In fact, we are acting like this is a grand vacation, and we are doing vacationy things, as opposed to a lot of studying and writing like I had intended.
Somehow it's easier to sightsee and go out for coffee in this climate and atmosphere than it is to sit down and work. Or post.
Plus Steven is always using my laptop for his online course and and a research paper he's writing, and Jenny likes my laptop to chat with her friends. And we don't have internet at the house.
So. Here are a few things I/we have done in the last two weeks:
Went out for coffee or tea at least four times.
Went shopping at the mall.
Went fabric shopping.
Went to a spa and got a Thai massage.
Went pottery shopping.
Went to the exotic Waterfall Restaurant twice.
Went to three staff families' for dinner.
Went to chapel almost every morning.
Went "up the mountain" twice.
Went to Mae Wan's to drop off and pick up laundry
Went to the elephant camp.
Went to a recreation-night futsol game [like soccer, on a smaller field]
Went to a volleyball game AND PLAYED. [yes. me. I got it over the net too, having gotten stronger since 9th grade.]
Went to the Night Safari twice.
Went to church.
We do not live this sort of life back home.
Yesterday Delight the delightful secretary took me out for coffee. Like good Thai folks she drove her motorbike and I rode behind her, breezing along at it-felt-like high speeds along 4- and 6-lane highways, happily passing cars and doing u-turns and joining the little crowd of motorbikes at every stoplight.
It is an experience in Trust because you sit there utterly helpless. And you'd better not move or get too involved because it can upset the bike's balance and off you go into the side of a truck.
The massage was an experience too. Amy and I and Katelyn the ladies' dean went to a very professional place south of here. In little woven-mat-carpet rooms we changed into loose pajamas and lay down on small mattresses, and then these silent ladies came in and worked us over from foot to head, slowly but very firmly pushing and kneading flesh until I felt like I was a drumstick and they were yanking large chunks of meat off the bone and then putting it back on.
They knelt on our thighs and pushed determined thumbs into the knots in my shoulders until I gasped in pain. Then they turned us over and massaged our heads until we wanted to fall asleep and dream for hours.
We got an hour of this for 200 baht each, or less than $7.
And afterwards they gave us cups of tea.
Even here in the city you get the sense that the jungle is crouching all around, waiting for a chance to pounce. There's vegetation in every vacant space, and straw-hatted workers are constantly going along whacking things back to where they belong. Behind our house there's a swampy little ditch, and the vines and other jungly things grow thick.
This all means that even in the city you have lots of creatures. Cockroaches by the dozen. Geckos. Rats, I'm told. And snakes. And spiders of such size as you have never seen or imagined.
|See him there?|
And yet, people go around without fear and they don't seem concerned about sealing off houses or stores to keep the crawly creatures out. I can't tell you how many times I've been somewhere, ranging from our laundry room to the open and jungly Waterfall Restaurant, and thought, "SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE, ANYTHING COULD COME CRAWLING IN HERE."
|This is the little room where we hang up wet personal laundry. Long vines grow right through that chicken wire, and you know it wouldn't keep much else out either.|
|Of course, it's reassuring to have these sticky rat traps on hand.|
On Sunday we went on a drive up the nearby mountain and stopped for an iced tea picnic at an overlook. We noticed a path and steps heading a ways down the [jungly, wild] mountain to some tables down below. Steven investigated and then we all got ready to head down with our basket. A little Thai man stopped us and earnestly warned in broken English about a big snakeskin he had found in the grass down there. "King cobra!" he said, and angled his arms to show how long it was in the grass. "Down there. King cobra, maybe."
I was ready to levitate in the air, whirl my legs like a cartoon character, and light off for home. Not my family. "We'll be careful!" they said condescendingly. "We'll stay out of the grass!" and off they went down the trail with the worried old man looking after them in despair like Jeremiah after he had warned the people of judgment and they went off and sinned anyway.
I gingerly followed.
We found a little gazebo which I inspected thoroughly, and we had a nice time, but again, people, ANYTHING could have come crawling in there.
On future days when I whine about some inconvenient detail about my life in Oregon, you're allowed to tell me, "Well, any day that you don't run into a king cobra is a good day."