Thursday, October 12, 2006
I spend a surprising amount of time traveling to other parts of Thailand for conferences, trainings, and the occassional bout of fun. Though we had a Peace Corps training at a beach location for 2 weeks, we spent most of the time at work and training! So I am still waiting for my big Thai beach adventure, which is going to be at Christmas time with my dear friend Kerry! The statues were pictures I took at a cool wat (temple) in Phrae province. The wat in the cave is amazing -- built about 100 years ago by King Rama V in Hua Hin, south of Bangkok. You have to climb down and down into a cavern. The roof of the cavern collapsed long ago, letting a shaft of light and rain come down into cave. So deep in earth long trees reach for the sky, and the wat hides like a secret.
Here it is, the pictures you've been waiting for. Well, maybe not. ;)
Remember my house? The white one on stilts? Well the stilts turned out to be useful
afterall, saving my bedroom and livingroom from the mud. But a lot of people were not as lucky. The woman in purple sandbaged her house, but the mud and tides prevailed. All that slush she is in is about 8 inches of silt and mud. Even now, 4 1/2 months later, most of the government's efforts is focused on flood rehabilitation in my community.
No, May is not the cool springtime we think of in the U.S. It's still hot. Really hot. Among the highlights for the month (pre-flood) were a big bike trip to with about 300 people from the northern provinces (I was the only farang in sight!), and lots of good cultural events. School break is from late Feb - April, so things start to quiet down in May when the kids are back to school.
I just can't seem to get a grip on this blogging thing. That's why I leave computer science to the computer people. I'm a people person. So that is my main excuse for not updating you aall with pictures for the last six months. But I'm trying! So here goes, hope it works!
These pictures are from our famous festivals in March and April -- Songkran, the Thai water-fight new year; and The Elephant Ordination. You can kind of guess what happens here -- everyone dresses up in "Thai Puan" clothes, Thai Puan being the Lao ethnic group that lives in my area. We dance in street parades, alongside elephants, children, all the while throwing water at each other. It was the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad hot season, and these festivals are a brilliant relieft from all the heat!
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
No, no. There's no real danger. Just trying to survive the biggest 2 weeks of parties I've seen in my life. It's been nuts here. Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year was last week. however, this festival has been transformed into a week-long water fight, party, get crazy and drunk and go wild. As it's the hot season, all the kids are off school for a couple months, and everyone is fried from the heat, I think my community took this as a great opportunity to go completely crazy. People are getting ordained as monks daily (each ordination is a multi-day party too), so I'm going to parties like crazy. In fact, I just came back from a party this morning. Then there's parades, dancing, fairs... Who knew Thais were such partying fools?
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Conor, me and Becky. :)
My real boyfriends. On the left is Carl, who just the day before swearing-in decided he didn't want to be a volunteer. He is a fantastic guy and usually spends 1 month every year in Thailand (for the last 35 years or something like that) and he is a retired foreign service officer. On the right is Ron, on his second PC tour. Ron is a biker like me but has a spill 6 weeks ago and broke his hip. Amazingly, PC let him stay and he is only 80 km from my site, so I expect to see him. :)
Arnold, me and Pam. Pam is awesome -- this is her 2nd PC tour and she also did Crisis Corps in New Orleans. When I'm stuck in weird situations I often ask myself, "What would Pam do?" For fairness, Arn is awesome too. Just because :)
This is Conor. You met him before. Ok, cat's out of the bag. We've been dating more than 2 months now, and he's wonderful. Sorry to put that out there publically, C. You know, he's also shorter than me. So I must like him. :)
This is Dr. Dan. He's not really a doctor. But he has that special something about him.
Group 1 in Thailand, 45 years ago!!!! There were more people than this in group 1, about 60 altogether I think. But it's cool to see how many women were in these first groups!!!!
Welcome dinner at the Counterpart Conference. The guy to my right hand is Arnold, one of the nearest volunteers to me. The guy on my left who you can't see is my counterpart. Say goodbye to cloth napkins, everyone.
My friend Bee, one of our Thai ajans, in the most ridiculously fancy shopping mall I have ever seen in my life. Is this really the peace corps? I'm in a country where my closest neighbor lives in a shack (really), and then there's a shopping mall with only designer merchandise that is so fancy I felt like a real hillbilly in it. By the way, Bee is being very chic. She nevers looks this serious in real life. :)
Conor eating gui-dio -- noodle soup. Ok, it's late... very late. We went out to a fantastic club in Bangkok, the first club I've been too in ages. About 15 volunteers came and we had an awesome time doing the metro thing. The last time I'll do that in a long time!!!!!!!!
Some last pictures from Uthai Thani, but worth putting in. Here I am learning to fluff cotton. Cotton weaving by hand is so time consuming. I saw four steps at this cotton weaving facility -- picking out seeds, fluffing, spinning, spinning again. The easiest is fluffing it, which this lady let me do for a while. The hardest is spinning. I tried that for about an hour and probably created more of a mess than before I got there. So that's why there's no picture of me spinning.
Coronel Sanders happened to be at the same cotton weaving place. He's had a make-over, however. Facial, painted-in Asian eyes, painted black hair. Thais dislike facial hair and grey hair, so I guess this is the Thai cousin of Kentucky's Coronel Sanders.
Monday, March 27, 2006
So here is view of the living room. The house has pretty sparse furniture, but that's ok. I figure I'll buy a table and chairs, and a hammock and some floor pillows. But it's perfect -- not too fancy, not too rugged.
View when you walk in the door. The open door is the bedroom. You can't see it, but on the left hand side is the little living room.
Full on view of my house! The two downstairs doors are the kitchen and the bathroom. I'm lucky because the kitchen is already fully equipped (with running water and a sink!!) and the bathroom has a shower head (lucky!) but no hot water. The ground is dirt there, and there's a traditional table for lying on/eating on/lounging on you can kind of see behind the stairs. To the left and right of the house these are small gardens. I couldn't be happier about that. :)
I spent Saturday with the closest PCV to me, Arnold, and his host father. We started off taking a bike ride through a local historical park, then we hopped in a car and drove to visit the nearby national park. Let me say, national parks in Thailand are extremely beautiful, but don't expect the paved pathways of Yellowstone. We decided to take a "brief" 6 km hike, which ended up being a tretcherous test of survival skills. Our desitination was Tarawasan Cave, which when we got there, was a huge pile of rocks and a sign inviting the visitor to climb down the rocks into the cave any which way you could. Oh yes, and it was 100 degrees outside and we ran out of water.
On the left: family eating on the floor, a very traditional way of eating. Furniture requires wealth and this therefore a luxury. So the floor is like furniture. And Thais are very clean, especially with feet. Shoes are never worn in the house, you never walk barefoot outside, and floors are mopped daily. Here is a picture of the nephew mopping the floor. You can see how the house is partitioned by furniture rather than walls.
Another note about cleanliness: taking showers is very important here, both for cleanliness and to keep cool. Yesterday I took FIVE showers. I don't get my hair wet, but it's just a like a quick cool-down, especially nice because it's the HOT SEASON.