Field Trips with Tapae Students

Okay! So now that all that nasty business is over I can look back on some of the more fun-filled times. The day of and the day before the accident had actually been great; we went on field trips with our students.

oh and these M3 students were cooking one day.

haha, i was like, ‘o! show me what you’re making!’ and it turned out to be just water boiling.

Anyway, Thursday we went to a handcraft center in a small town, the name of which I can’t recall after all this time, just outside of Nakhon Si Thammarat. We then went into Nakhon Si Thammarat so we could drop the rascals off at what sounded like a college fair, and then we skedaddled over to a restaurant that seemed to have the potential to be awesome but in reality ended up being one of the worst meals I had in Thailand! Everything was bland (there’s a chance they were ordering everything not spicy on our behalf, not sure), and it all took forever because one dish in particular took a lot of time to cook. That dish was the ant omelette, which was rife with enormous winged ants and their larvae, which were the size of grains of rice. We gave it the tiniest of tries, you know, just to say we did, but then decided enough was enough. But the trip itself was still fun,¬†and we didn’t have to teach!

crazy kids on the bus. oh yeah. the bus. that was… loud.

workin the loom.

not amused

bas is not cut out for the weaving world.

but this girl knew her stuff.

p’sawat considering giving up teaching.

they also made baskets and purses and the like.

The next day was even more exciting. With the Mattayom 1 students, we went to Krabi for the day. Again, the language barrier makes it so we’re not exactly sure where we were for each stage of the outing; not exactly sure what its purpose was. First we went to some kind of small-scale sustainable farm. They had various animals and were growing edible plants. Wayne’s and my primary function seemed to be to take goofy pictures with the students.

ridin in style

fulfilling his duties nicely

definitely confirmed my new notion that i want to own goats at some point in the near future. for their milk, and also their cuteness. and because the idea of ollie as a ‘goatfox’ (as david and i have termed it) is way too good to pass up.

o hai

Then we headed to the beach for some lunch. We had some most delicious rice cooked by P’Fa’s mother, who lived in the area and came to hang out with us. After telling her over and over how much I loved it and asked how to make it, she informed me that it would be too difficult for me haha! Burnnnnnn…

p’fa’s little niece.

family portrait

clown fish indeed!

At this point we thought the excursion had reached its end and we’d pile back onto the bus for the two-hour journey back to Thung Song. And honestly, we were good and ready for this to be the case. But instead we went to some kind of saddening marine life research center.

huge grouper dwelled in the depths. can you see it in the shadow of the umbrella?

haha, grouper face and grouper!

of course i love seeing turtles, but i’m not sure i loved seeing it there ūüė¶

And then, though we were now really hot and tired and irritable, they had to make a few more pitstops, including at the bronze crab sculpture so we could take a few pictures.

As it turned out these were some of our last experiences with the kids (other than seeing them when we’d stop back by the school for paperwork or logistical reasons, or when they came to visit us in the hospital, as some of them did) and it’s bittersweet looking back on them. But in the end I’m really happy to have gotten to interact with the students in this kind of fun, out-of-school setting. I miss the little guys!


A Jaunt in Krabi with a Thai Friend (Or, that Time We Crashed the JIT Company Trip)

How to even explain this one? Near our old agency there’s a coffee shop run by a (Thai) guy named Tommy, who speaks a bit of English and whose daughter was one of Wayne’s students when we were working with the old agency. The whole family is very warm and friendly, and there’s Wi-Fi at the shop. (Though we have moved right into the 1990s and got Internet at home recently, this was a definite perk back when we were living in the Stone Age.) In any case, we’ve been known to frequent this venue.

It’s not uncommon, in places such as this, to find yourself nearly bombarded by interested Thais who either want to practice their English, attempt to score some English lessons for themselves or their children, or simply pick your brain (in Thai, regardless of how much Thai you actually appear to know) as to what the heck a¬†farang such as yourself is doing in a place like Thung Song. If you read that with any negative tone please let me assure you that these interactions are generally quite welcome, and often prove to be humorous and even a way to make Thai friends. One of the things I always said I wished I’d done differently in China was actually interact more with the everyday Chinese people that surrounded me, and it’s nice to actually be making that happen in my current setting, especially now that my Thai has graduated from “Terrible” to “That of a Toddler, on a Good Day.”

