Saturday, October 24, 2015

Don Jiiong

Some things I've learned about Thailand:
1. Pad thai does not have a peanut based sauce. The sauce is turmeric based and only involves peanuts as a garnish. Shocking, I know!!
2. When writing in Thai characters, Thai does not use spaces. Silly Americans thought all of the signs just had one extremely long word.
3. Thai people drive on the left side of the street.
4. You don't need to know the same language in order to have a personal connection with someone. 

For the past 3 weeks, our group has been staying in Don Jiiong, a rural village in the north of Thailand. Don Jiiong has about 200 families, all farmers in the area. Eighteen of those families have organic farms and are part of the organic organization. My family consisted of many amazing people pictured below. Not pictured is my little brother *Nong Moss. I was pleasantly surprised to bond over our mutual love of Harry Potter with him. He even went as far as to assign us all characters we resemble. I got the generous assignment of miss Hermione Granger (probably due to how the humidity is treating my hair). 
From left to right: Eva (Dao), Mae Sii (Mom), Pi Nuon with baby Fokat, Pae, Me (Som-O)
In front: Pi Jeab
Not pictured: Nong Moss

Our home was filled with love, compassion, and a lot of Thai. We had thai classes in the afternoon about twice a week where we would learn phrases and words to use with our families. Eva's and my host mom learned our names quickly because we went by our Thai names- Dao (star) and Som-O (pamelo), respectively. The small gesture meant a lot to them and showed them we wanted to be part of their family.
Learning how to grill some leaves

Our stay in the village was intermixed with some field trips. One of which was a highlight of the trip: visiting the elephants. Our visit started off with watching the elephants do a number of tricks, including painting pieces of art I couldn't even dream of painting. Then we learned how to ride them bare-back, took a break for lunch, went on a ride through the jungle, and finished with a bath in the river. Such a fun experience!

The outfits we got at the elephant camp
Other field trips included days at the market in Chiang Mai. Many nights we would stay up and help our mae (pronounced like meh) prepare items to sell. Those were probably the days we enjoyed most because we got to see what are hard work on the farm was materializing into.
Preparing some delicious rice snacks for the Saturday early morning market (4 am!)

My awesome tbb/ host-sister Eva (Dao) and host brother Moss selling Passion fruit at the Thursday organic market
We leave for Cambodia tomorrow and stay there for a week. We are excited to see Ankor Wat and (hopefully) a acrobatic circus while there. Then it's off to New Delhi, India where we will do another homestay for 5 weeks!

*In Thai, we use Nong in front of a name to signify someone younger and Pi to signify someone older. Even twins will call each other Nong/Pi depending on who was born first.

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