When I couldn't sit on the floor getting ready for school on Monday anymore, I hoped on my (t)rusty steed and headed out to do an exploratory loop. Yes, I was pretty cool with my basket on my one speed Zoom. The seat post is a little bent back because I have it as far up as it will go without falling out. And it is almost high enough if I were 5 feet tall... I wanted to see how long it would take me to get to my friend Ben's school, as well as one of my own, Thai Samakee. I also wanted to get some exercise and get a lay of the land. It only took me about 8 minutes to bike to my school, thus I think that will be my way in on Thursdays and Fridays. I split Wednesdays and I will get a ride over from Nong Ya Sai to Thai Samakee. I decided to go ahead and eat my breakfast at school since it will save me a little money, and I have to make it to the end of November for my first stipend. Plus, if I eat fish and rice for breakfast, I can justify eating oatmeal and peanut butter sandwiches for dinner! Speaking of rice. I ended up doing about 40 kilometers overall today. Fortunately there weren't any hills to speak of, and the weather was absolutely stunning. Low 80's and almost NO humidity! It was like the perfect, height-of-summer day in Maine, and of course most of the locals were wrapped up in coats and scarves.
The rice workers actually often wear a ski mask hat, even on the hottest of days. For harvest I was expecting, I guess, a writhing mass of rice harvesters, but the reality is quite different, at least here in Isan, where I understand the rice grounds are really not all that great, one reason why the region is poor. Sometimes there were a group of workers, 10-12. Other times there would be a couple, or often a solo harvester, steadily chopping a handful at a time, doing something to the stems, setting them down, and moving on. I felt a little intrusive taking pictures of them working, but when I stopped to take the photo of the rice laid out on the blue tarp, the man holding the child actually said, "Photo?" and posed.