I have just spent 10 weeks in Ayutthaya, a province about an hour north of Bangkok. No volunteers will serve here. It is a former capital of Thailand with many ruins of ancient Wats and palaces. The area we have trained in was chosen because it is not too remote and the villages are still somewhat traditional, i.e. a mix of squat and western toilets/bathrooms, traditional Thai housing with outdoor kitchens and not much furniture, and villages made up of extended families for the most part. Just about everyone I have met is related somehow to my host family.
I will miss the canals and the fishermen casting their nets, the green rice fields with the egrets and the storks – butts up as they hunt for snails, the mango trees full of fruit, the bike rides several miles a day with everyone on the routes waving and saying “Hello” or “Saw wa dee”, the pad Thai and red curry at the bamboo restaurant with the very friendly and elderly owner smiling his toothless smile at all his farang customers, the shop owner we buy yogurt from, the smoothies with yuk pon-la-maai, my host family’s kitty who will miss the only person in his life giving him lots of love, my host mother’s cooking, my host father playing with his grandchildren, my ajaan’s laugh, the excellent CBOD and Cross Cultural lessons, and most especially the 66 PCVs I will no longer see/study/eat/play with everyday! I will miss feeling familiar, a part of the community.
I will not miss sharing the road and bike paths with large commercial trucks and mean dogs, the nighttime barking/growling/crying dogs, the mosquitoes, sharing my room with critters scurrying in the walls and ceiling, burning trash and fields with the resulting poor air quality, bike riding in wind and rain, bike riding in scorching heat and humidity, and the pace of PST! It remains to be seen what will follow me north!