So....sorry about the long Blog-break. I've just been having such a fun time with Laura, I haven't really had the time to blog about it all. However SHE has written a bit about the last couple of weeks, so, I'm going to let you hear it from her point of view. Here is her last blog post (pictures by ME):
Overall an excellent first week! Both the work and the social scene are a lot of fun, if a little exhausting. Weaving-wise, it's a slow burner but there is a lot of potential - a very exciting little project! Our main issue is having minimal staff; our weavers weave away merrily but the management side of things is all rather messy. Ohma is the main woman and seems to be pretty on the ball but unfortunately has a tendency to disappear off the ball back to Burma without prior warning. The last time she did this they recruited in Akka, who was originally a maths teacher, but he isn't so on the ball and speaks very little English. And he's gone awry this week too.
While Ohma is lovely and does speak very good English communication is often still strained. A conversation will go something like this:
"Here is the children's range that a previous volunteer designed before he left." Ohma shows me the children's range.
"Oh wow these are fantastic, can we still make these?" I admire the children's range.
"Swinn designed them before he left."
"great, so could we reproduce these if we were to advertise them online and in the shop?"
"We got rid of all of the patterns."
"Oh... so we can't make these again?"
"These are the only versions"
"Ok. So we can't make them again? Can we contact Swinn to ask if he still has the patterns?"
"Yes I have his email address."
The following day:
"I'm sending an email to Swinn to ask for the patterns for the children's clothes."
"Oh we don't need patterns - the women can make them without."
Tuesday I attempted to hold a photo shoot. Momoa, one of my favourites (am I allowed to have favourites??) agreed to model some of the new children's range for me. I think she looks a lot like Kate Hudson; a Burmese version. She, and everyone else, thinks I'm mad.
So she was very excited; did her hair specially and came and found me on the dot, ready and raring to go. A couple of shots in she got bored and ran off. Well, that's my opinion anyway. she maintained that she was shy and didn't want to model the dresses that revealed her shoulders; a problem that I was apparently going to encounter a lot (even though a lot of thegirls here do reveal their shoulders and knees regardless...). so I was told I should model the dresses myself as apparently I have the body of a child..! I personally think I look a bit weird, but you can judge for yourself (and have a good laugh) once they're up on the site anyway. They're currently waiting to
be photoshopped (how I am going to navigate my way around this I have no idea) - We're cutting off my old-looking head.
Unfortunately my English teaching arrangement has come to a close, after one lesson. My beautiful 23 year-old Burmese student has run off with her boyfriend! Apparently he was a bit of a rude boy, with tattoos, and not popular with the family so they were planning on shipping her off to Bangkok. She obviously wasn't all that keen on the idea so vacated... This is a shame. Obviously because it's all scandalous and such like but also because I was very much enjoying the reading exercises! I was learning some invaluable pub quiz knowledge - about giant treetrunks and the typewriter for example. One of the subjects (about Chicago's tallest building swaying in the wind) has already come up in conversation since reading about it. Imagine all of the fascinating topics I am (and you are) missing out on!
But I am not without things to do. My latest interest is the Circus performance that the children are preparing for. I introduced myself to the founder Jerry as having some tap and ballet knowledge and he said that they are currently working on sticking bottle tops to shoes to create a sort of urban, Stomp-style affair. Needless to say he was very interested in my tap abilities. We are having a meeting tomorrow to sort something out. I'm also trying to involve some Baan Unrak Weaving handiwork, having suggested that we provide the costumes (ooh promotion), but this might be a little ambitious. Time will tell...
This morning I had another meeting with hippy Terrance about the art and dance therapy. It basically involved plugging my ipod into the speaker on the roof and flitting around in a sort of free-style contemporary ballet duet to Kate Bush. Invigorating!
