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.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


Oh, no!!!! Not the dance, YMCA!!!
We must be getting desperate at the 6th grade English camp! We followed it with the Macarena. To memorize the dance we counted the moves from 1-14. They had a blast. When we asked them what song they wanted to do again and they all wanted the Macarena.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

6th Grade English Camp

We are helping Kate, another Peace Corps Volunteer with a 3-day English Camp at her school. Students in grades 1-5 have no school for 3 days, while 6th graders from five other surrounding schools attend the camp. We traveled four hours by bus to arrive in Kate's village. Another volunteer traveled 9 hours to get here! It's a special occasion to have four native English speakers at a school, so we are treated like royalty. Kate is leading one of the teams in a cheer that they have to perform. There are 5 teams of 25 students who will play a variety of games in English to help alleviate the fear of speaking Englsih.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wrapping Sweet Desserts

This woman in our village is cutting sections of banana leaves to wrap her sweet desserts (kanoms) usually made from sticky rice (kao niao) and/or bananas.

A Rice Farm

The monsoons have begun and the rice has been planted! It rains almost everyday from August through November. The area around us is primarily rice fields dotted with small farm houses. This is a typical "Little House on the Rice Paddy".

The Introduction of an American Game

The schools frequently hold two-day camps for the students. Classes are cancelled and students bring pillows and mats to stay overnight in the classrooms. The teachers hold stations that all the students attend throughout the day. Bob introduced frisbee. The students had never tossed a frisbee before. Words taught were "throw", "catch" "one hand", two hands", "behind the back", and "under the leg". After they got use to the throwing and catching techniques, they selected one team member to sit in a chair and try to catch the frisbee thrown by the other team members, without leaving the chair, to score points. Notice, that even on camp days, the students still have to wear their uniforms!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Keep 'em Talking!

Bob has been trying to speed up language acquisition by actively engaging his students in activities that require them to speak English. The question is "How many brothers and sisters do you have?" The girl on the right is trying to get the other student to say "one brother".

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Chanthaburi is a 4-hour bus ride from our village. Our bus ride featured an open door and no air-conditioning. We wanted the door closed but they explained it was broken. It is a beautiful city known for its fruit orchards and gem trade. There are hundreds of shops which buy rubies and sapphires from traders who travel to Chanthaburi from surrounding countries.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Chanthaburi has one of the largest Catholic churches in Thailand. Part of the reason is Vietnamese escaped their country and came to Chanthaburi because of religious persecution in the 1700's and 1800's. The church is almost 300 years old, but has been rebuilt several times. This structure was dedicated in 1911.

Chanthaburi Wat

These are pictures of a Buddhist wat in Chanthaburi. The wat is of Chinese influence and was incredibly ornate and beautiful. Click on photos to see detail!

Island Restaurant

We visited another Peace Corps Volunteer and his supervisors insisted that we eat with them. The only way to the restaurant was a small boat. The supervisors did not allow us to pay --- it was their treat! The mangroves grow from the island right into the sea inlet. Coming back was quite an experience--- it was dark and the boat had no lights but the "skipper" knows the bay like the back of his hand.

Soft-shell Crab

The restaurant raises its own soft-shell crabs. It's an intricate system with at least a thousand cages. This is just one row of the system. The cages are on pulleys and are checked to see which crabs have molted and therefore become a "poo nim" (soft-crab). They were an exquisite delicacy.

Catch of the Day

The fish are raised in cages next to the reatuarant. The gentleman selected an 8-pounder for us.

Spectacular View

This is the spectacular view from the island restaurant. She takes my breath away. We celebrated our 35th Anniversary a few days later (Aug. 21) in Bangkok.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mother's Day in Thailand!

Carol had her students fold sheets of paper to make a box. Then they decorated the boxes to give to their mothers on Mother's Day (which is actually the Queen's birthday). The best thing about this activity is that several students who are normally very reluctant to learn English were very excited and showed a different side of themselves!

Happy Mother's Day!

The finished product! Made in Thailand. Instructions in English. Students filled the boxes with candy that Carol had purchased. Click on photo to see the detail!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Children of the Earth

We have a field behind our house. This is a view of a family that toils in the field for 8 hours per day, removing weeds with the simplest of tools. The field is owned by our landlord who hires people to tend to the fields. We are not sure if the are Thai or Cambodians, but we do know one thing .... they are truly the "children of the earth".

Shopping for Fruit

We travel by song taao (two benches in a truck) to the big city to go to the market. It takes about an hour to get there but the selection of food is much more than we can find in our little villafe.The fuit selection is wonderful. The large pink-red fruit (with the 30 baht sign) is our favorite. It's called "dragon's eye" and grows on a plant that looks like a cactus with long spindly arms (looks like a plant with "dreadlocks").

Friday, August 04, 2006

Day 1 of Our English Camp - "Keep 'em Talking"

Thai English teachers find it very difficult to get their students to attempt to speak English. We were recruited to present a two-day workshop to introduce activities that would encourage Thai students to speak English. We had 73 teachers from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. We presented a total of 10 activities that we hope the Thai teachers will incorporate into their lesson plans. The top picture shows two teachers with Carol presenting their list of different ways to say "Very Good" in English.

Day 2 of Our English Camp - "Keep 'em Talking"

We played games such as "telephone" and "pictionary". We were trying to introduce activities that would encourage Thai students to speak English and at the same time have fun! At the end of the day we got our usual monsson downpour ("fon dtok").

Morning Traffic!

These pictures were taken in front of our house one morning. The strange vehicle/tractor (dtek-dtek) is probably the most common form of transportation (aside from motorcycles). The front detaches and is used to churn up the mud in the rice fields before planting. Afterwards, they attach the tractor to a cart and haul family, supplies, and friends to and from the rice fields. Late at night, the road is full of trucks hauling supplies. None of the trucks have mufflers and the noise rattles our house. It took a few days to get used to the noise. Now we finally manage to sleep through the night, only to be awakened by the gentle sound of mice in our walls!


The fruits in Thailand are exotic! We enjoy many fruits of the fruits that are indigenous to this area. The fruits in the top picture have a sweet taste. The one on the right is called rambutaan and is one of Carol's favorite. They also have watermelons, pomelos (gigantic grapefruits), and oranges. However, the oranges are actually tangerines.
The fruit to the left of the "oranges" in the bottom picture have the consistency of an apricot, but taste a little different.


One of our favorite fruits (chop maak tii soot) is jackfruit. It grows to the size of a watermelon and when it is cut open, fleshy structures (each containing a seed) are found. It is incredibly sweet (aroy maak!).
The site at the bottom is where we held an English camp for teachers three months ago. We stayed in cabins, located near a large reservoir, for three days.