Wandering In Thailand: Stephen Cysewski

I will be on Sabbatical in Thailand. I am interested in how adults learn and apply computer technology. I will share my experiences in Thailand, share some of my life in Alaska, and document my sabbatical. I will post photographs, links, thoughts, and resources.



Saturday, September 03, 2005

We are in Thailand but marginal Internet

We are in Thailand, I have written many posts and have some pictures but the Internet access is very poor. Have gone to a couple Internet Cafes. I just got an account with ego in Thailand; it is working, but because of the phone lines is pretty slow. I have not forgotten this blog, and it will be updated when I get some Internet access. The trip is wonderful and I am learning an immense amount about IT and the Internet and also about Thailand. Please be patient I am will be posting soon.

Sunset, in the park right next to Jit's house.
Stephen Cysewski

Jit's house. She has been working all year to build this house for her folks. It is great, still a little more work to do, but it is very comfortable
Stephen Cysewski


Another picture of Jit's house
Stephen Cysewski

9/1/2005 @ 7:51 PM

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast, sort of like Jit having soup for breakfast
Last night it rained and a black hairless dog slept on the doorstep.
In the morning we went to look for the lizard, we heard it. We continued walking to the abandoned part of the park and found a large observation tower, as we walked up to the tower the black dog came running down, weird.
There is a girl in the village who has a little cerebral palsy, she was carrying a sling shot, I wonder what she was going to get, fish, dog, or a bird. I teased her a little bit.
When we were walking we talked to a person who prepares lunch for the bike tour. She said that the reason the park is falling apart is no money. The people who try to maintain the park have "no life". We also found the house where the worker stays, pretty interesting. There are guards that guard the gate for the park and only residence can drive in, it is still beautiful, in fact the overgrown part of the park might even have more appeal because of the return of a natural, undisturbed, environment. There is much to explore. At night, and during the day, I see people jogging, exercising, and today even a remote controlled boat. The boat was stuck on an island and the boy swam over and turned it around.

In the village there is a group of women who create a dessert that is covered in banana leaves, it is great to watch the enterprise. The first time I came it was working, the next time no enterprise, and this time it is working again. The people work hard for money, everywhere. There is even people who sell fish food to the bike tourists. I think that the bike tour is a sign of hope for income for the community.

Watching people build the house is an education, welding, cement work, improvising, the people have real skills that they have picked up from their dads and mothers. Thinking of computer training again, good internet access and examples of successful usage is the key to technology. Everybody has cell phones and they meet a real need, computers, without Internet access meet a marginal need.
The post office that I observed yesterday was Pak Lat.
As I think of IT I think of same and different, is the use of computers in small business any different in Alaska?
When we took the bus from Bangkrachow to Papradang it was an old Mercedes with a whole in the floor, pretty derelict, but it worked.
There is a whole herd of buses at Bang Krachow waiting to run the route to Papradang, pretty picturesque.

This morning we took a motor bike tour around the Bangkrachow peninsula. We saw many docks and many Wats and also where the Banglapoo flouting market is on the weekend. Sound like another sign of hope for the communities on this peninsula.

We went to the Papradang this morning and caught the Bus 6, non air conditioned, Jit wanted an air conditioned bus but I wanted to go on the other bus because the windows are open and it is like a carnival ride, you can see, hear, and smell everything and because the windows are open you can take photographs, it was great. I want to take Bus 4 because it goes through China town.
We got off Bus 6 by Kho San Road and Banglapuu. Walked around and then took a taxi to the far end of the Sky train. We rode on it to the other end. The difference in the experience of the Sky Train is an order of magnitude different then riding in an non air conditioned bus. It is like being in a different city. If I am visiting I think I like the bus, if I live here I will like the Sky Train.
We backtracked on the Sky Train and got off at Pak Nam and went to the Tesco Lotus and bought some stuff from home, I bugged Jit because I did not see how we could carry it all home, but we did, Taxi to Klong Toe dock, boat across the river, and then ridding motor bikes home. Pretty fun exploration, seeing many new places and posing a million questions. I wonder if I will ever be able to know where I am in Bangkok, each street is another world.

The dogs howl in this community like Alaska huskies on a winter night, it sure is an echo experience.

Tony, Jit's brother was at the house when we got back. He makes me uncomfortable. I do not trust him and it makes me feel like we must lock and protect everything. After long and emotional discussion he finally left, I do not think I want to leave valuable things here as long as he is around. He is really at a sad state saying he needs money for his baby in the hospital and then answering phone calls in English that sounds like he is being pressured for money, not a good situation.

Jit spent a long time talking with the communitee leader, Lek, it was loud and persistent, he had the courtesy to listen. I can pick up a vague sense of context.

I went to the park to get away from Tony, it was beautiful watching the sunset and the people enjoying the park.

At night there were a group of people in the village shelter who were sharing a meal, it was a warm situation.

I also finally got a good Bangkok map that shows the whole metropolitan area. I found where STOU was, it is near Ko Kred, and also could see some of the places we have been exploring.

I wonder if the Black Hairless Dog will show up tonight.

They are still working on iron railings around the house, the welder is powered by two bare wires pushed into socket, electricity here is 220. People really make do.

Date: 8/31/2005 @ 3:49 PM

IT Observations
Post Office small, two old computers, looks like one was contacted to the title screen of a dedicated program. I am sure main post offices have more. There was not a terminal screen at the front counter.

An observation1
A country without a reliable post office will have a hard time competing in globalization. People say, and my experience confirms, that if you send money it will not get to its destination. I foolishly sent two packages by Air Postal, I hope they arrive. Anyway even though information can travel virtually, stuff must actually be delivered. Customs and the post office must be above reproach. I send many things internationally through eBay. It has always worked, but I sure feel better sending to Singapore and Hong Kong then to Turkey. Britain is the only one that caused a problem, but the camera was eventually, eight months later, was returned. Cost of the delivery is also important.

Around the Tambon, phone service is very noisy, I will be amazed if it works. At the Internet room that I delivered the connection was slow. Some teenagers playing games, probably eighty computers, well laid out and they looked like in good shape.

Rather then investing in computers the government, if it wants to encourage Internet literacy would provide subsidized broadband Internet access as widely as possible. They have demonstrations of what can be done for business and for fun. I would love to show the people the satellite picture of there area. The problem is not having a computer it is the motivation and pay back from technology. To excite people you need broadband access. Excitement leads to usage.

Date: 9/2/2005 @ 4:55 PM

I got a new notebook today, really. I am using a small 3 X 5 notebook to carry with me and make notes and observations as a travel around. I then transcribe or amplify the notes using either my T3 Tungsten and a Palm keyboard, or I use my Notebook computer. The Palm and Notebook synch using the same application. I am using Natura DayNotez which has both a Windows and a Palm application. It is very useful.

Date: 9/2/2005 @ 4:58 PM

In the morning there was lightening near and far. See, listen, count, a few of the lightening strikes were almost instantaneous. Most were ten to fifteen seconds. The lightening was in all directions. Above and on all four sides, pretty exciting. After the storm the morning was beautiful. I went and walked around the park. I was told by Peesean that lightening does not strike in Bangkrachow, maybe, there are many more attractive options like ships and docks in the area, but some of the strikes were very close and my scientific sense says that there is no guarantee that lightening will not strike.

There was no black dog last night, but the new gate was installed and locked. We saw the dog in the morning, it sure is ugly, a no haired black dog, I do not think we exist in his awareness.

A great name for a blog on traveling in Thailand would be "Thinking too much" everywhere I go with English people Thai speakers the term comes up, you are Thinking too much, meaning you are analyzing too much. For Alaska a similar name would be "Without a beginning or an end." At the first circumpolar conference in the early 70's there was some Sammi singers from Finland. There was laughter that there songs and Alaska songs shared the common trait of being without a beginning or an end. I think the people of Alaska see themselves as without a beginning or an end also.

I was looking at a magazine today and there were pages of ring tones, themes, and even Videos to download to cell phones. Just another indication of the impact of cell phones. The value of the end drives the means for education and for IT. If the end or need that is being met by a tool is valuable and centered on human need the technology will be adopted. To me the key to technology adoption and training is broadband internet access. Governments should do everything in there power to make broadband Internet universally available to their citizens. From Internet access with come technology adoption. In Turkey, and in a school in Thailand the traveling Internet bus idea seems to be working.

Means and ends, why before how, purpose drives training. People need a reason to adopt tools, and if you can create a commitment to the purpose the means or skills will follow. Digital cameras have to be designed for many needs, simple record shots for family and travel memories to people who use photography for personal expression. Cameras have a range of controls to meet various needs. Ironically the attempt to make a camera meet different needs makes it more complex.

The ends that drive technology adoption are based on core human needs, the need to communicate, the need to express, the need to know, the need to understand. When I revise my courses I will try to focus on ends that drive needs. I do that in an ad hex way know with my projects, but I can use this idea with much deeper force and clearer intention. Watching technology adoption and use is really making me think.

Jit says that the reason people do not by computers is money, I think that is sort of like exercising, people know it is good but something has to tip the motivation to action. Computers and technology are "good for you". I think the question in not computer it is the Internet!

I tentative idea, if I can arrange broadband Internet, it would have to be satellite, I could make the Internet available and show people some uses. Google Earth, the information on the Bike tours, Google tools, put up a web site of photographs, and then support the development of curiosity. This is an idea that I will sort of nudge along. I would love to see one of the WiMax villages to see what is happening.

Date: 9/2/2005 @ 5:28 PM

Today we went on the Chao Pharea express with Peechon, a cool person. Started by riding with her younger brother, we fit into a pickup truck. I realized a little into the trip, that he was a little drunk. He drove well though. We came to a police checkpoint and they wanted to pull us over, it was because I was not wearing a seat belt! He kept trying to pull over, or seemed so, and then just kept driving. Later that day we were in a Taxi and there was another checkpoint, we all .grabbed our seatbelts and faked it because there was no way to lock the other end of the seatbelt, it was stuck under the seats. In another taxi on the way home there were no seatbelts at all. Hmmmm.....

When we were in Northburi we bought fruit and had some great noodles at a noodle shop. As we were leaving I saw three, then four, then five people walk by coughing. Then I started coughing. Somebody in a shop two doors down was cutting peppers, I wonder if that is what pepper spray does to bears. Anyway another experience.

The Chao Phry express is as different from the Sky Train as the Non-air conditioned buses. It is a great way to travel and should be the first thing that a tourist does to experience Bangkok. It is a great trip. It takes about an hour and half one way and it cost about a dollar. Really great. I have many pictures to share in the blog when I get Internet access.

I have been using my Ricoh GR1v and it seems to work great for street photography. I have also been using my Canon S70 for park pictures and also pictures on today’s boat trip. It also is working much better then expected. I need to find a good place to develop and scan my film. One thing at a time.

Saturday 9/3

Woke up to rain this morning, but no storm, it has been a sort of cool morning, around 80 degrees. Sure do not need a furnace here, or even hot water. The kitchen will be a cement platform outside, with a short wall and a rough, really open. When we were in Fairbanks she always wanted a seperate building for the kitchen, it actually makes sense when the climate is like this.
We moved the large clothes storage furniture into Jit's room and into her Dad's and Mom's room. It looks like they will move in soon. We are going to have our own permenant room here. I think I will leave many things when we come back to Alaska, like shorts, tee shirts, and all sorts of summer short sleaves stuff. This house will be our Thailand home when we move back and forth from Alaska to Thailand.
Went for a walk in the park. The sounds were wonderful. I walked to the back area of the park and heard a Dharma talk in the distance and children singing in another direction. I think it is from the two buses of kids that came yesterday. A small lizard ran when it saw me, I would have ran too! The birds sounds are unique, a rising Whoo Whoo, no Raven sounds though. The Robins, that are not Robins, are not Robins. I looked closely, as closely as I can with my eyesight, and there markings and mannerisms are slightly different. The two hang out on the lawn and peck the ground though. My mind says they are Robins until I realize they are not. I can hear chickens in the distance, and behind everything, almost ignored, is the low rumbling sound of Bangkok, sort of like the power plant sound in Fairbanks.
A women tour guide, I saw her badge, and a couple maybe from Germany or Britain rode by on bikes. An older women on a collapsable bike rode by also, Sawadee. The tourist couple fed food to the fish and the fish all swirled around. In so many places in Thailand feeding the fish is a tourist thing. I am not sure of the kind of fish, sort of a large gold fish kind of thing. Sometimes at temples they feed bread instead of fish feed pellets.
I was think about the trip on the river yesterday, a majority of the docks are in Wats. The Wats serve community functions in so many ways. They really are integrated into the everyday life. The floating market for Papredang is at a Wat and the access is Ko Kred is through a Wat.Wat's are public places.

Another blog title idea, maybe for IT or also for cross cultural "Same and Different"

Internet Access 1

I tried the Internet access that Pan gave me, after a few times I could get a connection but I did not have the appropriate ID. I need to find out how to do that, but I do not have my trusty Google. I need Internet access to find out how to get Internet access. Hmmm....
Actually this is a common problem with getting on the Internet.
We found out about DSL. The phone line is marginal, but might work. The cost for the cheapest DSL, not counting $100 for the modem, is $12 a month for 256k. The maximum speed is 4mb at the cost would be 2,200 baht or roughly $60. For everyday people these costs are prohibitive. A taxi driver, for a one hour ride, and a fairly long distance only get $3.00. The reason things are cheap in Thailand is that the wages are very low.

Internet Access 2 Success

Tried to get on the Internet today. I used the information Pan gave me but the username and password were not recognized by the domain. Jit asked one of the village kids who used the Internet, she came over and told me she used e-go. You can buy a card at 7-11. We took a motor bike over to the 7-11, a much longer ride then I expected, fun and a little crazy. Anyway we got a card for 50 hours at 378 baht, around $9. After a little fussing it worked, but very slowly, the phone line is pretty noisy and I thought I was sunk. On a whim I tried another phone line between the modem and the wall. I got a good connection at a useful speed. I guess the principle here is that if you want to know something ask the person who is successfully using it. Also my old favorite "same and different" which allowed me to find a poor phone cable. Anyway I am on at a useful speed. I think that I can use it where ever I have a phone connection. I am lucky also because the service does have an English page. When I got the card though I thought it was hopeless, there was a sticker in Thai over the usernane and password, I thought I would have to type in Thai, but it was only a scratch sticker. I am back in business.

Sunday 9/4

Many more amazing experiences today, after we got the ego card we rode on motor bikes to the Banglepheu floating market. It is a real, not tourist market so that the tambons of Phrapradang can sell there goods. There were some One Tambon, One Product items there. Jit got some Nam Prick(sp) and some fish sauce. We all ate there and it was excellent and hot, not adapting to my poor mouth, thankfully. Jit let some fish and snails loose into the canal for merit. There were some large turtles that could also be let loose.

I saw some cool things today, a couple gathering some kind of nuts from the canals with a long bamboo pole with a net on the end. I also saw the person that went with us to Ranong last year, it was good to see him. More and more people are visiting. The feeling of the community is very different on the weekend. The kids are home from school and so are the parents. There is a sense of life and activity, people working, fixing up their houses, and having fun.

Jit's friend that went with us on the river boat yesterday came over and visited with three of her grand kids. Some of them spoke English words well, boat, smile, face, ABC's, probably 1 to 3rd grades, we all went to get some kind of iced treat and then walked around the park and fed the fish. The large lizard was swimming again in the middle of the lake. I am really curious about the lizard and want to see it up closer. As we were walking home we say by a community volley ball game, it was really relaxed and fun, I chickened out on playing. Everybody asks if I speak Thai and I can feel their disappointment that I can not speak Thai. My motivation is sure increasing. If I am going to be surrounded by people who do not speak English with any comfort I better learn to be at least monosyllabically functional. I sure do not have much confidence in myself though.

Another beautiful storm cloud sunset, it started to rain around 7:00. I can not imagine why people would want to leave the comfort of the community here. There is a sense of how people should live. Small town Thailand is not like Iowa, or even Auburn where I grew up.

As I wander around I get offered a drink of whisky at the most odd times, we were at the market and one of the vendors that Jit was talking with offered me a drink. Oh well, I am glad I quite, a little over 20 years ago, because if I didn't it would be very easy to waste your life away with alcohol.

I keep watching the dogs. Where I am staying the dogs are confident, seem to always be going someplace intentionally, and are wary of humans. They will watch to see if it is safe to pass me. The state of the dogs health are sometimes poor, but their psychology seems excellent. Just watching a dog walk, with a sense of purpose in interesting. Learning to train our dog Ava has given me a new appreciation for watching dogs in their natural state.

Oh today I also saw kids hula hooping, I have not seen that in years. I could never do that, even when it was a fade many years ago.

I will be writing a few hundred entries in this blog from thousands of experiences.

So many experience.....

So many experiences.....
The women's name who went with us on the river trip is Keenom. Hearing and spelling are a real problem for me. I just do not hear the distinctions between names well. I also find that I need to see something writing down to really remember it. Oh Well, on with the show.

I realized that the little girl who shoots fishes with slingshot is around the community when the other kids are in school. has a slight case of cerabal palsy, I think. It is like one of her hands and legs are not working well. I asked Jit and she mentioned that she had a hard time writing in school. I guess one of the things that I take for granted is educational access for people with disabilities. On the other hand the girl is loved, surrounded by friends and family every day and is not isolated. Ideally having education and a real place in the community would happen, but given the choices being a loved member of a community is a better choice.

I spell things differently all the time, for now we live in the Bangkrachow tambon of the Phrapredang aumper or district. I am sure there are a hundred different ways to spell. The floating market is Bangnamphung Floating Market The park that is next to Jit's house is the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park. You can search on Google and get some information or search within the Thai Blogs web site.

We motorbiked to the Bangnamphung market again this morning, what a wonderful place, it is completely non-tourist, there are many unique and excellent products. Jit mentioned that it was like the Farmer's Market in Fairbanks in that only local or Thai products could be sold. We had some excellent food again, and I had some Thai waffle like things that were great. I know they would be an excellent product in Fairbanks for breakfast or at the Farmer's Market/

When we got back we were invited to a meal with some of Jit's relatives, it was in a traditional Thai house, the owners were teachers at a school, the man taught Thai dance and the women lab science. The food of course was excellent but the feeling of community was what was unique, at least from my Fairbanks life. I feel like an idiot sometimes because I do not know how to eat somethings. How do you eat a large sprig of parsley like vegetables? You sort of roll it into a ball and the eat it, leaving the stem base. I am watching everything to try to learn not to be an idiot. I can tell people are disappointed that I do not speak Thai.....

If facing many experiences in Thailand I need to accept that my normal caution must be relaxed. I need to say Yes or No to experiences like riding on a motorbike with no helmet, crossing a large river with no life jacket, and riding stuffed into a car with a driver that is a little stressed. So I accept the risk for the experience, so far it has been worth it. I think I would need to live in a hotel and only go on packaged tours if I did not say Yes to risk.

I saw Ah again, I had met her last year, she is an Architectural draftsmen and also has majored in English. I told her that I had a million questions. She said she would answer them.

We went to the Queen Sirikit Convention Center for a home show, took the small boat across the river to Klong Toey and then took a taxi to the center. There was a Japan Education show and an Australian education show there. Both shows were recruiting Thai students. It was interesting. The Japanese show was manic, there was even a hyper women in angel wings trying to encourage people to do something. In the United States we are suspicious of foreign students while other countries compete for them. We are going to be really hurt as a country by limiting the inflow of talent. In a sense we are trying to create a protected environment. The result of a closed environment is poor quality and a lack of competition. We need to open the door to talent. A closed environment leads to absurdities like that East German two cycle car, or the Hindustan in India. Viewed from outside our country our government is embarrassing. Enough of that...

On way back, by the Klong Toey 7-11 I saw this devastated young women, dressed in black completely disheveled. Sometimes images are haunting. Also sometimes I do not have the courage to take a picture. I do not know if she was mentally ill or severely addicted. It was just haunting though to see somebody so lost.

At the home show there were many small refrigerators and washers and driers. I wonder if there would be a market for some these things in the United States. There were also compact, and really neat, modular units for kitchens.

In the evening one of Jit's relatives, she is related to just about eveybody, invited us over to sit with us. After answering some probing questions about my life and motivation we just visited. She has seven fish tanks, with tropical fish set up outside, under a roof, so you can sit on a bench and just watch them, pretty interesting.

A couple came by to visit in the evening. He spoke some English, they took me into the park to look for fireflies. It was dark and the clouds were beautiful. We did not see any fire flies, but it was a great experience. I also got to see a Lumpoo tree. Unforgettable, and the sense of community again.....

When I got back Jit was visiting with two younger people, they know some English. I asked a lot of questions about computer and Internet use. She said the adults used there kids for computer use, primarily to type documents. People use the Internet for school work. In the villages, and even though we are in Bangkok, this is a village, there does not seem to be much Internet or computer use. One perspective is that people are busy all the time with work and home. I asked some questions of how they perceived the Internet. Did they see the Internet as a source of information to search for answers. The answer was a little ambiguous, but I do not think so. Bangkok proper is probably different. To be continued.....


Catching the small boat to Bangkok
Stephen Cysewski


The Noodle Shop by the Grand Palace
Stephen Cysewski


The Noodle Shop by the Grand Palace
Stephen Cysewski


The Noodle Shop across from the Grand Palace
Stephen Cysewski


Non-air conditioned bus, just starting out. The Windows are open and it is a great way to see the city, if you get a seat. It will be standing room only later.
Stephen Cysewski

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

It just started raining....

I just started raining, it is just a shower, BUT Jit had the cloths out to dry, so I just ran out to get them. It just stopped raining...oh well.

I have seen a few Citroen CS's around. One place near here has five of them in the yard. The Citroen was a very advanced and temperamental car with an oil based suspension. Everywhere there is a detail or a curiosity. Thailand is visually, very rich and full of questions. It is not boring. I am not sure of the spelling of Citroen, but the Internet is so marginal that I do not have my faithful Goggle.

Yesterday was busy, we took the small boat across to the Klong Toey Pier, took a non-air conditioned bus to the Grand Palace and the City Pillar. Every time Jit is home she prays at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. I almost know what to do know. Took a lot of pictures, trying to take non-obvious pictures at the Grand Palace, which is pretty hard to do. I am pretty much using digital know because of the instant feedback. I hope my packages that I sent from Alaska arrive soon.

We went to a medieval noodle shop, it looks like the walls have not been washed since it opened. The shop is lit by fluorescent tubes. It is almost black inside. The pictures make it look lighter then it is. I put my digital camera on the table and did time exposures. At the front of the shop is where they cook, surrounded by propane tanks!. The food was excellent and it was crowded with local people. When I peer in some shots they are so dark, and unpainted that, for me, it would be depressing.

We took the river express back to Phrapradang and took the taxi back to Bangkrachow. Busy and interesting day. We had another meal that Bung prepared. Bung has cooked for the Royal Palace before, it was excellent.

I have been thinking about Internet usage, today it has been a total hassle, getting kicked off, having a slow connection, then having a good connection, it can be a little frustrating, but it is what I have..... Anyway, if you are a member of an active community the Internet is an isolating experience, you become separate from the community. If you are isolated the Internet can be a way to join a community. In Thailand, at least where I am, people have a strong community and it is hard to make time for the Internet. I do not know if this is a general observation, but it seems true to the small area that I am participating in.

I am starting to write down a few words that I hear a lot. Unless I write the Thai words down I can not remember them. I also am starting to write peoples names down. It will help. My goal is really listening comprehension. At least it is a beginning.


A tree in the park next to Jit's home
Stephen Cysewski


Shadows on the walk
Stephen Cysewski


Jit and her friends preparing Kow-Tom-Mud
Stephen Cysewski

We did not go anywhere....it was a full day.

Yesterday we did not go anywhere! I started out the day reading the Bangkok Post and the Nation that I got yesterday, it was a beautiful morning. Both papers are full of interesting information. You can go to their web sites. The Bangkok Post also has an RSS feed that you can subscribe to. I also visited some of my old haunts like 2bangkok.com and thaiblogs.com. It was odd to view these sites from Thailand.

I emailed Richard and asked for an appointment. It looks like we might visit tomorrow. I also added many blog entries to my blog. I am getting caught up. I still get kicked off the Internet consistently, but at least I can make contact. We also had contractors putting up eaves on the house to catch the rain for irrigation.

I am adding to my list of Thai words, it will be slow. I hope my Rosetta Stone Thai training CD comes soon. It will be two weeks this Thursday since we mailed the packages.

Jit helped some of her friends make Kow-Tom-Mud for resale. It is quite a process, preparing the leaves and the stuffing, wrapping the leaves around the stuffing and then cooking everything in big round stainless steel pans. I took some pictures of the process. Some of the pictures are on film since I needed a high speed lens. In Thailand, if you want to use natural light, you need fast lenses and high speed film. Many places are dim.

I want to see more Monitor Lizards. My Lonely Planet book says they are hao chaang, but the people in the community call them toue thong. Anyway seeing a large reptile swim in a lake is a very new experience to me. I have seen them twice.

Jit bought a new phone, it is a desk phone that has a crazy musical ring tone and a color display. Sort of adding cell phone features to a desk phone. I need to look at it more carefully.

Bung, who cooks for the royal family invited us to dinner again, the food was varied and excellent. I learned that I had eaten frogs after the fact. When we were in Ranong we saw frogs being raised. The desert, some sticky rice in a banana leaf, with a yellow custard was excellent. I want some now!!!

When we were leaving one of the girls, about 12, was playing her xylophone. It was a large wooden xylophone that was suspended between the ends of a large wooden body, the body almost looked like a boat. It was great. When we got home we could hear the xylophone playing through the garden. I asked where she learned to play the xylophone and she said in school. An education system that can effectively pass on cultural traditions has something going right for it.

Early this morning there was a very heavy rain and thunder storm. It is still thundering. There is also a lot of noise from the port, something is being loaded into ships. Some times you can here the ships very clearly.

Today we will also stay around the house and community.

