Here’s what I like: terrariums.
Finally managed to teach a not-so-into-English student a 3-syllable word on the football (soccer) field. Accident. I say "accident" whenever I step on his foot haggling for the ball, and now he says it whenever I do anything. Like anything.
I also taught my students filler words such as "like" and "I mean" and "uhhh", spicing up conversations around here. "How, like, are you?" I'll take it.
Conversations with my roommates revolve solely around which creatures we’ve most recently spotted in our house/zoo.
Breaking news from Phajuk (name of the nearest village) Zoo, i.e. my house:
Today, geckos gave birth on my bedroom aircon. JINGJOP-NOI (gecko babies) LEGS ARE SO ADORABLE. These babes’ entrance into the world may not be quite as popular as panda births, but still, something to be proud of.
Two tarantulas. An orb spider. One in my bed, one in the shower, and one splattered against my wall thanks to a successful tarantula hunt. Thanks to Hunger Games – my pastime between spider spottings – providing inspiration. I feel a bond with the killing-machine-survival-bent heroine. This is the first time I’ve bothered killing spiders – they’re such useful creatures, but even I ain’t sleeping with those.
Beetles. En masse. And what appear to be dung beetles, which are attracted to the lizard crap (which is composed of ants), which appears to kill off said dung beetles, which attracts more ants to eat the corpses, which attracts more lizards. Ah, the circle of life.
The beetle problem is growing rapidly because they like to die everywhere, enticing ants. This infestation is new – I never noticed them before.
A bird. For real.
Crazed black ants barred the front door while eating the corpse of a snake yesterday. I didn’t look down, and found myself a centimeter away from a dead snake, and my feet drowned in biting ants guarding their lunch.
Rats scampered between my garlic and their expansive mansion under the washing machine (or rather, their numerous condo properties all over our house). Earlier, they ate through our electrical wires as well as our washing machine wires.
Biting flies. Pale green, delicate, tiny, and freakishly painful.
I’m glad my roommates and I can bond over these creatures – they are always calling me to extricate, which is making me employable as a humane exterminator (i.e. one who moves animals outside, minus the ants, which I flick/kill because not even E.O. Wilson’s Ants can convince me that my keyboard or sheets are good hangout spots). This may be the only job I’m qualified for upon return to zee homeland.
My roommates are chill with everything else besides the animals themselves. Prevention is apparently not a thing. For instance, we’ve peaced out for 2 months (“summer” break) so I’m downstairs bleaching all our surfaces and appliances (trust me, ain’t nothing like introducing bleach to a 3rd world country), and washing dishes, and Puung, my beautiful 29-year-old roommate, comes down and exclaims, “What are you DOING?” Because hygiene is a pretty foreign concept around here. Why in the world would I clean?
Granted, given the rate of regression, it’s a question I ask myself. So far this term, in regard to the ants, I find that a few in the bed doesn’t hurt. Plummeting standards…
Consider the rural Thai doctor who examines a man with herpes and then moves into the next to give a child a physical without washing his hands. (My dear friend Megan spent March running around a Thai hospital, and she has many other lovely tidbits.)
In the beginning of May, my aunt visited. We hit up Bangkok, where she was surprised to learn that we were actually staying in one of the best parts of town. We hit up a small island, where we were both surprised to learn that we out-sabaied the Thai people by not making any reservations on a Thai holiday. Thanks to my running shoes and my pathetic appearance and Thai language skills, which extract sympathy from the peeps yo, we got ourselves a room. But others on our ferry were not so lucky
Watching my aunt – so sabai – figure out Thai culture filled me with happiness…now she knows how to say “Mai roo” (“I don’t know”) and “sabai”, that schedules are nonexistent, that you’ll never find anything twice (think that magic room in Harry Potter), that getting anywhere is an hours-long process where you rely on luck, sympathy, and more luck, and that being a customer is a privilege – not everyone wants your money. She also knows why no one gets anything done around here…it is just too darn hot.
We headed to Chiang Mai and stayed in a 5-star boutique spot that utterly, utterly, utterly destroyed any hope of a smooth transition to Phajuk Zoo, my ‘Dit home. We hung out with elephants, frequented monk chats, learned Thai massage, met lots of older travelers who about killed me with their travel stories (I mean, hiring drivers, thinking staying at the 5-star spot was like “living like the Thai people live”, etc. I hope I am that sabai when I’m old), and also generally tried to never leave our residence.
Our descent into the ‘Dit was metaphorical. But we stayed in the capitol city (UTTARADIT MUANG), and had access to food, which is kinda a novelty out in Phajuk. My aunt made my kids so happy…she is the bomb.
We ate at our local spot in the ‘Dit before she left, whereupon she left me with a great evolutionary question to ponder: “So, why does everyone have black hair? Don’t you think they’d pick up some highlights?”
And on that note, she was off, leaving me to wallow in the ‘Dit, a place I love, though it takes some getting used to again.
Finding food, literally having nowhere to go besides the bathroom post-7 pm, eating rice and two eggs for lunch everyday, trying to get bitten by as few animals as possible every day…
Yuun, a friend from the Trang jungle, came up to the ‘Dit on Saturday for a funeral. We got to chill, and at some point, he pointed out a monitor lizard in the underbrush. This confirmed I should wear my glasses more often, because these are my fave Thai animals (in the running, at least), and apparently they’re running all over the ‘Dit unbeknownst to me.