Saturday, February 14, 2015

To Each His Own Face Tattoo

Sometimes in Thailand people invite you to do things like visit a temple on your day off, and you agree because you are a good Peace Corps Volunteer, but then you are woken up at 4 am by them telling you its time to get up and go.  This is how my week started.  I admit, I've never fully mastered the Thai time system, as it divides the day into 4 sections and the numbers start over for each one, so usually I just nod and agree when people are discussing time.  Punctuality is not taken very seriously here, so it's never been a problem, but this time it was.  For me.

I ended up dragging myself over to my neighbor's house in the dark with the dog that lives at my house for protection.  (I have recently begun to accept that this is my dog whether I want her to be or not.  She follows me everywhere, doesn't have a name, and I don't think anyone else gives her food, so, I suppose she is my dog.  I should give her a name.  She is gold colored and pretty small, I think she is still a puppy, but the trait that sticks out most about her is her interest in weaving in and out of my legs and tripping me when I walk.  It is the most frustrating thing ever and I need to train her not to do it.) I greeted the car full of grandmothers and promptly fell asleep for the 2 hour long ride.  Once at the temple, which was a 'wat baa', or forest temple, aka there was no building, only scenery, we waited a while for the monks to wake up and come retrieve their rice from the long line of people that had come from far and wide to make merit.



Me scooping rice for the head monk.




We then went and sat inside of a big hall, offered the monks tray after tray of foodstuffs, and sat while they chanted Pali scriptures.  At this point, I was feeling so tired, I didn't know if I was going to make it.  But I was comforted by the fact that once we were done listening to chanting, we would eat and then go home.
We did eat, but much to my dismay, we were a LONG ways away from returning.  During the meal it was announced, "Look, your friend is here."  Turns out another white girl was in attendance, whom I would be confused with and made to answer questions about all day. "No, she is not my sister."  "No, I am not (insert another Thai flower name), I am lotus flower."  "Sorry, I don't want to talk to her anymore, she only speaks French anyway."  (I did try.)  "Thank you, I agree that I am prettier than her." And so on. 

At this point it is still only 9 am.  I am told that it is time to work.  We climb a mountain and then begin constructing a COLOSSAL concrete structure called a 'jedi'.  I helped by passing buckets of concrete down a line for the next 5 hours.  While it was no bueno at the time because I was the kind of tired that you feel sick to your stomach and your body can't regulate it's temperature, at least I helped create something that will definitely outlast humanity.  (Take that how you will.)


THIS.  (Objects in photo are larger than they appear.)



Construction monk at the concrete mixer.




Once we finished with the manual labor for the day, I walked with an old lady to check out the view.  I was told this is where the monks come to meditate.  Pretty good spot I think, if you're into that kind of thing.


As it turns out, I'm not.  This is a shot taken during the final seated session of the day.  I don't know why it is so hard for me to sit still, but I just can't do it.   Staying seated throughout all of the chanting and listening to the monks speak really starts to hurt your legs; your hands become so heavy that holding them like that affects your back, and forget keeping your eyes closed without falling asleep. I don't compare myself to the Thais though, because they have been practicing their whole lives, and also I have little interest in this practice apart from observing for educational purposes.


On the way home I finally admitted that I was tired because I hadn't been able to sleep.  I was then informed by Kru Joom, the teacher that invited me, that apparently no one can sleep the night before they go to this wat for the first time.  Spooky, but Kru Joom loves to say stuff like this.  She also told me that the head monk can read minds and cure cancer... 


In school this week I continued with my Valentine's and self-esteem activities.


I encouraged them to come up with designs of their own.  We had quite a few traditional heart and flower shapes.


Then we also had some animal designs!


I particularly admire this artist's bold disregard for spaces.  He probably did this because Thai sentences do not use spaces.


Thai flag!  "I love myself because I am creative, generous, and indepent (independent)".  D'aww


<3


Please note the leaf design, Pooh Bear, the card that says "Rebecca" many times, and the abstract pastel heart face.


Watermelon!


The board at my main school. 


Beautiful.


