So let me tell you about the Land of Smiles. Or rather, let me tell you about the little bit I've seen. It's hot. Not THAT hot, it IS the cool season after all, but having walked on snow about a week ago, it's hot. It's really smoky/hazy from the burning of sugar cane fields (they set fire to them to get rid of the leaves so a machine can go through and harvest the stalks). There's a bustling little downtown loaded with shops and street vendors just a little ways from the hotel where we've been staying. It's amazing how you can feel like you're in the middle of a big city, but if you go in pretty much any direction for more than a few minutes, you're surrounded by farmland.
The Peace Corps has been doing a great job of gradually immersing us in all that is Thai, and I guess that makes sense, since they've had a few years to practice (they will be celebrating their 50th anniversary while I'm over here). We spent the first few days solely on the hotel grounds, surrounded by our American compatriots and the hotel staff. They (the Peace Corps) introduced some culture stuff, we met the staff we'll be working with for the rest of training. Every day since has just been a little bit more. We got our bikes and got to go for some rides around the immediate area and see the fields and houses and a school and the downtown. We started language lessons (which are HARD, but feel awesome!), and have progressed into some of the finer points of cultural concepts. Yesterday we had a big chunk of free time. In the morning I went for a hike with a couple guys and we went up one of the great big hills that poke up all around us to see the area. We had to go find our own lunch, which was pretty challenging, but made me even more determined to learn more language. In the afternoon, I got to lead a few other volunteers downtown to a bike shop, then we wandered around the market where we tried some fried crickets (or grasshoppers, I don't know) and bought some fruit. Tomorrow, they cut the cord and we move in with our host families. What an experience that will be!
I feel like there's so much more I could say here, but I don't want this to simply turn into a play-by-play narration of my life over here. Then again, I've never kept a blog before, maybe that's what I'm supposed to do. Or more likely, there is no "supposed" to for this, and it can (and should) be whatever I want it to be. Meh. I'll figure it out.
(it's kinda like "aloha" in that it's hello, goodbye, and everything else)