Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Sunday in Thailand

Sunday, January 15, 2011

5:32 PM

I’m sitting in “The Teahouse” the popular hangout of all the farang volunteers and workers here. It’s the most lovely atmosphere I think I’ve ever experienced anywhere. Nice soft jazz playing in the background—almost all tunes that I recognize and can hum along with. Reclining cushions strewn about a raised outdoor platform—no shoes allowed. Fresh flowers in little cups; a beautiful view of the green hills. I was served ice water on a tray as soon as I sat down, and now, I’m just enjoying the wi-fi connection while waiting for my cocoa shake. It truly has been the perfect day. I’m going to sleep well tonight I think.

This morning started quite early (see last post), which ended up being fine because it gave me some time to think, write, pray, and read my scriptures. A very nice way to begin a Sunday. I was waiting in the living area of our house, finishing the book of Matthew when Sima (a volunteer from Canada)woke up and invited me to spend the day with she, Jay, and Paul (Paul 2—from Scotland, not New Zealand), and I happily agreed.

Side note: Though today was not the typical LDS Sunday, I did offer my first Book of Mormon away. Just like two seconds ago actually….to Scotland Paul. We had a few good conversations today and for a bit they took a turn toward religion. I freely I was Mormon and told him just a little bit about what I believe. He said that he wasn’t too familiar with Mormonism—he always gets us mixed up with Quakers =) We talked for a bit more about my beliefs and he invited me to come teach his social studies class about Christianity tomorrow morning, which I excitedly agreed to. After awhile, talk took a turn somewhere else. I lent him a book I have called “Buddha’s Brain,” because he has been very interested in Buddhism the past few years and was interested in reading it. He’s been reading it here at the teahouse, and randomly he looked up to ask me what the Book of Mormon was about. I told him about Nephites and Lamanites and Christ coming to the Americas. He seemed genuinely interested, so I told him I had an extra Book of Mormon that he could have. He said he would love to read it, but that he would be sure to return it since I only had two. I admitted that I actually have four extra and I brought them to give away. He’s agreed to take one. The perfect ending to this incredible Sabbath day. I can’t remember the last time I felt so happy and content.

Before we met the guys, I followed Sima to the house where she has her laundry done. It’s a home owned by the sweetest Thai lady named…Pom-pom, I think. Pom-Pom’s Engish was the best I’ve heard from a local since I arrived in Thailand. Really, quite good. She asked about our plans for the day, to which Sima replied that we were going to take a bus to Three Pagoda pass, the waterfall, and the caves. She excitedly replied that she had three Israelis staying with her who were planning on doing the same thing. She said that if we were going to take a bus it would be much less expensive to have seven of us split the price and asked if we would want to join up with the Israelis. As soon as we concurred, Pom-Pom hopped on her motor-bike to chase down the Israelis who had left a few minutes before. Actually that’s a lie… before she hopped on her bike, she tried to rescue her neighbor’s baby chicken from the jaw of her dog.

As Pom-Pom was chasing after the Israelis, Sima and I walked over to the Burmese Inn to eat breakfast and to meet up with Jason and Paul. The Burmese Inn was beautiful and breakfast was pretty good. It was interesting to see the different tastes of everyone eating with us. Someone ordered porridge (English Jason of course, who is getting funnier the more I get to know him), there were also tomato basil omelettes, muesli with fruit, and banana pancakes spread across the table. I was one of the banana pancake order-ers. Along with my pancakes I enjoyed an orange banana shake and did NOT enjoy a glass of lime juice. I thought it sounded refreshing when I ordered it, but I was definitely wrong. It was just lime juice…no sweetener or water to dilute it….it woke me up though =) Haha….I downed it quickly so I wouldn’t have to keep drinking it. The banana pancake was thicker than a typical American pancake, the bananas almost an orange color, and it was served with honey instead of syrup, but I found it quite enjoyable. (Can you tell I’ve been hanging out with a bunch of Europeans by how much I use the word “quite?”)