 I must admit that I received more Valentine's this year than I ever have.  So many students gave me fake roses, I now have a full bouquet, along with candies, cards, and stickers that they wrote sweet nothings on such as, "Teacher lotus flower is beautiful" and "naa-rak jing jing" (really really cute).  It's weeks like this that I understand why teachers keep teaching.  It's such an exhausting job, but then when you teach them the question, "Who do you love?" and they answer, "I love Teacher Rebecca", it makes it almost worth it. It was really sweet hearing their responses.  We had a lot of  "I love my father" and "I love my mother", but then they started saying each others' names, as well as one kid who loyally professed, "I love my wife."

On another, totally separate note from our lovefest this week, I had a nasty surprise when I walked in to my counterpart's office on Wednesday to see her red and irritated freshly tattooed eyebrows.  My face must have betrayed my initial shock because she asked me if I was okay.  I had seen her car parked at the beauty shop an hour earlier.  I should have stopped to intervene.  Last month the same thing happened with my supervisor. I do not understand why tattooing your eyebrows is becoming a fad, especially when they do it in unnatural colors like dark purple.  But whatever, to each his own face tattoo.

On Friday morning I saw my first animal slaughtering.  I was sitting outside the office just minding my own business when the maintenance guys walked over, holding a live chicken, and chanting 'dtom gai, dtom gai' (boiled chicken).  I asked how they were going to kill the chicken, afraid they were just going to boil it alive, and they made a throat-slitting motion.  They then held the chicken upside down, pulled the neck out, and slit it's jugular vein.  As blood spurt out a foot, I gagged and remembered why I wanted to be a vegetarian when I was little.  If we all had to kill our own food, I'm sure more people would be.  I don't think I could do it.

Finally, this weekend I fulfilled a promise to help out at a 100 day post-death party for a grandmother that died in the community.  I helped by serving food and cleaning up tables.  It was fun but super chaotic, with lots of people running around doing whatever they saw that needed to be done- bringing more rice, consolidating leftovers into a huge pot to be re-served, or seating guests.  At one point someone turned to me, laughed, and said in English, "no system!".  No kidding.  It's amazing how Thai's rarely have a system, but they have so many people helping that things get done.  There were at least 60 people there just to cook and serve the hundreds of guests.  Events like this really make you realize how, in a city, you may be one of millions but only have a handful of friends, but in a village of only hundreds, you will die and every last one of them will miss you and help celebrate your life. 


The remaining bones (in the vesicle behind the photo) are dug up 100 days after the body is cremated.  After this party they will be taken and put into the wall of the temple.  Yes, that is a money tree.


The trays of food that are taken to each table regardless of how many people sit down. Some of the menu items on this day were Kanom Jeen, a sweet noodle eaten with raw vegetables and a sweet bean soup, gang nom  mai or bamboo curry, a sweet boiled egg stew with pork, and for dessert, a thick purple coconut milk and tapioca ball concoction served hot. Delicious.


Porch sitting party-goers enjoying some ice cream.  Note: blue tent.  All parties in my village end up looking alike because each one borrows the tent, tables and chairs from the wat.



In conclusion, it was a great week!  I love you!



Friday, February 6, 2015

Weekend Update

At the suggestion of my mother (who is smart and has good ideas), I am going to try to start recapping my activities weekly in an attempt to resuscitate my blog.  This will also be good for me to look back on later and hopefully jog my memory, which is something I require as my frontal lobe sometimes fires at zero capacity.  For example, I literally cannot remember what I did last week, so I will start with this week.

Following a weekend filled with Western food and English-speaking in Khon Kaen, and a somewhat frustrating Monday in which many of my students had forgotten their assignments, my Tuesday was very uplifting.  I arrived at school to teach my Matayom 2's (like 8th graders), prepared for the worst.  2 weeks earlier I had assigned their final project in our Entrepreneurship unit- for them to get in groups of four and present a business plan of their own design- and I was expecting them to arrive unprepared.  However, they surprised me by trickling in early with meticulously decorated posters, and much more enthusiasm than I am used to.  Maybe it's because I promised a prize to the best group.  Something I should probably pull through on.  Each and every student proceeded to shock me by remembering the role I assigned them in their group, (the entrepreneur, the operations manager, the finance manager, and marketing director), and answering all questions thoughtfully.  They even listened when their classmates presented.  The stars had finally aligned in my guidance classroom.

