This is my video blog from May 22, 2013, the day before I flew from Thailand to Burma. I had decided in the moment that talking to the camera was better than typing, but apparently lost the luster for that particular modality of thought-transmission early on, as it is the only actual video blog I have. I made a few other videos as I attempted to teach myself ukulele later, but none that are make up explicitly of my thoughts/feelings/dreams etc in word form.
This week is beyond description, truthfully. I arrived in Bangkok Saturday, May 4, slept from 2pm new local time (12 hours different from home) until 6am the following morning, randomly bumped into a sprite of a girl with a bubbly British accent and another lady whose accent I couldn’t place (South African, it turns out) and we went out exploring that night with her friend (also British) and several others, and from that first night through today this group of people (roughly 25) have become lifelong friends to me. Each of them is so ornately interesting to me as a human being, and each of us are completely different than the others …which is to be expected when you take a handful of people from regions that exhibit the kind of nuances and stark diversity, even regionally, that the US, England, and South Africa each have. It’s been like a family reunion with mates you just hadn’t met yet. (and my slang is slowly morphing into something that draws on all of them….good luck understanding me when I get home.) The first couple days we spent translating idioms to each other and pointing out quirks in each differing definition of English. For example, in South Africa they call the traffic lights “robots,” they call a BBQ on the beach a Bry, and the world dob means “drink.” (Guess which continent is next on my list?) We’ve found similarities amongst each other in our reasons for being here as well as have been able to accept each other’s differences, for the most part, and there really hasn’t been anyone stepping on toes thus far. Several members have found placements throughout Thailand already, and have left us, so over the next couple of weeks there will be first a trickle and then a flood of heartbreak as more and more members of our happy little family strike out on their own to locations throughout Thailand.
Luckily, the school breaks seem to be about the same everywhere, so there is already a Facebook group in the works and plans to meet up somewhere for a Full Moon Party (more on those in another entry, but from what I understand they are not to be missed).
This week I feel like I have done more than I have in the entirety of the previous 26 years. I’ve been shaken a bit (as will happen throughout the year, for various reasons and in response to all sorts of events as well as nonissues) but I have experienced less than 24 hours of discomfort over the whole week, and for people living, studying and celebrating in such close quarters I feel that is a tremendous feat. There have been some bumps in the road, and some misunderstandings and concerns for everyone regarding the haphazard way the companies we used to get here seem to have inconsistent information for everyone (not just regionally), but you can tell that everyone is just happy to be here.
Weight is lifted off your shoulders in such a natural way, that you can’t help but live and let live. Don’t sweat the small stuff (because you’re doing plenty of sweating already).
So far we’ve been to Bangkok and Hua Hin, visited a monastery on Turtle Mountain, received a blessing from the monks there, learned how to make pad thai, loaded a song tao (the local equivalent of a bus where you can sit inside or hang off the back) full of pineapples from a plantation, sat IN the song tao with them and took the goodies to an elephant sanctuary where we got to feed them (and I was hugged by a baby elephant. Cutest thing ever.)…. And I’ve learned a smidgen of Thai phrases, but I do keep confusing “hello/goodbye” and “thank you.”
Meanwhile, I’m also learning Burmese. And the next two weeks we’ll be having classes to set up lesson planning, etc. And as I write this, I’m sitting by the pool at our hostel/dorm style accommodation. And while I have some trepidation regarding the part of the organization and its ability to conduct itself professionally, I’m very happy to be in Thailand.