This post has been a while in the writing – I was meant to complete it last week, but I’m afraid my good intentions aren’t always matched by my present inclination to venture out into the rain in search of internet access! And for a while, I just wanted to experience Ranong without trying to analyse it too much. There is so much about living here that is different from home that it can be a bit of a sensory overload at times – but I’m happy to report that I’m fast adapting, and can almost consider the quirks of Ranong to be commonplace now!
So, my initial impressions of Ranong? Mmmm, where to start…?
Ranong is hot. It’s busy. And noisy!
We awake bright and early in the morning to the sound of roosters crowing outside our bedroom window – well, I do. Andrew, as you all know, is completely oblivious to any noise until at least 8am. However, I digress. Said roosters actually crow fairly constantly throughout the day, and occasionally decide to have prolonged cock fights in the alley below, unfortunately goaded on by any neighbouring residents who are after some light entertainment.
Also extremely bright and early in the morning, a large stereo system starts to blare from the local market, some 200 metres away, transmitting Thai music (or jingles, might be more accurate) as well as what we presume are advertisements of some sort. We don’t know exactly what any of it means, but it’s very insistent and is completely audible from inside our kitchen, even with the door closed. The market is in full swing at about 6.30am, which usually conincides with the start of the working day for the men on the construction site next door. So all in all we’re getting used to the fact that life kicks off in Ranong a tad earlier than back home.
At some time between approximately 3 and 6 in the afternoon, it begins to rain. And rain. And rain. Seeing as we live on the top floor and have a corrogated iron roof, the sound of the rain usually drowns out just about everything else – a break from mysterious Thai-loudspeaker-voice. Yes! The rain is often accompanied by a spectacular light and sound show which is pretty cool – I could swear the thunder sometimes makes things in our apartment rattle. But if the rain ends before sunset, they can be pretty spectacular too.
In the evening, small lizards scuttle across our ceiling and up and down the walls, chirping. I can’t think of a better way to describe the sound, but they’re awfully cute. Lizards are definitely our friends here, as they gobble up any mosquitos they can find!
And to this the sound of dogs barking, the motorbikes going past at all hours, the ever-present sound of a fan whiring in whatever room you happen to be in, and there is little silence to be found!
An exception to this, however, is the time just before classes start at the Marist Education Centre, where I teach – the entire school (some 50 students, aged 12-17) have 15 minutes of meditation every morning, in complete stillness and silence – no whispering, no figeting, no cellphones going off in pockets. I wonder how NZ students would cope with that?