Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Mom Visits Thailand!!!

When I told my parents that I was heading to Thailand I was shocked to hear my mom say that she couldn't wait to visit. Seeing that it took me a bit of convincing to get her out of the states the first time, I thought that it would be near impossible to get her to come to Asia. Well she proved me wrong.

She arrived in Bangkok on March 16th surprisingly well after her longest plane journey ever. She was pumped to begin her journey. So was I.

After a bit of wandering around sweaty and hot in the early summer sun of Bangkok looking for a van to take us to our first destination we managed to arrive. We started out at a very posh spa called Chiva Som in Hua Hin. We enjoyed a few days of pampering and then continued up north to my beloved home of Khon Kaen.

I wasn't sure how Mom was going to respond to the often dirty, noisy KK. She fared very, very well. She managed to see the charm that has made my love my home away from home. We met my ever loving Thai family (my landlord and her kids), ate some great food (including some Isaan delicacies which Mom scarfed down YAY), and I took her for a few fabulous rides on my motorbike. She actually enjoyed her time on the back of my barely sturdy Japanese horse as we weaved in and out of KK traffic.

After only a two short days in KK we touched down in Chiang Mai. Our time here has been awesome so far. We have hiked in jungles to see hill tribes and remote rice paddies, eaten some local specialties, and stayed in Mom's first guest house. She says she's having a wonderful time. I'm quite pleased!!

We head to Bangkok tomorrow and I think she might be ready for the crazy city that it is. Wish me luck and hope that we don't boil in the heat! More on the last leg of our journey next time.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Winter in Thailand...burrr

Who woulda thought that "winter" in Thailand would actually mean feeling cold part of the day for a few weeks? After the first few months here I certainly never thought I would ever be cold in this country. I have been proven wrong.

Each night I clothe myself in a pair of long, comfy pants, socks, a t-shirt, and sweater not before heading outside, but before heading to bed. I curl up in my bed under my two light blankets and prepare myself for the night. My room is not insulated, has 14 ft ceilings, tile floors, and no heater. At night time the temp. may reach 49 or 50 degrees, sometimes lower. It may be a degree or two warmer inside, but not too much more.

Now you may be saying to yourself, "That's not that cold. Why is she complaining?" It's true. In most areas of Northeastern America these temps. aren't that cold. A huge thing to remember though is that at that temp. everyone would have some sort of heater running and everyone lives in houses that have insulation and sealed windows and doors.

I've made a list of the pros and cons of living here during the winter:

The good parts:
• I don’t have to use my air-conditioning (less money to pay at the end of the month)
• I’m not sweating all of the time (This makes me look a lot better not just because I’m not gross looking all of the time, but because Thai people don’t sweat. When I do, I look abnormal)
• It’s comfortable to be outside during the middle of the day

The bad parts:
• All building are designed to facilitate air flow and keep the rooms as cool as possible (When its 50 degrees outside, while its not freezing, it’s chilly enough that you don’t always want the room you’re in to be the same temperature as outside. For example, my office windows do not close. When it is windy outside, it’s windy in my office)
• Not a single building that I have been in has heat. (Imagine that your bathroom door opens to the outside and does not have a heating unit AND you have to take showers in a room that’s around 50 degrees. It can be pretty chilly)
• Most people here have a motorbike for their form of motorized transportation. I do too. (When it’s 45-50 degrees at night time and you have to drive somewhere that is 20-25 minutes away, you’re pretty damn cold by the time you get there. You have nothing protecting you for the rush of air as you drive and once you arrive you have no where to warm up)
• Most activities are done in open air rooms or outside at all times of day and night. (Eating dinner at an open air restaurant at night requires on to be bundled up an cold through most of dinner)

Now even as I'm finishing this post up, wintering is beginning to end already. It had a short run of a few weeks. I knew it was over today when I started sweating when I simply stood out in the sun. Here comes the hot weather :/

Monday, December 15, 2008

While my landlord's son used my shower....(Part II)

I awoke on Sunday with the same hopes of having a productive day that I had, had the day before. I went for a run then I set to work on my papers and made a fairly significant dent before lunch time came around. I went out to the cafeteria on the corner of my soi (tiny strett) and got some kao pad gai (literally "rice fried chicken") to go.

I had just started eating when there was a familiar knock on the door. I opened it to find Tom and Oom, her older son at the door with a tray of food. They had come to join me while I ate my lunch. We spread out some newspapers on the floor and Tom proceeded to tell me about the food she had brought up. While she repeated the names of the food a couple of times, sometimes Thai words just slip in one ear and out the other. I do know how to describe them in English though. One item was a flat, crunchy rice cake. She told me in her fabulous part English, part Thai, part miming way that she usually talks to me that it was sticky rice with sugar mashed up then spread out and cooked until crispy. The rice cakes were delicious. There was also a stew almost of ground pork, morning glory (a green, crunchy veggie), chilies, and some fabulous spices. She had bought some som tum and explained the differences between the kind we had made on Saturday and the kind she had just bought. She had some fried rice for herself and she brought up some fried eggs for us to share. We ate well.

After lunch she asked me, as the three of us found comfortable positions on my bed, if I wanted to learn how to cook Thai food. This was my moment. I have been trying to find the right time to be able to ask for some cooking lessons. I guess I some how did a good job of conveying this desire because she asked me instead of me having to ask her. I was so happy to know that more cooking lessons would be coming.

Fat and happy Oom began to play with my computer and Tom laid down with my pillow to take a nap. I popped in my new copy of Mulan and Oom and I watched it together in Thai as I slowly continued grading. We sat like that for nearly two hours until Tom got up to go find Oi.

They returned as the movie was ending, towels and fresh clothes in hand. I knew what they were planning, but I still have yet to figure out why. Occasionally my landlord or her sons will shower in my bathroom. I don't really know why, but it certainly makes me wonder. I have no problem with it whatsoever, but it is a little curious. The boys took their turns showering and made sure to take full advantage of the spray hose attached to my toilet. They love that hose. They like spraying it all around my bathroom, filling up the my bucket and my toilet. What little boy wouldn't love this? What fun...until they spray my new roll of toilet paper until its thoroughly drenched. Ah I guess there had to be some down side.

As the showers were ending, I had to rush off to meet a friend. I felt perfectly comfortable leaving the three of them in my personal apartment to finish up their showers and leave when they wanted. I've found true comfort with my little Thai family that lives across the driveway. They make my home away from home complete.