Saturday, February 4, 2012

Getting around...VOICELESS Glenda

Side note: This entry was written after I spent three days in bed with a throat infection. My voice isn’t completely back and my nose is leaking snot...but I need to feel productive. I have been thinking about an entry on transportation for a long time.

Yesterday, a majority of the female teachers stopped by my hotel room--reminder I live with a host family who own a hotel in the town I teach in--to make sure I was getting better. They dropped off oranges, apples, water bottles, and jok (aka porridge). I know food is very important in Thai culture, but I wonder if the teachers opted to bring me food because they know how difficult it is for me to get around town. Side note: The hotel I live in is located in the outskirts of my town. The 7-Eleven (they are everywhere in Thailand) and all the other shops are a 30 minute walk. One of the teachers dropped off my mail and a notice telling me that I need to pick up a package at the post office. As soon as they realized what this notice meant, the teachers began to debate over who would/could take me to the post office. Side note: I am too familiar with this debate, because in the beginning of the year the teachers in the English department debated on who would take me and bring me to and from school. Ban Phai Pittayakom School is a 10-15 minute drive from the Highway Hotel (my hotel). One of the teachers mentioned that she could do it, but I didn’t hear a confirmation.

Today, I woke up feeling knives in the back of my throat but I mustered up the energy to get out of my pajamas. As I was walking to the lobby, the receptionist,Ta, asked me what I was doing. In my painfully robotic voice, I told him that I needed to pick up a package at the post office. Of course, I didn’t remember the Thai word for post office. Ta then said, “passa nee” and I tried to mentally go over the Thai vocabulary that I know and I nodded yes. One of the hotel staff members volunteered to take me to the post office (...I mean who would say no to a lovely girl who sounded like a sad robot). Side note: Ta is really funny and nice 24-year-old man. He once told me I was really beautiful and I felt awkward. Side Side note: A lot of people tell me I am beautiful in Thailand and I just don’t know what to do or say...because my physical beauty is not something I have accepted. I don’t think, in America, we tell each other how beautiful we are but here complimenting someone’s beauty is nothing out of the ordinary.

After a 10 minute drive to town, we arrived at the post office and I was able to pick up the package from my mother in Los Angeles. I rushed home--but not before stopping at the 7-eleven, they sell some delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and I am EXTREMELY tired of eating soup-- to open the package.

Contents of the package my mother (aka momz/ma/mami) sent me:
  1. LA/Hollywood souvenirs for the teachers at my school
  2. tons of candy/chocolate
  3. old/important mail that I need to deal with
  4. my birthday card
  5. Valentines’ decorations for my room
  6. energy bars
  7. education materials
  8. (most importantly) hot Cheetos
A picture of my Birthday card!! It's a pop-up card with a picture of a dashboard designed for a lady on the go!! That's me!
Right after I opened the package, a teacher knocked at my door. She asked, “are you ready to go to the post office?” I moved my eyes down and looked at my package and she said “oh you went already!!” I, then, handed her a purse my mother sent as gifts for the teachers at my school and a See’s candy gram.

Then a Skype call sound emanated from my Mac and a ring tone from my cell phone and a teacher sitting with me on the ground of my hotel room. At that moment, I felt so happily overwhelmed by all the love around me. I told Kelly Bender on Skype to hold on a minute and I told my mother I would call her back. The teacher then realized that I had a lot more conversations to have on this lovely Saturday with my almost there voice, so she thanked me for the purse and told me she would see me later. Soon after another teacher knocked at my door--she’s who I consider my best friend here in Thailand-- and I pulled three purses and asked her to choose one. She choose a black glittery tote bag with a Hollywood sign design and she handed me a bag of BANANAS!! My favorite! My Mac and phone started making sounds again...and she then told me she was headed to her grandmother’s house in Khon Kaen City (where I spent the weekend last weekend).

Side note on my Thai best friend: She is 27-years-old and as outgoing as I am (or even more). She was my dancing partner during the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. She has been my singing partner in MANY karaoke sessions. She volunteered to teach me how to do Thai style laundry at her grandmother’s house. She gave me a lesson on how to properly use a squatty potty. She has a great affinity to break out in laughter with me. Her mother was her grandmother’s second daughter, JUST LIKE MY MOM. Her father died when she was a little girl, just like my father.

But I digress from my entry on transportation...

Before I delve into this topic there are a couple of things you should know.

  1. I don’t know how to drive a car/motorbike.
  2. I can barely drive a bicycle.
  3. The following are modes of transportation in Thailand (for those of us who aren’t good on wheels):
  • the back of a friend’s motorbike (and you’re lucky if they own a second helmet)
  • Song-taew: a pick up truck with a roof and a makeshift mini-bus
  • charter bus- transport from one city to another (i.e. Ban Phai to Khon Kaen City)
  • family cars- I usually get invited to travel or go out with my host family or teachers ask me to go out with their families
  • co-worker’s cars
**I might be forgetting other popular modes of transport, but I cannot recall them at this moment.

I have lived all of my life without relying on a private form of transportation and never had it damper my independence like it has here. Side note: In Somerton, AZ not having a vehicle made my life challenging, but that small town had: restaurants, laundry mats, and basic necessities, but the outskirts of Ban Phai really don’t have much.

Side side note: Ban Phai is a town within the Province of Khon Kaen and everything of interest (i.e. post office, 7-Elevens, hospitals, Siri Book Store [my favorite], police station, banks, KFC, and etc) is in the center of the town. The Highway hotel is 30 minute walk from the center of town...but if you’re sick walking for 5 minutes seems like an eternity.

Places I have lived and my ratings on their public transportation (1- being atrocious and 5- being stupendous):

Los Angeles, CA-- 5 (yes, you have to plan your trip way in advance but you can get anywhere with the MTA)
Carlisle, PA- 0 (What public transportation???)
Gawchiboli, AP, India- 3 (the autorickshaws would never want to go to that part of Hyderabad, but the mini-buses had a stop there).
Washington, DC- 5 (pretty darn SPECTACULAR)
Somerton, AZ- 2 (the one bus that went down my highway came every hour)
Baltimore, MD- 4 (you had to plan your trips 1.5 hours in advance and they have the free lines--Charm City Circulator)
Ban Phai, KK- 1 (once you get to the center of town you can catch a tuk tuk or a charter bus)

So this isn't the be-all and end-all of my entry on transportation...SO expect many more entries on transportation and all things Thailand. I leave you with somethings I've learned and want to do. Have a lovely day!

Things I will do more in America...
  1. Tell people that they are beautiful
  2. Tell people that I love them

Things I won't take for granted...
  1. Hot showers
  2. My mother
  3. My friends
  4. The pot of (black/brown) beans at my mom’s house
  5. Effective public transportation systems
  6. Washers
  7. DRYERS and soft clothes
To do
  1. Get well soon
  2. Stay Healthy
  3. Learn to drive
  4. Take the GREs
  5. Be Happy

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