April 2-9 part 3. Here is the last addition to the list of experiences that I have had during my first week of the orphanage in Thailand. I will start off with a less recent discovery of mine, how I can phenomenally budget my money, but only in Thailand. The other day I rode my bike to 7-11 and purchased body wash, 3 packs of gum, candy, water, chocolate milk, shampoo, toothpaste, and a new razor. It wasn’t the items that made this purchase so astonishing. It was the price. That list of items cost me 200 baht (6 American dollars). I couldn’t believe it when the cashier rung my price up and I checked the receipt to make sure, but he was right.
My next experience with budgeting was when I was able to buy the entire orphanage, 25 people, ice cream for 250 baht (8 dollars). I was astonished, but it wasn’t over yet. That night, I took the entire staff (10 people) out to an all-you-can-eat barbeque, but it wasn’t a barbeque that you or I would think of. It was more along the lines of fondue. Each table was equipped with a large metal bowl. The center of the bowl was comprised of a single hill of metal, which you could cook meat on. Surrounding the hill was boiling water where you dipped vegetables and certain meats into. There were also several other dishes to choose from, including noodles, ice-cream, fried rice, salad, and Thai desserts. When the bill came, I was again astonished. It cost 750 baht (25 dollars) to feed 11 people.
That night, Doe, Goe, Bowjoe, Samat, and I went out to see a local concert. It was made up of mostly a bunch of guys sitting around and watching young Thai girls’ belly dance and sing. Doe, Goe, and I, however, took up the mantle to start dancing. It wasn’t long before one the girl who was singing spotted me and pulled me up on stage, where I started dancing with six Thai girls in front of a few hundred people. I’d say that’s a pretty great end to a great night.
I forget what day it was, but I recently went to a Thai funeral. I didn’t know the person who had passed away, but P.A. did so she decided to bring me along just for the experience. Thai funerals are the complete opposite of American funerals, or at least this one was. The family celebrated the death of their grandmother by giving away tons of food, dancing everywhere, and praising her name as they toasted to her long and fruitful life. When I arrived, I was welcomed as if I was a family member as well. One of the members led me over to her coffin, where I bowed in respect and lit an incense candle. Then they hugged me and lathered me with food and attention. I’ve never heard of a funeral party, but I suspect that’s the closest I will get to experiencing one.
My weekend was packed with animal brutality. I witnessed a chicken fight one day with Bowjoe. I spent 4 hours there, most of which were spent waiting for chicken owners to compare chickens and agree to a match. Then I saw the chickens fight nearly to the death. Everyone was screaming at each other to change their bets or up them, and it was a scene of such infectious chaos that I was soon screaming for no reason at all. After the first round, which lasted 20 minutes, the chickens were picked up and mopped up. There was plenty of blood around their heads, and after witnessing one round I didn’t need to stick around for 7 more.
The next day the orphanage celebrated the New Year with slaughtering their pig. This was a depressing experience, but one I witnessed all the less, so I will state this shortly and to the point. While the pig was drinking, one of the orphans brutally swung an enormous club at its head. The helpless pig let out one shrill squeal and the fell the ground. It wasn’t yet dead, so another kid stuck a knife in its heart. It’s an extremely difficult thing to watch a helpless pig thrash on the ground while a knife has impaled it, but soon the pig was dead. Bowjoe washed it down and, with three others, dragged the pig onto a metal grate. They then poured boiling water over its hide and skinned it with nothing more than ordinary kitchen spoons. When the animal was finally nothing but bare flesh, I had to turn away. I left for 2 reasons: 1) I needed to teach an English class that morning 2) I couldn’t stand to keep staring at that skinless pig.
So that’s my first 9 days at the orphanage. I hope you enjoyed them, because I sure did. I’m just about to fall asleep, because my body, my emotions, my adrenaline, and my stamina are at the breaking point (just as they are everyday). I just pulled a foot long lizard out from under my covers, but that surprisingly didn’t faze me as much as it should have. Bugs and lizards have just become part of my normal life, in normal Thailand, on my normal trip.