BootsnAll Travel Network

Thai Sty

The same things I love about this country are the same things that drive me crazy sometimes. But, thus is life and I am used to most Thai style or sty as they say…as much of it is becoming my own. As a white woman, I receive quite a bit of attention. Although charming at first, it causes me to always be on guard, on my best behavior, and as appropriate as possible. On my way home from Chang Mai last weekend (a 10 hour bus ride that got me back at 3am and dropped me off on the side of the highway- I guess that’s another posting) our bus ran into 4 check points. Each time, the officers loaded the bus in masks and with guns, checked everyone’s passport, went through our luggage loaded underneath the bus, and even checked the crevices of the engine. It was not a pleasant experience- especially as 3 of the officers hovered over me specifically at 1 in the morning passing my id around trying to pronounce my name. Not going to lie- one of those moments I wished I blended in. The majority of the reactions to “…mah jak America.” is an immediate smile and “Oba-ma!” emphases on the “ma” as they point to their darkened skin and say same-same. I’ve gotten used to this type of attention, but as I work in the little Thai I know, they are thrilled with my attempts and I gain a different kind of respect from them as they continue to hound me with questions and try to teach every word around me.

Other customs I’ve grown accustomed to- in ground “toilet” holes. Places near Bangkok have westernized toilettes, but an hour outside, all you will get are holes with buckets of water to flush with. I’m a pro now at this squatting technique. In the North, there are two basic types of work- farming, or owning a shop. Every shop- noodles, car parts, cloth- every shop is a house as well. The restroom is their own family restroom- shampoo and toothbrushes scattered throughout, the wooden plank next to the pot of boiling broth is the owners bed. Mattresses are very rare…most Thais sleep on wooden planks – or a big wooden table (some outdoors) throughout the day and at night. The temperatures get so hot that sometimes the only thing to do is sleep. Many older Thais- especially farmers and market sellers- have black stained teeth. The permanent tooth decay is from their lack of dentistry and the constant leaf they chew (much like pure tobacco leaves- but I think stronger). Ill get back to you on it’s formal thai name.

Rice and or noodle soup is served with every meal and condiments include, but are not limited to, sugar, chili, fish sauce, and hot sauce. Everything is eaten with spoon (right hand) and fork. Knives are not used at the table. Driving rules are non existent and 7-11 (7 as they call it) is on every street corner stock full of canomes (meat or pastry filled pies), seaweed and chili lays, and whitening lotion.

I’ve written quite a bit about school, but in general, the students are never on time (if they show at all), sports, music, and dance activities come far before education, and each day I wake to the Thai national anthem and our school song played loudly over the campus speakers.

On a final note- our buffalo are veered very important. We now have 13 buffalo living on campus, grazing in a new field each week “mowing the lawns”. When we receive or buy new buffalo there is an induction ceremony. A monk attends and sprays them with holy water, I fed them last time with holy hay. It is always a grateful day. Along with our buffalo are 6 pigs, a giant rice field, and rows upon rows of vegetable greens the students are harvesting for class. If the greens don’t survive, they fail the class and must retake it next year.

This weekend I am headed to Chang Rai (the farthest northern province) for my second attempt at climbing Mt. Puchifa (fog mountain).   Hopefully some great pictures to come. 

much love


2 responses to “Thai Sty”

  1. grandma says:

    Your last posting very interesting–a bit scary but you seem to be handling it well. It’s a rough life for a “spoiled” American girl–way to go! I hope the trip to Mt. Puchifa will be fun–the travel must be tiring though. We miss you and really look forward to seeing you soon. Not much going on here–your Mom keeps me up-to-date on your phone conversations. I will be leaving for Florida in about 10 days–am looking forward to being there where it is warm but not to the trip. Love, you, Gma

  2. mom says:

    Hi, Kimmie,
    I told grandma I wasn’t going to relay some of your experiences on the bus, because I thought it would worry her, but now the secret’s out!
    Well, you’re back safe and sound, only to be going off again this weekend to fog mountain. I’m looking forward to the pictures if you make it up this time.
    Some of your experiences have been “different” (the toilets, food, travel, and on), but unique. You’ll be able to go anywhere now, and nothing will surprise you!
    Stay safe, love mom

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