 
This group planned a construction company.
 


Blurry Business Plan for a Clothing Store


The highlight of my Wednesday was when I gave one of my students the awareness calendar that the Peace Corps Thailand HIV/AIDS group sent out featuring his artwork.  He received it from me solemnly, wai-ing before accepting it, but when he turned around, I saw him running to his friends and proudly showing them the calendar with the biggest grin on his face. 

Many of my classes this week consisted of making Valentine's cards, which, if you know me, is something I love to do.  However these weren't just any Valentine's cards, no sirree, these are special Valentine's to OURSELVES. AWWWWW.  I started out the lesson by reviewing some positive English vocabulary we can use to describe ourselves; for example, kind, generous, helpful, etc.  I said, "If you are helpful, raise your hand and say 'I am helpful'".  At the beginning, only a few kids were shyly raising their hands to own their positive qualities, but each time, more and more students were confidently professing how great they are.  Next, I explained that inside of our Valentine's cards we will write, "I love myself because ..." and then write 3 positive qualities.  It sounds cheesy because it is, but when you start having kids coming up to ask you if they can write more than 3 positive qualities about themselves because they are realizing that they have so many, you decide that sometimes cheesy is good.



The kids are still working on their Valentine's so I will wait until next week to post their freaking adorable cards.  Get excited.  I may even have some coming my way, as I had a few requests for how to write statements such as, "Thank you Teacher Lotus Flower for loving us", and "Teacher Rebecca is beautiful."  This February is shaping up nicely.  I've already gotten one rose stuck in a heart that was presented to me by a classroom of students.  I artfully ignored that they were pointing at their male teacher insinuating that it was from him.

Today I met with my tutor to work on some things for Thai Youth Theatre.  I am getting pretty excited, it starts in three weeks!  I am trying to make it as fun as possible.  So far the camp will not only include performances that the students have brought, but also sessions in sword-fighting, mask-making, singing, dancing, and costume design! YAY.  Although I arrived at her house at 9, the first hour or so was spent at the edge of her property watching some students participating in the nearby school's scout camp.  They were dressed all in black, and holding firecrackers.  Turns out they were supposed to be robbers waiting on a caravan of younger students to pass by, so they could set off the firecrackers and surprise them, to demonstrate the importance of constant vigilance while traveling. Or something.

 
I also spent a while in the garden learning how to pull tamarinds off of high branches with a stick.
 
For lunch Kru Mom taught me how to make Tom Yom Gung.  I tried to take enough video and pictures to make an instructional video.  I figure a video is more helpful than a written recipe anyway.  We took the Tom Yom Gung over to the neighbors where they were making Som Tam and Pak Mi, which is essentially Pad Thai.  So it was basically a lunch of the most famous Thai dishes ever.  It was delicious.  Afterwards, I helped write on a bunch of plates that some neighbors are donating to the wat in celebration of their loved one's 100th death day.  (Sorry I don't know what else to call the anniversary of someone's death).
 
So, all in all, good day.  And good week.  Oh, and I mustn't forget-  I love myself because I am brave, generous, and really, really, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD-LOOKING. <3











Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas in Korat


Believe it or not, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.  Kids are bundled up in heavy coats, scarves and mittens, and people have been asking me for over a month now if I’m cold.  (It literally got up to 91 degrees today.)    I have seen a smackering of holiday-related artifacts around the village as well- a home-made card here, a gift wrapped carton of milk there ; and today I pointed to the North Pole on a map to explain to a room full of suspicious 11 year olds just where in the world I was sending their letters to Santa.

At the risk of emphasizing the consumerist aspect of Christmas, I had my English students make a list of things they may want Santa to bring them. This is not only a (somewhat weak) cultural exchange, but also an opportunity for them to practice their writing and vocabulary.  Just as I was writing suggestions on the board like, “love”, and “happiness”, the students started asking me, “How do you spell 'Iphone 6?'” and “What is 'rice truck' in English?”
 
 
 
I can especially relate to this one, because not only was the first thing she thought of a parrot, she also desires a fairy, a vest, and a squirrel.  Solid list.
 
