Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Day in the Life of...

I can never seem to remember whether it’s the dogs barking or my alarm that wakes me up first thing in the morning. Perhaps a combination of both. I’m still tired and within seconds of opening my eyes I reach for my back. It’s sore but I tell myself that I just need a few more days to get used to this whole mat thing. It feels like ages since I last slept on a real mattress, let alone a proper bed! The mat can’t be more than four inches thick. It’s hard and lumpy and forces me to toss and turn every night. I lift up my head and remove the balled up sweatshirt that’s doubled as a makeshift pillow. At least that feels soft…
I leave my bedroom (actually the back storage room of the office) and walk out onto the porch to determine the day’s forecast. Today, the sun glares down at me and I squint hard to return its gaze. The heat doesn’t feel so bad, though, and I smile as a breeze lifts up my hair as I head back inside.
There’s not too much work to be done inside the office today so I decide to go into town. Equipped with my Crayola green, oversized poncho, I hop aboard the Pheasant. The Pheasant is a reckless joy on her own, an old school bicycle with faulty breaks and kickstand—she does the job. The initial part of the journey is a calm one and I smile at the peacefulness of the neighborhood. The “dog gang” is tame as it’s still early morning and they don’t seem to be bothered by anything that passes by them (thank God, because once nighttime falls the dogs evil alias’s will show themselves through sharp fangs and aggressive growls). Kids are playing with sticks and stones in the street while their mothers huddle together on the bale. I bike past and look to both sides as flashes of mountains and green poke out in between houses.
After about five minutes, I’ve reached the main road. Actually it’s called the Asia Highway- the idea being that in the near future it will connect almost all countries in the Asian continent, beginning with Singapore and ending up in Istanbul. While I’m interested in doing this whole route at some point, I don’t have the energy to do so today—I skip out on Istanbul and head to the day market in Mae Sot.
I never seem to tire from my visits to the market. Anyone who’s visited Asia knows about outdoor markets that sell everything from used flip-flops to pig heads. I park my bike outside the market- the alleyway is already too narrow and crowded, bringing a bike along makes for twice as much hassle. I walk up and down the stalls, breathing through my mouth so as to ignore the overwhelming stench of sewage, blood and fresh meat. An old woman tempts me with thin, rectangular waffles sold on wooden skewers—had I not already eaten, I would love to try the breakfast kebab.
The tables display the most fresh and colorful foods imaginable. Pea pods as green as Thailand’s rice fields and stringed sausages that look like oversized, beaded necklaces. Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out by not being a more adventurous carnivore—although this stuff isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, I’m certain the taste must be superior to that of its packaged, factory raised counterpart.
For whatever reason, I’m drawn to the disorganized nature of outdoor market shopping. There are no signs or clean-cut rows, no cashier to ring up your order. It not unheard of to just leave approximate change on the table if the shopkeeper can’t be found…or tell the vendor you’ll pay him back tomorrow. The rain boots are located next to the raw seafood and watches are in between the fried noodles and tub of eels. There might be a method to the madness but I haven’t discovered it yet. As with most things in my life, the personal joy takes place during the exploration…

No comments: