A Not So Single Story

Daylisha Reid, 130 YinD

I am sorry to be the one to break the news, but while this may be the case for most areas, not every place in Thailand is hot all year round! Yeah, I said it. This is just one of the many general things volunteers were told pre-site placement. It is natural for volunteers in training to wonder what life at site will be like. While pre-service training and seasoned volunteers can provide a good idea, there really is no right or wrong answer to how one’s experience at site could turn out. I was curious as to how volunteers experiences at site differed from one another as well as from what they had been initially prepared for. Rather that be in relation to Thai customs, language, religion, climate, food, geography, social norms, or anything else that volunteers found to be surprising and unique upon integrating into their communities. Check out what a few volunteers shared below:

Site Location: Central – Suphan Buri Province

My area is known for a pastry called Sally: it’s a dry sponge cake that is used in fun competitions to see who can eat it the quickest.
My area also has a restaurant inside of our market that is FAMOUS for having the best noodles, Bah Mii Luang Dom Yam, everyone who visits my site is taken to eat there! It is delicious.
– Zari ใบตอง, YinD, 130

Site Location: North Central – Phetchabun Province

One unique thing about Phetchabun is that it’s known for its pod-like fruit, tamarind (aroi mak)! Tamarind looks like a large green bean—with the exception of curved brown pods. Fun fact: there are statues of tamarind all over Phetchabun, that’s how serious it is. In addition to it being a cool looking fruit, there are several health benefits that are associated with tamarind such as aiding digestion and relieving fevers as well as inflammation.

– Kara Anthony, TESS, 130 Site Location: Northern – Nan Province

In Nan, the Northern dialect is spoken faster than in other Northern Thailand provinces like Chiang Mai. Needless to say, I have no idea what anyone is saying.

– Andrea Aribe, YinD, 130

Site Location: Southern – Ranong Province

My site is basically in a lush rainforest. To the East there are mountains, and there are branches of rivers that flow from the mountains to the sea in the West. A lot of free time at site is spent swimming with my students, jumping off rocks and logs, or floating solo in the river behind my home at sunset.

– Halli Benson, TESS 130

Site Location: Northern – Chiang Mai Province

My site is located in a Karen Hill Tribe deep in the mountains of Chiang Mai. I live in a tiny blue house at the school, along with most of my teachers and students.  My life can be described as rare electricity, wind pants to work, lots of naps, and long walks in the mountains with my students and teacher friends.
– Bethany McHugh, TESS, 130

Site Location: Southern – Satun Province

For most of us, the first thing we learn in Thai is “sa-wat-dii ka/krap” accompanied by a super “riap roi” wai. So it was a surprise to me to learn that where I live, hardly anyone does either! Instead, since everyone in my community is Muslim, members of the same sex touch hands and greet in Arabic. A simple wave and “hello” can suffice as well … just like in America.

– Clarence Say, TESS, 129

Site Location: North – Uttaradit Province

Something unique about my site in Uttaradit is that the entire village is involved in the production of bamboo chopsticks and toothpicks. From the planting of bamboo to the shipping of the final product and every step in between, everyone plays a part

– Abbey Weiler, TESS, 129

Site Location: North – Phitsanulok Province

I live in the lower north province of phitsanulok. My site is on the outskirts of a city, so I have access to a lot of stores but biking is pretty impossible with tons of road construction. It’s pretty hot here but more like a dry hot than humid hot. Right now we are in the winter season and I weirdly wore sweatpants to bed and was still slightly cold.

– Carissa Anderson, YinD, 130

Site Location: South – Ranong Province

I live in Ranong province, which is in the southern region of the country. During PST, I was led to believe that the south was the hottest part of Thailand and that I’d better get used to sweating 24 hours a day. As it turns out, Ranong is the wettest province in the country. In wet season, between May and October, the average # of rainy days per month about 26 days! Also, my community is up in the mountains on the border of Myanmar and Thailand, and the combination of rain and altitude actually means that I am cold way more often than I am hot. Not only do I rock long sleeves on the regular, but I hardly ever ride my bike. The sporadic rainfall left me stranded in different places too many times to count after first arriving at site, so I’ve worked out a transportation situation with my SAO so I get rides to work every morning. Thankfully, there are tons of song taos going through my community all the time, so I can still get around without a problem. Being cold and using my bike as my main mode of transport – definitely was not what I expected.

– Liz Steering, YinD, 130

Site Location: North – Uttaradit Province

To Thais, coffee comes in a black and red packet labeled “Nescafe.” That’s what they tell us. But I know it’s not true. My site has cappuccino, americano, latte, frappe, and mocha too. There are four shops to choose from. Each a different atmosphere than the last. All with real coffee beans and steamed milk on high blast. Too bad I don’t like coffee. Also, I wrote a blog post about my favorite coffee shop:

– Morgan Kubishak, YinD, 130

Site Location: South – Satun Province

Satun was recently designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark and is renowned for the diversity and uniqueness of its fossils. The fossils are beautifully depicted on clothing and clothes here using a style called Batik in which hot wax is poured on the fabric before applying paint.

– Phil Hendrix, TESS, 130

Site Location: North – Chiang Mai Province

There are so many things that make our site unique from the upwards of 7 different languages spoken and hill tribe communities to having had lucked up with a village that has two restaurants that serve pizza, onion rings, and French fries. However, the one thing that caught us by most surprise is how cold it gets. November-March is considered winter, and many people adorn themselves with coats, mittens, scarves, and hats because of how cold it gets, especially in the evening and early morning. One time it even hailed huge chunks of ice — in the summer.

– Gabriel (TESS) & Daylisha Reid (YinD), 130

Site Location: South – Satun Province

My site is in amphoe La Ngu, Satun in the deep south. My community is vastly Muslim with a lot of people from Malaysia originally. Instead of the many Buddhist temples normally seen in Thai communities, we have one temple in the amphoe and each village has at least one mosque. We also have many more cows and goats instead of pigs.

– Caitlin Orgon, YinD, 130

Site Location: West – Tak Province

1) The village I live in is very small (I can walk from one end to the other in ten minutes) but rather developed (has a 7/11!!!).  However, it is also the most developed village for six hours and extremely isolated.

2) My site has two large upland ethnic minority (“hill tribe”) populations in addition to sitting in the Myanmar border.  Lots of languages, lots of culture. 🙂

3) My site is in the mountains!!  (this is a big contributor to why I’m so isolated)  This means summers are more mild and I never worry about flooding in rainy season, but I’ve woken to my house being 40F and lower in the winter.

– Andy James, TESS, 129

















Read Daylisha’s previous articles and contributions.

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