Monday, July 19, 2010

Mingling as a local

These last couple weeks have been quite a whirlwind but I've made some pretty large strides in getting to know the island a bit better. For starters, I finally got my motorbike and therefore I'm able to explore all I want. The way to get around here is mostly by motorbike, less prevalent but still existent is cars, and every so often I pass them while driving here and there- an elephant. The island is super hilly, but the roads are modern and paved. Getting around on bicycle would be very difficult considering the intense humidity mixed with insane inclines and blind turns. It's difficult to drive this time of year with the unexpected rains and thunderstorms hailing overhead with no warning.

The other night I had rode into Patong when the air was still and sky clear. After having a joyous evening I hopped on my moto once it was dark to head home wearing my tank-top and cut-offs. Suddenly the sky opened up and huge rain drops began to beat against my body in what felt like giant hail stones. I got totally soaked and for the first time in my journey so far here, I was cold, it was so strange because it kind of felt good like a breath of fresh air from the heat. Never in my life, which has been spent predominately in the wet and cold having lived in the NW, have I ever felt rain be so harsh and painful. Simultaneously, huge bugs buzzed in the opposite direction smacking me in the neck, chest and face going about 30MPH when I was colliding at 60MPH. It was the most peculiar experience. But hey, next time I'll bring a rain coat and a visor for my helmet- I think this will vastly improve the experience!

Speaking of peculiar experiences, I went to Thai Aerobics for the first time last week. Its run by locals which is refreshing. Its on the beach 5 minutes from my flat which is beautiful to be working-out outside. I have to admit, it was kind-of funny but I did sweat harder than I can remember in along time, for a solid 90 minutes. The teacher is an over 50 bombshell who looks about 30 wearing 80's hot pink, leggings and a loose white t-shirt straight out of a Madonna video that reads "I'm happy" with a heart on it. The moves are a clash of Richard Simmons mixed with a modern hip-hop pop work-out that lady gaga would do in preparation for her next show. We rock out to the Thai versions of: Blonde, Paula Abdule and whacky world reggae. I think the main element throughout the workout is to KEEP MOVING for 90 minutes straight. Her feet are just juggling in all different directions like we are learning a line dance but then just when you start to understand which direction she's moving in, she completely changes the footwork on you. The girls, Thais and expats, are constantly bewildered trying to keep up with her all the while laughing. Every once and awhile you see an obvious tourist walk by with a deer in the headlights look trying to figure out for a good 20 minutes what on earth we could possibly be doing. You just know you must look absolutely absurd!

Oh well, tomorrow is Tai Chi... we'll see how that goes.

This weekend was my first larger tackle at hand of my coordinating. When I first arrived one of my tasks which was placed at high priority was to prepare for a birthday party (which was this past Saturday). Coordinating a birthday involves me, speaking to sponsors and local businesses and getting them to contribute games to play with the kids, cake, food, beverages and even a photographer. It also involves using a mass 190 sum student spreadsheet which has become my new-best-friend, listing all info on every child involved in our charity to establish whos birthday needs celebrating this time of year and therefore who gets to come to the party. Now, if the school has 600 students and we have 35 birthdays within that, it's quite chaotic to relay communication to these specific students (track them down so to speak), and put together gifts for these specific students to their desired tastes. As much work as it was to put together, it was a great successes and I received my first kudos. All the sponsors showed, we played Thai charades, 4 corners, obstacle courses, and musical chairs. Overall I'm quite pleased and I think I make a pretty descent event coordinator- next time I think it will be even better!

The children are so polite. When they are offered a bigger piece of cake they take the smaller one. When they win a game and receive a prize, the second time they win they pass their prize onto a peer who has not received one yet. They don't leave anyone out, you don't ever see "loners" or children sitting in corners left out or unable to participate. In one instance for example, a girl received a toy kangaroo that starts small but then expands when placed in water. Her friend once she grasped the concept of how the toy worked became ecstatic at how cool her friends gift was, so the girl just gave it to her. I was shocked at this. The girl who gave up her birthday present didn't seem to think it was that big of deal, as though "what goes around comes around". They seem to all be looking out for each other like brothers and sisters that have one anothers best interest at heart. I think these children have a lot to teach me.

Much love and all the best!

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