Some of the IT related places that I want to visit are a WiMax demonstration community, the Virtual Hill Trip Museum, the Internet bus, and Richard Barrow Paknam Web Network. There are previous links on this blog that document these locations. From my very brief experience a traveling Internet station might be a valuable tool to share web resources. Equally important would be to have practical and useful tools to demonstrate the value of the information on the Internet.


Bung, the excellent cook, and some friends
Stephen Cysewski


I finally saw the Lizard close up, The name, I think, and probably misspelled, is Torut Ghen Tone Thang. The name in the book is hao chaang. Anyway it was great to finally see it close up.
Stephen Cysewski


Kow-Tom-Mud being cooked. It tasts good too...
Stephen Cysewski

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Homepage for Sriwittayapaknam School in Thailand

Homepage for Sriwittayapaknam School in Thailand

We will be visiting this school tomorrow. I will also get to meet Richard Barrow who has created Thai-Blog.com, one of my favorite sites. I will post more information tomorrow when we return. I am really looking forward to this visit

Thursday, September 08, 2005

PCWorld.com - Lenovo Finds Success With Cheap PCs

PCWorld.com - Lenovo Finds Success With Cheap PCs
An interesting article. Again though the problem of training, Internet access, and intended use, is unclear. It is a bit of a fraud to tell people it will help their kids, without training, software, and Internet access. There are many computers stored in garages that were bought for similar reasons. In the United States the educational software market has died. Last night I saw people doing home work on the floor, the computer was not being used. The family that we have been visiting gets up around 5:00, get in their car to go to school and work at 6:00, and does not return in the evening, until 7:00. I have a lot to learn on this Sabbatical.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Paknam Web: Thailand's Leading English Language Web Portal

Paknam Web: Thailand's Leading English Language Web Portal

Yesterday we went to Samut Praknam to visit Richard Barrow at Siriwittayapaknam School. Richard also took us to see the "corporate offices" (his home) of paknamweb.com. We took the large boat across the river in the morning, took bus 102 to Samut Praknam, explored the market in Samut Praknam, and then visited the school and the Erawan Museum. From Samut Praknam we took a boat across the river Phrapredang and then took a taxi to Bangkrachow.

The visit with Richard Barrow was unforgettable. We talked a lot about education and IT. I believe he said that 65% or 70% of the homes had Internet connections. Richard is a very creative person who has created many innovative applications of technology for education. He also has empowered his students with the ability to communicate their own distinctive views. I was impressed and inspired by his accomplishments and perspective.

The Siriwittayapaknam school was also a revelation, the students were working hard, had a great spirit, and seemed to enjoy school. Jit took many pictures, and the entire experience will become a reference point for my sabbatical. Sometimes when writing a blog I have so many experiences that I do not know where to start and where to end. At the very least I want to be able to look back on a blog entry to be able to rekindle memories and insights. This entry is one of those where I enter a few words for many experiences.

Thank you Richard and we do hope that you visit us, maybe we can see the large monitor lizard.

Questions of values, belief, and culture

Wednesday evening Bung, Nuk, Jit, Tuk, and I had a thoughtful conversation. Four questions were especially interesting. "Do I believe in spirits of the dead trying to contact the living?", "What religion am I?", and "What do I think of the Thai family culture with everybody living together?" and "Do our children have an expectation of taking care of their parents?"

I know that many people from Thailand believe in spirits and "ghosts". When Sutep died I can to see the respect people have for spirits. Even now Suriwan leaves tea and food for Sutep. I believe and respect that peoples experiences are real. I want to understand that experience. I, though, am afflicted with a scientific pre-disposition. So I believe in the experience, but do not have evidence of the fact.

I am in fact, Christian, I was raised that way, and have spent much time thinking about and experiencing Christianity. The question though is hard to answer, because so much of what is done in Thailand and Cambodia in the name of Christianity is embarrassing. I believe in the greatest commandment, love God and do on to others as you would have them do onto you. As it says in the Bible all the commandments are based on these two greatest commandments. I also believe in St. Augustine's idea of ordered love. If we do not love God or a higher power we can be dangerous to ourselves and to others. My answer was that I was a little bit Christian, which is probably true from some peoples perspective.

Thai family life and American family life are very different. I have worked hard to support my both my daughter's individuality and independence. It makes me proud and happy to see them fly on their own. I do not expect them to support me unless my health fails and I have not other choice. These are beliefs of my culture. On the other hand seeing Thai culture work, seeing people care for each other in an extended family, and seeing the elders and children supporting each other, makes me realize some of the human community that we miss in the United States. I only have a very superficial understanding of Thai culture, but from what I have read and seen it seems like a very healthy way to live.

I love conversations and questions like these


A final picture from Siriwittayapaknam School. The color photographs are by Jit.
Stephen Cysewski


One of the computer labs at the Siriwittayapaknam School. The school has excellent resources and applies technology in practical and innovative ways. Check out their web site. There is a link in a previous post.
Stephen Cysewski


The Erawan Museum is also in Samut Praknam. The museum has excellent art work, and is educational and thought provoking.
Stephen Cysewski


Another picture from the Samut Praknam market
Stephen Cysewski

Samut Praknam has an excellent market with a wonderful selection of sea food. It is well worth a visit.
Stephen Cysewski

It was fun answering questions from the students at Siriwittayapaknam School. They have an excellent technology department. Richard Barrow is the technology coordinator at the school
Stephen Cysewski


We had a wonderful visit at the Siriwittayapaknam School yesterday. Richard Barrow was a wonderful host and we learned many valuable things.
Stephen Cysewski

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sabbatical Resources Stephen Cysewski

Sabbatical Resources Stephen Cysewski

I have been going through my printed notes and clippings. I am preparing for my first meeting at STOU on Monday. I am supposed to meet Ann at the flagpole at 10 AM. I am excited about beginning. In addition to my responsibilities and opportunities with STOU I have some personal academic goals. This is a list of projects and locations that I have read about in the last year and half that I want to visit. This is an edited version of the web page that I have created previously. There are links documenting these locations on my Blog and on my Clipping web site.

1. I want to visit the Cyber Bus at Wangtongpittayakom School in Phitsanulok

2. I want to visit Richard Barrow of Patnam.com and the Siriwittayapaknam School

3. I want to visit the Virtual Hill Tribe Museum project in the Chang Rai area.

4. I want to visit the Srisangwan School in Bangkok and the Young Digital's Christian Association Technological for Life Center" in Chiang Mai. Both projects were funded by Samsung.

5. If the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has opened vocational centers for the poor I want to visit one.

6. If the Education Ministry has developed mobile PC facilities for rural sites, I want to visit one.

7. I want to visit Father Joe Meier's project in Klong Toey. I am interested because of the article that I read about Tew Bunnag and his book of short stories, Fragile Days.

8. I want to visit the ICT National Learning Center at Central World Plaza at Ratchadamri Road and/or at ICT Cities in Chiang Mai.

9. I would like to visit with Srinuan Wongtrakoon at the Sam Kha Village of Mae Tha in Lampang.

10. I would like to visit the Non-formal Educational Center in Lampang

11. I would like to visit the WiMax demonstration project at Samkha village. The village is located near Lampang city.

12. I would like to visit Ko Kret and meet with the abbot again. I would like to do this because the last visit was so enjoyable and in honor of Sutep. If I get invited again to do the morning rounds I will accept.

These are my goals for the Sabbatical in addition to activities and projects with STOU. I expect that I will also have many unexpected and valuable experiences in addition to this list.


Run and her co-worker at the Rajinibon school. It was a very competitive volleyball game.
Stephen Cysewski

Run at the the Rajinibon School
Stephen Cysewski

Bangkok for the non-air conditioned bus.
Stephen Cysewski


The Bangkok port, or at least a small part of it.
Stephen Cysewski

Getting on the larger boat to Bangkok.
Stephen Cysewski

Jit arriving at the dock with Oy. Riding on motorbikes is a great way to get around in more rural areas. I am not ready to do the same thing in Bangkok traffic.
Stephen Cysewski

The good news our packages from Alaska arrived, the bad news we had to go through customs!

The good news our packages from Alaska arrived, the bad news we had to go through customs!
What I thought was going to be a simple process, become a complicated "educational" experience.
Run called an said the packages had arrived and we needed to pay duty. It is hard to insure packages without declaring a value, but at least they were here. We took the boat and Taxi to Run's school, Rajinibon School, in the Dusit area of Bangkok. The Rajinbon school is an expensive and prestigious private elementary school in Bangkok.

During lunch we ran to the local post office, silly us. We were told we needed to go to the main post office customs department at Hua Lonphong station, the main Bangkok railway station. We jumped into a taxi and, after a few questions found out where we were supposed to go, a dim chaotic place with seemingly multiple places to get approvals. I had to stay out of the way, because they would charge me more. Anyway after multiple signatures and approvals, showing of business cards, and even Run getting a 6 pack of water as a gift we got our packages. It took about three hours. I would have had no idea about what to do with out Run and Jit. There was even a lady, with a small typewriter, filling in forms for people in the waiting area. What a powerless experience. We ended up having to pay only 1500 hundred Baht instead of 6000 Baht.

Run is amazing, on the last trip we were caught in a traffic jam at Prapredang. Ran got out of the van, went and got us some snacks, and got back into the van. She is unstoppable. Run is a PE teacher, when we visited we saw volleyball competitions, and swimming, an amazing person with seemingly limitless energy. While at the school I saw a game, Shairbon, which is sort of like shooting hoops, except that the basket is held by a person on a stool. The person can move the basket to catch the ball. It looked like fun.

After getting back to the school we watched after school activities and then ran through the rain to try to get a taxi. Run wanted to take us to get a cell phone. Couldn't get a taxi so we got a bus, traffic jam, but eventually it worked. While waiting for the bus I had a good talk with a student who spent last year in Missouri. She wanted to come back to Thailand to graduate. I asked her about her parents Internet usage and how they perceived the Internet. My interpretation of what she said is that they saw computers and the internet as an educational tool for the kids, but had little interest in it themselves. Her Internet usage was IM, music, hotmail, the normal stuff. Also MP3.s. Here use of Google was mostly for school assignments. On our last trip we visited with her family in Ranong. Interesting. So far, I do not see that the Internet, or even computers, are having much impact on everyday peoples life.

As we were in the traffic we went past Bobay market and the Prince Palace hotel where Margaret and I wandered around and took many photographs last year. It seemed much less chaotic and strange. I think I am changing. I recognized the context for many of the photographs at my Wandering In Thailand web site.

I also visited a couple Internet shops, email, games, instant messaging, and CD duplication. They were not busy.

Back to the bus trip, we ended up at a very modern and large five story mall, just like any large central Mall, with a few changes. There were many very busy cell phone stores with multiple options. There was also a couple computer or tech stores that were not as busy. Notebooks seemed to attract the most interest. The cell phone shops were packed. Run had a discount certificate so we got a cell phone with prepaid service. Non-Thai people have a difficult time getting cell phones without the right permits and Visa's. I had forgotten my passport, a crazy thing to do. Anyway I got a cell phone, read the manual last night, and wished for a class on how to use all it's options:>. I am having Tone, Jit's nephews, enter a bunch of phone numbers. Hmmmm....

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Richard's Life in Thailand - Floating Market in Samut Prakan

Richard's Life in Thailand - Floating Market in Samut Prakan

An excellent description of the area around Jit's home, the Bangnamphung floating market, and of Sri Nakhon Khuankun park.

Grass at Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park
Stephen Cysewski


Plants at Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park
Stephen Cysewski

Fallen leaves at Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park
Stephen Cysewski

Fallen Palm Leaf
Stephen Cysewski

Coconut Paranoia

The Coconut trees here are very tall, I see coconuts fall on a regular basis. They make a whistle when they fall, and then plunk. Coconuts are large and heavy. I asked Jit and she said she does not worry about it. Her comment was that if you get hit with a coconut you have bad luck, which I guess is true. For me though I watch where I stand. The bike tourists go right down a walk under large coconut trees. Last night I went for an exercise walk through the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park with one of our neighbors who speaks English. He said that getting hit by coconuts was not a common occurrence. I guess coconut paranoia is just my active imagination, but I still will watch where I stand.

I spent time this morning re-reading and consolidating my sabbatical clippings. I will go through my blog postings and Evernote clippings this morning. I want to have an organized list of specific sabbatical goals before I go to STOU tomorrow morning. I have posted my current list of places that I would like to visit in a previous post.

Yesterday, and today, there are builders all around the house building the kitchen roof and the floor for the laundry. When the builders are pounding cement posts into the floor for the foundation they get on a log and jump up and down, they sings a chant, it is really cool to hear and see.

Another thought, when I ask people about virus protection and spy ware the people who I have been asking do not seem to have software to prevent attacks. I think this is because people are not on the Internet much, and because they use dial up connections. At schools, internet cafe's, and at homes with broadband connections the protection is better.

There were three different bike tours through the community and the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park. There is a real opportunity for the community with the park and the natural environment here. There is a clear demand to see what the area is like, and it is unique within close proximity to Bangkok. I know Jit has many ideas.

Jit spends a lot of time taking care of her mom while we are here. The house is for her dad and mom. Her mom is hesitant to make the move, She is used to her current home. She needs a wheelchair to move around, she has paralysis on the left side of her body. It is wonderful for her mom to have Jit here to help out.

A motorbike came through the community ringing a bell, he was selling Thai ice cream. I am not sure how it is made, but it tastes like coconut. There is a sprinkling of peas, corn, and peanuts on the top. It is good.

Ton, Jit's nephew went to Bangkok to get an MP3 player. He said there are places by his school where he can download music to his MP3 player. Ton is Jit's nephew and Tony's son. Jit pretty much raised Ton. Ton is about 19 years old, he is taking medication for HIV and it seems to be working. He is so innocent and hopeful. Ton is a victim of ignorance. It is sad.

There was a large thunderstorm last night, it started when the workers were finishing, we gathered on the porch waiting for the rain to slow down. It was pretty relaxed.

I must admit sometimes I do feel overwhelmed by all the new experiences and not being able to communicate, I just need to take things one step at a time, and to keep a perspective, but sometimes I just want to talk with somebody that can understand.


Building the kitchen roor and the laundry floor
Stephen Cysewski


Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park
Stephen Cysewski


Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park
Stephen Cysewski

Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park
Stephen Cysewski


Getting Thai Ice Cream
Stephen Cysewski


Ton, Jit's Nephew
Stephen Cysewski


Stephen Cysewski


Jit's Dad and a friend.
Stephen Cysewski

Monday, September 12, 2005

1967 and 2005

When I came to Alaska I was a VISTA volunteer. I lived in Shaktoolik Alaska. The experience in rural Alaska anchored my perspective in my future career. Living in rural Alaska also changed my values and perspective on life.

Living in Jit's community, getting a taste of a more traditional Thai life style, is also anchoring my experience in Thai cultural values. At least I have some experience in non-urban life. I am thankful to have this experience. While I am on sabbatical my experience in Bangkrachow will, hopefully, allow me to anchor my thoughts and ideas in the experience of everyday Thai life.


Anne was our guide for the office of International Relations. She was wonderful!
Stephen Cysewski


Media production and desktop publishing shop at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University
Stephen Cysewski


Printing shop, only a small part, at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University
Stephen Cysewski


Nednapa at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University
Stephen Cysewski


Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University
Stephen Cysewski


STOU Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University

STOU Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University

The website does not capture the excitment actually visiting STOU, but for the curious it is a good place to start. I was too busy listening today to take any pictures, but Jit took many pictures, I will post pictures later.

Imagine a huge Center for Distance Education

Imagine a huge institution similar to the Center for Distance Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks that has an entire building dedicated to printing and producing books using offset and electronic technology, that delivers 75,000 course packs a year, that has 10 regional centers and many tutoring areas in libraries and schools. Imagine that the huge CDE has a faculty and grants degrees, but that it has no classrooms because all the courses are delivered primarily by correspondence. Imagine that the center has an excellent advising and tutoring service and that you have a telephone advising center and web board staffed 12 hours a day. Imagine that there are four studios for TV production and, I believe four sound labs for audio production. What you have imagined is Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University. Today was our first visit and I was impressed by the dedication and commitment of the staff to meeting students needs.

Today we meet with the Educational Broadcasting Production Center, The Office of the University Press, the Office of Educational Services, and the National Printing Technology Training Center. Tomorrow we will visit with the Office of Documentation and Information and the Office of Registration, Records, and Evaluations. On September 22nd we will visit a Regional Distance Education Center and Nakhon Nayok.

We have an excellent person give us an orientation and who will be able to provide support to us during the time at STOU. Her name is Warakanya (Anne). I have her cell phone number listed at number one in my phone book, of course her name begins with A so that helps also. The person who leads the Counseling Section of the Office of Educational Services, Nednapa, reminded me of Michele Stalder. She even mentioned providing one stop service for her students.

I will have an office cubical with a computer, I asked for Jit to be considered my full partner in my time at STOU, and the idea seemed to be accepted. It also looks like we will be staying at Bangkrachao and commuting to STOU. There is an express way that goes from Klong Toey dock to STOU. It costs roughly 250 baht to go each way, including toll fees, roughly $6.00, which is fair price.

I am excited about the first visit to STOU. I also gave Anne my list of places that I want to visit, and she seemed interested in what I was trying to do.

I am thankful that I was invited to STOU for my sabbatical.

Oh yes, I need to tuck in my shirt tails, or get a special kind of Thai shirt. Dress, and the style of dress for faculty and staff is very consistent. Jit clued me in.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Another day at Sukothai Thammathirat Open University

We had another very informative day today at STOU, but before I describe the highlights of today I forgot to mention that many courses at STOU have a seminar component. For the seminar, students come and spend two or three days at STOU, near the end of a course. STOU even has a seminar center, which is like a small hotel, for the students. Another important difference between Thailand and Alaska, relating to distance delivery, is that the transportation choices to distance sites are more varied, and cheaper, then in Alaska.

Today we had an informative tour of the Documentation Center and Library. As part of the Library there is an archive of information about King Rama VII. King Rama VII was the king who provided the basis for a constitution in Thailand. It was an informative tour which revealed valuable information about the history of Thailand.

I also got to visit with the Office of Registration, Records and Evaluation. We had an excellent, in-depth discussion. I met a women who will be going on Sabbatical next year to New Zealand. She will be studying how to evaluate distance delivery courses. I hope to continue discussions with her. I emailed her the URL for the Center for Distance Learning at UAF.

There is fundamental difference in how courses are taught and evaluated in Thailand. The evaluating, testing and grading of a course is distinct from teaching a course. Professors will submit question to be included in a test, but the order and specific questions actually included are chosen by a content expert. All students in the courses are given the same test. Non-test work in the courses only counts for 20% of the grade. This is a very different model then in the United States, but it does have some similarities to professional certification like CISCO and Microsoft. Having evaluation and testing distinct from the teaching of a course stimulates many interesting ideas.

I also asked about competencies as a method of evaluating courses, but most of the effort seems to be in creating relevant testing for the courses provided.

I also found out that the enrollment at STOU is declining because of competition for face to face education in the distance learning centers. Just like in Alaska some students prefer face to face delivery of course content. The meeting and discussion with the Center for Registration, Records, and Evaluation was thought provoking.

I also met with the Director of International Relations. There is chance that I might get to work with the Office of Educational Services, which is similar to the TVC Student Support Services. I hope it works out. My underlying interests do not rest with technical IT anymore. I am interested in teaching applications and student services. My time at STOU, combined with my own projects relating to computer skills training and support, will provide me with valuable new perspectives when I return from Sabbatical.

Coming back from Bangkok, and getting on the boat to cross the river, I can feel myself start to decompress. Bangkok can be overwhelming. Tomorrow I am going to consolidate and summarize some of the information that I have gathered.

Today was very productive.


Meeting with the Office of Registration, Records, and Evaluation.
Stephen Cysewski


A tour of the Library and Document Center at STOU
Stephen Cysewski


Learning about King Prajadhipok and Queen Rambhai Barni Document Center Project at STOU
Stephen Cysewski

Wireless technology enables isolated Alaskans to "Computercate" with the world

Wireless technology enables isolated Alaskans to "Computercate" with the world

An example of how to provide Broadband access to the Internet in rural Alaska. I wonder if the effect will be similar in Thailand.


Toksook Bay Online

Toksook Bay Online

An excellent example of the power of the Internet for a small rural community in Alaska

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wireless internet usage surges

Wireless internet usage surges

Another fascinating article that links the concepts of wireless Internet access and cell phones. What does all this mean for Alaska? I think it should be a high priority for the state of Alaska to provide broadband Internet access to every community in the state. Broadband Internet access is the key to education, business, and economic development. Technology is developing that makes it feasible to provide broadband Internet access to rural areas.


AsiaMedia :: KOREA: Internet creates haves and have-nots

AsiaMedia :: KOREA: Internet creates haves and have-nots

Another article confirming Korea's policy on Internet availability. Searching on Google will bring up many other examples.


South Koreans face digital divide | Tech News on ZDNet

South Koreans face digital divide | Tech News on ZDNet

A brief article with some statistics about Korean Internet usage. Korea seems to be approaching technology in an effective manner. By providing low cost and extensive broadband Internet access Korea is stimulating broad and deep usage of technology. Korea is an evocative proof of the concept that broadband Internet access drives technology adoption, not the distribution of computers without training, Internet access, or support.



Imagine a thunderstorm in Fairbanks. Usually there is peak of rain intensity. Imagine that intensity lasting for hours. That is what is was like last night and this morning. It is still raining. On the news there is flooding in Bangkok, but that is normal. Up north, where there are mountains and streams I can understand how flash floods suddenly appear. It is the rainy season, but usually it has been thunderstorms and rain at night and the early morning. This rain is very different. Another experience.

I need to get caught up on a few experiences. Sunday Jit's mother came over from the other house. It was good to see her over here. I managed to get a few pictures of Jit's mom, Run, and Jit. I will post them later today.

Jit and I walked around the park and dropped in to park headquarters. Jit had a long talk with two women who were working there about the park and the community. Many people care about this park, it is sad to see park leadership that is not maintaining and developing the park, even in its current state of neglect the park is a wonderful place to relax and explore. I will be posting pictures, and when I return to Alaska, a web site about the park.

There is a large building in downtown Bangkok that is of the Assumption University school of architecture. It has a capital dome on top, and cathedral window above the entrance, and many other random classical motifs. Like Assumption University it is almost surrealistic. But, think of the USA capital in Washington DC, and think of many universities in the United States, they to have Greek and Roman architectural influences randomly pasted together, it is the same thing. I think the use of classical architecture conveys authority to an institution. When I see something as strange , odd, or different, I need to step back and try to use the same perspective on what I am used to, what I think as normal. When I do that I often find more similarity then difference.

Bandwidth matters, I was going to share my Creamers field web site to show the seasons of Alaska, but the bandwidth was too slow, it took forever to load. In the future I will try to create two web sites, one for low bandwidth. I think it will be easy to do, use the same structure and use Adobe Elements 3 to save them at a different level of compression. I was surprised at how slow the web site was. Another lesson.


Jit's Dad, he is always working around the house and farm.
Stephen Cysewski


Jit's mom with Run and Jit
Stephen Cysewski


Jit at home.
Stephen Cysewski

Assumption School of Architecture......
Stephen Cysewski


Another picture of the building.
Stephen Cysewski

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The National ICT Learning Center

After the storm yesterday it was pretty cool this morning. When we took the boat across the river there were many weeds being washed down the river from Ayutthaya. We went to the National ICT Learning Center in Central World Plaza. Because of energy conservation the mall and learning center do not open until 10:30. The ICT learning center was created to support technology adoption in Thailand. The center includes a seminar room, a professional demonstration center with exhibits by CISCO, Sun, Computer Associates, and Microsoft. There is a training room that can be rented, a digital arts training center, and a large well arranged and supplied room of computers for internet access. There is also a lab of Macintosh G5 computers for graphics arts. The center was well organized and seemed to be well supported. There were many people taking advantage of the internet access. The prices for internet usage were nominal. There was also an e-learning library that looked well stocked. Next to the ICT learning center, and funded by a different government agency is the TK Park with stands for the Thailand Knowledge Center. The Knowledge Park is supported by the Office of Knowledge Management and Development. The Park looked like it was targeting parents of children, it was better attended, there was a tour going on, and it looked like it was well organized and fun to use. All the software that I saw being used was Microsoft based. I am not sure what happened to the People PC emphasis on Linux, but I have seen no everyday evidence of its use.

Overall I was a little disappointed in the learning center. Many of the services provided should be provided by any large hotel. The Knowledge Park looked a little more useful, but its scale was small also. I guess every little bit helps, but it did seem like a pretty small enterprise for such an important need.

After visiting the ICT learning center we went to the Peninsula Plaza to change our plane tickets and to make our return trip reservations, we will be returning February 19th, the mall was very upscale with jewelry stores selling ornate diamond necklaces and a live piano providing music. The pianist was playing Moon River. It was very, very, upscale. I do not think I have seen so many expensive stores in one place. I sure do not remember seeing such luxury in Seattle. It was an experience.

We also decided yesterday that it was not work it for Jit to return to Alaska for a month of employment. The cost of the trip did not balance with the potential income. I also need Jit here, I still got pretty overwhelmed by Bangkok.

I still can not get over how Thai people love uniforms. Last trip we stayed at a hotel for one night. There was some kind of meeting going on in a conference room. I saw this man with a white uniform, braids on his shoulders, many campaign bars on his chest, an impressive militay hat, I thought he was an admiral----he was the elevator operator. As a has been, anti-authoritarian, egalitarian believing, hippy I have a hard time with this love of uniforms. Jeans and a tee shirt are not acceptable in a professional work environment. Oh well, I can sacrifice my fundamental values for awhile.

The components of the ICT National Learning Center
Stephen Cysewski

National ICT Learning Center
Stephen Cysewski

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Saturday evening community "potluck".

