I’ve settled into a regular weekday routine here at the school, having figured out (more or less) where, when and what to teach, when and where to eat, and how to use the small bathroom with no mirror as a toilet, shower, and laundry room. In this post, I’ll share my eating routine with you.
In the mornings, I eat what is a pretty standard USA breakfast: cereal with milk or toast with butter or jam and coffee. Jason consults us before stocking up on these breakfast foods. There aren’t too many choices of cereals but corn flakes works for me and Laurian likes some kind of chocolately cereal. We get up early every day to eat breakfast in the conference room before any teachers start arriving (except Jason, who sleeps in the principal’s office just off the conference room.)
Weekday lunches are in the school lunchroom. I don’t call it a cafeteria because it’s basically just a big room with tables and bench seats. At the back of the room is a small “kitchen” area that has no applicances except a large propane cyclinder and burner. The lady that serves as the school cook works very hard on many different school activities. She has also washed clothes and hemmed pants for me: we have compromised on fees: I pay her what she considers too much and I consider too little. She prepares the food for the 186 kids in what must be a 50-gallon pot. Teachers have a separate meal which is built on a substantial scoop of rice and always includes a delicious (sometimes very spicy) sauce, fresh vegetables from the school garden, and meat dishes including fish, pork, and chicken. A photo of one of my lunches is shown below (I have to admit I chose to photograph this particular lunch because the I knew you’d enjoy seeing the fish head :-).
For cleanup, we each kneel in the corner of the “kitchen” to wash our metal trays and silverware under a water faucet hanging over a concrete slab that takes runoff water out to the back through a pipe in the wall.
A short video of the school lunchtime routine for kids is shown below…
Most weekday evenings, Laurian and I walk down the road to a small restaurant (more like a food stand with picnic tables covered by thatched roofs) which has a tasty but limited menu. There, I often have something called Pad Say Eu and I order it with a fried egg on top (“kai dao”.)
It’s really delicious. I think I’ve had more fried eggs in the past month than I’ve had in the previous 2 years. There is something about the way that they fry the egg here that leaves it crunchy, yet delicious and I really like them.
Last night, for some reason, our little restaurant was closed so Jason drove us down to the Nong Mak Fai Buddhist Temple, on whose grounds a market is set up every Thursday and Sunday evening. There we bought pork pad thai from a vendor and carried it back to the school to enjoy: it was excellent. A video of the vendor making the pad thai is shown below. I can’t tell you precisely what she put in it but I know it included noodles, scallions, pork, shrimp, fish sauce, egg, sugar, and ground peanuts. I found it interesting to watch as I had never seen it made before. She made it look easy.
I’m now over half-way through my volunteering stint. I leave here to go back to Bangkok and meet Michael two weeks from today. It’s been a really interesting experience but I’m happy I only signed up for 4 weeks because it’s very tiring. It’s been really hot and humid here which adds to the difficulty. I know most of you have been suffering through a particularly bad winter so I know I can’t get any sympathy for being where it’s WARM!