People Bring You Things… All the time
Iced tea, mangos, notebooks, plates of hot food. There’s no limit to the things people are willing to bring you. Stopping by someone’s house, you’re supposed to bring a something. About to buy yourself a snack?Buy a few extras and sprinkle them amongst your friends. It’s all a part of Thai nam-jai and be wary, it’ll rub off on you too.
You Know All the News Without Ever Leaving Your House
There are days that I can’t find the motivation to get stared at for just existing so I don’t leave the confines of my family’s property. Luckily, because people come to your house and bring you things, they also bring you news. I can get the village latest from multiple sources about various topics. Kids, old ladies club, or village farmers, it’s easy to get the daily standard.
People Do Things for You… All the time
Little errands and chores you have to take care of, done at the mere mention that you need to do them. You decide that you need to do your laundry, it’s done. You think out loud that you forgot something in the classroom, it magically reappears on your desk. I was hungry, though it felt too hot to move. One of my sister’s friends was dispatched to get me a takeaway of chicken fried rice. It’s like having a group of elves at your service. This is especially the case if you are A.) older(ish), B.) male, C.) a teacher. Even more so if you’re an older(ish) male teacher. Educators in this country love to put their kids to work doing the things they don’t feel like doing themselves. And those kids do it willingly.
Work Days Can Easily Turn into Non-Working Days
And vice versa. Sometimes when waiting to for my coteacher to pick me up, I get a call about this meeting or that and there’s no teaching that day. Though getting to school only to realize you’ve got nothing more going on then a glorified arts and crafts project isn’t far from the norm either. It was really frustrating at first and likely going to get on my nerves again, but I won’t complain too much about teaching less days in the month of August then actually being in the classroom. It works the other way when I think I’m going to have a relaxing day at home when a community event pops up and I should be attending to get my face out there.
You’re Never Hungry
The idea of going hungry in this country, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, is downright laughable. I gained about 15 pounds when I got here. Granted 10 were necessary from getting really sick before I got here, but it’s the fastest I’ve ever put weight on in my entire life. As mentioned previously, there’s always someone bringing you something or calling you to go eat. Food is such an important part of the culture and Thais share it with you as a ‘special visitor.’ Thais love to ‘take care you.’
People Love to Take You on Trips
Part of taking care of me means my Thai friends love taking me everywhere. To the market, on a day trip to Suphan Buri, or across the country to the beach. A drive around my site is has plenty views of the mountains to content me in ways like no other. Its rawness is beautiful. Sometimes I just want to know how to go somewhere and people decide we can and should go for a trip there, that very day. Just last week, two women from the local technical high school came to my house and wanted to know if I’d like to be included in the regular bpai tiaos they partake in to learn about Thai culture and the happenings in my province…um, YES! Our first one is mid-September and while I’m not entirely sure where we’re going and for what reason, eh mai bpen rai.
You’re Never Lonely
We’re so lucky to have had the language preparation in PST that we did as it has helped me form deep friendships with people who know hardly any English at all. Without it, I think I would be extremely lonely living here. Luckily though, my Thai neighbors are more than willing to welcome me into their arms whether I want to be there or not. Being in such a new place, it’s kind of nice to have people try so hard to make sure you’re not sad and/or lonely. Which brings me to the next and very important point of…
Everyone is Happy to See You
It’s like Pleasantville that way. Literally, everywhere I go in my village, people call out my name with a big smile and a wave. I show up randomly somewhere and people are so glad to be graced with your presence. I haven’t felt this loved since my Mom used to pretend to like my fashion shows and rolled her eyes when I told her my beautiful face was ready for its close-up. In the village, people are on Team Erin (or should I say Aaaa-leen!) no matter if I’m biking, attempting a new Thai sentence structure/word, or doing laundry. I’ve never felt like I’ve had so many people, at one time, that had my back.
How Natural all of these Aspects are to Them
They’ll bend over backwards to help you without any reason other than to see a smile on your face. And they don’t even think about it. It’s in many ways, it’s the ultimate way of communal living as people are constantly exchanging and sharing their goods with others for no other reason than it’s what comes from their hearts. The best part about it is how it starts to become natural to you too.
They’re crazy, illogical, fun-loving, giving, caring, generous, beautiful, patient, wonderful, friendly, loving, relationship-building-focused, helpful, funny, hierarchical, peaceful… clearly I could go on and on. They are one of the main reasons I want to tough out this ride, for better and worse, and are easily the best motivation to live in Thailand.