Nice to See You and Good Luck

I swore in last Monday and took the Peace Corps oath, and am now an official volunteer! So that's pretty cool. I probably won't be able to top that in the course of this post.

Some bullet points of interesting mishaps:

I went to get a supposedly blind massage from a supposedly blind masseus, but he in fact had the gift of sight and was using it to the fullest. Meanwhile my friend's masseus was either a ladyboy (Thailand's notorious third gender, men who surgically become women) or a very masculine woman. Incidentally, is your entire body supposed to ache the morning after a massage? Isn't the point of a massage that you feel better? Life is terrible.

Had pancakes at the hotel, and they were everything I expected and more. Initially they had no syrup, and I had to make a special request for syrup and explain to the buffet manager that yes, contrary to popular belief and in defiance of all conventional wisdom, pancakes were consumed with syrup. So worth it though.

The KFC in Thailand is better than the one back home. And Thai food in the States is better than the food over here. Gotta love it. But that's not all. The KFC over here has a burger that is an exact replica of the 99 cent McChicken sandwich, but better. And they have fish on their menu, and chicken nuggets and other strange non-KFC foodstuffs. 

The 7-Eleven over here is one of the more upscale establishments. 

Thai people like to buy gnomes. The only thing they like better than actually buying gnomes is stopping at multiple markets to browse their selection of gnomes, preferably while eating from a rotee (green tortillas stuffed with what look like ropes of sugar) in one hand and carrying on a conversation on their cellphone in the other. 

My Thai co-teacher likes country music, and such classics as "Islands in the Stream" and "Horse with No Name." We were in her car, and she asked me if the music was making me miss America. I said no. She asked why not. Because this music is terrible. We had a laugh. 

One of my principals is a bit on the eccentric side. He asks me to translate certain words into English for him about 40 times a day. And whenever there's a random opportunity to break the silence between us, he will sing the same two words ("Sabai, sabai!" - "Feeling fine, feeling fine!") from this song, then look at me (my cue to laugh) and erupt into laughter himself. He told me I need to have a strong heart (jai kem kang) for the challenges that lie ahead, and not to be a wuss and cry like a woman. He said he loves everyone in the world, including me, all the people and animals, and that furthermore animals are no different from people, and that's why he doesn't hit animals, because it's bad. He said women are no different from men except, of course, that they're wusses and cry a lot. After every statement he made, his wife would repeat what he had said verbatim. I don't think she smiled the entire time I was there. Then he made me repeat everything he had said back to him to make sure that I understood the importance of what he was telling me. 

The soap at my homestay smells exactly like that gum that had those zebras on it, Fruit Stripe. Weird. 

Due to some masochistic architectural quirk, Thai houses are connected in such a way that the switch for a light downstairs will oftentimes be located, you guessed it, upstairs. The practical implication of this is that at night I have no idea where I'm going. 

I've made a bunch of new friends at my homestay already, namely cockroaches and beetles that hang out in my room, in the living room, they're even there to keep me company in the bathroom. Sweet little fellas, ain't they? Really Peace Corps, you need to stop spoiling me...

My co-teacher, when we were getting into a car being driven by her husband, who was not smiling, told me that her husband is a kind man, even though he does not smile. During the car ride I not only got him to smile but I had him flat out laughing with my Thai linguistic concoctions. He has a great laugh. 

My co-teacher, bless her heart, has one of the most annoying laughs I have ever heard. It sounds like a rodent snickering at you for doing something embarrassing. She is however, one of the sweetest women I've known, and otherwise very unrodentlike.

So about the title, I think I'll explain that now. My host sister from Ayutthaya, who I saw a grand total of 2 times, gave me a pakama (a sarong for men) as a going-away present, and attached a little note:

1. Nice to see you

2. Don't forget my family 55 (in Thai, 5 is haa, so "55" means "haha")

3. Take care yourself

4. Good luck in Mae Hong Son



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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.