Friday, February 12, 2016

Chinese New Year

My host mom's father was Chinese, so this morning before the sun came up we honored the ancestors by offering food, drink, and burning money and some plastic fake jewelry and an iPhone for them to use in the afterlife. Quite the experience.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ban koong dichan (My house)

My homestay in Bangrachan. My Thai family has made me feel so welcome here. 

Stairs upstairs and some water tanks.

 Sunrise over the garden.

See the purple bridge in the background? I have yet to be able to cross one over the river without walking my bike. That thing is steep. And I'm a wimp.

 The other side, which faces the Wat next door, from which I hear the monks singing through the loudspeaker almost every night.

 The front gate through which I ride my bike everyday and where the dogs greet me by barking loudly until I answer in my soothing high-pitched puppy voice. Which they love.

 There is a second building on the compound where the family runs a small business weaving baskets, purses, and other decorative items.

Sitting area inside the compound.

Living room, where my Thai grandma and I sit and eat oranges while watching bizarre Thai game shows and dubbed Chinese soap operas. 

The outside hang-out. You can either sit around this like a table, or sit on it. But NO pointing your feet at anyone. Most Thai houses have these.

Motorcycle parking. Plus my bike because we're not allowed to drive motorbikes in the crazy Thai traffic.

Entrance to the lower living area, which is just a chain link rolling fence that they close at night. Since my room opens out into this area, I can hear everyone waking up around 4:30am to clean the house and cook while it is still cool outside. You also must remove your shoes before entering, but since everything is open to the outside my feet end up being permanently dirty anyway.

Kropkrua Thai (My Thai family)

This is Maao, who speaks English pretty well and always watches out for me. She has two kids, Army and Aimee, and is constantly welcoming my friends to her home. 

Grandma Baao, Maao, another sister (can't remember her name), and Aimee at Wat Phra Non. 

This is Grandma Baao. Speaks not a lick of English but is so generous - she makes sure I take at least 5 pieces of fruit with me each morning to school to share with my friends (or eat on my own). She seems to be a pillar of the community and is a very devout Buddhist.

This is Aiun. She is in kindergarten at my practicum school and I see her often. She is shy, but can sing the ABCs perfectly. I painted her nails and we bonded.

My friends Kellie and Olivia with Aiun and Aimee at Wat Gai one Sunday. Aimee is very smart, but very shy. I'm still working on getting her to practice any English with me, though I know she understands a lot. 

This is easily my favorite picture of the family. Central Thailand has had a few cold snaps (as in, 60-70 degrees F) and it makes the locals miserable, even if I personally love it. This morning I came out and they are all in about twelve layers with towels and blankets wrapped around their heads.

Gluai (banana). This pup seems to be the alpha dog in the house. 

One night I made spaghetti with some sauteed onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, and ketchup (I asked for tomato sauce, but when in Thailand you make do...). Aimee LOVED it and ate her weight in sa-bah-ghetti. 

My best buddies Bupi and Bimai. At first they weren't so sure about me and growled whenever I came home, but now I have them wrapped around my little finger. 

I'm missing all of you terribly, but I'm beginning to feel more like I belong here.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


 In some ways Singburi just feels like any other city, except when you walk down the street and see the amazing flowers and shrines for sale.

 I've been doing a lot of studying Thai - it was so great to finally be able to go outside and speak Thai, and be understood (mostly)!

 Our whole group wearing our new passins and pa kao mahs (sarongs)! Thais use them for bathing and changing clothes - one of our ajaans actually took off all of her clothes underneath her passin to show us how it's done!


 Demonstration on how to set up a mosquito net.

How to work a squat toilet.

How to hand wash laundry, and hang it up in a culturally appropriate way.


Mealtime etiquette lesson. 

First Thai meal ordered entirely in Thai language! Success!

Night sky on our walk through the market.

At one point I looked over and saw a man leading an elephant past our eating area. It was a bit emotional for me thinking about whether or not this baby elephant was well-cared for, since the elephant tourism industry in Thailand is rampant with abuse and neglect. I decided not to take pictures with the elephants until I visit a sanctuary.

Yummy market food!

More hot, crowded, sweaty shopping fun.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

And so it begins...

The first two days in Portland were filled with a lot of thought-provoking/identity-searching activities.

Last night in Portland. We went to Bamboo Sushi and walked around the city with our roommates.

Somehow my group ended up with FIVE Caitlins. That's right, five. All spelled the same. Weird. 

Sunset in Tokyo.

I was group leader, which means I had to make sure all these little chickens got to Bangkok safely. It was stressful.

Our welcome session to Pre-Service Training (PST) was awesome! Our ajaans (teachers) and training staff all welcomed us with an animal sound game and gave us individualized handmade cards.

Our first evening in Thailand was a welcome ceremony and dinner in which the staff sang traditional Thai songs and tied strings on our wrists, signifying health and happiness during our time here. It was very meaningful...then we went into dinner and partied. My friend Marcus and I closed the show with a karaoke rendition of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and it was amazing.

Sunset in Singburi.

The whole group of 128s in our new Peace Corps Volunteer shirts!