Things Thailand has Taught Me

With just a few weeks remaining in Thailand (can you believe it?!), I’m sure I’ll be doing lots of reflecting on the past five months and all the things I’ve learned and discovered about myself, about God and about this world. And I’ll probably share some of that with you in the coming weeks, but for right now, I want to share some of the more practical (?) things I’ve learned, because they are lessons that I’m sure will be useful to you. Continue reading

Your first Thai lesson

Would you like to learn a little Thai?

Let me warn you, though, it’s kind of hard.

Okay, wait. Let’s rewind.

When I was looking into going to a foreign country to volunteer for a few months, I originally only looked into Spanish-speaking countries, because, well, I actually know a little bit of Spanish. I figured I could very easily brush up on my Spanish vocabulary and verb conjugations and get along just fine. Plus, Spanish uses the same alphabet as English.

Major bonus. Continue reading

Cookies on a clothesline

Just wanted to share a favorite moment from slum outreach this week:

Hanging cookies on a clothesline and tellings kids to try to eat them without using their hands = hilarious. This little guy is obviously quite intent on his task. But see his hand sneaking up there? Cheater! Just another reminder that kids are kids, no matter where you are in the world. :) Continue reading

An American meets Turkey

No, I’m not talking about a thanksgiving Turkey. I’m talking about Turkish men. An entire songtaew full of them.

A little background: In case you don’t remember, a songtaew is a Thai version of a taxi or bus. It’s basically a truck with two covered benches in the back. You hop on and off the songtaews as they travel along their various routes around the city. You can also rent a songtaew if you have a large group of people that wants to go somewhere cheaply.

So back to today: I spent the afternoon running errands around the city and started heading home around nightfall. I went to the curb to flag down a songtaew, and noticed there was one just barely starting to pull away from the curb. Not wanting to wait until the next one came along, I hopped on just as it started moving. Whew, I made it! The songtaew picked up speed a little more quickly than I anticipated, though, and the two nice men sitting in the back pulled me up by my arms so I didn’t topple off the back of the truck.

I sit down as all the guys laugh at the “heroic rescue.” As I sit down I realize that all of these guys know each other (songtaews are usually full of strangers). Warning sign number one. They’re all speaking some Middle Eastern language, laughing, and having a great time. Uh oh.

Dana, these guys probably rented this songtaew and you just hopped on, assuming it was a public ride. 

I sit in silence for a couple minutes, desperately hoping this is not true.

“So, where are you from?” one of the guys asks.

“America,” I respond.

“New York City?” he asks. (Why do they always assume New York is the only part of the country??)

“No, Iowa. It’s right in the middle of the country.”

He nods, politely acting as if he’s heard of Iowa.

“Where are you guys from?”


“Oh, cool.”

“So, where are you going right now?” Turkish guy asks me.

“Uh…back home? Where are you going?”

“Well, we rented this songtaew to go to dinner.”

Worst nightmare confirmed. Cue embarrassment.

“Oh. My. Goodness. I am SO sorry. I just hopped on like an idiot. Here, let me get off. I’m so, so sorry!” Profuse apologies pour out of my mouth as my face turns the most awful shade of red.

The entire songtaew of Turkish men erupts into laughter. Again.

Completely. Utterly. Mortified.

One of the guys pushes the button so the Thai driver they hired will pull over and stop.

“Can I pay you guys?” I ask.

“No, no, that’s okay! Hey, want to come to dinner?”

No way, I need to get out of here as fast as humanly possible.

“No, that’s okay. I need to get home.”

I step out of the songtaew.

“Wait, wait!” I hear one of them say.

He’s holding a bag of groceries I left on the truck. As if I could look ANY more stupid. Sigh. I take the bag of groceries and head over to the line of songtaews waiting along the street that leads home, cowering beneath the weight of the embarrassment I just brought to my nationality.

Turkey, please don’t assume all Americans are this stupid. I just happen to be an especially awkward one (remember the nose ring incident and other awkward chronicles?) At least I’ll bring this country some entertainment for the next few months…