Our good friend, a local organic farmer, told us how happy it makes the Thai people to see farangs (white foreigners) engaging in local traditions and work. Well, it makes us happy too. Here are some of our favorite “Thai” activities and a look at our chamelon-like efforts to blend it. Our skin is tan and we are lighter than when we left. Do we fool you?
On the Farm
Old Pee-pa-deep had a farm. E-I-E-I-O. And on that farm he had some rice. EIEIO.
Here we are helping our friend plow his field and water his plants.
In the off season, he plants these yellow flower which help enrich the soil when mowe down and mixed into the soil. They are also gorgeous and make for a great photo opportunity. Jeff and I actually came for some real work, but our friend Pa-deep was so excited to see us with the flowers that he ended up following us around and taking about 20 pictures. This is Thailand, after all, and if you don’t take a picture then it didn’t happen.
Teacher Sports Day
I insisted I was a good athlete. They decided I should be a cheerleader. I smiled and gave the Asian 2 fingers to show I was a good sport, but secretly thought “Why can’t girls play soccer here!”
Not only is teacher Noi a great florist by day, but he is a gorgeous lady by night. He competed in the lady boy beauty pageant that night and won a lot of money by placing 3rd. I believe he won Miss Congeniality as well.
In addition to the lady boy beauty contest, there was the lighting of the paper lanterns, a regular beauty contest, Muay Thai fighting, and “ring a duck” game. The nyoke, mayor, spent about half our salary of his own money winning this duck!
Harvesting Rice (see below)
Note, pee Miek is not Muslim. She is just a typical Thai “glua dom” scared of getting too tan or dark.
ASEAN Day at My High School
ASEAN stands for Association of South East Asian Nations and is sort of like the EU of Southeast Asia. This ASEAN community is starting in 2015 and the common language will be English. Thus, at school we have many activities preparing the students for ASEAN, including an ASEAN dress-up day. I got lucky and drew “Laos” which is quite easy to do. The typical outfit consists of a long silk skirt, white long sleeve shirt, sash, and this white flower tucked in a high bun.
Shockingly I didn’t have to buy a single item for this outfit. My skirt was made by a tailor for 200 baht (6.5 dollars) out of some Laotian silk I had bought on the border. The two guys on either end are my co-teachers, Song and Gung (means shrimp in Thai). Thais love food and animals for nicknames!
SONGKRAN – Thai New Year
Songkran is the most important holiday of the year and takes place in April, the hottest month in Thailand. It has got to be the biggest water fight in the world! In the village, there are parades, beauty contests, and dancing. Our first Songkran we were asked to hold the banner for our village, village 15. Below is a picture of Jeff all dressed up in traditional garb. We had to wake up at 6am for our fitting and make-up. Jeff politely refused the lipstick and powder:)
The above two pictures feature yours truly in a Thai beauty pageant that I got duped into. I have never been more exhausted or disassociated from myself! My cheeks twitched, I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror, and everyone kept shouting Jengira (my Thai name). Make-up and hair (in this case fake hair) started at 4pm and the contest didn’t end until 1am, when I got my own special sash “Miss Peace Corps.” It was my biggest effort thus far to get integrated, but nearly failed as I had to navigate a catwalk twice in heels one size too small and a “talent section” that I was not ready for. No one thought to tell me until the day of! All ended well, but suffice to say year two the community came to learn that “Jenjira ga-see-an leeo.” (Jen has retired)