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April 20, 2010
Last week was so memorable and I will always cherish it as an amazing time with amazing people in an amazing place. About 20 volunteers gathered in the Northern city of Chiang Mai to celebrate Songkran a.k.a Thai New Year. I had been looking forward to this trip as I rarely have or will get time to spend time in this gem of a city because I simply live too far away. In fact the bus ride from there to Ubon is the longest in Thailand. Luckily I was traveling from central Thailand after a visit with my host family from training and had my friend Porscha to make the journey with me.
Songkran is usually a 3-5 day celebration in which everyone one in Thailand takes off from work to go on holiday or to return to their home villages. The days are filled with Thai traditions and culture galore grounded in visits to the temple, blessing elders, and spending time with family while watching traditional dance and song. It has also developed quite the party scene as well. I am reminded of American holidays like Mardi Gras or St. Patrick’s day as Thais embrace their crazy side in funny clothes, hats, sunglasses, you name it and as they hit the bottle. The third and final component to this holiday is that it falls during the hottest part of the year. This makes it perfectly acceptable to douse friends, family and strangers in water! The holiday is basically one giant water fight and Chiang Mai is famous for this fun.
We spent our days in Chiang Mai eating, drinking and spending time with family, our Peace Corps family. My fellow volunteers are some of the most fun loving, accepting, goofy, hilarious, and smart people I have ever met…much like my real family and I was so happy to spend this time with them. Calling it Peace Corps spring break, we “played water” (translation from Thai) for four days straight….of course we also got in a couple nights out on the town.
During the water fight we stationed ourselves by the old moat of the city filling our cheap water guns and buckets with the dirty water beside us. Eventually we smartened up and bought big buckets to fill with water and ice that double as ammunition and a place to keep our beers cold. Dressed in my “I Love Thailand” t-shirt and leopard print rayban shades, I “played water” like I never had before! My favorite part of the whole thing was the camaraderie. Looking out to the slow-moving pickups, some filled with 3 generations of Thais grinning from ear-to-ear, I truly felt the spirit of this fun holiday. All took part and all were happy. It was definitely a special week and a water fight that I will never forget!
April 22, 2010
In a better effort to keep up with friends from home, I took a tip from a fellow Peace Corps volunteer and emailed a few people a random question about their lives. I figured this was way less intimidating than asking for huge life updates on work, relationships, family, gossip, etc. I asked, “what has been your favorite meal in the past week”.
Waking up the following day I felt like a kid on Christmas morning as my inbox loaded with more emails from home than I have seen in awhile. The tactic worked! Not only did I get to hear about delicious food that I am missing but inevitable people wrote more about what was going on in their lives. I’m currently brainstorming a list of more interesting questions to ask!
Also some people chose to ask me some random questions about life here. Always eager to share more on my blog, I ask that you readers follow suit and email me or comment here on what you want to hear more about. The email is email@example.com….ask away!!
One of my favorite questions was, “What has been your most embarrassing moment so far?”
I would have to say the time when I was leading a procession carrying a money tree into the wat (temple). Most anytime I go to the wat I try to get a grasp on what’s going to happen beforehand and dress appropriately (i.e. In a skirt). This time around that was not the case. My host dad had hastily picked me up at my office and we drove around town collecting money to put in the money tree (it’s exactly what it sounds like; just a fake tree with money tied in the branches). Of course being the foreigner I was asked to carry the tree into the wat. Visits to the wat make me really nervous as there are many rules (especially for a female) and customs to follow. Of course I was wearing slacks as I had just come from the office. So I gingerly remove my shoes all while holding the money tree properly and give a nod to the monks as I enter the temple. Just then a woman runs up to me, saying something I don’t understand with her hand headed towards my crotch. That’s right my fly is down…I’m leading a parade…at a temple…in front of monks….and a lady has just announced to everyone that the foreigner’s fly is down and zipped it up for her.
Pretty embarrassing, huh?
For more good stories and interesting posts please email me topics/questions!
April 23, 2010
I raced home through thunder clouds today (yay! Rain!) while those sitting under their porches cheered me on in order to get home before the rain arrived. Arriving home dry, my host mom and I decided to enjoy the cool breeze and remaining time before the rain arrived in the yard. I got my hands on an old, discarded water bottle and we successfully taught Panda (the dog) to play catch! That counts as development work right?? I think I will report it to Peace Corps as my project for the month!