typhus fever; is any of several similar diseases caused by rickettsiae, a genus of motile, gram-negative, non-sporeforming highly pleomorphic bacteria. the name comes from the greek word typhos, meaning smoky or hazy, describing the state of mind of those affected with typhus. thank you webmd. for me typhus really just equates to the death of my body and incorporates my second trip to my new home, the mccormick hospital in chiang mai. apparently, while fending off bacteria my body also managed to attract an obligate parasite. disgusting turn of events that got me once again immediately admitted and thus began the same process of 4 days previous. two days once again spent fending off fever, dehydration, parasites, bacteria, and i'm starting to conclude that thailand may infact hate my body. the worst news in a while as i'm in love with it here. every cell in my body is hoping for healthy things as the sound of premature return to winter in new england is somehow more uncomfortable than parasites and bacteria galavanting through my organs. so please maybe think really good and healthy things for me. once again i'm back to the essential confinement of my dorm room with about the energy of a weakened 98 year old woman, but have found american movies and have big plans for a friday night date with them and some plain rice. mmmmthailand. that's all for now. sorry that there is really nothing more exciting to retell with my typical enthusiasm for life here, as for the moment i'm a little bit low on high spirits. with that said, i love you all immensely and please try not to fall on the ice that i hear is covering every piece of life there.
The questions of expectations is one I always try to avoid, as i've found that my life is so ever presently changing in ways influenced by many greater forces than the ones I illicit with my actions that this particular question is one I feel ill-equipped to answer. Yet, there are some things that I indefinitely hope to attain during my stay in Chiang Mai and participation in the IPSL service learning program. Firstly, one of my biggest regrets is my inability to fluent converse multi-lingually and expect to leave Thailand with a working knowledge of the language structure and a conversational basis. As I am very self-motivated to achieve this I feel that my aim is to achieve more than a basic structure but a comfortable working vocabulary aswell as knowledge of the written components. With this said, my second expectation is to be able to incorporate my knowledge of the language to experience Chiang Mai from the perspective of a foreigner, but not that of a tourist. This for me entails an ability to socialize and learn from the members of the society about their culture, traditions, and religions. I'm fascinated by the long history still present in modern Thai society, as America is such a young nation, the idea that this culture has outlasted centuries is captivating for me. Another expectation I hold for myself is to find a comfortable place for myself, as a single individual in a foreign country. As I have travel experience and have been lucky enough to view many parts of the world, I have yet to truly realize myself completely separately from the boundaries and confines of my life until this point. I believe that to be alone truly, in a foreign place, and to find contentment and comfort in this type of unknown is something of true value. As for goals, I have many for myself throughout the course of my stay. One primary objective is to make my way across Southeast Asia and view many of the cultures present here, especially the dichotomy that exists between village and urban life. Secondly, I hope to create some lasting relationships while here, especially with the actual Thai students and my roommate. As contact even after the final days of the program would be an added bonus to the entire experience.
the most recent adventures have unfortunately led me through a brief stint in the hospital here, for a case of food poisoning and a bacterial infection. poor stomach and intestines really. luckily, my roommate ja and three friends i've made while here, accompanied me through the ordeal. admission was quite a process as was communication but all worked out reasonably well and after an inconceivable number of hours i made my way to a bed accommodating my full length. quite a feat really, i've never felt like more of a jolly green. then after many more hours, every medication in existence, and bags of iv fluid later i talked my way into discharge. now safely at home and in my own bed i'm on a continued assortment of medicines and a course of antibiotics, that i envision as small warriors defeating the tiny thai bugs inhabiting my insides. all in all it was quite an experience and allowed me to live for a short time in the open-air hospital portrayed in every vietnam war movie created, where the hero either dies or emerges unscathed. i'm happily playing the part of the latter. unfortunately though due to my immune system failings i was unable to leave with the rest of the international students on monday for our village home stay at mae chaem, but will be meeting up with the group tomorrow, wednesday. instead my friend shannon and i have been taking a day of much needed rest and wandering through the city. we have stumbled upon an area of the city, inhabited by a population of crunchy granola yoga types and vegetarian hole in the walls with delicious veggie burgers, a much needed find due to my recent digestive upset. basically, i've found my home away from home in chiang mai. otherwise there hasn't been too much aside from a nightly display of fireworks for the chinese new year, and my recent fascination with the thai weather channel. it seems to be solidifying my distance from the known lands of the eastern seaboard knowing that now my cold fronts come from china. this is entirely okay though as cold fronts only drop the temperature to a breezy 78 during the day, and the sun seemingly never ceases to shine.
