Friday, no lizards, no bugs, no ants, no teaching, it looked like it was going to be a good day. Since it was Sports Day, all the students and staff were wearing their colorful polos that I do not have. So I wore my colorful skirt instead. One of the teachers commented on it, saying it had all the colors, meaning it was neutral and I was cheering for everyone. Exactly! For breakfast, I stopped by a street cart on my way to school and had a traditional Banbung breakfast of meat on a stick and rice. The meat was maybe pork? I could not really tell because there was a lot of fat on it. It was good, grilled meat on a stick with a sweet glaze on it; I could have eaten way more than two.
Sports Day started with a parade. It was led by the school marching band, followed by different classes dressed up and represented their grade. The costumes were beautiful but the students had to be so hot. There were people going around with buckets of water with straws in them so the students would have water. No one passed out from the heat. After the parade, there was a dance competition where the dressed up students participated. Then the sports started with running.
Each color has a bleacher section designated to them. Like yellow’s bleacher section is decorated with yellow, and they made yellow pompoms. Each color decorated their bleacher section and I am blown away by their creativity. Pink did a dinosaur theme, complete with a pink papier-mâché dinosaur. Orange chose to decorate their bleacher with a Halloween theme. I am not sure how the colors work, I thought each grade was assigned a color but now I am thinking that each class is assigned a color so each color has a representation from each grade. I am still unsure.
Outside the school a bunch of street carts set up shop along the school fence so students can purchase snacks through the fence. I had to go wander around there; I could not pass it up. For a snack I bought some potatoes since it feels like forever since I have had a potato but really it has only been about two weeks since there were potatoes at orientation. The potatoes reminded me of what my roommate and I would make in China. We would take a potato, slice it thin, and then fry it to make our own version of French fries; we called ours Freedom Rings. My potatoes today were sliced thin and fried too, except these had barbeque powder sprinkled on them, more like dumped. There was so much barbeque it rather burned, but that did not take away from how delicious they were.
Then I got lunch from the school. There were a bunch of different curries, they were so spicy they burned a lot and not in a good way. The teachers from the Philippines warned me a little too late that when the school provides food it is usually spicy. But it was free food so I was not complaining. After lunch, there was Thai dancing and cheerleading (or pompom girls as one teacher phrased it). Again, I am amazed at the students, I wish I could have that much grace and hand flexibility. With Thai dance, the dancers used to wear masks so all the emotions needed to be conveyed through the hands. It was mesmerizing to watch the students. Here’s an example of Thai dancing, watch their hands!
After the dancing and cheerleading, there were the teacher sports. The teachers versus the teacher assistants, apparently those of us in English Program are teacher assistants. Two teachers in the English Program participated in the football match, the rest of us cheered. Watching the teachers play football was amusing, I wish I knew more Thai because the commentator was hilarious—judging by the laughter around me. Then there was the teacher volleyball match, I did not see much of it. By that time it was almost an hour after school usually ends, the students were getting antsy and those who wanted to watch the volleyball game had crowded the court. I finally left, they were holding students until after Sports Day was completely over, and there was a line of students waiting to leave.
I got directions to the beach from my coordinator. I am planning on going there tomorrow. Unfortunately there may not be many pictures if my laptop keeps acting up. I spent the evening trying to get my laptop to connect to the camera. Looks like I am going to have to join the 21st century and try the new fancy wireless technology in my camera. Technically, in Thailand it is past the 21st century. In Thailand, it is currently 2558 because they are a Buddhist country and the Buddha was born 543 years before Jesus. I am way behind the times.
Saturday I decided I wanted fried dough and coffee for breakfast. On my way to school I pass a fried dough place but as I soon found out they are only open on weekdays. I got half a grilled chicken instead. There is another place I often pass on my way to school, they sell grilled whole and half chickens, and it always smells so good. It smells better than it tastes, I was slightly disappointed but now my curiosity is sated. Even though it was a little overcast, I packed my bag, grabbed my directions, and headed out to find the beach.
First I took the green bus out of Ban Bung into Chon Buri city. I thought I got lost because I arrived at the last stop and could not find the shopping center that was on my instructions. It looked like my adventure had ended before it even started. However, I turned a corner and there was the shopping center and all the red pickup trucks I was looking for! I got on one and was ready to go. One of the drivers could speak a bit of English so he was trying to talk to me. He tried telling me I should be on a yellow pickup truck, but my directions said red, I stayed on the red. Red did take me where I wanted to go: Bang Saen beach.
