It's safe to say I was in a pretty cranky mood last night. Not only did my poor hair get hacked to bits by the 'hairdresser', I was supposed to meet up with some friends for drinks and it just didn't happen. They didn't call until 11:30, by which time all the motorbike taxis had gone home for the evening - and the other teachers were too drunk (or too lazy) to come get me. So I was pretty disappointed and spent the rest of the night watching a DVD and feeling sorry for myself.
When I woke up I still felt pretty cranky. After I'd slept on it, my hair had frizzed up to well above shoulder length... it was UGLY people. I wish I had a 'before' shot because my hair had gotten so long and was all full and nice. There are very few things that I am vain about - but my hair matters to me. Anyway, I was still really moody.
Fortunately I only had one class today - and it wasn't until 4pm. If I'd gotten my act together I could have gone to the beach, but I moped around online until nearly noon. At that point I was pretty hungry. Since I had a couple hours to kill I decided to travel beyond my street and took a motorbike taxi to the mall. One of my students had asked me if the burgers at McDonalds here tasted like the ones from McDonalds in the US. I explained to him that I didn't normally eat at McDonalds, but figured in the interests of my student, I would make the sacrifice. I got to the mall and was wandering over to McDonalds when I ran into none other than Bobby and Bunny.
I guess this is one of the things about living in a 'small town' - you tend to run into people you know a lot. Rayong isn't a very small town, but I think it only has one mall and one Tescos, and that's where the farangs tend to congregate. I was actually really glad to meet up with them. We all decided to go to a Hot Pot place for lunch (I was relieved not to have to go to McDonalds). I'd been wanting to go to a Hot Pot place for a while and this was a great opportunity, because even if I look like a total loser for not knowing what to do - at least I'm not looking like a loser *alone*.
A Hot Pot restaurant is kind of like a mongolian grill or a fondue kind of place. There's a big, well, hot pot, on the table - an electric soup tureen. The waitress comes over and pours water in it and turns it on. Then you go to the buffet and load up all the ingredients for your soup. There are veggies and meats and sauces and all kinds of things. We just dumped a bunch of crap in there. It was okay... but not great. The upside of the restaurant was that there was also sushi (the cooked kind) so I had a bunch of California rolls and that kind of thing. This is totally the kind of thing that's fun to do with other farangs, because it's new and exciting for us - but totally mundane for the Thais. Lunch cheered me up considerably.
After lunch we shopped.... totally stereotypical, California girls hanging out in a mall. I picked up another pirated movie. I now have all three (truley horrible) Pirates of the Caribbean movies. They are genuinely bad movies, and I want to feel ashamed for watching them, but I can't. I love all the tropical settings and I love the music, and Johnny Depp & Orlando Bloom are hot. Plus they're in English and they're brainless. A nice change from my day-to-day.
Next we decided to stop for a beverage. They wanted coffee, I wanted something cool... and there was a Starbucks right there. We were all like "I know this is bad." but we were also like..."we're totally going to Starbucks". I mean... I can't even express what it's like to go into a Starbucks after living in Thailand for a while. My standards of quality have dropped *dramatically* since coming here. Most of the places I eat don't have walls, the chairs are plastic stools (and old), there are old plastic Pepsi banners for table cloths, the floor is concrete, there are flies, there are probably cockroaches (even if you don't see them), and there's a good chance there's a mangey looking stray dog wandering around nearby. So to walk into a Starbucks... an actual Starbucks that you could plop right down in Anytown USA and it would be identical to the one across the street... it's amazing.
So Bobby goes to open the beautiful, clean, shiny doors and she notices some decorations. "Why is there a wreath on the door?" she asks. Her confusion is completely justifyable. We were all in sleeveless tops and sandles, the sun was pouring through the window and it was hot outside. The wreath looked completely out of place. "It's the middle of November." I replied. "Ooooh." We all just took a minute to absorb the magnitude of that. It honestly still feels like summer to me, but with regards to the weather, and also psychologically. I have been working, and working hard at times, but it's weird to be at a job that I don't dread. It still feels a bit like this is some kind of extended vacation. I have a schedule, but I have such lattitude about when I do my planning and how I conduct my classes. It's so radically different from any job I've had before, I can't quite believe it's a real job.
Anyway, they ordered their coffees and I nearly cried when I saw that, like every other Starbucks I've ever been to - they had Tazo tea! Seriously... Tazo tea from Portland Oregon! I was overwhelmed. We sat down in the uber-comfy chairs and just soaked in all the cleanliness and familiar, generic, Starbucks atmosphere. It was heavenly. We chatted for quite a while when suddenly I was like "I have class at four!" It was 3:10pm! So I pretty much got up at that second and left. I took a motorbike taxi home, got changed & went back to school in plenty of time but still it was a bit shocking how easily I could have missed it.
It was amazing how much better I felt by the time I got to class. Everything went well, the students were actually speaking English and using words we'd learned in a previous class. Since this was my only class of the day I didn't have to rush back either, which was nice. I took a little time to plan tomorrow's lesson (only one class again tomorrow - a lot of cancelations this week) then headed home.
I'm super excited at the moment... tonight is Loy Krathong... a festival to honor the rivers. The idea is to appologize to the river for polluting it by making little boats out of flowers, candles and incense and floating them down the rivers. Yeah... I know... but try explaining Halloween to someone from another country (you dress like monsters and threaten people for candy). It's my first official Thai celebration and I can't wait to see what happens.
So how quickly my mood can shift... all it takes is a little food, a little socializing, and some western style creature comforts.
TAG - Code Mango.