A Fine Day In Thailand!

RSS

Last day in Pradu Yuen today.  On Wednesday I had a party with 50+ friends, co-workers and family members.  It was really nice to hear what people had to say about me and my work over the past two years.  I am proud of what I have done and fortunate for everything that has come my way.  Thank you all for supporting me along the way.  Friends and family back in America, see you soon.  For those of you in Thailand, I will never forget you.

2 Years in Thailand

I can’t believe this is only my 4th post in the past year.  2012 has gone by much faster than last year.  I have had more projects, vacations and activities to pass my time.  That, coupled with feeling more comfortable in my community makes the time fly.  Some highlights include: English camps, teacher trainings, playground building, trekking in Nepal, friends and family visits, among many other things.

My take on a truthful Peace Corps advertisement:

The United States Peace Corps wants YOU!

Do you want to change the world?

No?  Good.  You won’t.  In fact, after two years you might not even be able to see any of your accomplishments.

Want to fast track your career and gain valuable skills to use on the job?

You will learn a lot of things while serving your community!  Unfortunately, most of these skills are completely useless in America.  Don’t fear, by the end of 2 years, you will be much more confused about what you want to do with your life.   New skills like playground building, teacher training, insect eating and soccer abilities are a great addition to any resume. 

Want to learn another language?

Oh, you will.  In fact, by the end you will probably be begging to speak English so you can have a meaningful conversation.  *disclaimer:  You will probably lose the ability to speak English well (or is it good?  I forget…)*

Want to live in a developing country and learn a new culture?

Yea?  Cool, but don’t forget America is awesome.

Peace Corps slogan is, “This is the hardest job you will ever love”.   I couldn’t agree more.  Never before have I been so frustrated, bored, sick, skinny, fat, exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious, etc…

If I had the choice, would I do it again?  Yes.  I have learned so much over the past 2 years.  Sometimes, I feel that my new skills are technically useless.  Personally, they are priceless.  I have learned so much about myself, my abilities and my limits.

Want to join Peace Corps?  Great!  My biggest piece of advice would be to go in with no expectations.  Every day will be an adventure with unexpected challenges.   You can go from your highest point to lowest point in one day.  The biggest changes you should expect out of Peace Corps should be personal not professional. 

I have 3 months left in Thailand with my biggest project still to come.  If you have holiday spirit and a few dollars to spare, please donate to the Thai Youth Theater Project.  Click the link below to donate!

https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=493-176

Happy Holidays.  See you next year.

I hosted a 2 day teacher training workship in my community.  30 teachers from 4 schools in my village came to learn English teaching techniques (that can also be adapted for other subjects).  The teachers were nervous because they don’t speak English very well.  With the help of 4 volunteers, I had a very successful and fun camp! 

Finished building a playground this week.  It was nice to be really busy for a while. 

May 8
Back to site after a nice vacation.  On vacation I was looking for the perfect sunset.
I couldn’t find it because it was at home the entire time.
Glad to be back.  
Less than a year left in this country.  I’m going to make the most of it.

Back to site after a nice vacation.  On vacation I was looking for the perfect sunset.

I couldn’t find it because it was at home the entire time.

Glad to be back.  

Less than a year left in this country.  I’m going to make the most of it.

Finishing Up 2011

Welcome to 2012!  I had an excellent 2011 and I hope you did too.  To send 2011 out with a bang I had family and friends visit from the states.  

Christmas:

I went up to the north of Thailand to visit another PCV.  Mae Hong Son is in the mountainous north west of Thailand.  When I arrived in the early morning I noticed that Debi actually lived in the clouds.  The air was cool and clean.  What a nice change from the hot winter that I have been experiencing.  The roads wind around mountain sides and are not for the weak stomach.

On the first day we taught Debi’s students how to make cookies.  Using a toaster oven, we baked 4 to 6 cookies at a time to make enough for the whole school to try.  The kids had a blast rolling out the dough and making shapes with the cutters (only to become big blobs of dough when I crammed as many cookies as I could into the toaster). 

That night we went to our first Christmas party.   I’m fairly certain this was the most cross cultural Christmas party of the year.  Aside from the 10+ different ethnic groups from Burma and Thailand, there were volunteers from many other countries.  Debi and I were asked to judge the pageant 

The tiered rice fields that I imagined when I got accepted to Thailand do exist! 

