Daily Archives: June 7, 2006

Peace Corps – My House

A few months after I moved to Khon Kaen, I was visiting with Walt, another of the PCVs that I trained with, and he suggested that we share the rent on a house, rather than continuing to live in apartments. I asked him if he had a place in mind, and he did, so we went to look it over. It was new construction, probably only a few weeks old, but certainly not designed for farongs. Some readers here may be bored by my description of that house, but I would bet that many of them would find it almost as strange today as I did then.
Like nearly all houses in that area at that time, it had two levels. The ground floor was completely enclosed, and built of concrete blocks plastered over to seal cracks and such, and with a concrete slab floor. The downstairs part was divided into three rooms, with a front door and a back door, although the back door was almost never used. There were a few small windows high in the walls that let in a little light, but the rooms were mostly for storage, except the bathroom. We used the room just inside the door as a garage to park our motorcycles, and the rest of it was empty, since we had not accumulated much stuff.
The bathroom was not completely walled off, but had walls perhaps two meters high to give privacy, but still allowed generous air flow over the top. Light was provided by a light bulb, 15 watts or so, that hung above one of the walls such that about half the floor was in shadow from the wall. It included a small sink [no hot water], a Thai toilet, and a cistern for flushing the toilet and bathing. A plastic bowl sat on the edge of the cistern to satisfy both uses. The floor gently sloped to the west, and there was a pipe through the wall on the west side for drainage out onto the ground, plus a small window high in the wall with a good screen over it that may have served to slow down the bugs a little bit. It did provide enough light that I planned my shaving, bathing, etc., for daylight hours, as the light bulb gave barely enough light to safely use the toilet.
Upstairs, the house was divided into two rooms, each probably three by six meters, plus the landing at the head of the stairs, which was almost as large as either of the two bedrooms. The landing was our primary area for storing stuff that could be lugged up the stairs.
The upper floor of the house was all built of wood, except for the corrugated metal roof, and the walls were only one board thick. That is, you saw one side of the boards from the outside of the house, and the other side on the inside. My room was on the north side of the house, and I had a window on each exterior wall. The windows all had grillwork in them to discourage burglars and such, but no screens. Given the cracks between the boards and at the eaves, screens wouldn’t have meant much anyway. Of course, there was no air conditioner, but we couldn’t have afforded one anyway, and this way we really were fully acclimated to the heat.
When we moved in, there was no furniture, so the first order of business was to build beds. We each bought some lumber, and split the cost of a handsaw, a hammer, and some nails. After mine was built, I bought about a 2-inch foam pad to cover it and a mosquito net. I’m sorry I do not have a picture of it, but it served me quite well.
I almost immediately added a hammock, not for sleeping in, but as kind of a recliner where I could read comfortably while getting full air circulation around me. I also bought a small electric fan, and I quickly figured out that I could soak a thin cotton shirt and put it on, and the fan would cool me down quite nicely. I had to get up every half hour or so and re-wet the shirt, but it was well worth the effort.
Although I cannot find any pictures of the house, there was a school just to the north of our house, and here is a picture of the school children climbing up to pick flowers from the trees, taken from my north window.
School kids picking flowers

Devil’s Day

Well if I had thought it through, I would’ve posted this last night so you guys would actually be reading on YOUR day of the Antichrist. But hey, better late than never!

Today, in America, is June 6, 2006. 06/06/06. A much hyped up day for this side of the pond.

Twentieth Century Fox are releasing a remake of the classic horror film “The Omen” this evening. The latest instalment of the “Left Behind” Christian apocalyptic novel series, The Rapture, hits bookshelves. Right-wing American commentator Ann Coulter also launches her latest tract on “godless liberals”. The thrash metal band Slayer starts its Unholy Alliance Tour.

Also, the town of Hell, Michigan, is banking on the 666 craze and celebrating like crazy.

666 accordingly to the Bible’s Book of Revelation is the Mark of the Beast, the numbers of the Devil. The set of numbers which the Antichrist use to exert powers to rule the world.

Some people believe that WWW (World Wide Web) is 6-6-6 in Hebrew. And therefore, yeah the sign of the Antichrist is already here.

There you go on how people interpret this set of sixes.

Interestingly, in the dialect spoken by some Malaysians, the number six is pronounced like the word “luck.” So today actually is supposed to be a hell of an auspicious day. (Yes, pun is intended.)

Funny how #6 has a similarly negative connotation in Thai culture.

Six is “Hhok” in Thai. “Hhok” also means to fall or to spill. You spill some water – Taam (did) Naam (water) Hhok (spill). You fall down – Hhok (spill) Lomm (fall).

So, for Thais, 6 is the unlucky number. The anti auspiscious number.

On the other hand, number 9 is our favorite.

Nine is “Gaow”. “Gaow” for Nine is spelled differently, but it is pronounced the same as “Gaow” which means to step forward.

Going forward is a good thing. Falling down, not so much.

#9 is especially auspicious for being the biggest number of all the single numerics. No single number is bigger than #9.

These 2 numbers are especially powerful when they start AND end a series of numbers. For example, let’s say your phone number is 955-5559. This signifies that you will be taking steps in both directions. On the other hand, 655-5556 means that you will fall wherever you go.

#6 and #9 play a role for many businesses as well as their daily lives. For some people, they will pick numbers in their lives accordingly like their cell phone numbers, their license plate numbers, and even the house number or the number of the street.

The Holy Grail of #9 is a bank note with the serial numbers which start AND end with #9. Whenever I remember, I’d check my bills to see if I have one. Once in a while I’ll do it here in the US too!

Now that you know about our numbers, keep watch 3 years from now on September 9, 2009. Although they’re not all Thai dates, using the Christian years instead of the Buddhist years, Some Thais will take those number and run with it.

See what greatness will come on 09/09/09!