Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tounge Thai-ed

I could just work every day, make more money, save up, keep saving, not spend money, work and work, everyday, lots of money, don't touch it, grow old, with lots of money, stop working, go places, lots of places, spend money, lots of money, look around and say to myself I'd trade some of this money to be young again...Or...

Brian Colón aka Moon Boots aka Jared

I love my friends for so many reasons. Some provide constant comedy for which myself and my abs are eternally grateful. Others seem to have an incredible insight into the world, regardless of where they live or where they’ve been. Some friends are so wise and inspiring; some are so loving and supportive. Some are high maintenance and some seem to disappear and reappear at arbitrary intervals. Some friends have let me down, and some friends I have let down myself. Some friendships have developed in ways I never envisioned and it’s extremely pleasing. Some friends have points of views I really don’t understand, some seem so lost and unhappy in this world, some are bursting at the seams with bliss. Some are simple minded, some downright ignorant, some exceptionally educated and others just worldly enough to pull anything off. Some friends are rich and some are poor. Some are black, some are white, some are Asian, some are Latin and everywhere in between. Some are gay and some are straight. Some like to sing and dance and celebrate life in a socially extreme manner, some like to stay in and read and enjoy good conversation. Some like to brag and some are so humble. Variety really is the spice of life.

In the last month I have said goodbye to 4 wonderful friends – Petra, who made her way to New Zealand for a new adventure. Ian, who headed back to San Francisco after teaching English here in Chiang Mai. Ulrika, a Swedish friend who moved back to Portland for University. Molly, my neighbor and partner in crime who went on a whirlwind world tour before coming back to Cambodia to work. Chokdee ka (good luck) to my girls!

A few weeks ago Ulrika, Alison and I went to Mae Sai, Myanmar, to extend our visas. We met at 6 a.m. at a temple near their place, up early enough to see the monks doing their morning alms (much more enjoyable then the few times I have still been awake and witnessed it, after one too many whiskey and red bulls). Hopped a bus and enjoyed a beautiful ride through northern Thailand – the closer we got to Myanmar the more mountainous it became. With an iPod and a window seat I feel incredibly tranquil and reflective on buses and miss the constant motion that life ‘on the road’ has to offer.

Crossed into Burma by walking over the Friendship Bridge, content with our new visas and the fresh stamps in our passports. Spent the afternoon walking around the markets – they have a plethora of very cheap things. There seems to be an abundance of fake Marlboro’s going around, and what good would carton upon carton of cigarettes do without Zippo lighters with pictures of Saddam Hussein on them? He seemed to be popping up on all the playing cards too. After good laughs with locals explaining we didn’t really wanna rock products with pictures of murderous dictators on them we had a predictably not-so-tasty Burmese meal (Thai food spoils everyone).

Missed the last direct bus to Chiang Mai, so opted to head to Chiang Rai, which is a couple of hours closer to CM, with plans to catch a bus from there. In Chiang Rai met with the disappointment of the last bus being full, they wouldn’t even let us put the little plastic kiddie chairs in the aisle like the locals get to do. Gave hitch hiking an honest effort – after 6 months of thumbing it in Colorado I thought it would be a breeze, but no one was going quite as far as we needed to go. An ex-police officer, Mr. Boonchew, pulled over to help us, talked to drivers in Thai, even called the highway patrol to see if we could ride in a cruiser down that way. No dice. And as the rain started pouring and the hours had passed on we decided to take him up on his offer to spend the night at his house. The 3 of us slept in his bed and he slept on a bamboo mat on the hard floor in the other room. We turned off the lights and giggled like 12 year olds as we lay in some random guys dirty (no offense, Mr. B) bed – but he was a good Buddhist man and went so far out of his way to help us, we felt nothing but appreciative and were fast asleep in his spartan digs . The next morning we bid farewell to our hero, Mr. B. We printed the picture we took with him and called his English speaking daughter to get his address, so he’ll never forget the night 3 Western girls slept in his bed at once!

Have been on and off working at a primary school just outside the city center. Funny to be at a real Thai school and not a language institute where I work normally. I get to eat lunch in the cafeteria with hundreds of kids – such a trip, I haven’t eaten lunch in a primary school cafeteria, since, well, I was in primary school. One teacher always looks out for me and leads me by the hand to the kitchen and makes my plate for me and carries it over to my spot at the table, where I eat by myself every single time. I don’t think anyone is confident enough in their English to attempt a conversation, so I eat my unbelievably spicy food alone and then go to the garden to read a book during the kids break time. Fantastic to have uninterrupted time to read, write and think. During lunch some mysterious old lady brings me a pork soup (pork, oil & water) – I can’t stand pork, but I notice that nobody else in the cafeteria seems to get this exceptional dish, which makes me think it’s something of a prestige to receive meat when others don’t. I take 2 bites out of kindness and hide the rest away under my dirty dishes, hoping my guardian angel and the anonymous Grandmother won’t notice.

One of the girls I work with takes me there and picks me up each time, as I don’t have a motorbike of my own. One afternoon while leaving there we got into an accident – coming around a kind of roundabout, where a street has the chance to merge onto the ‘highway’. A truck coming from that street wasn’t paying attention and hit us, we both flew off the motorbike and it went under the front of the truck. This wasn’t just a pickup, but a massive work style truck with a flatbed in back. He had nearly no speed at the time (luckily!) but the size and the force scraped us both up pretty good and the police, EMT and my boss all said we had to go to the hospital as standard procedure. No biggie in the end, just some bruises and cuts and Noi had to have some x-rays after she hit her head so hard her helmet broke. Mai bpen rai, mai bpen rai. Or, whatever whatever. Thai people use this phrase as a coverall for absolutely everything, it’s practically a lifestyle (I dig it!).

In class one day I asked the students to recall their best and worst childhood memories. Baek, a 24 year old from Korea, told the class that his best childhood memory was getting a puppy and taking care of it as it grew up. His worst childhood memory was when his grandmother ate it. One day it was just gone, she made it into soup. Cold blooded. C’est la vie.


Christopher Paul said...

She ate his dog..that really is cold blooded. I know a girl from trinidad who had a pet duck named quack quack for years. When it got big enough her mom turned it into a curry while she was at school. Those folks just grew up in a different era.

Post a Comment

Design by Wordpress Theme | Bloggerized by Free Blogger Templates | free samples without surveys