Thursday, February 16, 2012

L.O.V.E- Valentine’s Day/Season

In honor of love and friendship (and Valentine’s Day--yes, I know it’s a consumer driven holiday, but hey it’s a holiday that reminds us not to take each other for granted), I will introduce you to one of my favorite quotes:

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”-Buddha

L is for Lotus and Language

Lotus- (pronounced “Lotas” in Thai) is a word that has been very present in my mind lately. Side note: There are many English words that have been adapted to Thai language, one of those words being “lotas.”

Examples of English words that have been adapted by the Thai language:

English Word - Thai Adaptation

Lotus -Lotas

Apple -Appin

Strawberry- Strabelly

Central- Centran

Glenda- Grenda
And many more...

O is for “Oh and did you know...?”

Oh and did you know that the lotus grows in mud? Did you know that the lotus is a symbol of resilience and rebirth? Did you know that you can find lotus flowers amidst rice paddies. One can stand mesmerized by the flowers’ ability to embellish endless green fields. Oh and did you know that a major shopping center/grocery story/Thailand’s version of Wal-Mart is called Tesco Lotus? Also, did you know that the biggest Tesco Lotus Extra is located in Khon Kaen City (just a 45 minute bus ride away from me).


I started my Valentine’s Day festivities on February 4th. My mom shipped me a box (mentioned in my last entry) with a lot of VDay goodies that I used to teach about the lovely holiday. Soon after, I received a love package from Kelly Bender--my dearest friend, teacher, and confidant. On February 11th, I had the loveliest Valentine’s DATE everrrrr. On February 14th, I was decorated in stickers by students. They placed stickers all over my blouse. My students gave me chocolates, roses, and handmade crafts. Side note: In Thailand, it is not customary to give Valentine’s Day cards instead you place stickers on your friends' shirts and give them hugs!! Side side note: Hugging was my favorite part of the holiday, because Thais (with the exception of my host teacher) don’t really hug...and apparently I really like hugs. Today I received a Valentine’s Day surprise from my college friend/partner-in-crime Priscilla Addison!!!! All and all, this Valentine’s Day season was one of the BEST!!

E is for EUGENIOUS comes to VISIT ME!!!!!

Eugene (aka Eugenious) is my fellow Fulbrighter and dancing partner! We both love to boogie and get our laugh on (we agree that our sense of humor is very different but complimentary to one another). Eugenious is one of those people that I am deeply grateful to have in my life, because he makes my heart smile.

On Saturday, February 11th, we met up in Khon Kaen City (a tuk tuk and a bus ride away for me and a 8 hour bus ride for him). Side note: Eugene teaches in a high school located in the north of Thailand, in a province called Uttaradit. He is a Sagittarius and is obsessed with comic books.

After meeting up in Khon Kaen, Eugene and I headed to the spiffy hotel (Pullman) in the city and indulged in AMAZING (read: finger-licking/heavenly) pastries. Eugene had an apple crisp and a chocolate croissant and I had a ham and cheese croissant with a side of tiramisu! Side note: It had been a VERY VERY long time since I had indulged in western goodies...I think that’s why I might have overdone it... :) After catching up and people watching at the hotel, we preceded to our hotel...the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of the Pullman...but hey we're pretty low-maintenance ladies.

We dropped off our bags at the hotel and headed to Central Plaza--a very large mall with a bowling alley, western restaurants (including Starbucks), movie theater, dancing studio, and an array of stores for all your needs and pleasures. We had every intention on catching a flick. Side note: I LOVE GOING TO THE MOVIES NO MATTER WHERE I am in the world!! Unfortunately, the movie theater had no viable options for us. Then, we both decided to eat McDonald’s. Side note: At this point, you should be surprised that I opted for McD’s, because I always ALWAYS get sick eating at this fast food restaurant...but hey I can’t have burritos, tortas, tamales, or chilles rellenos, so I had to settle for the next (not really) best thing. Side side note: I sometimes catch myself Googling pictures of burritos or tortas... :(

After eating, I mentioned to Eugenious that we should check out the largest Tesco Lotus Extra in Thailand. I, also, said that it was within walking distance from Central Plaza. We commenced our journey to the Tesco. During our walk, we shared many stories of our past and A LOT of laughs. Side note: While on our walk, Eugenious mentioned that he had realized that it had been awhile since he had really laughed (you know the laughs that fill you up inside) and I agreed. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of funnies going on in Thailand. After 45 minutes of walking, I started to panic because the Tesco Lotus was obviously not as walking distance as I imagined. I, then, felt really guilty that I, as a host, had dragged my friend on THE LONGEST JOURNEY EVER TO THAILAND’S VERSION OF WAL-MART!! He kept saying that he didn’t mind, and that all he really wanted to do is chat...and I agreed. After reaching Khon Kaen University, I made the executive decision of catching a song-tao (mini-bus/taxi) in the direction that I knew the Tesco Lotus was located. We finally arrived at the Tesco Lotus--I was dehydrated (from walking in Thailand’s weather) and Eugenious’ feet were covered in grime (from walking in Thailand’s [unpaved] “sidewalks”).

After shopping (and what seemed like a 10 hour hike to Tesco Lotus), we freshened up and headed to Khon Kaen’s Walking Street (read: massive bazaar, but not at massive as Chiang Mai’s Walking Street). At Khon Kaen’s Walking street, we shopped for goodies for our friends (back home) and ate yummy food (including: gyros, fried chicken, strawberry smoothy, and a pancake with the word "Love" written on it). As we sat down and ate our food (and watched a group of teenagers perform a dance number), I realized that this was by far one of the best Valentine’s Day everrrr. I was in company of a very dear friend, eating delicious food, and living an adventure!!
Eugene and I at Khon Kaen's Walking Street!!

On Sunday, we met up with Gracie, Jane, and James (three other Fulbrighters who live in provinces within an hour away from Khon Kaen City). Alongside the other Fulbrighters, I continued my western indulgences!! For brunch, the five us went to a spectacular Italian restaurant. I had Penne Bolognese-- it took me back to Louise's Tarttoria in Los Angeles. Afterwards, we all headed to the nearest (and BEST) massage place. We all got full body (and THE BEST) massages.

And... in the blink of an EYE, I was being forced to say good-bye to Eugenious.

Being around fellow Americans reminded me of reminded me of times when my jokes did not fall on deaf ears. It reminded me of existing effortlessly.

What do I mean by existing effortlessly??

I mean that Thailand is known as the land of smiles for a reason. In Thailand, you smile if you are angry, sad, happy, annoyed, and every other emotion on this planet. Thais take smiling to another level. When I don’t smile, the people around me are truly concerned, and make me feel guilty, that they are guilty for me not smiling.

Let me tell you smiling all the time is TIRING. Also, being around English speakers was brain did not have to try and guess what was being said or try to respond in my (appalling) Thai and or in my mimes. So yes, being around Eugenious allowed me to exist effortlessly.

After our massage, I remember telling Eugenious “that massage realigned my essence.” Looking back, I think being around friends relaxed my soul and did something amazing to my energy.

And with that...I say DEUCES and lots of LOVE!

Como dice Walter Mercado, “Que reciban de mi, siempre, paz, mucha paz, pero sobre todo, mucho, mucho..... AMOR!!!!!♥”

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