You'll be pleased to hear I've been spreading the pun love all the way over here; and have picked up some keen punters already. I think our finest was Thursday evening... Because I've (obviously) become such a frequenter of the Tea House I was among the group invited along to sample the owner's new range of herbal tea and toast selection. We were discussing the use of Thyme in tea as well as thinking of a name for the new tea shop; and suddenly it came to us: Tea THAIyme! Yes a TRIPPLE PUN! Perhaps a competitor could open ThaIRED of Tea Total(ly?) in the form of a bar... Perhaps not.
The House Boat party was a lot of fun - lots of sitting around chatting and meeting fellow volunteers - culminating in cocktails and sambucca shots in the Home Garden (one of the town's two bars) for those with the most stamina (the English obviously). But I have decided to try not to drink while I'm here. That's what I was expecting so I'm kind of in the mindset for it anyway. Let's see how long it lasts...
Tuesday Kimber and I hosted a dinner party at our wooden house (which I've realised reminds me of the one in Three Little Pigs; especially when the dogs bark on our porch like the wolf). With ten guests, two hot plates and no kitchen sink this was perhaps a little ambitious, but we made a reasonable success of it... After 6am yoga We hit the market, foraging through the crazy Thai ingredients and guessing which would be suitable for sweet and savoury pancakes. We cleaned (disturbing toads, spiders, lizards and all sorts) and decorated the place with candles, scarves and flowers - it looked really pretty once we were done with it.
The food wasn't quite such a success. (This is a note from Kimber: I thought we did AWESOME. Everyone really liked the food, and we made it all with such limited ingredients!) Savoury pancakes turned to Spanish omelette, which turned to egg stir fry(!) thanks to a non-non-stick pan. This part was actually quite nice though - a bit like pad Thai with lots of veg' and went down really well.
Dessert was the interesting part - having purchased rice flour instead of the standard plain variety (not because that wasn't available but because it was cheaper and more Thai) the concoction fried into a gooey, sticky splodge. Very much like a really thick sheet of rice paper. Which I suppose is kind of understandable with hindsight... But never mind. What it lacked in taste it certainly made up for in comedy value.
I've come to terms with the giant spider that lives in our bathroom - We like to think of him as our pet. He generally keeps out of the way and must eat a lot of mosquitoes so he can stay. I think he's also less frightening because he only seems to have six legs.
I was feeling similarly about the mice. Having seen one peering out from behind my bedroom door during the dinner party I thought he looked quite sweet, and ensuring my mosquito net covers all possible entrances seems to have prevented them from getting in my bed. However, when rushing to leave the house this morning I went to pick up a carton of soya milk, only to find that the little pests had chewed not only through the cardboard container but through the outer plastic too... They'd even squirmed into my bag and chewed through a carton in there! Perhaps if they'd actually drank the soya milk I would have had more sympathy (it is of course rather hard to resist) but no, they'd just wasted it and spilled it all over my things.
Immediately after this little episode, on visiting our friends at another volunteer house, Scott produced a "present" - a proper old-fashioned snappy mouse trap along with some sticky rodent glue. I'm still reluctant to kill them but We tried and failed with the humane traps. The devious little mites somehow disabled them, stole the food and deposited it in a corner (as if to say "Look I don't even want your food, I'm just showing you how clever I am") so I'm definitely considering it...
The dogs are still howling at various intervals throughout the night, but melodically - like something out of a Disney film! And a few of them here have that funny wheels-instead-of-hind-legs contraption which I still find hilarious. I tried to take a picture of one the other day but it didn't take too kindly to me laughing at its disability and chased me down the road snarling... luckily it couldn't quite lug its speedy wheels up the hill so I managed to get away.
Tonight I'm choosing whether to watch the children (and Kimber) in an end-of-term presentation, or attend a "healing" concert involving some sort of giant crystal ball chimey band! I know where my loyalties should lie...
SO, there you have it! And, for those of you who are wondering, she DID come to the presentation--although she wasn't able to stay long enough to watch me rock out on my violin with the Baan Dada boys band... Too bad. I also got to sing "Zombie" by the Cranberries for everyone--THAT was a new experience. I'm pretty much a rocker chick now...