Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Thailand is so lovely and the people are so beautiful. Everywhere I go I get smiles, kind greetings and new friends. Everyone is welcoming and if someone speaks English they spend no time hiding it. I recall being around French students in school when learning the language, and being too timid to practice my French. Here in Thailand, it is the opposite- there is pride in speaking english and practice makes perfect. I can see why the Foundations mission is so important (to teach the children english). The economy completely depends on tourism and its extremely beneficial to the business if they speak english.
On my walk to the school everyday I pass many empty shops selling clothes, shoes, massage, restaurants and general mini marts. Currently this is low season and the owners are suffering badly with the decrease in tourism. They tell me how the ongoing alerts on traveling to Thailand over the past 2 years has really effected their business, causing many to go bankrupt. You see for rent signs and vacancies everywhere, its really too bad. They're all eager to see the bans on traveling to Thailand in many countries desists. Its unfortunate too, since whatever state society/politics may be at in Bangkok it does not play any affect on Phuket. In fact, the people of Phuket and Bangkok identify very differently. I hope for all my neighbors and their families that when high season comes around this November that tourism really picks-up for them.
I've now gone into some surrounding towns outside of Kamala and gotten to see more of the Island. Next to where I live is Surin, similar to Kamala it is a quaint beach town. The bigger town over is Bang-tao where many of our staff lives. In the opposite direction about 20 minutes is Patong. Patong is tourist capital in Phuket. Some locals call it an abomination while others call it a good night out on the town. In Patong westernization has a large presence. Suddenly white people are everywhere, the lady boys hang around every street corner, theres a Macdonalds, banks, a mall and even a giant supermarket. Patong is big and commercial with many back alleyways. I will need to get really comfortable on my motorbike before I can travel into Patong or else I could easily get lost.
I've gotten to begin to experience my work week these past few days and so far I'm really enjoying it. I get up, eat breakfast and go downstairs to the office around 8:00. I work at my desk until around 3:00, then off to Coconut Club which I'm coordinating. The hour each day I spend at coconut club, makes the stress of the office leave my mind instantaneously. Today in coconut club in light of the world cup we had the kids use pastels to create flags from each country, then we hung them around the coconut club room. This is a mere example of the millions of fun projects that are constantly rotated throughout the after school club. The kids are so amazing and so helpful. When I'm carrying activities, or equipment I'll have 5 kids run up to me motioning for me to hand them my load. At the end of the day today two children pulled me aside to a corner and handed me a special art piece they made saying "For teacher Ryanne" then asked me to take it home to keep in my house. I was very touched by this and wanted to hug the girls but of course that is not formal Thai culture, we all bowed to one another and I gave them many thanks.
Thai mannerisms are very different than American. People do not touch each other at free will like we do in America, you must be invited into a hug. The head is considered the most sacred part of the body so it is rude to touch another person's head. The feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body, so I have to be careful about my habit of bending my knees when sitting, overlapping one foot over my knee and playing with my feet when sitting on the ground. The women are more kept to themselves, polite and very conscientious of how much skin on their body is showing. Its socially acceptable for the men to be effeminate and often you find they're more sensitive, many love to play dress-up and are just as concerned about emotions as the women.
Off to the market I went after Coconut Club since it's Wednesday, yay! today I tried some fresh pad thai- at a street cart for 20 baht YUMMY! Its so easy to make fresh stir fry here because the ingredients are everywhere, I just love it! I cannot get over the fruit, it is so exotic and beautiful bright greens, reds, pinks, purples, yellows, check out my fruit bowl...