Adventures in Thailand

Posted: 13 October 2010 in Travel
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As I have been a slacker and not been as diligent as i would like to be with this, I figured I would take this time to detail my current place in life.

As of this moment I am sitting on a wooden bench in the ‘living room’ of the International Humanity Foundation (IHF) Thailand Centre. I have been here just a few days shy of a month and what an adventure it has been. I left England after a crazy weekend of binding and submitting my dissertation, singing in church to a packed and rudely noisy congregation, going to Alton Towers with Dane and Sophie and nearly missing my flight due to barely missing a bus, catching a later one, dealing with defective elevators and long tram rides, and making it to the ticket counter just as they were seconds from closing (they have already been closed but graciously checked me through). Despite my friend Jen psyching me out that the plane was going to be awful, the flight to Mumbai was most likely one of the best flights I’ve even taken. The seats were comfortable, there was enough room, the food was good, the entertainment was good and it didn’t cost me my soul.

I then arrived in Mumbai late in the evening. It was good that I still had a few hours till my next flight because I used those hours up waiting to get through security. It was ridiculous. The did a mandatory body check and asked me about my phone card and if it was government or public bought. How strange? What did he  think I was gonna do with it? Did I really matter if it was from the post office or a local shop? Whatever.

So then i arrived in Bangkok. I had an 11 hour layover there and I had been considering leaving the airport to check out some of the city as I had plenty of time. But since I very rarely get sleep on planes, I was exhausted and felt dirty. They had no showers in the airport like they do in Stansted. I ended up just washing my face and underarms, wetting my head and changing my clothes in the bathroom. I’m sure I got plenty of strange stares but I do not like feeling dirty and after long flights you are bound to no smell pretty.

So I sat or laid down in a waiting area for most the time there. Thankfully there was a free wifi signal so I was able to check out the internet there. Sad thing was that once my computer was almost dead I had no was to charge it as I did not have access to my converters which were in my luggage that I strangely didn’t have to pick up. I was told at Heathrow that I would have to pick up my luggage in Bangkok because I would be traveling with a different airline from Bangkok to Chiang Rai. Turns out that wasn’t exactly accurate. So while on the internet I was able to chat with my mom which was nice. It was late at night over there so I was a bit surprised to find her online let alone on facebook.

While in the airport I had my first taste of Thai food. I could have opted for Burger King but I didn’t. The food I got was really quite good, but I can see now that it was ridiculously expensive. You can buy a meal here for less than 100 Baht. Most often less than 50 Baht. Sidd and I had Som Tam, a popular Thai dish, for 25 Baht. So yeah, it was expensive but still very good.

At last it was time for my flight and within two hours I had landed in Chiang Rai. I accidentally went through the wrong doors and couldn’t find my luggage. Turns out that there are two separate luggage carousels: one for citizens and one for foreigners. Kind of silly but whatever. I got my luggage and walked out to hopefully meet my director. Ever since Spain I have been afraid that when someone says they will be there waiting that they actually won’t be, like in Spain. It almost happened in Israel but thankfully he had only been detained.

When I walked out the doors, to my relief there was Jirasak with a sign waiting for me. We made out introductions and went out to a waiting Tuk-Tuk. After destroying so many of these things in Burnout (video game), it was kind of cool to actually be in one. I won’t lie, every time we made a turn I waited for us to just tip over. On the way, Jirasak asked me if I was hungry. I was kind of but couldn’t be bothered to eat. I wanted sleep more. We ended up stopping and getting some food regardless. It was so interesting seeing all the carts of food cooking by the sidewalks. All you had to do was walk to any one of them, ask for food and you got the food, rice and soup. All of it was really good. After we had gotten to the centre and I had eaten, I got ready and went to bed.

I didn’t get up until around 11 the next morning. I probably could have slept longer but Jirasak woke me up for lunch. It was so good. It was simply a fried egg over rice. rich but so good. If this was how it was always gonna be then I was gonna be very happy.

It didn’t take long to realise that I was no longer in ‘Kansas’. While there was a western toilet, there was no western shower. They weren’t kidding when they said we were gonna be living like the kids. The shower consisted of my pouring cold water over myself. While it may seem completely barbaric, I had and have no issue with it. You either adapt and survive or you don’t and you are miserable. I was happy just to be clean(ish).

I then got the grand tour of the place. It wasn’t  grandiose but it served it’s purpose and was very homely. I was very comfortable there. In truth the place reminds me a lot of Miami. The heat, humidity, the temperamental weather, it all reminded me of the place I miss the most.

Around four the kids got home from school. Not long after that we all got together and gave the introductions. The only name I could remember was Tattapong because he had already introduced himself to me. We had gone to get money and photocopies (Sidd and I) and had accompanied some of the kids home. It took me weeks to be able to remember all the names of the kids. I’m still a little unsure of the girls names but I know all the boys now.

Since that time so much has happened. There has been drama via e-mail, my getting lost trying to find church, going to Wat Rong Khun (see The Wonder in White), my learning some Thai, and my falling completely in love with these kids. I have had some truly touching moments with these kids. They will never know how accepted they have made me feel. Before I left England, I had uploaded a copy of ‘Dragonball Evolution’ onto my itunes. On weekend when Sidd and Jirasak had gone with the kids to the park and I had been left behind, I wondered if the kids had seen it. Most had. Well I wanted to watch so I put it on and sat there watching it. Soon almost every single kid that had stayed was huddled up next to me watching the movie. The watched most the movie with me, till the rest got back and they started watching the movie rented for them. It was truly an amazing memory for me. This trip, despite a difficult beginning, has so far been one of the best of my life.

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