In the evening there was a community shared meal, like a potluck, where people were honoring a person who was graduating. The food was great and so was the atmosphere. We then went over to Juke's family's home and shared some more food. Jit took a pinto over. A pinto is a stack of pans that are held together by some kind of clamp. You can carry a whole multi-course meal in a pinto. A pretty cool device. The community reminds me of some of my experiences in rural Alaska. I am learning a lot.


A final picture from the Saturday evening potluck at Jit's home.


Another picture from the community gathering.


A community gathering or potluck. The food and atmosphere was great.

A very busy Saturday....

I can not find 3X5 lined cards or spiral notebooks. We have looked at all the super stores, I will need a new system. I was looking forward to using the 3X5 cards as my memory tool for names, places, and words. I do need a memory tool!!

I finally saw two Monitor Lizards on land. The Lizards are very observant. They will slip away or freeze. They are very aware. It was great to see them. I love to observe nature and to earn the right to see wildlife. Just like Alaska patience is rewarded. I will keep trying to understand how they life and to learn to watch them.

Yesterday I used film, I have 8 36 exposure rolls to develop, but no predictable place to leave them yet. It felt good to use film. Lately I have been using an Olympus 7070 that I have set for hyper focal distances. I am very happy with how the Olympus works and prefer it to my Canon S70. The Olympus really does capture the moment. I recommend it highly.

I have been trying to contact other places to visit. I found two emails for the Srisangwan School but both of them bounced. I will need to keep searching. I also sent an email to visit the Father Joe Meier's project in Klong Toey. No response yet.

Richard Barrows is coming to visit our community next Sunday. It will be great to have Jit show him around.

I have had a continuing email conversation with some people from STOU. I am hopeful that I will be able to work at the advising center. I will be meeting with Nednapa Intong Monday after I meet with the director of Continuing Education. I also have been emailing Sirirat Wipassilapa about evaluation. I sent her information about UAF Program Review and Program Assessment process from the UAF Provosts web site. I think there are some exciting opportunities to collaborate and share at STOU.

Gmail just added the Thai language as an option, pretty cool, for Thai people anyway!

A family friend, Oy, drove us to Bang Na to see the Index Home Center and a huge open tile store, I think it is branded Boothavorn. Some of the tiles were really beautiful. We got some tile for the kitchen and some things for the house. The Index Home Center was expensive, very high quality, and made me want to be rich!

We also got in touch with NANA and BP this morning, it was Friday in Alaska. It looks like everything will work out. Jit will be able to return to work when we return. I am so crazy I am already planning for when we return home. We have been here just over three weeks.

A busy day!


Oranges, even though they are green in color they taste great.


The 7-11 near the Klong Toey pier. We pay bills and buy "stuff" there before we cross in the boat.


Getting ready for the day, as soon as we cross the river the whole pass of life changes.


The road from the pier to the taxi or bus. It is usually much more crowded, but this is early Saturday morning.

Crossing the river to the pier.


Catching the small boat to Bangkok and the Klong Toey pier.


Going to Bangkok on Saturday morning.

One of two Monitor Lizards that I saw in the morning.


The Lizards waves as it slips into the water.

By the path to Jit's home.


On the front porch of Jit's home.


A broom, everything is interesting in Thailand!

It is hot, but fans help.


We bought these at the local floating market.


Another picture around Jit's Home


Around Jit's Home in Thailand


Around Jit's Home in Thailand

Monday, September 19, 2005

World mobile subscribers top 2 bln: study - Yahoo! News

World mobile subscribers top 2 bln: study - Yahoo! News

Another piece of the puzzle. As cell phones add features will they become the means for people to use the knowledge available on the Internet? Will cell phones provide the bridge across the "digital divide"?
I know the "digital divide" is a cliche, but it does express the economic and educational gap that limits peoples use of technology.

Sunday, a black dog, and some thoughts on the community college mission.

Sunday morning, early I went walking in the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park. The light was beautiful and the low light showed the texture of things. With the sun raising and falling in such an abrupt manner there is little time to catch beautiful cross light. In the winter in Alaska it is all cross-light, or no light at all. As I was walking I heard cadenced chant in the distance, one, two, three etc... People seemed very serious and committed to their exercise. I have only heard this on Sunday, I do not know if it is everyday, but I doubt it. There was boom box music from a remanent of last nights celebration playing in the community.

Joggers and speed walkers were using the park. Even at 5:30 or 6:00 people are using the park for exercise. It is also cooler then. On the weekends there are many people having picnics and feeding fish. The Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park is well used and appreciated.

Yesterday I finally got a picture of the black dog that slept on the porch and that was at the top of the observation tower in the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park. The dog definitely has a personality.

Every Sunday at the entrance to the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park there is a market. There are fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, it is fun to go. Jit's mom came with us to the market. Ton wheeled her, it was good to see her out and enjoying herself.

On Friday we rode in a taxi cab with a pretty aggressive driver, there were clues. On the dashboard of the cab was a model of a silver race car, a Japanese Super Tourer. Also the cabs steering wheel was replaced with a smaller racing size wheel. Normally there are Buddha's garlands, and other signs of fate, but not in this cab, we survived.

We went to STOU today, Anne as usual was a great help. I very much appreciate what she is doing, I am thankful for her help. I had a somewhat awkward meeting with Associate Professor Tanit Pusiri the Director of the Office of Educational Technology. He had squeezed us in for a half hour meeting. There was not time to establish rapport. We talked a little about learning objects and Scorm.

Sometimes I do not think that some people in Thailand have an appreciation for practical education for adults. I have not meet anybody, except the wonderful people in Counseling section of the Office of Educational Services, that understands my purpose. If there was ever a country where the Community College mission would be valuable it would be Thailand. STOU does have some similarities in its stated purpose to the community college mission, but I think the faculty might not be ready for the challenge and difficulty of fulfilling that purpose. There is not a perceived prestige in meeting community needs, even in Alaska, we have to constantly educate the faculty about our meeting community needs. Keeping the Community College mission alive in a university environment is always difficult, what I do not see is a comprehension of the importance of the community college. The Thailand technical colleges are not like community colleges. This is just my current impression, and I might be mistaken, in fact I hope I am mistaken.

I had a wonderful meeting with Nednapa. She showed me how she is using the web to share information and to do advising. She is using a Web Board, a threaded discussion software application, to do advising. I think a similar idea would work great at Tanana Valley Campus. I would like to experiment with this idea when I return. Nednapa is a gifted computer user, she creates her own web pages and is an excellent independent learner. I was impressed.

Tomorrow I will meet with the Office of Educational Services department. I am looking forward to the meeting. I feel comfortable there. We will be defining ways that we can work together. I will be eager to share some of this experience with Michele Stalder when I return.

I always need to look at my experiences from different perspectives. Imagine that somebody from Thailand came to TVC, they spoke sub-minimal English. Assume that person wanted to share and collaborate. What would we do at TVC? The only difference in this scenario, and the one I am in, is that in Thailand many people know significant English. In any case it would still be hard to meet the person from Thailand's expectations with an opportunity for significant contribution. My hope is that I could find a person with a similar vision, and a knowledge of the Thai language to collaborate with. To me that person will be Jit! She is being a great help, and does understand what I am doing, especially since she has experienced how Tanana Valley Campus works.

I do not want to be a burden or an obligation. It is hard to explain that I have my own agenda and that STOU is only a small part of my purpose in Thailand. It will all work out, but I do not want people to feel obligated to fill my time or to meet my needs. My sabbatical plan was always broader then STOU. I am still hoping to find somebody to collaborate with on my specific agenda. I am not sure that I will find that person at STOU, but if that does not happen I will still accomplish my goals.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A very cool looking bike at the Sunday market at Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park


Sunday market by the entrance to the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park


Sunday Market by the park entrance.


The Hairless Black Dog who climbed the observation tower and slept on our porch.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Bunch of Stuff!!

Last night I had my first remembered dream about Thailand. Something, as usual about flying up through many phone wires and cutting my way through some kind of plastic wrap to allow me to fly. Actually it was a pretty cool dream. I sort of look at dreams as information as to my state of mind. I was definitely responding to the challenge.

We went to STOU for a 2:00 meeting with the staff of the Counseling section of the Office of Educational Services. I will be working with them for awhile. The meeting went well, I have many new names, and nicknames, to remember. For me remembering means to write it down! I might be working on creating some documentation for new computer users, but we are still discussing this idea. The computer that I am using at STOU is running Windows 98!

Before we left, one of our neighbors was biking by the house, she went too slow, lost momentum and fell into the canal. It all worked out, nobody was hurt and it was handled with good grace and good humor.

I have been working on learning Thai. I have made some flash cards with English on one side and Thai on the other. I carry them with me and sort through the words that I recognize and those that I do not. Again to remember I need to write it down. I also am using the Rosetta Stone CD. I have asked Richard Barrow to bring some Thai learning materials from his store Sunday when he visits.

At STOU there is a wonderful coffee shop that is run by a young couple. They both speak some English. When we are waiting for meetings or appointments Jit and I hang out there. It is relaxing and the coffee drinks, iced, are excellent. The best part of the place though is watching the grace and joy of the couple. Sometimes seeing happy, healthy people is a contagious experience. When we were leaving STOU today they were leaving on their motorbike also.

I absolutely depend on Jit when I am in Thailand. When we were going to STOU this morning the cab got lost, we ended over by the Impact Center and the cab driver needed to get instructions. Going back to the Klong Toey dock the cab driver took an alternate route because of traffic. I am going to need to travel alone, but language is such a difficulty. Most places I go and visit the people are not English speakers.

I worry about imposing at STOU. I know I have a lot to offer, and I am confident that I will be of value, but sometimes it feels that I am imposing on peoples time. Nednapa is so courteous . I am thankful for her. After the meeting we spent about an hour talking about advising and education. My next goal at STOU is to learn more about the academic and curriculum process. I am curious and using the concept of "same and different" I am sure I will learn a lot.

With talking with Nednapa about community colleges she mentioned that there is some exploration of that area. The problem is that the four year college and universities might not accept the credit. I think I am being diplomatic, the actual impression that I got is that the colleges would not accept the credit. Some things in the United States, that we take for granted, we really should be thankful for.

At STOU there is no mandatory advising and I do not believe that the faculty has a formal advising responsibility. I need to explore this in more detail. Again I am thankful for UAF's mandatory advising requirement.

In Thailand the government is heavily involved in setting curriculum. My impression that the constant pressure to improve curriculum and to revise courses is not a part of the normal Thai curriculum. This is just an impression and I will be exploring it further. In Alaska we are under some pressure for control of the curriculum from the statewide administration, the state of Alaska, and the Federal Government. If we want a creative adaptive curriculum that is revised to meet the needs of the community and the students we need to keep the faculty role in curriculum creation and approval. There is a tension between standards and creativity. The tension is valuable.

Next week I will get to go to see a STOU regional center at Petchaburi. I also will be at STOU three days to work with the counseling center. After the next two weeks we will evaluate the next step. I am still working on my original sabbatical goals.

I sure am gaining empathy for students on this sabbatical. I feel like an ignorant child sometimes. I think beginning students depend upon their teachers. I know I am sure required to depend on people in Thailand. Living for a long time in a different culture, with a different language, is an order of magnitude more challenging then being a tourist. It sure is a growth experience.

Yesterday I got to do some computer support. Nuk's computer was hanging at the welcome screen. With Jit translating I finally figured out that she had attempted to install an anti-virus program. The problem was that the Trend Micro Virus program was already installed. I finally got the computer to go into Safe-Mode after multiple attempts and used MSConfig to turn off the new virus checker. It booted once and then it started looping again. Sometimes it wanted to scan the disk and other times it just kept re-booting. I finally gave up for the night because I did not have a Windows XP disk. I went over tonight, the computer booted, I got into safe mode and turned off the Trend Micro Virus Checker. The computer booted and seemed to work, but when I restarted it still wanted to scan the disk. I think there are still problems with corrupted files, I also told them they need to re-install the Trend Micro Virus Checker. The way I understand it is that the school where Juke works has a Microcomputer center that will provide support. There is a waiting period. The computer had a good set of software and even had the Microsoft Anti-Spy ware utility. The operating system was Windows Service Pack 2. I am glad I did not have to mess with the XP disk because of all the updates and very slow Internet access. The computer configuration and software installation looked very well done. The reason that I knew what to do with msconfig is that my daughter did the same thing to her computer and Dave helped me correct the problem. Sometimes experience is a great teacher.

Coming back from Bangkok I saw a young man with a little boy riding his motorcycle cooking cart to the dock. He was going to sell sausages that he cooks on the cart. I saw him on Sunday at the market selling his sausages also. I wonder if he is a single parent. He sure seems to be including his young boy in his activities. He is also very young.

Almost everyday, when we go through the Klong Toey dock I see the devastated women in the black filthy dress. She is not old, but she seems very intense. She is always wearing the same thing. I sometimes wished I could ask her how she got so lost. What happened? Her intensity scares me. I watch for her each day.

There is American professional wrestling on TV! There is Thai commentary, but I can also hear the American original. How depressing!!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Prickly Heat and Vague Progress

I love Prickly Heat Powder. It is a kind of mentholated powder that feels cooling and drying at the same time. The official name is Snake Brand Prickly Heat Powder. The powder is made by the British Dispensary in Thailand. www.britishdispensary.com I can not help but think of colonial England when I read the can. We got some sent to use in Fairbanks, but unless it is a hot summers day, it does not have the same refreshing appeal.

I have noticed two people from India that ride through the community on bicycles. The way I understand it is that they sell items, like a shirt with time payments. Then they come to the village each day to collect a payment on the debt. I am not sure of the accuracy of this, but it is what I was told. Sort of odd.

Every day at 7:00 in the morning and 6:00 at night the Thailand national anthem is played on TV and the radio. All the books say that people pause and stand up when it plays, I have never seen that happen. Maybe at public events it is different? If so it is a similar response to the national anthem in the United States. I will continue to watch and learn. In any case I do not observe a significant change in peoples behavior when the anthem plays. Of course in the United States I do not see much response either. At first I felt uncomfortable when I heard that anthem, like I was supposed to do something.

Today I spent the whole day, except for a brief walk in the park, studying Thai. I am using the Rosetta Stone exercises and many notes and books. At least it is a beginning. I assume I will be spending many days working at this.

Si, who works for Pan, is finishing the kitchen roof. I think I provide much entertainment when I attempt to say something in Thai. Memorizing is a lot of work.....!! I haven't had to memorize in years.

Tomorrow we go to Nakhon Nayok regional center with Anne. We will need to get started early to get to STOU on time.

My brain is full today......but I have a vague sense of potential progress. That is a pretty cautious, but accurate, sentence.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Nakhon Nayok

Today we visited Nakhon Nayok, one of the ten STOU regional centers. Next Sunday we will visit a provincial center at Petchaburi.

When we left today it was raining hard. Both of us got on the back of Oy's motorbike and rode to the dock. We made it. By the time we got across the river the rain had stopped. The taxi drive to STOU was a little fast and there was no seat belts. We arrived a little early and had a Thai breakfast. We then all got in a van and drove to Nakhon Nayok. We were joined by Robin, who is from England. Robin works for STOU International Relations. It was fun talking with him. We also were joined by Shaiful Alam a Professor of Agriculture from the Bangladesh Open University. It was valuable to share perspectives with him. He is at STOU to study the agriculture curriculum. He is staying at the conference center.

At Nakhon Nayok we got to see a video demonstration, it worked well when we connected with Lampahng. They are using eMeeting from French Telecom. The video is not currently being used for educational purposes. The current usage is for meetings. The quality was very good.

I got to spend some time talking with the person who provides computer support at the center. I asked him how he learned his skills and he said from technical colleges, workshops, and self training. It does not sound like he provides training or support to the local users. At least, through translation, that was my impression. They do have a wireless connection set up, but I was not clear who was using it.

I found a press release about STOU adopting a state of the art Juniper network. I did see some Juniper equipment while I was there.

I have not seen the diversity of delivery of distance education that we see in Alaska. I do not think that they see the possibility of synchronous distance delivery, at least they are not implementing it. Again, this is an impression, not a fact. The prime model of course delivery is correspondence, supplemented by technology, and seminars. Final tests are the prime method of student evaluation and course completion. There are many caring and creative people, committed to lifelong learning and distance delivery, but I do not see the full spectrum of delivery methods that we use in Alaska. Correspondence dominates the delivery of courses.

In the lobby of the regional center there was a ThoThai paid internet station, interesting.

There was a seminar of community (village) leaders while we were visiting. The subject was providing preventative health at the local level. It was interesting to see the people and the presentation.

One thing that was curious, is that I saw no students. We were there in the morning, but the regional center was also in a somewhat isolated rural area next to an army base. The setting was beautiful. The Professor from Bangladesh also mentioned the location as a little odd. It was explained that the land was donated. Again these are not conclusions just impressions from a very brief visit. I assume at other times that the center is well used.

Returning on the boat I saw a very young mother riding across the river with a very young baby. She looked very worried. A man gave up his seat so she would not have to sit in the sun. Here worried look was very striking. I can not help observing and feeling for the people that I see.

We just added some cement to expand the front walk to Jit's families home. One tree is surrounded by cement. I can not see how it will survive, but an odd thing is that there a sponges and pieces of rubber sort of tied to the tree. Jit said that her dad believes that it helps plants grow.

There are many ad-hoc stores in our community. Two of them provide Pepsi with ice, it only cost about 25 cents. At one store there is a protective dog. When customers go there, they settle the dog down or take it for a walk. Our dog in Fairbanks has a similar temperment. Their dog is really beautiful and I would like to make friends with it. It is one of the only real owned dogs that I have seen in the community.

I also asked Anne to see if she could arrange a meeting so I could learn about the academic decision process at STOU. I am very curious based on my experience on curricular affairs and the CRCD academic decision process.

A good and productive day.


Wandering in Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park Wednesday morning.


Wandering in the park, Wednesday morning.


Wandering in the park, Wednesday morning.


Visiting Nakhon Nayok. It is a poor photo, but it at least captures some of the meeting participants.


Visiting Nakhon Nayok. A poor photo but it is at least a record of the meeting.

Sabbatical reflections and revisions

I wrote this last night.

I have been here for over three weeks and have had many visits and experiences exploring IT. I also have some experience with STOU. It is time to think about my sabbatical intentions.

My goal for this Sabbatical is to learn and reflect.
I am looking for experiences in:
Technology usage
A new culture
A new language
Technology adoption
Technology training
Technology support
New perspectives on the use of technology and training.
Comparisons and contrasts between the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Rural and Community Development Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University.

My methods are interviews and observations.

I adding a few new items to my interview/visit list.
I want to interview the computer support people at Jukes School
I want to spend some significant time at Pantip Palace and even arrange some interviews
I want to interview somebody at STOU about the academic and curriculum process.
I want to interview computer support people at STOU

My goal at STOU is to learn how the institution works and to see how that changes my perception of UAF and CRCD. I do not see having a meaningful or significant job at STOU because of my lack of ability in the Thai language. I think through discussion and interviews that I can be of some value.

When I return from my sabbatical I want to return with a richer perspective and a new pool of experiences and examples to draw upon. I already feel my sabbatical has changed me. My life is not boring, predictable or in my control, it never was, but it seemed that way.

I also am personally am finding creating blog entries valuable. Just keeping notes of my observations stimulates more observations. It is like photography, the more pictures you take the more you see.

Another aspect of this sabbatical is the empathy that I have for students. Not being able to speak or understand a language is a humbling experience. I need a Thai Mary Earp!

When I return I want to work in student support and teach. I would like to do tasks that make a difference and that are significant. I expect to work four more years.

I am writhing this blog using my Palm. There is a storm, thunder, lightening and intense rain. The temperature is cooling and I can listen to the storm as I fall asleep. It is not a spooky Halloween storm.

Tomorrow we will visit a regional center at Nakhon Nayok.

Friday, September 23, 2005

One of the trees planted by a friend of Jit's dad

Old men planting trees

Old men planting trees. Jit's dad and his friend from up the path spend time planting trees. When I look carefully at how they arrange the trees and plants they are beautiful.

Today I got to do some film photography of the community making a peanut sesame candy. It was great. I need to get the film developed and scanned as soon as possible. Hopefully we can get a ride with somebody to do some grocery shopping.

Spiders in the house! I have seen a couple large spiders in the house, Jit sweeps them out. Jit has seen a few more. I am much more alert when I get up at night, I turn on the lights rather then wander in the dark. We do not know where they came from. Si said that when they were working on the house they saw a mother spider. The spiders are large, but at least as clearly as I can discern, they are not poisonous or anything. Another experience.

I have seen a couple of new bug zapper devices shaped like tennis rackets. They use the same principle of a normal bug zapper, but they are in the shape of a tennis racket. You swing the racket at the bug or mosquito and then zap. Might be useful in Alaska. I can imagine some kind of sporting event, mosquito badminton or something like that.

The clouds are beautiful tonight, I did not take any pictures, but the cumulus clouds were very high and illuminated by the setting sun. There is a breeze and it is not too hot, sort of.

Just as an aside, and without details, this community, like any other, has alcohol, drugs, mental illness, HIV/AIDS and tragedy. I do not know of a human community that exists without problems and tragedy. None of this tragedy or sadness dominates community life.

I see a lot of evidence of alcohol usage and abuse in Thailand, at least by looking at severely bloodshot eyes. Thailand has one of the highest per capita alcohol consumption rate in Asia.

I finished two more Thai lessons today from the Rosetta Stone CD.


The monitor lizard crossing the park path.

Audio conferences, a new road, photographs, and the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park

A couple left over thoughts from yesterdays visit to Nakhon Nayok. One of the bullets in the PowerPoint presentation about the regional center mentioned cultural preservation. Naturally I was very curious. I asked a few questions and I believe that they are talking about being involved with and documenting local practices including agriculture. There was some mention of being involved with local celebrations also. It was interesting and a surprise. Sometimes the similarities between Thailand and Alaska reverberate.

Another thought on the use of audio conferences for teaching, until cell phones the telephone service was not widely dispersed. Correspondence can be used anywhere and the Thai postal service covers the country. What I am not sure about is why they can not use the provincial and regional centers for course delivery. This would provide another path for course delivery and would open up more technology options. I think they use the regional centers for Graduate School and the Provincial centers for others kinds of academic support. I am just curious and exploring similarities and differences.

Jit said the community is working and preparing a desert for Thai new year. There was a mention of Sathai. The wet season will be ending soon, and the cool season will begin. Today I had an odd and fun interaction. One of our friends came over and said I need your help, through some words and pantomime, she wanted me to come and photograph something. When I got there she said "Action". A few woman were roasting peanuts in a large pan over a fire. They were using a large whisk broom to keep the peanuts moving. The objects shapes were beautiful. I was glad to be asked. The photographs do not capture the images as well as I would like. Sometimes my experiences in Jit's community echo my VISTA volunteer experience in Shaktoolik. I feel that people are more open and curious about me now after living here for awhile. Jit keeps talking about community development. I am not sure what she means, but she is sure asking a lot of questions. Sometimes I think my questions instigate her questions!

Jit and I went walking to see where they will be building a new road for the community. I think it is to provide an alternative to driving through the park. The road will enter the community near Jit's parents old house. Right now the equipment is sunk in the mud. I just realized how interconnected all the concrete paths are. We saw a different community in our walk. There are a whole maze of concrete paths all going to different homes and communities. There are public works signs on the paths, sort of like our highway construction signs. This project was authorized, completed, cost, etc., at least that was what I was told. On the way back we approached Juke's house from a different direction. He has put up a sign which says the wife of this house is always right, if you do not agree with this, see rule one. I have seen the same sign in English. Pretty funny actually.

Later we walked to the ruined back area of the Sri Nakhon Khuankun park. Since we were there last, they have done a lot of brush cutting. Jit, again thinks it is because we have been asking questions. She wants me to post pictures of the ruined neglected part of the park to a web site to publicize the neglect. I am a little skeptical of all this, but we will see. I do know they have been doing a whole lot of brush cutting. Way at the back of the park there in an old entry area that has fallen apart. There are paths that look like they could have been beautiful. There is what looks like raised walkways that could have been used to see birds and vegetation from above. Jit says that the park neglect is from budget and administrative neglect. I do not see any vandalism. Even in its present state the Sri Nakhon Khuankun park is a wonderful asset to the community. We also talked with the bike tourists for a little while. Jit invited the head of the tour over sometime, but I could tell he was not that interested.

It is only 11:30 in the morning. When I lived in Shaktoolik I wondered how we would fill our time, later I wondered where I would get time to do everything that I wanted. Jit's community is sort of like that. I am procrastinating on starting another Thai lesson.


Part of the ruined observation area. I would have loved to see the park when it was in good shape. The Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park is still beautiful and well worth visiting. I hope that the park gets the care that it deserves.


A ruined park bench. Many parts of the park need repair. Boards need to be replaced on the bridges, the entry way to observation areas are washed away, benches are damaged. There is a need for some care and repair to the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park


The observation tower at Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park. The path to the tower is neglected. Here is where they have been doing some clearing.


Part of the ruined and neglected section of the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park


Juke's sign!


The new road to the community.

Construction sign by the concrete path.


Roasting peanuts in Jit's community


Roasting peanuts in Jit's community.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

2Bangkok.com - Bangkok's mega-bridge

2Bangkok.com - Bangkok's mega-bridge

The Mega-Bridge is pretty amazing. It is very near Jit's home. For more information explore this web site.


The Mega-Bridge Bangkok Thailand


The Mega-Bridge Bangkok Thailand


The Mega-Bridge Bangkok Thailand


The Mega-Bridge Bangkok Thailand


The Mega-Bridge Bangkok Thailand

Distance Delivery at the lowest common denominator

These are some thoughts catalyzed by my observations of similarities and differences in the delivery of distance education in Thailand and Alaska.

