I am now in Khon Kaen, which will be my homebase for the rest of the trip. Since I last wrote there have been many adventures, but I will highlight a few. First, during our orientation in the mountains, some of my friends and I decided to go into "town" when we heard music from our resort. We heard a drumbeat and folloed it over a fence, and down a road for 15 mintutes where we found a group of Thais singing kareoke and drinking. They were cleaning up the party when we got there, but as soon as we got there they yelled "FARANG!" (foreigner), and gave us beer. In true friendly Thai fashion, not only were we given beer, but as soon as we took a sip of it, they would come over and refill our glasses to the brim. It was one of those random spontaneous experiences that I know I will remember for the rest of my life. We danced with them (they kept doing the chicken dance - i think that's what they thought americans liked to do hahh), drank with them and they got us to do kareoke - a good mix of madonna, backstreet boys, and other classics. Then, after drinking and laughing at our lack of Thai language skills, they asked for our phone numbers (which we ddidn't have) and wanted us to come back and meet their families. Oh, and it turns out that one of the men we were talking with was the mayor of the province where we were. We didn't end up going with them, but it was a great time!!
Then, we went to our homestay, which was in an amazing community of about 40 - 50 people. This community, Nong jan, is illegally located in the national forest preserve. I guess what happened is that they had been living there forever, but the government decided that the land needed to be preserved, so they told the community that unless they could come up with legal documents proving that they had been there for more than 50 years, they would have to move. Of course this place, which doesn't have electricity or running water, does not have legal documents, so they are in a constant worry of whether they will have to move. This town was incredible - they are completely self-sustaining (raising cows and chickens, getting milk and eggs from that, large gardens providing vegetables, etc). It was so cool to see a place that is completely independent, but at the same time completely dependent on its members. I had a host mom who didn't speak any English, but she taught me how to cook som tam, a classic green papaya salad in Isaan (province in the North-East of Thailand), in addition to pig liver, fish-pepper paste, and other SPICY foods. we have learned that an important phrase is "mai pet" (not spicy), even though what they consider not spicy is probably spicier than any food at a Thai restaurant in the states. We also got to shower..A LOT. Thai women shower 2-3 times a day, so as soon as we arrived in the village we were told that we were dirty and needed to "AP NAM!" My host mom was so nice and so smart, and really welcomed me into the home fully. Having experiences like that makes you think about the hospitality in the states, and how we can be so cold to people. These men, women and children met us, and within 5 minutes were hugging us, teaching us how to cook, and asking us deep personal; questions about our lives. All in all, it was amazing homestay, anmd i wish we coul;d have stayed longer!
We got to Khon Kaen yesterday, and I met my rooommate, who is a French major at KKU (Khon Kaen University). She is really nice and shy, and doens't speak almost any English, so I will learn a lot of Thai! We went out to a bar with our roommates last night, which was a lot of fun. I love how in one night you meet 20-30 people here just because they are all so friendly! Tomorrow we leave for another homestay for the week, so I will write next weekend probably.
Hope everyone is enjoying the winter - it is "winter" here, and yet it is 80 degrees every day! But the Thais still wear winter coats! Alright, ill write soon!
A Buddhist View of Human Rights and Development
4 years ago