Welcome Ceremony: Same Same?

Bang Sean Beach--20 min Songtao ride
My Soi (Street)
So we arrived. The city is much like Valpo for those of that visited/saw pictures of my time spent in Chile. Not sure if it is the easy access to coffee or the fact you can buy good 80% dark chocolate, but I like the city better than Valpo. I loved my time spent in Chile, but the lack of good food was hard for me. And we've already had fantastic meals since we've arrived in our city.

Punna Mansion: My New Home!
Food is for sure the time when the language barrier is noticed the most. We know a few food words: chicken, spicy, not spicy, fried, noodles and rice--but that can only get you so far.  Yesterday we kind of all hit our max. I spent the morning in my new favorite coffee shop: Dee Cafe (Good Cafe). There is AC, a seat toilet, and even TP in the bathroom--which is unheard of! A cute little old man owns the cafe and it is a much different ordering process than in American. No long lines, you just go to the counter place your order (black americano over ice has been my drink of choice--amazing!). You don't pay then, because they are probably working on a million other peoples orders. You find a seat and wait probably 20 minutes and then they finally bring your coffee to your table and you pay then. Kinda like it--much less of a rush rush rush mentality.

Songtao Ride
So I do want to tell you about my city, but I also want to tell you about our welcoming ceremony: su kwan or Baci. I really can't remember the word they used, but it was the same concept. So to paint a picture of orientation imagine 100 westerners (farang as we are now called..) tired yet antsy and told that we must sit, write, listen, eat and repeat. Our brains hurt after 1 day of Thai lessons and our heads almost exploded after two. And then it was done?

What? We still only know the word for spicy (pet), stop (yut), sorry (KhorThot Kah), hi (swat dee kah) and thank you (Khob khun Kah) and never mind/no worries (Mai Pen rai kah).

So this is how a typical conversation goes:
hi, thank you, nod, point, smile, sorry, shake head & say spicy, sorry again, never mind, thank you, sorry and bye. But then you have me, that gets them all of them confused so I ask for a coffee, smile and say "sorry" instead of "thank you" and then bump into some one and say "thank you"? haha (or as they say here 5555). Stupid farang (foreigner)...

10 minute walk form Punna: Chonburi waterfront!
But back to the welcome ceremony. During the welcome ceremony a white thread is tied around your right wrist (white symbolizes purity). We knelt down in front of our Thai staff/teachers that lead, taught, laughed and guided us throughout a roller coaster of a week. The room was dark, candles flickered and one by one we wai-ed (palms together and bow) and received our welcome into Thailand. Traditionally the string must stay on for a minimum of three days. After three days you must ask someone else to untie (not cut) the string and it is considered the best luck if you let it fall of on it's own. If worn all the rules are followed the string will represent:  peace, harmony, good fortune, good health and human warmth and community.

What an amazing and powerful way to be welcomed into a community. This afternoon we are going to have the best welcome ceremony ever: Thai Massage, Man & Pedi all for less than $15. One thing I love about Thai women is that they LOVE to pamper themselves.
Cheers to Peace, Harmony & Good Luck.


Thailand, a set on Flickr.

Dancing in Glitter Rain: My 1st week in Thailand

Utterly amazing. I don’t know what else I can say? How can you possibly explain a glitter rain rave dance party, bamboo rafting, resort style breakfasts, elephant riding, karaoke, royal palaces and a whole culture that smiles and giggles every time you pass--with a few “very beautifuls” thrown in..?? How??

Favorite pass time? Sleep. And the week was lacking in the sleep department, but after riding an elephant and swimming down a picturesque river etched with mountain tops--I honestly thought that there was absolutely no way the day could possibly get better. How could there be an additional event that could add pizazz to bring the day over the top? And surprisingly the icing on the cake did not involve anything edible. I do love the food here in Thailand, but that is a discussion for another day.  
Delicious Coconut Water--best thing I've consumed so far!
The combo of moving water, strobe lights, a disco ball, speakers, sparkle rain and people not afraid to act like they just ingested some type of crazy island drugs created a memory that will never be forgotten.

One, I don't know if I can explain in words--but never the less I shall try.

We arrived to find that we would be having dinner on a moving "restaurant" of sorts. Really just a large barge like boat that is slowly pulled by a tug boat. In this area of thailand this must be quite popular because tons of people were doing it. The only downside and actually one of the few rules I've heard since arriving in thailand (rules in thailand are made to be broken..?)--no drinking on the floating restaurant. Sounded kinda like a bummer at first, but the engine started rumbling and the fog crept in over the mountain tops and we slowly broke free from the land.

Each boat had tables set up and we sat and ate the way thais traditionally eat--family style (Lazy Susans are very popular in thailand). We tried curry (green curry--my fave), spicy chicken, ginger glazed duck, carrots, snow peas, mushrooms and more. But for the first time in my life, this wasn't what made the night unreal. The food was good, but not amazing. If I hadn't written it down, I probably wouldn’t remember what we had a few days from now.

 So tables were cleared and we ventured to the front of the boat. The view was breathtaking. The sky was full of mist and fog and the day slowly faded and suddenly it was dark. With each flash of lighting, we would gasp as the skyline would blink back into our sight. 

The rain started slowly, the music started softly. A few giggles, a few dance moves, a few rain drops...the rain started coming down faster, the music turned up a few notches and the dances moves intensified and giggles turned into full on bellyache laughs. Next thing you know all 90 of us form your typical white kid dance circle, bob our heads and start jumping with our hands over our head.

What no alcohol? How could this be? The humidity set in and the rain sparkled with each flash of the strobe light and we all started sweating--but don’t stop dancing. Not a single one of us. We’d been stuck in a very american looking conference room for 3 days 8-5:30 or 6 (with coffee breaks and snacks every 1-2 hours---amazing...another favorite) and none of us were going to give up the opportunity to exercise.

The sweat kept coming and the rain kept pouring. Before we know we moved into the rain, but don’t stop dancing. Drench with rainwater now and music so loud that our ears are ringing and lightening continuing to light up the sky and a smile so big my face hurt. I couldn’t believe it. How could this be? On a boat dancing in glitter rain in Thailand-- enough said. 

Side note: this was not the end of the night--imagine: microphones, Thai whisky, chang beer, Romy & Michele's Dance moves and A whole New world-- as you can see no italics this post/maybe a picture of my toe and Ashley’s leg are enough to depict small, yet very painful components of of the day.