Thursday, May 17, 2012

it's not you, it's me

This is a post I never thought I would have to make, but I feel I owe it to all of my loyal readers out there.

I have made the decision to end my time in Thailand and return back to America.  I’ve told a few people this and they want to know why.  What happened?  What went wrong?  And all I can say is nothing.  My host family was great.  My co-teachers were great.  All of my fellow volunteers are amazing.  The best I can come up with is:  “It’s not you, it’s me.”  I just feel like this isn’t a good fit for me and my heart isn’t in the job.  This decision was a very hard one to make, but it is right for me.

I am, however, so thankful that I have had this experience.  I was able to meet so many amazing people – both Thai and American.  I was exposed to a new culture, language, and religion.  I got to see a part of the world I have never been in before.  I learned so much about myself and I have a renewed appreciation for my family and friends who have supported me throughout this entire experience.

I owe a special thanks to my host family in Nakhon Sawan – especially my host mom.  I didn’t truly realize how much I cared about her until I had to say goodbye.   It was a tough goodbye and both of us were really upset.  But in all situations, my host mom thinks she understands me best....
“I understand why you’re going home Rebecca.  It is because your parents want you to have babies.”

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

ping pong?

Whew!  Spent a very busy week away from my site.

I went to another volunteer’s site where I helped run a teacher training for 3 days.  We taught about 40 primary school teachers a little bit about everything: lesson planning, classroom management, and about a million different songs and games they can use in their classes.  It was nice to get the practice because I am sure I will eventually have to run my own training one of these days. 

at the hot springs

After the training, I spent a long weekend in Bangkok.  It is hard to believe that a city THAT big is just a few hours away from my small farming town.  My favorite part of the trip was visiting Chatuchak weekend market.  It was massive – 35 acres with more than 8,000 vendors.  Needless to say, I spent a ton of money and cannot wait to go back for more.

I also got to experience Bangkok nightlife.  A group of volunteers celebrated Cinco de Mayo with delicious Mexican food and a few too many margaritas.  I saw and heard some really crazy things while we were out at night (this is a family friendly blog so I will not elaborate) and had way too much fun.  I also got my fix of farang (foreigner) food and ate enough to hold me over for a while.

Overall, I would say my first real trip to Bangkok was a success.  Too bad I spent almost an entire month’s salary in 3 days. Oops…

Monday, April 30, 2012

"Is Rebecca as pretty as you?"

A few weeks ago, my PC BFF Jessica told me that her Thai family was planning a vacation to the beach.  We decided it would be a great idea for me to go with them and Jess asked her host mom if I could tag along.  Naturally, her mom had a few questions before she could agree to this…
"Is Rebecca as pretty as you?  How big is she?  Is she nice?"

Jessica told them I was pretty, the same size as her, and I am very nice but I don’t smile a lot.  Apparently this was good enough because I was allowed to go.

On Friday, I met Jessica and her family out on the highway.  7 hours, 1 lunch stop, and 4 7-11s later we were at the beach.  After a lot of confusion and language issues, it was determined that Jessica and I would stay in a hotel and meet up with her family the next day.  We thoroughly enjoyed our break: we ate a semi-american dinner, had drinks with the locals, soaked up some AC, and got a massage.

The next day her family picked us up and we went to the beach.  It was really pretty, but the water was hot and infested with jelly fish.  Despite all of the sunscreen I used, I still managed to get a shorts tan line that will probably last for years.  After the beach we went to a nice dinner on a boat and to a couple night markets where we successfully practiced our bargaining skills.  We spent our second and final night in a rental house with Jessica’s (extended) family.  In typical Thai fashion, there were 15 of us in a house with only 2 double beds and 1 bathroom.

living in luxury

: )

our new friends

Hua Hin beach

Thursday, April 26, 2012

it's getting hot in here..

The founder and CEO of Netflix was a Peace Corps Volunteer.  It makes perfect sense to me now.  I like to think that his days of boredom inspired him with the idea. I have a whole lot of nothing going on right now and watch a ton of movies. I have so much free time I am running out of movies to watch.  I have had to google “top grossing films of the 90s” and “best chick flicks of all time” just to try to find something that I haven’t seen yet.  Along with my movie watching hobby, I have also been reading a lot and even coloring.  Yes, coloring.  I am that bored.

As uneventful as the days are, I am glad there isn’t anything going on because it is too hot to move.  Another one of my new found hobbies is checking the weather.  It’s always fun to get online and see that its 108 degrees with a “real feel” of 116.  I am still trying to figure out a way to cope with the heat – especially at bedtime.  I have pointed my fan at my face, at the foot of my bed, and even out the window.  I have cuddled with frozen bottles of water.  I also cover myself in prickly heat (a type of baby power with a “cooling” effect), but nothing seems to help.  My co-teacher swears that I will get used to this weather.  I don’t believe him.

My life is about to go from super boring to crazy busy and (hopefully) air conditioned for the next couple weeks.  I’m heading down south for a weekend at the beach, going to help run a teacher training with some other volunteers, and spending a long weekend in Bangkok.  Then only a couple more weeks until school starts…

found this on sale

lesson learned: when buying something that weights more
than 100 lbs it is a good idea to bring your own transportation. 
taking this home on multiple buses was NOT fun

got 4 spares and a strike. i'm thinking of going pro

yum : )

Monday, April 16, 2012

airing my dirty laundry

Fact:  The washing machine and dryer are the two greatest inventions ever made.  I have no idea who invented them, but I hope there is a statue or museum dedicated to them somewhere out there.  If not, I might open one when I get back to the States.

