Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I'm not alone anymore!!! My new housemate, Laura arrived last Tuesday. Laura is from London, and has already expanded my vocabulary in the short amount of time that she's been here. She uses three words pretty consistently and I think I've got them down:
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I've finally been getting my long wished-for experience of meditation and yoga in Thailand. I had my first private yoga lesson with the new Italian Didi this morning in the upper Baba room. It was kind of embarrassing that a fifty some odd woman is more flexible than I am, but she says that I'm pretty flexible for a twenty-one year old. Cool. She thought perhaps I'd done yoga before--I told her, "not really," not deigning to admit that I've done a bit of "video yoga."
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Last week I joined Paul and Machima for movie night at the house they’re renting together. Paul prepared his room to be the official “cinema room” and Machima lit candles around Paul’s Macbook to create a relaxing ambience. I’ve never watched a movie by candlelight before, but I rather enjoyed it. We boiled some ginger tea to enjoy while we watched, and right before the movie started, Machima presented me with what remained of a container of chocolate ice-cream she had purchased the day before. I could have cried with happiness--she knows that I covet her fridge/freezer for it’s melt-preventing capabilities. I really could have cried. But I didn’t. Even though the movie was definitely cry-worthy material. It’s called A Mighty Heart and it’s a true story about a pregnant French journalist in the middle-east trying to find the kidnappers of her Jewish husband. The movie ends with her delivering her baby just a couple of months after receiving a video from the kidnappers in which her husband was brutally murdered before her eyes. Absolutely horrifying—I was truly hoping for a happy ending. I was glad that Paul and Machima walked me home through the rain that night.
So, for those of you that haven’t heard, the past couple of weeks have been a struggle. I’ve emailed my mom to ask her to buy me a ticket home a couple of times. It’s not that anything bad happened, but I’ve just felt pressing loneliness and discouragement to the point that I thought I couldn’t stand it any more, and I desperately wanted to go home.
But miracle of miracles, I’ve been re-enchanted by the country this week, and I’ve decided to stay (even though I know that most likely the loneliness and discouragement will be keeping me company on and off for the next four months). The rain here seems to make everything ok. Everything feels fresh and alive—even the food here tastes better in the rain. I’ve been soaking in the moist air and walking around all smiles inside all day.
Teaching has been going pretty well for the kids. I think that my music classes are definitely one of the most popular at the school—second to computers and sometimes art. I have kids that I can’t get to go to lunch because they want to stay and talk to me or watch musical youtube videos on my computer. When kids from my classes see me, often they’ll break into a smile and loudly sing one of the songs I’ve taught them. I’m really enjoying teaching this week—except for my Tuesday boy’s class. I’ve about given them up as hopeless. I kicked a kid out of my class yesterday because he simply refused to participate in ANYTHING we were doing. Grrrrr…….turns out that inspiring kids to learn is a lot easier in theory than it is in practice.
I took a group of girls from the home to go watch a movie at the teahouse yesterday. They voted on Confessions of a Shopaholic. When the movie ended, a couple of girls proclaimed they wanted to go shopping—I think they missed the point of the movie…
I’m getting pretty good at remembering the names of the kids. I feel rather proud of myself. Let me list some of the names for you, so you can understand why I feel my pride is justified: Dok-Bua, Chan-Pen, Kong, Ko-Ko, Sanda-so, Attataya, Chandra, Kamala, Ahong, Kaisa-oo, Sanda-eh, Mi-mi, Chamu, Wannapa, Metapui, Winnai, Monkila, Minareppa, Saw-dwice, Bupah, Momo-eh, Tirawat….etc….etc…. Not your typical “Scott” or “Emily.”
What makes me even more happy is that many of the kids are starting to remember my name—even though no one here really pronounces it correctly. To most, I’m “Kim-buh,” with emphasis on “buh.” NO one here calls me “Kimber,” because even the Europeans around the place don’t pronounce there “r”s. At the teahouse I’m “Keem,” at the home I’m “Kim-bah” or “Kim-BUH” (“Kimberly” with a French accent if it’s AC), and at the school I’m simply “tee-chuh.” I don’t mind the variety =)
I apologize to any avid readers for not posting for awhile….I just didn’t want to post about how lonely I felt. Also, the internet hasn’t been particularly reliable….so let’s just blame that.