My expectations got the best of me this time. I know Bang Saen is the equivalent of Chicago’s beach but I did not expect it to be so touristy. The Thai’s swim with all their clothes on, I have also heard you should probably not swim at Bang Saen even though the Thai’s do. I walked in the water with my shoes off; it was nice to be in the ocean. All along the beach were chairs and umbrellas, it was 30 baht to sit there, and the whole beach was covered with the umbrellas. The only unshaded parts were near the water, and I found one picnic area where I sat for a bit to enjoy the view. All along the sidewalk next to the beach were vendors selling seafood and fruit. I got some very overpriced shrimp, it was okay, maybe a little old, tasty but not for the price. I wonder if there is a Thai price and a foreigner price. Since I was out on an adventure I tried some durian, it was also only okay. If someone gave me some I would eat it again but I would probably not seek it out on my own. I saw some four seater bicycles. Bunches of high school kids were riding them, or more like the person in front was doing all the work and the other three were just hanging out.
I left the beach earlier than I had originally planned. At first I thought about 4 hours would be a good time at the beach, after two and a half I left. The beach is rather lonely when you are surrounded by groups of friends and families. I flagged down a red pickup and was off to Chon Buri. I quickly found the green bus and was off, back to Ban Bung. It started to rain as we were traveling along, everyone began to close their windows but mine was broken so I started to get wet. I slid away from the window to avoid melting. More people got on the bus, so many they had to stand, several people were giving me dirty looks for having the window open so the seat was getting wet. The rain stopped so I wiped off the seat with my towel and slid back to the window so someone could sit down. Then it started to really pour, and pour into the bus. Several people tried to close the window only to find out it was broken. I got wet.
When I arrived in Ban Bung the rain had stopped, though there was flooding in some places it had been raining so hard. I swung by the Tesco Lotus for some crackers and chocolate milk. The chocolate milk was not really chocolate milk, it was more chocolate milk-substitute, but I had a disappointing day and need some comfort food. My mother packed me with some chocolate when I left so I had that for the second part of my dinner. It started down pouring again after I finished eating, I was very glad to have left the beach early. The gecko lizard scared me again when it ran across my ceiling. I hope he stays and eats all my bugs. We could be very happy together I think.
As I was lying in bed reading, a very big, very disoriented bug flew into my room and hid under the bed in the darkness. I did not give it much thought except to peek under the bed to see where it went; I could not see it. Later that night after I turned out the light and had snuggled in bed ready to sleep I heard something drop onto the floor. I could hear it skittering across my floor. That sound will forever haunt my nightmares, the sound of this bug’s giant exoskeleton clicking on the floor. Quickly I turned on the light, which disoriented it, and it took flight seeking the darkness. I put on my hiking boots and stomped it flat, giving it a few more stomps to make sure it was truly dead. The bug looked like a cousin to a cockroach. Then, not going to lie, I burst into tears because it truly hit home as to how alone in a foreign country I really am. However, I probably made a comical figure crying and blubbering trying to clean the giant dead bug off my floor. Sleep was difficult after that experience, my air conditioning unit kept making clicking noise that my brain interpreted as hordes of bugs in my room. I am so done with bugs in my room.
Sunday I groggily rolled out of bed for church. I went to brush my teeth and found I had no water, or electricity. Dealing with the bug from the night before took all the adult I had in me for this weekend, I was not ready to call my landlord and ask why I did not have water or electricity. That was a matter for after church. Church was similar to the weekend before. However this weekend it was only two and a half hours which was more manageable, and there was no lunch afterwards. I went out to lunch with some of the other English speakers in the congregation. There was a great discussion about the Thai education system versus the rest of the world’s education systems.
My church friend, Andy, invited me to go with him and his family and family business acquaintances to dinner. Most of the people spoke English. We went to a seafood restaurant, it started to rain and you could see the lightening over the ocean as we dined. They kept asking me if I was hungry and I said yes because I was hungry. Then they would not stop giving me food! Nevertheless, it was such good food: fried shrimp, shrimp cakes, grilled squid, papaya salad (too spicy), sea bass, and crab-fried rice. Everything was so good, I ate until I was stuffed and they sent me home with leftovers. The woman sitting next to me said they would put meat on me before I left Thailand. Andy’s parents invited me to their home for a Thai home-cooked meal; they joked that they would make it extra spicy just for me.
Today I learned how to use the washing machine and the water box. The water box is like a water bottle refill station, quite cheap if you have the bottles. Now I will not have to drag a case of water from the Tesco Lotus back to my apartment. I also learned that Thai’s start decorating for Christmas the start of November, there was a Christmas tree at the mall we passed. They are as bad as America. When I got back to my apartment, I had electricity and running water! Andy told me that the water pumps usually run on electricity so if your power is out then your water will also be out. Before I went to bed, I took a flashlight and shined it under my bed looking for other big bugs. I felt like a little kid looking for monsters under the bed.
Susan, I am very happy to learn about your travels. You are very brave, and will surely find your favorite places to eat, as well as friends to go places together.