Thursday, January 28, 2010

Joys of Today

1. Taking a risk: I'm currently writing grant proposals for community projects. I have no idea if they will get funded or not. But the feeling of putting it all out there, sure feels good.

2. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I haven't had one of these in awhile and it tastes even better than I remember.

3. Clean sheets and putting away the winter blankets. Though you may think that I am crazy for saying the coming of summer is a joy, it absolutely is in that it is a change of season which can bring many new things.

4. Yoga in the garden. I am blessed with a beautiful and fragrant garden here in Thailand.

5. Listening to a new cd that took days to download. Music is always worth the wait.

I encourage all of you to slow down long enough to find one joy in you day. I am lucky enough to have a job and live in an exciting place that allows for this every day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I've been thinking about all the opportunities that a new year brings and making many "resolutions". I am proud of my past year in Thailand and ready for the next. Last year, had many highs and lows as I have described in this blog and it also allowed for many opportunities to travel for meetings, additional training, and time spent with volunteers. Many times I would only be at site for 3 weeks at a time before I boarded a bus to go somewhere else. It was hard to get anything done this way. When I returned from such an outing, I wouldn't really allow myself to start on anything project wise because I knew I would be leaving again soon. I also realized that I was living for those times away and when I was actually at site I would just be thinking about the next time I would leave. I would write out packing lists when bored, or think of things I wanted to do or see in the city. I realized I have been to Bangkok every month since May.

This is not to say that I was unhappy at site, but I was definitely "living" for my road trips.

This year I will have fewer Peace Corps required trainings, and though I serve on a committee will probably be traveling less. I look forward to finding myself at peace while I am at site. This will provide for better relationships with my community and my projects will definitely prosper by spending more time at home. It is a welcome change and I look forward to seeing what comes of it.

Though, thanks to a nice Christmas gift, I was able to afford a ticket to Vietnam for a week-long vacation, and I can't wait!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I had a most productive day, despite being stuck in the office because of rain and taking a long afternoon nap. I sent a number of emails dealing with projects and am anxiously awaiting the responses. Also had my faith restored in my office because after much whining and persuasion they decided they did want to give money to support the income generation of the PHA/HIV group: 50,000 baht!! It's now up to me to find other funding for about 30,000 baht worth. Exciting, but I don't want to get my hopes too high as they rescinded their offer last time.

Other exciting news:
1. There is construction of a night market in the village. There are rumors that there will be bus stop for the VIP bus to Bangkok (the one I seem to take about once a month that is currently 40k out of the way) and maybe even a 7-11. While part of me wants to jump for joy, I worry that this 7 might take business away from local shopkeepers. It's just so darn convenient, and shiny and pretty and has AIR! I wondered if the villagers would rise up, much like my childhood town of Ashland when Wal-mart came to town. I don't think this will happen. Thai people, and Sarah, love the 7.

2. I downloaded software to play scrabble on my computer for 20$. Well spent, I think. This gives me about a year to hone my skills and get ready to dominate you all upon my return.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gotta get up with my promise! Today was a great day for site. I got to sleep in until 9 am (woot woot), eat a quick breakfast and then I was off to spend the day at my favorite school with one of my favorite teachers, Pi Jam. Today we prepared students for the national english exam, ate mangoes and chatted about projects. I also brought photos of my family vacation to show the students. After editing out the pictures of us drinking cocktails or all the beer labels we encountered I had a pretty good slideshow. And though the pictures were of their own country the students had tons of questions. Luckily I could navigate myself through this situation with my Thai, until we got to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Try to explain that in any other language!! I ended up telling them that its very old, they used elephants to build it, and it was hidden in the jungle for many years. That pretty much sums it up, right?

When I arrived home after my Thai lesson I was greeted in English by a fancy looking lady that was cooking food with my host dad and his friends. Turns out she used to own a restaurant in Ubon and now lives in California. We had a great time speaking Thinglish and comparing Thailand to America. It was an enjoyable evening. Sometimes speaking English really can put me in a great mood.

The weather was gorgeous today and we have a hard rain coming down. I can't wait to get in bed with a good book. Ah, the peace corps life!

PS: The peonies that my family brought from America have been planting and are starting to sprout up. I even spotted one bulb today!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


It's a new year! And I am in Thailand! Yes, that is happiness and enthusiasm you hear in my voice. Just back at site from a lot of fun times in Bangkok with the other volunteers as we gathered for our mid-service conference. Though it was fun, we all missed the volunteers that have returned to the states. Our group is more of a family than anything and the loss of fellow volunteers is felt by all. Highlights of the week included seeing Green Day live and building a fort in our hotel room!
Since it's a new year, I have set many goals for myself but hesitate to call them resolutions. One such goal is to try and update my blog everyday. That's right readers, everday! Something to look forward to when you are bored at work or unwinding after a day of errands or classes. While these blog entries may become shorter or even more mundane, I realized I really want to have clear and descriptive documentation of my time here. You all will get an even more detailed look at what life in Thailand is like (so keep up with all the names!) and everyone wins!