The Israelis met up with us while we were eating and after we paid the bill, we took off to find a bus. There were to gentleman and one lady Israili all just a couple years older than I. I would tell you there names, but I don’t remember them—I just remember that I couldn’t pronounce them, and my guess is I couldn’t spell them either. =)

6:43 PM

Haha, we’re being entertained at Teahouse right now by two geckos fighting over wall territory. There tails start twitching like mad, and then they chase each other about. Who knew geckos could be so aggressive?

Eli, this is a shout out to you: The Israelis could speak English quite well, but sometimes they would drift into their native tongue and I actually recognized one of the words they used a couple of times: “Hamesh!” That means seven, right? Or some number….. I thought you’d be pleased to know =)

The bus ride was quite lovely (and by bus I mean a truck with seats in the back and railing to hold on to). It was fun to wave back at all of the Thai people we passed along the road, and the scenery was, as always, incredible. Our first stop was Three Pagoda Pass. Honestly, not that impressive: Three little pagodas in the middle of a stretch of grass and a few street vendors surrounding them. I’m not even sure of their historical significance….though I think it has something to do with WWII. After wandering about and looking at a few trinkets and wears, Jay and Sima bought some fresh watermelon and fruit from a vendor, and we were on our way again.

The next stop was a secluded grove-like area that had a few Buddhist shrines in it, and a long rickety staircase leading to some caves. The caves were really cool . Paul and I walked into the first one to get a closer look at a deep crevasse, but backed right out when approximately 10 huge bats swooped down at us. Sima told us that we looked pretty funny and she wished she could have caught it on video tape =)

HOLY SMOKES!!!! I’m eating my dinner of tofu, basil and mushrooms with rice and I just had a shocking experience. I ordered it without chili peppers, but they must have forgotten because I just popped one in my mouth and it felt like I ate a taser gun!

After getting our fill of caves, Buddhas , and bats, we made our way to the toll gate of a local waterfall. The sign giving the toll prices read like this:


Adult: 20 baht

Child: 10 Baht


Adult: 200 baht

Child: 100 baht

Not joking. They were charging foreigners 10 times what they were charging there own people. Clint, take notes to give to homeland security—this kind of treatment could stop our immigration problems pretty effectively, I think =)

Luckily, Paul speaks pretty fluent Thai (as well as about 4 other languages), and he was able to talk the toll booth guard down to 100 baht….still extravagant, but we decided to go ahead and pay. It was worth it. The waterfall was beautiful. We made about a mile treck into the jungle and through through the following the river (I walked through parts of the river shoes, socks, jeans and all), and when we got to the main part of the river with the falls, the three Israelis and Paul all stripped down to their underwear and went for a dip. Jay, Sima, and I were content just to sit and enjoy the scenery (and by that, I don’t mean underwear). Walking back with soggy socks wasn’t my favorite, but it was doable, and we all made it back with only a few bug bites to our names, which is quite an accomplishment, I think.

I have a severe electric shock stuck in my throat. Oh, I could just about swear, but it’s Sunday, so I won’t =)

Our last stop was my favorite. We went to the river, ordered some lunch and sat on a small roofed platform right over the water where we could dip our feet in. Our food was brought from the vendor right to where we sat cross legged around the platform—we enjoyed good conversation, lots of laughs, and an incredible feeling of relaxation as we watched Thai families splash around and tube down the river. Absolutely enchanting. I think I could go there every week and never get bored.

After we drove back to the Burmese Inn, we bid farewell to the Israelis, and I went home to change out of my socks and shoes. I met back up with Jay and Paul to head to the teahouse.

And here we are.

Such a good day. I’m a little nervous about starting work tomorrow, but I’m confident that everything will turn out just fine, even if I don’t pick everything up immediately.

I really need a shower tonight….but the air is just cool enough that I REALLY don’t want to take one.

Come on Kimber, keep being brave.

PS. If you go look at the pics under the “more pics” tab. In the pictures I took today, Jay is in the red shirt, Paul is in the yellow, Sima is in black with a scarf wrapped around her neck, and I am, obviously, the gorgeous female in orange and white.

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