My morning bike ride

 

Chickens and roosters roam, range free

Stray dogs gallop, go as they please

Fences between homes do not exist, only foliage

Shadows of palms line the road, shady trees

 

Passerbys find knick-knacks and fruits, smells of frying

A lazy heat suspends people, all life sighing

Everywhere food shared, a generous dosage

Early morning near the coast, rain on the horizon

And the journey begins…

Everyone who volunteers for the Peace Corps has a different background, different motivations and different expectations. We all bond during training aka PST because we endure a non-stop 10 week intensive and structured learning environment, only to then again be split apart to experience different locations, different people and have different experiences.

This is the start of my story.

On March 20, 2017, I became an official Peace Corps volunteer

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After having known my counterpart/the English teacher I will be working closely with (Kru Dol) and the school director/principal (Paw-Aw Werot) for 1 and a half days of the Counterpart Conference, I hopped in a car with them for a 10 hour car ride down south.

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My first 4 days at site has been nothing short of eventful.

First day, I woke up late around 10 am, having arrived in my province (jung-wat) Surat Thani and district (amphur) Tha Chang at 1 am that Thursday morning.

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I stayed at my school director’s house (bahn kon paw-aw) and he took me on a driving tour of the community.

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Then I visited my school and was introduced to most of the 15 teachers, desperately trying to remember and correctly pronounce all of their nicknames.

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Later, I toured more the community, met people my director knew at the market and within 15 mins of arriving home that evening, I was informed we were going to a wedding. Thai weddings are huge events, with thousands of people (the whole community is invited) with a stage for performances and introducing the wedding party. Luckily all we did was eat a huge meal, say our blessings to the couple and go home.

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Now, it’s Friday morning and I am up by 5am to pack my backpack and head off to a field trip for the middle school students (Matayom). I was told it would be a “moral camp” yet I had no idea what this would entail…it started and ended with a lot of selfies…

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We drove to the Tiger Temple (Wat Thum Sua) in the province Krabi…

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Attended a lecture by policemen about drug prevention, and a lecture from a monk before we practiced meditation…

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Then we set off on an afternoon sweaty hike, up 1,237 steps…

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To see this view…

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Pay respects to this Buddha…

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And then climb back down to shower, eat and attend a long evening of chanting and meditation practice with monks in a cave (not pictured). Needless to say, I slept well that night, even on thin mat on the hard ground…

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On Saturday, we visited the famous Krabi black crab statue…

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And made a beach trip where I finally was able to dunk myself into the salty ocean for a swim (although to be appropriate I had to wear a t-shirt and long shorts)…

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We drove home that afternoon, only for me to shower and head off to another event, a monk ordination (not pictured). And Sunday morning another wedding… At both events, we came, we ate, and we left.

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Sunday afternoon was my first time to relax (yet, I still had to insist on not going on another trip in the evening to visit my Paw-Aw’s vacation house, using the excuse that I had “Peace Corps homework”).

Today I am at the school, where all the teachers are finalizing grades from the past school year (the new school year starts May 15th). I am blogging, making a list of many questions I want to ask, and creating calendars to plan for the 7 weeks until school starts.

If that was just 4 days, I can only imagine what adventures the next 2 years will bring 🙂