Distance delivery of education must be excellent at the lowest common denominator of distance delivery technology. Once the technological base of distance delivery is established it is possible to improvise and experiment, and even implement, other technologies. The common denominator in Thailand is the postal service. The prime method of course content delivery is printed materials. I am not sure if audio would work in Thailand. Unless audio will work with cell phones I know it will not work because of the limited scope of regular phone access. Each country, and each region in a country, will have evolving technology and access opportunities. In Thailand there is a good road system and a postal service that will allow delivery of materials in two to four days. In Alaska we have many more isolated areas and the postal service takes a long time for delivery. I guess the underlying principle is that technology, and what is appropriate technology, is determined by very specific regional conditions. Another principle is that any delivery of distance education must provide excellent service using the lowest common technological denominator.

Having the infrastructure of regional and provincial centers, that STOU has, provides an opportunity to provide technological incubators for distance course delivery. I think it would be possible to schedule specific courses that used new technology for students. To use technology it might be necessary to offer some courses at specifically scheduled times. Offering both time dependent and time independent course delivery is valuable for distance delivery students. By implementing technology in an experimental manner STOU would be ready for new technology as the technological common denominator changes and evolves in Thailand Visiting STOU has been very helpful in allowing me to see another context for distance delivery of education.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Big C, Community Candy, and Richard

Saturday Morning
We went to the Big C to do some larger shopping. We need many things. We took the bus in to Phra Pradaeng with Nuke, it took two transfers. The bus was non-air conditioned and the windows were open so the photography was great. I got some excellent pictures, I think, of the Mega-Bridge and also of general street life. We did two shopping carts worth of shopping and the cost was only $125, which included meat, CDR's and a bunch of household stuff. Juke and his family came to pick us up at Big C.

Coming back from Big C we stopped by a shop so Jit could print some NANA forms. The shop was small air-conditioned and was very interesting. One of the workers was making a DVD from some video, there was reference to digital photography, and a wide variety of printers. I asked, through Jit, if we could come back and talk. The computer operator said sure, but that it would be better on weekends. It looks like people use the shop for everything from Xerox copies to design and document creation. We will be back.

Saturday Afternoon
I got some more experience with the community yesterday. The people were finishing making the candy, it looks sort of like Cracker Jacks, but with more nuts. The most important part of the candy making was the community feeling. Everybody was gathered and seemed to have fun.

The kids came back from school yesterday, I did not know they were gone. School is out for a month and the high school kids returned, it sure brought back memories of Shaktoolik when the kids left for school. So there are many new faces around the community.

I also got to see the dedication of a new house. The first two posts for the house structure were decorated with garlands and sashes. People gathered and placed the posts into the hole, there was some kind of call, then a gold leaf ceremony, tying the posts together with a white string, and then a long string of fire-crackers were exploded. The ceremony is a wish for a good prosperous home with good feelings. I was glad to see the ceremony. Many of the actions were similar to visiting a temple.

Friday night the air-conditioner made some very alarming noises. We turned it off and I realized how dependent I am on air-conditioning to sleep. People came, some of Jit's relatives, and fixed it Saturday.

Sunday Morning
I went for a walk in the park when I woke up Sunday morning. There were small fish swimming and leaving wakes in the morning, I love the morning, cool, and the light is beautiful. Last night the light was also nice and there was a very interesting cloud that grew and then blew away. This morning I found a place in the shade and just watched the life, birds, fish, insects, people.

Si, the person who does a lot of the work building the house, has been bugging me to take his picture because he looks like a movie star! So I have been taking more pictures of him. Still have not found a place to get pictures developed. I need a place that I can return to, and that is fairly convenient. The best place to look would be at the MBK center downtown.

Before Richard came we spent time with the community candy making. It was wonderful to see the people working together. The candy was distributed to the community this evening. We gave some to Richard and some more to Jit's brothers family.

Richard is coming to visit today. Jit is getting ready. When Richard arrived we walked around the community and then went to the small boat dock. We tool a long boat trip down the river along the peninsula. Later Richard, Jit and I had a thoughtful conversation, very interesting. Among many other things we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of RSS feeds. I learned a lot. There was a large afternoon Storm as we finished walking in the park. Just the right timing. Went to the Sunday market and then Git and his family came to visit. Also Richard brought some Thai language learning materials. It was a VERY busy day. Tomorrow off to STOU to learn new things. I have many new pictures to sort through and to prepare for posting.

Monday, September 26, 2005

MercuryNews.com | 09/26/2005 | Brazilians blazing trails with Internet technology

MercuryNews.com | 09/26/2005 | Brazilians blazing trails with Internet technology

A very interesting article on technology in Brazil. I am not sure how it applies to Thailand, but it is another perspective on the power of technology. How people get computer training, and what inspires the use of technology are crucially important world wide issues.

[ : : : : Office of The Non-Formal Education Commission : ONFEC : : : : ]

[ : : : : Office of The Non-Formal Education Commission : ONFEC : : : : ]

This is what I have been looking for. I have a whole new area to explore. This is the kind of program and education that I am interested in. I need to get a contact and start my exploration. I think my sabbatical will move into a different area. It is odd that I only found this resource now. One reason might be is that the Office of the Non-Formal Education is distinct from higher education.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Paying for the bus ride. We are going shopping. More pictures tomorrow.


Crossing the road to the bus stop. We are going shopping. At the entrance to the road to Jit's home.


The road that leads to Jit's home. The road is very narrow, it is a great road for motor bikes.

Keenon at the home dedication. She took me to see the dedication.


Igniting the firecrackers at the home dedication.


Dedicating the beginning of a new home.


Some of the children, and Keenon helping with the dessert.


The syrup cooking. It will be mixed with other ingredients to make the community dessert.


Keenon preparing some of the community desert. Keenon is very helpful to me.


Doing some database planning with Nednapa and Mr. Warachat. We are working on a database to help client tracking.


Meeting with some of the STOU leadership. It was an enjoyable meeting. The people at STOU are very helpful and supportive. I appreciate it.

Richard's Life in Thailand The Loop In the River

Richard's Life in Thailand

Richard's blog of visiting us Sunday. It is a great description. I will be emailing the link to my friends back in Alaska.
Thank You Richard.

Cultural preservation and program review?

Yesterday we met somebody returning from Issan who was working on Thai Studies and Cultural Preservation. I want to learn more. Again I get a strong echo of rural Alaska experience and priorities. I will keep my ears open to learn more about what STOU does in this area and how it relates to rural Alaska.

This morning one of the ladies who makes candy came over. She had some pills and wanted to know what they did, there was no information except the name of the medicine. We got out the computer and used Google to get the information. The pills were for muscle relaxation and would help the sore muscles resulting from doing all the stirring in the candy making. I did not try the Thai language version of Google, but I should have.

On the way to the dock, beside the road, there are three broken spirit houses, they look like they were just dumped there. Richard explained a little about how that might happen, but I want to learn more. Out of the corner of my eye so many things make me curious.

We tried a new way to STOU, taxi, sky train, looking for white mini-van, gave up and took the taxi. Ended up costing about the same, and not really saving time. Will try other ways soon. Next time we will try Victory monument. We tried to get the film developed and scanned near STOU, but I could not understand at what resolution. I think I will try at MBK or something like that.

We had a great meeting at STOU. I met with Sirirat and Dr Kunchon. (I murder the spelling of Thai names. I need to see things written down.) Another person joined us who also asked good questions. I do not remember her name, but she is also 60 and getting ready to retire. The conversation lasted for about two hours, it was deep and thoughtful. We talked about the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the UAF processes of program review, program assessment, faculty promotion and tenure procedures and annual reports, We also talked about the university accreditation process, No Child Left Behind, and audio conferences, among other things. The questions were great and I felt I could be of some value. I hope to follow up with more conversations. I had previously shared the relevant UAF documents from the Provosts web site. Underlying the conversation was the realization that the academic processes are very different in Thailand. Having very different, but similar, institutions is a valuable way to generate new ideas.

We also dropped by a very good book store across the street from STOU, most of the books were in Thai, but the atmosphere was great. I love bookstores that are near universities.

As always it was great to cross the river and to get home. I will post photographs later tonight or tomorrow.

Yesterday I was useful!

Yesterday I was useful!
Yesterday was a good day. We had a meeting with the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Network Development and International Affairs. We were also joined by Shaiful Alam. He will be returning to Bangladesh. We walked across from STOU for a wonderful Chinese restaurant. I have never had Chinese food that tasted as good. People seemed curious and interested about Alaska. I found some more about the academic decision making at STOU and also the actual experience of teaching. It was an interesting and valuable meeting. The people knew where Jit lived, Jit was very helpful and a wonderful companion.

I got to work with Nednapa and also Mr. Warachat on designing a database for counselor support. We were working on what the essential attributes would necessary for a successful database. We will meet again on Thursday to continue the discussion. I felt good to have some value in a discussion.

At STOU they use radio and TV as an integral part of the education process. We got to see a radio progress about counseling and advising. The radio program was in real time. There were two subjects, how to be happy on the job, and also a call in from a former graduate of STOU on how to prepare and succeed as a Distance Delivery student. The Counseling department prepares a live show each week. There is a script that is prepared. The responsibility for the show is rotated among the counselors. I think using radio and TV is another example of mastering appropriate technology for distance delivery. I know in Alaska there are various and intermittent attempts at the use of TV for course delivery. I remember quite a few years ago it was a major means of delivery. I know I see a lecture coming out of UAS on a regular basis when I channel surf.

The most remarkable part of the day was our ride home. We rode home with one of the counselors, Ah, who new about Jit's home area. She lives in the Mahawong area. Her parents used to teach in Bangnamphung area. We were invited home for dinner. The food was excellent, but the conversation even more so. The family is large and lives in a large peaceful compound. There are many computers that people use, and many of the family members are professonal, scientists. I never thought of the economic potential of a Thai famiily working together. We had many questions about social security, health, the role to technology and its impact on younger people and the role of the government in influencing the people. The conversation was interesting and the sense of thoughtfulness, curiousity, and values permeated the discussion. We got a ride home afterward, even crossed the ferry by the mega-bridge. It was dark and the outer gate to the park was locked when we got home. Nhum, who drove us home, thoughtfully waited with the car lights on until we got over the bridge. I am thankful for the thoughtfulness and values that we experience.

When I write I realize how limited I am in the ability to evoke my experience. At the best, when I read this next year, I hope it reawakens my memory of a wonderful day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Richard's Life in Thailand: On the River in Bangkok

Richard's Life in Thailand

Another of Richard's blogs about our home area. I am very lucky to have such a beautiful place to stay on my Sabbatical. Everyday I have experiences that are new and unexpected. We hope to visit Richard in a couple weeks to do some more exploring.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

On the bus in Phrapradaeng

Another day at STOU

Yesterday there was a loud speaker in Phra Predaeng advertising registration for new classes at the Center for Non-Traditional Education. According to Jit the loudspeaker was saying "train for new positions, learn during retirement, build a new life. Registration is starting for classes." Jit called the center for Tawn, her nephew. She also asked about visiting. We will visit the Phra Predaeng center early next week, Monday or Tuesday. On Wednesday we go to STOU. We will be able to meet with a professor who specializes in Non-Traditional education. I am looking forward to the meeting.

At STOU today we talked about using the Palm or Pocket PC with Outlook or Meeting Maker. I brought my computer to show how I do time management. I also demonstrated Evernote. I will be preparing a database "sketch", using Access, of a counseling support database. I am still strongly hoping that people will adopt Outlook for counseling support. I do not know if the IT department at STOU supports Microsoft Exchange, but even without Exchange, Outlook is a great way to manage counseling responsibility. I will have a very rough database prepared for a week from Monday.

We had a great lunch in the cafeteria and got to talk about cultural preservation. I am very interested in exploring this area in greater depth. It started to rain hard in the afternoon, with very loud thunder. When it calmed down a little we made our way home. Jit is working on getting the kitchen done, it has a roof and a wall now. Tomorrow we will get screens and glass. The kitchen is outside the main house with a lot of air circulation. Jit is also working on getting cabinets and storage for the kitchen. This Sunday we go to Petchaburi. I am looking forward to it. Next week will be very busy.

I need to get my film processed. I want to get a set of pictures made to give to the people in the community. I need to edit and prepare a CD of pictures so that I can get prints made. It is hard to imagine that I have been here for a month.


Audio conferences, competencies, and learning Thai!

Sometimes we take for granted technology that we use everyday. I think we take for granted the use of audio conferences at the University of Alaska. From Thailand the use of audio is an innovative, efficient, and practical tool. In my email I get messages about meetings, courses, convocations, and faculty development all offered by audio. Audio conferences are a remarkable technology that permeates our academic culture. Even without our use of audio conferences for course delivery, audio is remarkable.

The evolution of audio conference platforms and the reduction of cost to use audio conferences is also remarkable. This year we put our audio conference platform out for competitive bid and www.genesys.com was the winner. We used genesys.com last year also. Previously we used a system developed and provided by the state of Alaska. It was much more expensive and did not have the features and capability of our current system.

Yesterday I shared some information on competencies and evaluations with Siriwat. The use of competencies for course evaluations is a topic of wide interest. Again I think we take for granted strategies that we have used for years.

For most of the morning I was working on my Rosetta Stone Thai CD. I did three more lessons. I also read some of the material that I purchased from Richard.

We went to Phra Predang by bus in the afternoon to get some more e-go cards. It is always fun to wander around a Thai town. The rich activity, almost chaos, is fascinating and very different from Alaska. I think my eyes and my mind become overwhelmed by everything I see. Sometimes my feelings are overwhelmed too because of the courage, energy, and tragedy that I see. Human beings are a remarkably adaptable and energetic species.

Today we will spend at STOU, on Sunday with will be visiting a regional and provincial center at Phet Buri (Phetchaburi)

Next week I want to use for visiting some other locations. We have an appointment with the Center for Non-Formal Education in Phra-Predang. I also need some time to pause, reflect, and re-focus.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Golden Retrievers, Starbucks, and Papaya Salad

I posted many pictures to the blog this morning. I am caught up with the pictures that I want to post. When I post and edit pictures I use Picassa, an excellent free program from Google. I could improve the editing of the pictures by using Photoshop, but my goal now is to share. When I return I will work on a web site and will use Photoshop. I especially miss using the Photoshop Multiply and Screen command. I also would love to have the Shadow/Highlight command.

Today, after finishing a Thai lesson we walked over to the entry to the park to have Papaya salad. It was a wonderful taste, not "cooled" for non Thai taste. Jit was with some of her friends and for some of the time I was the subject of conversation. It is strange to be the subject of an animated conversation that you can only catch about 10% of the meaning. Some times I asked Jit "What did you just say?" It was fun. And the way back I was told that the small crocodiles, the monitor lizards, live under the greenhouse. Another thing to watch for.

Ooy, who makes a living as a motorcycle taxi, has a beautiful dog. It looks just like one of those long hair golden retrievers that you see in TV ads of an American family. I guess she bought it as a puppy. Its temperament was much more like I am used to. The dog was attentive and focused on the humans around him. I could even pet it. I was surprised. I always bug Jit by mentioning how beautiful a dog is, or how smart a dog looks, she is afraid that I will want to own a dog here. Her fear is justified:)

Back to Thai lessons for know. It is a beautiful day, it looks, from the cumulus clouds like there might be rain later. One of the neighbors just brought an excellent coffee drink buy, it is sort of a sweetened espresso. It is really good, better then Starbucks. I sure wished I could understand the Thai language.....


Macworld: News: MIT to launch $100 laptop prototype in November

Macworld: News: MIT to launch $100 laptop prototype in November

Looking two years out, is the problem getting the computers or is the problem getting the internet connection? Even with an internet connection the price of a computer will be an obstacle for wide distribution of technology in low-income areas. Still though there will be a need for training and maybe new net tools adapted to the new platform. Maybe there are four parts to the puzzle, the broadband internet connection, the computer to use the connection, training to use the computer, and tools on the internet that are directly useful and motivating for the community of users for instance resources in the appropriate language with useful local information.


Street Lamp on the road to Bang Krachow


Around the community


Around the community


Riding downriver from Bang Krachow


Downtown Phra Pradaeng


Downtown Phra Pradaeng


Downtown Phra Pradaeng


Downtown Phra Pradaeng


Downtown Phra Pradaeng


Downtown Phra Pradaeng


Downtown Phrapradaeng





Sunday, October 02, 2005

Visiting the Petchaburi Regional and Provincial center

Visiting the Petchaburi Regional and Provincial center

Oy picked us up at 5:30 to catch the boat. We both rode on the back of a single motorcycle. If I was going to by a motorcycle I would see what kind of handles and footrests it had for passengers, the more the better.

We caught a taxi at the Klong Toey 7-11. The women in black was sitting in her usual location. It was about 5:45 AM.

The taxi was playing some Thai country music on the radio. Some of the music evokes a strong feeling of longing and loss. I do not know what the singer was singing, but I do know that the music was real and grounded in experience. Sort of like hearing Loretta Lynn or something like that. The music was not just entertainment, it had real meaning.
On the way to STOU I noticed a large bar called Country Saloon and a restaurant called Spaghetti Hut.
The Taxi driver was also very stubborn. He would not listen to our, or really Jit's instructions. We ended up getting out and taking another Taxi. I have no idea how I would handle that situation alone. The storm clouds from last night were beautiful as the sun came up.

I love mornings in a city, before the chaos. In Seattle I would get up early and start walking, just watching the light and the city get ready for the day. I would like to wander in Bangkok. Morning light does not last long in Thailand because the sun rises so quickly.

There were dogs sleeping in the STOU central square, 5 of them. One sort of watching the action. Dogs in Thailand are fascinating.

There is an office building in Bangkok that is designed to look like an elephant, the Elephant building is really good architecture, every time I see it I smile.

The purpose of today's trip is to visit Petchaburi Regional and Provincial center. The ride is fascinating, my eyes are wide open. I am so curious. I have been on the same road in 2001 and 2004. I see buildings, industry, canals, large boats, houses, abandoned buildings, salt manufacturing, temples, markets, energy everywhere. I was not bored.

We visited the Petchaburi Regional Center. The center is architecturally similar to Nakhon Nayok, it was calm and well organized. I am finally getting it through my head that there are regional centers and provincial centers. The student action is in the provincial center. Provincial centers are weekend centers where testing and tutorials are going on. Usually provincial centers are in public schools. After visiting the regional center we went to the provincial center. There were students in tutorials and also another group of students who were taking a pre-test practice. The tutorials were in Human Civilization and in Family Law: Inheritance.

The student pre-test practice was arranged by the student organization. The STOU student organizations are directly related to the mission and purpose of the STOU. What was fascinating was that the students were of all ages, there were many adults. The students in the tutorial would look right at home at Tanana Valley Campus.

After visiting and asking questions we had lunch with some students. The lunch and the discussion was wonderful. We talked about what motivates an adult to return to education and also how students get support for returning to education. We talked with four students. One student was majoring in Agriculture, he was a master farmer, people in his community were already calling him teacher because of his expertise. He wanted to get the education so that he could fulfill the peoples expectations. Another student has a degree in Agriculture and was getting a degree in Law. His back ground was construction management. Another student owned and managed an agriculture equipment dealership. She sold Ford agriculture equipment. She was majoring in Management. A final student was majoring in Political Science. She was a widow that was returning to school, her background was running a school of typing and office skills. I also met a student who was an insurance salesperson. Each of the students was successful, and also very supportive of the the STOU method and support. I also gave a brief presentation to the students in the pre-test tutorial. It was fun to talk with the students.

At the STOU regional center I met a student who was bringing his wife into register. He was finishing his degree. He told a story of being in the hospital after being wounded and the STOU counselor brought him his final test, he did not pass, the first time, but was very thankful for the support of the counselor. He has now succeeded and is recruiting his family as STOU students. The STOU counselor at Petchaburi has a wonderful rapport with the students.

It was great meeting with adult students. Another thing that made me very comfortable is that the students were not in uniform. The meeting with the students, and the lunch discussion was one of the highlights of my trip.

On the was back we stopped and bought way too much salt!!! We were dropped off to catch a taxi home and the driver helped us carry the salt into the taxi. It all worked out, but my typical worry was in full swing. "How are we going to carry all that stuff?"

The courtesy and thoughtfulness of the people at STOU are amazing. I only hope that when people visit TVC that we can provide half the courtesy and thoughtfulness.

Another part of my sabbatical that is wonderful is Jit's participation. Jit is a great partner in this exploration. She is included by others as a full partner. Again I am thankful.

A wonderful trip that I will not forget.

Tomorrow I will post information about Saturday. One of the important discoveries I made Saturday is that Community Colleges exist in Thailand. Community Colleges first opened three years ago and I believe, from what I know so far, that they are very similar to community colleges in the United States in mission and scope. Anyway more tomorrow and some pictures also.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A final picture from our visit to Petchaburi. Read the blog entry for details of a wondeful visit.


A tutorial session at the Petchaburi Provincial Center. The subject was family law.


Meeting with student leaders at the Petchaburi Provincial Center.


Talking with some students at the Petchaburi Provincial Center


Students at the Petchaburi Provincial Center.


The University Fair 2005 Bangkok Thailand


The University Fair 2005 Bangkok Thailand


The University Fair 2005 Bangkok Thailand


Community College booths at the University Fair 2005

Community Colleges Exist!

Community Colleges Exist!
Today, Saturday, we visited the University Fair 2005 at the Queen Sirikrit Center. The exhibition was packed with colleges and universities from Thailand. There were many huge booths. The exciting part of the exhibitionk for me, is that I got to talk with people from two community colleges. I especially enjoyed talking with a person from Ranong, where we visited last year. Community colleges were started by the government three years ago. They are very similar in concept to community colleges in the United States. At Ranong there are currently 400 students. The cost for the courses is 25 Baht per credit. Some courses are offered in English. I think there are 14 community colleges nation wide. The source for many of the students in community colleges are the Non-Traditional Education centers. I believe that the credit earned in a Community College is transferable to a university. Sunday, when we were driving to Petchaburi I saw a road sign for Samut Songkhram Community Colleges. Today, Monday, we will visit a Non Traditional Education Center in Phra Pradaeng so I hope to have more information. I have many questions about Community Colleges in Thailand and am excitied to find a new path to explore.

After leaving the education center we went to MBK to look for a present for Bethie. We did not succeed, but MBK is a great place to explore. After MBK we went to a hospital in Pak Kret to visit Jit's aunt. She is very sick. We visited with the family and Jit's uncle. Jit's aunt was a pharmacist and her uncle is a retired school principal.

Juke and his family also drove up to visit and we rode back with them. We got caught in some traffic so it took a long time to get home. When we arrived it was dark and I heard a familiar chant as we walked into the community. People are working building a new path and the men were jumping on a board to provide leverage to drive a concrete pile into the mud, sort of like a human pile driver. It really works. The path is to straighten out a corner in the path that is difficult for bicyclists and motor bikes to navigate. The path will be much safer.

Photographs later!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | Sub-$100 laptop design unveiled

BBC NEWS | Technology | Sub-$100 laptop design unveiled

This idea is getting more exciting. There is slightly different information in this post then in previous similar posts in my blog.


Near Victory Monument


Near Victory Monument


Victory Monument


Near Victory Monument

Awesome storm, visiting hospital, and a drunk taxi driver!

Last night there was an amazing storm. Thunder and lightening was almost non-stop, the ground shook from the noise of the thunder. The thunder was a whole different octave then I experience in Alaska, much deeper in tone, almost a constant flow of noise. In the morning there were palm fronds everywhere. When we walked out to catch a taxi, some power lines were down from an old palm tree which blew over. It was the sound that was amazing. I wonder how the noise would compare to being in an artillery bombardment.

We got up early, 5:00, to take Jit's mom to the hospital. The morning light was beautiful, misty from the storm, and the colors were pastel. The monks were circulating gathering food. The Saffron color of the monks robes is really beautiful. We got to the hospital about 7:30, after many lines, and waiting for different procedures we were done. The hospital was a very large public hospital. I think it was Vishniut hospital in the Dusit area. It was a great place to watch people. Hardly anybody came to the hospital alone. I saw many kids and young adults shepherding there parents or grandparents. It was great to see the caring across generations. Waiting was similar to the system at the Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles, draw a number and wait. At least at the hospital they did not play outdated Disney movies, the TV's were on a real channel.

Coming back was a disaster, the taxi driver was drunk. We had little choice when we got into the taxi. There was a taxi que, and the hospital attendant lifted Jit's mom into the taxi. We made it, but it was not a good trip. Jit took the taxi number and will call to report the driver. Jit's dad was great, visiting with the driver and keeping him calm. Pretty helpless feeling, we did not have a wheel chair for Jit's mom. Another learning opportunity.

Last time I was in Thailand I assumed I saw Ravens. I could visualize them. Well the crows here look like Ravens when they fly. The only difference is that they only have a boring Caw-Caw, not the awesome range of sounds of a Raven. At least I was not crazy, visually the crows look like Ravens, they are very large.

I got a nice email from Finland from a person who has been reading my blog. He suggested that I change some settings to make it load faster. I made the changes and I think it will work. In order to see older posts you will need to click on the previous months links.

Yesterday I finished three Thai lessons. I am making some progress on a very large journey. We did not go into Phra Pradeang to see the Non-Traditional Education center, but we will. Tomorrow we go to STOU. I will work on the Access database this Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A bunch of stuff, including some boring generalizations and a wonderful contact.

Being from Alaska I have a sense of seasonal change built into my way of looking at life. There is always a sense of preparing for and anticipating winter. I find that even in Thailand I am aware of the winter. Yesterday Jit's family was all inside and I found myself saying to myself, "This is what it will be like in winter.". When I think about the Jit's families new house I am, in that back of my mind, wondering how it will work in the winter. Of course there is no winter in Thailand, only the hot, wet, and cool seasons. We are moving from the wet to the cool season now. In the past I have only been in Thailand during the hot season. I guess the wet season is sort of like our winter, you put up with it, learn to appreciate it, but would not be too disappointed to avoid it. This year I will be avoiding winter. When we return to Alaska in February the worst of winter will be over.

