Despite the lack of posting the past week or so, I am alive and well. I apologize for the delay, but I have been busy, how you say, living. Thank you to everyone who has told me via email, FB, skype, etc. that you’ve been following along and enjoying reading about my adventures! With no one commenting (hint hint?) I never really know who is reading. So thanks 🙂
So just to get everyone up to speed, I’ve been living in Pa Pae, a small, rural hill tribe somewhere in the northwest corner of Thailand. Here. It’s been a busy week, both physically and mentally exhausting. The biggest challenge is the language barrier, namely I speak about maybe two dozen Thai phrases clearly and most of the people here speak somewhere around the same amount, or slightly more/less, of English. I’m teaching English to 8 classes of students, which is fun but also tough considering communication difficulties. I’ve never taught before, so going in front of any class is daunting enough! It’s certainly a challenge, but everyone here is so welcoming that it’s hard to stay panicked for long.
One of the hardest things to wrap my head around is the idea of remoteness. Here I am, on the other side of the world, in a village, in the middle of NOWHERE (the nearest town is about an hour and a half away by treacherous, half-paved road) and I’m sitting in my room on wifi. Half a world away, and still plugged in. I simultaneously hate it and love it. I don’t know how I would feel about spending three weeks completely removed from the English speaking world, but at the same time it saddens me that our world has shrunk so much. “Remoteness” in the true sense of the world is becoming a thing of the past.
Life here is quite exciting. My school day starts around 7:30 am when students begin blasting music from the school, which is located conveniently right outside my non-insulated wall. Song of choice? Sexy Lady, a painfully catchy Asian pop song. Oi vey. As much as I roll my eyes, I actually don’t mind waking up this way. It’s like the revelry played at summer camp. Rise and shine, Pa Pae! And I’m usually already awake, courtesy of the 4 am chicken chorus.
Actually, living here feels a lot like summer camp. I live in a cabin, I have a bug net, there are kids everywhere, food is prepared for me… it’s kind of nice. It’s a mix between summer camp and Sturbridge Village, if you happen to be from southern N.E., brought back to life. Oh and throw in that I don’t speak the language. I’m still wrapping my head around how unique this environment is and how utterly different it is from any place I’ve ever been. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts at the end of my three weeks, but for now, I’m just enjoying taking each day at a time and slowly improving my ability to pud pasa thai (speak Thai). It’s slow going, but some of my favorite times so far have been sitting on the floor of Pee Pon, one of the villagers, and playing with her baby, slowly and tentatively teaching each other the Thai and English words for various objects. Latest word mastered? Sohm= orange! Aroy mak (very delicious) because they grow them right in Pa Pae.
Despite my attempts to dive into the Thai language, there’s nothing quite like having a mutually comprehended conversation in English. It’s like tonic for my brain. After tying itself in knots, an hour or two of rapid fire good ‘ol English restores it to it’s original settings. So, because of this, thank God for Skype.
Well, I suppose that’s enough rambling for now. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures from Pa Pae so far…
To everyone in the northeast, stay safe, stay WARM! and enjoy the feeling of being curled up on the couch with good company (snacks included) and nowhere to go. Right about now, I miss that. So enjoy it just a little bit extra for me 🙂