Monday, December 9, 2013

Loi Krathong, Sports Days and Fire Balls

It’s past time for another update! November has been full of fun activity. During the October break, Zack and I decided that we wanted to make it a point to stay at our site and not travel anywhere for a while. Part of that goal came from the feeling of disconnect associated with traveling most of October. This decision has definitely benefited us. We’ve been able to integrate into our community even more just by being present.

Staying home also means being able to watch these
adorable kittens frolic about in the woodpile outside.

During the beginning of November, Zack and I were dressed up for the Loi Krathong festival which is celebrated on the evening of the full moon during the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. “loi” means “to float” and a krathong is (usually) a banana leaf boat containing candles and incense. The festival involved a beautiful ceremony that consisted of all of us placing our krathongs in the water to symbolize the floating away of negativity while also asking forgiveness for misdeeds. Noppamas beauty pageants are also really common during the festival. Supposedly, Noppamas, a beautiful consort of King Lithai of Sukhothai, created the very first Krathong. Khom loi (floating lanterns) and fireworks are also common during Loi Krathong festivities.


Here we are...all done up!

Eagerly awaiting the beauty pageant

Preparing to float my krathong

A little bit of Loi Krathong magic

Click HERE to check out the entire Loi Krathong album

Mid-November marked a Sports Day for the bpratom (elementary) students at my school. Students were competing in sports day competitions the entire week leading up to the Friday “big” event. Zack and I stood by our students, offering encouragement as they prepared to represent the school in a parade. We marched to a field together where we then stood through the opening ceremonies in the blazing hot sun.  Afterwards, each school paraded around the field, vying to win the competition. Following the parade, Zack and I stood by as students raced it track and field-like events, mostly running relays. My favorite was watching the Anuban (preschool/kindergarten) students. They were so determined! There was a false start at one point, and nobody could get the little runners to stop and start over! It was pretty adorable…

Check out the entire Sports Day album HERE.

To round out the month’s events, Zack and I got to check out a crazy sporting event called dtii-klii fai. I’m not sure what the actual translation is, but “dtii-klii” means “mallet” and “fai” means fire. This is actually a pretty accurate description of the game. It’s basically hockey played with hockey sticks that look more like upside-down candy canes and instead of a puck, a fire ball is used. Sounds like fun, right? Leading up to the actual game there was a full-blown performance to help explain the history of this ancient game. One of the highlights was when the ball came pummeling towards us and ended up under the chair of the Balat, the chief administrator of Zack’s SAO and the woman who had brought us to this exciting event. It was quickly removed without lighting anyone on fire. From that point on were paid extra close attention to where the ball was at all times.

the pre-show

HERE is a short YouTube video taken by someone else who was at the same event as us.

Last weekend Zack and I had the fortune of having our saa-laa (covered resting area outside the house) repaired by friends from the SAO (Zack’s work place). It was fun to watch the process unfold and help in whatever areas we could. We found we weren’t all that helpful though. All I could do was stand around and worry that somebody would fall from the tediously built roof structure, so  I just contented myself by making tortillas and chocolate chip cookies for everyone. They seemed to enjoy them. At one point, Pii Noi wrapped a cookie in a tortilla…he claimed it was “saep” (Issan for “delicious), so we just left it at that J Because we aren’t already spoiled enough, we now have a nice covered outdoor area to spend time. We’re also hoping to use it to collect water once it starts raining again.

This past month has been eventful, to say the least. Between all of these fun “extra” activities I have still been co-teaching regularly at the school and putting extra energy into giving our English classroom some TLC. Zack has recently started working collaboratively with teachers at another local school to teach life skills using the “Right to Play” curriculum. He is also making some great progress teaching music with a counterpart at Chimplee (my school) after school most days.

We haven’t left site since returning at the end of October, and it has been really good for us. We’ll probably make it a point here to take a little bit of time off soon or travel to other volunteers’ sites to help with various activities, but the past month-and-a-half has been really good. We are feeling satisfied with the work that we are doing and the life that we are creating here. Almost a year into this adventure and Thailand is finally our “home.” We feel like we finally belong in our community and really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.

Also, we’re now in the “cold” season and sleep with a comforter and no fan at night. It’s glorious!! Everything seems a little easier when you’re not sweaty and gross all the time. Life is good.

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