Friday, January 21, 2011

100 Days in Thailand :: Day 2

We woke up so SORE. I swear we are sleeping on the hardest beds I have ever felt! There is not a spring to be found in the mattress – we have both commented that the floor might actually be a better option. I’m pretty sure the mattresses are stuffed with straw…but it doesn’t feel like straw. It feels like we’re sleeping on a king-sized ream of paper. Or a cement block. Worst. Bed. Ever.

Rusty tells me first thing in the morning that there is no hot water. Not like, the water heater is broken….there is NO hot water. Never was any. Not even wired for it. Oh Lord help me!

Cue the tears – I just couldn’t help it. I was tired and sore and I wanted my bed and my shower (with hot water!) It’s true what I said earlier….it’s been too long since we’ve been overseas and we are too comfortable. It’s much harder to adjust to this lifestyle than it was for my last 3 trips overseas!

We headed out for lunch at KFC (they are everywhere overseas! Oh how I wish it was Chick-Fil-A!), then to get Thai Sim Cards for our phones, and finally to a coffee shop for some journaling. Then it was time to grab a few groceries and take them back to our rooms. I had forgotten how difficult the language barrier is in a foreign country! Suddenly the simplest tasks are so daunting! Almost everything in the grocery store was in Thai – name, ingredients, etc. IF you found anything American (take OREOS for example) then it was 4 times the price. And so, you stare at shelves, trying to find the little bit of English on the packaging (if there is any) or figuring out what the picture is.

I ended up with some coconut cookies, some sort of cheese flavored rice cracker (I wanted a cheese cracker and it was the only thing I could find that actually said the word CHEESE!) and what I think is coconut yogurt. Not 100% sure on that one….it was either a picture of a coconut, or a grape, or some other weird fruit I can’t identify. Oh  yea, AND I bought some fried seaweed. Might be nasty but it was, like, 50 cents and I felt adventurous. (I’ll let you know how that turns out!)

After dropping off the groceries (including BOTTLED WATER. Don’t worry Mom, I’m doing my best NOT to get parasites again!) we headed back out for dinner. Oh boy. If I thought grocery shopping was difficult, dinner was WAY worse! I wanted Thai food because I love Asian food, so we walked down to this outdoor food court kind of thing. Rusty asks what I want. I say I’m not sure. So we take a lap around trying to see if there is anything that looks good. To me – it all looks the same. Chicken on a stick. Whole cooked fish. Eggs. Rice. There is nothing that looks good – where is all the chopped up chicken in sauce with rice and noodles and all that good stuff?!

This is the point where I feel COMPLETELY helpless and I realize I am un-prepared for this trip. Because I’m not leading a team or part of a team from a missions organization (like all the other times I went overseas), I haven’t had any cultural or language prep for this trip (that will come when we get to Chiang Mai in a week). This is also the first time I’ve been overseas without any sort of guide or translator going everywhere with me, which means I can’t ask someone what anything means or how to say anything. Rusty has been my source of info since he’s been here twice, but he didn’t learn any of the language when he was here (except for Hello and Thank You) so he is no help. I just want some food – preferably chicken and rice and some sort of yummy sauce – and I don’t know how to get it!

That’s when we saw the table full of white people. They were the first group we’d seen (other than 1 white guy earlier) and so, of course, we assume they are American (or at least English speaking). Rusty walks up to them and simply says, “Um…what are you eating and how did you get it?!” haha! Within minutes we’ve all introduced ourselves and they’ve hooked us up with their Thai friend who speaks fluent Thai AND English. Praise the Lord!

I got garlic chicken. Rusty got fried rice with eggs and chicken. YUM! We tried to take a picture after dinner, but my camera batteries were dead. Sorry friends! I promise to post pictures ASAP though!

Overall, helpless is probably a good word for how I’m feeling right now. I’m ok not to have specific plans for everyday and to “go with the flow”, but I am struggling with not knowing enough about how to operate here. It is SO important to me when I am in another country to learn as much as possible about their culture and as much of their language as I can. Part of it is pride (it’s very humbling to look like an awkward idiot everywhere you go!) but the other half is really wanting to respect the people by putting forth the effort to at least try to learn their language and to try not to make any cultural faux pas. The sad thing is that will be nearly impossible until we get to Chiang Mai on the 26th. I am kicking myself for not getting an English to Thai translation book before we left….how could I forget that?!

I am hoping when we come home in 3.5 months this will be a distant (funny) memory. Hopefully by then I will have a good bit of Thai in my vocabulary and I’ll feel comfortable here…..but until then I guess I’ll have to deal with looking like the stupid American!


  1. Oh Ericka! I love your transparancy and honesty here! One thing I found myself saying in my head over and over while we were in Swazi was "stupid, stupid American!" (referring to myself!!) Every person should be required to be put in this situation, just to knock 'em down a few!! Love ya girl!

  2. Love you guys! Praying this will be an awesome 100 days in Thailand! Thanks for sharing!