One of my goals of my sabbatical was to see how the Linux operating system is being used. The "news and analysis" that I read in the United States indicated that Linux and Open Office would be a threat to Microsoft because of the People PC program. Well, during my trip so far I have not seen an instance of Linux or Open Office running. I have asked and people are aware of the option, but prefer to use what they are familiar with. This conservatism is the same in the United States. I think you need to be a geek to willingly learn a new operating system or a new productivity application. There must be a major improvement in function or price to drive new use. I suppose your work required a change it would drive learning new skills, but I do not think it happens voluntarily. In fact I think we learn new versions of Windows because they come on the computers we purchase. In the old days I loved learning new operating systems and applications, but I was a geek. Now I need a functional reason to learn new tools. I still love learning new web tools, but operating systems make me feel tired!

Today we met Dr. Sumalee who is an expert in adult education. Her doctorate is in Adult Education. She was giving a planning seminar for the Counseling section. Jit took notes. From what I could make out, from the sprinkling of technological terms, the subject was intensely interesting. I wished I knew Thai. Anyway Jit took notes and will summarize the meeting for me tonight or tomorrow morning.

Dr. Sumalee is aware of the Wi-Max project in Lampang province. Jit and I will be able to meet with her, and some of her students, this Friday. It was a joy to talk with her, she speaks excellent English. I believe that I will be able to make contact with both Non-Formal Education and Community Colleges through her knowledge.

I want to thank Dr. Warapa and Nednapa Intong for allowing us to attend the meeting today.

While listening to the meeting my mind drifted to various topics about education. I will share some of my thoughts briefly.

Teaching is interactive. The essence of teaching is an interactive exchange with students. I am thinking of interactive in a broad sense. For instance, active reading, reading with questions and a purpose, is interactive.

The joy of teaching adults is that, as students, they have a clear purpose and desire for the course being taught. Adult students also have a life of experience to bring to a subject.

That new educational technology must have an incremental advantage over previous technology or of no technology at all. If there is not sufficient incremental advantage the tool should not be adopted. We are not teaching technology, we are teaching subjects. Technology is a means to creating an interactive encounter, not the end.

Paper is a successful tool. Any replacement for paper, such as a PDA, must have a clear advantage that justifies the effort of using and applying the new tool. When thinking of technology remember the advantage of simple tools.

Confusion is a necessary pre-requisite to knowledge. If there is not confusion there are no questions. A teacher of adults must earn the trust of the students to allow the creation of confusion. Confusion is uncomfortable and if the students do not trust the teacher they will not want to experience confusion. Confusion also must ultimately result in clarity. Confusion that remains confusion is demoralizing and undermines educational confidence.

Having a clear organized structure of course delivery, the course syllabus, the reading list, the assignment expectations, reduces anxiety and gives students the freedom to question and doubt.

Educationally you must have questions to appreciate answers.

The individual trumps the general. A specific experience or a specific person trumps a general principle. Years ago I was taught in workshops that Alaska Native people where shy, or were non-verbal, or a hundred other generalities. What I learned is that such general descriptions were always less important then the actual person in front of me. In fact some general principles and assertions could blind me to the real person I was talking with. Scientifically one tested counter example puts a theory into doubt. For me, I always try to make the specific experience the highest priority.

None of these observations has anything to do with the meeting I experienced today, but it did catalyze these thoughts.

Today I had a wonderful surprise, on my desk was a dish of flowers floating in water. The flowers were Dok-Phut which are related to Jasmine. There was also a small glass bird and an elephant also. Aor, put them there. I will post a picture.

Tomorrow I will work on Access and Thai language lessons. We will not go anywhere. Friday we will return to STOU. I am excited about the possibilities.

Oh yeah, I thought I would lose weight in Thailand, but no, it is not happening. I have not had Pizza since I left. Actually Pizza is the only food that I miss. There are plenty of opportunities to get Pizza, we just have not eaten any. The food that I have had is wonderful and varied.

I have been taking pictures the last two days through the taxi window. I just set the camera to its widest angle, manual focus, and hyperfocal distance. The depth of field of small digital cameras is amazing. I do not see why they need to focus at all at wide angles. I see so many pictures from the taxi, but I can not yell stop, so I just decided to take them as we go along. After all the worry about focusing, the quality of a lens, the value of adding filters and all that technological stuff, I just said forget it, lets see what the pictures look like. I like them, they capture what I am seeing.


Bangkok, from the express way.


Bangkok, from the express way.


Bangkok, from the express way.


Klong Toey Dock


The new path being built in Jit's community.


Today I had a wonderful surprise, on my desk was a dish of flowers floating in water. The flowers were Dok-Phut which are related to Jasmine. There was also a small glass bird and an elephant also. Aor, put them there

Random observations from Vatchira Hospital and STOU educational TV

I got up early so I turned on the TV to see the STOU TV course. The courses are broadcast at 5:00 AM on channel 11. The show was professionally done educational TV with a good interview format. There was additional information about the schedule and the radio broadcasts. The presentation looks much better then the lectures from University of Alaska Southeast that I see on TV sometimes.

The proper spelling for the hospital we visited yesterday was Vatchira

Random observations and thoughts from the last few days.

I saw a women wearing a shirt like a Kuspuk in the hospital. The shirt had the same length and was a pull over. The shirt also had similar embroidery. Of course there was not hood. It was a very nice design. I have not seen it before. If you are not from Alaska a Kuspuk is a traditional pull over coat that is worn by Inupiat and Yupik people. It is a beautiful and functional coat.

Some writing on clothes that I saw yesterday at the hospital...
Mouth to Mouth
US Military Bike
Thai Party written in English and Thai. The writing was on the back of a coat that looked like a bar jacket. A bar jacket is a coat that people wear to advertise where they drink, something like Ernie's Bar Soldotna Alaska.

At the hospital there was a man who met all the taxis and lifted people from the cars onto stretchers or into wheelchairs. He also did the same for people leaving the hospital. He was a strongly built man. I wonder what he thinks about and feels when confronted with all the frailties of humanity? It seems like it could be an intense job.

Cell phones mean that there is a communication infrastructure set up for the technology of the future.

Goggle's announcement about creating a free wireless internet network for San Francisco is pretty amazing.

We will be going to STOU today for a meeting and lunch. We will be able to meet with somebody who is knowledgeable about Non-formal education.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Visiting the Non-Formal Education Center in Phra Pradaeng

Visiting the Non-Formal Education Center in Phra Pradaeng

We will visit the Non-Formal Education Center in Phra Pradaeng today. Jit just confirmed the appointment. I guess I need to start getting ready. I like Phra Pradaeng, it is small enough not to be overwhelming, but there are excellent photo opportunities. I am starting to know where I am in Bangkok, I never thought that would happen.

I am working on the Access database for the STOU counseling department this morning. I wished I had a good reference book! When I am working on this database I need to remind myself that it is just a rough sketch of a potential database. Creating an Access database is like diving down a rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, what seems simple becomes complex! Anyway I have to keep repeating to myself, "It is only a sketch!" and "Keep it simple!" When I was visiting the hospital last Tuesday, and waiting, and waiting, I spent some time outlining possible fields and queries. I am glad I did this preliminary thinking. I will be glad though when this project is done. Oh well, another new learning opportunity.

We visited the Non-Formal Education Center in Phra Pradaeng today. The closest educational institution in Alaska would be a combination of the Adult Learning Program in Alaska and the Tanana Valley Campus Workforce Development program. The relationship between ALPA and Workforce Development to TVC is also similar. During the last semester there were 2500 students enrolled in the Phra Pradaeng region. There are eight centers that are located in malls, Wats, and buildings in the community. Right now there are no courses in session. The new courses will begin in November. We will visit the Non-Formal Education Center at the Wat by the Banglepheau floating market in November. The Non-Formal Education centers have both part time and full time teachers. Some of the course series can last from two to three years. We got some literature that describes the curriculum and course offerings that Jit will decipher for me.

The Non-Formal Education Center teaches computer application skills, Microsoft Office, and has some special courses on computer maintenance. When the centers re-open in November I will spend ,some time visiting. I also hope to see more clearly how the Community Colleges interface with the Non-Formal Education centers. The person we met from Ranong said there was a strong relationship. I also asked about Linux, the people were aware of the People PC program, but they said that the people strongly preferred to use Windows.

The Phra Pradaeng area has many factories, there are good employment possibilities. The Non-Formal Education centers works with the companies to prepare the workforce to meet job requirements. There was a hint that some employers did not encourage people to continue to pursue their education, they did not want to lose qualified employees.

We went shopping in Phra Pradaeng, ordered glasses and finally, left the film off to be developed. The resolution will not be what I want, but at least I will have something on a CD. I can then make a CD to have some prints made for the community and to share on the web. We will see tomorrow how they turn out. The machine is a Noritsu and the shop looked very clean and well organized. There were three public computer stations with Photoshop available for people to use. When I was there the staff was editing a variety of photographs. I will try the Fuji shop the next time I get film developed. Phra Pradaeng is the closest we have to a neighborhood town on this side of the river. On the other side of the river, of course, in Bangkok.

Alaska.com | Fairbanks

Alaska.com | Fairbanks

People from Thailand have asked what the weather is like in Fairbanks. This web page gives accurate information.

I have added a few conversions so you can see the temprature in Celsius.
-60 Fahrenheit is equal to -51 Celsius
-40 Fahrenheit is equal to -40 Celsius
-20 Fahrenheit is equal to -29 Celsius
You can explore this site for further information about Alaska and Fairbanks. It might be hard to imagine, but Fairbanks is a great place to live!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Expressway, Bangkok


Expressway, Bangkok


Expressway, Bangkok


Expressway, Bangkok


Toll booth, Bangkok


Meeting with a graduate seminar on adult education with Prof.Sumalee.

Education, tenure, gentrification, and Blade Runner.

In Thailand the promotion and tenure process for becoming a professor is similar, except for becoming a full professor. To become a full professor is, I believe, part of a national process that includes government oversight. I will try to confirm this, but I think that is what I heard.

After finding out about the Non-Formal Education centers I have been thinking that maybe there is a common set of educational needs that are universal. Countries need comprehensive education for their kids, education for adults, vocational education, second-chance or developmental education, technical education, etc.. Each country meets these educational needs in different ways, but countries have a similar range of educational needs, no matter where they are. Think of medical care, it is similar, there is a comprehensive set of needs that need to be met, no matter where the country is. In Thailand I am discovering more similarity then differences in the problems and challenges of meeting the educational needs of the people. There is different terminology, different organization of delivery, but underlying the differences are similar challenges and opportunities. By sharing ideas and resources for meeting educational needs the learning is reciprocal and the range of choices and methods expands. International educational sharing of methods and organizations is a great resource for learning. I am thankful for my sabbatical, I am already anticipating how I might share some of what I have learned.

There will be a community meeting Sunday by the big tree in Jit's community. The big tree is circled in sashes and is really an impressive tree. I think it is a Tamarin tree. Anyway it will be like a community or town meeting. We delayed our day with Richard so that Jit could attend.

I finished the draft Access database and will give it to Nednapa today when we go to STOU.

Birds in the park this morning, large pink one, one with white wings, a blue one, I am ignorant as to there kind and habits. I am going to start bringing my binoculars.

There are some really nice houses, built, and being built in the community. Many of the houses are built by kids for their parents. Actually, by the quality of housing, many people are making a good living here. In the larger community of Bangkrachao there are some real luxury houses, maybe gentrification is going on. The new bridge could change travel patterns.

I can start to discriminate and see changes now, when I came here it was all so visually overwhelming, but now I can see changes in activity on different days of the week and different times. Riding home from Phra Pradaeng at night is completely different then during the day, so much more confusing and busy. Jit told me that a string of lights hanging in front of a store means that drinks are served, I can see many strings of lights. During the day it would be hard to know if it was a bar. The street lights are not bright so it is a murky multi-layered visual experience. Sometimes I am reminded of the visual experience of Blade Runner, not the devastation, just the very rich evocative visual setting.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Some trees around the house, Bangkrachow,


From a bus window, Bangkok.


From a taxi in traffic, Bangkok


The large tree where the community meeting will be held tomorrow.


The large tree where the community meeting will be held tomorrow.

Professor Sumalee, adult education, collaboration, and a traffic jam

Yesterday we met with a graduate student seminar on adult education. Many of the students worked with centers for Non-Traditional education. We were hosted by Dr. Sumalee Sungsri who we had met on Wednesday. The students had many questions about our ITS degree, how it was organized and the variety of students that it served. There were many questions about community colleges and how TVC worked. We talked about how to meet the variety of skill levels of adult students. We talked about curriculum and advising. We also talked about experiences and practices in teaching adult students. The students also talked with Jit for a long time about life in Alaska. It was a valuable meeting.

After our discussion with the students we stayed for two student presentations. One of the presentations was about providing training to people in the military and the other presentation was about providing local content to English students in Samut Prakan. The proposal was to increase the students actual use of English. Both presenters used Powerpoint. The use of Powerpoint in Thailand is a very common way of presenting information. We stayed until after 5:00 so we got caught in a traffic jam on the way home.

As we were leaving STOU there was load music. As we rounded the corner to the STOU square there was a group of people doing aerobics. Last year in Ayutthaya, when were riding a canal boat, I looked up and saw the same thing. Aerobics seems to be popular in Thailand. Right now it is 6:45 in the morning and there are many people circulating in the park and riding bikes. I think that exercise is popular in Thailand.

We were encouraged to visit the south of Thailand by a student who taught there. I gave him my email address for further communication. It was a little frightening to contemplate because of the violence in the south, but if it works out, I will go.

There was also some interest in the students to visit Alaska and UAF on a study trip. I said, and I think it would be true, that UAF would be excited about an opportunity to share. A study trip would focus on the College of Rural and Community Development and Tanana Valley Campus. I hope it happens and would love to help create such a collaboration.

Dr. Summalee also talked with me about research collaboration. I would love to work with her on such a project. The College of Rural and Community Development has many similar challenges to Thailand. Exploring the similarities and differences in our methods of meeting our challenges would be valuable for all of us. I would say yes in a second to such an opportunity.

There was an afternoon thunderstorm while we were in the seminar, I was watching the lightening and counting the seconds to the thunder, some of the lightening was very close. I have been noticing many lightening rods. I do not hear of any deaths or damage from all the lightening we have experienced. I do not know why, but maybe it is because of having so many lightening rods to attract the lightening strikes. I know in Minnesota, where we visit some summers, that we hear of lightening caused tragedy often.

I delivered the Access database to Nednapa yesterday. We will meet to decide the next step on Monday.

Going home there was a big traffic jam, the taxi driver was an expert at weaving through the lanes of traffic and making lanes where they did not exist. He was very competent, it was stressful, but he seemed very competent.

When we were stuck in traffic I noticed some writing on a few cars. There was a small red car with Kremlin and Fox written on the side, and Vampire written in large letters across the windshield. Another early 90's Mitsubishi had "Anything may possibly happen" written on a side window with a Playboy Bunny logo. The windows were heavily mirrored. Hmmm.....?

We crossed the river in the dark and rain with lightening in the near distance. We rode home on a motorbike in light rain. It is great to be home, and it was an excellent experience at the seminar.

Last night on the TV news they showed a dead person at Samut Prakan. He had drowned at the ferry boat landing. There was no covering of the corpse. They showed the mouth to mouth respiration. In the United States we would never see a dead person on local news, we might see it on international news or war coverage, Also on the news were a couple stories of people with disabilities. There was no shirking from showing the full extent of the disabilities. I wonder if the frank, even blunt, display of death and disability is related to Buddhism?

Today people are coming to work on the house, I will also pick up my film. Sunday will be the community meeting. I will, if invited, take pictures.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Bangkok Post quote on internet usage in Thailand.

"Here in Thailand, only a small fraction of the population has online access. According to internetworldstats.com as of September 2005, only 12.8 percent of the nearly 66 million people in Thailand have access to cyberspace. The technology is still limited to the educated middle-classes who are computer literate, able to pay the service fees and have mastered some English language skills."

From my superficial observatons this statistic seems true. Most people who I meet confess to having limited computer and internet skills. I think that low-cost internet access will stimulate technological learning for non-students.

Watch both ways!

When I was growing up I was warned to "Watch both ways!" when I cross the streets. When I was raising my daughters I always warned them to "Watch both ways!" Well now it is time to warn myself. In Thailand people drive on the left, like in England. I find that I habitually look the wrong way first when crossing the street. I have to remind myself to "Watch both ways!".

In the morning I took a long walk in the park. I did not see a lizard. Yesterday I saw many of them. The people here call the lizards small crocodiles, but they aren't, they are Monitor Lizards.

I got the pictures back from the photo shop today, they were great. I spent some time editing, meaning throwing out the bad or duplicate photos. The cost was only 80 baht or 2.00 dollars per roll. I can use film again here with confidence. The photographs from the Ricoh GR1v and the GR21 were great. I also was happy with the pictures from my Bessa R2a and the 40mm and 28mm lenses.

Yesterday we had people all day working on the house building a roof for the laundry area. In Thailand people use steel, cement, plastic, and tile for construction. The only wood in the whole house is the bedroom doors and some composite wood furniture. It really works well for the climate. Construction is very different. Jit has a bid for the kitchen cabinets. They are custom made from aluminum and Formica with stone or tile counter tops. The bid is too expensive, but for me it seems cheap. It is under $1,000 for everything including installation. Many people in Thailand have construction skills.

Today we will go to the community meeting and visit Jit's aunt in the hospital. She is very sick. The hospital that we will visit is like a hospice. Chonrapathan hospital is located in the north of Bangkok in the Irrigation District compound at Pakket. Families can stay with the sick family members. Treatment is primarily to help the patients feel comfortable. The atmosphere is very different then the huge hospital that we visited with Jit's mother. We will be riding up with Juke's family.

Tomorrow back to STOU to meet with Nednapa. Jit wanted to go up to STOU today for the seminar's, but we just do not have time.

Mankind and monitor lizards

Mankind and monitor lizards

A Google search will bring up many articles on Monitor Lizards. They are interesting to watch. It makes walking in the park much more interesting. I suppose getting excited about seeing Monitor Lizards is like tourists getting excited seeing Moose in Fairbanks. Hmmm...

Monday, October 10, 2005

A tug boat. These boats pull large barges up and down the river. I love the design.


The large boat that we take across the river. Sometimes we take the small boat. Usually we take the large boat on the way home.


The home that Jit is building for her parents. We only have the kitchen left to do, plus many details.


Jit and her dad.

IT City at Zeet, Homepro at Rangsit Future Park, and Pizza

Sunday 10/9
The community meeting was about the new road. I guess it is being privately funded and the community had to agree. When there was a vote it looked like a unanimous vote to support the road. I took about 5 rolls of film. My purpose is to create a photo album that the community can have to document some of their activities. I especially looked for pictures of the older people in the community. I will try to get the pictures developed this week. Using film there is the unknown aspect of photography, did they turn out, was the light correct. The meeting was outside under a tarp so the light and contrast was varied. I just set the exposure for faces in the shadow and used that as my essential exposure. I also shot color, but will probably convert most of the images to black and white.

The hospital trip went as planned. There were 7 people in the car. We got home about 7:00 and went to eat at Juke's house. It is emotional to see a person approaching death.

Monday 10/10
Today we visited STOU. We met with Nednapa. There was not much going on today. We will communicate with email for our next appointment or task.

While we were walking to the counseling center three little girls walked by, one of them said in very good English "How are you?" I said fine. Later, on the way over to the coffee shop, we saw them again and said hi. As we walked on we heard running foot steps. Two girls came up and asked "Where do you come from?" we said Alaska and they laughed and ran back to the other children.

After STOU we went to the Rangsit area to see Future Park, Homepro, and to go to IT City in Zeer. On the way I noticed a Wat with a very modern Stupa, sort of like a modern church. It was sort of interesting, but I think it lost something in the translation. It was not impressive, just sort of curious.

We also saw St. John Mary school. International schools seem to drape themselves with English and Christian names and symbols. It is sort of strange.

Rangsit Future Park is a huge mall complex. We visited Homepro with is sort of like Lowes. The selection was impressive and I saw many things that I have not seen before. The prices were less expensive then at the Index home center. We were looking at kitchen cabinets. We walked to Office Depot, but no 3X5 cards or anything like them! Grrrr.... We walked over the main mall and I had some Pizza. It was good, but with the smoothie, pretty expensive. The malls are really modern and interesting. I am sure Margaret, may daughter, would love them. They are not as boring as the Mall of America because of the diversity of choices.

At Homepro there was a place that made wooden address signs. One of the signs on the wall said LADYBOOM! I thought it was funny, but sometimes what makes me laugh is not shared with others!

IT City in Zeer is similar in scope to Pantip Plaza. We walked though all three active floors. There are other floors but most of them did not have retail shops. IT City is directly connected to a hotel. Some of my observations:

There were a few tech training places, one was offering a special of Word, Excel, or Windows training for 990 Baht. Others were offering Autocad training. Form what I was seeing they did not look too busy, at least in the afternoon. Some of the classrooms did not look like they were being used.

I saw one shop with very professional testing equipment including Fluke tools.

Many staff were using scooters to get around, it seemed to work well, but horns, or bells, would have made it less surprising. I also saw many Monks. I guess young men share common interests no matter what their vocation.

There were many poster and banner shops with large printers. It looked like a very professional service with high quality equipment. I see similar shops in many malls.

IT City did not seem crowded. There were some empty locations.

The digital camera selection was a little dated and not completely current. Prices were not a bargain for what I could compare with Fairbanks or Amazon. Some of the camera were very high price. The camera that I use, an Olympus C7070 can be purchased in the United States for $380. I saw it at IT City for over $550.

IT City is much more sedate then Pantip Plaza, which, for me, is a good thing. We still will check out Pantip Plaza later.

On the way back we drove by a Ferrari dealership with some very fancy cars in stock. The only place I have seen real Ferraris is in Seattle. You would have to be very rich to afford and drive one. I can not imagine driving a Ferrari in a traffic jam.

I saw three broken Toyota Taxis today, it was a surprise. Seeing all the Toyota's used as taxies is an impressive statement for their quality, but just when I was going to comment on the quality of Toyota I saw three broken ones. One had steam coming out the exhaust like a broken head gasket. It is a wonder really that there are not more broken taxis beside the road.

When we got home we walked to the new road with Jit's mom in the wheelchair. We went to Muu 5. Jit's community is Muu 9. When we were there a loudspeaker truck came by and advertised fruit. We bought some. As we walked back kids were singing a kind of nursery rhyme. "What kind of flowers do you have?" "A rose?" "No not that." etc. Sounded pretty cool.

The workers made an interesting broken tile pattern on the laundry floor. They used a variety of left over tile. It is a good improvisation.

Today was busy and interesting. It was good to see IT City. The sense was that the IT boom has passed, but it was still interesting.

We will keep in touch with STOU, but nothing will be happening for the next few days. I think people have work to do.

Tomorrow I will start some more Thai lessons. I hope we get the film developed tomorrow or the next day. Since I used film today I can not post pictures to support the blog today. I like using film cameras though, especially the Voigtlander Bessa R2a and the Ricoh GR1v and GR21.

A full and very busy day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

MercuryNews.com | 10/09/2005 | Non-profit group has big plans for small laptop

MercuryNews.com | 10/09/2005 | Non-profit group has big plans for small laptop

Another perspective on the $100 laptop. It is starting to sound exciting. I think it would work in Alaska also, especially because of the low maintenance.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Home Pro, Phlone Chit, frustration, and a surprise.

It snowed yesterday in Fairbanks. There will probably be snow on the ground from now through March or April. It is hard to imagine from Thailand.

A couple days ago in Thailand it was breezy. The sky was pretty clear. When I was walking in the park it felt like a fall day, both the breeze and the quality of the light. Well it is the fall, but at 80 degrees and above it is hard to imagine.

When I listen to conversations I try to make sense of what I hear. I understand the English words and a few Thai words. I also rely on context. What I have found out, and what is true in English also, is that what I think is being discussed, and what in fact is being discussed, are two very different things. My attempt at assigning meaning is usually wrong. Imagine overhearing a discussion in English. We try to fill in the meaning also and, at least for me, I am usually wrong. Living where I do not know the language just brings home how illusive knowledge is. We all try to find meaning in what we experience. Without a self-correcting method, the meaning we ascribe is more a reflection of our own pre-disposition and has only a vague correspondence with what is actually happening. Oh well, another reminder of human nature.

Something I have not mentioned before is that there are a lot of butterflies in the park. They really are beautiful. I am also noticing more birds, but I do not know if it is just because I am able to see more detail then when I first arrived. I do not know about migration patterns of birds to this area.

We needed to go to Homepro today to get doors and cabinets for the kitchen. What I think is happening is that the cabinets will be built of concrete and that we buy doors for the front of the concrete cabinets. Somebody from the community is going to start building the cabinets on Wednesday.

We first went to the Homepro at Phlone Chit. It was a disaster. We kept going to different floors and then being sent someplace else. We eventually had to go to Rangsit anyway. Getting to Phlone Chit was an adventure. I got to experience non-expressway Bangkok. The Phlone Chit area is very upper class with many embassies.

We rode the boat across to Klong-Toey with Keenon and her nephew. She was taking him to Tesco-Lotus to use the playground. She had a life jacket for him when we went across, sort of an unsettling idea.

Riding through non-expressway Bangkok to the Phloen Chit station was fascinating. There was a very dark, almost tunnel, that looked like a wrecking yard under an expressway. There were stacks of auto parts in area surrounded by wire walls. The lighting was fluorescent tubes. Like other areas visually in Bangkok it evoked a sense of early industrial England, again a place that is rich with photographic opportunity. I also saw another amazing auto dealership near Lampini park, Lambourghini.

It is not a good sign when the Taxi driver keeps muttering our destination under his breath, Homepro, Homepro, but we did eventually get there. We had to make a U-Turn. As we passed the US Embassy there was a line of people waiting for Visas. There were also many translation and marriage services. I saw a sign advertising an express marriage for 5,000 baht. At one of the services I saw a couple, older overweight man and young slim women, doing some paperwork.

Bangkok is so huge and diverse I think I could spend a whole life discovering new aspects of the community. There are unending photographic opportunities. Bangkok is also exhausting and overwhelming. Sometimes I just want to get away. Sometimes Bangkok is just too much for me.

