Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Better Day

I think I needed to get some of my travel woes off my chest yesterday, because today's much better!

After breakfast, we drove to one of the local "government" (i.e. public) schools in Sing Buri. J.J. showed us around, and we got to observe some of the primary classes (ages 3-6). We watched them learning their letters, playing at recess, listening to the teacher read, and I spent some quality time making animals out of clay with a couple of 4-year-old girls. I took a ton of pictures and some video, which will do a much better job of showing you what it's like. When they went to lunch, we met the principal, who was excited that we had decided to come to Thailand to visit ("Why you didn't come to Thailand before now?").

I loved seeing how similar things are to American schools, how very much the same kids are everywhere, and yet how small things are different - everyone takes off their shoes and line them up outside the door of the room, the kids and the teachers all wear uniforms (dress shirts and skirts/shorts for the kids, black pants and colored button-up shirts for the teachers. The teachers even have certain colors to wear each day - Thursday is orange, apparently!), each student has a tin cup that they use to get drinks from the water jug outside the room, and so on. At one point, some of the boys in the 4-5-year-old class were getting too rowdy and misbehaved. Things suddenly got very quiet, and I looked up from the clay dog I was making with a little girl named "Ew" to see the boys sitting with their eyes closed (well, mostly. One kept stealing furtive glances around), breathing deeply under the teacher's coaching. J.J. explained that they had been naughty so the teacher was making them meditate. Very interesting!

We bade farewell to the kids and got back on the truck to go back to the canteen for cooking lessons.

We made green papaya salad, fried noodles with Chinese broccoli, and bananas in coconut milk. I took a ton of pictures and, to the delight of all of my foodie friends, I'm sure, we also got copies of those recipes and others besides. I will be both cooking and sharing when I get back, I promise!

I asked J.J. if I could learn some other recipes while I was here. She asked the cook/housekeeper at the EcoHouse, who was hovering over our entire lesson, tasting and adjusting and making sure we put in the right ingredients at the right time. They said that I could help her make dinner anytime to learn more Thai cooking. Excellent!

After the long lunch, we continued our language lessons. I have now memorized 1-10 and a smattering of other words. Oddly, I find that Russian keeps coming back to me here - I kept wanting to ask the children "Shto eta?" since I don't know Thai for "What is this?" It's strange how my foreign language instincts manifest themselves.

Dinner should be starting soon, and then the big excitement of the evening is a free taxi ride to Tesco tonight. (Tesco's a big supermarket/Target-type place. It's British, right? That's where I've heard of it before?) Woot!

As I said, things just seemed easier today. I hope it'll stick.

I was mistaken on the schedule before - we go to Lop Buri tomorrow to visit, as J.J. called it, the monkey temple. That has the same kind of thrill as the phrase "elephant village," doesn't it? Just to add to the excitement, J.J. also mentioned that we would have a bodyguard tomorrow. I wondered if Lop Buri province was one of the dangerous ones from the uprising a few weeks ago. Turns out, it's because the monkeys are, as J.J. put it, "very naughty."

Should be interesting!

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