Earlier this week I was invited on a Christmas day bai tiaw (fun trip) with the elementary schoolers to a place called "Jim Thompson Farm".  It was explained to me that this is a place with lots of pumpkins and flowers.  That turned out to be a completely accurate description.  I believe Jim Thompson was an American involved in the silk trade that set up shop here in Issan.
 
 
I was made to wear a Santa hat along with an orange shirt.  Because in Thailand you always have to wear matching shirts.  It's a thing.
 
 
We took a train ride through endless fields of flowers.

 
Obligatory pumpkin shot.

 
Beautiful!

 
Students hanging out under a tree.

 
<3
 
 
I found a reindeer.

 
Khun Yai making some pots for sticky rice.

 
Popsicle break!  I had some tasty pumpkin flavored ice cream scooped over sticky rice.

 
Santa checks out a rice sifter.

 
Puppet show!

 
This is a game that I see at various festivals and temple fairs.  I didn't get it at first because it is so simple.  Basically you take a stick and knock off the paper flowers.  In the paper flowers is a piece of paper.  You then exchange the piece of paper for things like noodles or toilet paper.
 
 
 
So much orange.
 
Christmas in Thailand may be lacking a bit in the way of family, food, and presents, but it's not so bad.  In a few days I'm headed to Goh Phangan to ring in the new year!  I wish everyone a happy holiday.
 
 
(Merry Christmas and a happy new year!)

 
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Making Sweets With Virgins


The other day I was caught off guard when a girl that I was eating lunch with asked me out of the blue, “Are you a virgin?”  It wasn’t until Wednesday, when I was told to go to the temple to watch the virgins make sweets together that I understood her intentions. 
In honor of Awkpansah, or the end of Buddhist lent, community members come together at the temple to offer kanoms, or sweets, to the monks.  One traditional kanom that everyone spends all day making together is called "kaw tip".  There are a few things that you need to know about kaw tip, the first being that only virgins can make it.  It was explained to me that the girls must swear their virginity before the monks in order to join in the festivities, however I saw some people stirring that were most definitely not virgins.  I was pretty relieved when I arrived and no monks made me profess this.  The other thing you need to know is that kaw tip is the kanom of the angels.  I'm not sure if you become more of an angel when you eat it, or maybe the virgins who made it are the angels, but at any rate, kaw tip has something to do with angels, okay?

It is made by stirring various fruits and nuts together in a giant cauldron for a very long time until a brown lumpy paste is achieved.  Then it is bagged up and everyone gets a little bit of the sweet snack/ some angel wings. 

This is me helping.
 


That day, I also helped my tutor make some kanoms on her family compound. 

You start off by creating a ball out of rice flour dough.

 
 Then, you flatten the ball and fill it up with a mixture of coconut, sugar, and sesame seeds.  After you pinch the ends back together, dip the ball in oil, and roll around on the banana leaf so the dough doesn't stick. 
 
 
 Wrap up the banana leaf just so, and secure with a tiny stick.
 
 
I made a video of me making one, but it won't upload.  Sorry :/  It was only my second time making it, and my tutor was ragging on me pretty bad for not saying anything. She called me a deaf person.  I also have dough in my hair, but at least you could have seen how to make them.

Some other cool things I've done recently include going to see the gigantic elephant-shaped temple, Wat Baan Lai, and helping my friend Andrew at his site with a long boat race.  Tomorrow I start my journey for Koh Tao, an island in the gulf of Thailand, famous for diving and the recent murders.  I'm so excited!  It's my first real vacation after 9 months here.  I might go snorkeling, I think I should try that before I try for my diving certification.

Love to everyone.

PS. Don't worry about me, I will be careful. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!


I am feeling good this week, filled with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence following my first big project at site coordinating the grand trifecta of Youth Development - my sub-district administrative organization, the health clinic and the school.  Okay, so maybe it wasn’t SO big, there were no elephants or fireworks, but it was still big to me because it was the first project that I initiated and organized.  I also feel proud because it was on a topic that I thought would take quite a bit more time to get to: reproductive health!  Luckily for me, everyone that I worked with was very supportive and made the day much easier for me than I had expected! Go team!

We started off the morning with awards for the winners of the HIV/AIDS awareness art contest.  The Peace Corps Thailand HIV/ AIDS committee (of which I am a member) is holding an art contest, from which submissions will be voted on, and the top 13 will be made into a calendar for next year.  I let the students vote on the artwork for a total of 6 winners that I will send in to be judged. 
 
