Getting lost in the clouds

“To be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery”

Often when I lay in my bed and read, I rearrange my body so that my head is where my feet usually rest so I may look out my window and gaze at the canvas outside.

Weather is a strong reminder that every day is unpredictable and strangely beautiful. Although being a Peace Corps volunteer may sound more exotic or more full of more hardships than “normal life,” I would challenge that assumption.

Every day is unpredictable no matter where you are in the world. The clouds remind me of this.

Yet, it’s easy to forget or disregard the truth of impermanence. Many a day feels the same, and so my mind wanders elsewhere, wishing to be elsewhere, no longer present to the subtle beauties around me, dreaming of what was and what could be, instead of appreciating what is.

I remind myself that a year ago, I lay dreaming and pining for this opprotunity, to be here, in Thailand. Now, here I am, at my intended destination yet still caught in the endless cycle of dissatisfaction and craving that I thought would be quenched.

It is when we embrace the mystery of the moment, set aside our preconceived notions or ways of being and seek to become lost in our now, it is then that we are fully present to the wonders available in each second of life.

Whenever my mind seeks to predict what the clouds will do next or starts to reminisce in other skies seen in the past, I remind myself just to observe what I see, get lost in the present moment. No day is like the one I am experiencing today.

“That thing, the nature of which is totally unknown to you, is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost.”

Books in queue to read:

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit (quotes above)

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

A Life of One’s Own by Marion Milner

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

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Eat, Eat, Love

It is true that fried rice with mixed vegetables topped with a fried egg (Khao Pat Paak, sigh Kaai Daao) is still my go-to favorite dish to order at a Thai restaurant; however, I’ve started to record and track other dishes that spark my palette more than the average Pat Thai or Pat See Yew (still favorites of mine!).

Khao Kha Moo

This dish has been a favorite from the start. The pork shanks braised in cinnamon, soy sauces, garlic and anise flavors, melt in your mouth. Combo that with pickled mustard greens, steamed bokchoy and green chili sauce and I’m in nirvana!

 

Khao Dtom Gai

This simple rice soup with chicken is a zesty classic for a rainy day (I ask for a bowl without the chicken feet). Fun fact: the brown nuggets are coagulated blood blocks!

Khao Man Gai
Simple shredded chicken on rice with the BEST ginger sauce ever! I crave this sauce…I plan to blend up a batch and store it once I buy some of the fermented soy bean sauce that the recipe calls for.

Khao Kluk Kapi

I adore this assorted dish; closest meal I’ve found to a salad and full of so many flavors! Shredded green mango, omelette, red onions, dried shrimp, sweet pork, sausage, chillies, cucumbers, carrots and top with cilantro and green onions.

 

Khao Paak Khing

Surprisingly, down south, I find it difficult to order just a simple stir fried plate of vegetables. In the more central regions, when I catch sight of fresh ginger in a food cart, I ask for them to cook up some veggies with ginger and chicken, and now this is a staple dish I cook on my own.

Joke

I’ve posted about Joke before. Another boiled rice soup, with a soft boiled egg, that you can eat in the morning or for 4th meal late at night. I love the fresh ginger of course and the fried dough on the side.

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Mangosteen or in Thai “Man-Coot”

Considered the Queen of Thai fruits, it is beautiful, fun to peel even though the rind’s juices stain your fingers pink, and the white part is pleasantly sweet.

 

Dragonfruit or in Thai “Gaeeo Man-Gon”

Also a beautiful fruit that is refreshing and light to eat.

Almost everything I eat is homemade and fresh (except an occasional salty cup of Ramen or Joke from 711) and there is always fruit available to snack on, which is healthy, but I’ve never eaten so much meat in my life!

Pork is daily here and many meals are simply rice and fish or rice and chicken (rice+anything) plus sugar-heavy (and very spicy) sauces. I eat eggs everyday so I am getting tons of carbs and proteins, and an overabundance of sugar, yet struggling for my doses of vegetables.

I question the nutritional choices of my students who eat fried chicken or an assortment of weird processed meats dipped in sweet sauces for breakfast, and always have an ice cream, sweet drink or sugared kanome in their hands after lunch. Not that American children make better choices, but it still bothers me because children are still building the foundations of their constitutions and there are so many better choices available!

I am lucky to be living in a country so many rich in culinary choices; nonetheless, the daily Thai meals I eat are not all flavorful masterpieces and the struggle to eat a balanced diet is a real struggle.

Here is a quick list of the foods I miss:

  • avocados
  • fresh olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • peanut butter
  • berries
  • bread
  • any type of sandwich
  • any type of salad
  • any type of cheese

Luckily, I am able to travel to Bangkok or other touristy destinations to satisfy some of my cravings…

Japanese Soba Noodles

A treat in Bangkok! If it’s not a pizza, hamburger or burrito, Japanese food is a great break from the daily Thai food. Never had cold Soba noodles until this meal; very enjoyable and vegetarian.

Cappuccino, Biscotti and Almond Croissant 

A treat from Kho Samui! I remember when I could eat this for breakfast everyday in Italy…

There’s no Praying on my adventures. Just Eating and Loving 🙂 xoxo

In a cabin by the sea

Before school started, I completed my first solo adventure around Thailand.

The first leg of the trip was Consolidation (a Peace Corps practice drill in case an emergency breaks out in country). I learned how to get a Krabi by public transportation and rewarded myself with a large pineapple mai tai while being treated to a one night stay at a large resort.

Then, another volunteer and I headed back to Surat Thani, found a cheap hostel and went to watch Guardians of the Galaxy 2 at the cinema. By 5 am the next morning I was at the airport on my way to Bangkok for some eating, shopping, and the next day took a 5 hour bus ride and a 1 hour ferry to Koh Mak (an island in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of Trat, near the border of Cambodia).

Here I stayed in a beautiful mansion with 12 girls and met up with the other Peace Corps volunteers for the annual MayCation (a celebration including a Cinco De Mayo fiesta and feast and a chance for the 129 group to meet with the 128s).

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I lounged hard, swam in the warm shallow water, and cooked an epic Italian meal of three different types of pasta while drinking a wine bottle I paid way too much baht for – my favorite way to relax.

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Then I stayed 1 night by myself in a cabin by the sea before heading back to Bangkok and my flight back to site.

I indulged in my favorite eats at the family restaurant right next to the Island Huts and I fell asleep and woke up to the sight and sounds of the ocean outside my window.

I took a walk in the sprinkling rain, smells of wet dirt and rotted fruit, and later returned back to my cabin under a firefly lit path. I sipped on a lime, coconut and rum mixture on my porch, to a playlist of beach tunes. I was on my own private beach.

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The isolated experience by the sea after a fun reconnect with volunteers was a recharging and healing experience. Now if only I could live in that cabin for the remainder of my service…

 

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing

there is a beach. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that sand,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”

doesn’t make any sense.

 

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

        Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

        Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the shoreline

where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

        Don’t go back to sleep.

 

The excerpt above is from a poem “A Great Wagon” by Rumi, with only the bold words changed (field to beach, grass to sand, and doorsill to shoreline) to fit the setting of my story.