• Tara B. Vasi

Day 4: Children, pottery, durian, murder

I didn’t even try to snooze the roosters this morning. Instead, I got up, thanked them for the notification and headed to the kitchen to get Super Rich. I was pumped to be teaching a yoga bootcamp hybrid class, similar to my Sukha Strong, a class that incorporated traditional yoga poses with core strengthening exercises and plyometrics. I love using the word plyometrics because it makes me sound smart, but really its just a fancy word for using your own body weight.

The bootcamp style yoga class went great and everyone had a good time. I posted a time lapse video of the session on social media. They definitely finished sweaty and looking much stronger then they had the hour before. They earned their chicken fried rice with fried eggs for breakfast. Some people put berry jam on toast and topped it with a fried egg. We also were served watermelon and pineapple and we all noted how the watermelon had seeds, which I just swallowed, because I have little regard for my digestive system and still hope one day a watermelon will grow in my stomach. America and their seedless fruit, pufft.

Today we are heading to a local school to feed the children and interact with them. They are learning English as a part of their curriculum. The bus van pulled up to the school and we could see the children running out to greet us, smiling and waving. They were wearing uniforms, pants or skirts, and a white collared shirt. We got out and began to unload the food. We brought streamed chicken, blood pate, potato soup, sticky rice, and sliced cucumbers for lunch, a strawberry condensed milk concoction that was hard not to rename “Pank Drank” or pink drink if you say it like a normal person. We all brought candy from the states to share with the children and with all of our treats combined we had a surplus of lollipops, star burst, jolly ranchers, kit Kat, Reeses peanut butter cups, twisters and skittles. We had to hide the candy so that the kids would eat lunch first. I had brought four bags of candy for the kids, two bags of tootsie rolls and two bags of dum dum lollipops from New Jersey but the Thai red ants got into two of them and I accidentally left the other two bags by the sink near my room.

When we had the assembly line and food, well, assembled, the kids lined up to be served, each grabbing a metal tray with different sections for each food item.

Once they had received their lunch they sat down at the long cafeteria style tables by grade. More and more children began to sat down and I realized that none of them had touched their food yet. I learned that in Thai custom (and many many many other customs) you wait until everyone has their food and is seated, so that you can say a prayer and begin eating together. I was amazed at how patient the children were, both in line and waiting at the table with there food. There were a couple cutie pies that were 4 years old that could not control themselves and dug into the sliced cucumbers.

I wanted to remember to tell Louie and Bailey that the children in Thailand love cucumbers, too!

There were a group of young girls 7-12 years old that approached me and said hello. I think they thought I was pretty. They were very shy but very confident at the same time. One of the girls said, “Hello. What is your name?” And I said, “My name is Tara. What is your name?” And she told me her name and I bowed to her with my hands at my heart and said “Nice to meet you, Nala.” I then went around to each girl and asked them there name and bowed to each girl complimenting their English. One girl pointed to the elephant tattoo on my shoulder and then put a sticker of a flower at the end of the elephant trunk. My eye balls started doin that thing… They held up their forearm to my forearm and started to laugh as I assume they were comparing skin tones. They each took a turn holding their forearm up to mine and giggling. I said “Look, we are the same.” Then one girl said, “Black” and I was extremely confused and moonwalked out of the conversation.

They all had their food now and started their prayer, thanking the farmers for the vegetable and the providers of the meals. They had a stray dog that was the school mascot and he sat and watched as if he was listening to the prayer and knew it very well.

There were seven teachers and fifty four students. There were 4 students in the fourth grade.

The school was not in the best condition and when a little girl spilled her pink drink on her chin and shirt, I couldn’t find a tissue anywhere so I pulled one out of my bag to help clean her up.

The principal came to meet us and told us that 90% of the children parents were divorced and were being raised by their grandparents. He said that they have been looking forward to our visit for week and were so excited to take pictures with us and take turns speaking English. He was so grateful for our visit and we could tell he appreciated our support.

We started handing out candy and even though the kids were super excited, they were also very calm. They did not grab. They did not try to steal each others candy. There was one candy incident where a boy tried to trade his taffy taffy for the other boys starburst and the other boy wasn’t having it, and well, he was right and I am proud of him for standing his ground. Laffy taffy is gross. I gave the taffy boy some starburst and he immediately fell in love with me.

Towards the end of lunch, a young girls stood up because she had a message for us. She said, “Thank you so much for coming to our school. Thank you so much for the food and sweets.” It was adorable and when she walked away she was so proud of herself. Her friends hugged her and everyone knew that being able to speak English that well at such an early age was a big deal.

At the close of lunch, the children bussed their own tray and put their shoes back on, the ones they left outside at the entrance to the cafeteria. They left the cafeteria, but congregated outside to wait for us, super excited about taking a group photo.

