Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Adventures in Options...

I've been mulling over 2 different pros/cons scenarios today.

1. Skirts vs. Pants. In keeping with Thai tradition, my university has a dress code. As a result, I have to wear a skirt to class every day. With the exception of mid-late 19th Century hoop skirts, I would usually choose pants 99.9% of the time. I've discovered lately that I actually like wearing skirts - even ones without hoops. It's the pantyhose I dislike. I'm actually quite happy wearing skirts every day here...except when I'm walking near the ditch and worry that a lizard will scurry past and mistake my leg for a tree. I like my little house lizards, but the thought of one tickling the back of my knee gives me the squirmies. So far, that hasn't happened yet. My Skirts vs. Pants scale has tipped in favour of skirts.

2. Motorbike vs. Car. Great thing about motorbikes: they're just awesome. Great thing about cars: when an angry dog is barking and running along right beside you, you don't have to worry that he might bite you. I had to make my ferocious angry shouting noise tonight to deter the large canine that ran after/alongside me. My Motorbike vs. Car scale is still tipped in favour of motorbikes, but I wish they had dog deterring, leg protecting side panels. :-)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Adventures in Wai Kru...

Today we celebrated Wai Kru day at the university. Wai Kru means 'paying respect to teachers'. Part of the ceremony involved students from all departments presenting elaborate flower arrangements to the teachers. Here are a couple of examples I took pictures of before the ceremony began. The pictures are lousy, but it gives an idea of what the arrangements looked like:

The ceremony also included the following choral chant type thing. It was in Thai, but my phonology professor gave us a translated copy. To all you teachers out there, this Wai Kru's for You...

I wish to respectfully greet and honour
my teachers who have enriched my life through learning
who are bestowing knowledge and instilling morality in my life.

I wish to express my deepest respect and acknowledge your abounding goodness.

With heartfelt admiration I wish to express my deepest gratitude
through diligence and discerning wisdom
to complete my studies and live a full life
being a good moral example
to bring honor and glory
and great benefit for my people and country.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Adventures in Anthems

It happened again tonight.

Imagine yourself in this scene: You're in a department store, browsing through the aisle dedicated to cleaning supplies. You're examining a particularly functional bucket when suddenly, the muzak changes to something with a little more pomp, and is no longer providing background noise to the steady hum of shoppers... because the steady hum of shoppers has ceased. You stop humming the Milli Vanilli song that was in your head and look up from your bucket as you realize that except for the ceremonious strains of music coming through the speakers, all movement around you has stopped. The other shoppers in your aisle who were, just a moment ago, chatting as they examined mops and sponges, are now silent and standing stalk still. Just as you're taking all this in, and wondering if perhaps Voldemort has cast a Petrificus Totalus spell on the entire store, the song ends, everyone bows a little and resumes their chatting/shopping as though nothing happened.

In Chiang Mai, department stores and markets play the national anthem every night at 6p.m. Everyone stops what they're doing and stands respectfully as the anthem is played. (If you're on the escalator, you can step off and move a little bit out of the way so you don't cause a pile up.) It still catches me by surprise, but I think it's interesting, and makes me thing of flash mobs. I also try to picture the same scene taking place at Tim Horton's to the strains of O Canada.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Adventures in Being Pick-up-able...

Thais don't walk. I've been told this by Thais and foreigners alike. Apparently, it's so unusual to walk places, that in the past 2 weeks, as I've either been walking to school (10 minutes) or to Carrefour (8 minutes) I've had 4 people stop and offer me rides. Maybe I look lost. Maybe I look pick-upable.

Nowadays, even though I don't have to walk everywhere because I bought a motorbike, I still like to get at least some exercise now and again.
I always wear a helmet, but my spare one is a little too big for the cat.

As for the areas of my life that don't pertain to vehicles:

I did well in my Grammar course, and discovered that I may have actually enjoyed myself a little bit. I especially enjoyed the units on morphology.

I found a teaching job (3hrs/week), that fits nicely with my own study schedule. Ironically, 3/5 of my students are Korean. Really, what were the odds of that?

My final 3 boxes of books and photos finally arrived from Korea on the very day that I was about to start calling every post office I could find and try to track them down.

I've also learned a great timing trick. Now that the rainy season has started, I wait until the wind picks up and the sky darkens in the afternoon before I leave for Carrefour. That gives me just enough time to get there before it starts to rain, and by the time I'm finished my shopping, the rain has stopped and it's 8 degrees cooler for my walk home!

It's hard to believe I've been here almost 2 months already - how did that happen? Honestly, I woke up this morning, and before opening my eyes, I had to do a mental check to try and remember where I was: Korea? Regina? Trenton? Montreal? Victoria? Vancouver? Chiang Mai? It's all a blur! Later in the day, I wanted to ask a shopkeeper a question, and was frustrated, because I could ask my question in English, French, Korean and even remembered that particular question in Chinese...but didn't know where to begin in Thai. Even my trusty body language failed me completely. With 44 consonants, 32 vowels and 4 tone markers, learning Thai is going to take a while.