Khun Susan's Ideal Day

I thought I would mirror John’s blog post from a month or so ago and share a little of what my day usually looks like here in Nongkhai.

6:30am - On an ideal day, I awake at this time and do some kind of work-out. Mostly it is the same yoga video, with some variations that I create on my own.

7:30am - But let’s be realistic: most days I actually get up at 7:30am instead because I absolutely love sleep. I take a shower and eat breakfast: typically muesli, yoghurt, and a Thai banana. The Thai bananas are about half the size of our bananas back home and are deliciously sweet. I drink my green tea and often read a little, or chat with John for a bit. He is wide-awake and in full productive mode. Meanwhile, my mind is still trying to wrap itself around the possibility of a new day. Then I scrape out last night’s rice from our rice cooker; we let it soak overnight so I don’t clean it until the morning.

8:30am - I hop on my Thai bike and bike the 7-minute ride to Hands of Hope. I check email/facebook/news on my phone for a few minutes, while greeting my coworkers.

8:45am - My coworkers and I gather in our meeting place outside. We do a couple of breathing and stretching exercises. Before I arrived, another medical professional came and shared some exercises that have been proven to help people living with HIV/AIDS. After our brief exercises, we talk about anything important for the day. If Antonia is in, she will share any updates or new orders (she works from home a couple of days per week).

This is one of our Secret Santa trees. We have a couple rounds of Secret Santa going on right now! Also, note the sandal in the corner of the photo; it's typical to see outside of businesses/homes because you don't wear shoes inside here.

9:00am - We all head into our work stations. Most of my coworkers are busy making our crafts out of ‘saa’ paper (we get the paper sustainably made from the mulberry tree); the exception is the packaging department who takes a break from craft-making to quality-check our products, label products, or get items ready to ship.

I head to the computer and check our work email and reply to any that I can or mark for Antonia to follow up on instead. Perhaps I send out a marketing email, to drum up some new business for us, or follow up with various organizations we have already been in touch with. I am periodically asked to print labels for packaging, as well as complete any invoices and customs slips before we ship.

Then there are various other projects I will work on. For instance, in January, I will help create a new, mini-catalogue to showcase our new products, as well as adding these products to our existing catalogue. I often work on any projects that Antonia needs me to do. Rarely I help with making our crafts, because I am not especially skilled at this (however, I hope to try my hand at this some more in the future, after being inspired by our design workshop this week).

A couple of mornings per week, I head over to the Care Center to help lead an activity with the patients. Currently, I’m there three times per week, preparing the patients to sing in English and Thai and play instruments to “Jingle Bells” for one of our Christmas parties.

10:30am - Once per morning and once per afternoon, I lead everyone in a couple of simple stretches. Once in a great while, I bring some music, and we have a mini dance party!

12:00pm - We get ready for lunch. Most of my coworkers bring their own lunch from home. They eat sticky rice in this region of Thailand, so they have their little sticky rice pots, as well as some dishes to share. Typically, there are three circles of workers sitting together on the ground in our meeting area. The staff, including myself, will sit at a table together. Our lunch is provided for us, the main dishes brought by someone from the Garden via motorbike. After lunch, we get a little time to ourselves. Most of my coworkers will relax, take a short rest (pahk pohn), or buy a treat from their co-op store. I often surf the internet on my phone, read for a bit, or just enjoy hanging out with my coworkers.

Food is often shared here, so I’m regularly given an extra piece of fruit or part of their snack, if my coworkers are snacking post lunch.

1:00pm - It’s back to work for Hands of Hope. Three afternoons per week, I do some sort of massage. I either stay at Hands of Hope and perform chair massage for my coworkers. Or I bike back to the Garden and head into the Care Center to massage the patients.

Photo of an entrance to a wat (temple), during our bike ride last weekend.

4:00pm - I wrap up whatever I’m doing and head home. Typically, I am warm from the afternoon heat, often combined with performing massage, so I sit in the kitchen and try not to eat all of the chocolate that special people have sent us. I drink some cold water, or I grab an inexpensive, sweet “juice” (aka sugary drink) that we have previously frozen and eat it as a cool treat.

If I didn’t exercise in the morning, I might exercise now if it’s not too hot, like a bike ride with John or yoga or cleaning (which feels like exercise in 95 degree heat before you factor in humidity!). I like to read a little or play some piano.

This was a super exciting meal. We had Mac & Cheese this week (thanks to a thoughtful care package), and we lost our minds! We don't eat much dairy/cheese here, so we may have been licking our plates afterwards...

6:00pm - John and I start thinking about dinner. We start the rice in our rice cooker. I cut up the veggies in the most magnificent way and do any dishes we dirty along the way. John is master chef and stir-fries the veggies in a coconut milk, fish sauce, water, and a seasonings packet combination (which I still don’t entirely understand the process therein, but I definitively enjoy eating). He combines 2 eggs with some more coconut milk and soy sauce and cooks those up as well.

I cut up some fruit for dessert, and we sit down to eat. We say a short prayer and list a few things we are thankful for or people we are praying for (this is a new daily ritual that we have started in Thailand). We catch up on each other’s day if we haven’t already. We laugh about any misunderstandings we had, mostly due to language.

7:00/7:30pm - After hand-washing dishes, we eventually make our way to our bedroom, often grabbing a kahnome (sweet treat) to take with us. I may compose some emails to send later when we have internet access, write a blog post, review a few Thai flashcards that I have made, and/or eventually turn to the main event of the evening: reading! I was on the ebook wait list for a while, but I finally got Erik Larson’s Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania so that is my current reading selection.

10:00pm - Some days I can barely keep my eyes open this long. Other nights, I’m so engrossed with my reading selection or finishing a movie on my computer, that I stay up to the late hour of 10:30 or even 11pm!

With my eyelids getting heavy, I leave you. Ahteetnah, pop gone mai! (See you next week!)