I came back to Bloomington, IN in the end of April to work at Esan Thai, the Thai restaurant I worked at in college.
I’m living in the Wat Pah Indiana, or in English, the Forest Temple of Southern Indiana. It’s a Thai Buddhist temple that the owner of my restaurant runs and she is letting me stay here. In exchange, I take care of these guys.
Pretty cute, right?
I’ve done a few other Asian things besides working at a Thai restaurant and living in Buddhist temple.
Here’s a picture of Aey, my boss (more a close friend at this point) and I at Asia Day at the Farmer’s Market. They asked her to do a cooking demonstration which turned into me cooking Kang Luang (yellow curry) for the first time ever while she gave me instructions, in the rain, in front of an audience. We were told we’d be on TV, but that didn’t end up happening. I’m not too torn up about it.
Another big Asian moment I had was the Laos New Years Festival in Fort Knox, Kentucky, another surprising place to feel like you’re in Asia. Laos and Thailand are super similar in terms of culture, language, and history, so Aey, her daughter Kara, and I went down for the day. I went a long because Kara was supposed to be in the beauty pageant and they needed me to do her hair and make-up, and I was promised an all-night dance party. Kara signed up for the pageant too late to be a contestant and the dance party was rained out. I’m still super glad I went, though! Lots of interesting food and things to do. Aey insisted that Kara and I wear traditional Thai dress. For a few hours, Kara and I were the only people wearing traditional clothing and I was the only white person, which was kind of an unsettling feeling, but I was there, so why not embrace it? Aey told people that she was there with her two daughters (yep, I’ve been adopted into a Thai family). I sure loved the expression on peoples’ faces when she would introduce us as her daughters. One of us looked a bit out of place. Guess who?
Thailand and Laos are very different from Indonesia, but these experiences are helping me get a sense of what life in Southeast Asia will be like. I’ve been thrown into situations full of spicy (kind of weird) food that I’ve been promised I will encounter in Sumatra. Also, and more importantly, I’ve been in some situations where I didn’t speak the language at all. Having only traveled in Latin America and being a Spanish speaker, I’ve had an advantage in adjusting. I will not have that luxury in Indonesia, but I’ve been really lucky to have made some Indonesian friends who have been helping me out a lot.
But more on Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) language later. I’ve been studying it and find it fascinating. Maybe you’ll think it’s as cool as I do, or maybe I’m just a linguistic nerd. Who knows?