Like living inside a clothes dryer

But then again, clothes tend to dry really fast here, making laundry day a snap.

Those who know me well are aware that I may at times tend toward, um, colorful exaggeration. But not this time. Note the final paragraphs and their reference to child drowning: it is the number one cause of child death in Thailand and is a project we may work on while here.

Authorities in Thailand have urged the public to stay indoors to avoid the hot weather as the country was facing the longest heatwave in over half a century.

In the wake of the situation, animals at Bangkok’s zoo were being fed special frozen fruit pops while people are flocking to shopping malls just to soak up the air-conditioning.

Although Thailand is typically hot and sweaty in April, this year’s scorching weather has set a record for the longest heatwave in at least 65 years.

The average peak temperature each day this month has been above 40 degrees Celsius, with the mercury spiking one day to 44.3 degrees Celsius – just short of the all-time record.

The heatwave has also fueled a new record for energy consumption and prompted health warnings on everything from food-borne illness to drowning, both of which rise every April when Thailand’s hottest month coincides with school summer break.

“As of now we can say we’ve broken the record for the highest temperatures over the longest duration in 65 years – and the season isn’t over yet,” said Surapong Sarapa, head of the Thai Meteorological Department’s weather forecast division.

He added that 1960 – the year Thailand began keeping national weather records – was the last time the weather was this hot.

On this very day (April 27) in 1960, Thailand posted its hottest day ever recorded with 44.5 degrees Celsius in the northern province of Uttaradit.

Countries across Southeast Asia are also feeling the heat, which scientists say is triggered by El Niño, a warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide and tends to push global temperatures up. El Niño has also been blamed for causing the worst drought in decades across the region.

Neighboring Malaysia is predicted to endure another two months of hot as the El Niño phenomenon is expected to only dissipate in June, based on an analysis by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States.
Thailand’s Department of Disease Control has warned people to beware of food poisoning and other food-related illnesses that typically increase during hot weather when bacteria can thrive on unrefrigerated food.
“Stay indoors, try to limit activity outdoors. Wear sunglasses, wear hats with large brims. Drink more water than usual,” the disease control center said in a statement this week.

It also reminded the public of the increased risk of drowning in hot weather as children flock to Thailand’s beaches, ponds and lakes to take a swim.

“Do not let young children out of your sight for even a brief moment,” the statement said, noting that an average of 90 children die every month in Thailand from drowning, but that number increases to about 135 in April.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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Miss Puke

Just spitballing here, but I’m guessing that a hot oil or foot massage with Miss Puke would not be an experience you’d want to repeat.

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National Council for Peace and Order

 Every evening, the National Council for Peace and Order sponsors a lengthy TV broadcast featuring gentlemen in policey outfits apparently explaining the efforts being made by the military junta to Restore Happiness to the Thai people.    

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On the road

Almost there after 5 hours in a Rot Dtuu, a van, including a transfer in Bangkok.  

Two days of Peace Corps meetings await, no doubt with plenty of small groups, poster paper and markers. Delighted to see GREEN and HILLS after living in the beige flatlands for a month. And soon, the sea!

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Our landlords’ family is as warm and welcoming as it is huge. We gathered for the traditional Songkran ap nam muah kawng  puthao– washing the hands of the elderly. The eldest of the old sat in a row and we gently exchanged touches to the hands and face, rinsing with water. Then, surprise, since Paul and I are so much older … people started to ritually wash OUR hands. We are the puthao, there is no denying it!

We had a couple of really sweet experiences at the neighborhood Wat, where our neighbors/family guided us through the ritual showing of respect for the monks. No pictures are available of this, since we didn’t see anyone else taking pics (and people are always taking cellphone selfies whenever it’s possible). Then there was food, and everyone made certain we were treated right. 

Saturday was the last day of Sonkran, and we biked in to Nongyasai for the water-spashing festival. The best part, when we toodled our bikes slowly down the parade route and got spashed and had white stuff painted on our faces by lovely, smiling people, will have to reside in our memories and your imagination — our phones were sealed up in plastic bags. Here are a few we took before we joined-in.


  Wednesday we visited Suphanburi, where Paul’s office dragged a heavy float around for hours in the heat. Not us: my boss took us to a restaurant overlooking the parade route. 



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Living global climate change


Rice fields in our province haven’t even been planted this year; there’s no point wasting seeds in beige dust.

“Thailand is the home to 65 million people, the majority of whom live in rural, agricultural areas.  The country is the world’s largest exporter of rice, and is often called ‘the rice bowl of Asia.’  Agriculture employs 49% of the population and contributes 10% of GDP.  Tourism and fisheries abound on Thailand’s 3,200 kilometers of coastline and play important roles in the economy, providing 6% of GDP and a livelihood to 10% of the population. Climate change threatens all three important sectors of Thailand’s economy: agriculture, tourism, and trade … [t]he effects of climate change, including higher surface temperatures, floods, droughts, severe storms and sea level rise, put Thailand’s rice crops at risk and threaten to submerge Bangkok within 20 years …”[1]


[1] Kisner, Corinne, “Climate Change in Thailand: Impacts and Adaptation Strategies”, Climate Institute, July 2008. Viewed online at 

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Wet and Dry


Peace Corps service comes in many varieties. All varieties of service have their rewards and their struggles. Our friend Mante’s service is of the wet variety — he took the picture on the left. Ours is dry — central Thailand is suffering a punishing drought, and the rice fields are scorched and dead. We literally choked on dust today when we were out on our bikes in 105 degree heat. The running water stopped two days ago, but thanks to our helpful landlords we are able to dip non-potable water from a garbage can. Potable water is available in a little store that they operate. The dry heat is a struggle, yes, but with very little water there are no mosquitoes so the Dengue Fever risk is low!

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