Nothing too thrilling happened until Friday with the exception of us going to Pua (which really wasn’t that exciting, but it was different) and finding nasty spiders...more on that later. On Wednesday I was feeling particularly homesick and ended up almost in tears at school over it (lame I know, but being overly tired and hungry all the time gets to me after a few days). We had been trying to live on 100baht per day (about $3) between the both of us and that severely limited what we could do/eat (we decided on that budget because we realized we were getting low on baht and the ATM charges didn’t seem worth it). So we kind of gave up on our budget and went to the grocery store in Pua to get some snacks and checked out the town. We ended up with 6 banana muffins, 1.5 liters of orange fanta, oreos, and 4 bananas. We wandered around Pua a little until we found a pretty cool, indoor/outdoor market that sold the usual goods like clothes, shoes, toys, and purses. We got dinner after that and then headed back to our apartment. Like I said, it was not that exciting, but it got us out of our apartment and we got some things that remind us of home. Those things can really help when you know you won’t be going home for a long time. Not very healthy, but they sure do boost morale. :]
When Friday finally arrived we were super relieved that we wouldn’t have much to do. We were supposed to have morning classes, but mine was cancelled. Ethan ended up having to teach one class that he was late for because they had to check our temperatures and give us a sticker that proved we didn't have a fever, but after lunch all attention was paid to Her Majesty’s arrival. The school had been given the royal treatment, which involved a bunch of really random improvements and some decorations. They also put up a bunch of tents over the areas where the Princess would be going, which was great because you were shaded pretty much everywhere you went. We still aren’t entirely certain why she was visiting, but we do know that she was there to see the doctors and nurses from the hospital, but the hospital is tiny, so they have her come to the school and all the nurses and doctors come here. So by lunch time the school was full of a bunch of random people, army men, policemen, firemen, first aid people and us. It was a bit chaotic, but we didn’t have to do anything so we didn't mind.
When the Princess got here she made her way through the school grounds and during this time all the students and teachers had to sit outside on the ground under the tents in the walkway. When she passed where you were sitting you had to stay silent until she got close then you had to bow as she passed and say something in Thai three times. It took about 2 hours for her to get through the whole thing because it started down pouring in the middle of the whole thing. It was great for us because it created a breeze and brought the temp down a little. We got a little wet, but it felt good. It was bad for the procession though because the tents were all separate so rain was just pouring between the tents and I think the Princess had to stop a few times. After she went through the whole thing we had to get our picture taken with her as a group, which was cool, but not the most pleasant experience we’ve ever had. First of all, we (Caitlin, Kristen and I) had to wear blazers over our shirts because we didn’t have teacher uniforms (there may have been another reason for this, but I’m not sure. Ethan had to wear dress pants, and a tie). Secondly, the pictures were taken in the schools open-air auditorium. And finally, we had to do a practice run and when it came time to finally take the picture we had to sit on the concrete floor for 20 minutes listening to her and another guy speak in Thai. After the speech the teachers and doctors/nurses sang a couple of songs too and we also had to bow a few times.
Here are my issues with this situation. It was about 98 degrees outside and I get sweaty in my loose fitting clothing already, so having to wear a blazer was pretty close to torture for me. Also, the auditorium is open-air, but here in Thailand there is rarely a decent breeze. So a couple hundred people sitting on concrete in 98 degree weather with no breeze – need I say more? Didn’t think so. Sitting in a skirt in Thailand is also no easy task. You can’t sit Indian style, but you also can’t sit with your legs straight out (pointing your feet at people is rude, especially to royalty). You have two options; sit on your legs, or sit with them out to one side with your feet behind you. Neither of these positions is even remotely comfortable, especially when you aren’t used to sitting that way. It was a long 20 minutes and after we finally took our picture with her I could barely stand because my knees were so stiff. The coolest part of the day, other than being in the presence of royalty was watching the helicopters lift off. I’ve seen them in movies a gazillion times and always wondered what it would be like to be that close when they landed or took off. It was cool and the breeze (or wind I guess) felt lovely.
|Her Majesty leaving the school|
|Positive spin: good chance of becoming Spider-Man|
|In front of Wat (temple) Phrathat Chaehang (spelled differently on every sign)|
Our plan for Sunday was to check out some caves nearby, but we didn’t exactly go to Nan prepared for a hike. The caves are located in a forest park on the way back to Thawangpha, so we figured we could check them out and if it was too much for sandals we’d come back. Turns out the caves are along a trail that winds its way up a “mountain.” You can’t really call it a true mountain because it’s really not that big, but the trail was steep and I decided after the first cave that the trail was indeed too much for my sandals. The first cave was small and creepy and had bats in it so I didn’t go in, but Ethan did. He also checked out the second one, while I sat at a pagoda in the park. He deemed the place cool enough to come back so we left it at that.
|Ethan in the creepy little bat cave...|