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Entry #13 Archeology first weekend in Phimai

Volunteer Work

sunny 0 °F

Sat, Feb 25 – Beginning the chronicle of Garyisms

I have decided to try and chronicle all the Garyisms that we come across. From yesterday, we have a beaut.

We are called to and from tea beaks and lunch with the ringing of a bell. Usually Charles does it and Gary happened to be in the pit when Charles was calling us back from lunch. Charles had forgotten to ring the bell at the top of the pit, so he picked up one of the hoes and began hitting it as a bell. Gary said that he relayed to some one that Charles was banging on a hoe to get us back to work. The person as the time did not see the joke but Gail did.

I was resolved that today would be a better day than yesterday and it was because I declared it.

We breakfasted and Mrs. Kitty received ham from me and fish from last night dinner from Meph. I saw second resident kitty, grey and white that very much resembled my sister’s cat Fagin. She was very skittish. Hopefully I will see her again.

The partial exodus began with Tara leaving this am. We will loose several others tomorrow. I can’t imagine coming all this way for only one week, but it is more important to come than not too in my mind. If they had not come, I would have missed some lovely people. Tara will remain ever in our minds for her happy laugh, her contribution of Jack Fruit for dessert last night and for her lying down next to one of the skeletons to be photographed. Safe journey home to you, Tara.

This morning we played hooky from work for a short time to visit a near by archeological site called Ban Prasat. Actually, I think we were purposely sent on this trip so that they could have a few hours to get some work done without us. This site was excavated by the Thai Dept of Fine Arts and is comprised of three open-air pits that had a roof and were open to the public. Since they have easy access from a major highway, they receive lots of visits, which is excellent for the village. Most of the houses in the village are in the home stay business, and you can stay with a family and receive two meals a day for as little as $1 a day.

During our stop, a woman from the village accosted Gary and Mr. Hiroshi. She appeared to be a little in her cups and kept hugging them, sidling up and putting her hands in their pockets. She was not successful in developing friendships or picking pockets.

In the village there was a woman’s cooperative and I bought some lovely hand loomed Thai cotton. They also did traditional weaving of the mats and wonderful handbags.

My morning tasks, such as they were as we arrived late was back with Meph cleaning and washing pots.

Lunch was chicken curry, veggies, and the fruit of the day – corn on the cob. Hmmmmmm?
Also at lunch was another ice cream experience. I bought the ice cream in the green hot dog bun concoction, which was amazingly good and refreshing.

This afternoon, Charles had asked us to push to get the shells cleaned that had covered one of the skeletons. There were lots, so be began the task and luckily these shells tended to be a little bigger and all of one type so they would not take too long. We were also visited by many more buses of school kids.

still more students.JPG

All the schools have uniforms, so when the bus arrives, students in the same outfit surround you, normally bright yellow or orange shirts. These groups were mainly interested in the pit and had a lecture from Professor War.

Have I mentioned the potty at the site? Inside a square shack is a squat toilet. Next to toilet is a cement sink that holds water and a green plastic pot. After you are done, you use the green pot to lift water from the sink and send it down the hole. The tissue that you have used goes outside in the large sack that is hanging on the tree. Out side the shack are two huge jars, which hold water with plastic bowls and a wooden ledge for the soap. Karen and I had several discussions of the logistics and decided that facing the wall is the correct orientation. She indicated that she had used a similar toilet in China with an audience who found her hysterical. She realized now that she was backwards in China and understands the laughter. It may sound rather primitive, but is not as bad as it sounds and in fact is smell free.

The first time I needed to use the facilities, I entered the shack to find a small frog, doing laps in the water of the potty. I fished him out with the green plastic scoop and put him to the side. Several days later, Erica indicated that after she had assumed the position, she noticed a small frog sitting on the cement sink watching. What a voyeur! I visited the facility the same day and saw the same frog. He was three times the size of the last one.

Ice cream on the way home – chocolate ice cream, covered with chocolate on a stick.

The evening entertainment was two short films again staring Charles. The first one was from last year, when Earthwatch sent a film team to record three high school students doing 10-12 successive Earthwatch projects. This entire project was financed by one of the kid’s dad. Hummmmm – Can I be adopted?

