Today was the best example of the simple things in life being the best things. Laura and I just chilled out all day which as so nice. Sometimes vacation is just as exhausting as real life (you are just doing fun things instead of work). So, we really took advantage of our day off and didn’t really do anything all day. We both got to Skype our families and check in which was really fun! Sharing our adventure with other people is one of the best parts!
After lunch, we then decided to walk around Moo 2, Randy’s village. I would compare the villages here to housing developments in the US. For example, in Delano, Westridge Hills and Rebecca Park Estates would be two different villages. Walking around the village was really cool because we got to really see what the village was like. It was more personal than just driving through it like we normally do. Just picture each housing development having its own church and local store and it would be pretty close to the villages here!
The best way to describe the layout of these villages is that they are so random. There are brand new houses next to old, run down shacks with leaves for a roof. The roads are very narrow and the corners are literally 90 degree angles, so you have to honk before turning so someone coming knows to stop! The Thai people do not waste any space! Mostly it is because so many generations live together so there is more than one structure on the small piece of land. For example, the husband of the nurse I shadowed at the hospital wanted to build their house about a block from his parent’s house, but they refused because it would disrupt the family! So, now his house is literally one foot from his parents’ house.
In between the houses or on the corners are little village stores. They sell similar things to a gas station- pop, snacks, ice cream etc. There are so many of them here, I am not sure how they all make it.
If you ever buy produce or food from one of these stands, they always come in a little bag with a rubber band on top. It looks like when you buy or win a fish from a carnival or something! It is kind of cute! Randy always says that Thailand would be in trouble if they ran out of plastic bags and rubber bands.
Each village also has their own Wat, or temple. They vary in extravagance, but all are pretty fancy. Actually, in Thailand, church, state, and medicine all are integrated, so you see temples at schools and the hospital as well. Randy told me that if the temple needs money they just tell the citizens what they need to pay and they have to pay it. I used to think that there were way more temples here than churches in the US, but then I counted the number of churches in Delano and just realized that most churches in the US are just not fancy so you don’t really notice them. What is interesting is that people don’t work here on Sunday’s either, not for religious reasons, but because America doesn’t.
The king and queen here are almost worshiped! You see their picture every single place you go and it is always very large and publicly displayed. The public just love them! So much so that if you would say something bad about the King, you would be thrown into jail. We just go with not talking about the king to be safe. Just imagine if you saw Obama’s face literally every single place you went, even church and that is what it is like here. Even on billboards. It is almost like he is Buddha or something!
One interesting thing here is that even though each Moo or village has a water tower, each home has to buy their own water for drinking. Randy actually has a delivery service for water much like Culligan in the US, except they only drink that water. If you were to drink the water from the water tower, you would get sick right away. It is not so bad that you can’t brush you teeth with it or anything, but they are very careful.
One of the biggest differences between Thailand and the US that I have noticed so far is the philosophy on garbage. There is no such thing as a garbage truck here. You see garbage here in large piles by people’s houses and on the side of the roads. However, because most people go to the market every morning to get the produce they need to cook for the day, they don’t have as much garbage as the US because there is not any packaging or anything to throw away. Also, they reuse almost everything. Randy said that part of why their food is so spicy is because then they can eat spoiled food- it hides the taste. In fact, there are not garbage cans anywhere! In Randy’s large house with almost 10 people living in it, there are only 2 small garbage cans. He said the last garbage pickup he had was 6 months ago. Can you imagine that in the US!?
Along with their higher garbage tolerance, the Thai people’s standard of cleanliness is very different here. Much like at the hospital, people are very comfortable with germs and dirt. I think part of it is that these people basically live outside so there isn’t really a point to sweep or anything if they never even shut their doors. There are also bugs and various creatures everywhere. It is kind of amazing how your tolerance level for things changes depending on your environment. For example, there are ants on the floor here everywhere and they are always crawling on your feet. Here you just kind of brush them off, but if there were ever ants at my house in America, I would definitely run to the store and buy ant killer ASAP. Randy did buy some for our room and the kitchen which we appreciated. There are also geckos on our walls that poop on the floor and crickets skippering along. For some reason it is no big deal for me here! I am really glad that bugs don’t really freak me out- this trip would have been a lot harder if they did!
There are also scorpions here! We found a bigger one that was dead on the road today, but when we got back from our walk, we found a baby one on the bed right where I sleep! Yikes! I am glad I looked down before plopping onto the bed 🙂
After our walk, Randy asked if we wanted to come to town with him and Nuch to run some errands. Laura and I didn’t have anything going on so we hopped in the truck! After going to the market we went to a few days ago to buy some things for the farm, Randy took us to the Thai version of Costco! I was so excited! Anyone that knows my family knows that we are Costco champions, so I couldn’t wait to see what it was like. I was so excited that Randy told me that I should try find a Costco-like store everywhere I travel. We already did in Las Vegas, so maybe I should?!
The Thai Costco is called Makro. You don’t need to pay for a membership like in America, you can just get a guest pass for the day. It is also almost a cross between an American Costco and grocery store because the quantity that you buy is a lot less.Instead of getting 50 bags of chips, you only get 6. We Americans shake our heads. I think a lot of it is because these people do not eat as much here. The portions here are way smaller.
The meat section was also very cool. Unlike America, you just scoop your own meat or fish! It is not pre-portioned or packed. They have some really interesting things to buy here- it really smells terrible!
Another weird thing is that if you fill your cart, you just leave it up front, get another cart, and keep shopping. Hmm.
Laura and I decided to get a few treats for our upcoming trip and discovered that we are not adventurous shoppers at all. We got all American products, but in our defense, if we were going to get Costco quantity, we wanted to make sure we liked it. When we were in the chip isle, Laura told me that they had Pringles. I was so excited that Laura said it looked like she told a Frozen fanatic that Princess Elsa was in the store for a meet and greet. Food makes me happy. Laura on the other hand went straight to the candy isle; she literally remembered where it was from the last time she went with Randy. She then went straight to the Mentos. This girls has a serious addiction. If the bag is sitting in front of her, she will literally eat half of it without even being consciously aware of it. Randy calls her the Mentos robot, it is that bad. (Tom, if you are reading this, have Mentos ready for Laura when she gets off the plane!!) There is nothing wrong with a little comfort food 🙂
On the way home, we all had some croissant rolls that Randy bought. They were so delicious! We were all just talking and laughing and enjoying the treats we bought; it was so simple, but all we needed. Randy then said that if he knew that a trip to Thai “Costco” would have been so fun for us, he would have taken us sooner! Laura and I both don’t need much to make us happy. Just give me a can of Pringles, bring me to Costco, or let me hike somewhere and I will be good. We like to think we are pretty low maintenance, but some people might think otherwise… Even though I loved the spa and bamboo rafting, today was just as fun, and I am so thankful that I am able to enjoy and appreciate both!