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Back in America

11 Nov

I’ve been back in America for a couple of days now, and I think I’m used to it. It’s not really that big of an adjustment, except that I can’t stop using Thai phrases like “chai” “ok mai?” and “mai pen rai.” My time away, and now returning home, has made me appreciate all that I’ve missed about America and so much that I already miss about Thailand.

Stuff I love about America

  • I can be as loud as I want without people staring at me
  • I’m not freakishly tall
  • Not having to rely on Mirror’s sketchy (at best)  internet connection to talk to my family
  • Evesdropping on other peoples’ conversations whenever I want
  • My friends
  • Clean bathrooms, hot showers and flushing toilets
  • Milk that doesn’t taste weird
  • Crunchy snacks .Nothing in Thailand is crunchy. I don’t know if it’s the humidity or what, but you can’t ever get that satisfying crunch of a potato chip or cracker there.
  • American television. Well, television at all really.

Stuff I already miss about Thailand

  • My friends
  • Feeling like I was helping people every day
  • Sweetened condensed milk on EVERYTHING (i.e. topping for roti, inside ice cream bars, in coffee, etc)
  • Rice. Strangly enough I really miss rice. Along with this goes all the delicious Thai food that comes with rice. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for some ga pao gai from the lady next to P’Noi’s shop…
  • Eating with spoons. I am fork retarded these days.
  • How friendly people are. I have not been wai-ed or bowed to once since I’ve been home.
  • Not having to worry about not having a job. Yeah, that was really nice.
  • How cheap everything was. Stuff in America is pang maak!
  • Taking your shoes off everywhere you go.

There could be a million more things on each of those lists, but I’ll keep them brief. I guess my point is that although Thailand was an amazing and a  fondly cherished part of my life (and I already miss it intensely), I am excited and happy to be home and figuring out what the next amazing part of my life is going to be. I’ve been so lucky this far in my life to experience so much, and I think my best adventures are still to come.

Pu Chi Fah

30 Oct

Last weekend a group of volunteers, Japanese and Thai staff took a weekend trip to Pu Chi Fah. Literally translated, the name means something like “mountain that points to the sky.” We took one of the Mirror songtaows, and it felt like a very long drive.

On the way there we stopped at a national park to admire the spectacular view. The road was very steep and windy.

The view was totally worth the crazy drive.

George, however, didn’t get to admire it too much because of his massive hangover. The little ones always learn the dangers of Thai whiskey the hard way.

At the park we climbed a super awesome tree. Correction, I climbed a tree and Patti and Stacy tried but their legs were too short.

We spent the night in Win’s village. He and Tae (and Win’s family) made us one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in Thailand. We had real barbecued pork and fresh grilled prawns. I even ate a shrimp brain, and it was super tasty. Arroy maak!

That night we went to a temple for a festival. (If you haven’t noticed, they have a lot of those in Thailand.) This one was particularly fun because they were sending lanterns in the sky. We bought a lantern and sent it off with all kinds of loving prayers.

Early the next morning (too early to be “bright” and early) we packed up and made the drive to Pu Chi Fah. It was truly amazing to see the tops of the mountains rise above the mist. Everything kind of glowed pink and purple during the sunrise. It was beautiful.

After a very long two days, we made the drive home. I don’t remember much of it 🙂

The trip was one of the highlights of my time in Thailand. A feel good journey indeed.

Even in Thailand, bowling is my favorite non-sport

28 Oct

Gotta love Chiang Rai Bowl

Tae is a terrible bowler, but we love him

Sexy shoes no?

Making a friendly wager

Afterwards, we did karaoke. It was awesome.

I believe this was Bohemian Rhapsody. Best. Karaoke. Song. Ever.

We even got Tae to sing some Thai songs.

Rice rice baby

26 Oct

Last week we got invited to the new rice festival at a Lahu village in the Mae Suay district. As the name suggests, the festival celebrates the harvest of the new rice. We traveled from home to home, eating and drinking. It wasn’t super crazy like some of the festivals I’ve been to, but it was still fun to visit another village and eat some delicious food.

Surachai, the staff member who took us to the festival. I heart him.

Amazing view from a dam that we stopped at.

This isnt' a pose. Stacy and Sean were really standing like that. I told them I'm going to have it put in a frame with a barcode and sticker that says $9.95.

Everyone in the songtaow getting ready for the long drive back to Mirror.

The men in Thailand are very affectionate. This one grabbed ahold of George and wouldn't let go 🙂

Mae Chan Village Homestay

17 Oct

This week the Mirror staff went on a staff appreciation “seminar” (a.k.a. road trip). They sent the volunteers on a homestay, mostly I think because they didn’t really know what to do with all of us while they were gone. Because all the staff were at the seminar, the interns joined us on the homestay. We stayed with P’Wen – an interesting Thai guy who’s friends with all the core people at Mirror. I still haven’t figured out what he does, I just know he has a lot of money. Basically he keeps going to school to get more degrees, builds his house and helps out at Mirror. His house was probably the nicest one I’ve seen in Thailand. AND it had the first bathtub I’ve seen in this country. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay at P’Wen’s house because there were just too many of us. And I’m not sure how keen he was to have us crash at his bachelor pad. He has several other buildings on his property that look like they were made for homestay though. All the interns and the girl volunteers stayed in one building with 4 bedrooms, and the boys stayed in a round little hut. As far as accommodations go it was by far the nicest homestay any of us had ever been on. The bathrooms with western toilets and real showers were a particular treat.

This homestay was also a little different because we weren’t there just to work. We did paint a childcare center, but they planned several activities for us as well. We visited a winery/tea plantation and we learned how to weave bamboo baskets. We also had LOTS of free time, which we found various ways to fill. Some ingenious volunteers made a set of dominoes out of bamboo, we had a talent show where people from each country performed (the Americans did a rap to Yankee Doodle), we watched movies in Thai and hiked mountains to watch the sun rise. I even played cards, which made me feel like such a rebel. Cards are strictly contraband at Mirror, but some of the interns from Bangkok had brought some. I figured if the people who were in charge of the volunteers invited me to play then I was probably ok. The best part of the whole trip was spending so much time with all the volunteers and interns. We really got a chance to get to know each other, maybe a little too well. All in all it was a long but really fun week.

I’ve posted a few pictures, but there are more on facebook if you want to check them out.

 

Lots of downtime = LOTS of games

 

 

The view from the winery we visited was amazing. The photos simply do not do it justice.

 

 

All the volunteers and interns at the winery

 

 

This guy taught me how to weave baskets and I made this one (mostly) all by myself. Awesome!

 

Juggle Mania

9 Oct

Earlier this week one of our volunteers put on a juggling workshop. It only confirmed that I suck at juggling, but it was a lot of fun to watch everyone try.

 

P'Wendy is an expert juggler

 

Pics

6 Oct

Us in our full zipline gear. Sexy, no?

Repelling down a tree during the Flight of the Gibbon zipline

Ayuthaya is the ancient capital of Thailand. We rented bicycles and rode around to look at all the ruins.

Buddha's head inside a bodhi tree

Fans celebrating after the Chiang Rai vs Bangkok soccer game

The fans before the game were excited to see some farang

Ahka swing festival