January 18, 2009
Hung out around the house this morning, but somehow managed to postpone unpacking. Headed into work after lunchtime and chatted with co-workers before attempting to catch up on emails. I was distracted by the news stories of the happenings and Haiti and had a hard time focusing. After a few hours at the office I hopped on the bike and headed to my thai class. Before I arrived I ran into Pi Jam and the girls from SOI who have made great progress on the recycling center we designed in September. I am so proud of them and we will be decorating the center shortly and putting it to good use. Things with my tutor are still going well, but inevitably we end up talking more than studying as she is one of my best friends here at site. We reminsced about my first year and teared up at the thought of my second year coming to an end (even though I still have 15 months left!). After that I headed back into town to meet my co-workers for mu-ga-ta or Korean bbq. It's delicious, unhealthy, and filling and we had a great time goofing off and throwing the leftover meat to the street dogs (all good fun). It was dark by the time I had to go home and as I pedaled away my friends screamed, "watch out for the ghosts!". Thais are very superstitious and are always on the look out for ghosts. During the ride, as I looked up at the moon and stars, I felt the chilly air across my back and realized that I better keep my eyes on the road and probably look out for ghosts too! Great first day back, but super tired. Now about indulge in my newest addiction, 30 Rock.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Unique. Fun. Memorable.

Those are the words that I would use to describe my family's visit to Thailand and our travels here. I actually have a reason for my blog hiatus this time around, as my mom and dad and brother were visiting my new country and home for about 3 weeks. After their introduction to village life (as described in the last entry) and onslaught of jet lag we spent a day exploring my favorite Isaan city, Ubon. The weather was great and we had plenty to see and explore. It was so much fun to see my family experience everything in Thailand with new and fresh eyes much like I did just under a year ago. After a nice Italian dinner (my choice) and a game of Scrabbble we turned in early since we were flying to Cambodia early the next morning.

We arrived in Siem Reap in the early afternoon and quickly made it through the supposedly difficult immigration line. Cambodia was surprising and made me think. Before arriving I thought it would be pretty much like the province of Thailand that I live in, but the differences were immediately clear. I'm not sure if it was because it was new to me, but I definitely thought that the landscape in Cambodia was more beautiful. It was quickly clear to me that Siem Reap is all about tourism. People use American dollars and the things we did had the same prices as they would in America, ie. a ride to the airport was 30$, a beer 5$, etc. After dropping our bags at a lovely hotel, we quickly found a ride to a small temple in the countryside. This gave us the opportunity to get out of the glittering city and into the countryside. It was a memorable ride. After the temple we headed to the landmine museum. This was an emotional and educational visit.

The next day awoke before the sunrise to get ready for our whirlwind tour of Angkor Wat. It was great to get an early start and we lucked out with an amazing tour guide. This has to be one of the most memorable days of my life and if you ever get the chance to go to Angkor Wat I recommend that you take it. It's sort of impossible to describe the day, but I will always remember it.

Our next destination was Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. When we flew back into Thailand I had the distinct feeling of arriving home which was cool. I was so excited to finally experience Chiang Mai as I have heard nothing but great things about it. We spent three fun-filled memorable days in and outside of this northern gem ziplining, feeding, riding, and washing elephants, visiting a Karen hilltribe, eating and drinking, and enjoying the mountain views. My dad and brother and I were ziplining on Christmas Eve which was surreal and perfect at the same time. We returned to the hotel to find that Santa had visited and celebrated Christmas eve with pizza and games. It was perfect.

Christmas day we found ourselves packing up and heading to the airport again, this time headed to the south of Thailand for a seven-day stay in Phuket. We arrived to our rented beach house ready to relax. The views of the sea, the pool, and the delicious food and drink were perfect for this. Throughout the week we took several day trips, renting boats and exploring the beautiful islands and sights. Again it was fun, unique and memorable.

New Year's day brought us back to the airport for the final leg of the journey, to the city of angels, also known as Bangkok. We powered through the heat and crowds and took in the sights of the grand palace, the emerald buddha, the reclining buddha, and tourist heavy Khao san road. Other memorable events were massages, VIP seats at a Thai boxing match, a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya river and introducing my family to some other volunteers.

That concludes our journey and I am now back at site. Not for long, as we have our Mid-service conference next week in Bangkok and I head into the city this weekend for medical check-ups. Looking forward to being with my whole group again, but even more to returning to site after that to start up some more projects for my second year!!

As always, thanks for reading.