An ode to animals….

………more specifically, crazy ass Thai ones. My cousin (shout out to Jimmy Clouse) inspired this post, one clearly about the animals here in Thailand. Going to new environments, there are clearly going to be new plants, foods, and wildlife. This is not news, but living in such a tropical climate, there are some things that make me double take and then naturally break out the camera to snap a shot. There also happens to be an abundance of things, you know because of that whole Buddhist thing (all 90 some odd percent of the population) and not killing things.  I can’t tell you how many times I was woken up by something or other from the roosters calling, the frogs and grasshoppers getting into a rap battle, dogs chasing their own tails, or demon cats. So I’ve got you a mini breakdown here starting from worst to best. (Blog is being retarded and not letting me upload photos at the moment, expect a visual representation of this later!)

Creepy crawlers:

I am not afraid of most bugs. I can kill a spider (even one the size of a Buick) or something else of the matter, no sweat. But give me one good reason that mosquitoes should exist. Just one. Go on, I dare you. Give up yet? No, the whole dissemination of blood across a country is not a positive effect. I’m not sure if the whole ‘white-skinned farang’ thing gets them riled up, but I’m eaten alive here, on a constant basis. If I don’t keep myself covered with spray 24/7 (which also feels like it’s burning my airways when I put it on), I end up with 60 or so welts on my leg (and yes, I mean that singularly, this is per leg we’re talking about here, they’re looking pretty hot I know). Before I came to Thailand, I was frightened that I might get Dengue Fever. Now it’s more like, I’m not looking forward to when I get Dengue, I don’t think there’s a way around it. Mosquitoes are one thing that some people will kill, especially if they spot one sucking blood out of their leg. I’ve tried to accept the Buddhist way on this and meditate through the insane itchiness that accompanies each welt, but then the American Protestant in me comes crashing through (hey, we’re called Protestants for a reason) and I kill any of those mofos I can find. One time, I got two in one slap and then showed it off to everyone around as they all gave me a round of applause (actually there was no one there, but this is what happens with my imagination when I spend a majority of the day in silence because let’s face it, Thai is coming along, but not THAT well, at least to the point of fake bows over celebration kills).  Now that I’m at site and you know, people aren’t accustomed to seeing a person’s legs look like mine (well besides the fact that my legs are a little over three feet long) it’s a good conversation starter and gets me out of some things. I was so ready to leave a monk ordination the other day and it took a few well placed slaps before they 86’d me out of there to prevent more bites. So yeah, mosquitoes suck and so do ants. They totally ruin leftovers. I brought a bunch of peppermints and candy canes from America to give out. I went to hand them out in practicum and I discovered an ant farm inside my suitcase. That was awesome (only second to the not one, but two mosquito nests that manifested themselves in there too).  These little guys bite too, so you have to be careful that you don’t end up with getting your feet raped like I did at English camp (there’s some dispute whether they were flea bites though, frankly I don’t care, I just hate the little shits).  Without any legit cold weather, all these insects flourish and manage to get everywhere. The nice thing is people have no shame about it and are fairly relaxed about it, like everything else.

Lizards:

I’m on the fence about these guys. On one hand, they eat mosquitoes (you know, my BFFs), but the little ji-jos are creepy looking. Imagine an albino Geico gecko and you’ve got the chatterboxes that we call ji-jos. I’m not going to try to explain the sound, come to Thailand, you’ll figure it out fast. I’ve come across a few legit looking lizards though, a few of them scared the shit out of me as I was walking out of a door and they were like ‘oh hey what’s up Erin.’ ‘Dude if you don’t want me to sweep you way far away with the broom, don’t do that kind of shit!’ They never listen.

Domesticated Animals:

If you could even call dogs that here. I am a full-fledged dog person. When I was 7, I had a subscription to Dog Fancy, just to look at the pictures. To relieve my social awkwardness when I go to a party and I don’t know anyone, whom do I talk to, but the dogs of course. There should be a clause to these statements though. The thing is, dogs here in Thailand are not exactly man’s best friend. My brother and I used to fight over whose bed our Boxer, Molly, would sleep in. In Thailand, it’s more like who is going to hit the dog harder. Without spraying/neutering and putting dogs to sleep (something that I’m usually not a big fan of), Thailand is overrun with crazy ass dogs that are often led to fend for themselves and are not afraid to take a chomp out of that juicy looking white leg that’s peddling along nice and slowly on a bike. The most frustrating part is not knowing whether a dog is going to come up and bite you or is scared shitless of you that you’re going to hit it. I’ve encountered the situation at my site now with my family dog.

My coteachers told me to be wary because Pet-Poi (it means diamond) is quite the ferocious guard beast. In reality though, she’s just frightened that someone is going to hit her as every time I would come close to her, she would scamper off. We’ve got a system going now that she’ll let me scratch her head if I approach slowly and say her name so she knows it’s me. Just call me the dog whisperer. I still really love dogs, especially when their owners train them to do something like wai people like Jeff’s host family’s dog. http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1966934458075#comments

He also dedicated a post just to dogs. When he does the ‘dog voice’ I cannot control my laughter.

http://sawatdiifromthailand.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/fear-and-loathing-the-wild-rabid-dogs-of-thailand/

The rest of this entry is going to be dedicated to the crazy mofo named Tika aka my first host family’s cat. In the words of Adjaan Manisa, (translated from Thai) ‘I think that Tika is not just a cat in Erin’s home, but Tika is a superstar’ (we were working on but). Do they have the word diva in Thai? If not, I think they should adopt it because this cat is worthy of that title. He puts Mariah, Diana, and Aretha to shame. I thing he has a little microphone buried inside the bell of his hot pink collar because good God that cat is so loud! Heaven forbid (what’s with all of these religious references?) you aren’t dedicating your life to Tika’s happiness. Don’t worry, the king will let you know his displeasure immediately. The thing is, my family treated him well enough that I was definitely the odd ball in the family for not worshipping the ground Tika graced with his paws. To tease me, my family asked if I wanted to take him to site with me, very funny guys. Tika and I had turf wars about who would own the upstairs. He would want to hunt the wildlife up there and be generally annoying. I wanted to sleep at night without him meowing up a storm and staring at me as I tried to sleep. Tika won several battles (with allies like my sisters), but I won the war. Sometimes having opposable thumbs is an unfair weapon, like with turning doorknobs, haha sucker.

For all his annoyances though, Tika definitely started to grow on me, much like a lot of the other animals here. I’ll end with a tribute to the Thai’s national animal. Much like our eagle, the Thais revere elephants for their intelligence. Having a love affair with elephants since I was a kid (it started with every time we had to pick an animal that started with the same letter as your name), this is my kind of place. On my Thai bucket list: ride elephant before leaving this country.

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