Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thottanaval: Vannakam Indiaaaaa.

Arrived in India just under two weeks ago. Could not help but grin from ear to ear as I walked under this welcome sign.
One of the first things encountered soon after my arrival- this baby Krait. My dear cousin Kelli discovered him inside our home. Some other volunteers and I decided to do some research on the Krait and found this passage: "No snake kills with more ruthless efficiency than the many-banded Krait, which dwells in the jungles of India and Southeast Asia. Drop for drop, its venom is the deadliest of any land serpent’s." I still have trouble sleeping.
Why India?  I have always wanted to experience the Indian culture and immediately put it on the itinerary for the four month excursion. Being able to volunteer with Rising Star Outreach is also something I have wanted to do for years.  So, when the two of them worked out I was thrilled. Rising Star Outreach is truly an inspired organization that makes such a difference in this world. More deets to follow . . .
Chengalpattu, the nearest city to where we're situated.
Started off  a great weekend on Saturday by getting up early and vising a local bird sanctuary.
It was huge. And beautiful.
A couple of young school boys identifying different types of storks.
It must have been national field trip day. Or something.  Because there were hundreds of Indian kidlets running everywhere.

Outside of our group, I haven't seen any other Caucasians in the nearby city (let alone our village). Thus, the photos.
Once a month we go visit the beach! (I am getting spoiled here) It was absolutely gorgeous.
Lots of fisherman coming in from a day at sea.
My miniature cousin Kelli and I, soaking up the rays.
The campus pet lamb is caged right next to my bedroom. I like to chase it (he/she?) when the animal caretaker leashes it via rope in our front yard. "Baaa raaaaam ewwwwwwe."
The sunset this evening in Thottanaval.  Our little patch of heaven here in India.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A little video of Thailand.

A little collaboration of random happenings during my four weeks in Kuraburi and Thai Muang. 
In other news ........
Departed from the land of Thailand. 
Now in India. With my cousin. Living in the sticks. Aka Thottanaval.
I*n*c*r*e*d*i*b*l*e thus far.
(More details to follow.)
Just got a Valentines day package in the mail. TODAY!
Thank you Mother!!!!

Wishing all a Happy Valentines Day back home.
With an extra bit of love from over here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bangkok: Sawadee ka to you.

Began my first day by wandering around and stumbled upon a great outdoor market.
The hot item of the day (or for life I should say): Buddhas. So. Many. Buddhas.

Found an awesome tour guide, "KJ", who ran me all around Bangkok showing me temples, delicious food, and markets. Pictured in the back left: Wat (wat means temple) Pra Kaew.
The Royal Grand Palace- our first stop.
Photos cannot do any justice to how beautiful and intricate these temples were. I had never seen anything like it!
More of the Grand Palace.
Coating more Buddhas with paper gold. Doesn't it look great? [Mom, let's do this with some of your ceramics at home.]
Beautiful intricate artwork covering the ceilings, floor, and walls.
Wat Pho. A mere 26 meters of gold-coated Buddha.
Wat Arun. My favorite of the three temples we visited.
Did I want/choose to wear this costume and take photos? Not really. (Apparently was part of the tour package I purchased) So soak it up peeps, this is more than likely the last time you'll see me in a getup like this!
The wat up close.
Enjoying the flower and fruit markets after a long and hot day in the sun.
Took plenty of tuk-tuk rides through the city. Great way to experience Bangkok.
KJ and I got along so well that she decided to take me to her daughter's work and introduce me to her family!
Ended the evening with a visit to the nearby Chinatown. Which was gargantuan by the way.
Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice? For less thank a buck? Sweet. Finished off my Bangkok trip on day two by shopping all day at the enoooormous MBK market! Great to see Bangkok. So great to have experienced Thailand.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Thai Muang in review.

Welcome to Home and Life Orphanage and Bakery.
From left to right. Front row: Sea, Ocean, Um, Cindy, Kho, Leela. Second row: P' Rosa, Peach, Spy, Steve, Pupe, Boom, Bim. Third row: Sun, Root, Pat, Sam, Faa, Benz, Bow, P' Kate, P' Bai Tuey (me).
It's crazy how in just two weeks you can learn to love so easily! This is Mook. If I could adopt any of the kids, it would be her.
Sea, the baby of the Home and Life family.

All of the meals they prepared were delicious. Manuela on the left was the other volunteer my first week. What a great Lady.
Lots of moving, painting, plastering, and working on the new bakery.
New-found forest friend. I didn't dare touch it though. Yellow = poison???  Who knows.
Visiting the temple is a weekly event for the kids. Breath in, breath out.
The kind monk let me take a photo and capture his pleasant state of being.
Found myself in a downpour more than once.
Also visited the local school a few times to teach English lessons. Isn't this girl the CUUUTEST thing in the world?
Older kidlets.
P' Rosa, taking care of her three-legged cat post surgery. Even my dislike for the animal subsided in this moment of pity.
P' Bom, a manager at H&L. To say we got along well was an understatement! Enjoying some shopping in Phuket.
Co-volunteer for week two in Thai Muang- Alexa! I completely lucked out on terms of fellow volunteers. Completely.
And just when I was missing A Bountiful Kitchen, Bom made delicious home made croissants for breakfast last Saturday.
He also lent me his "special drink from the marshmallow tree" which saved my sick little body more than once.
Brookie loves the beach. And floating on her back in the ocean. And getting freckles on her nose. Especially in February.
Sawadee Ka.
Selling their baked goods at the market. The little punks . . .
Market-girl-Gabby who hangs out with Fried-chicken-Chelsey. I think she should be a Baby Gap model. Or something.
Saying goodbye yesterday. So stinking sad. So satisfied, however, with such a meaningful experience. Thank you H&L!