The students got very creative with their imagery. 


Many of the works featured couples embracing, dancing condoms, and germs with devil horns.   Some of the entries clearly favored the abstinence by hula hoop method of prevention.



Mickey and Minnie also made some appearances alongside very poor Google Translations.


And then some of the submissions were just plain pretty.

 
And colorful.
 
 
It's a good thing the students voted because it would have been difficult for me to choose.
The awards ceremony was held in true Thai style with photos taken of myself and honored guests presenting the winners with their new beribboned blankets, both giver and receiver holding the prize awkwardly between their bodies.  After this I began the activity that I was most excited about as it involved pouring glitter into students’ hands.  To demonstrate the ease with which STD’s can be spread to many people in a short period of time, the students milled about the room high-5ing and shaking hands, only some of the participants wearing gloves as protection. It looked a little something like this:
 


After the activity we asked the students that had glitter on their hands to show themselves, as they had contracted an STD, and explained that the students wearing the gloves had protected themselves from the glitter the same way that a condom will protect you from STD’s.

Following super fun glitter time, the doctor that I invited gave a presentation about methods of transmission and protection from HIV/AIDS and STD’s, as well as common forms of birth control.  She even brought a female condom, which I had never seen before, and used my hand as the vagina to demonstrate its use.  Note that this is the same woman that made me perform a breast examination on a model my first month at site in front of 100 village health volunteers.  I actually really enjoy working with her.  I was not expecting a few of her slides such as this one:
 
Which was intended to give, from my understanding, examples of what gay people look like in other countries.

Next we got to the real meat and potatoes of sex education: condom use.    After walking through the steps of how to use a condom, I distributed (very) small eggplants to groups of about 10 students to use as models.  Right after I finished, one of my counterparts holds up a huge cucumber in the back of the room and says, “Who wants to trade for one of these?”  Once nearly every group had switched out for a more fun sized phallus, we again covered the steps of how to use a condom as each group rolled one onto their fruit. 

To conclude the session I facilitated a review game in which students passed balloons around the room to music.  When the music stopped, the last person to touch the balloon had to pop it, extract the piece of paper from within, read the sentence on the paper aloud, and state whether it was true or false. (Side note: ‘true’ is my favorite word to say in Thai- “jing”.  If you want to ask if someone is serious or for real, you can say, “jing law?”, and reply with, “jing jing”.  Love it.)

I am currently mid-grading the post-tests that I administered to evaluate the project’s success.  While it is evident that the students have absorbed the importance of condom use and the risks associated with sexual activity, occasionally I read an answer that leaves me scratching my head.  For example, I asked the students to list the steps of how to use a condom.  One kid wrote a paragraph on the importance of opening the package very carefully, which is fine, I understand that some people become fixated on certain details more than others, but he followed it with how to blow the condom into a balloon before use.  When asked to list the best methods of pregnancy prevention, a startling number of students listed avoiding X-rated movies and daisy dukes.

My work here is not done.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Day in the Life

Too much has happened since my last post for me to recap, so instead I have decided to write a sample of a typical day here in Thailand.  Enjoy. I know I sure do...


6 am:  I wake up to the sounds of my neighbor calling for her cat, “JUNIOR!!! JUNIOR!!!!” and the clanking of pots and pans as my neighbors busy themselves preparing breakfast.  I reach for my headphones.

7 am:  The school across the street plays Pit Bull and KPop at a dangerous volume as my alarm begins to go off.  I change the alarm to 7:30.

7:30 am: Snooze.

7:35 am: Change alarm to 7:45.

7:45 am: I lay in bed, contemplating my past, present and future.

7:50 am: Run to the bathroom and throw buckets of water on my shoulders. Nevermind the tadpoles. Brush my teeth with a bottle of water.

8 am: Put on my most missionary-looking outfit.

8:10 am: Mix some bottled water with a scoop of instant coffee and stir.  Good thing I have all those years as a barista under my apron.  Review my lesson plans as I choke on the bitter elixir.

