Sunday, June 03, 2012

Thailand Tales 3

Monday--time to get down to business.

The students have a "day of solitude" today--surely an introvert came up with this brilliant idea--to think through all the successes and disappointments of the trips they just took, and to gear up for three weeks of heavy studying.

So Paul and I sat down with Steven and Jenny and made up a schedule.  Which classes are we going to sit in on, when are we going to go swimming, when will I help Steven with his research paper, and so on.  I divvied out daily duties like mopping these lovely parquet floors and washing dishes, and a certain male teenager was heard to mutter under his breath something that sounded like, "Wait.  I guess I'm still in Oregon.  Jobs.  Dishes. . ." but maybe that was just my imagination.

Pretty soon we go out for lunch with Lee and Joyce, the campus pastor and his wife, who go around taking care of everyone.  For example, I mentioned needing a mirror, and within hours one showed up in our apartment, accompanied by a bouquet of orchids, thanks to Joyce.

We are learning about Thai culture.  They have some rules that overlap with things we learned in Yemen, such as don't point the bottom of your foot toward anyone as it's an insult.  But the absolute #1 rule in Thailand is Honor the King.  His picture is everywhere, including on money and postage stamps.  So you handle money reverently, and if a coin rolls off you don't ever step on it to stop it.  You don't lick a stamp with the king's picture; you wet it with a damp cloth.  This rule is so important that if you do something stupid like deface a picture of the king, you can expect to be tossed in prison for a good while, even if you're an American citizen.

I finally found our kitchen sink.

As I mentioned, there are two little kitchens here, but actually they're just little fridges and microwaves on two floors, along with dishes on a shelf, and a small table.  I finally decided they must wash dishes in the bathroom sinks.

Then I was snooping around and opened the back door on the first floor, and there was a little kitchen sink, complete with dishes on a towel.

I think the custom is to cook in a little lean-to kitchen, probably for the heat, and there's also some spiritual significance to having lots of floors and everything on a different level.  You step down a few inches for the bathroom, for instance.  It has to do with keeping the number of spirits per floor to a minimum, something oppressive like that.

In the little kitchen you can look out to the shrine or spirit house in the alley.

Here's the view from the end of the alley.

And here's the view from inside the kitchen, through the wire over the windows.  Someone puts a lot of effort into keeping this setup clean and fresh.

Somehow it reminds me of Emily's elaborate Little People setups, back when she was four.  There are people figures inside and outside that house, and I'd like to find out what they signify.

It is hot, like 90 ish, according to Accuweather, which feels like 109 degrees, also according to Accuweather.  HOWEVER, also according to Accuweather, it was in the high 90s and 100s almost every day in April and May.  So I am trying to feel grateful.

People seem to acclimate to the heat, from what I observe.  Last night we sat in the sweltering heat of the chapel while different teams gave reports of their trips they just took, and some of the girls sat there in chic little sweaters or shirts over their dresses.  LAYERS in this climate?!  It made me feel claustrophobic just to look at them, but they seemed to be ok.
So you can pray that I would acclimate soon as well despite my hypersensitivity to temperature of any sort.


  1. Gwen Gingerich6/03/2012 8:51 PM

    Thailand sounds like a lot of fun. I will be praying for you and your family.

  2. You sound just like I would in that sort of heat!

  3. It's so interesting to hear of your take on our hometown! If you think your home has a lot of floor levels, you should see our place :-)

    Welcome to Chiang Mai, and may God richly bless your time here.

  4. Heidi Stoltzfoos6/04/2012 9:14 AM

    I can't help but wonder if you're in the same place as Mike King is, from our church here. He's with IGO. Val Yoder is in charge if I'm not mistaken. Heidi

  5. Dru--Will I get to see you and your lovely wife and family? And do you live close by? You can email me if you

    Heidi--We're at Igo also. I haven't met Mike but I'm sure I will.

  6. I see you have met my in-laws, Lee and Joyce. Sounds just like her! Our son Dillon will be visiting later in June and I'm convinced he would enjoy your Steven very much. I doubt your schedules will cross. I hope you acclimate to the heat soon!
    Beth Hess