A we travel around I notice people doing many mind numbingly boring jobs; parking booth ticket takers, sales people at a shop that are not busy, people in uniforms opening and closing doors in the mall. Coming back through Phra Pradaeng the three people at the Top Charon eyeglass shop were sitting in white uniforms with folded arms waiting for customers. There are many people, usually wearing uniforms that seem to have very boring jobs standing, opening doors, taking tickets. When every you enter a mall parking are there is a ticket booth, people give you a ticket. When you leave the mall another booth is also there to talk your ticket back. I can not imagine, or maybe I can, what it would be like everyday to sit in one of those booths, or to open and close doors all day. Sometimes people just stand in a uniform and watch things. Sigh!

After the disaster at the Home Pro at Phlone Chit we took the Sky train to Mo-Chit and then a taxi to the HomePro at Rangsit which is off the map of the Bangkok that I have. It is north of STOU.

On the way to the Rangsit area there is a classic looking older house with a very large cow statue in the front. I am not sure what is being sold, but I would have loved to stop to take a picture.

My experience at Home Pro was frustrating. I think, but am not sure, that we were experiencing bait and switch. After looking at something that might work, and deciding that it would be suitable, it would be out of stock, but a similar, more expensive model would be available. We were also told it would take two days to have our order delivered, but they would help us arrange delivery with a taxi, or some other method, at our cost. I was willing to wait for delivery, since we are not going to have the electrician, until Saturday, but Jit did not want to wait. Eventually they arranged transportation with an old pickup, that we would have to pay for, to get our stuff home. Again I felt taken advantage of.

The trip home was a wonderful surprise. Every once in awhile you meet a person that evokes a good feeling, a feeling of trust. The driver was small, about my size, and was 46 years old. He explained that he had waited all day to get a delivery. He pays to get in the que at Homepro for delivery. While waiting for a delivery opportunity he reads Buddhist books, there were a couple of books on the dashboard. He bought his truck from his brother in law. As he said it is a working truck to make a living. The truck was an older Toyota pickup. His smile and perspective on life was very assuring. He has three kids, 16, 8, and 3. He moved to Bangkok from Nakon Panom in the eastern part of Thailand. He rents his house in Bangkok for 2,000 baht a month and, as he says, is using his brain a lot to think about supporting his family. He said he had been a Monk for 9 years and when he left the Monkhood he wanted to get married. I mentioned that I liked the CD he was playing, Thai country music, and he said he would give it to me. When we arrived at home, he got the CD out of his CD player and did give it to me. Sometimes you meet a person that projects the meaning of grace. I will not forget our ride home, jammed in the cab of a pickup, from Rangsit to Bangkrachow with a good person.

A long, interesting, frustrating day, with a wonderful surprise.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan, Chachoengsao, Thailand

Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan, Chachoengsao, Thailand

Here is a less jaded view of the Wat then the description in my blog posting.


Chachoengsao, Min Buri, and Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan

Chachoengsao, Min Buri, and Wat Lung Phor So Phom

We went with Juke and his family to visit a Buddhist temple. We left at 7:00 and drove to Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan. It is in the Chachoengsao area. We then drove to Min Buri and then south around Bangkok to the Rama IX bridge. I observed many things on the trip. My curious eyes were very busy.

There are many weird buses with English slogans and phrases and bright primary color cartoons. Some of the buses are to carry passengers to and from work and others are tourist buses. I think they are all privately owned because I see them parked in many places. I even see people working on their buses in the yard. They must be expensive to buy. The painting, cartoons, and slogans are an art form. Some of them are also pretty funny. I do not have many pictures, but I will try to get some.

I also spent some time watching old Isuzu trucks , maybe 60's or 70's, with no doors. They have tin decoration, studs, bright silver patterns and some very bright colors painted on them. Some modern Isuzu trucks also have very bright outlines and filled in design on the body and trailer of the trucks. They really look nice, almost like a Navajo pattern on the truck. I do not have photographs of either the bus or either version of the Isuzu trucks, but I will eventually get them. I love the trucks and buses they show improvisation, innovation, decoration, and celebration. They are cool.

Driving to the temple I saw many things. I could see Assumption University as we drove past. I must say, even if it is judgmental, that the architecture at Assumption University is just strange. It is like a person who wears too many gold chains. The design is beyond bad taste it is absurd. The symbol for the school is a gold nugget, AU is the chemical sign for gold, but I believe that it is symbolic of the depth and thought that is going into the mission of the school. Assumption University is simply too much. When I visited there is was like a surrealistic painting, the scale was all wrong, and the light was very harsh.

Coincidentally the Wat we visited, Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan, approached Assumption University in ambition. The temple was Gothic in scope and scale. The temple is huge with marble and gilt, but it is the scale that is beyond comprehension. The floor inside the temple though is beautiful. The pattern is very flowing with many unbelievable sea animals, an elephant fish for example. I am serious I think the floor is beautiful and I would love to have the pattern on a poster. The temple is not done, but it felt weird there are no ceremonies inside. The temple is also infested with pigeons.

I know that Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan has a significant purpose, but so does Assumption University. It is just that the architecture is more about human ambition and pretention then about education and belief.

The making of offerings and the praying at the temple is next door in a large shed. It was very busy and almost overwhelmed with people. People were blessing eggs and pig heads as well as the normal flowers, candles, and gold leaf. There were many opportunities to buy things also. The experience was as far as I could imagine from Buddhism, but so are the large mega-churches in the United States far from Christianity. I think sometimes large churches and temples, especially recently built ones, are reflection of the hopes and wishes of popular culture. Maybe in 100 years the temple will have character, but now, except for the floor, it is just pretentious and materialistic. I think Assumption University and Wat at Chachoengsao are cousins.

For a less jaded view of the Wat visit this site http://www.thaibuddhist.com/wat_sothorn.htm

As we were leaving the temple a motor bike had to stop for us, on the riders t-shirt it said World Santa.

On the way south of Bangkok and on the way to Chachoengsao we passed through a very flat semi-industrial area. I saw, in addition to Assumption University, a large empty Mercedes Benz dealership, blank billboards, or bill boards with only the structure left, a large metal 747 replica being built out of steel in an engineering firm, many empty or abandoned building. Abandoned sub-divisions that can be recognized by large pretentious gateways that are overgrown, a C123 used as a billboard in front of a group of stores. We took a wrong turn and I saw many of the colorful buses parked under a bridge. Seeing the buses parked under the bridge is when I realized that they were used for carrying workers to and from work. Once we got off the road to Pattaya the area become less depressing. It was still semi-industrial, but it was not as abandoned looking and shabby. I think I am seeing remains of the 1997 economic crash.

After leaving the temple we had a wonderful seafood lunch at Chachoengsao. The barge was on the river. The food was excellent. We then drove to Min Buri to visit Jit's aunt on her mother's side. Jit's Aunt is in her early 70's. When I saw her I realized that many of the older women that I see are bent over and use a cane to walk. Some of the men also are bent over and need canes. Sometimes it takes a single person to make a pattern become clear. The result of loosing bone density is really crippling.

As we were driving to Jit's aunts house I saw a man working on an auto engine in his front yard. He had it in parts on the ground. He also had an engine lift. He looked like he knew what he was doing.

We also passed many shop houses, some of the projects were abandoned or half built and others were brand new. Shop houses are multi story houses with the first floor open as a shop or repair place with people living on the two or three floors above. Shop houses are Thailand's strip malls. They are everywhere.

We also drove down some very narrow streets with mini-houses on one side and three floor, very narrow, condominiums on the other. I would guess they were 10 to 15 years old and each of the houses and condominiums had started to take on unique personalities. It looks like the houses were on about a quarter lot and that the condominiums were maybe 30 feet wide at the front. The houses looked comfortable, just small and packed together. Jit's aunt lived in a combination of two of the houses. There were many relatives living in the house. It was a comfortable place. Jit's cousin sold us some DVD's. She is 40, and unmarried, as Jit told me. She is still living with her mother. I had bugged Jit for not bargaining and she said she wanted to support her cousin by purchasing the DVD's. Jit's cousin was fun to talk to, she would normally sell the DVD's in the market. I learned a lot on this visit. It was good to see.

On the hood of an old Volvo in the yard at Jit's aunt's house was a sign Digital Turbo.

When we drove back we listened to a Credence Clearwater album for awhile. Nearing Bangkok I saw what looked like a Wat, it had the same shape and color of the roof, but when I looked closely it had a cross on the front. I just like noticing incongruities.

The traffic was stuck because of a stalled truck near the Klong Toey slum. I could see the houses packed together around petroleum storage tanks and shipping areas. I can not imagine how hot and unhealthy a place could be to live, not to mention freeway pollution.

Today was educational and thought provoking. Except for visiting Jit's family, Juke and his family, and the meal, many of the things I saw were depressing. There were many wrecked and abandoned dreams. Many people in Thailand have very hard lives.

Pictures when I get the film developed. I have the CD of the community activities ready to print also. Hopefully tomorrow we will drop the film and CD by to get developed and printed.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Walking to Bangabuaw and sharing photographs

We walked over to Bangabuaw to catch the local bus to Phra Predang. Normally we take the motorbike. It was about a mile and a half walk. It was cool because it was cloudy. Riding the bus in is fun because of the open windows and slow pace. We dropped off the film from the community meeting and the CD to be printed and then wandered around town taking photographs. We also picked up our glasses. The glasses are excellent. I do not even notice that they are new, a good sign. I finished a couple rolls of film and so we dropped them at the photo shop also. When we got to the photo shop the prints were done, 86 black and white 4X6 prints. I had four sets made. When I get the community meeting prints done we will make 4 or 5 sets and distribute them also. The quality of work at the photo shop is excellent, better then Sams or Walmart. We ate lunch and then rode the bus back to Bangabuaw and walked home. When we got home we distributed the pictures to people in the community. I hope they like them. A downpour just started with thunder and lightening. Glad we got home before it started. A fun, and hopefully, creative day. Lightening is getting nearer so I will stop blogging.

Well the storm is over, it was pretty intense. The rain was very hard and the lightening was very close. I downloaded a Palm program to check the distance between lightening and thunder, it can even be calibrated by temperture, it said that the lightening was less then a 1/10 of a mile away.

As an aside, today we got a couple Thai computer magazines. From looking at the ads and articles they look like excellent magazines. The one I am looking at know is called CHIP Computers and Communications. I am impressed.

Sunday we will be going to see Richard Barrow at Samut Prakan. I am looking forward to the trip. I hope to get the CD's from the Phra Pradaeng also. It is fun to share photographs with the people in the community.

MoMA.org | MoMA Giorgio de Chirico Enigma of a day

MoMA.org | MoMA Provenance Research Item: "Giorgio de Chirico "

This is an example of the surrealistic art that I was thinking about when I visited Assumption University. You can search for Giorgio de Chirico to see similar art.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A flower!


At the home show....


Water barrel by the front door of Jit's old home


On the path to Jit's parents house

Sunday, October 16, 2005

It was a good day, I got 3" X 5" lined note cards and saw beautiful clouds

Saturday 10/15
Nuck came over to teach me some Thai. I learned, I hope, the first five letters of the Thai alphabet. I asked her to help translate some of the Rosetta Stone workbook to English to help me prepare for the lesson. It was fun. She actually did a great job, drilling me in a many different ways to build my skills. She would be a good teacher.

I had an email from Keith about teaching in Summer School. It is time to start planning for the summer and even next falls schedule will be due in January. It was good to hear from Keith and Susan. It sounds like things are going well at Tanana Valley Campus. My hope is to split my time between teaching and advising. I would like to be involved in the Student Support Center and to teach 6 to 9 credits a semester.

The kitchen is just about done. We have concrete cupboards covered in tile. The doors and sink that we got from Home Pro worked fine. We still need to get an electrical outlet and also propane or cooking gas for the cooking burners. There is a need for much more storage and a lot of detail stuff, but a majority of the work is done.

It is fun to share pictures and to watch peoples response. The photo shop in Phra Pradaeng that we use does a good job. When I see how many pictures that people have on their walls it seems like photography is a valued way to keep memories.

I saw a man on the concrete path carrying two large bags of rice on a bicycle. One bag was balanced over each wheel. I can not imagine keeping my balance riding with that much weight to balance.

On Wednesday I forgot to mention that I saw another odd school name, California Christian International School. There is so much hope that people have in International schools. I hope the students are not disappointed, but I am afraid they will be.

Last night there were some beautiful clouds. There was a storm passing by and the light was right to show the power and motion of the clouds. We did not get the storm, but I must have spent about an hour just watching the clouds move and change.

When there is a storm coming the dragon flies fly very high. I think it is the same thing that swallows do before a storm in Alaska, harvest bugs.

Sunday 10/16

Walking to the boat there was what sounded like Christian church music coming from a house. I asked some questions and got an ambiguous answer. I do not know what was going on, or who was attending.

We took bus 102 to Paknam and then a Tuk Tuk to Richard's house. I like the Paknam area and market.

While waiting for Gor to arrive we visited the remains of the old prison and did some photography. Since I am using film lately there will be a delay between my blog and the photographs being posted. I just prefer my film cameras to my digital cameras for some kind of photography. You can read about Gor by going to the Gor's World web site at http://www.gorsworld.com/

We visited the Ancient City. I was impressed, it was an interesting real non-touristy place that was built for an important purpose with respect. It is well worth visiting and taking the time to explore. For a place with all the publicity it is a very relaxed place to explore. We got some gifts to take back to Alaska. I will not describe them so that them might be a surprise. I will say that I liked the simple design and quality of the items we purchased.

We drove to a large concrete dock to eat, but it was too busy. People go there to watch the sea gulls. They migrate from Russia and are just arriving. They stay until March. The gulls schedule sounds identical to the Alaska gulls. It was good to see the gulls and reminded me of home.

We found a restaurant with northern Thai food. It was not too good, but it was another experience.

When we left there was a storm front going over with some absolutely beautiful clouds. You could see the storm moving fast, and you could see the clear sky around the edges. We heard a little thunder but the storm missed us. I was in the car stuck in traffic so I did not get any pictures, but the emotional impact of the clouds as they moved passed us was amazing. I really love to watch clouds when they are in motion. We found out later where the storm did hit.

After some funny discussion between Richard and Gor about the proper way to go we visited Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang which has a large reclining Buddha. You can even go inside the Buddha. There were paintings illustrating different religious experiences including hell. There was even the Buddha's heart and intestines. The cool thing about this Wat was that there were many Monks and Nuns around. There was a funeral ceremony going on, many people were there visiting. It was a real Wat, active, and embedded in the community. It was not overpowering and intimidating like Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan. I liked it there, it made me smile and feel welcome. I can not imagine two more different experiences then visiting Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan and then going to Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang. If you want to see more details of the Wat you can visit http://www.thaibuddhist.com/wat_bangphliyaiklang.htm

After visiting the Wat we stopped by Big C in Samut Praknam. Richard and Gor said that they had 3X5 lined index cards there. They did, and I got 6 packages of the cards. I will need to transcribe all the words that I am learning using the Rosetta Stone CD to the cards to help my memory. I am seriously glad to get them.

We took the ferry from Samut Praknam to Phra Pradaeng province. The rain from the beautiful clouds must have fallen here. The roads were seriously flooded, there was a heavy stream of water flowing from one lane to another. The road was being rebuilt so it was a mud bath. The Taxi driver called a radio station to give a traffic report. We were lucky to get a taxi and lucky to get through. I am not talking about puddles, I am taking about seriously deep water that flooded large areas of the road. Even with the flooding we did get home with no problems.

We have been thinking about traveling up north in November. We want to travel before the tourist season begins. There are some sites up there that I want to visit for my sabbatical.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Woody Leonhard, Phuket, and Red Ants

I saw an amazing thing today. Tiny red ants were hauling two large chunks of food straight up a wall. The food was probably an inch to an inch and a half long. Watching their team work, how they went around obstacles, and just the shear fact that they could do it was amazing. I watched them for a long time. They were hauling the food up to the roof of a house. I wonder where they live.

Good news, we got a wonderful email from Woody Leonhard. He sounds like he is doing well and is still in the computer authoring business as well as doing a thriving bakery. Check out http://khunwoody.com/ . We will plan for the first or second week of November. There is a thriving Non-Formal Education center there.

I am starting to recognize some Thai words in context. I could make out that a conversation was about colors and another conversation was about bicycles. Rather then rest on my "achievement?" I better get back to studying.

Stuart's life in Thailand is a great blog that I have followed for a couple years. Stuart teaches computer skills for Bangkok University and travels throughout Thailand. I always look forward to his blog entries. I emailed Stewart today for an appointment to discuss Thailand and teaching computer skills in a Thai University. The URL for his blog is http://www.sgtowns.com/

I have finished organizing the community meeting photos. I will get them printed the next time I am in Phra Pradaeng.


Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang


Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang


Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan


Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan


Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan


Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan


Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan


Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan


Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan


Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan


Phra Pradaeng


Phra Pradaeng


Phra Pradaeng


Phra Pradaeng


Phra Pradaeng

Observations from a Mud Hut The Myth Traditional Knowledge

Observations from a Mud Hut

This blog is deeply thoughtful. The issues discussed apply to Rural Alaska. Highly recommended!

Arranging appointments and studying Thai

I transferred all my Thai words that I have accumulated to 3 X 5 cards this morning. It took two and a half stacks of cards to get caught up. Know I need to study them:(

Downloading updates is too slow, even with a good dial up connection. My computer is slowing to a crawl and only 1% of the update is downloaded. It is the monthly Microsoft update.

Yesterday there was a storefront class in a shop house. It was a private English and computer skills school. The classroom was full, about 20 students, it was about 2:00 in the afternoon. I remember in Fairbanks when there were two private computer schools. I forget there names, one was over in the Northward building. Many people took courses from them for vocational purposes. By the middle 90's most of them were gone. I still meet students who say they got training from those schools, most are coming back to get training again from us. In Fairbanks we still have one excellent private computer school, Northstar Computing, they do a good job and have been around for a long time.

I wrote to the Human Development Foundation in Klong Toey to arrange a visit. I emailed them before, but did not get an answer. The foundation is supposed to be providing computer training and I am interested in what they are doing. I have seen the Klong Toey area from the bus and from the Express Way. I would like to learn more. I could provide some teaching if appropriate, and if there is a way to work around my Thai ignorance. I also could do a photo essay to document some of the foundation activities. For information on the foundation you can go to http://www.fatherjoe.org/
If I do not get an email response in the next couple days we will use the phone! I forget sometimes that there are other methods of communication.

I wrote Woody Leonhard, an excellent computer book author that I have used for a reference for many of my courses. I would love to arrange a visit. He lives in Phuket. I hope he answers his email. I found a reference to him owning a bakery in Phuket. He also has a new web site for computer and office information. The URL is http://askwoody.com/

Finally I wrote to the Virtual Hill Tribe Museum in Chiang Rai. The Virtual Hill Tribe Museum is an excellent web site that effectively communicates important issues and provides a means for community development. I find the site inspirational. I think many of the projects of the Virtual Hill Tribe Museum could be applied to Rural Alaska. The web address is http://www.hilltribe.org/

Jit and her dad and going to take her mom to the hospital today. Last time we went I was not much use, so I am staying home, working on Thai language exercises and arranging future appointments.

We got the film back yesterday, some of them look good. I will post some pictures later today or tomorrow. I also need to edit the pictures for the community meeting so I can get them printed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

PCWorld.com - Taiwan Tests Island-Wide WiMaxh

PCWorld.com - Taiwan Tests Island-Wide WiMax

I hope to visit the WiMax demonstration at Samkha village of Mae Tha in Lampang if I can get a good contact. We hope to do our traveling in November if it works out. WiMax is very exciting technology.


One of our passengers was Jit's uncle, he is over 80. When we got to the mechanic's shop this little girl came out and said "Grandpa let me help you out." She took him by the hand and led him to a seat in the shade.


One of our passengers was Jit's uncle, he is over 80. When we got to the mechanic's shop this little girl came out and said "Grandpa let me help you out." She took him by the hand and led him to a seat in the shade. We all laughed.


Wat Kong Keao


Wat Kong Keao


Wat Kong Keao


Big Monk day, stuck in a puddle, and a wonderful meal. A good day.

Big Monk day, stuck in a puddle, and a wonderful meal. A good day.

We got up early and went to Big Monk day at one of the local Wats. I can not get clear which Wat the monks come from each morning. I think they might come from two or three different Wats. Anyway everybody prepared food and different families laid out there food on tables around the Wat. There was a small float and as the float circled the temple people made donations. The monks were following and stopped at each table and accepted food from the families. It is, I think, part of the ending of the rainy season. It was pretty interesting. I was glad to go. I took many pictures, most of them with film, so pictures will be later. I think the idea was to give a meal, dessert, and a drink to each monk. It was very relaxed and informal.

Normally Monks make the rounds of the community to get their morning food. The Wat and the community must have a close relationship because without community support there would be no Wat.

One thing though, the dogs around the Wat were in terrible shape. Mange, very thin, with obvious physical problems. I would think that if a Wat respected life they would take care of the dogs that congregate around their Wat, but what do I know. It was pretty sad seeing some of the dogs.

We were invited to take a trip with the local family that we rode to the Wat, 12 people in the car. We went to the mouth of the Chao Phraya river. The name of the fort we visited was the Chulachomklao Fort Naval History Park and the HTMS Mae Khlong Museum. There was a decommissioned Thai destroyer that had been made into a monument. There was also a fort with old guns and a statue of Rama V. The Fort was near the mouth of the Chao Phraya river. We also had an excellent seafood lunch at the Park. The driver, Na Rong Rit, had forgotten his drivers license so he used Jit's. He said he was driving for Jit, it all worked out and we got into the Park.

On the way down we went through the flooded area again that we saw on Sunday. The flooding must not be from a storm, but from the tide in the river. Many areas were flooded. It looks like they are rebuilding the road and also putting in drainage. It was a muddy mess. The car stalled in a puddle and would not start. I thought it sounded bad. We got a mechanic and it turned out to be the battery. The engine sounded bad because it was a Diesel. I was already planning how we could take taxi's back, it would have taken three of them, but the mechanic fixed the car. We drove to the mechanic's shop and got a new battery. Everything worked out and it became an experience, not a problem.

At the mechanic's shop was a BBQ place that had pots of charcoal, they even provided delivery. When we were there a motorbike dropped one of the BBQ pots by the shop. I guess there is a market in the area in the evening.

One of our passengers was Jit's uncle, he is over 80. When we got to the mechanic's shop this little girl came out and said "Grandpa let me help you out." She took him by the hand and led him to a seat in the shade. We all laughed. The girl must have been about 5 or 6. It was great to see her values.

On the way back I saw the "Country City Study Centre "with a sub title "Study In Australia" the whole place looked pretty shabby, but it is a sign of the demand and desire for international education in Thailand.

Nuck is still in the hospital. She is supposed to be getting an operation on her thyroid. We heard that she is still waiting for the doctor to perform the operation. I hope everything turns out OK. She is a wonderful kid. Anybody that can teach me something is a pretty good teacher!!

When we got home we parked by the park gate. A motorbike shuttle was used to haul the kids and old people home. I did not qualify as an old person.

We got a call from Alaska, we do not know who it was, but they spoke Thai. It was not Surinam, because Jit's dad would recognize her, maybe Lumpoo or Tassanee. I worry when we get a call from Alaska.

A really great day that could have been a big stressful mess.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Assumption College, Lerdsin Hospital, and the Rare Stone Museum.

Lumpoo called this morning from Fairbanks Alaska. It was great to hear from her. It sounds like she is doing well. I sent her the URL for Richard's web log on Thai food.

We went to Lerdsin Hospital today to visit Nuke. We went with Juke. We drove a different way and I got to see the absurd empty Sky Train track across the Chao Phraya river at Taksin station. If there was ever a symbol of dysfunctional government that is it. I guess there is some kind of fight over who should control the Sky Train, and because of that a perfectly empty place on a bridge exists for the Sky Train. It is beyond comprehension how a government could not get itself together to get the Sky train across the river. Anyway for more details see 2Bangkok.com. It really is unbelievable though.

After visiting for awhile Juke, Jit, and I went for a walk. We went to a Wat that looked like a boat, we went to Assumption College and Cathedral. The Pope visited the cathedral in 2000. I can not figure out the relationship between Assumption University and Assumption College. The atmosphere is very different.

We walked up New Road to the Rare Stone Museum. The URL for the museum is www.rarestonemuseum.com. The museum really is interesting, many different kinds of stones, an ash tray museum, and an archive of contemporary documentation of Chinese news about the Thai Chinese community. There was even a long walk over stones to massage your feet. The most amazing thing though was the names on some of the stones.

I listed some of the more evocative titles:

Mushroom cloud of an A bomb
A competition of penises
Habitat in the deep white cloud
Expected rain in mountain
Looking short while on high
The blew lotus by autumnal wind
Eagle broken in Wings
Tempting snake out of the hole
The goat looks on the moon
Attacking the Pearl Harbour
The Monkey King and his Piggy Colleague
Sky-mending angel
Stone-holding forever
A stone displaying worldly pleasure
The remains of lotus listening to sing of rain
Flowers blooming on an iron tree

There were three floors to the museum. I was surprised by how interesting it was, but it was an idiosyncratic collection from a strong and interesting human. Most uniquely individual expressions of creativity are interesting. I do not think that a committee had a thing to do with the museum or the collection. It is worth a visit, I really liked it.

When we left we walked back to the hospital, we stopped and picked up some street food and purchased many items for the house dedication. There was a whole store to buy things for Buddhist ceremonies.

It is great walking with Juke, he knows the area well, he walks fast, and we are on the street. I took about 5 rolls of film using the Ricoh GR1v, the Ricoh GR21, and a Hexar AF. All the cameras worked well in a street shooting situation. I used color because I am almost out of my Kodak Black and White C41 film.

Tomorrow we are going to visit Nuke again and then Juke is taking us wandering in Chinatown. I have my cameras and film packed and ready to go. Downtown Bangkok is a great place to walk and explore, although the more we walked up New Road the more boring it became.

