In the past two weeks I have found myself satisfyingly subaquatic no less than three times. If you know me, you know how much I enjoy swimming. To have that opportunity here was a real treat!
Last Sunday, I was packed once again into the back of my manager Ku Kai’s pickup truck (along with Ben and five of the older students from school; Hannah was lucky enough to snag a spot in the cab) and taken to a school the nearby town of Khon Buri, where the students competed in a Thai spelling competition. Contrary to our expectations, we farangs did not participate in the competition in any way. Nor were we allowed into the rooms to observe our students. Instead, we explored the school campus. We very quickly found the swimming pool, a big thing surrounded by palm trees, a fountain, and a decent-sized waterslide!
I’ll take this opportunity to note that a pool is currently under construction at Bunditnoi! I am so excited for it to be finished and I sincerely hope that we teachers may use it during free periods.
Unfortunately, we had not expected to be swimming that day, so we did not have swimsuits. Instead, we just relaxed with our feet in the water, and chatted and sunbathed.
After the competition, we loaded back into the truck and thought we were on our way home, but Ku Kai made a detour onto a worn dirt road. As we rounded a bend up a hill, the students suddenly got very excited and began screaming so loud that Hannah could hear them up front in the cab. We rounded another bend…and saw our destination: an immense reservoir surrounded by hills and a sandy beach.
Ku Kai drove us all the way to where the sand met the water before she parked. There, on the edge of the reservoir, was a table with just enough beach chairs for all the teachers who were on the trip. The students didn’t care—by the time I sat down, they were already swimming without even changing from their school uniforms! Meanwhile we teachers were brought (as if from nowhere!) water, beer, and piles of delicious Thai food: Pad Thai, fried rice, Tom Yum soup, Som Tam (papaya salad), and as a main dish, salted whitefish that was fresh off the grill.
After that succulent meal Ben and I found a vendor near the beach selling swimsuits. We each got one and spent a good half-hour in the shallow, muddy reservoir. At first we kept to ourselves, but by the end we were splashing around with the students and having a blast (something, we realized later, that would almost never happen in America).
So that day was good for this fish, with two chances to be in the water.
This past Saturday, we three farangs all took our swimsuits into town in search of more water. Ben had seen some locals carrying swimsuits a couple of months ago, and determined from a quick conversation that there was indeed a pool somewhere in town.
So we went off in the general direction of the rumored pool, but really we didn’t know where we were going. Our first stop was to Ben’s masseuse, a woman who speaks enough English that when we asked “Sra way na (swimming pool), where?” she perfectly understood and was able to explain how to get there.
It wasn’t her fault that we screwed up the directions and unwittingly passed the pool. Luckily for us, the masseuse had sent her assistant to follow us on her motorcycle. She caught up quickly and corrected our mistake, and two minutes later we were changing into our suits at the pool.
It was a concrete rectangle filled with salted water to the uniform depth of about three feet. It was not as nice as the Khon Buri school pool, but it was cool water, and therefor perfect. After at least an hour of swimming Ben and Hannah decided they’d had enough—but not me. I stayed in on my own for a while, content to be underwater again.
Sure, I got sunburned, but sometimes you have to get a little burned to have a good time.
More on everything to come!