The most noteworthy friend we’ve made at Tommy’s is P’Aek, a man who’s proud to be the owner¬†of JIT, the computer shop across the street. Our first interaction occurred a few months ago. Thai people have a penchant for making elaborate invitations within seconds of meeting strangers, and P’Aek was no exception. Particularly on account of Wayne’s friendliness (no one really believes me when I say that I’m shy, but I swear that I am. I’m starting to understand you, Dad!!), we’d earned ourselves (and Ollie!) an invitation to Krabi in P’Aek’s truck on any weekend we desired. The problem is that we’re never exactly sure how to respond to these offers; we certainly don’t feel comfortable picking up the phone and saying, “Yo, Thai-dude-with-whom-I-can-only-communicate-on-the-basest-of-levels, tryna take us to Krabi this weekend?” And so there are many hypothetical trips that have yet to be taken.

But P’Aek was different. We got to know him a bit better, first over coffees, then over beers (Once in the back of his computer shop, and once Wayne met him at Tommy’s– yes, the coffee shop– where he allegedly was kicking it with the mayor and some of his comrades? Feel like it’s fine?), and before we knew it we had a real invitation on a real trip that was really happening that very weekend: The JIT Company Trip.

Alas, there was no room for Ollie, and there was scarcely room for the two of us– we squeezed four in the back of one car, and others rode in the bed of a double-cab pickup truck. This is a very common practice in Thailand, but unfortunately it began to rain about 20 minutes into the trip, forcing them to squeeze four into the back of the double-cab, which made us feel a bit bad. But before we knew it we were at a restaurant just outside Krabi, where we had a nice lunch and got to know everyone a little better.

us and p’aek

P’Aek (and P’Lek who was either his wife¬†or his mistress… the word “mistress” definitely got thrown around a lot, in her and everyone else’s presence, but they both had rings and talked about wanting kids so I think it was a joke?) informed us that that afternoon we’d be going to the¬†Susaan Hoi,¬†and Wayne and I had no idea what that meant but expressed interest as best we could. ¬†After spending a few hours watching Al-Jazeera (one of two English stations on TV) and teaching P’Aek how to play poker, it was time to set off.¬†One of the things that has always caught my eye on the drive to Krabi has been the intermittent signs you’ll see for the “Gastropod Fossil Beach,” and I said, half-jokingly, to Wayne that I really hoped that’s where we were going. To the surprise and delight of the half of me that wasn’t joking, guess where we ended up! It would seem¬†Susaan Hoi translates to “Seashell Graveyard,” and that’s where we found ourselves, in all its glory.

that look on my face is, if i remember correctly, due to us creating a camera-countdown joke that goes, ‘1… 2… CALL!’ which is the name of a thai cellphone company. i promise it’s better in person…

so as interesting as a gastropod seashell fossil graveyard sounds, it actually was kind of just like big slabs of concrete on a beach. but if you squatted down and really looked, you could see really old fossilized shells.

or can you?

so thai people like to take a lot of pictures. a lot. there are 29 photos going into this post; p’lek uploaded 407 from the same weekend on facebook. so when we saw a few of them taking pictures with this kid we thought they were just… taking pictures with a really stylish little boo.

then we found out he was a child star named nino! susaan hoi is a really happenin’ place it would seem…

then poor little nino slipped and fell. good thing we were the only paparazzi around.

Then it was time for dinner. They happened to take us to the same restaurant that we went to with Mel and Kung almost exactly a year before. Crazy!

requisite sunset shot

thailand’s version of a turducken… seafood stuffed fish.

(Turducken, if you were curious. *shudders at the thought*… and oh my God it links to this.)

and after

if you were wondering, that was a horseshoe crab in the back. not a fan…

being silly after a few johnny blacks… p’aek don’t mess around!

The next day we were to go on a five-island tour. We we excited, because it seemed as though the weather might really hold up for us. It did… for a bit.

We stopped at a snorkeling spot but… had neglected to bring snorkels. And ten minutes after our arrival, this happened:

and then this.

But we waited it out and eventually were able to make it to the sea beach, which connects two smaller islands and is only present at a very specific time in the afternoon. Unfortunately this means longtail boats flock there by the dozens during that small window of time…

Then we made our way back and I saw this graffiti that I took a picture of:

Then it was home again, home again! A very fun, funny, and interesting trip all thanks to our generous new friend. Kap koon ka, P’Aek!