Nuke is doing well, she is still pretty sore. Hopefully she will be home soon.

I got a nice email from Stuart. He is in Laos but we can arrange a visit when he gets back. Stuart teaches computer and business courses at Bangkok University. He is a refugee from the Internet bubble collapse in the United States. His blog is always interesting. The URL for his blog is http://www.sgtowns.com/

Tomorrow photography in Chinatown!!

Odds and Ends

An odd sign I saw today. On the back of a car a decal saying "Drunk 24 Hours"

People fishing with fishing poles in a canal. Near STOU there is a fishing tackle shop, at least it looks that way from the road. The fishing gear looks like good spinning equipment.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The bus from Bangkorbua to Phapradang


By the bus stop to Phra Pradaeng


Phra Pradaeng


Phra Pradaeng


Phra Pradaeng

Whisky, www,hilltribes.org, and a snake

This morning I took a long walk in the park and then walked down the new village path. The path connects with other communities. I thought it went to the road, but I was wrong. As the path crossed the canal I met three men, they asked me if I wanted whisky. "Yo Whisky, Whisky in Thailand" laughter. I declined, I am an alcoholic. I have not had any alcohol to drink in over 20 years, alcohol still scares me. In Alaska if I ran into a group of people who were drinking I would be scared, in Thailand I was not. I am not sure why. Also I do not think that the incidence of Alcohol related suicide is like Alaska. Meth-amphetamine is a whole other thing and is devastating to peoples core values the way that alcohol can destroy a persons self-image in Alaska. Anyway. I have many places to explore.

One of our friends drinks 100 Pipers Whisky. There is a whisky glass in his house, on one side it says Friend, on the other "You know who your friends are" When I used to drink alcohol took the place of friendship. A glass like that is a pretty blatant message equating alcohol consumption and friendship, at least it seems like that to me.

In the late afternoon we went to Phra Pradaeng. There was a boat race on the river, large long boats were being rowed very quickly, maybe 14 people to a boat. There was a very enthusiastic announcer. When we went into town to go shopping the race was being broadcast on loudspeakers. Dropped off 11 rolls of film and a CD of pictures to be made. Also picked up another pack of Fuji 400 film. The film and prints should be ready for tomorrow.

Jit got some mattress covers, she already has the packing. Jit's aunt will help her make mattresses for Tone. We also picked up a lot of fruit and vegetables. The road back was fine, the broken poles from yesterday were all cleaned up.

The water was very high today, it was over the path to Jit's old house. A snake came across the path to out house, it was a green snake, not poisonous, but it was another experience.

A phone conversation with John Morris

I called John Morris this morning, we had an excellent conversation, about culture, cultural preservation, processes of cultural change and the similarities and differences between Alaska and the Hill Tribes of Thailand. He described teaching people to use the computers, starting with MSN Messenger, and then letting curiosity lead people to other computer skills including web publishing. We talked about the forces of cultural assimilation and the deep lose to human knowledge and experience when a language is lost. John was aware of the Eyak experience in Alaska.

For me, our brief conversation confirmed my hypothesis that the internet is the key technology that will motivate people to use technology, it is not computers. If there is excellent internet access then affordable computers becomes important, but affordable computers, without the internet is not a motivating technology.

Next Wednesday or Thursday John will be in Bangkok. He is on his way to Kentucky for a visit. I am looking forward to our visit. We have many experiences and beliefs in common. It was an excellent conversation hopefully to be continued.

To see the work the John accomplished visit the Virtual Hill Tribe Museum visit http://www.hilltribe.org/. I would recommend that anybody who is interested in rural Alaska visit and explore this web site in depth. There are many projects and activities that we could emulate in Alaska. There are many common experiences and problems shared between the Hill Tribes of Thailand and the Alaska Native cultures of Alaska. A highly recommended web site.

Planting trees, Chinatown, and a blocked road

I just got up, I am preparing to write the blog from yesterday. A Monk just walked by, collecting food. The color of his robes, saffron, is beautiful in the morning light. His collection bag is also a beautiful blue. The sun is coming up a little later now. I see a squirrel like creature in the palms. It is fall light, even in Thailand. A crow just flew by, cawing. Another fall sound. Soon it will be 90 degrees, and that is not fall at all.

Yesterday we had a tree planting ceremony in the park. I think the King's mother is known for her love of nature. The different people from different muu's gathered at the park headquarters, there were many speeches and people picked up palms trees that were ready to plant. There were also some trees that were placed in the ground ready to be surrounded with dirt. I helped Jit and Juke each plant a tree. A few people took pictures of the Farang planting trees. We got a late start for the hospital.

When we got to the hospital we found out that Nuke was going to be released. We ordered Pizza Hut pizza to be delivered. It was good.

We took off to Chinatown. I went with Nick, Nuke's sister, Juke, and Jit. We would be back around 4:00 to get Nuke and Tuke, Nukes mother, out of the hospital.

Juke is great at getting across streets he just barges in during a gap, raises his hand, and goes, it is important to stay under his protection. He grew up in the area and knows his way around. We took one of the green buses to the Golden Buddha and started there. Describing Chinatown is overwhelming, layers of impressions, experiences, sounds, smells, heat, taking pictures is very unpredictable. Everywhere is a decisive moment, which means that it is next to impossible to catch a decisive moment, there is an interesting face, look at that dark store, there are some people talking, look at that family, see that building, look at that sign, see that man, you get the idea, there are things to notice everywhere at all times....I love it.

We went through a dense narrow alley that was renovated and covered with some kind of translucent roof at the third floor level. It was packed, cloth, food, trinkets, clothes were being sold at all areas, Vespa's would navigate through the crowd making deliveries, carts would also come through, even without the extra traffic, it was packed. What is amazing is that it all worked, people moved, deliveries were made, carts navigated, and smiles were exchanged. When we left the alley we entered a hot street, the light was low and the smoke was easy to see. We went through another short alley with a restaurant. The stove was an intense charcoal fire in a stone fireplace, hot to hot! It was amazing. I took six rolls of 36 exposure film. I used some 800 ISO Fuji print film so I could get some faster shutter speeds. I have no idea how the pictures will look, but the experience of picture taking was fantastic. We took a green bus to Silom, walked a little and saw a Hindu like Buddhist Wat, and then took a taxi back to the hotel. It was about 4 hours of intense experience.

We check out of the hospital and started to go home, stopped briefly at Big C. When we started to go through Phra Pradaeng there was a big traffic jam. At the isthmus to the peninsula that we live on, just past the canal, a truck had knocked down four electrical poles, there was live electricity, we were told this, and the traffic was snarled. After much waiting, using a short cut, watching motorbikes navigate through the mess, and seeing long lines of trucks waiting beside the road, we got home. When we passed the fallen poles there were wires draped over a pickup truck with Picnic Gas bottles. My poor imagination could visualize a disaster. For awhile it looked impossible to get through, but we did, people worked together with humor and grace, but I must say I was very tired when we got home. I could feel I was emotionally exhausted.

Random observations and experiences

I saw interesting signs, Smith and Nephew on the side of a truck, Shrewsbury International School, Piron Silp with a picture of Che Guevera on the side window of a delivery truck, Dr. Artist, and Apache Toys on a car.

There are many excellent condition VW bugs in Bangkok, the original air cooled ones. Many of them look modified. I wonder how they handle air conditioning.

I have been noticing a few very ugly cars, modern, that I can not recognize. They are sort of an ungainly SUV. I looked at Malaysian, Indian, and Chinese cars and nothing was similar. I finally found a Thai web site and they mentioned a Korean car that I had not seen before, something like Ssangyong. I looked at the web site and it was there. Another important puzzle solved. I am a car nut and read, or used to read, Autoweek so I recognize most cars.

The uniforms on parking attendants are too much. Some wear beret's, others full helmets, there are even campaign ribbons on their uniforms. I looked carefully to see if they were off duty soldiers, but there was a logo identifying a security company on their uniform. I think our friend Sutep ran the company that helped provide security for Tesco-Lotus. They also, thankfully, do not have guns. The security officers in downtown Fairbanks are also too much, they even were bullet proof vests and big fancy boots. It is really pretentious to me, boys dressing up with their toys. Grrr.....

There has been very low water pressure, or no water, for the last few days. What I think was explained to me is that there is a shortage of electricity. When the electric pump comes on for community water distribution the lack of electricity hurts the motor. They are missing a part for the motor. I guess there is a chronic shortage of electricity because people have air conditioners for their bedrooms. People collect rain water in large tanks so people have some water. We also use rain, or bottled water for drinking. The problem is the lack of water for sinks, toilets, and showers. You can also get water from the canals to use for something. It is much less of a crisis then it would be in an American town. People adapt.

Jit's uncle is helping to clear one of the islands of the "farm" of grass. He is the eighty year old man in the pictures. He is amazing.

Today we will go into Phra Pradaeng to drop off twelve rolls of film. Next week I will go to STOU for a meeting on e-learning with a professor from Australia. I have confirmation from three of the four contacts that I tried to make last week. We will need to call the Klong Toey project because they do not answer their email. After the house is dedicated we will start doing some traveling. It is hard to imagine, time goes fast, but we have only four more months in Thailand.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bangkok Post `LUNG' UNDER THREAT Bang Krachao eyed by greedy speculators


Bang Krachao eyed by greedy speculators

When referring to kraprawh moo, food connoisseurs might initially think of the pig offal used as a tasty ingredient in the Chinese noodle soup called khiew jab . But for nature lovers, the name also refers to Bang Krachao, a vast area of green space located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Samut Prakan province. The name refers to the location's unusual shape.

``If you look down from an aircraft, you can see the vast green forest, which takes that shape. But I regard this area as a lung, since it is one of the largest `green' spaces around Bangkok,'' said Sumeth Sirilak, an official from the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, which is responsible for the Sri Nakhon Kuen Khan public park in Bang Krachao.

Covering 11,810 rai in six sub-districts of Samut Prakan's Phra Pradaeng district, Bang Krachao, which is rich in mangrove palm or ton jaak, can boast that it is one of just a handful of orchards near the capital. It can be reached in just a few minutes by long-tail boat from Klong Toey.

The area was originally known as an early settlement for the Mon people, an ethnic Burmese group who migrated to Thailand more than 200 years ago. Locals can still make a living from the orchards, providing an occupation harmonious with nature. The area is sparsely populated, with only 40,000 residents.

In 1977, the government approved a plan to develop Bang Krachao into a garden city, similar to Singapore's Sentosa Island. About 3.2 billion baht was used in the project, which included a small park called Sri Nakhon Kuenkhan, which was opened in 2003, and a flood prevention wall.

In order to achieve the goal, the government issued a land expropriation decree to reclaim all private property, only to face strong opposition from locals. As a result, only 1,276 rai, accounting for 10% of the total area, was appropriated.

A strict town planning code, which prohibits high-rise buildings and large factories and real estate, contributes enormously to the maintenance of Bang Krachao's ``green'' attributes.

Recently, local conservationists who joined together under the Kraprawh Moo Bang Krachao Environmental Protection Group conducted a campaign for another strict municipal code that, if effective, would oblige residents who cut down trees or clear land for sale to plant new ones.

Charnchai Julameth, head of the group, said Bang Krachao is facing threats and precautions were urgently needed regarding an increase in land development activities. About 20 rai of green space had been destroyed as private land owners levelled their land for sale.

Some land owners had tried to reclaim land, and some had even built private piers over mangrove forest. The group is actively trying to convince the private land owners to save the valuable green space.

``Development brings problems with it. The launch of the industrial ring road project has pushed up land prices. Many people want to level their land for sale,'' said Mr Charnchai, who is also kamnan of Bang Krachao sub-district.

When opened next year, the industrial ring road, which links Suk Sawat Road in Phra Pradaeng district to Rama III Road near Sathon and Pu Chao Saming Phrai Road on the east side, will open up Bang Krachao, making it more appealing to land developers.

Last year, there were reports that a US-based film studio had shown interest in opening a low-rise studio, while several apparently well-off people were said to have begun buying up land on which to build houses.

Mr Sumeth said land prices have increased three-fold over recent years. Riverfront plots could fetch as much as five million baht per rai.

LT3 - The New Classroom Faculty Series

LT3 - The New Classroom Faculty Series

I will be attending this workshop Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It sounds interesting and relevant.

Monday, October 24, 2005

A great picture of the Bang Krachow area from 2bangkok.com. I could not link directly to the picture. 2bangkok.com is a great site. The photo is by Don Entz

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Lung, Photographs, the kitchen is done, and a Seminar at STOU.

Sunday 10/23

There was an article in the Bangkok Post today about the Bang Krachow area. I saw it online, in the area that I live, and even at both Big C's, I can not get the Bangkok Post or The Nation, so I still read the newspapers on the Internet, just like in Alaska. I copied the article and Jit translated it for Juke. I wished people had Internet access because information like the newspaper article are crucial for the community decision making. I wonder how the new road, that was approved at the community meeting, relates to the developments discussed in the newspaper article?

I did three Thai lessons and am making some progress, still very slow, but progress. We went with Juke in the afternoon to drop by the film and the CD for printing.

It was a productive day.

Monday 10/24

Today was cool and cloudy, relatively speaking of course. There was heavy rain last night.

We walked to catch the bus and went to Phra Pradaeng to get the pictures, we then took a taxi to Kong Chai to look at a stand for the stove. We saw a cabinet and also ordered another set of shelves for the kitchen. We actually had a fully cooked meal at home. The kitchen, the cupboards, the sink, and the laundry are all working, we even have water. I might get spoiled.

We also went and did a large shopping at Big C so that we could use our working kitchen. We even ate at KFC which was just the same as in the United States. KFC makes me feel fat in the USA and I feel the same way in Thailand. At least I tried it once, but not again.

The pictures look good, I am still looking through them, throwing out the pictures that have no value, and letting other pictures "simmer". Many of the pictures do capture the Chinatown experience. I think that I might try to start organizing a web site with my Thai pictures. The problem will be uploading them with the poor bandwidth. Maybe I can load them on a CD and take them to STOU. I know that my Blog is getting too slow because of all my pictures.

I gave Juke the pictures of the community meeting. I hope that people keep the pictures and look back at them for memories.

Tuesday 10/25

It has been cloudy and cool for three days, it is nice, but the light is sort of ugly for photographs. We went to STOU for the seminar with Leslie Richards from Waterloo University. The seminar is excellent, practical, pointed in its opinions, and very useful. It would be great to bring Leslie Richard to Alaska for the College of Rural and Community Development. His perspective on technology and learning is practical and refreshing. You can read the previous blog entry to see the seminar content. I am very satisfied with the content and it is fun to meet more of the professors at STOU. No surprises or traffic jams.

Tomorrow we will go to the seminar again and then, during lunch, go to the Siam Discovery center to meet with John Morris of Virtual Hill Tribes Musuem.

This morning when we got off the boat there was a person playing a single string Thai musical instrument. The sound was moving and evocative, it tugged at my feelings.

I visited Counseling Center at STOU and they are experimenting with my database. There are over 300 records entered in the database. It was strange to see it in Thai. I demonstrated Filter by Selection. I also had a great cup of real coffee at our favorite coffee shop at STOU. I was looking forward to the coffee and it was as good as I was hoping for.

I also got some information about Summer School. It looks like I will get to teach Digital Photography which should be fun, I really want to teach Digital Photography during the summer. I have many photo assignments ready for the students.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wat Kong Keao


Chinatown, Bangkok


Bangkok, downtown.


Bangkok, State Tower


A picture from Chinatown

The New Classroom, The Virtual Hill Tribe Museum, and another new Bangkok experience.

The New Classroom, The Virtual Hill Tribe Museum, and another new Bangkok experience.

The New Classroom :Rethinking Learning for e-Learning is based on a creating tasks for students as a method of teaching. You can see the previous blog entry for more detail as to the workshop content. Essentially creating tasks takes priority over creating course content. By creating tasks you are creating rich, focused expectations with a clear method of coaching and feedback for student learning. Everything that I hear in this workshop I agree with, it has been very valuable.

Last night, when I was not sleeping I realized that the CIOS 211 Providing Computer Support course and the Information Technology Specialist Certification Review are both a form of task based learning. I do not think that either the course or the certification review are a complete implementation of the concept, but they contain the germ of the insights discussed at the workshop. When I revise my Excel course and whatever additional courses that I create I will embed tasks more deeply into my courses. You can see my previous course syllabi at http://www.faculty.uaf.edu/ffsdc/syllabus/

We went Siam Discovery center to meet with John Morris who helped create the Virtual Hill Tribes Museum. John is a deep, creative, and thoughtful person to talk with. I enjoyed sharing experiences and perspectives. His experience in the Peace Corp and in Thailand is invaluable. John has been in Thailand for seven years. I felt an affinity with John and found that the conversation re-awakened previous experiences that I had in Alaska. I highly recommend reading his blog at http://www.hilltribe.org/blogs/

After meeting with John we wandered around the Siam center area, a completely different part of Bangkok. Bangkok is amazing, I wander into new areas and see new things on every trip to Bangkok. Bangkok is a city with many semi-autonomous and unique experiences. Maybe it is easier to think of Bangkok as many cities instead of one city. For instance Seattle has one downtown, Bangkok has many downtowns, each with a slightly different focus and atmosphere. I think I could spend a year just getting to know Bangkok and its different neighborhoods and communities. No matter where we go in the Bangkok area it is always a relief to get home. I think I would be overwhelmed, even more, if we did not have an island of rural calm to retreat to.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Chinatown, Bangkok.

Bangkok, Chinatown


Bangkok, Chinatown


Bangkok, Chinatown

STOU, Jargon alert, Scorm, Reload, and Leslie Richards

Another day at STOU, the workshop I have been participating in has been valuable. Not only is the subject interesting the group of faculty members are a joy to work with. Today I will briefly mention some of the workshop jargon. Leslie Richards is doing an excellent job or exploring the material. One of the purposes of my blog is to document my sabbatical and some of the information, in the workshop today will be immediately valuable.

We saw examples of e-portfolios, we looked at a free course management system called Moogle, and also looked at a software package, Reload, that will take a well constructed web site and convert it to SCORM compatible modules for importation into a course management package. It looks pretty cool. There is some valuable information to explore.

We also looked at LearningMapR, which when it is released, will help the creation of task based courses. I especially was intrigued with the idea of 90 examples of task based exercises that could be used for inspiration. I am eagerly anticipating seeing the task examples and structures. The tool looks useful and practical.

Finally we saw an excellent resume writing set of tasks integrated into the University of Waterloo learning management system. I was very impressed with this tool and would love to adapt something similar into our advising at TVC.

Before we went to the seminar we stopped at our favorite coffee shop at STOU. I was looking at the Thai newspapers. There were a couple computer ads. HP was advertising some Compaq notebooks with the "DOS operating system." I am sure they meant Windows XP, but it was curious. A fairly well configured notebook was around a $1,000. There was also an ad for some desktop computers with Intel processors. The best configured model, with an 80gb hard disk and 512mb of memory was about $500. There were advertised as Family PC's. The computers that I see at Big C usually have 256mb of memory, which is pretty slim.

We visited Nednapa during lunch. I really like visiting the people at the counseling section. The Access database is being used, I think it is the first Access database that I have created that is really useful. We looked at creating a lookup field for disabilities. Dr Sumalee was also at the workshop today. I really like to see people that I have worked with. There is a chance I will be able to participate in another adult education graduate seminar.

It looks like my next assignment area at STOU is getting clarified. People seem to know what I am doing before I do! I think Jit is my agent! I believe I will be looking at courseware and educational design.

I got my immigration letter from STOU. We will try to go the department of Immigration tomorrow or Monday. I want to make sure that my Visa will be extended until we leave, I do not like to encounter governmental decision makers. Anyway we have the letter and will need to get my Visa extension.

This morning as we were waiting for the motorbike to take us to the dock I was looking for the snake, I am not sure I really wanted to find it. Anyway I felt some water falling on me from raindrops the tree I was under, as I looked up a squirrel ran up the tree, It was pretty cool, no snake and a squirrel. There was also a dove in the next tree, it was very fresh and pretty out because of the rain last night, a beautiful morning.

When we got to the Klong Toey pier I saw the devastated women in black, but she was wearing a new outfit, flowered pants, she was still in her same perch and very dirty. Somebody must of intervened a little to get some new clothes for her. She is so out of it, it is scary. Some people are really heartbreaking. Last night when we crossed on the boat a very inebriated man in a cowboy hat and long hair rode across. This morning he was walking to the boat to cross the river again. I am not sure if I am seeing the effect of alcohol, drugs, or mental illness, but there are some very lost people. It is a real challenge to think about photographing devastated people. Usually I do not, the photograph might be powerful, but I sort of feel like I would be stealing, maybe it is just lack of courage. I know, because of some experiences in Alaska, I do not reach out to devastated people. I am not sure what I would communicate or what I could do. I need to reflect on these experiences.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Immigration, turtle heads, watching bread, and a dog.

They were working on the road all night, we can hear the truck come and go. I think the road is getting near the old house. I hope the road does not change things too much. I think they haul fill at night because of the traffic, but I am not sure.

We went to Immigration to get my Visa extended until we leave. I guess, even though the Visa was a six month Visa, that you need to report every 90 days. It was confusing. There were layers of signatures, getting numbers to wait, many different choices, I could not hear the numbers and did not really have a clue as to what was happening. I just could not de-code the layers of processes going on. Jit handled it and it all worked out, but I am not sure what I would have done without Jit. I do not like the feeling of powerlessness that I have when I face bureaucracy. Anyway it worked, my VISA, even though it was already a 6 month Visa, needed to be reviewed in 90 days. It cost 1,900 Baht, about $50 for the extension. Even though my Visa is now good until I leave I still need to report to immigration again in 90 days. Oh well......

We went to Pantip Plaza, it was much more active and interesting then the IT shopping center at Zeer. There were many notebooks and digital camera places. On the first floor I kept getting persistently approached to buy DVD's and Software. Sort of irritating. I did not look at the software in detail, but with the need to upgrade and patch software I am not sure if it is worth it anymore. It was pretty interesting though, and there was still a lot of IT energy.

After getting home Jit went to sleep, I think she exhausted herself during the last week. I read the Bangkok Post and then looked around outside. I threw a small piece of bread into the canal by the house. I watched it until it disappeared, it took about 25 minutes, small six inch fish would periodically nibble on the bread. I also saw a large turtle head twice, it was sort of lumpy looking. I had not seen that before. A few years ago, in the fall, I sat by a beaver pond and just watched, there were ripples and a beaver showed up, I heard a splash, and through the growth, I could see a moose. Just watching nature is a joy, but it takes a little to calm down and watch.

Yesterday I saw a really beat up dog, it had some sort of skin disease, similar to the black dog that I posted pictures of. The dogs skin was loose and wrinkled, it looked like elephant skin. The dog did not scratch or anything and its nose was wet, so it might actually be healthy internally. By the skin was loose, almost baggy, and wrinkled looking. There was only a little hair left. Sort of odd. I was not in a good place to take a picture.

I posted some pictures from downtown Bangkok the last two days, there are many more. I am anxious to return to the area to do more photography. I backed up all my photographs onto DVD disks because I am running out of hard disk space. It feels good to have backups.

This sabbatical has been very good for Jit. Working as a partnership and being included in all the meetings and activities has re-awakened Jit's interest in going to college. She is thinking deeply about what she want to do with her talent and ability. It is great to see her sense of potential re-awakening.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bopae Market, a boat with no pilot, and some sadness.

Friday October 28th

I thought I should explain Pantip Palace. Pantip Palace is a large, I think six story technology department store. There are hundreds of shops each selling technology. Everything from used equipment, to digital cameras, to all kinds of computers. Some of the stores are actually factory run. The selection is amazing, the prices are not especially cheap, except for copied software and DVD's.

Last night at Juke's house I saw the 100 Pipers Glass again. The exact wording of the glass is "Only you know what is real." and then on the other side "Real Friend"

Yesterday we had another amazing experience, but I only realized it when I reflected on the day. When we got to the Klong Toey dock to get on the boat we paid and got on. I only then realized that there was no pilot or boat driver. The pilot was on shore getting some Pepsi. The boat was in gear, the throttle was set, and the boat was nudged against the dock so that people could get on, but there was no driver! The pilot then got on board and we took off. My poor imagination can fill in many possibilities with disasters. I guess it takes some faith to live in Thailand. If you are not in the present moment you can die! Maybe it is a form of meditation. I know if I was preoccupied and not paying attention I would get hurt.

We had a good discussion and meal at Juke's house, Nick and Nuck will go with us to Bopae Market. We will get up at 5:00 AM

Saturday October 29th

We got late start, we left at 5:45, but the light was just right. My goal for this trip is to take pictures. I will use the Voigtlander Bessa R2a with the 50mm and the 75mm lens. Just experimenting with a different view. I also will use the Ricoh GR1v. The light is beautiful in the morning, very pastel and shaded, hopefully the pictures will show the effect.

Bangkok is a very hard working city. People are up getting to work and getting organized for the day. It is already busy in the morning, it is a great time to wander and take photographs. The Bopae market is a huge clothing market, early in the morning people set up booths up and down the street. There are many permanent stores and factories in the area for clothing. The Market encloses the base of the Prince Palace hotel where we stayed in 2004. By 9:00 AM all the temporary stalls are removed and only the permanent clothes sellers remain. This goes on seven days a week. I really like the area. The canal also goes through the area with the canal boats roaring up and down carrying passengers. There is a large mosque also in the area. The Bope area, and the Prince Palace hotel is a great place to explore. I took many photographs.

There are many weird and profound T Shirt slogans in the market. One that I think is awesome is:
No Concept
No Ideas
No Tears

Nick and Nuck are great traveling companions, they make me laugh with there perspective on life. It was fun having them with us. We took the small boat across and back so we could walk. At least with the small boat we can be sure there is a pilot on board! We met Jit's dad and Nuck's mother on the way back home. They were heading into town.