I went to the restaurant on the bridge today with images of Pad Thai and ice-cream in my head. This local eatery is located on the small intersection between the modern paved bridge and the old wooden one. As I stepped onto the first bridge, an un-abashed Thai (or perhaps Burmese?) boy, perhaps about 10 or 11 years old, stared at me openly. I greeted him with “Sawa dee Ka.” He replied with the standard “Krup,” and then gave me a toothy grin showing off the bottle-rot apparent in his front teeth and incredibly common in these parts of the country. I smiled and nodded back and continued past him, sliding my hand along the rail as I went. It wasn’t long at all before I noticed the sound of someone else’s hand sliding and bumping along behind mine. RIGHT behind mine. The boy was following me at an uncomfortably close distance. If I went faster, he matched my pace. I crossed to the other side of the bridge and he followed. I hugged my bag closer to me in case he was a pick-pocket, and practically power walked the remaining distance to the restaurant. I ordered my Pad-Thai quickly and sat down at the far table by the rail over-looking the river. I had thought that he had stopped following me at the edge of the bridge, perhaps to follow other bridge-walkers like the bridge guarding troll in Billy-Goats-Grugg, but no sooner had I opened the book I had brought along then I spotted a small hand pulling a chair out on the side of the table kitty-corner from me. Before I could say anything the waiter had come along to poor both of us a glass of ice-water. The boy smiled at me before gulping his water down and then looking at me for more. I used the pitcher the waiter had set at our table to pour him another glass. And another. And another. By the third glass, I guessed he would be sticking around for a while.
He pointed across the bridge several times saying something I couldn’t understand. Even if I COULD speak Thai, I think I would have had trouble understanding him, because his speech was slurred, and it appeared to me that he was slightly mentally disabled. I just smiled at him and kept pouring him more glasses of water. I had given up reading my book. A couple of times he went to the side overlooking the river and dumped (or spit) his water over the edge. I told him “Mai-Au” –Thai for “Not want”; in English we would say “Don’t do that,” but Thai’s are more sparing with there use of words. He would usually just look back at me, smile, and then come sit back down.
Before long, my Pad Thai came and he didn’t take his eyes off of it as I lifted my fork to start eating. I couldn’t very well enjoy my Pad Thai while he was staring at me, so I pushed it over to him and ordered another one for myself. Now it was I who was staring as he ate. He didn’t eat as hungrily as I’d expected him to, which assured me that he probably had someone looking after him--at least when he wasn’t following people around on the bridge, but boy was he a messy eater. He’d use his fork to get a huge pile of noodles half-way into his mouth, and then would proceed to slurp and use his left hand to get the noodles the rest of the way in. I said “Mai-Au” several times and tried to show him how to wrap his noodles around his fork and eat smaller bites. It was to no avail. My one success was to convnince him not to throw his napkin over the side of the wall—“Mai-Au!!! Tee-nee!” Not want! Here! (as I pointed to where he should place his used napkin on the table.) It wasn’t long before my second plate of Pad Thai arrived, and I was embarrassed to discover that I was no better at politely eating the dish than he was. I tried my best to set a good example, though I felt like a hypocrite every time I had noodles hanging sloppily out of my mouth, and I used whatever means I could to stuff them inside of me before he could see.
I ate as fast as I could worrying that if I didn’t leave before he was finished with his food, he would just follow me home, and what would I do with him then? I won the race, and hurried over to pay the bill while he was still working on his plate. I couldn’t leave without a little ice-cream though, so I ordered two-scoops to go, glancing over at him to make sure he wasn’t looking. Unfortunately, he was, and he immediately came over and stood hovering over the cone as the cashier scooped first a chocolate-chip, and then a chocolate scoop into my cone. I smiled at him and pointed at the table where his unfinished plate of Pad Thai was waiting for him. He happily went back to work on it, perhaps hoping that I would return with ice-cream for him as well.
