Monday, August 20, 2007
P.O. Box 381
Chiang Mai 50000
This is a bit simpler than the last one. I hope to hear from whoever has been brave enough to continue reading my blog!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Yes, the insects are supersized in Thailand. This moth was larger than most small birds.
Me doing the dirty work with the SAO staff and some villagers
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
We set out down the road and they suddenly veered off into a meadow. They asked me if I had ever been out there and then asked if I wanted to go. They were very conscience of my well being and comfort and I would here those two phrases multiple times before our trip was done. We rode our bicycles, me on mine and the two of them on one, through paths that wound through rice patties and forests. Soon we reached a point where our bikes would do us no good given that we were going to head off through newly planted rice patties. We followed a path for a while and soon they saw a tree and told me that the giant bean pod looking things hanging from the very top were great to eat. They took off through the brush and soon were at the base of the tree. One boy hurriedly scaled the tree and about three quarters of the way up he stopped and began shaking the tree violently. Soon the bean pods had been flung off and the boys were collecting them and stuffing them away in their bags. The adventure continued.
We got to more rice patties and had to cross them on the ledges that held the water back from the higher patty. After a few minutes of sloshing through the patties we arrived at another tree. This time the tree was substantially bigger but was full of fruit. The same boy scurried up the tree with seemingly no effort at all. He chopped off one of the lower branches and soon we were tasting the red, yellow and green fruit. It seemed that the fruit was either not ripe or over ripe. The only fruit that I tasted was very bitter but they assured me that normally they are “a-roy mak” or “very delicious.” By the time we were done with this tree it had begun to rain fairly hard. They were asking me if I wanted to climb the mountain that loomed in front of us. I stated the obvious, that it was raining. They responded with “mai bpen rai” translated as “it doesn’t matter” or “don’t worry” among others. I convinced them that maybe it would be better if we climbed the mountain another day when it wasn’t pouring rain. They readily agreed.
Monday, August 13, 2007
The weather here can really only be described as absolutely perfect. My house is only a little over 1,000 m in elevation but it is absolutely amazing how much this can affect the weather when you are located in the tropics. Everyday is it 75-80 F and given that it is the rainy season, it rains most days, although almost never all day. It is really astounding how much a 60 km drive and a mere drop in elevation of a few hundred meters to the town of Pai can change the weather. After spending time in my village, Pai seems to be a sweltering chaotic tourist town. Ironically, quite contrary to my perception, it is known throughout Thailand as being the most laid back, cool, mountain tourist destination that Thailand has to offer.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
I have officially made it to my village! After much anticipation I made it to my mountain paradise, and it appears my co-workers have as well. The SAO decided to create a temporary office in my village until the new office can be built in one of the villages nearby. Now for me this is a mixed blessing. It is great to have all the male staff members up here, the females are staying at the other temporary office in Mae Chaem, because I have made good friends with all of them. Secondly, the satellite internet has been installed at the office therefore I don’t have to bike several hundred kilometers in order to have access. I’m sure you are now wondering what the down side is. Well, although the SAO was able to make the plans to move the office up to a temporary building it conveniently overlooked the fact that they would need a place to live once they got up there. Since my co-workers first found out that I was going to be living in my new fairly large house they have been dropping hints that they would like to stay, or would be staying, in my house. I finally got the courage up to tell them that Americans need their privacy and they conceded to the fact that I wanted to live “home alone.” That was true until everyone moved up here with me. They conveniently weaseled their way into staying temporarily in my house until they could find other housing. A month was the planned time frame, but they seemed to have made themselves at home. It is actually not all that bad because they have taken over the downstairs and I have the upstairs to myself. The only problem is that it is a wooden house and when they wake up at 5:30 am every morning and start playing their music the noise has no problem finding its way into my room. As most of you know I am not a morning person so this kind of gets on my nerves. I suppose that if this is the biggest problem I have to face that I have a will have a great Peace Corps experience!
During my first week I got to do a lot of my Peace Corps IRBing (intentional relationship building). Up to this point I felt as if my Thai was maybe not all that good but as I was IRBing I came to a fascinating revelation. For the first three months I had mainly spent time with the SAO staff. After a short period I exhausted most of my previously learned vocabulary and interesting subjects. Therefore everything I had to talk about was something totally new and not surprisingly a real struggle. I was learning a lot but it seemed like I wasn’t because most conversations were so difficult. When I embarked on my IRBing I realized that I actually spoke a significant amount of Thai it was just simply that I hadn’t been using the Thai that I had learned because it would have been repetitive. The compliments I got from the recipients of my IRBing were great. When I speak to someone in Thailand these days they always ask me how many years I have lived in Thailand. When I reply that I have been here for six months the simply can’t believe it. Often times the truly don’t believe me. I think they see so many farangs that have lived here for years and years and can barely utter a sentence that to encounter someone who can speak in full sentences is a true anomaly.
An Island Birthday
My birthday happened to fall on a long weekend and I took advantage of that to go visit one of Thailand’s famous tropical islands. It was Morgan’s last week in Thailand so the two of us made the trip to island paradise of Ko Chang. We arrived on the island on my birthday and spent the day relaxing, drinking beer, swimming, and enjoying the scenery. We went and had Italian for dinner and it was quite an experience. The restaurant was pretty nice with white table cloths and waiters in suits, but it wouldn’t be Thailand if it weren’t for the fact that it was next door to a go-go bar with all separating the two was some lattice and a few plants! The go-go music was blasting and that’s was what we got to enjoy in the Italian restaurant as well. We went out to a club that night and ended up making friends (being befriended) by a group of Thais. We ended up hanging out with them for the rest of the night and had quite a time dancing, night swimming, and after bar party at their room.
The following day we enjoyed the sun and signed up for a snorkeling tour to the small islands off the main island of Ko Chang. We woke up the morning of our tour and it was one of those tropical downpours where it rains so hard that it is hard to see ten feet in front of you. What a day to go snorkeling we thought. We had wasted a whole sunny day being hung over and now our snorkeling tour was going to be a bummer. We headed out on rickety boats without regard to the rain and battled the high seas. It was a roller coaster ride and many people were not holding down their breakfast as we made our way to the first island. Amazingly enough, as we reached the first island the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to poke through the clouds. The day turned out being amazing and the islands, beaches and reefs were even better. Although I put concerted effort into no getting burnt my eagerness to go swimming washed off my recently applied sunscreen and baked my back like the lobsters pulled of the reef and plopped into a boiling pot. We had really wanted to do some hiking on the island but the following day consisted of rain and more rain and we ended up getting a lot of reading done. We left early the next day very satisfied with our little island excursion.