On Saturday, I spent the whole day with one of my three Thai friends: a blessing, who goes by Nan. I knew I was in for a long day when she picked me up and said, “if you have time, can I kidnap you today?”. The Thai people are such a polite bunch, asking my permission to be kidnapped. I said yes, since I 1) had no plans and 2) I find it very challenging to say no to this precious woman.
A little bit about Nan, she is a 30 something English lecturer at the university I teach at. I sent my mom a photo of her in a red dress and she replied by asking, “oh Sione, when did you get that red dress?”. Good one mother. Turns out, it wasn’t just my mom and apparently, we could be sisters? Besides the 12 inch height difference and whole she’s Thai and I’m not thing, I definitely see the resemblance. But actually, I love the fact people think we’re related since that means people think that I could be related to an angel. I’m okay with that. Besides that, this woman loves to eat. She told me her two favorite things are ice cream and buffets. We spend most of our time driving to eat, eating or talking about eating. She introduces me to some of the best food spots in our city, and in exchange, well…I actually don’t know what she’s getting out of the deal.
It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that she picked me up on Saturday and we immediately went to go eat lunch. She always scolds me for not eating enough breakfast but I think I could tell her I ate an entire chicken and she still would reprimand me. So by the time we are at the restaurant, I am feeling ready to represent my parents proudly in what always feels like an eating competition. We ate at a local Isan restaurant that never fails to deliver an aroi mak (very delicious) Northeastern Thai meal. Gorging ourselves on som tam, tom yum kung, pra tod and keowi neoui (papaya salad, shrimp coconut soup, fried fish + sticky rice), I tapped out and left it to Nan to finish strong for the both of us.
After running some personal errands for Nan, we then went to a temple nearby, Wat Na Boon. It is much different going to a temple as a tourist than going to a temple with a local who is Buddhist. Instead of walking around, taking a few pictures and leaving, going with Nan allows me to learn about the customs on a first hand basis. It is considered a good deed to give gifts/money to the monk, but it is especially good if you also feed the animals around the temples. Outside many of the temples here, there are very large families of fish. I am not sure how many people commit good deeds by feeding these fish since they always seem starving – I am convinced if I fell in I would be eaten alive. On this particular trip to the temple, Nan showed me how to get your daily fortune. You pick up a jar full of numbered sticks and shake the jar quickly until a single number falls to the floor. That number then corresponds to a fortune written on the wall. According to my number 14, “my fate is like a turtle hanging on a piece of stick in its mouth with a swan holding on the other end and then the foulmouthed turtle opened its mouth to curse and fell to it’s death”. Oh and also, “it’s difficult for me to find a spouse because of my big mouth”. So basically, I’m doing awesome.
Next up on our agenda? A Thai massage! Now, never would I have thought I would use the word wonderful to describe a woman forcefully shoving her foot in my inner thigh/almost groin, but here I am doing just that. It is wonderful. Unlike at home, a massage in Thailand requires both parties involved to be engaged. It is truly a full body experience. After an hour of being forced into some positions I don’t think I could get into by myself, we paid up our 250 baht ($7) and left for bigger and better things…aka ice cream.
After some more errand running and eating, it was time for our evening to come to an end. I walked up to my apartment feeling very grateful for meeting such a wonderful person, and of course, feeling very full.