Thursday, July 5, 2012

12 Ways to Beat the Heat Thai Style

The village of Huay Sai turns out to help a neighbor irrigate his land.
As record-breaking heat cooks the Triangle in North Carolina, in the spirit of shared community, I'd like to offer a few tips on staying cool the way they do here in northern Thailand where my son, Jacob, and I are volunteering at the Warm Heart Foundation (more on that later). Here, air conditioning is more for luxury hotels than day-to-day life.

Jacob buying an ice cream from a mobile vendor.
1.      Protect yourself from UV rays with a hat. Deliver ice cream with a motorcycle and don’t forget your gloves! Keep smiling and whatever happens, remember “mai pen rai”--Thai for “no worries!”

Pi-Tai's pup waggin' his tail under a parked Warm Heart truck.
2.      Stay cool Thai doggie style. Dig a hole in the shade under the nearest pick-up truck. Stateside, you might retreat to the cooler regions of your home like the basement.

One cool cat vegetatin' at Warm Heart's Children's Home.
3.      Remember that greenery is the cat’s pajamas. Water your houseplants and spritz their leaves to create your own cooling rain forest hideaway.

Cataloguing books for the Always Reading Caravan (ARC) at Warm Heart.
4.      Find the nearest empty rice barn and create a community library. Join a book club, read with friends to keep ideas flowing and use fans to keep the air moving.

A seasonal cornfield that periodically goes underwater.
5.      Watch the corn grow by a banana tree. Remember that without the sun, we’d become Ice Age fossils. Contemplate how the natural forces of nature cause roots to reach for the earth’s core and leaves to unfurl towards the heavens following the pull of universal yin and yang.

Drink fluids early and often.

6.      In Thailand, most gas stations give you a free bottle of water with a fill-up. Don’t forget to stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water during the day before you are parched. Perspiration is nature’s natural coolant – don’t let your human radiator run dry and overheat.

Pi-Beuh's wife staking out a frangipani sapling.

7.      Plant a tree to create shade. In Thailand, this frangipani will easily grow some 20 feet tall. Remember to baby your sapling for the first year or two by watering during drought. Protect young plants from excessive winds (here by staking). In the North Carolina Piedmont, protect them from rutting deer with a surround of chicken wire.

Waterfall in a national park near Phrao.
8.      Cool off in a waterfall and enjoy nature. The soothing sound of flowing water – from a burbling brook, a lake lapping the shoreline, or ocean waves – is sure to refresh your spirits as well as your toes. Breezes rustling through the bamboo leaves and singing birds are a bonus.

Taking a siesta by the newly built Girls House at Warm Heart.
9.      Take a siesta to avoid the extreme heat of the day. The Spanish word siesta derives from the Latin ‘sexta hora’ or sixth hour after dawn. The Thais also divide the day counting from dawn and many enjoy a noontide break. You might find monks napping in a nearby “wat” or monastery temple.

A wat overlooking the Phrao valley.
10.   Visit a wat -- a Thai Buddhist monastery temple. Ancient temples are often good places to cool off. Stateside, a local museum or historic home might do the trick.

An Eri silkworm feeding up and preparing to cocoon.
11.   Feed an Eri silkworm a cassava leaf and support local micro-enterprises like silk weaving. Don’t forget your local wildlife and put out water for birds during a hot spell.

Looking off the back balcony at the cow barn.
12.   Pray for rain. And when it arrives, find shelter with friends to wait out the storm. These Thai Brahman cattle were a gift from the local monastery and are not for eating! Their manure, however, enriches the soil and is highly prized by local farmers who will buy it by the bag.

      Thinking of ya'll down Carolina way from the Phrao valley. Stay cool! And as they say around here, "Sawadee-ka!" 

      The Warm Heart Foundation is an NGO founded by the husband-wife team of Michael Shafer and Evelind Schecter to help the people of Phrao help themselves. Read more about Warm Heart here:

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