The next weekend Jeff, Janelle and Renee arrived in Thailand.  For the New Year we met in Chiang Mai.  It was so nice to see friends and family from back in the states!  On the first day we went on a day tour into the mountains of Chiang Mai.  We went to waterfalls, hill tribe villages and the tallest mountain in Thailand.  It was a great adventure.

Jeff making friends.

Looking back on 2011, I had an amazing year.  I am lucky to have such great family and friends.  

Merry Christmas from Pradu Yuen!

I’m Dreaming of a Non-Sweaty Christmas

Happy Holidays!  Just in case you have all forgotten what the holiday season entails, I am going to give you a brief summary.

Loy Krathong:

The first holiday that really kicks the season into gear.  Grab your closest banana leaf and wild flowers and put together your Krathong!  Not familiar?  Hmmm.  Well here is a picture of a Krathong.

As a SAO worker, I was in charge of selling the Krathongs to the community members (each one is 40 Baht).  They were amazed by my mental math abilities (most Thai people use fingers for counting).  I think it was the first time some of the community realized that speaking like a child (in Thai) does not mean that I think like one.  Score one for me.  

Anyways, what exactly is Loy Krathong?  It is a ceremony to honour the original Buddha, Siddhartha Guatama Apart from venerating the Buddha with light (the candle on the raft), the act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of all one’s grudges, anger and defilement’s, so that one can start life afresh on a better foot (thank you Wikipedia).   Below is a picture of a father and daughter sending their Krathongs down the river (also notice the bridge that I helped build earlier that day). 

Thanksgiving:

I don’t know if you will all be familiar this one.  Anyways the basic idea is to get your family together and cook food.  Specifically Turkey and stuffing.  However, this being Thailand, we experienced a few setbacks.  

1. Turkey is tough to find in Thailand.  I have heard rumors of an organic Turkey farm somewhere in Isaan, but it was too far away.  I did carry my slingshot around for a few days just in case a turkey happened to cross my path.  My brilliant friend Kristina was the head chef and made DELICIOUS American dishes with what ever she could get her hands on.  She made a sweet potato casserole without sweet potatoes (seriously). Below is a picture of me basting the Turkey.

2. Family.  When I moved to Thailand, I left all of my friends and family behind.  After 3 months of training, the PCVs realized that we had created our own family.  I don’t know what I would do with out them.  They make the bad times better and the good times amazing.  Spending Thanksgiving with 10 of my closest friends was a special moment.  This is me saying what I am thankful for.

Father’s Day:

You might be thinking “wait a minute… isn’t that suppose to be in June?  Well, no.  You all have it wrong.  You should celebrate Father’s Day on the birthday of the greatest father in the world:

Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitalathibet Ramathibodi Chakkrinaruebodin Sayamminthrathirat Borommanatbophit.

aka

HRM Bhumibol Adulyadej the King of Thailand (this is much easier to remember).

For the month leading up to Father’s Day, my office has been preparing for a giant festival.  It was all well worth it.  The place was absolutely gorgeous.  We had a huge stage with lots of flowers and lights.  The night was full of dances, speeches and various gift giving ceremonies.  The highlight of the night was when they shut off all of the lights and lit candles and held them to the sky.  After a moment of silence my boss shouted “Long live the King!” and then 2,000 people chanted it three times.  It is amazing to a person loved so much.  After that the fireworks show started.  Below is a picture of the stage.

Up Next:

Christmas and New Years.  Jeff, Janelle and Renee are coming to Thailand for a little more than a week.  It should be filled with fun times.

If you made it to the end, happy holidays again.  It has almost been a year since I left America.  I’ll leave the year review for another day.  Goodnight family and friends.  Talk to you next year.

Randoms

I have a weird rash.  I have no clue what it is from.  In America I might worry.  Here?  Hah.

The nights are getting cold.  Seriously, at night I don’t even turn on my fan.

I bought Christmas trees for my house and office.  I win.

If I don’t eat rice for two meals straight, I start to miss it.

I am really excited for Christmas and New Years!

Sepak Takraw at the Loi Krathong Festival in Pradu Yuen