8:20 am: Put on some mascara and lipstick and smile at myself.  J

8:25 am:  Walk across the street to the school.  As I traverse the 15 feet, two different people on motorbikes will stop and ask if I need a ride, and then laugh because they remember I’m not allowed to ride a motorbike anyway.

8:30 am: Say “Sawatdi ka” and wai all of the elementary school teachers as the kindergarteners do the same to me, followed by them yelling English words at me,  “HELLO!” “THANK YOU!!” “1,2,3,5,7!”  I then go to prepare my classroom and wait for the students to trickle in.

8:40 am:  I greet my students.  One of them will yell, “STAND UP PLEASE”, and then as a group they will all say, “GOOD MORNING, TEACHER”.  No matter how I respond, they will continue with, “I AM FINE, THANK YOU, AND YOU?”  I normally try to stick with the script at this point because I can’t undo years of training and it’s good for them to feel confident greeting me in English, even if they really don’t know what they are saying.  My English class will then consist of some kind of active review game, followed by the introduction of a new conversational question and answer with new vocabulary, and then an activity to encourage the students to practice speaking.  My students are typically very well behaved and adorable.  I really like them and am impressed with their big person personalities inside their little person bodies.

9:45 am:  I ride my bike to another school for another class.  On the way I grin at everyone I see and yell “Sawatdi ka”.  Most people do the same to me and ask me where I’m going, though occasionally I will so surprise someone with my Caucasian-ness that they can only stare at me with a hilariously confused expression, or utter “Oh! Farang!”

9:55 am: I continue riding my bike and as I feel my skin getting warmer in the sunshine and look around at the endless green meeting the endless blue I tell myself again not to forget how lucky I am to be alive.

10 am: Ride into another school and am greeted much the same way as at the first, except, what is this?  Why is everyone gathered outside, along with lots of villagers?  I notice a tent set-up near the field and am told as I walk towards the principal that this is Sports Day!  Wahoo!  The principal greets me and hands me a microphone, saying, “speak”.   He just laughs when I ask what I should say, so I start, (translated from Thai of course), “Hello, how is everyone today?  Today is Sports Day.  I am happy.” (Hundreds of people staring and taking pictures of me)  “Umm…  I Iike soccer and dtacraw, but I cannot play.  Students at this school are good at volleyball. ”  (Someone in the audience asks if I have a boyfriend, and another if I can eat spicy food.)  “No I do not yet have a boyfriend and I can eat spicy food. Thai food is delicious.  Thank you.”  And then I try to run into the crowd but am intercepted and encouraged to sit at the obligatory VIP bench. 

10:20 am:  A chubby little girl brings me some 3-in-1 coffee and a little green cake.  As she sets it down, a teacher yells at her to go do something else, turns to me, and says, laughing, “I make her run around because she is a fat girl. She needs exercise.”  

10:30 am: SOOOO HOTTTTTT.

11 am: I am instructed to stand up and award the winners their medals, however, I am confused and think that I am being gifted an honorary aluminum foil.  I realize my mistake and only I laugh…

Noon:  Lunch time!  Today we are having Gang Fak Tong, a hearty potion of pumpkin, chicken, and God knows what else.  I am no food critic, I just know what’s good and it REALLY is.  I chat with the parents and teachers and ask them how to make it, which I understand a lot of but forgot all of.  Someone gives me a kanom wrapped in a banana leaf.  It consists of cream soaked sticky rice sculpted around candied peanuts.

12:30 pm:  Thank the principal for having me and make my way to another school to do Life Skills activities.

1 pm:  I have managed to find my co-teacher.  I explain to her my goals for the lesson and I think she understands.

1:20 pm:  We begin the guidance period about Leadership skills with about 20 14 year olds all dressed identically.  I am astonished at how patiently they listen to me stumble over their language, and am again impressed by their insight when I pose introspective questions. 

1:50 pm:  My co-teacher hands a student a camera to take pictures of us teaching together.  I try to smile and not forget what I was talking about.

2:30 pm:  I ride my bike to the SAO (Subdistrict Admistrative Office).  I greet everyone and tell them where I’ve been when they all say, “I haven’t seen you in forever”.

2:35 pm:  Someone grabs me and says we are going to the market.

3 pm:  We go to the District Office and I try to be charming.

3:30 pm:  We go to the post office.

