When Rachel and I used to fight when we were little, our mother would make us say five nice things about each other as punishment. (Oddly, I can only recall being the one forced to say them. I have no recollection of what things Rachel ever listed about me. I can only assume it's because my little kid anger at her blotted them out, not because of a gross you're-older-so-you-should-know-better imbalance in the punishment doling-out.) I'm guessing that's what prompted me yesterday to start to feel bad about complaining about Thailand's strangeness, and then to resolve to make up for it by making a list of things I like about it.
Things I Like About Thailand:
- I love the rain. I always have, and here I get to experience it much more often than in Denver or Salt Lake. There could actually be more of it, in fact, and I hope that the rainy season will kick into gear within the next ten days.
- The flowers. The flowers here are so unfamiliar and tropical-looking - bright, bold, and thriving. I've never seen orchids growing from the sides of the trees, but they do here at the wat.
- Wearing white. It makes things so much easier when it comes to deciding what to wear. Plus, it still has this aura of specialness to it, wearing all white.
- My long white skirt. My dad spotted it in a store and suggested it to me before I left. I absolutely love it. I love long, full skirts anyway, and this one's nicely billowy and long enough that I get to pick it up to go up stairs or pick my way through the mud.
- The pretty bugs. On my way to the library just now, I saw a butterfly that was all black and gold and flecked with gray and bigger than my hand. Also?
- The dragonflies. I've loved dragonflies simply because the word for a group of them is a "dazzle of dragonflies". And they're big enough here to really watch.
- Going barefoot in the library. We go barefoot inside all of the buildings, but I still get that little tingle of "I'm barefoot in a library!" when I come here.
- Everybody's shoes. There's great piles of them at the top of the stairs to the buildings each day. And I like how I can check the piles now to see if Jessica (white flip-flops with tiny Brazil flags on them), Eunice (small black flip-flops), Oscar (brown fabric flip-flops), Sean (brown plastic flip-flops), or Paul (gray fabric shoes with the heels crushed down from him wearing them like clogs) have gotten there before me.
- The comforts of the Trina House. I'm so glad I decided to stay there - I love taking a shower in a shower stall instead of in a cubical stall with a toilet, the big open windows in my bedroom, the clotheslines all over the balcony for laundry, and the refrigerator where I can make bottles of water cold.
- The people. They really are friendly here. The ones who know English are so eager to try it, greeting me with "Hello!" or "Good morning!", even if we've never met before.
- The kids on the buses. They're all piled in to the brightly painted, open bus/trucks in the mornings, all dressed alike in school uniforms and packed in so tight that a few are inevitably hanging off the back by the rails. They always wave when they drive by, and they beam with delight when I wave back.
- The monks in my class. They are so gracious, kind, and intelligent. As I came out of meditation class just now, I passed Sanjoy on his way in. He responded to my "Hello!" by saying, "Here, please," and handing me one of the boxed yogurt drinks he was carrying. This morning, two of the monks brought a bunch of desserts from a street vendor to us, "For you, Teachers." My favorite was the coconut gelatin that was wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. Inside of the gelatin was a ball of shredded coconut and sweetened-condensed milk that had caramelized.
- The Community class. I need to tell you more about the classes, and I will, so I'll just leave it at that.
- The other volunteers. I do like the kind of people who sign up for this kind of travel. I like their company, and Eunice in particular is a joy to teach with and walk and talk with.
- Chili sauce.
- The way the lightning here is yellow instead of white. Strange.
- The way you can feel safer at the wat. Not physically safer, but emotionally. Everyone's kind and there's no malicious talk or gossip. It's bewildering, but it's also nice.