a week ago today. it feels sometimes like an eternity and others a minute. time here definitely passes along on a different frequency than the one i'm used to. thai time as it's affectionately referred basically just gives allowances for lateness of up to 45 minutes and is a forewarning for all farangs or foreigners. there are so many little cultural aspects that i'll try to convey to you all through my continued posting but it may be too big an endeavor. it is by far the most beautiful and dirtiest place i've ever been, with the best climate hands down. the colors are one of the biggest appeals as all things, natural and not are technicolor in all respects. i appreciate that i've found. most things are also decorated with small kitschy animals or characters. something i may never get used to and hate about all my notebooks, pens, and even tissues. but in the grand scheme of things the amounting negatives don't come close to the positives, with the slight exception of my chronic "broken stomach" as they refer to it here. the food and i are attempting to become close friends but failing miserably, especially when i bite into chiles. an unfortunate experience that all the international students have experienced and thus have developed the uncanny ability to pick out when such an incident has just occurred and act accordingly with offerings of drinks and napkins. trouble really. i could go on for days about these things but i feel as though i should save some for next time.
starting with last sunday, my first real day here, i experienced my first outdoor open air market that evening near thae pae gate a part of the old city. one of the craziest things i've ever seen as there are hundreds and hundreds of vendors lining all directions of the streets and thousands of locals and tourists alike out to enjoy the delicacies such as fried snake heart, peruse all the local artisan makings, and just enjoy one another. thai's are the most openly genuine and kind society of people i've ever encountered. this is not to say they do not talk about you or laugh in my face at my horrible tonality defects when holding conversations, this is just something you're told to get used to. monday marked my first real day of orientation and my first thai language class, i've so far learned food names, how to order food, (you can tell the priorities in their society) greetings and simple conversation basics, and numbers. monday night, the other asian studies international students and some of our thai roommates attended a traditional Kantoke dinner show, at the cultural center in Chiang Mai. it was quite an experience and the dances and songs were unlike all others things i''d seen before. tuesday, we went on our buddhist meditation retreat and started the trip at wat suan dok, a temple inside the city, and we taken by song taew about 45 minutes into the forest to the international meditation center. a large compound in the most rural area i've visited thus far. we were included in the monks typical practice and routine and experienced chanting mantras, sitting, walking, standing meditation, and hatha yoga. (at 5 in the morning as we followed their morning schedule) and were incorporated into the ritual of paying alms. one of the best ways to make merit, to ensure a good placement and transition from this life to the next. the entire experience played directly to my heart and furthered my interest in the religion and it's everyday practices. wednesday was a rest day, after we returned from 12 hours of meditation and an overnight on a board mattress, yet friends and i adventured into the downtown area and attended the evening night bazaar and had dinner along the ping, the major river that runs through the city. despite utter exhaustion it was one of the best excursions thus far and i'm conveying my love of expeditions and adventures to the rest of the group. thursday and friday were composed of classes on intercultural understanding, more thai language, and preparation for our home stay next week to Mae Chaem (pronounced my jaem, ch here is always j). we leave monday morning and will be in the village through friday, located about 3 to 4 hours north of here over and behind Doi Inthanon, Thailands largest mountain. it should be quite a trip as the mountainside is populated by hilltribes and agricultural farming areas. the villages sheltered and unreachable position during the wet season has preserved a lot of it's cultural traditions and i'm anxious to see what life will actually be like. as we are only promised a mattress and depending upon the status of the family may or may not have running water or indoor toilets. nothing like adventures mm. that's all for now as i'm preparing to attend my first thai music festival outside in an area in the heart of the city with about 75 other students, we'll see how it goes. hope you are all faring the weather well.
the first five hour flight went quite well and has now dropped me into l.a.x, the busiest and warmest place at 11 pm i've been in quite some time. i love that i'm traveling slowly into a much more suiting climate, yet unfortunate that i will be here for the better part of the next 11 hours. i'm hoping for friend making but at the moment the prospects look slightly bleak as i've managed my way into an abandoned international terminal with not another soul that is speaking english. i guess i really should be getting used to that small detail. that's all for now really but maybe send me small positive energy as i'm battling the inclination to feel like a speck of dust and have seemed to lost all of my other sensibilities.