Well it’s day 4 and it’s been quite eventful. I’ve been noticing a lot of differences between here and home – like they have no concept of pavements. The road ends and there’s either a building or a street seller. It makes being a pedestrian rather dangerous! There are also a lot of dogs wandering around, and it’s hard to tell if they are strays or if they belong to someone.
So far we’ve had one day of work. I was working in the school, trying to help the kids with their English. When I say kids, I mean teenagers – the youngest is 16 and the oldest is 18. And it’s not some small poor village school, it’s a massive school in the middle of Bangkok, and all the parents are like government workers and lecturers etc. So the kids are very similar to kids at home, and the classes seem very unstructured. It was just myself and Naomi at the school – the team splits up each day. So at first we were just chucked into a classroom with a bunch of Thai kids and told to talk to them. I found it completely overwhelming and I became very shy. I found it really hard to talk to the kids because of how I was feeling, and it kind of put a damper on the whole day. Then we had two groups, one morning and one afternoon. These groups were more structured so we played some games with them and talked about ourselves. I still took a back seat, and Naomi did most of the work. I guess I was still feeling very shy and like we’d just been chucked in at the deep end and left to find our way. It was probably also a bit of culture shock, which I think I’m still experiencing.
I still find the heat very hard to handle, often mostly because it’s very humid and we’re all sweating a lot. It makes me feel better when I see Thai people sweating though!!
Yesterday we went out to see Bangkok for the day, and we were out for more than 12hours I think. We went to the grand palace, which was very grand indeed. I was slightly shocked by just how much extravagance there was. There was a temple place with an emerald Buddha, and it was surrounded by gold things. It was very impressive, but also slightly tacky. It feels like they are showing off, and concentrating too much on wealth. Thailand is prominently buddist, so there are a lot of statues of Buddha all over the country.
We were being shown around by a student here in Bangkok. His name is Torung, and he’s living in the house with us. He has the downstairs room, similar to a lodger. He has extremely good English, and has grown up with Tearfund teams coming and going. He grew up in Mukdahan, which is normally where the teams go. We are going to be going down to Phang-Nga on the 14th, which is down south, near Phuket.
We also went to a mime last night, which was brilliant. One of the Siam Care staff members (P Paew) son was in the mime. He did a balloon sketch – he blew up a balloon and went floating over the city, but then a bird popped it and he landed in water, I’m not sure if it was the sea or an aquarium. We also went to church with P Paew (the P is the polite way to say someones name, like mr or mrs) this morning. We went to quite a traditional, Thai speaking church. It was very interesting, because they got an interpretor for us, so you could hear both Thai and English. It was a fairly long service, and the guy was preaching on Genesis 16:1-16. It was quite interesting, what he was saying, but hard to follow because the English was fairly broken, and didn’t flow smoothly. They sang all the sings in Thai, but the screen also had the English so we could sing too. There were a couple of songs which had obviously been translated from the English to Thai, because the English words fit the music perfectly, and I recognised a couple of them. You could also tell when the songs were original Thai, or possibly some other language, because the English didnt fit as well.
We also saw P Paews son again, Tam (the ‘T’ is quite a harsh noise, not like our normal ‘t’s. It’s more like a ‘dt’ sound). He’s a really nice guy, and is quite hilarious. You can tell he’s into acting because he has very good facial expressions and often will just mime something instead of trying to get the English.
Now we’ve come back to the house, and the rest of the team have gone to the Market. I decide to stay in because it’s just too hot for me, and I’m a little tired. I’m feeling a bit homesick at the moment, and finding being here very hard. I know I will adjust, but it will take time and I just need to be patient. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m not sure what I will be doing – either home visits (which I really want to do, but apparently to get into the slums you have to walk over a really dodgy bridge of planks, and the planks can sometimes snap so I’m terrified of that!), or working in the office. Adrienne (the team leader at Siam Care) wants me to update the website, so once I’ve done some work on it I’ll point you to it so you can see my hard work ;).
I think I’ve probably written more than enough! I’m going to settle down for a couple of hours and read my book. I’m hoping to finish it before the girls get home.
Thank you all for your support and prayers. Please feel free to email/facebook/comment, and I’ll try to reply.