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Written: Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Bonnie and Carol’s Nongkhai adventures continued (Bonnie writing today).
Shopping: The Indonesian Market Shopping: Tesco Lotus Center Shopping:: The Morning Market

Envision this: Carol trying to explain to the man at the 10-Baht store that she wants to buy a bungee cord. Arms stretching and contracting, forefingers hooked. Me helpless with laughter. How would YOU request a bungee cord when you don’t know the word! It turns out the Thai word is ‘elastic bind thing’, or yahng mat korng – or something like that.

One of our great pleasures here is shopping – all our feminine Thai students know shop-PING, a universal pastime for women, it seems. We go to three main types of market. The Indonesian Market goes for blocks and blocks along Rimkhong Road with Lao and Indonesian handicrafts, along with ordinary shoes and socks, cosmetics, household goods, electronics, and everything else imaginable. Tesco Lotus, on the other hand, is the biggest department store I have ever seen! The noise level is beyond description – we wanted to buy a cd, but the loudspeakers (two of many) at the cd stand were blaring too loudly to be heard. We go there for bottled water, household things, all kinds of food - raw and prepared, coffee and juice, bicycle parts, batteries, bed linens, refrigerators, sporting goods, office supplies, clothing – again everything imaginable, but you don’t bargain and you can pay with a credit card. The third market is outdoor food market, which shuts down by about 1:00. We had an enjoyable morning there today, taking pictures and causing a mild reaction of giggles, jokes, and shy smiles. One thing nice about a digital camera – you can show your subject his or her picture right away. That brings on more laughter and jesting. I guess farangs don’t show up at this market taking pictures all that often, because we sure attracted a lot of attention.

Wat Pho Chai The Golden Buddha Murals

We rode out to visit a beautiful wat last weekend called Wat Pho Chai, one of the most beautiful temples I have ever seen. The Buddha statue inside is said to have a solid gold head, and indeed it gleams differently from the rest of the body. Inside were the most beautiful, detailed murals telling the story of how this statue comes to be a Wat Pho Chai. It seems that this Buddha was captured after a war with the Lao. It was loaded onto a raft to be taken to Thailand, but a storm came up over the Mekhong River – you can see the lightning in the left side of the picture – the raft broke up, and the image sank to the bottom of the river. After 25 years, in the mid 1500’s, the statue miraculously resurfaced, and was taken to Nong Khai. You can see, on the far left, the storm, then the statue at the bottom of the river, the statue being raised and transported to Thailand, some men reviewing plans for a new wat, and then the final building made to house the statue.

As far as the school and teaching go, I guess the honeymoon is over. There are many things that could be done better here, and many people dead set against change. Politics are rife, and factions abound. My plan is to keep my head down, do my job, and try not to get involved any more than I have to – definitely the coward’s way out. “Jai yen” (stay cool, literally cool heart), and all that. Carol is more dedicated and patient than I. We continue to enjoy the town, the students, and exploring the area. Local friends are teaching us a few words of Lao; ‘delicious’ is not the Thai word ‘ah-roy’. Instead, we are to say ‘saab lai, saab eelee, saab kadokadia’, which always produces gales of laughter when we stumble through the sequence.

FGCC Carol teaching her writing class Bonnie teaching her conversation class

Cheers for now from Bonnie and Carol

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