Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Pepsi Wow...

Idyllic Sangkhlaburi

Just how much stuff can one person carry?
 Its been all change since my last post, I left Huay Malai for Bangkok -taking in a very relaxing overnight-stay in Sangkhlaburi. "It's a hard life this voluntary work" I thought as I sat sipping a mango smoothie watching the sunset over the river Kwai, but of course the real work was about to start! Lydia and I made our way over to Bangkok on the minibus service which meant a quick change over in Kanchanaburi- well it should have been quick only somehow I still managed to pack the equivalent of a small Thai family into my two backpacks- it weighed a tonne! Back to the penitentiary-like familiarity of the Guest House, this time with a double bed (bit of a Brucie Bonus), turns out the staff must have known that I would need the extra space. After waking up from a restful sleep (clever-me worked out how to turn the air con on this time) I found a half-crushed cockroach lying next to me, poor thing- Colin must have put a good word in for me and this is how I repay him... the thing was just wiggling slowly around like it was in the final tolls of death, horrible but strangely captivating at the same time. Well, Darren (as I later christened him) was sent to a watery grave, the whole incident was oddly reassuring as it didn't even freak me out, perhaps I am becoming Jo of the Jungle?

Lydia, my guide and companion over the past two weeks, was leaving Thailand to return home in the next couple of days, so we spent some time buying final prezzies and having a tailor-made dress completed. Due to last minute decision to try and get the dress made we had to go to an upmarket hotel tailor. It was hilarious to see Lydia and myself trying to wet-wipe our grubby legs and feet clean in the hotel lift as the rich and well-dressed stared at the out-of-place misfits invading their shiny 5star territory!

Final Goodbyes
Mike & Jane Fucella and Lydia
 I had the opportunity to try out some of the Thai-food tips that I had picked up over the past two weeks and cooked a goodbye meal at the Fucella's for Lydia and the rest of the crew. I think it was reasonable as everyone ate it, but on the other hand these are seasoned missionary times who informed me they have also enjoyed such delicacies as monkey-poo stew and deep fried bugs!

The biggest news of the week is starting Language School. I will be completing the first module of Thai Language at the Union Language School for the next 4 weeks... and what a start! From the moment we entered the classroom, we were put in our place- No shoulders showing! Skirts or long trousers only! No Chewing gum! Don't be Late (Yikes)! Stand for the National Anthem! And, of course, No flip-flops- the rather nice golden-coloured pair that were situated on my hot, sticky feet burned deep into my tanned toes as both the teacher and Principal laboured the point... not the best start ever. But despite this, I sat with my little notebook, pen and pencil ready to start conversing in Thai. Ha! For the next three days, 8am to 12 noon became a surreal world of guttural and barnyard sounds repeated hundreds of times over. The Thia language has many vowel sounds- each of which I have attached a similar sounding English sound to; for example: OO I remember as the Northern England O sound that my gorgeous little nephew makes when he says his Aunty Jo-Jo's name... then there's UU like the moo of a mournful cow, or aa like the Ah of opening your mouth for the dentist... but even with these explanations there are also some which just don't exist in English. The teacher introduced us to a vowel sound that she called Pepsi Wow, where we had to pretend to drink a can of Pepsi and make a burping sound! Hilarious in a class of ten. But it was only on the fourth day that I finally realised that she had taught us the Pepsi-Vowel (w's are hard for even the most proficient Thai English speaker!).

I have been very blessed with my class mates, we have a real mixture of ages and cultural back grounds. There are 2 Aussies, 3 Americans (there were 4 but we lost one along the way...), 2 South Koreans, a Japanese Guy, a Czech Guy and then me- flying the flag for the UK. We have such fun, everyone is really chatty and friendly, we laugh at each other and ourselves- which really helps or else the four hours would be way too intense! Most of the students in the class are planning for short or long-term Christian missions and I feel slightly sorry for the Czech and Japanese guys who seem to have fallen in with us without any real Christian background- but it's turning out to be great opportunity to share my faith (along with the others who are also giving it a go... the guys don't stand a chance!). I'll keep you updated with my laboured progress in to language learning- but keep the prayers going, I really need them!

As appetising as Spicy Shrimp Noodles
sounds, I opted for toast with a banana
smoothie- Yum,Yum !
All work, no play makes Jo a dull girl, so I have also had some lovely interjections to studying. Saturday was my birthday and I was staying with the always-gorgeous Fucella girls, who made me breakfast (including the offer of spicy-shrimp noodles) and gave me a Thai cook-book (very good choice). We went fake-posh make-up buying (too much fun) and mooched around the Art Gallery and visited a historic house, it was lovely (Thank you Rachel and Aylie). Then there was lovely Melanie K who just happened to be visiting Bangkok- we haven't seen each other since she was stationed in England with the US Air force well over 5 years ago. Another fantastic day of mooching, chatting and eating, it was great!

Gugenheim rip-off but a great
Gallery never-the-less

All change on the accommodation front, although I was of course sad to pass up the opportunity to meet the rest of Colin's family, I have moved in with a very hospitable American couple called Gary and Claudia. They are missionaries here with the Bible Study Fellowship and have generously (and maybe crazily :) opened their home to me. I am so blessed as their home is air conditioned, very nice with beautiful views and no uninvited bedfellows. I will introduce them more over the next few weeks... if they can put up with me for that long! What is that verse is patient, love is kind... love is long-suffering... love is using a set of earplugs?

Gary and Claudia
 On that note, known for being a person of few words I'd better wrap-up for this installment before I lose my audience... Easter provided the perfect opportunity to talk with my sisters and their better halves and of course to oo and ah (I'm using the English versions in this instance) at my beautiful nephews- they've grown so quickly! Despite being without my dear family and the startling lack of chocolate, it was great to fellowship with other believers and celebrate the amazing freedom and forgiveness given to us through Jesus' sacrifice and triumphant rising! England or Thailand, the mystery of God's grace does not lose any of its power, Thank you Father!  Happy Belated Easter everyone!  
What a cracking view

1 comment:

  1. Monkey Poo Stew?!.....Say it isn't so!

    Pepsi Wow! :-D