April 2-9. So without any ado whatsoever, I will begin where I left off from my last post. On my fifth day here, the whole lot of the kids and I went down to the river, which is about a kilometer from the orphanage. The water was only deep enough for our knees to be submerged, but we lay on our backs and drifted lazily down the river, splashing each other and wrestling as we went. The water was warm and pleasant and provided us with a sanctuary from the sun’s blistering heat. I forgot to mention that it gets to upwards of 100 degrees when the sun reaches its zenith and lingers around 90 degrees all day.
I have also learned a few new skills while I’ve been here. Not only do I teach the children English, but they teach me several things as well. A muay thai teacher comes on Fridays and Saturdays in order to teach the children self-defense. I jumped in on those lessons immediately. Since I had just come from Kong Fu lessons in China, it only took me an afternoon to catch up with the rest of the class. Muay thai, however, is much different than Kong Fu. Kong Fu is meant to maintain balance and can be used for competitive fighting. Muay Thai focuses on actually being able to “kick someone’s ass” and one of its main uses is for UFC fights.
Wiwat teaches me guitar almost every day. I had a basis in it already and could strum a few tunes out, but he has taught me a couple finer points and focuses more on switching from different cords rather than teaching me to play songs. A few of the girls also agreed to teach me some Thai, although the process is fairly slow. Not surprisingly, it’s hard to switch from learning Chinese to Thai in such a short span of time. Another useful trick, which Sawan taught me, is husking a coconut using a machete. It took a couple coconuts and almost cost me a couple fingers, but now I can do it swiftly and accurately.
With teaching lessons regularly and being taught new things regularly, it’s hard to find time to get out and explore the surrounding area. I have, however, seized every available opportunity to do just that. Bay and I rented bikes out in town one day and have since been using them avidly. He brought me to the market one day, where you could buy anything from car supplies to lingerie for all under 200 bat (6 American dollars). It’s was so incredibly inexpensive that I felt like getting anything I had the slightest inclination to buy, but then I reasoned that it would be hard to send 3 super soakers, 20 t-shirts, a few shoes, and a new T.V. back to the States.
Bay also took me to see a museum in town, where I learned about the history of the Karen tribe and their Buddhist traditions. From there we traveled to a temple, atop the highest point overlooking the town of Maesareang. An enormous golden Buddha stood atop the hill, which could be seen from almost anywhere in town.
Before the day was over, Bay took me to a forest not too far from the orphanage. There were a few things about these particular woods that I hated. Firstly, the way the branches overhung and overlapped blocked out the sun, plunging the forest into a permanent darkness. Secondly, the ground was nothing but mud, even in the hot season, which made walking with flip-flops pretty frustrating. And lastly, millions of cicadas were chirping on their trees. The overhanging branches seemed to isolate the sound, making it so loud that I could barely hear the squelching of my flip-flops as they were dragged out of the mud.
Bay brought with him a net, which I thought was odd, until he started to snatch up the cicadas, one by one. He tossed me the net and I had a go at it as well, but just like everything else he had done, he made it look easier than it actually was. When we finally had around 200 cicadas in a large plastic bag, we rode back to the orphanage, now accompanied by the chirping sound I had begun to despise. I didn’t think much of it when he gave the bag to Tim and he took it away towards the boy’s dormitory. I knew Thai people ate cicadas, but I never knew I would be trying one as well.
When everyone sat down for dinner that night, they brought the large bowl of cicadas, along with the dinner I had made earlier for myself. Bay popped a couple of cicadas into his mouth immediately, which didn’t repulse me until he offered one for me to eat. Yet, like all the other times I was faced with a difficult challenge, I said to myself “I didn’t travel all this way for nothing.” I pulled off the wings and legs, just as Bay had, and munched down on a cicada. It was like nothing I had tasted before. It was crunchy and bitter, and I’m positive I will never eat one again, willingly that is.
So that’s the end of part 2, and just as I said there might be, I am going to be posting a part 3 by tomorrow. 2 things have happened recently that need to be added to the list, and I assure you that they are pretty entertaining, as well as disturbing for some people. Again, thanks for reading everyone!