I expected to meet with the US Ambassador to Thailand for lunch with a fellow volunteer.
I did not expect the other PC volunteer to drop out last minute, leaving an intimate talk and joyful meal with him, his wife, assistant and Thai embassy workers. I was then invited to continue with the entourage and visit the monkey training college.
These monkeys were trained through positive reinforcement methods within 6 months to pick coconuts from trees efficiently, problem-solve issues like untangling themselves, and ride on the back of motorcycles safely.
The Monkey Training School in Surat Thani is mentioned in this NPR article about the monkey coconut-picking business: What’s Funny About The Business Of Monkeys Picking Coconuts?
I expected to take a trip to visit the grandmother of a Thai family I have befriended at the end of October.
I did not expect a full ceremony in respect of the grandparents with monks and food galore.
I did not expect to feel such a part of the family, exploring the markets, temples and rivers of the surrounding area with the cousins in the family.
I expected to go with my host family to show my respect at the passing of King Rama 9.
I did not expect an old woman to do my hair upon arriving to the event because it wasn’t up high enough, and then 3 hours of sitting and standing to pay respects with a flower and a curtsy, and for me and the thousands of people around me to all be fed afterwards.
I did not expect to be so touched by the exhibit at the Arts and Culture Centre in Bangkok, featuring portraits painted by over 120 artists of the former king, explanations and models of the Rama IX’s sustainability projects throughout his 70 year reign, and his own photography.
I also did not expect the 2 volunteers I visited this exhibition with, my 2 close friends, to have both early terminated their Peace Corps service (keep in touch Liz and Cheri).
I expected to continue writing letters as my only means of communication with Kevin.
I did not expect him to buy his ticket to Bangkok on a whim, planning a birthday trip for himself whether or not I joined him.
He wasn’t sure what to expect from me.
I didn’t know what to expect either.
I did not expect to travel so well together, face and defeat my biggest fear (SCUBA diving) while gaining international certification, and learning that despite my ocean swimming prowess, Kevin was the better diver of us two.
Watch the underwater video of our dive here (password: scuba): Koh Tao 3rd Dive
I didn’t expect to fall in love again.
On Thursday I expected to co-teach the fourth graders about the subject of the weather.
I did not expect to witness corporal punishment used on over 20 boys, because no one confessed to the crime of spitting over the ledge of the balcony. I could not teach after the scene, my system was shocked all day and was offered abundant support from fellow PC volunteers.
*event not pictured*
Today, I expected to ride my bike to the post office 10 km away, as I do most Saturday mornings.
I did not expect half the road turned to dirt, creating a rocky and dusty ride and then receiving a huge package from my parents which I unboxed and stuffed what I could of all the jars of peanut butter, the extra virgin olive oil and vinegar set, the heaps of books to read and color, the colored pens and pencils into my backpack, the rest in bags.
And so, I unexpectedly enjoyed this meal and added new maps to my wall.