Buat, Wat, Catfish

 Paw Aw Surong is our friend and the director of my new school. She invited us to a Buat (Monk ordination) on Saturday.  

The new monk is pictured in the oval on the banner, behind the entertainer. I am struck by the differences between Buddhist religious practice and the Catholic traditions of my early childhood — traditions that rejected sensuality and pleasure in favor of stern self-denial.


The Nong Ya Sai wat has catfish as big as my torso. You can hear them burp if you listen carefully.

Our mailing address

Thanks again, everyone, for your cards, letters and care packages. They are a great connection to home that means a lot, even though it’s sort of old fashioned at a time when being a friend is commonly thought to mean clicking an icon on a screen!

Mail takes two weeks to progress from your continent to ours. Here’s our mailing address — we’re using our government office address as it allows faster delivery.

Paul Figlmiller and Robert Sykora

US Peace Corps Volunteers

SAO Nongpho

119 Moo 4

Nongyasai District

Suphanburi Province


People going bananas about flowers

A fairly desolate stretch of highway runs through our area, and to its left and right there are flat and empty fields as far as the eye can see. But during a few weeks in March each year, it’s a hot tourist destination. It’s all about getting a selfie (or posing with a professional photographer) with the yellow flowers on these trees.  Paul chose the scruffiest of the trees for our selfie. Because he didn’t want it to feel bad? Well, that’s just Paul.


Our Community: Ban Lampunbong

We still aren’t sure of our mailing address, but we know where we are thanks to Google maps. We’re a half hour bike ride to the nearest van departure point in Nong Ya Sai, then 90 minutes’ drive to Bangkok. About an hour to the west of us, the land starts to get mountainous.

Here it is zoomed-in to Nong Pho level, with more detail below:


Detail A, showing Wat Lam Phan Bong and its fish/turtle pond above, and  Wat Lam Phan Bong School (where Bob works) below. The school is a 10 minute bike ride from our house.

 Detail B, showing the bend in the road where we live. Our landlords are a wonderful couple who own a store that fronts on the road, and we live in a house behind theirs.

Paul works out of the Aw Ba Taw, the Subdistrict Administrative Office of Suphanburi government, about 5-10 minutes by bike from our house. Though he has office space there, he’ll be moving around the province once his various projects get off the ground.

This morning we sat in front of the store and struggled (with our lousy Thai language abilities) to chat with people as they came and went. It was a pretty sleepy scene, and I took a picture of it, but it for some reason it won’t upload. So you’ll just have to imagine it!