To Understand

Soon soon hok. 007. Even in Thai his name is Bond, James Bond. Friday night my director invited me to dinner with her and her friends and after we finished an amazing meal we went and saw the new Bond movie, Skyfall. Even though the movie was dubbed over in Thai the action spoke for itself—there was a bad guy, there was a couple beautiful women, lots of guns and things exploded. I got the basic plot and understood the movie. Spoiler alert: He gets the bad guy and all is well at MI6.

007

007

Last week was our first full week in Kamphaeng Phet. I’m trying to establish some sort of routine, develop healthy habits and feel a sense of community. Again, my director invited my roommate and I to attend yoga class with her. Being familiar with yoga I wasn’t nervous about not getting the poses. Neung, song, sam…kaow. One, two, three…breathe in. It’s not difficult to understand if you are looking and listening.

Running the Historical Park each day I have been able to see and recognize (and surely they recognize the White Lady) many men who also enjoy a hot, sweaty run. Some smile. Some wave. Some nod their heads. Some don’t acknowledge the fellow runner, just like in the states it’s all about what you feel like doing. All this in recognition of us all being runners and enjoying the same high—no matter what side of the planet we’re on, it’s the same. We understand.

To understand another culture is one thing. To accept the fact that I am probably not going to learn Thai to fluency, I’m not going to be able to order a meal with out a crazy game of charades, I’m not going to learn all the vocabulary to get through an entire yoga class with out bending when I’m supposed to stand or breathing out when I’m supposed to breathe in—I know these facts. But the ability to understand is coming, it’s developing.

With that said, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t hard. It doesn’t mean that every day isn’t going to be a struggle, because it is. What it does mean is that I’m learning to grow. I’m learning to communicate in different ways. A simple attempt at the language brings a smile to the old ladies face who sold me some weird fruit I hadn’t seen before. Kahb kuhn, kaah. Thank you very much.

 

A smile is the best reaction. A smile is universally understood. In all the confusion, frustration and difficulties I find myself smiling. A smile of gratitude, a smile of uncertainty, and a smile a joy. Because you know what? I’m in THAILAND. How could I not smile at that fact?

Adventurer in Training

This past weekend I was surrounded by amazing athletes. I was able to volunteer for the Equinox Trek in Ohiopyle, PA… (I’m a little obsessed with this town, I love it, everyone should love it.) The race was a 48 hour adventure race where teams of 4, 3, 2 or solo adventurers are set out into the wild to hike, bike, navigate and paddle for anywhere between 160-200 miles.

Volunteering consisted of a lot of sitting around, hanging out until 3 in the morning for racers to come in to different checkpoints, chillin’ in my hammock, taking pictures…etc. Not only were the racers amazing people, the volunteers and race producers where amazing too! Many having raced themselves, others medical rescuers there to help and provide medical attention, these races are a huge deal to put on and it takes a lot of help to have a successful one.

Wait, this race sounds a lot like a race I got myself signed up for… NEXT WEEKEND! I was given the opportunity to do an Adventure Race with a friend of mine, it’s a bit shorter than The Equinox Trek, 75-100 miles in just 24 hours. So my weekend was not only to volunteer but I took the opportunity to pick the brains of the racers and other volunteers to help me prepare for this race. I also was able to get back on the mountain bike, get myself supremely lost (I will NOT be navigating this coming weekend) and enjoy the class 3 rapids The Lower Yough has to offer—all while sleeping in my car and enjoying the Falls Pub each night!

Overall, I’ve decided that I want to become one of those bad ass racers. These people are average men and women that do extraordinary things on the weekends. After asking many racers (both at the race and through email, I have met a few in the past and have kept in touch) the biggest piece of advice they gave me was COMMUNICATION.

 

I will obviously report back on my race next week—but I wanted to venture out and ask for YOUR advice. Anyone out there done some long race (adventure or not) and want to give me some tips?