Most of the questions I get from friends and family:
What do you do on the weekends?
What do you do after school?
What do you do with your free time?
When do you have time to usually talk?
The thing is, aside from scheduled Peace Corps classes, I don't have a set schedule or "free time". The concept of "my" time doesn't really exist. There are days I come home after school and eat, shower, and do as I please. This has happened on a few Sundays as well. However, I am more often than not "Thai-napped" (ushered to the car and taken somewhere ranging from 20 minutes to ten hours, without being asked or told what is happening until I arrive at the destination). Moral of the story, there is not typical day or experience I have had since coming to Thailand. I will tell you about my last 24 hours as an example.
We will start at 8pm last night....I had already eaten and was reading in my room when my little brother came in my room (privacy and the concept of having my own room isn't a thing). Then came my mother and grandmother. They wanted to play a game so I taught them how to play Spot It. We laughed a lot and played for about an hour. Afterwards I showed them the flowers my students gave me for valentine's day. My brother wanted one so I said he could have it and gave the others to my mom and grandma. They all hugged and kissed me and said how much they love me and love me being here. My mother told me to shower so I put on my pasin (a thin type of towel that connects, like a tube that you wrap around your body and wear to walk to the shower) and grabbed my toiletries. I headed for the shower, which is a room with a hose and shower head that you hold with your hand. Apparently there was no more water though. My mother ushered me outside, on what would be comparable to the front porch next to my naked little brother. She points to this huge cement jug filled with water and a plastic bowl and tells me to shower. We learned in our culture courses that if you shower outside you essentially pour the buckets of water on yourself while holding the pasin around you to stay covered. ***NOT EASY TO DO*** I was trying my best, meanwhile my brother and mother are laughing at me and how awkward and terrible I am at it. My little brother grabbed the bucket from me and just starts throwing water at me. It was pretty much a water fight, with soap, while worrying the whole time that I'd drop my towel and be naked at the front of the house in the middle of the night. It was hilarious to say the least. I'm pretty sure I ended up going to my room half dirty and half soapy. It was an experience. I didn't expect my first bucket shower to include a woman and little boy, but I have learned since coming here to expect the unexpected. I went to sleep and then heard my name being yelled throughout the house and people pounded on my door. I looked at my clock and it was 5 AM. I was so tired that I thought maybe I was confused or dreaming. I wasn't. I fully awoke up to the sound of fireworks not even ten feet from my bedroom at 5:45 AM. When you aren't expecting it, and don't know what it is, that is a terrifying sound. My first instinct was to run and see what it was while my heart was beating outside of my chest (keep in mind I am wearing shorts and a tank top which is not really allowed). I realized it was fireworks and was filled with such a strange emotion. It was so thrilling and I was still scared and happy and tired and confused. Today is the Chinese new year. Many people come to Thailand from China, and the town I live in, Suphan Buri, has a large Chinese population. Needless to say, there we many more fireworks going off at most of the houses near me and on my bike ride to class later on. Since I ran outside my brother and cousin saw that I was awake so followed me into my room to hangout on my bed (clearly I was not going back to sleep). When I finally got up and showered (the water worked for like 5 minutes so I didn't have to bucket shower) I was welcomed to the table with a feast. Usually breakfast is simple and consists of rice, eggs, and maybe a fish or vegetable. Today there were three noodle dishes (all so good) and fruit, and a coconut to drink out of. It was the most filling breakfast I have ever had. I left for school later than usual with my packed lunch of more yummy noodles ( I'm assuming I was given a lunch because of the new year?). I met my friend and fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Berlin, and we were biking to class when all the sudden I was sweating profusely. I told her that I'm not sure what's going on but the bike ride was so hard and I could barely keep up. It was super strange because I usually am fine. Not even five minutes later we realized my back tire was flat. We went to the side of the road and fixed my tire. During this time another volunteer saw and joined and also three Thai's. After fixing the tire my bike chain got jammed. We fixed that then my bike breaks were locked and my front tire was getting flat. Long story short I don't know what happened. We were covered in grease from the chain and I was a sweaty mess. My mom showed up (I didn't call her so someone else passing by probably did). Someone passing by threw our bikes in the back of a pick up truck and my mom drove us to class. The air conditioned car was much needed. Sidenote: This has been the hottest day for me since coming to Thiland I think it was over 100 degrees at one point. So we got to class late but it all worked out. After getting home from school, not having homework or lessons to plan I looked forward to relaxing and reading. I came in my room and shortly after my grandmother came in with a notebook and was writing stuff down (apparently my bedroom is also the living room). After she finished whatever she was doing we ended up talking for about an hour. It was a really nice conversation. It's crazy that I can hold a conversation in Thai. I suck at pronunciation and she had to be very patient with me, but I did it! I told her about my family and how I talk to people at home. She told me about her day and asked me about mine and a I told her about what I learned in class and my upcoming classes. We ended the conversation with her talking about the few volunteers that left the program, then she told me I'm a good volunteer and she's happy to have me. It was a great way to end the night. I showered, not with bucket but with a hose that in total dripped out maybe two cups of water...it was a struggle...the buckets would have better...I haven't washed my hair in like three days...it will permanently look like a birds nest I guess. I got ready for bed and just when I started reading my mom came in my room to tell me that my tire was again flat, after Peace Corps had fixed it all for me earlier in the day. Not at all something I planned on working on in my pajamas after barely feeling somewhat clean. I fixed and patched the inner tube, only for it to rip elsewhere. I worked it out to get a ride tomorrow since two inner tubes are now unfit for biking. It was pretty frustrating, however by the time I come home I will be a bike queen.
That was the last 24 hours in Thailand for me. Completely unexpected, hilarious, odd, thrilling, and messy. This adventure is ongoing and everyday I have crazy stories and experiences. I wish I could share them all. Overall, I never know what will happen or how my day or week or even next hour will look. It' so true that the best things are unexpected. I can't wait or even imagine what other experiences I will have over these next two years!