July 23, 2009

My Thailand Travels

Alright everyone, today we are going to take a little trip down memory lane. Your final destination will be Chiang Mai, Thailand and the surrounding Hill Tribes. Many happenings this week reminded me of this amazing place that I fell in love. Friday, we attended a wedding and I got to visit with the couple that started the mission company I worked with. Then, I made a little trip to my favorite (actually only) Asian grocery store in town. I found fresh rambutans, an Asian fruit, and stocked up on many ingredients for my favorite dishes. I introduced Britt to some new recipes this week, some were met with confusion, but everything was eaten. I think the rambutans pushed him over the edge - on the outside they look like red hairy aliens. Finally, last night our big group of friends went to this quaint little Asian restaurant: The Noodle House. It was true authentic asian food, the guys had some spice in their dishes so they were sweating to clean their plates.

OK so back to our destination, the summer of 2003 my dearest friend Kim and I traveled to Chiang Mai. Kim had previously lived in Thailand for 2 years and attended language school, so it was a reunion for her and a brand new experience for me. She brushed up on her "you speak Thai" skills, and I hit the Internet making contacts and plans for our trip. We stayed with the same family that Kim had lived with, and worked under the Bishop of the diocese. When we arrived the grandmother, Khoon Yah, was ill and had a bed set up in the living room. Her spirits were down and you could tell she was just tired from life. Kim is the funniest friend I know, and with her witty comments and optimistic attitude Khoon Yah was out of bed, sitting up, and taking us out to eat by the end of our stay. Most of our time there was spent visiting the people, teaching english classes, attending services, and helping the Nuns.

So many stories to tell I can't imagine picking just one: We almost died on top of a mountain because I was insistent on riding an elephant down a hill during monsoon season. I ate stir-fried june bugs which its equivalent to eating popcorn for us. They had a guy almost stop our plane going home so he could give Kim flowers, and confess his love. We sang our class the Happy Days theme song to get them to remember days of the week. We would bring plate lunches to this little lady that lived on the streets, and she made it her mission to find husbands for us so we would not leave. We listened to Khoon Yah singing in the shower in her broken english "I love you, you love me." All the late night trips Lu Gang would take us on to find a street cart with our favorite desert Roti. I love the custom of taking your shoes off before entering a building; after Mass it was always fun searching for your shoes amongst the piles. And O how I wish I could I forget the 12 hours that we got stuck in the Singapore airport trying to get home.

We left Thailand with sad heavy hearts. Upon leaving Khoon Yah wanted to give me a compliment, Kim translated "You come here skinny and dark, now you leave white and fat, you pretty now." Ahh the culture difference!!! Every other commercial on TV was for skin whitening creams. I told her in America fat and white is not good that I would have to stay in Chiang Mai with her until I was dark and skinny again.


Amy said...

I swear you become more & more interesting the longer I know you! What an amazing experience! I love that you poured life back into the grandma! What a funny "compliment!" I find differences (such as that one)in cultures fascinating.

Amy said...

Oh, beautiful images by the way!