Monday, October 22, 2012

Tha Wang Pha

Sawatdee - means hello in Thai! The last couple of days we have been attempting to adjust to our new life in Tha Wang Pha (pronounced Tah Wahng Pah). We arrived here at about 4am on Thursday after a highly uncomfortable 10 hour van ride from Bangkok. We unloaded the van to find out that our accommodations were not yet ready for us. So we stood around for about 15 minutes waiting for someone to tell us what to do. After a while (about 10 minutes of not having any idea what anyone was saying) our coordinator Patarin (or Kru Rin...Kru means teacher) told us that they didn't want us to stay there because they had just painted and it smelled like paint. We were in no mood to move our stuff anywhere, so we told her we were fine with it and that we are used to that smell. After that debacle, we dropped our stuff and slept for a couple of hours.

I woke up abruptly to music playing over loud speakers. Very loud music in a language I did not understand. What the hell is going on?!? Ohhhh it's the school! Our apartment is located on the school grounds and every morning starting at 7am they play music and make announcements. We haven't yet figured out why, but the kids here love being at school. They are here by or before 7 and don't leave until like 5. This idea is foreign to us. We're used to kids scrambling to get out as fast as possible. We're used to getting out as fast as possible!! Anyway, Thursday we ate lunch with some of the teachers and Kru Rin took us on a school tour. Lunch is an interesting story. Thais like to eat every meal family style. So they cook or buy a bunch of different dishes so they have a smorgasbord of food to choose from. Instead of dishing themselves up a plate though, they just grab whatever they want with their hands and eat it - rarely using utensils. This is not something we were familiar with and we struggled to feel comfortable just grabbing at food that people we didn't know were about to eat (and also having other people's hands in what we were eating. It was strange. They also are obsessed with making us try everything. "Skye! You try...not spicy!!!" or "Skye! You try little bit! Little bit spicy!" It's overwhelming and most of the food they eat is spicy. They also think that Ethan is a bottomless pit and shove food in his face to finish it. They say "E-tan! Kill it! Finish!" It's hilarious.

After lunch and our tour we went back to our apartment to find them putting in furniture. Yay! We got a desk, a wardrobe, a vanity, a bed and an old refrigerator. The bed is hard unfortunately. It actually might be worse than the 1" air mattresses we sleep on while biking. Yea...definitely worse. Anyway, it has a bunch of storage so it's convenient. The wardrobe is not made for two people, but we only had like 15 hangers anyway. We took a shelf from an unused apartment to put the rest of our stuff in. We are living very minimally. The good thing about our apartment is it was just cleaned and painted so there really aren't many bugs.

We did have a gecko find its way in through the bathroom the other day while we were watching a movie. Now geckos are not scary, but when they're in your living quarters it just makes you uncomfortable. They can hide anywhere and they're just wiggly and creepy. Soooo naturally I kinda freaked out and made Ethan attempt to shoo it out with me. We used our broom to nudge him, but he just ran up the wall and behind the wardrobe and on the ceiling and made a couple suicide attempts by jumping form the wall to the floor (he might have even jumped into our clothes on the shelf, but we can't be sure). I giggled and shrieked the entire time. It sounded like we were trying to kill a nasty bug or spider. Nope just a harmless little gecko. Anyway, Ethan gave up and somehow I got him to go in the bathroom. I quickly shut the door and put towels under it. My hope was that he would go back out the holes in the wall (the "ventilation") in the bathroom. Still haven't looked in the bathroom.

So that brings me to the bathroom situation. Most people use squat toilets here in the boonies. They are essentially a hole with a porcelain surrounding on which you put your feet. When you're done you use a bucket (or if you're lucky a bowl and a bucket) to "flush" the toilet by pouring water down the hole. Oh! And toilet paper is BYOTP (bring your own TP). Both the hotels we stayed at had normal toilets - they get a lot of foreigners who aren't used to squatting - so we hadn't had to deal with this at all in Bangkok. My first experience was at a rest area on the trip to Tha Wang Pha. It was terrible...mostly because I didn't have any TP. So when we got here we knew we could get stuck with squat toilets. Well not only did we get stuck with one (the girls we are with both have regular toilets) but it doesn't work! There is also no sink or shower in our bathroom. So we have been using the empty apartment's squat toilet and shower.

Funny but kinda gross squat toilet story: I haven't really been having many good poops since we got here. So I was hoping this would continue until they got us a real toilet. But as luck would have it, my tummy started rumbling yesterday. Within minutes I knew I would have to either really destroy one of the girls bathrooms or ..... use the squat upstairs. I knew it was going to be really bad so I headed upstairs. I looked at the squat for a minute then decided there was no turning back...I'd gone too far. I got into position on the stand and realized I was way to high up. There was no way I was going to do this without it splashing (ohhhh that's digusting!) everywhere. But it was well on its way out. I panicked! Oh god! I had to sit down! Argggghhhhhh nooooooo! It was so weird. Thankfully it was over faster than I thought. But I still had to flush. It was almost as unpleasant as sitting there. I used almost a whole bucket of water to flush. It was arguably one of the most unsatisfying experiences I have ever had. I went back downstairs and just sat there. I think I was in shock. I really hope they get our toilet soon.

So that's the squatter. As you can see, the shower is also quite sketchy. The shower/toilet/sink room is pretty common here and once you get used to showering where you poop and brush your teeth it's not too bad. You get water everywhere, but it dries pretty fast. (The best thing about it is it's really easy to clean your bathroom because it's just one big shower that you can spray water everywhere. -E) And honestly it's so damn hot here and you're always so sweaty that showering is like the best thing ever regardless of how you have to do it. We haven't had any bug issues in the bathroom...and hope to keep it that way. Our living situation is obviously a work in progress, but if we can live with the bathroom for a while I think we'll be OK.

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