I've had a couple of solidly good days lately and this cheers me greatly. I can only assume I've entered the 'Adjustment' phase of culture shock where I stop hating everything but am not irrationally enamored with everything either... I've more or less gotten used to the new environment and am just back to normal life. You know... whatever normal is.
My Saturday kid classes are becoming tolerable. I'm using the same book for both classes (different units though). And imperfect as it may be, at least I'm not having to improvise entire 3 hour classes like I did before. And my teaching schedule in February was my lightest so far, so I haven't been particularly stressed out or anything.
Oh! And the thing that has radically changed my outlook on life, the universe and Rayong ....
THERE'S A NEW COFFEE SHOP!!!
It's clean, it's adorable, it has a couch & a comfy chair, the bathroom gets a solid A for cleanliness and supplies, the beverages are decent and cheap, and it's within walking distance from our house... oh and the owner speaks a little English. So instead of spending between 40 - 100 baht (songthao or motorbike) to get to Starbucks, then spending 100 - 200 (and up) on drinks and snacks, we can walk to the coffee shop and spend 30 - 40 baht per drink. It's also close enough to the school that we can drop by even if we only have an hour or so between classes. I cannot even begin to tell you how much of a difference this has made in our lives. We have someplace to HANG OUT!!! I love it!
Today it was raining when I woke up, not big scary monsoon rain, just normal even rain rain. It was even cool out. As I literally burnt out on going to the beach in February I didn't feel the usual obligation/obsession to go today. I hung out in bed reading Questionable Content archives (my new addiction) then went for a late breakfast/lunch. I actually got to wear my hoodie today and felt mildy wintry... you know, as much as you can when you're still wearing capris and flip-flops. In any case it was nice not to be absurdly hot and sweaty by the time I got to breakfast. Then I wandered over to the coffee shop and Bunny & Le Blond were already there, Scrabble board out and ready for action. Soon enough Donny & Bobby came by too.
I drank an Iced Cocoa... which is really just a bizarre combination of chocolate syrup, a little water and a lot of ice. Seriously. After our first round I was feeling frisky and decided what I really wanted on my day off was beer. Now... here's where living in Thailand is starting to rub off on me. In the States, we would relocated to a bar, because of COURSE you're not going to bring beer into a coffee-shop, that's just not done! But here, mai bpen lai. Especially since one or more of us patronize the place pretty much every day now, it's not like we're freeloading. Anyway Le Blond and I got up to go buy beers but when we got to the 7/11 we realized it was not the appropriate time to buy beer. Apparently you can only buy it after 5pm or something, and possibly at noon. I really don't understand the rules. But by feigning ignorance (I totally understood that the woman was saying "can not") and handing over money they let us buy the beer anyway.
So it's like 2 in the afternoon & we're sitting in the coffee shop drinking 'illegally' purchased beer and having a pretty good time. Le Blond is Canadian so we played Canada Scrabble ... you have to make sentences relating each word to Canada. This is always fun (usually we play Cedric Diggory Scrabble) and I was pleased to get a few bonus points for the sheer awesomeness of "aboot." But after a while we decided to relocate to someplace that actually served beer so we wouldn't have to make more trips to 7/11. We also decided we wanted to play cards. So Bunny went home to get cards and we regrouped at The Dive - the restaurant near the school.
I don't like the beer they serve there, so again, I picked up beer at a store nearby and drank it right there. The owner didn't even blink (I should add he was rather inebriated himself) ... he just took the bottle and walked it over to the bottle opener to uncap it for me. We got lunch and played Hearts. Now... gambling is illegal in Thailand and apparently playing cards is frowned upon. But we figured since we weren't playing for money it was no big deal. We're just playing and drinking and eventually eating, for a good long time. After like a couple hours the owner finally comes over and in scattered Thai and English tells us that we can't play cards, it's against Thai law and the police will arrest us if they see us. We made a small attempt at explaining that we weren't playing for money, but put the cards away anyway. I didn't mind being 'naughty' but, obviously, we weren't interested in getting in actual trouble.
Bunny and I ended up going to Le Blond's apartment and hanging out there for several more hours. Le Blond plays the guitar, quite well actually, and had a whole notebook of lyrics to the songs he could play. So we had a drunken sing along, smoked a couple of cigarettes (yes yes I know - it's a filthy habit I picked up in the far east), exchanged a few drunken deep thoughts and just generally enjoyed ourselves. All told, it was a fairly awesome way to spend a rainy day off in Rayong. And when I think about all the things I never would have done in the States, or that I wouldn't have had the guts to do here even just a couple of months ago, it's all just a little crazy.
I'm still toying with the idea of leaving Rayong for either Bangkok or another country. Bunny & Bobby will be leaving at the end of April, and Le Blond is looking at a job in Bangkok right now as well. I'm not sure I want stick around to get to know the next crew. Still cogitating though... still cogitating. Cogitating, and hoping my camera gets repaired soon so I can actually upload some pictures for you kids.
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