20 June 2010

Cambodian Border Crossing

I have been reminded that it's been over two weeks since I last posted; if I were being paid I would not longer be plaid. Or paid. I owe you. To tell you everything that's happened in those two weeks would be personal and ludicrous, so I'll just share the following highlight. It's quite lengthy though (it was six pages in Word, but I heavily edited it). If you have the time to read it all the way through I think you'll enjoy it and won't regret the ten minutes you spent on it. By the way, Alex and Jake are our facilitators. Here we go:

Wednesday,  June 9, 2010

All 26 of us left Chiang Mai, Thailand at 2:05 pm in three 15 passenger vans. Luckily they were air conditioned, comfortable, and made for long hauls. I was with five other people including BYU International internships Coordinator Malcolm, who has been visiting the program for two weeks to make sure he’s doing a good job in Provo.  We really lucked out by having only 6 people in our van. One van decided suicide by Lord of the Rings trilogy extended versions watching was pliable, and 10 people followed suit in that vehicle. (They literally watched all three movies back to back.) I think the other van just didn’t realize they had ten people to our six, and we didn’t make much of a chatter to remind them.  So off we went!

Seventeen minutes into the trip (I’ll try not to make this too time log-ical) I heard the van driver say the only thing he ever said in English- though he said it often: “Toilet.” I knew it was going to be a long trip if we stopped at 7-11 ever twenty minutes for the restroom. Luckily we generally kept the stops to every two hours.  I was pleased to be spending the 13 hours with the people I was with; we discussed all sorts of things, ate more junk food than we had the entire previous month, watched one movie half way through until it stopped working, gave Malcolm frank opinions on how the program as a whole has been running, did lots of reading, and did little sleeping. About midnight we learned you could tilt the chairs back so we put three people on the front row, leaned the bench back, and then I got the second row to myself, legs bent to fit lengthwise and body buried under headrests. It was not very comfortable sleep. 13 hours is a long time to be on a bus. The Thai countryside was very pretty, although torrential rains through four hours of it and then darkness greatly hindered our view. Chaing Mai is in the Northwest whereas Cambodia borders Thailand on the Southeast. We got to see much of the country, but missed Bangkok by a few hundred kilometers.

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Now, as long as I don’t drown the following story in pitiful details or excessive words, it will be worth your while to read. It’s a fascinating story of hostages, ransoms, the mafia, border crossings, overpriced food, bus terminals, and corruption- All involving me.

04 June 2010

Thailandic Trances

Thailand is so different from anything I have ever seen before. It's unbelievably far away and incredibly different from America in every regard. Whenever I eat dinner I have no idea what I am putting into my mouth. The vegetables and meats are indistinguishable, as are their textures. Today I took a 3o minute bus ride from Chiang Mai to San Kam Phaeng, only it wasn't in a bus- it was in the back of a modified pick-up truck with 16 other people. Three people in the cab, 13 people sitting in the truck bed on benches, and one guy with a large sack of something lumpy hanging out the back. It cost me $.46 each way. I ate Pad Thai from a moped sidecar parked outside a pavilion (that's way too nice of a word) that cost me $.61. This was legit Pad Thai. Before they brought me my meal they brought me mosquito repellent, and then served me water in a tin mug after ladling it out of a cooler. I stayed for an hour because the fan was so refreshing.
My gracious host family waters their roof everyday. They have a hose tied to the roof and they turn it on for one hour each afternoon. They put pails on the ground under the roof where it leaks.
I shower on the toilet. Okay, not exactly, but I certainly could. I identified 7 toothbrushes in the bathroom for the three people living here. When I do my laundry my garments (interpret that word as you will) are hung up to dry on the front gate, the banister, and everywhere else.
I ate fried chicken for breakfast, and I only know it was breakfast because of the time. Dinner and breakfast foods are the same here, as is the afternoon meal.
I counted five geckos in the hallway, four cows in the backyard, and countless chickens at the free range chicken farm across the street. Roosters too.
Someone came up to me the other day and said "Teacher Dan asleep" and then walked off. Just that, nothing more. This place is surreal.