Laundry in Thailand is a very different thing.  The creative ways in which clothes are washed vary from home to home.  My house now has an especially unique and equally miserable way to get the job done.  A few people have asked me about this, so I thought I would dedicate today’s post to the thing I hate most in this world (washing clothes.)

If any of you back home are wanting to try this out for yourselves, you need to be prepared.  You need:

1.       One washing machine

2.       A second washing machine

3.       A clothes line (preferably in the sun)

4.       A hose

5.       3 LARGE buckets or tubs

6.       Laundry detergent

7.       Fabric softener

8.       Hangers

9.       A stool (you will want to sit down)

10.   A bottle of water and sweat towel

Once you have all of these things you are ready to start.  Please be advised, it is best to do this in the morning hours before the temperature reaches 100 degrees.

1.        Using the hose, fill up the first washing machine and all 3 buckets with water.

2.       Put 3 large scoops of soap into the first washing machine and all clothing.

3.       Turn the first washing machine “on” and watch for 15 minutes while all of your clothes spin and spin into a mass of clothing that becomes knotted and tightly wound.

4.       After 15 minutes, wring out each piece of clothing and put into bucket #1.

5.       Once all clothes are in bucket #1, they need to be rinsed.  Take each piece of clothing, dunk it into the water 3 times, wring it out and put it into bucket #2.

6.       Once all clothes are in bucket #2, they need to be rinsed a second time.  Take each piece of clothing, dunk it into the water 3 times, wring it out and put it into bucket #3.

7.       When all clothing is in bucket #3, dump an ENTIRE package of fabric softener into the bucket and let clothes soak for 5 minutes.

8.       After the 5 minute soak is done, without rinsing out the fabric softener, place all clothes into washing machine #2.

9.       Once in washing machine #2, start the 12 minute spin cycle.

10.   When the spin cycle is complete, you can hang up all of your clothes and put them in the sun to dry.

11.   Several hours later, bring your clothes inside to fold and put away.  During this time, you might notice that some of your clothes still don’t smell “clean.”  Return them to the dirty laundry pile and repeat entire process in 3 days.

my mom helping me with laundry.
next time i want to wash my bedding, i think i will just buy new sheets

playing cards with family

It's a girl!  My host sister-in-law gave birth this week : )
The baby is back home now

getting to watch some muay thai

Saturday, April 7, 2012

i want to ride my bicycle

With a bicycle as my only means of transporation, I really appreciate how nice it was to have a car back home.  Need to mail a letter? Hungry? Run out of toothpaste?  Pretty easy when you can just hop in your air conditioned ride and get to a store in a couple of minutes.
I have a love/hate relationship with my bike.  When I first get on "Joel" I feel great.  It feels like freedom.  But, after 45 minutes in the sun I'm ready to throw Joel in the trash.  Regardless of my mixed emotions, I still take a ride into town everyday.  It takes me about 25 minutes each way - dodging pot holes, motorcycles, and stopping for baby chickens to cross.

turning out of my driveway

main road that goes thru all the neighborhoods. it goes to the highway

i pass both my schools on my way

usually i go straight into town. now the road is under construction
so i turn left and take the long way around

government office and police station

about 8k later, i make it here. buy a water, walk around
in the AC for a minute then head back home

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

school's out for summer!

School really is out for summer.  Classes don’t start up again until May 16th.  So I’ve got a whole lot of nothing going on right now.  A typical day for me is something like this:

8 – 10: wake up, shower, eat breakfast

10 – 1: go visit one of my schools and eat lunch

1-3: spend time with my family/read/nap

3-5: bike into town/attempt exercising/shower #2

5-9: dinner/read/play lots of uno

I have been spending a lot of time with my host family.  Most of our conversations end up being both an English and Thai lesson.  I’ve been teaching them all kinds of random English words like: traffic, mop, and bellybutton.  I tell them ONE time and everyone remembers the word.  But I have to be reminded about 10 times before I can remember anything in Thai.  When our limited language skills and acting fail, my host brother and sister use Google translator.  I HATE Google translator because most of the time it does not make any sense at all.  The other night they were trying to ask me if America has ___?____.  I could not figure out what this Thai word meant.  So they acted it out and were pretending to hit and push each other around.  I still didn’t know what they were asking.  They used Google translator and apparently wanted to know if America has quarrels.

Does America have quarrels?  I said I did not know.

There have been a lot of other interesting miscommunications.  My host mom told me one night to be ready the next day at 8 AM because we were going somewhere.  She also said “wear a pink shirt.”  Naturally, I had no idea at all what’s going on.  I just wake up early and dress in pink.  Turns out we were walking in a parade through town with all of the government employees.  Everyone was in pink.  If only I had known, I would not have worn a skirt.

I am trying to put this free time to use and exercise.  Whenever I go outside with my yoga mat and jump rope – a crowd forms.  My (American) mom suggested I should start charging admission.  Everyone from little children to grandmothers come to see what crazy thing the foreigner is doing today.  Some people laugh, some imitate what I am doing, and mostly people just stare.  But, my host mom explains what I’m doing to the crowd.  “Kuhn Rebecca glua uan,” she tells everyone.
Rebecca is scared to get fat