that but I wished I knew earlier so I did not have to take leave without pay a few months earlier (in April) when I went home to Philippines for my holiday. So now I am left with about 10 days leave with barely 2 months to go in my contract. And with a 2 week training program to participate in the following month (August), I have few remaining days to work and so how can I use them up?

So there, the opportunity came up to travel. And I can choose to go as long as I want but it’s not only my own sked to consider. My DH has to come, too, and we have to check his sked whether he could take leave. Fortunately again, that period in July is graduation time at the university where he is teaching. In Thailand, graduation ceremonies take days to complete, so there is basically no work to be done during that period. Which means he is free to take leave as well and travel. So schedule wise, we are ok.

Now the time to check for flights and accommodations. We know that flights to Singapore from Bangkok have a wide range of prices and choices of airlines. Sometimes they really have cheap promos but during this period, there was none. So we had to check the budget airlines and we were able to book one with Air Asia. That’s ok. Next comes the accommodation. So expensive in hotels, that’s out of the question. In the meantime we contacted our dear friend, Lailin and she offered to find one for us among her friends. So that was solved.

So everything was set, we just had to wait. In the meantime, excitement is building up. We do not normally travel just for a holiday. Except for the visit to home in the Philippines, the travels we often do are work-related (professional) and with the ministry. And in times of economic difficulties, work related travel is a good enough chance to travel as a tourist as well. So no need to plan for expensive holidays.

I will be writing blogs on varied topics related to our Singapore trip in the following days. So stay tuned!

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