Mar
23
2010
1

Encounters

As my time left in Thailand ticks away I’ve had some great encounters with some folks. Several people have invited me to eat with them giving me an opportunity to say good bye. And on three occasions when I didn’t have a planned meeting with someone, I ran into someone and got to share a meal with them.

On Sunday morning a friend of mine prayed that I’d have a chance to meet up with a friend I hadn’t heard from in a year. Sunday night that friend called. Some things are beyond comprehension.

Written by Micah in: Thailand |
Mar
16
2010
0

Capturing Isaan

I spent this past Friday and Saturday recording some Isaan music. It was a good experience. It was my first time recording so many instruments simultaneously. It was also my first time recording music in a non-Western style. Coming from another culture, from a different music aesthetic, I had to be careful not to impose a Western aesthetic on the recording.

I’m still going over the recordings, but you can hear a sample here.

Operating in the Isaan language for two days was fun, though it put a severe draw on the ol’ gray cells. Talking with the drummer, an older blind man, I had the following exchange:

Drummer: “How do the drums sound?”
Myself: “I think they sound great”
Drummer: “Good, because I can’t see and sometimes I miss the drums”

Another benefit of the venture was a few meals worth of Isaan food.

Written by Micah in: Thailand | Tags: ,
Mar
03
2010
1

Stories

I always love stories. Some of my favorite stories are the stories told to me by people I know in this modern world of times they remember when the world was a very different place. Today I heard such stories.

Aj. Lertluk is one of my most favorite people in Ubon. She teaches where I teach and has been a friend and mother to me. Today we went out for lunch together with some other teachers. After lunch we stopped by the old campus of our school. The school moved about thirty six years ago. The old building is a wooden structure (not a concrete one). The floors, the stairways, the banisters, the classrooms, all seemed to long to tell us their stories. Some of them had a chance to do so through Aj Lertluk.

We learned that 113 year old Benchama (where I teach) was the only 8th-10th grade school for boys in the whole province until just 30 years ago. Benchama had a science program for 11th and 12th grade that was open to both genders. The 8th-10th grade school for girls had a language program for 11th and 12th grade that was open to both genders. The two schools sat on opposite sides of the city park. There was also a teachers college (11th and 12th grade) in town that focused on education.

When Aj. Lerluck was a little girl she lived 40km away from Ubon city so when she finished 7th grade (at the age of 13) she moved into town and lived with friends of her parents to go to the junior high for girls. She remembers crying and crying when she left home. She believes her parents also cried. She was able to get home only once per term. There were no roads and the journey was a hard one that required travel by both cart and raft. There were no telephones.

She stuck it out studying 8th-10th grade at the girls school, then studying at the teachers college before going to University in Bangkok. She then came back to Ubon to teach.

Written by Micah in: Thailand |
Feb
26
2010
1

Graduation

Last night we had a graduation ceremony for my ม3 kids. The ceremony went well. I started to realize that this season is coming to a close. I didn’t really know what to do to end things well.

I was very blessed by my students. I saw clearly that I have made an impact on them. In the speech of thanks from a representative of the student body, I was the teacher mentioned by name. I was given garlands of flowers and asked for a blessing by a number of my students. My homeroom class gave me a class picture in a homemade frame. I’m going to miss these kids.

Written by Micah in: Thailand |
Feb
15
2010
2

Bangkok

Last Thursday night I rode the train down to Bangkok for a wedding. A number of the people on the train were traveling to be with family (living family and family graves) for the Lunar New Year. I was on my way to a wedding.

The train came to rest in Bangkok around 6:00 AM. If I’d really thought about where I was and where I was going, I would have hopped a taxi. By the time I’d ridden the underground and transferred to the sky train I had spent as much as I would have for a taxi. At that early hour in the morning, the taxi would have been a good deal faster.

I showed up at my friends’ hotel room around 7:00. They kindly let me dump my stuff there and take a shower. We then made a run to the U.S. Consulate. I got twenty something visa pages added to my passport. The process was quick, painless, and free. My friends’ business also went quickly, though at greater cost.

We grabbed breakfast outside on the street. I had kebab wrap and fresh squeezed orange juice. Bangkok does have some things to offer that cannot be found in Ubon.

I spent the remainder of the day hanging out with friends. In the late afternoon most of us went to the wedding rehearsal. The pastor was a dictator. It was his way or find another church fast. Apparently he’d warned the bride ahead of time.

The pastor reminded me of some of the experiences I’ve had with medical doctors here in Thailand. Doctors here don’t seem to like it when I ask questions. They prescribe drugs. I take drugs. No questions.

After the rehearsal we went to a food court that has just about everything. I had enchiladas. The enchiladas were pretty good. Ironically, the rice was quite miserable.

To save on hotel costs, I crashed with the groom for the night.

The next day was one of beautiful relaxation that included a blueberry bagel with cream cheese. I don’t think I’d eaten a bagel in two years.

In the evening I thought the service went well. During the service I found the pastor’s dictatorial attitude even more intrusive. He corrected some things that were in no need of correction. Where the empty ring box is placed really doesn’t matter.

The reception also was nice. I sang a song in English. I decided I kind of like singing for people who don’t know what I’m saying (the bride was Thai, the groom was Dutch). They thought I did great. The sound was good, but I botched a few lyrical lines in part due to some intentional (friendly) distractions. Try taking a bouquet of flowers while playing a guitar and singing.

I’m back in Ubon. No more bagels.

Written by Micah in: Thailand |

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