Living in a homestay by Andrew Moncada

Here’s a quick rundown:

Banlions doesn’t have electricity. Very simple housing. Generators run from 6:30pm to 10:30pm that provide energy. Every time else, nada. Dunno if I could adjust to that as a regular tenet of my lifestyle. I appreciate it, but don’t think I could make it a standard dealio.

Banlions has a ton of mosquitoes. Like, if you took Thailand by the edge and shook it, all of the mosquitoes just fell on the tiny island and concentrated around the Banlions village. There’s also an abundance of giant mutant watch-the-eff-out-or-else-you’ll-regret-it red ants. Seriously, if you motion your finger in front of them, they’ll stop, get on their hind legs, and thrust their upper torso at you.

Never have I been so scared about bugs since I saw The Fly and the terrible, terrible sequel starring the drug dealer from Pulp Fiction. The village makes up for the insect problem by having the most amazing beaches, though. Warm waters, soft sand, and at night…the most lit up starry sky – ever. Absolutely fantastic.

During the night in Bantalaenok and Banlions from 8:30 to 10:30, the Thai equivalent of NBC airs a soap opera that quickly took it’s place as my favorite Asian show of all time – The Killers. I had no idea what was going on, but I can tell you this: it involves a girl with an eyepatch, espionage, lots of Thai gangsters, a girl hiding in the men’s squat toilet and absolutely kicking ass on an unsuspecting patron, and the bloodiest opening title’s sequence to a show. Thai censors are funny…they blur out anyone drinking alcohol, but they will show stabbings to the eye (Renee Walker would’ve been proud), excessive gunshots, multiple kicks to the groin, and over the top blood-bath sequences. I can only hope that The Expendables can match half of the action from this tv show.

Since I didn’t have electricity after 10:30 in the village, I ended up using a flashlight and borrowing The Girl Who Played with Fire from a neighbor. Pretty good sequel to a book I never read. Mark that up as another win for Sweden.

For the World Cup, Thais were all about Argentina (the team that I shifted my allegiances to after Ghana mucked up US hopes…damn you Ghana, damn you. I will never visit your country). Everybody loves Messi, and there was definitely a feeling of loss when the team got booted. After that Spain became the new adopted country. And as a side note, people here hated Germany.

Bantalaenok is a Muslim village located near the ocean. Half of the village was wiped out from the tsunami from several years ago. Since it’s a Muslim village there isn’t any pork, making up for it with lots and lots of cats. Also, a government initiative to allow the community to eat more livestock granted families with cows. However, the people didn’t use the cows for food, but as pets. As a result, you can see cows roaming the streets and walking on the beach. It’s weird…Twilight Zone-esque to chill out at the beach and see cows in the ocean.

Several of the Bantalaenok boys gave me a few points in Muay Thai boxing in exchange for some Tae Kwon Do lessons. Watch out UFC, I can feel my career blossoming.

I made soap with the women in Bantalaenok, created some artwork, wove leaves into, >made tie-dye with women in Banlions, drove a tractor, ate grasshoppers and other insects (grasshoppers taste like seaweed), and helped construct a building for students at a Buddhist temple.