I paid the 75 Baht and walked quickly out of there, hoping that he wouldn’t follow me, and hoping that the management knew I didn’t have a clue who the kid was and that they had a better chance of communicating with him than I did. He didn’t follow me. I felt guilty all the way home as the ice-cream dripped
Dripped, and I wiped the drips off the cone with my tongue and off my face with the back of my hand.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
This is one of a few dogs throughout the town with a coat like this. If I didn't know that there aren't tigers in this neck of the woods, I would have guessed that this dog was some kind of dog-tiger cross breed. Look at that striped orange fur!
Monday, March 7, 2011
On top of it all, last night I could NOT stop scratching my head—it was itching like CRAZY. I woke up this morning with a sinking feeling in my stomach and the memory of something Diana whispered in my ear on Valentine’s Day during the Baan Unrak celebration:
One of the girls that I was sitting next to that night had jokingly taken her hat off and placed it on my head. I posed in it for her and pulled a couple of silly faces before handing it back. Diana leaned over from her seat across from me and whispered, “Now you have lice too!” and then sat back, laughing. I looked at her, wide-eyed, wondering if she was serious, but because she looked so jovial, I assumed she was only teasing me. This morning, I realized she probably wasn’t.
Having an itchy scalp is pretty bad….but knowing that the itchiness is being caused by a community of tiny crawling biting bugs in your hair is about 100 times worse. I told Diana about my suspicions today, and she said that it’s hard to avoid getting lice out here since about 80% of the kids have lice and no one does anything to get rid of them (the lice not the kids…though we don’t get rid of the kids either). Diana says when she first got here she would try to avoid getting to close to the children for fear of getting lice or some other ailment, but after awhile she just gave up and learned to live with it. She says that lice usually just go away after awhile—awhile for her meaning two months after going home to Holland.
I don’t WANT to wait for them to “go away.” I want to get rid of them! I did some research on how to get rid of them…and it looks like it’s going to take a bit of work. Especially since I don’t have access to many of the suggested remedies: hot water, mayonnaise, anti-lice shampoo…. I went to town today and couldn’t find ANYTHING that I thought might help me. I couldn’t even find a fine-tooth comb to help me comb them out. Right now, my game plan is to head to the local pharmacy first thing in the morning and PRAY that he has something. After that…I’m at a loss.
I ate my first bug-infested bowl of rice today. Luckily all of the bugs were boiled until dead, and they were pretty tiny, so I was able to get the rice down by just telling myself I was getting extra protein. I wonder what Didi’s philosophy is about eating bugs. Can you eat bugs and still consider yourself vegetarian?
I think the bug problem is just going to multiply as we get deeper into the hot season and then into the rainy season. Adventure, here I come!
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
I'm slowly discovering the bohemian in me. And
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
No Thai experience is complete without one of their famed massages, so I decided to go get one last week. I went the conservative route and chose to get the shoulder/back massage rather than the full body Thai massage, but it was something of an experience nonetheless.
After giving me a towel and making gestures indicating that I was to remove my upper garments, my masseuse hurried off to go poor me some green tea (to no avail, since I don’t drink tea), and I was left in a thinly veiled room feeling VERY glad that I had opted out of the full body experience. I had managed to discreetly cover myself with a towel and was lying face-down on the mat she had indicated before she came back in, set my tea down, and sat on my legs. Hm. Wasn’t expecting that. She then proceeded to bend my legs back toward her so that she could massage my feet. It felt AMAZING. After she was done with my feet, she began using her knees to work on my calf muscles…then my thigh muscles…when she reached the muscles above that I started thinking, Wait! Wait! Doesn’t she know that I only wanted a shoulder massage?! And then, Woah! Who knew my butt was so ticklish? I’ll just have to grit my teeth through it….I don’t want to laugh….how embarrassing would THAT be?
Luckily, the lower body massage didn’t last long—apparently it was a complimentary sample of the REAL Thai massage. Which, frankly, I don’t have a huge desire to ever get. The shoulder/back massage was plenty for me. The masseuse bent my arms into strange contortions behind my back and then...beat me. I don't know how else to describe it. I didn’t find her harsh slaps up and down my arms and back NEARLY as relaxing as the slow shoulder rub that Diana had given me earlier in the week. But….it was certainly an experience. And….I have to admit, I DID feel relaxed after; though as a result of the massage or as a result of feeling relieved that I was no longer BEING massaged, I couldn’t tell you.
