Two in Thailand

After raising three children and watching them graduate from college, Bob and Carol decided to leave the educational field and pursue a dream that had been put on hold for 35 years (since graduationg from the University of Northern Iowa). "Two in Thailand" is the journal dedicated to that dream - to serve in the Peace Corps. This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed within do not necessarily represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bob's Lawnmower

The most common job in our area is rice farming. The second most common job is raising cattle. The "cow-pokes" usually have small herds and bring them to different houses to eat. The "cow poke" usually ties a few cattle to a post and then squats for hours while they mow and fertilize our yard.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Our Weekend Getaways

Every weekend, Carol and I go for a long bike ride. We crossed a 2 mile dam and entered an area with a sign. Should we enter? Are there wild dogs or cobras? Is this another Scientology compound? Is Tom Cruise waiting for us? Will we be arrested and sent to Cambodia? Can anyone tell me what this sign says?

Every other Saturday, we get on our bikes and ride 5 miles to a large reservoir. There are three "raan ahaans" (restaurants) side by side above the reservoir that offer a spectacular view and a cool breeze. We get some sodas, a bucket of "naam kang" (ice), some "mon farang todt" (potato chips) and "phad pahk ruam sai gai" (rice, vegetables, and chicken) and enjoy the solitude. Carol is standing with one of the owners. Thailand has a communal culture --- if one restaurant doesn't have what we want, they run to the other restaurant and prepare it for us!

Good evening (dtawn yen!)

Another day ends for Bob and Carol. The evenings are a reprise from the unbearable heat. Temperatures drop down into the upper 80's and if we are real lucky, thunderstorms spring up and cool down the house. The downside, is that 1000's of lizards, frogs, and insects try to get into the house, but we will still take the "cool" night anytime.

During certain rainy months, we have to turn all off all lights because ephemeral phototropic insects will fill the sky and be drawn to any source of light. Even though we have screens (which are required by Peace Corps), the installation leaves much to be desired and we are inundated with creatures (similar to mayflies) that fill the house and soon lose their 4 delicate wings which we sweep up for days.

Yes, We Have Bananas!!!!

Thailand grows approximately 30 varieties of bananas. They range from very sweet 3-inch slender varieties and fat 4-inch sweet bananas to the long, not-so-sweet variety sold in America. Bob loves bananas because they keep his s*** together. We all adapt personal survival strategies while in foreign countries.

This stand is across the street from our house. The bananas cost "sip baht we-la" (20 baht per bunch, which is about 55 cents)--- Aren't the little children adorable!!!


Do You Want Fries With Those Toads?

We biked 14 km to a village known for its Thai cuisine. This lady is offering to BBQ a skewer of toads for Carol. Needless to say (judging by Carol's reaction), she passed them up!

Mmmmm!!!! They may look like frogs, but they were definitely toads (judging by the fat waist before they were cooked). I assume the toxins in the skin were denaturized by the heat, but I'm not taking any chances. I think I'll eat the ant eggs at the next stand!!!

Get me to church on time!

We finally found a Catholic Church! In a country that is 99% Buddhist, this is no easy task. Our day starts at 8:00 am (bpadt mohng chaao) when we walk 1 kilometer to the bus station. It is a song taao (two bench seats on a cattle truck) that drives 60 km through many villages on the way to the "big city". After we pick up about 30 more people (many hanging out the backside and riding on top of the bus), we get to the "city". We flag down a "tuk-tuk" and get a ride to a "Our Lady of Peace" in time for the 11:00 am (sip-et mohng chaao) mass. We then get a ride back to town, do a little shopping at "Safeway" where there are no canned foods. microwave popcorn, or frozen food section, hop on a modern bus and get home by 6:00 pm (hok mohng yen) just in time to eat at a noodle stand and turn on our favorite TV program (wish we knew what they were saying)!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Celebrating the End of Adult English Class!!

We taught an adult English class on Monday and Wednesday evenings for 3 months. Some of the adults really want to learn to speak English and were a delight to teach. We put a lot of effort into making our lessons meaningful and fun (sanook) --- but in the end we realized that we received much more than we gave. The "students" are holding gifts that Carol prepared for them - but the "gifts" they gave us were generosity, acceptance, and smiles! We were the students and they were the teachers!!!

Happy 4th of July!!!!

We celebrated the 4th of July 14 hours ahead of Los Angeles. Our Thai teacher counterparts and Peace Corps Group met at Cha-am for further training. We have luxurious accommodations for 10 days at a hotel across from the beach. It's the first time our feet have touched carpet in 6 months and we even have a Western-style bathroom and hot water! We are reconnecting with the other 54 Peace Corps volunteers, something we won't be able to do for 9 more months!