Friday, July 22, 2011

a centimeter is the width of your pinky

So I left you off in a sentimental place last night, but it's not only 24 hours later, and I have some absurdly epic stories about the time where we were supposed to plant rice in Udon.

It started as soon as I got back from the office last night, and exhausted ready to pass out from our trip to Chaiyapum. Clearly that wasn't going to happen. I rode the motorcycle back so got home first and realized that the lock on our house which is usually vertical is now horizontal, and the key that used to fit in the vertical lock is much too small for the horizontal one. Thailand is the only country in which your landlord would change your locks on you and not tell you until you return home after three days away and find your key doesn't work and a note in the door with Thai and a phone number. Luckily, it's the only country where if you call that number, someone will show up at 11 at night with your key in hand and a smile on his face.

Thailand's also the only country in which you can just show up to someone's doorstep a province away and ask them if you can help plant ("bloog") rice ("cow"), and they just might let you. Maybe. That was our mission today. Each intern group has a solo trip, where they have to get to a certain destination that the office sets up, and work with the villagers planting rice for a few hours. Of course, we happen to go on the day that no one is out working, and the NGO we were supposed to meet is sick, so we hang out with his assistants, 27 year old activists and researchers, who have no desire to spend their morning planting rice with us. They show us the field, the basics of transplanting rice, and the stream that the villagers use to fill the rice patties, and call it a successful trip. Out of pure interest, we go see the site of the potential potash mine in the community, and call it a day. The two guys were really nice, but clearly had no idea what to do with us. We wait on the side of the highway for a bus- somehow we manage to get on the right one, and then the real adventure starts.

First, there's a monk on the bus. You always have to wai to the monk. I do, and then keep saying "wai, wai, wai, wai" to the others, but they think I'm saying, "Why? Why? Why? Why?" so that's the end of that. Then, this is the best part, Becky leans on the emergency exit door, which is not closed tightly, and almost falls out of the bus. The monk has a field day over it, and tries to teach us that it's the "Emergency Door" which we understood, obviously. He continues to us, well Anne really, but for sake of the conversation, lies to the monk about a few things, including the fact that we helped plant rice with farmer's today, so she's sure to come back as something wretched in her next life. Somehow we made it back home by 2, and successfully completed our mission without any help.

Also, the weirdest things about Thai buses - the attendant feels no embarrassment in leaning over and adjusting your window curtain or air conditioner to see fit. For a country with so many cultural rules, who knew it was OKrai (our new favorite word) to change someone's locks or control their personal bus settings? Collectivist culture influences? Arai Godai (whatever)

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