The hugged us as we left. They looked us right in the eye and said thank you and I knew they genuinely meant it.

They waves and said bye bye until the van bus was completely out of view.

We went back to the retreat center for lunch but headed back out soon after to the “Pottery Barn” a place where they made and sold pottery.

The main guy had been making pottery for over fifty years. When we popped in he was making the base for the gigantic owl he had made. It wasn’t a pre order. He just made it knowing he would sell it eventually.

Owls were his thing and there were owls of all sizes all around the barn ready to be sold.

I had a go at the pottery wheel. It was my first time every trying to make my own pottery. It went lopsided at one point. I laughed, I fixed it and moved on. I thought, damn, there are symbols all over the place!

Lauire stepped on clay bricks that were drying and we decided then and there that we couldn’t take her anywhere. A thought came to up and we suggested they sell her brick as a “real Ferrang footprint” and the clay guys laughed, even though we both know the Ferrangs are the only ones that buy things at the Pottery Barn.

There was a Pottery Barn mascot/stray named Coffee. He was what looked like a golden retriever. I have never seen a golden retriever stray before. He had a big boo boo on his back and like his friends, was covered with fleas. He also left a footprint in the clay bricks that were driving.

When we were getting on the bus, I sang my song. I love Thailand. I love yoga. I love dogs. I love coffee. I love dogs named coffee.

We stopped by Nim’s aunts coffee shop. It was name Cafe Caffeine.

We got some fancy coffees and cakes, which were delicious but we were mainly excited to use the internet. I talked to Maddy, the videographer from California who has been traveling around for the last few months making videos for retreat centers or resorts in exchange for room and board. She is 25 and I keep telling her how proud I am of her, for kicking ass in life and following the digital nomad movement that is sweeping the young travel world. She was talking to me about how she reached out to retreat centers and created her business all on her own and gave me some information about how to reach out to yoga studios or resorts in Bali about hiring an in-house yoga teacher. Interesting idea, Madelyn.

On the way home we stopped at the grocery store because we needed bottled water. I was looking for dehydrated mangos for a snack and found some in the snack isle. They also had dehydrated Durian which is a fruit native to Thailand that looks like jackfruit but is much spikier on the outside and mushier on the inside. Plus, IT STINKS. It stinks so bad that it has been banned from airports, schools, taxi cabs, pretty much anywhere with little ventilation. Some people love it and some people hate it. I never thought that a fruit could create such controversy. So, obviously I bought some.

And I am scared to open it. The fresh ones have a worse stench, but I’m pretty sure the dehydrated variety will still pack quite a punch. Apparently they are aren’t even sold in the USA. I’ll let you know hw that goes.

I also bought an apple, an avocado for Frank, a bag of cashews (there cashews taste much sweeter and I am unsure if they add sugar somehow or if there cashews are just naturally sweeter in flavor), and a bag of chips, because I had weird anxiety for a second like this would be my last opportunity to buy anything EVER.

The grocery store was like a Wall-Mart and they had a little bit of everything, even a KFC. Divina had to try it to see if it was the same as in Philly. The menu listed deep fried shrimp doughnuts, or shrimp rings, and she ordered three for a few of us to try. I am still unsure as to why the KFK gods thought the natural ‘J’ shape of shrimp was not an adequate or appealing shape and they had to alter the configuration of the the food to create the ‘O’.

I don’t exactly know where the time went and by the time we got back to the retreat center it was 8:30pm and we had vegetable stir fry and egg waiting for us. I put way too much crushed red pepper on it and do not look forward to the burn on the way out.

We talked about our next day, day five, our last day in Korat and our travel day to Krabi. We had to catch the van bus to the airport at 7am, leaving the retreat center maybe forever, and would be by the beach around 4pm. I am excited for the beach, but I don’t want to go! I don’t want this to be my last time here in Korat and at this retreat center. Maybe its not the last time this retreat center will see me.

Frank who works a lot with Reiki and energy healing said he would send energy to us in our sleep and be aware if any spirit guides, human or animal, visit you in your dream and if they do follow them to wherever they lead you.

(That night I had a dream I was driving a car and it was speeding out of my control. I have this dream often to be honest, like the gas petal is stuck down or I’m in the back seat and the car is going and going, but no one is in the drivers seat steering.

That night there was little girl in the road. I yelled for her to move out of my way. I tried to swerve to avoid her, but I ended up hitting her. I contemplated driving away, but instead turned around to see if she was ok. When I got there, the little girl was gone.

I don’t know what the fuck that dream is supposed to means. I feel uncomfortable telling you about it, a little bit. I suppose there is quite a bit of meaning to that dream. I’ll talk to Frank about it and see what he has to say.

Hopefully. I didnt dream murder my spirit guide.


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