I used to love the way I explored a new city. I learned this habit in London when I could jet off for a weekend to Paris, Madrid, Berlin, or see what was in my backyard in Great Britain. It continued when I took off for Asia. Lots of wandering, lots of walking, testing new foods, lots of wind blowing me on my way. It was a good time.
And then I joined the Peace Corps. Or should I say and then I lived in a village in a ‘third-world’ country. I was talking to a friend from home and mentioned that I’d be traveling soon. He was happy for me (knowing my typical travel style) and asked where I was going and what I’d be doing. I realized then how different Peace Corps travel is.
Getting out of the village can be a sanity saving measure. If things get really bad, we can even get a medical day to get the heck out of dodge for some peace of mind. Speaking your native tongue with people who know almost exactly what you’re going through is to put it simply: awesome (even if your English is getting all tangled because of its lack of conversational use).
These are the people who won’t double-take no matter how long you’ve let your leg hair grow or point fingers and giggle even if your stomach has been in fact been broken for the past week. Most likely, they’ll ask you what color the broken-ness is and relate a story of their own.
Connections like these are powerful and uplifting to be both physically and emotionally close to a friendly (farang) face. So what do we do when we finally meet (after hours on the loud buses, people lying to us about bus schedules, tickets, and the availability of seats, and other general travel hell), probably stuff you can do everyday, but it sure feels like vacation to us: eat (a lot of) farang food, touch friends of the opposite sex, have friends of the opposite sex, bitch and moan about how crazy our life here is, laugh and celebrate how crazy our life here is, eat some more, go shopping for things unavailable in the village, drink beer, maybe see a sight or two, be there for each other, find dessert, take inappropriate photos, live without looking around to see who’s watching, get our ears pierced… really, I could keep going, but it might break a PC guidelines (just kidding, sort of).
I just got back from one such weekend in Korat with Jeff Jackson. Here are some photos (mostly courtesy of him) mixed with a few other little bits and pieces around travel life here.
And then, food porn…