Sunday, July 24, 2011

Like Sand Through An Hour Glass......So Are The DAYS OF OUR LIVES...dun dun

It has been longer than I expected since I have been able to update Thailikeshirt copyright, stamp, double stamp, triple stamp no taksies-backsies.  Over the past month I have been a fairly busy man.  I mentioned some of the things I would be up to in my last blog post and of course I promised to give updates and pictures from all events.  The truth is the beach was too much fun and way too beautiful to have time to take pictures.  I always get frustrated with myself when I sit around taking pictures and I forget to actually take it all, so this time I neglected take photographs.  But, I did take a few pictures of our Peace Corps Reconnect Conference and the First Annual (lets hope there is a second, third and fourth annual) Ban Non Yang English/Life Skills Camp which you will be able to view at the bottom of this wonderfully put together blog page!
            So when I left you last I was headed to Ko Samet, Thailand which is a beach near the Province Rayong, Thailand which is approximately 200 km from Bangkok (side note, I always hated when people who wrote in these blogs in kilometers because I felt like they were trying to be cool and prove that they now thought in kilometers this, in fact, is not true it is just what people tell me and then I am too lazy to try to convert it to miles even though throughout this rant I probably would have had time to plug it into my cell phone and give you the conversion but that is besides the point) and head there I did.  I stopped off at the Peace Corps Headquarters in Bangkok and dropped off my bag for Reconnect and headed to the beach with some of my good Peace Corps buddies Tanner, Kelly and Bobby, good group of guys.  We had a blast with days filled with throwing the Frisbee around and eating delicious Thai food right on the beach, Thai style, and nights watching fire dancers and eating more food.  Needless to say for those three days we did not feel much like Peace Corps Volunteers but it was a much needed vacation for all of us. 
            After heading to Ko Samet, we all went to PST Reconnect in a city near Bangkok where we invited our Thai counterparts from our sites.  Some of them had never traveled alone or ever stayed in a hotel so it was a very interesting three days.  By the time the counterpart portion of the conference was over most of our counterparts, especially mine, missed cao neow (sticky rice, most people in Issan eat cao neow rather than jasmine rice) and were ready to go home to their families and their own beds. I must admit I was beginning to feel the same way.  I missed my host family, my house, the teachers and students at my schools, the food and the peacefulness of a long bike ride or run. Fortunately or unfortunately I was stuck at the hotel in Suppanburi for another five days.  The rest of the conference was beneficial for us all and we all gained some great perspective from the stories that everyone had.  We had fresh ideas and we were all very anxious to get back to our sites.  One volunteer said during the final session said that it had been great seeing everyone and speaking our native language and being able to hang out in the hotel but the fact was we were excited and anxious to get back to the place where most of us now call “home”; I believe he hit the nail right on the head. 
            Of course before I had the chance to get back “home” I had to take a detour to my other, “home”, as Suppanburi was only one and a half hours from Ayuthaya, the place I did all of my Pre-Service Training and of course the home of my first Thai family.  So they drove to pick me up and I stayed with them one night before getting on the bus to go back and start planning my English/Life Skills Camp that was quickly approaching.  So one night of laughter and great food and I was on the bus back to Yasothorn. 
I was kind of scared that I was going to run out of time to plan when four other volunteers showed up a day early in order to help finish up the planning and make materials to conquer the Camp the next day, and the day after that.  It was a great time and the volunteers that came and stayed at my “baan” for a few days were extremely awesome and dedicated to making the camp be a success.  Without their great teamwork and their talent I am sure it wouldn’t have been as great, but they made it happen.  Two days of wonderful games and activities and lessons on topics like Hygiene, Teamwork, Self-Esteem and Food and Exercise.  The students learned a ton and they had a great time doing it….VICTORY!
After English Camp we headed as a group to Khon Kaen which is about three hours from Yasothorn during the long holiday “Wan Cao Pansa” in order to celebrate the success of our Camp.  We met some other volunteers there and relaxed again for three more days.  By the time that trip was over I was ready to head back and get back to my routine.  I was missing my site dearly and I hadn’t seen my host mom or family in over a month. 
When I returned home I went to my smaller school on Tuesday and one of the teachers informed me that he had killed a snake called “ngoo sing” (snake sing) and that he wanted me to come over to help him and the principal of the school eat it.  This was not my first rodeo with snake sing and man was it a good way to get back in the groove of village life.  We ate and ate and ate.  Unfortunately I stayed too late at the teacher’s house and was not able to see my host family again which I was ready to do.  So the next day at dinnertime I rode my bike to see them.  Nothing had changed.  “Bai nai maaa?” (where have you been?) my host mom asked me and then the next question “gin cao duay gaan mai?” (will you eat with us?)…..Home sweet home…..
Here I am now in the village, I was able to teach the volunteer health workers in my community some English the other day and it is rice planting season so I helped plant some rice with the students on the school farm.  
So here are the pictures for a wrap up:  Beach, Reconnect, Ayuthaya, English Camp, Khon Kaen, Health Workers, Rice Planting!  Enjoy!

Much Love,