Monday, February 09, 2015

Out and About in Bang Rachan

We are now halfway through our Peace Corps Training (PST), and the light at the end of the tunnel is nearly visible. Home life with my Thai family is great! While communication is basic--no deep thoughts are being exchanged--we still manage to be understood and enjoy each others company.

My little host brother busted up his arm playing soccer. I've taken over some of his dinnertime responsibilities, like setting the table and pouring water.

I have a lot of fun hanging out with our next door neighbor and her kids. 

Our afternoon badminton games are pretty intense. We use a dirt lot, marking the boundaries with broken bricks. There's no net. This is Goon. She's awesome.

This is Chuck. He hosted a PCV 3 years ago and has befriended many of group 127. His English is amazing. 

He's standing next to a jack fruit tree in his front yard. Those watermelon sized fruit with spikes on the outside. They look like a weapon. 

 This weekend he took me, Anna, and Rhianna on a tour of the surrounding area.Our first stop was at this cool little organic market where we loaded up on treats. Loved this old lady.

Eventually made it to a festival with tons of vendors. Could have used a few extra stomachs. But my first order of business was to buy a hat. The sun was brutal.

This trip was unexpected, unplanned, and I had no idea where we were going and when we'd be back. PCVs call this being Thaiknapped. Happy to have my first experience with it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Thai Day

We are approaching the halfway mark of our Pre Service Training (PST) here in hazy Bangrachan. I've yet to see a blue sky, which I believe is due to the ever present trash fires and burning of sugarcane fields. I dream of green jungle and clear skies in the North, where I hope to be assigned.

Our days are mostly filled with studying Thai or teacher training. It's a lot of sitting in hot classrooms trying to focus. Some days I feel like I've made a breakthrough, others I feel like I'm broken. I think we are all anxious to come out the other side of PST and get started.

Me with my first language group

This is how I feel by the time I bike home at the end of a long day in the classroom. (I shot this on the one day I got home early, only to find I was locked out of the house. Had to sit out front with our four dogs. I liked how he was using the pot as a pillow.) 

This is from the little restaurant across the street from our training center. This plate costs 30 Baht. (almost $1)

On Saturday we celebrated Thai Day with performances from our teachers and American skits and dancing from the PCVs. This photo is of our teachers singing us a song about how glad they are to have us as students. There were a lot of tears shed. 

We were served a big Thai feast at the end. I am very grateful to be serving in a country with such amazing food. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bangrachan Village

Our transition out of the resort and into a host family in Bangrachan Village was a little unnerving for us. Nobody knew exactly what to expect. Would we be thrust into a situation where we can barely communicate with people who really want to communicate with us? Yes. Would we be taking cold bucket showers and squatting to poop for the next two months? Quite possibly. Would we be sleeping on a dirt floor and using stray dogs as blankets? Thankfully, no.

At last the wait was over. We met our new host families in a big room and were driven to our new homes for the next two months. Couldn't help but feel a sense of relief during the house tour when I saw I had my own room, a bed, and screens on the window. Things got better after spotting the heated shower, western toilet (sans seat), and washing machine. All in all, I have it pretty good. Wifi would have been frosting on the cake, but once I got data going on my phone, it wasn't a big deal.

Rice fields near my home

My host family's house

My bed area with  my PC issued mosquito net

The first night was super awkward, as I was a stranger in a strange house with almost zero ability to speak in Thai. I wasn't sure what to do or when to do it. After talking to other volunteers, this seemed to be the norm. However, things got dramatically better over the next few days. Soon I was meeting neighbors and extended family, feeling independent on my bike, and becoming a member of the family rather than a guest. 

A neighbor's pet squirrel

Language and technical training has been non stop since we arrived in Thailand. I feel like I'm back in high school and college--places I never wished to go back to. I'm not the greatest student, sleeping through a good portion of my classroom hours. It's even tougher for me to stay awake here with the heat, dressed in riap roy (business casual). I keep thinking--2 months, I can do this. 

Group 127. There are 70 of us now after one went home. 

Culture training

Community mapping bike ride with my language class

The silver lining to everything in Thailand is the food. It's been great!