I think next time I’ll just go in for a foot-rub and facial.
Tuesday, March 1 2011
I’m sitting in on the floor of my house, listening to some incredibly loud thunder and to the wind throwing rocks at my house, wondering how safe a wooden house with a corrugated tin roof is in lightning storms. Walking here from the teahouse was probably the scariest experience I’ve had yet in Thailand.
I’d been watching the lightning light up the sky for about 7 minutes when I decided I’d better hurry home before I got caught in the rain without a jacket, umbrella, or flashlight. I bid Paul and Machima goodnight, and quickly slipped on my flip-flops before I walked into the street. I had been walking for about thirty seconds when all of the street lamps went out and the wind began to pick up. Sparks were flying from the side of the road—I honestly don’t know where they came from—and the wind began to blow dirt straight into my eyes. I had to walk blindly for several seconds before daring to open them again with my hand as a shield. A rather large dog started trailing me with a low growl in his throat—I honestly felt like I had walked into the movie Something Wicked This Way Comes. Luckily I made it back home safely—though I can’t say I necessarily feel safe.
Hmmm….Ok….the power just went out here and I can’t find my flashlight… And I just saw a mouse run into my room by the light of my computer. I can see the lightning through the slats in my house….and I can’t hear anything but pelting rain and thunder. This is terrifying. I keep telling myself it’s just a good adventure.—all alone in a wooden house….without a cell phone or a flashlight. What a cool thing to write about right? And a mouse on the loose only makes things more exciting. OK…..I’m going to go search for my flashlight by the light of my computer.
7:55 Found it…and I have now discovered that my house leaks. There’s an ever growing puddle by my front door and I can hear the constant drip…drip….drip….from the ceiling above. I can’t tell you how eerie it is to be able to see lightning through the walls of one’s house. The lights started flickering on and off a few minutes ago—I turned them off deciding that maybe the darkness wasn’t so bad after all. I’m really thankful for computers with batteries.
Earlier today I came home early from the home due to lack of internet access—by the time I got here I felt incredibly achy and woozy. I tried to drink a couple bottles of water (assuming I was just dehydrated), but it didn’t seem to help. Finally I opted for lying on my floor by a fan after taking a nice cold shower (PS no sarcasm is intended by nice cold shower, I really HAVE grown to appreciate them in this heat). After lying down for a few minutes I felt my floor start shaking and heard someone making strange moaning noises outside. I took this as a sign that someone was outside on the side porch, and after prepping myself, opened up the door to peer out. I was slightly startled to find an adult Thai man wearing nothing but a purple sarong like garment around his waist. He was several feet away from me on the porch and beckoned for me to
GAH! I hate this thunder. I’m thinking I should have just stayed at the teahouse. Thunder is so much more frightening when you’re alone.
Anyways, he beckoned for me to come out. He kept making strange noises and pointing to his throat. I knew from the stories of other volunteers that one of my neighbors had a mentally disabled older son—I assumed this was he. I asked what he was doing at my house, and he just kept making strange noises and pointing to his throat. He said something in Thai and motioned for me to come toward him again. I just shook my head and told him that he’d better go home. I popped my head back inside my little wooden shell and locked the door. I decided just to hope that he would go away, and I commenced with reading The Da Vinci Code while I waited. A few minutes later I looked outside again and he was gone.
What an eerie day this has been….
February 24, 2011
I can’t sleep….and I’ve decided to make myself some hot Milo to see if it will lull me a little bit. When I was putting the powder mix back on the shelf out ran a HUGE mouse from behind the peanuts. Not very lulling….my heart is still racing. At least I know that I didn’t hear it get murdered by a tokay yesterday like I thought I did….that must have been a different mouse.
Speaking of tokays., look what I found yesterday:
I tried to go around the house to get a better picture, but to no avail. I didn’t want to step into my jungle of a yard, and it was difficult to get the right angle from the back patio. I took a few pictures of this little guy...
…only to look up and find a giant mama tokay starting at me from just a few feet away from my head. Talk about frightening. It ran away before I could even attempt getting a good picture.