Fai Dtap


Once a month we like to share a story we find really interesting from a volunteer’s blog. This month we share one from Bethany Goes Beyond

Bethany McHugh, 130 TESS

These past couple days have been really rough. I try and keep all of my posts positive, but the reality of my life here is that it is not always positive… actually it’s really hard some of the time. 6 days ago I went on a field trip with all of my students for two days. I arrived back home in my village to constant rain and no electricity; although, luckily I still had phone service for most of the night. I am now on day 5 with no electricity and haven’t had phone service in 3ish days. If I’m lucky, electricity/phone service will come back for a couple hours, and I’m able to quickly catch up on missed phone calls and messages.

It really sucks.

Peace Corps volunteers often talk about being lonely, it’s actually the thing I hear about the most. Luckily for me, I haven’t really struggled with feeling lonely except here and there, in small spurts. Until now. Constant rain and almost no interaction with the outside world brings loneliness to a whole new level. I walk outside every day and see people who I really love and want to have conversations with, but I can’t. Sometimes I start to talk about something with the one almost-fluent English speaker here, but then I stop myself because stories and jokes lose so much meaning when you have to explain everything. I want you to know that everyone here is really nice to me and help me with everything. A few people try so hard to learn English/teach me Thai and talk to me all the time, and I appreciate it more than anything… But it’s so hard not being able to pick up the phone and call my mom or my friends. It’s so hard trying to explain to people what it’s like being without electricity and phone service all the time, because no one seems to get it. It’s so hard just wanting to make a cup of hot tea, or read a book without worrying about my phone dying, or having to hold a dim flashlight between my chin and chest all the while giant bugs flying at me because this is the only light they can find.

Tonight I broke my only cup on my tiled bedroom floor. I found my dying phone and turned on the flashlight, so I wouldn’t step on the glass in my pitch dark room. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t see anything, and then I started to think about all the people in the world who live their whole lives like this. Or people who have normal lives and then everything is taken from them, either by other humans or natural disasters, and their lives are forced to become like this (well, worse). I was feeling really sad, but also really grateful that I am lucky enough to understand that this is a frustrating situation, so I wrote a Facebook status about it. Right as I was about to press ‘post’ my phone lost service. And I just started to cry. I was just sitting on my bed, with my broken cup in a pile by my feet, sobbing because I couldn’t post my stupid Facebook status. Honestly, I feel kind of ashamed struggling so hard with this, especially because it’s only been a couple days, and I barely even want to get on Facebook when I do have service. But… the reality is: this is how I feel, this is my loneliness, and it is so hard.

A couple weeks ago I was on a bus heading back home, so so happy because I had just had a really wonderful weekend with friends I hadn’t seen in months. I remember looking out the window at the mountains and thinking, “I’m grateful for the hard moments, because they make moments like this so much greater.” I’m going to keep holding on to that.

P.s. “Fai dtap” means power is out, and I hear it almost every day.

Note: I wrote this on Monday and soon after my computer and phone died. Electricity and power never returned nor did the sunshine. I decided I wasn’t going to let myself drown in the rain, so I started going on long walks every day with anyone who would join me. Today (Friday), I was able to leave my village and come to Chiang Mai City, where I am basking in sunshine and the artificial light of my hostel. Although this week has been tough, I made it through with many happy moments and much laughter with students and teachers. It can only get easier, right?


4 replies »

  1. Your experience with the electricity is a reflection as to how far life with the PC in TH has changed. During my PCV time 1966-68 I shared a simple 2 story structure with another PCV. City water supply was 2 hours per day with rainwater picking up the slack. Rain water always had a fresh smell to it. Electricity was in the eve 6 to about 10. No TV. Radios were the backup entertainment. Communication with friends in other site was by “toraleg” or local telegrams sent out from the local post office. That same office would hand deliver any incoming telegrams addressed to me. Communication with home was via aerograms. LD telephone calls could only be made at the central post office in Bangkok on New Road.. Medical services via the PC were arranged with the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in BGK. Had dengue fever twice. Experienced one auto accident while traveling with Thai work colleagues in the national Malaria Eradication Program. Because the top of my head hit the windshield I needed to have 15 stitches in my scalp. The in-house PC doctor (an American) at the PC office in BGK reviewed the wound and had all compliments for the Thai hospital who handled my injury. Quite understandably my PCV experiences in TH some 50 years ago were relevant at that time just like the experiences of current PCVs are relevant to life in TH today.


  2. Stay strong! Natural obstructions are really irritating out here but your perseverance will make you stronger.


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