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as the lake dries up…

June 16, 2010

We had a brief flirtation with Monsoon Season, but Hot Season is hanging in there. The beautiful reservoir/lake that separates the Thai and Mon side of Sangkhlaburi is now almost entirely dry leaving houseboats stranded in the mud and turning the banks of the lake into veritable prairies. Sunken temples have emerged as the water evaporated, including one which has been seen for 18 years (or so they say)…but my desire to explore it is hampered by the afternoon’s unrelenting heat and the evening’s swarm of mosquitoes.

What is normally a lake has turned into a prairie

houseboats have become land-dwellings, looking at best like ramshackle cottages and at worst like a Bangladeshi slum

But I have been finding parts of the day I absolutely adore. There is a brief stretch in late afternoon when I’m usually laying in my bed planning my evening lessons, when the air cools and the wind blows through the banana trees outside my window and I feel simply lovely. Or the stretch of time I found myself walking down a back-road at night and discovered that solitary lightening bugs flit through the jungle. I haven’t seen fireflies since I last visited the east coast and somehow the fact that here ,they fly solo or in twos, really struck a chord with me. The blissful moments have enough force to overpower the bugs and the heat.

As I teach two classes with vastly different English levels and goals I often feel that I am straddling a gulf..once I plan one lesson on discussing whether technology is “a blessing or a curse” I must then switch my mind back to explaining simple present tense…to a lovely, earnest group who does not exactly even speak the English to understand my explanations OF English. I speak too quickly with my beginners sometimes, or too slowly and deliberately with my college level group, but mostly it works itself out. Their enthusiasm thankfully fills in the gaps in my explanations/teaching.

I finally visited Burma, for a particularly uneventful thirty minutes. The border crossing at the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge is quite anticlimactic. you just walk across a long bridge and you’re in Burma. And as you walk you can peer over into the river where other crossings are being made..namely people taking inner-tubes from Thailand to Burma or Burma to Thailand. I think the fact that I arrived in Burma alone and in the rain definitely added to my general opinion of being underwhelmed, but i did scoot around some streets, peaked into shops and scoped out the food. Oddly, Mirrawaddy (the border town) reminded me of places in Pakistan: too many men just sitting around without anything to occupy them, shouting at each other and staring at the lone foreign woman. Not exactly pleasant. I’d love to venture further in, or with friends, or on a non-rainy day or with someone who spoke Burmese.

Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, Burma Side

Inner-tubing across the Thai-Burma border

Food has been grand. I am still trying out new Sangkhlaburi restaurants, including a lunch this past weekend at The Nature Club restaurant a short bike ride outside of Sangkhla. The food was delicious and then the four of us were offered a ‘tour’ of The Nature Club. It ended up being a several-hour affair in the air conditioned truck of a wonderful Nature Club employee which took us through a lovely slice of the club’s 2,500 acres. We ate rambutans and mangosteens right off the tree. We looked at ancient limestone cliffs. We drove past killing fields from ancient Siam Kingdom battles and the Japanese railroad relics from World War II. Our guide filled us in on local lore, gossip, his take on thai politics, the thai take on the various refugee peoples who live in the area and also took his truck through a rough ATV course. It was a wonderful and unexpected adventure.

The political situation here has died down, not gone away, but died down. I was in Bangkok before going to my border crossing and saw the burnt out shell of CentralWorld Mall. Police has set up a table for questions and tourists took pictures. The city seemed to ave returned to its normal frenetic pace and after braving several shopping pavilions I found myself glad I was staying in the leafy residential neighborhood of Arii at the lovely Chew Guesthouse and not in more bustling central spots.

My life feels ‘normal  enough’ here that I have become a bad blogger 🙂 This Saturday we will be celebrating Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s 65th Birthday with the Mon community, so it should be grand weekend!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. willowmata permalink
    June 16, 2010 6:15 pm

    Wonderful writing, “There is a brief stretch in late afternoon when I’m usually laying in my bed planning my evening lessons, when the air cools and the wind blows through the bananna trees outside my window and I feel simply lovely.”. I love that.

    Skype soon? I’m back in Spain next week for two weeks, so our time zones will be closer. Hope to talk to you soon!

  2. Tariq Khan permalink
    June 17, 2010 4:14 am

    a best adventures and serving to the nature which is the paramount
    task of human being.
    Would you have time enough to visit our countryside, which
    is waiting for you.

    Tariq Khan

  3. July 6, 2010 9:23 am

    Lovely Lovely

    And thank you for your insightful comment on our blog… you managed to phrase the the difference relationships between governments and people wonderfully. Erik and I have been trying to figure out how to say that and failing.

    Would you mind if I put a link to your blog on our? I love reading your musings and think my friends and family would as well.


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