The second video was about another site where Charles was a co researcher and was about he grave a woman in Thailand who was a master potter and was buried with her 15-month-old daughter. Also very interesting.

What I find a little exasperating is the films that are made for the US audience seem to think we all have the attention span of a two year old. Everything has to be a mystery to be solved, with lots of mysterious music and endless repeats to bring us back after the commercial breaks. Charles says that a filmmaker explained that this technique is used a lot in the US because so many of the viewers are surfing and if you don’t catch them in 10 seconds, they switch to another channel. Sigh, they know us pretty well.

Tomorrow we lose 5 – Joan, Karen and Christopher, Hiroshi and Lisa from England.

Team A .JPG

Sun, Feb 26 – Dirt on my chin

It is with much sadness that we said good-bye to Joan, Karen and Chris, Lisa and Hiroshi. They added so much to the team. No matter where you were on the site, you could always tell where Joan was by her infectious laugh. She made friends with every body, whether they understood her or not.

I started the morning with a bit of a tummy. I suspected the hot dog bun ice cream until I heard that others were also suffering who had not eaten it. Pepto to the rescue and not further incidences, thank you.

Most of our morning tasks were getting 5 graves in the line ready for photography. As the graves are about 2.5 feet below the main level, you can reach them on your stomach, or by sitting and crouching over. The preparation involved brushing all the loose dirt away and lightly cleaning the pots with water. My grave had some live and some dead residents. Live residents included one cricket, one cockroach and one chin chuck. Dead residents, besides the skeleton, were two dead frogs with their bodies, one frog skeleton and a line of red ants. I had forgotten how efficient the ants are reducing a dead thing to a skeleton in less than 12 hours.

We had all the graves ready to go within one hour and after the photos, it was time to get the pots out. We had thought we wouldn’t get to them until next Tuesday, but here we are. Charles feels there may be something else underneath and there is only one more week with our help to see what they can find. While they will continue to work after we are gone, now that we are sort of trained, they want to use us as long as they can.

The space was tight with 4 of use working on one grave, so I was on my stomach on a grain sack with a small brush and my bamboo stick, moving dirt away from a pile of pots to have Sarah determine which one would come up first.

My first two pots were nicely separated, so they didn’t take very long and they were both out before lunch. My third pot was a big one, with the lid already in pieces and lots of dirt to move.

Lunch fruit – chom poos – I had two!!

My afternoon found me at the same gravesite working on pot number three. I managed to get it extracted just before afternoon tea break, and boy I needed a rest, as I had spent a lot of my time either on my stomach on with my feet in the depression and bending over with my head between my knees. At tea break, Erica said that I had dirt on my chin. Frankly, I don’t think there was a part of me that didn’t have dirt on it, and all my work clothes go the laundry tomorrow so I will be ready for next week. After tea break, I began working on the dirt around pot number 4, but that one along with the other two will have to wait for Tuesday.

Grave count to date – 462

We were dropped off in the village after work, as Erica had to pick up her pants that were being hemmed. They were cute, but when she put them on, one leg was longer. I told her she could either cock a hip to get them level, or we would have to try again. It was a bit of a comedy of errors to ask for a pin, but they did manage to redo the hem while we waited. $.50 to have her pants hemmed twice. Not bad.

We had an evening off and dinner as on our own. The group decided to go out, but it was a 45 discussion on where and collecting everyone for the trip. 9 people were involved and at times there were 10 different opinions on where we were. We finally arrived at the Restaurant Baiteiy. Dinner was very drawn out and people’s meals arrived over the span of about a half hour. Mine was Phimai noodles with beef that were excellent.

Several of the people were going on a day trip the next day, so we made it an early evening.

Posted by ladyjanes 01:49 Archived in Thailand Tagged postcards

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Jane, I have just spent a wonderful half hour vicariously enjoying your lively account of life at Ban Non Wat. Thanks for letting me in on this blog and it is much fun to be able to chat with you. Right now, you are about 1,500 miles from Phimai experiencing another adventure, the account of which, I look forward to reading. (Not sure if I need to ID myself on this, but I am Pippa, home in FL sending my love.)

by yonder

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