On the Loose to Climb a Mountain

I'm currently serving in the Peace Corps in Thailand. I'm living life and learning more everyday about myself and the world around me. Come and join me when you are ready and together we'll explore life on the loose.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Loy Kratong

On the full moon in November, Thai people celebrate Loy Kratong. They make a Kratong (wish float) using a piece of the trunk of a banana tree. They use banana leaves and flowers to decorate it. They can be very elaborate. They also put in a candle and incense sticks. Families get together and bring their Kratongs to the nearest river or canal. My town is on the Moon river so we went down to the riverside park. They hold the kratong up to their head and make a wish for the year then put it into the water. Some people cut a pieace of their hair and nails and put that on their kratong. This signifies getting rid of the old and bad luck. Some people also put coins in their Kratong to offer to the river as an apology for the bad we've put into the river over the year and to have good luck for the year.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Yellow shirts

Yellow is the color of Thailand. Thai people wear yellow to show that they love the King. At schools all teachers and most students wear yellow shirts on Mondays. Then the rest of the week a lot of teachers wear yellow as well. Not a day goes by that you don't see someone wearing a yellow shirt! I happen to own three- all given to me as gifts. The craziest experience I ever had with yellow shirts was when we went to visit the exhibition on the King in Bangkok. The place was packed! And everyone had on a yellow shirt. I lost my group and there was absolutely no hope of finding them back! Luckily I ran into one person I recognized right about the time we were supposed to head back to the bus. I stuck to her like a peel on a banana. The picture below is of people gathered in Bangkok to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the King.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Gratin Ceremony

This past week my Thai family held a Gratin Ceremony for their grandma. She has been sick for over a month and they wanted to make merit in hopes of improving her health. I found out that a Gratin ceremony is held during the buddhist lent. Each person hopes to do a ceremony once in their life and they get their family and friends to help them. All of the money collected is donated to a wat, in ceremony style of course.

We spent the evening before and the morning of the first day of the ceremony making flowers and trees out of money. The tree in the picture held 10,000 baht! All in all, they gave 108,899 baht (about $2,700)!

The first day they invited all of their friends and family (that weren't already involved setting everything up) for a dinner. Before the dinner they had monks over to the house. They give gifts to the monks and the monks chant blessings. They set up a big tent and lots of tables for everyone to eat and serve lots of food. There is a box where all the friends can donate money.

The second day they were up at 5am preparing the food. I joined them at 7am and we loaded all the gifts for the wat into trucks. We drove out to the wat and set up the gift table. The monks are always served food first, while everyone sits in the polite position and waits. When the monks are finished, then everyone enjoys breakfast. The food was delicious. Those who didn’t know me were surprised that I chose to eat sticky rice over regular rice. They think that foreigners won’t like it because the rest of Thailand eats regular rice. It is believed to be an Issan food.

After breakfast they did the ceremony of offering the gifts and money to the wat. Lots of chanting and wai-ing.

Each wat is only allowed to have one Gratin a year. I was very lucky to be here when my Thai family did this ceremony.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Military Coup in Thailand

It seems that Thailand is once again in the news. On Tuesday last week I traveled to a friend's site for a theater camp. There were five of us and we were staying at a hotel. We were awoken by phone calls and text messages from Peace Corps staff telling us that there was a military coup and we were all to stay where we were. Not so bad for us, as we were with friends. As three of us were wardens, we spent awhile contacting everyone in our group with the news. The next day was declared a public holiday so schools and banks and such were closed. So the camp was canceled. Unluckily for me I had come down with pink eye (which they call red eye here, and it is red because the conjunctivitis is accompanied by hemoraging!) So Tara's people took me to the nearest town to find a doctor. After that was taken care of they brought us back to Tara's site where we hung out, watched movies, played games, etc. We were given the all clear on Thursday but were told that we were not allowed to go to Bangkok and all our meetings were moved until the next week. So on Friday, Natalie and I headed back to my house. It really felt like a six day weekend! I heard that there were tanks and soldiers in bangkok, but no violence. Everything seems back to normal now. I will be going to bangkok on Friday. So I guess I can say I'm REALLY a peace corps volunteer now that I've experienced a coup! Below is the announcement from the American Embassy.

1. This Public Announcement is being issued to alert U.S. Citizens traveling to and residing in Thailand to the recent military coup in Thailand. This Public Announcement expires December 19.

2. On September 19 a military group calling itself the Council for Democratic Reform Under the Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) seized control of the Thai government and declared martial law. The CDRM banned any political gathering of more than five persons. The CDRM also banned the hoarding of goods or the increasing of the price of goods of any kind. The CDRM announced it will appoint a civilian government within two weeks as the first step to returning the country to democratic government.

3. The military deployed troops around key government facilities and other strategic locations, but there is little visible military presence elsewhere. There have been no indications or reports of any violence at this time.

Friday, September 15, 2006

TYT meeting

The TYT meeting on Koh Samet was a lot of fun and we got a lot of planning done. Wes, Sarah, Becky, and I took a walk and found this beautiful bay. This is my good friend Wes and I at the bay. Thailand is really beautiful!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

She is the Wind!

I was visiting Emily and we celebrated her birthday. It was a lot of fun. We had a bit of a culinary fiesta! Well you see...Emily has a toaster oven...not too common in Thailand! So we made banana bread, cookies, lemon bars and garlic toast. We also made coleslaw, spaghetti, salad, and shakes! So Emily was blowing out the candles on her lemon bars and her friend was inspired to alter the picture a bit. Here's the very funny result...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

student centered classroom

This is my friend Kate's and her co-teacher's classroom. I was very impressed by it. Now my goal is to get my co-teacher to want to make our classroom look like this and to apply for a grant. I like the idea of moveable tables so that we can do games and activities. The map on the back of the wall is a project that a lot of Peace Corps volunteers all over the world do. I did it at my other school. It's fun to go to other people's sites and to get fresh ideas. This week we are doing an English camp at Kate's site. It is going very well.