4 pm:  We stop at a Wat where, I am told, over 500 monks will be arriving the next day for a lecture.

4:15 pm:  I entertain a large group of grandmothers hanging out at the Wat.  They tell me I have to come to the event tomorrow.

4:30 pm:  I am told to help make the Wat beautiful.  So I am handed a bag of big yellow flowers, walk around and find nooks inside of these big leafy plants to put them.  It really did look nice.  I then threaded flowers through the middle to make garlands.

5 pm:  We return to the SAO, having never made it to the market, and I get on my bike to ride home.

5:01 pm:  Dogs across from the SAO chase me, so I get off of my bike and walk for a while.

5:03 pm:  Everyone I pass asks me why  I’m walking, so I get back on my bike and ride home.  Where I put on some electronic or classical music and dance alone in my room.

6:00 pm:  I go to aerobics with a group of ladies from the village. Everyone tries to make me teach but I refuse.  Afterwards someone will insist on accompanying me home.

7:30 pm:  I am hungry so I load up a bowl of deliciousness with rice and eat it while I watch Roseanne on Youtube. 

8 pm:  I screw around on the internet, try to learn something about what’s going on in the world via BBC 1 Minute World News or Vice, or make collages with cut-outs from Thai beauty magazines.

9 pm:  Skype America or watch more Youtube videos.

10 pm:  At this point in the night I want to eat something sweet, so I go look in the refrigerator.  Sometimes I get lucky and there are little bottles of this sweet and sour fermented milk thing that I guess is kind of like yogurt.  I eat it and feel great about it.

11 pm:  I cut out my light and ask the Great Spirit to watch over my family and friends.  Then I fantasize about my future in the mobile sweetened milk product business until strange things start to happen, and then suddenly I hear my neighbor yelling at her cat again.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Happy Food

In accordance with my host country's happiness campaign (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/04/thailand-to-bring-happiness-to-the-people), I would like to share something that makes me SO happy every day in this country: FOOD.  I took pictures of my breakfast, lunch, and dinner the other day with the intention of making everyone back home super jealous of me. 
                                                                          Breakfast

 
Mangosteen and Rambutan.  I'm not a huge rice for breakfast person, which is fine because wherever I go in the morning I will inevitably be presented with a large plate of fruit.  On this day, I was accompanying the health clinic to the schools to teach about oral hygiene, when I was  presented with two of my favorite fruits.  Mangosteen, the purple one, is the Queen of Fruits and Thai people say that it makes you cool when you eat it (temperature wise- I don't want to get all you nerds' hopes up).  Rambutan is also quite delicious and juicy once you peel those crazy green spikes off. Thai people have really got this whole hospitality thing down.
 
 
Lunch

 
Pad Gapow- A spicy, garlicy, deliciousy chicken situation

 
Dtom Yom Gung- A classic, sour shrimp stew made with chili peppers, lemongrass, cilantro, limes mushrooms, etc. Idk I learned to make this the other day but I didn't take notes. Whoops.

 
Gang Jut- Pork stuffed inside of large celery-like chutes, boiled with cabbage.

 
Pad Pak- Fried vegetables.

 
 
 
Dinner

 
Rice
 
 
Rooa- Bamboo, coconut Milk, and mint

 
Nam Prik Ga Peet with Vegetables- Basically homemade chili sauce
 
 
Gang Malagow- A papaya stew with pork

 
Dtom Gai Baan- Boiled chicken, vegetables, and spices.

 
Gapow Moo- Spicy Pork

 
Khay Giaw Pak Da Om- Omelette made with a stringy green

 
 
As you can see, I eat pretty well.  I apologize for not cooking, therefore having no idea of the actual ingredients, but you get the "picture".  Maybe in the future I will try harder.  I did not even include the many snacks I ate that day, including, but not limited to- grilled chicken skewers drenched in a creamy peanut paste, some kind of hot peanut drink, thai doughnuts that we dipped in a condensed milk and some sort of green fluffy stuff, boiled lotus seeds, and a sweetened coconut milk desert with tapioca balls and gelatin noodles.  We joke that I will return to America fat.  That's fine.  Anyway, hope you enjoyed the pictures, and now you have evidence that I am not starving.  I will post a coup update soon!