Friday, August 25, 2006


just a notice to all and sundry that i am home, safe and sound. i'm desperately trying to reacclimate myself to north america (the weather here is fabulous, though i'm not as sweat-proof as i hoped i'd be) and process my trip. how does one integrate the lessons of an adventure into the torpor of everyday life? on a related topic, does anyone know any good books along the lines of finding God in your achingly boring life?

i'm not sure how often i'll be blogging these days. i'd like to keep it up, but i'm frankly not planning on doing anything interesting. still, all my blogging friends manage to make their lives sound interesting, and my feelings won't really be hurt if everyone stops reading, because i won't know, right? so consider this the close to a chapter.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

getting there...

i said goodbye to the brians (falls and fotjasek) at 2:30, and in doing so, severed the last link to my thailand community. i was in bangkok with an entire afternoon ahead of myself, to do as i pleased, but i want nothing to do with a thailand that does not include my boys and p'ganniga. leaving was heart-wrenching, nearly to the point where i wish i hadn't come. homecoming will be sweet, but there have been too many hours in between.

aside from getting rip-roaringly drunk, i did the only other thing i knew would completely overwhelm my senses and help me pass the time: i went to mbk. the enormous mall did not disappoint, and for a few hours and a few hundred baht, i forgot how completely wretched i am. i was able to laugh at the 'berger king' and the 'grossery store.' now it is 2:30 in the am. i would dearly love to sleep on the plane, so i am awake now, trying to forget what i am leaving behind and focus on what i am coming home to. i am more than ready to come home, but nowhere near ready to leave.

my plane departs in less than six hours.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

shadrach, meshach and...dao?

every morning just before class starts, the students gather in front of the flag and line up in their classroom groups. they sing the national anthem together, and then recite prayers to buddha. those stalwart figures you see with their hands to their sides or behind their backs are our boys. they are exempt from praying to the buddha by virtue of their status as Christians, but i often wonder what their classmates think of this, and how they respond when questioned. this is yet another one of those things i'll never know, because i don't speak thai.

the national anthem, besides being sung before class, is also played over the loudspeaker at 8:00. this is not just a school function; everywhere in thailand, loudspeakers on trucks or posted on streets, radio stations and television, all play thailand's national anthem at precisely 8:00 am and 6:00 pm. wherever one happens to be at that moment, one is expected to drop everything and stand at attention. traffic will sometimes even come to a halt, as people pay homage to their country and king.

other things you might not know about thailand:

before a movie is played in the theaters, a special video honoring the king is run. once again, everyone stands at attention.

when you fold money, you fold it with the king's face on the outside. if you drop money, stepping on it is a jailable offence (you're putting your foot on the likeness of the king's head).

it is considered rude to pick your teeth in public. picking your nose is perfectly acceptable.

every road worth mentioning has a meridian, because there are no functioning crosswalks. one only has to dodge traffic coming from one direction at a time, resting on the meridian in the middle. you are permitted to cross if you probably won't get hit.

the reigning rule of the road is 'don't get hit.' slightly less prominant is 'try not to hit anyone else.

'people drive on the left-hand side.

many driver's licenses are purchased, not earned.

it shows.

people swim in the ocean fully-clothed, and usually only in the evening. when they sit on the beach, they do so under a host of umbrellas, and they sit facing inwards towards each other, not towards the sea.

you eat with a fork and spoon, using the fork to push the food onto your spoon. you can use your spoon to cut things, if strictly necessary. my house has one butterknife, which i use when no one is around. i call it 'going savage.'

eggs and milk can be left out on the counter, no problem. cereal, however...THAT goes in the fridge.

thai people were voted the 'best-smelling people group' in the world. they shower several times daily.

no one kisses in public. if you must show affection, you put your face close to someone else's face, and sniff them.

friends of the same gender group can and will walk down the street never touch someone else's head.

that concludes our lesson in thai culture, 101. class dismissed.

5 days and counting

don't have much to post these days...getting ready to leave.

yesterday, everyone took me to this waterpark on top of a massive mall in bang was supposed to be a surprise until, i guess, the day before, but then no one ended up telling me, so when the fallses came to pick me up yesterday morning, there i was still in my jammies, drinking coffee.

today i ate a bowl of soup that tasted like human spit.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

pony up!

i'm coming home with a hundred bracelets. be prepared to buy them. all proceeds go to the orphanage.this is my taxi. there's no cushion on that bit that i sit on, and going over bumps at high speeds makes me want to cry. luckily, having so much weight on the back slows the driver down, so we rarely go anywhere at high speeds...

this is apilak in his happy place (note my severely mosquito-bitten legs...i look like i have the pox)...if i carry him around until he's fake-sleeping, and then sit down and put him in his leg-cradle, he'll open one eye and look around, decide this is an acceptable resting place and that he is still being a burden (he lives to encumber), and then go to sleep for real. this leaves my hands free to read a book or something.

yesterday, karen took me out for dinner-and-debrief to this little mexican food (mmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm) place in pattaya...pattaya is one of the prostitution capitals of thailand, and i had never been there, particularly not at night...i'm still trying to process it all, but it's one thing to read about it in books, and another thing entirely to see teenaged girls lingering, scantily clad, in front of bars, or walking through the streets hand-in-hand with a farang twice their age...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


someone slashed the outer pocket of my rockawesome satchel (read: mom-bag) while i was at the market yesterday, in the hopes that my wallet would fall out. luckily, my wallet is man-sized, and stayed put. still, that would have been a rotten way to end my trip. at least this decides for me the question of whether or not the mom-bag makes the return trip to canada.


the woman who inexplicably shows up on sunday afternoons to iron the boys' school clothes has a little dog named ninja, who is pretty much the cutest thing since kirby (you all know who i'm talking about...that video game where the pillow would eat things and spit them out at other things)...only in thailand can you bring your dog (or infant child, or husband) to work with you.


the older kids at wat samet, particularly the ones in my classes, are pretty used to having a farang on the premises now, although they all still stop whatever they're doing and stare when brian's big green truck drives into the school. the younger ones, however, just can't get over it. every so often, they'll congregate in little clumps outside my doorway, and dare each other to go in and say 'hello.' sometimes, one of them will come in willingly, bravely, hand held out to be shaken. other times, they'll spend ten minutes trying to shove each other inside...----------------------

the boys had made a batch of beaded bracelets to sell to the Full Sail team, and the team leader, geoff, has requisitioned a whole batch more, promising to sell them when he gets back to california. a sight more profitable and less wearying (which we all condone, since they're all still sickish) than selling popcorn in the market, the boys have taken to bracelet-making like they were born to it... i may be coming home with a batch myself, if bracelet fever holds. they make excellent gifts for your nieces!!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

mother's day photos

p'ganniga and her boys (i'm still gunning for that one perfect photo where all five of them look alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic...this is not that photo)and then, because they're also kind of's getting close to the end, and i'm dying to be home. this has become my life. it seems like i've known the fallses forever; it's perfectly natural that tassanee sanchez would hug me every time she sees me; rice actually is a proper breakfast food. these are my comfortable, familiar surroundings. still, something is missing, and whether that's solitude, or it's rest, or it's joel or family or people who i've actually known forever, it's time for me to go home. i've said a million times and i'll say again that if i could take the boys, i'd come home in a second. that being said, thoughts of leaving are both pleasant and unsettling. could you leave this face...?

or this one...?
there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace...
ecclesiastes 3:1-8

i feel that my time is coming to tear and to uproot, and i'm not entirely ready...