Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ode to the 3 Rs: Rain, Razorbacks and Riskybussiness?

Here in amazing Thailand it rains nearly everyday.  In the states rainy days were great for sleeping, eating and watching a few movies.  Nothing is really accomplished and if something is accomplished, there is a high probability it is from a desk, possibly at the Tyson Discovery Center (Pat is always making discoveries I am sure of it).  In Thailand, there are no discoveries made on a rainy day, instead there are traditional practices. There are people hard at work, upwards of eight people riding in each vehicle (motorcycles included), all with something to do. Loud tractors filled with straw or logs to build structures conducted by tired farmers ride up and down the bumpy roads with purpose.  Every year in this beautiful country, rainy season means life and life in abundance.  Everything turns green as do the thumbs of Thai farmers.  Each meal consists of several dishes, organic vegetables, lizard, snake, fish, frogs and the list goes on.  Rainy season is not a dreary time in Thailand, instead it is the happiest time of the year.

 The change in seasons has brought me much happiness as well.  The rainy season in Thailand also accompanies my favorite season in Fayetteville; autumn.  As I type this blog entry I can almost feel the fall air enter my lungs, see the beautiful leaves in the Ozarks and hear the sound of the roaring Razorback crowd during a Saturday night football contest.  The red and white fills the stands like plump Petit Jean hot dogs fill their wrapper and victory tastes just as good as the crawfish boil that took place just hours before in the pit....ahh memories.

I have had the opportunity to do many things over the past few weeks and I feel very fortunate to have done so.  I went with the Ministry of Education in Yasothorn to "do ngaan" which translates to "watch work" in Pattaya, Thailand and Chonburi, Thailand.  We stayed a night in Pattaya and the second night stayed at a military base that was absolutely incredible.  Something about ocean water just seems to cleans the soul and the surrounding air provides a sense of wistfulness.  I was able to meet several principals from the surrounding schools in my communities, one of which happens to be a scratch golfer.  Many nights of talking, eating, singing karaoke and watching Issan traditional dance.  It was a healthy dose of Thai culture and man did I enjoy it.

On the way back on the bus from Chonburi, I took the liberty to get off the bus early and do some traveling on my own. Something about walking down the street in a place I am not familiar with and on the road to no where and with no plan in mind makes me feel free, a liberating and beautiful thing.  After about four hours of travel I landed in Khorat, Thailand.  I made a call and it came to be that a few Peace Corps friends were staying the night in Khorat as well. We met up and made the most of our time together.  Vacations are a great thing but sometimes they make me confused with where I am.  Just when I find a sense of comfortableness in where I live and what I am doing in the village the "big city" uproots me.  It is really inexplicable but  as one man from my village looked at me and said when walking down the street in Pattaya "wian hua" which means "spinning head".  Sometimes one just feels lost, overwhelmed with where they are because of cultural contrast or the seeing of new things, this is what the man was describing and I could not have agreed more.

Rode my bike back into the village as the sun was setting and my head was still somewhat "wian" from the week of travels and being outside "home".  A few days later I was beginning to find my niche again and just then I was invited to go to Mahasarakam with a fellow teacher from the school I work at who is currently studying a masters program for Education Administration.  So I was gone again and again "wian hua".  I had a lot of fun and it was neat to see how similar college courses are in Thailand to that of the United States and the University of Arkansas.  I would say the biggest difference is that all students must take off their shoes before entering the classroom and "wai" the professor to pay respect to their status.  Of course me being me, I forgot to take off my shoes and spent most of my time and brain power being REALLY self-conscious and trying to hide my feet from everyone, classic move.

Well, I suppose I should wrap things up.  Eight months in already and time has flown by.  I have learned a lot about myself throughout this journey so far, one of them being that I now know I can successfully use the squat toilet without completely disrobing (nice) and the other is that one CAN indeed "owl" a "plank".  I will get back to you next time but until then, special thanks to Papa Johns Pizza, Coca Cola, Petit Jean Meats and the Razorback Marching Band, I am Luke Fries, Go Hogs!

Rak Tuh,