Monday, June 20, 2011


Sleep cycle shot, unsure of how to order food, all communication accompanied by pantomiming- traveling can be hard. For a few days last week, I doubted myself, and I retreated to my room. On Friday, however, I resolved to move, ran around my neighborhood, and began to feel awe and joy again. In new places, I run by by taking every little side street, and came across a 1 km, pitch black passage in a cave, about 800 m from my house, and noted to come back with a flashlight. Some 15 minutes later I came across a Buddhist monastery with a lengthy, enclosed bridge designed like a dragon, which transports the visitor from "heaven to hell." Heaven is a cave and a spot overlooking Phang Nga, and hell is grotesque statues spearing each other, and I said: boy I gotta tell Michelle about this. So the next day we went on a tour of Southwestern Phang Nga.

She brought a camera. This is a giant Buddha.
It is actually awe-inspiring.

Now we're in Hell.

This dude is being sawed by demons. That's no good.

That day we took long walks and ate cheap food and met a dude from Wales who also teaches English.

Sunday morning, a teacher at my school invited us to a ceremony at a Buddhist temple. Another teacher's son is becoming a monk, so we went early to see his head be ritually shaved by family members. Michelle and I were invited to take a picture with him and his parents. We of course obliged:

We ate a big meal and walked around the temple with family and friends until the newly anointed monk through ceremonial coins at us for good luck. I went home, killed the day, and ran to Phang Nga bay.

Some more general observations:

Teaching English is a joy. Right now I feel like I could do this forever. I have kids who are ages 12-18, although most are 15-17. I much prefer the older ones. Their English reading and writing is good but they are conversationally shy, so I start classes with things like "ask me a question- until you do you must stand." They are very well-behaved and polite. The 12-13 year olds were not so good. I don't think they understood more than 1 out of 5 words I said so naturally their attention wavered, but many were clearly deliberately testing me, singing in class, or playing with a ping pong paddle and ball. So I confiscated a bunch of their things and told one kid to leave, ushering him out with a loud "goodbye!" It wasn't a high moment, but each other class has been great. Teaching is ridiculous- great classes are elevating, and poor ones fill me with self-doubt and fear. It all feels so personal, even if on some level I realize I am not the protagonist; I am like Rosencrantz or smaller.

Living in a warm, humid climate can be rough. Clothes take a long time to get dry and the whole house smells like mildew. Most indoor spaces and books I encounter are mildewed, mostly in a mild way. I spend about 20-35 minutes each day cleaning.

I was living ultra frugally, amazed that I could survive on $3 a day, but why bother? My salary comes out to about $17/day, and my only expenses are food and cleaning supplies. So I bought the Frosted Flakes, name brand, at Big C. Totally worth it.

All my dreams recently have been about the last week or so of City Year. When City Year began, all my dreams were about senior week of college. In one , I was at a big party with CY people, carousing, when I suddenly noticed that one of my students, the littlest one in the class, the one I used to carry in my arms when she was having a tough time, was sitting right next to me. I said to the group "I can't drink anymore- D is here." And D said "it's ok; I'm used to it." I guess I feel guilt about abandoning the students, literally flying away to an easier life. It will pass. I'm surprised how few of my dreams are about school itself. I guess my subconscious exhausted the subject this winter.

Thai people are super friendly. I was running around shirtless on Sunday and almost everyone who zoomed past me on their motorbike honked the horn and said "hello!" or "welcome to Thailand!" Or just waved and smiled. I feel welcomed.

Man, I know it's a stereotype, but I am seriously lucky to be here:


  1. Aww Seth, Im so glad that you are enjoying yourself! Your blogs are my get away time of the day!! Hehe so dont stop! Your pictures are great! Especially since I secretly have an undying curiosity bone about the Buddhist religion! Your really lucky!

    Dont feel alone about your dreams about CY. I have them as well. Maybe a little more often than Id like but I have them. Hopefully, like you, they will go away. Im sure that although you only spent 10months with your little ones, Im sure a few of them will remember you for a very very long time and you will serve as positivity in their lives. So good job mister sister! lol

    Either way, your classes seems pretty kool! If I had any money at all and minus the baby (hehe) Id so come visit! :) But with that said, I'll be sure to take pics and things like that to show you! I miss you Seth. I guess it is true when they say you dont know what you have til its gone. Surprisingly I really miss you and Zachy..... Okay enough with the mushy ish!

    Please keep on enjoying yourself! Oh and have you eaten meat yet?!?! Im dying to know. Oh Ms Crosby and Ms Toon said hey too! Saw them last week!

    PS: Michelle is cute :)

  2. Catherine, thanks for the thoughtful response! Good to hear from you. Buddhism is definitely an interesting religion. I went to a funeral tonight. It was very different from any I've attended. I'll write more about it tomorrow at school.

    My CY dreams are fading. Now they're confused non-linear narratives of people and places like always. I think X was better off for having each of us.

    I can't wait to see photos of Jayden! Yes I'm eating meat. It's awesome. If you see Ms. Toon and Ms. Crosby again tell them I say hi!