#9 Dream

October 31, 2009

marymichelleMary and Michelle have come to do what in Thailand?  Mary and Michelle are living where in Thailand?  Mary and Michelle are woken up by what every morning at 5? And 5:30…and 6:00 in Thailand?

This, in case you’re wondering, is proper Thai sentence structure.

Welcome to Mary and Michelle’s blog, where you will get the answers to the above questions.

massageofficeWe live in bungalow Number 9 in a bungalow complex north west of the old section of Chiang Mai, on Huay Kaew Road, which runs in a diagonal between Chiang Mai University and downtown.soho Our complex is just off this busy road, behind the car wash, behind the restaurant, behind Soho thrift store, behind the thai massage place/office of the bungalow complex, behind the place we thought was just a restaurant with sappy live music but are now realizing is a place where a lonely or bored middle-aged man might be able to find the dinner company of a young, scantily clad lady for a drink.  A prostitutebar3-minute walk from our bungalow, we went there just last night to check out the scene again, eating fried rice and drinking Chang (Elephant) Beer.

The bartender never lets the scantily clad ladies wait on us, and always pushes them aside.carwash

There are many characters around. Our friend Phim (pronounced Feem) works and lives in the car wash. The first day Mary met him he was wearing gold lame shorts and a matching button down shirt with bright blue plastic boots. She regrets not having her

phimcamera at the ready that day (although this one with the towel is fantastic, and we now understand that the gold lame is, in fact, his pajamas). Phim is very spastic and friendly. He has a ring on his pinky finger with a medallion in it that protects him from getting shot by large rifles. He explained this to Michelle through pantomime, pointing first to his ring, then making motions like he was shooting a rifle in the woods. She understood him to mean that his ring was made of a bullet fragment. Mary later had the same conversation with him, but was lucky enough to be “reading” a Thai  magazine that advertised similar amulets, so with this visual aid, she was able to understand him much better.

Nancy runs the Suriya Art Gallery and coffee shopsuriya in one of the other bungalows, and provides free wi-fi to the community.  She, like many of the other foreigners living in the complex, works with the Burmese and is now reading a thick, intimidating book written in Shan, Burmese and Chinese. She also wrote a Burmese-English dictionary with her partner, and it’s on sale at the coffee shop.

There are also some Thai families who live here. We don’t know them as well, but there seems to be a Thai sculptor whose bungalow “yard” is full of sculptures such as a huge pot tilted at a nice angle, an elephant head, and two large phalluses, which Michelle thinks are called lingam.  We don’t have a picture of these, but promise one in a future post.  We almost got to know our neighbors in the large bungalow a few doors down when we thought someone told us we could do our laundry at their house, and wandered around their bungalow, eyeing their washing machine, Michelle practicing the phrase “is there a laundry service near here?”  We realized after a little while that their bungalow was not in fact where we were being directed to go. We were glad to NOT meet them that time around.

deckOur digs are humble, though we do have our very own bathroom, fridge, front porch and a deck that overlooks the dank…is that a stream? is it a creek? is it a river?  One would think this waterway would separate us from the chickens and roosters, skinny, pecking and running around the grounds, but it doesn’t actually seem to serve any purpose other than to provide a damp accompaniment to our daily life.

We have many roommates. They are all ants.  Actually, there is one other mysterious roommate who leaves little piles of black stuff around the bathtub. A gecko? His call sounds like kisses. The ants go in a drunken, wandering line, around our wall, door and shelf. They also find their way to our beds to die, for some reason. A nightly ritual is to sweep their carcasses from our damp and somewhat smelly sheets onto…the floor.

chickenBriefly, we had a pet. Michelle saw this pet become the pet, when it climbed into a cardboard box lined with magazines in our “yard.” She thought, “maybe that chicken will hop into that box and need help getting out.” She waited, but it never came out. Days passed. Our concern grew. We realized we knew next to nothing about chickens. Michelle, not knowing what to do, began to feed the chicken. This made Mary a little nervous. With our phrasebook in hand, we tried to ask various people if the chicken was sick or having little chickens. To ask about little chickens we resorted to pantomime. To ask if the chicken was sick, which we didn’t know how to say, we said, “Does this chicken have a cold?”  People humored us, looked in the roostersbox, and said, “yes, that’s a chicken.”  Eventually, they took the chicken, and the box away, leaving behind only one soggy magazine that says “Happy Day.”  Michelle wonders every day what happened to the chicken and misses her pet. Mary, however, spends little time worrying about the chicken, which is gone and therefore quiet and, in her mind, the picture of health. Instead, she concerns herself with the roosters, the ones that fly-shimmy into a tree for the evening and then fly-fall to the ground to welcome the early morning hours with their “song.” She hopes that someone will remove them soon. Until then, she draws their “flight” pattern.

So, as we hope you can see, this is paradise.

Did we mention the heat?

… … … …dream