There were loudspeakers from a truck when we got back from the market. They were getting people to sign up for the government health program, I think.

We donated to the temple, we are registered in the temple under the Cysewski name. I saw our name in Thai, but it is still incomprehensible!

There are at least four kids in this community who are aides orphans and are being taken care of by their extended family. When people explain they say drugs and Aids. There are a lot of subtle things that are going on in this community that I do not see, some people are taken care of better then others, but I do not see the difference.

When we got home we found out that Jit's aunt died, the one we visited in the Pak Kret area. There will be a ceremony at 4:00. Many people in the community are organizing to attend. She had a long battle with cancer, I think it was of the liver.

According to Jit I can take pictures. I am getting ready. I will use the 28mm 1.9 and the 40mm 1.4 lens with 800 speed film. I do not want to impose on the process, but I do hope that I can take some pictures for peoples memories.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Around the house




Walking home from the bus ride to Phra Pradaeng


Wat Bangkrachao Nok,


The New Classroom :Rethinking Learning for e-Learning workshop participants at STOU. The workshop was an excellent three day experience.

Bopae, Wat Bangkrachao Nok, and Kathin

The proper spelling, according to the map, for the area we explored Saturday is Bopae. Getting meaningful and consistent spellings is difficult.

On our trip Saturday and Sunday I noticed a couple signs and a few random observations..
Sign on a beauty parlor, Fly Heart.
Sign on the back of a shirt, What Drives You.
At the temple last night there was a small poodle with a coat, sort of like those coats that are used to keep a dog warm!

In addition to the large river boat not having a driver, sometimes, the engine is dangerous. The engine is set in the center of the aft portion of the boat. People sit around the engine. There is no protection from the pulleys and the exhaust. Peoples clothes could get caught in the pulleys and belts, people could get burnt. People sit right in front of the fly wheel. None of these disasters has happened that I have heard about, but the potential is real. People walk right by the running motor when they go to the back of the boat. The engine is in pretty poor condition, with rags and wires holding things together. Some of the boats have the driver in the rear, others in the front, some of the boats have the engine in better condition, but all of the boats have an exposed engine. One thing about the boats is beautiful, the grain and wear of the wood.

When we were at Bopae the river boats were going by, I love to watch them. The boats are powerful and run up and down the canal making large waves. They are like large buses in capacity. It is exciting to see and hear them go through the canals. Most times there are two men, one at the bow and other at the stern that hold the boat close to the dock as people jump on and off. One of the boats only had a person at the front so the aft portion of the boat drifted away from the dock. There was a women caught between the boat and the dock with a heavy load of clothes. She got back on the dock, people helped her with her clothes, and she made it. People really do help each other in Thailand.

We went to the Wat Bangkrachao Nok this morning. The ceremony was called, I think Kathin. People brought new robes for the monks to wear. There was food preparation and a meal for the Monks, after the Monks ate the community ate. What was amazing was the group of drummers that were at the temple. They played and then they led a procession around the temple three times, the women were dancing, the rhythm was exciting. I think the drum group travels and does it for a living. It was wonderful to hear. After the procession around the temple there was a ceremony inside, the new robes were put on, and them we went to another building to feed the monks. The meal needed to be done by 12:00 because the Monks are not supposed to eat after noon. I took some pictures, and was encouraged to take more pictures, but I felt awkward. Some times I am torn between the tension of participation and observation. I also do not want to be rude or thoughtless in my pursuit of photographs. Today I participated and observed at different times.

Coming back we were going to walk, I guess there is a short cut, but then we all rode in the back of a pickup. There must of been about 12 women, almost my age, riding in the back of the truck. Many of the women I had not seen before. They are on the path to the small boat dock. I think that there is a way, using concrete paths, to get to the Wat quickly. I want to learn the paths. Naturally I was an opportunity for teasing and comments on the return trip. It was fun. I took a few pictures. When they found out that I was 60 one women mentioned that I had good teeth, I guess everything is relative!

Today, during the dancing procession, there was a drunk women dancing in front of the other women. After words she tried to talk with me a little. It was awkward.

Tonight we go back to the funereal ceremony. I need to get the pictures to Phra Pradaeng to get developed. I will then edit them and have them printed to give to the family.

Ksanjai Temeyachat

Last night we drove to the funereal ceremony for Jit's aunt, Ksanjai Temeyachat. I was hesitant to take pictures, but other people were, and then I was invited, especially when the memory card got full. I had to run to get ready for putting the body into the coffin. I took many pictures. The light, in the evening, was terrible, high fluorescent bulbs, so I know I will need to do some work to make the presentable. The light was OK in the beginning. I tried to focus on the relatives and the son and daughters. I hope that the pictures are going to be OK, there are a lot of memories depending on my photography.

The ceremony was similar to the one for Sutep in Fairbanks, the chanting and the community participation. I do not understand all the symbolism in the ritual. Jit's uncle was hesitant to come, his feelings were too intense, Jit, Juke, Tuke, Nuck and Nick walked to his house to encourage him to come. I tagged along. The house was in a compound surrounded by higher buildings, there were three or four traditional Thai wood houses. Jit's uncle is a very dignified man and his grief was very deep and very restrained. You could feel the intensity of his loss. He agreed to come and we rode back in two Tuk-Tuks.

Many people gathered around him with compassion, touched him with reassurance, and let him speak. At the end of the ceremony he want up to the front with his two daughters and his son. It was very deep. As we left people were putting the chairs away and his chair was the only one remaining and occupied. People were with him. His wife had been in the hospital for a couple months, going home alone, after spending a life together, must be very difficult.

Jit's uncle had suffered a stroke about a year ago, but has recovered his abilities. He was a school principal. His home was decorated with tropical pictures. On the wall was a very handsome picture of him, it looks like he was a movie star. He is tall, with gray well groomed and combed hair. What I can not express, is the dignity and depth of his grief. He made a comment that he would go to Alaska because he needs friends now. The picture of his wife looks very different from the women that I saw in the hospital and in the coffin. She was a pharmacist. She was in her middle sixties.

There will be three more days of ceremony before the cremation. Jit's nephew will go through the ritual of becoming a monk. I believe that this helps a person make the transition to death. Hyde, Surinam son, did the same thing for Sutep in Fairbanks. We will go to the ceremony again tonight.

Juke and Nuke could not participate, they had to stay back because they both had injuries. I was also told to wash my face after taking the pictures. There is some echo of being careful of spirits of the dead. None of this extra dimension lessened or diminished the care of compassion or grief that was being expressed and soothed and the funereal.

I have about 15 rolls of film to develop from the last few days. Tomorrow in the morning we will go to a ceremony at the local temple.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Fishing with a slingshot, random observations and the funeral.

After attending the ceremony at the Wat Bangkrachao Nok yesterday morning and the funeral ceremony the last two days I am starting to see a pattern. It reminds me when I first attended a Catholic church ceremony, I could not figure out how the people knew what was going on. After attending for awhile I began to see the pattern. In fact I see many of the same patterns that I observed in the ceremony for Sutep in Fairbanks.

Yesterday morning, at the Kathin ceremony at Wat Bangkrachao Nok I noticed a little boy, maybe seven or eight years old with a couple guns. He was having "fun" shooting his father. He was also wearing camouflage pants. He was slightly overweight and looked indulged. In Fairbanks when we had visitors I had them check their toy guns at the door!

I have seen people, a couple times walk and up and down the canal with a slingshot, they are fishing. I have not seen any success yet. I even saw one person trying to fish with a pellet gun. So far I have not seen a fish large enough to shoot, but they must be there.

The road is getting near and it is a mess, they cut down the palm fronds that surround Jit's old house. The house is much more exposed. I am still unclear exactly how the road will be routed. I think it will eventually go to the river near the small boat dock. I am assuming, with no facts, that eventually more houses are going to be built. It is hard to imagine the investment in the road without some method of earning money.

Yesterday as we were returning from the ceremony at the Wat Bangkrachao Nok I saw a Lotus sports car beside the road with its hood up. Sort of surprising, not the hood up, it was a Lotus, but just that it was there.

On the way to the funeral last night I saw a sign on the front of a store, Optimum Brain.

There were many more people attending the funeral last night, there was a series of four distinct chants and people visiting and paying respect.

As we were leaving for the funeral last night Juke put a small leaf in my pocket for protection. After we were at the funeral Jit said many of her mother's relatives were there. I asked why Jit's mom was not going and Jit said it was because she was sick. Somehow attending a funeral makes people who are sick more likely to get worse. I bugged Jit a little, I would think it would be great for her mom to get out and see some of her relatives. Being at home makes her life perspective get pretty small.

We dropped 18 rolls of film by for developing last night. They should be ready to pickup today. I need to select and get pictures printed of the funeral by Thursday so that I can give them to the family.

Tonight Pan, Jit's younger brother will pick us up to go to the funeral. There are two more days of ceremonies and then on Thursday the body will be cremated.

Some of Jit's family members at the funereal, Jit's uncle is on the right.


Jit's Uncle on the right and father on the left.



Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Last night Mali Phomlum died of a heart attack. It was a complete surprise.


Mali Phomlum

Funeral again, some questions and observations, and Durian

Jit tried to get an appointment with the Mercy Foundation in Klong Toey. I have tried their email address twice with no response. We will be persistent. Jit also contacted Nednapa about Dr. Sumaree's adult education seminar.

Jit is organizing the house for the dedication. There is supposed to be a place for 9 monks in a row!

The people building the road broke an electrical line so the community was without electricity for awhile. The road location and end is still very unclear. There is some hints that the road does not have the approval for part of the planned route. We shall see.

Ton went to Phra Pradaeng to get the CD's. I will be busy organizing and editing the pictures. I need to get some of them printed to give to Jit's Uncles family.

When I first came to Jit's community there was no walkway to the house. There was a single beam or board across the canal. The workers threw us a bamboo pole that we could use to help balance as we went across. You put the pole into the bottom of the canal to help provide something to lean on. I had to take a deep breath and come across, and I did. By the time we went across again people had built a simple wood walkway. I guess this story summarizes so many of my Thailand experiences.

Jit's uncle, who is 80 years old is clearing brush on the islands between the canals. Jit calls it mowing the lawn. He comes and works everyday. He is working with his nephew, who is about 25 years old. His nephew has had some troubles in his life and is now trying to do better. I can see Jit's uncle mentoring and teaching his nephew. They create small burn piles to burn some of the brush. Jit's nephew wheels him over in the wheelchair before the cross to the islands to go to work. It is the way it should be.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live here. I have many questions, the language, my role in life, my daughters in Alaska, my love for Alaska, earning an income, the Visa hassle and bureaucracy, photography, keeping two places going, safety, and all my stuff and junk. I wonder sometimes what it will be like when I get home to Alaska.

Pan came over on the boat to see the road and visit the family. We took the boat across and got to the funeral about 5:00. The ceremony starts at 7:00 and is done by around 8:00. I thought I was going to be bored. But then I started listening and watching and wandered around the area. What could I do that was less boring, watch CNN, browse the net, do email, I needed to open my eyes and see what was there. It was not boring.

Why am I in Thailand? I am looking for experiences, visual and emotional. I am looking at who I am? Learning about my values and beliefs. Who have I become? Who will I be? What will I do with the rest of my life? If an opportunity appears and the door opens I need to go through the door and learn from the experience. If I start closing doors, building walls, and retreating then I will lose my hope and optimism for life.

When I was wandering I saw stores everywhere, food, lottery tickets, meat on sticks, Pepsi, fresh fruit, ice cream, both packaged and Thai,. I walked down a street near the Wat and there were more stores and carts. When we left after the ceremony each house is a shop front. I saw beauty parlors, barber shops, Internet Cafes, and many different small retail stores I saw Red Bull and beer, motor cycles and Tuk Tuks, dogs wandering and being ignored, or petted, Every street is a community dense with activity. I see vendors on bicycles or carrying things on a pole over the shoulder, honking a bulb horn to announce their arrival. There are layers of communities within communities. When I walked around behind the crematorium I saw monuments with pictures for the memory of dead people. There were many pictures in many different areas of the temple. When I walked into the Wat portion of the temple dogs barked and the Monks yelled at them. A couple young Monks were smoking. The light was dimming and I went back to wait for the ceremony.

When I walk alone I feel anxious. I am not sure why, maybe my introspective shy temperament. Each day I try to extend my limits, but sometimes I just want to retreat.

When we left the ceremony Pan took us to dinner at a fancy Thai restaurant. The food was good and I had a Durian dessert. It tasted OK, but the aftertaste was very persistent.

Tomorrow we will return to the funeral. I think on Wednesday Jit's nephew will go through the process of becoming a Monk. The cremation will be Thursday.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Jit's Uncle


Jit's Uncle

Grandma Lies, why does grandma lie?

Last night, Monday night, Mali Phomlum (Oowon) died of a heart attack. Oowon was on the family trip that we took to Chulachomklao Fort Naval History Park when we got stuck in the puddle with a car that would not start. She brought her grand daughter with her. The kids were great, but near the end they got very tired. They were chanting to go to Big C. Somehow Oowon's daughter thought she was going to get colored paper. She was disappointed and started crying. She kept saying "Why does Grandma lie?" "Grandma lies." in context it was pretty funny and cute. She was very persistent. When we got home Jit cut up some color paper for the kids. I will never forget "Why does Grandma lie?"

Yesterday Oowon's grand daughter went to school in her uniform. She did not know that her grandmother had died. She had been told that her grandmother was cooking. Death is very sad.

There is a difference between feeling grief, and having empathy for people feeling grief. I did not know Jit's aunt or Mali Phomlum well enough to feel grief, but I feel empathy for the people in grief. I have tried, in my photographs, to create a document of the funeral for peoples memories. I have also tried to express the grief that I was seeing. I hope that my photography will be valuable to the community.

Yesterday was spent preparing for the funeral on Mali Phomlun (Oowon). The ceremony is at the Wat next to the Klong Toey dock. We went across about 12:00 so that Jit could help in the food preparation. There were many people from the community. People looked very tired. I wandered around the temple and helped out. There was laughter, sadness, support, conversation, photography, and welcomes as new people arrived. We got home about 9:00.

The community soccer (football) team came as a group to the funeral. They helped carry Oowan's body to the ambulance Monday night. There were many people who are attending both funerals. Being part of a community means sharing both laughter and grief.

I wandered around the Wat and the Klong Toey dock area. In the Wat there was a large vessel for burning Chinese money. The shape of the vessel was very round and the top of the vessel had a chimney that was partially burnt out. I took many pictures. Many people live in the Wat and there is also a school. Back near the river are houses for the Monks to live. There were many robes hanging out to dry. I walked to the river and watched the river traffic for a long time. Large ships, barges, small boats, kids swimming next to the oil terminal, an oil tanker, CP 36 Bangkok Thailand, is docked by the terminal, another tanker is turning in the river and going downstream, the sun is setting, there are layers of life and action.

Jit called her uncle's family to let them know about the death. We will return to the ceremony for Jit's aunt on Wednesday. The ceremonies last about six days between the placement of the body in the coffin, the chanting ceremonies, the ordination of the monk, and the cremation. We will be attending and participating in both ceremonies as we can. Today Jit's family is sponsoring the day's refreshments for Jit's Aunt's funeral. Pon, Git, Run, Jit, and her parents are the sponsors.

Today I will prepare a CD of photographs for printing. I will also send in the film from yesterday for developing. Tonight we will be going to the funeral for Jit's aunt.

Anne emailed yesterday, I will be meeting with the Technology Office at STOU on Thursday.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Boy with gun.


Boy with gun.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Cremation and Walking around the Wat Neighborhood.

Ton went in to down to get the photographs and negatives. We were leaving for Jit's aunt's funeral at 12:00 and wanted the photographs back so I could give them to the family. In the morning I edited pictures from the last week. I found eight more pictures that I needed printed for the family, I had missed them in the initial selection. We managed to get them printed before we left.

When we got to the funeral there was a meal being served, we ate. People moved the casket to a large wagon and then the people went around the crematorium three times surrounding the casket. People were crying and carrying pictures. The casket was then placed on a stand in front of the crematorium and people left to get dressed in their uniforms for the final cremation.

I went for a walk up the street, there was an agonizing skinny cat, probably near death. I can not understand how people with compassion can let a cat be so sick and skinny. Yesterday though I noticed a man in deep despair, very disheveled, sitting on a mattress. there is also the women in black at the 7/11, maybe when people and animals fall too far, they are just ignored and become invisible. It is hard to understand with all the other signs of compassion and concern that I see. I would like to talk with the Monk about his thoughts about what I am seeing.

Keenon came by and I walked with her for awhile. Jit wanted to go get something she saw near her Uncle's house so we walked there with Keenon. I started listing the kinds of stores that we were passing, not including street vendors. Here is the list of about three blocks on an average Bangkok street:
Bike Repair
Structural Metal
A Family Mart
Electrical Supplies and Lighting
A shop with large gunny sacks of small coiled springs
A gas station
A cooking gas store
A paint store
An auto mechanic
A Bank
A VCD store
A store selling drinks, both pop and alcohol
A store selling rice
A store that repaired electrical appliances
A place to wash clothes
A Photo Processing store
A 7-11
A News Stand
A Beauty Shop
A shop selling temple stuff
A dress maker
A group of shops selling wood sculptors and accessories.
We stopped there because Jit was getting wood letters for the front of the house. Keenon and I walked down to Jit's uncles. The people were getting ready. The Monk was there, he thanked me for the photographs. There was a dog that was protective of the house and the monk chased him away with compassion and understanding of the dog's mind. The dog was Jit's uncles and he was clearly being protective. The Monk shooed him away with a straw. I wished I could communicate better.

People were wearing white uniforms with black arm bands, we took a Tuck Tuck back to the temple. I walked again and saw a street vendor, one who carried his items on a pole with two baskets suspended on each end. He had beautiful wood items for sale. I went and got Jit and she purchased some.

The crematorium was all decorated in ribbons and flowers. There was music being played, I took it for granted until I realized that it was live. I went and watched, there was a flute, hand drums, two stringed instruments being plucked, and a steel guitar like instrument on the floor. I was watching I realized that the music was like Jazz, people were improvising and switching instruments. One man started to play the drums faster, the music adapted and came along, they were enjoying themselves, having fun. The music was beautiful, especially when I closed my eyes.

The area was packed with people, there were a few speeches, there were even traffic police whistling to control traffic. At 5:00 there was a bell that rang, people walked up to the casket and dropped a flower on the casket, people came up one side and then came down the other stairs. In the back there some Monks chanting by the crematorium burners. There was another bell, and then the close relatives came up again. The casket was pushed into the crematorium. People were crying, and crematorium door slowly lowered and the crematorium was ignited.

We then left for Kong Toey dock. We visited the other funeral for awhile and then went home. It was a very intense day. I took photographs of the ceremony. I will try to get them developed tomorrow. Tomorrow we will visit STOU and go to Oowon funeral.


Funerals, Photography, and Observations

Ton took the CD with the pictures from Jit's aunt's funeral, and the film from the funeral last night in for processing.

We went to the funeral for Jit's aunt again, the location is at Wat Chueng Why in the Thaoo Poon area in Bang Su. To get to the funeral we took walked part way to the bus, until we could get a motorbike to shuttle us. Jit wanted me to ride on the back of the Motorbike with Jit's dad, but I said no, I would wait. I do not know where I would put my feet or how I would balance. People do, but I am ignorant about how to do it. While we were walking I saw two large Raptors circling. The motorbike rider said they were Red Hawks, they were pretty and reminded me of home. As we were riding in the Taxi I saw a small bill board with the slogan Mobile Multimedia Society. The illustration was in bright garish colors like street graffiti. I also saw crows flying in the same direction, it was near sunset. I know Raven's return to their roost at sunset, do crows? I do not know. I also noticed piles of sand bags piled in unexpected places, I think they are remnants of some of the flooding in the rainy season.

At the funeral today there were the four chants, Jit's family was the sponsor for the day. I did a little photography and then just stood and watched the street activity in front of the temple. A 3 wheeler bike, designed to carry heavy loads in the front rode by, behind the bike tied with a yellow ribbon looking rope was a smaller version of the bike, a toy, with a small boy riding and peddling. There is a man with Down's Syndrome who sweeps the temple gowns, he was standing and watching by the entrance to the funeral area of the Wat. A women, I have seen her at both funerals, came carry a small white well groomed poodle. There was a Women/Man riding around on a bicycle visiting other vendors in the area. The vendors seems the same each day. People are walking home from work, I can tell because of their dress. There was a dog that is almost hit by a motorbike, he cringes, he walks like he is heart, there is an abscess on his rear, there are other dogs sleeping in the road. There is a silver, Toyota Corolla with a wing on the back, Manchester United is written on the bottom of the doors.

One of the Monks was talking with Jit, he asked me some questions about Christianity and my experience. He wished I could speak Thai. We talked in pantomime for awhile. He was very nice. I learned the next day that he is the Monk who is spending time with the family.

We had the three chants, the break for a food or chant and then got a ride to the Klong Toey dock with Pan. We went across and rode motorbikes home.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Ko Kret, 4 hours to get home, STOU, and memories of a dock

Today I need to get the CD of photographs organized for Mali Phomlum (Oowon) funeral. We will also go to the funeral again tonight. The cremation ceremony will be on Sunday.

When experiencing grief and death I become moody and a little depressed, it is just part of the human condition. I know I feel more edgy and anxious then normal. Time and new experiences will regenerate my optimism, I just need to be aware of my weakness right now.

A member of the village won the lottery last week, about $10,000. He is an alcoholic that leaves in a shabby house near the big tree. His wife is sick with alcoholism and was in the hospital a couple weeks ago. Jit said he is buying beer for everybody and that he will buy a diamond watch. He came to the funeral and was sort of shunned, he was loud and a little pushy. Sometimes peoples limited horizon is depressing. I know some of my daughters relatives spend their whole life drinking, waiting to drink, or recovering from drink. They have been doing it for years with no change. year to year. To me their life seems like a gray winter day.

There is a man named Sthey in our community, he has two grown daughters that are successful professionals. They come and visit often. Sthey lives in a small house, in a large compound of houses, with many relatives. He rides across on the boat to work and rides a shabby Kawasaki motorcycle around Bangkok. He also helps take care of the small kids in the neighborhood. When we went with the family to Ranong last year he came along to help carry Jit's mom. You can hear him laughing and taking from a distance. His smile and laugh are contagious. He has false teeth that he wears to work, but when he is home he does not wear them. He is self-conscious and covers his mouth when he smiles or laughs. It is difficult because he smiles and laughs often. Sthey is a person with a strong presence. I would trust him in a crisis. He is a good man, he is also an alcoholic, but his life and approach to life is very positive. I admire and respect him.

We went to STOU yesterday. I will be working with the e-learning section of the Department of Technology. The people I met can use English. I am looking forward to working with them. More later.

After going to STOU we went to Ko Kret. Last year Margaret and I visited Ko Kret with Sutep. I had a wonderful visit with the Abbot. Every time I saw Sutep, before he died, he wanted to make sure I visited the Abbot again. Today we visited and it was good. Jit's family are Mon, a distinct cultural group in Thailand. The people of Ko Kret are also Mon. Jit and the Abbot talked for a long time. We want to take Jit's dad to visit. The Mon people have congregated around Bangkrachow, Minburi, and Ko Kret. I believe that hey had their own distinct language, but I have never heard it. I was glad to visit, the Monks spirit and personality are joyful and spontaneous. He has been instrumental in the re-invigoration of the Ko Kret area. I said that I noticed that they Ko Kret people did not smile much when you passed them on the path. I thought it was from tourism, but Jit said that was the Mon way! I think of Sutep often, we were becoming friends when he died. Last March I drove him to Nenana so that he could see some of Alaska nature.

Coming home we took the bus from Ko Kret to Phra Pradaeng. It took three and a half hours to get to Phra Pradaeng and another half hour to get home. Sometimes Bangkok is just exhausting, not interesting or energetic, just exhausting. I was craving a Pizza.

Yesterday when we went across to the funeral we took the small boat. They dropped us by another dock because there were policeman on the normal dock. We had to walk across a large long tailed boat to get to a the dock, it was OK though, not too dangerous. I think they were checking if there were commercial licenses for tax purposes, I am not sure of all the details. When I was first visiting Jit's place in 2001 the boat dropped us at a different dock that has been knocked down. It was a wood ladder that went up thin concrete pier. When I got on top all a saw was a thin wooden board across some very polluted water with a wrecked boat below. The water was thick with oil sludge. I am afraid of heights. I had to take a deep breath and just walk across the plank. I made it, but later, after reflection, I was afraid. I talked with Jit about not putting us into dangerous positions again. She thought I was talking about the boat, not the dock or the thin wooden board. When we returned in 2004 the dock was no longer their.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Editing Photographs, a trip to Klong Toey Wat in a storm, and Thai music

Yesterday I edited and prepared the CD from Oowon funeral. I sent the pictures in to be printed, 88 of them. Today we can pick them up and give them to the family. Today will be the cremation and we will be at the Wat by Klong Toey dock all day. I also got the pictures back from the cremation ceremony for Jit's Aunt. I still have a lot of work today to prepare the pictures from both cremation ceremonies.

The day before yesterday I also took a picture of the women in black, who now wears flowers, at the Klong Toey dock 7-11.

I took a long nap in the afternoon and then we left for the ceremony. It was dark and there was lightening and light rain. Four of us, Jit, myself, Star, Juke's wife, and Jit's dad all walked to the big boat dock. We used umbrellas. It was beautiful, but I could see the clouds were coming our way. When we got to the Wat it started to rain heavily and the lightening and thunder got much nearer.

At the ceremony there was music that played before the chanting, and between each chant. There were three sets of cymbals in a golden upright U shaped arch. Players set in front of the arch and played, there was a set of drums surrounded by a golden fence being played by a boy about 12 or 14. He was very good, sometimes he looked like he was playing snare drums when he closed his eyes and played the rhythm. It looked like about half the players were family members. Some of the young kids were sitting and playing with their parents. The music had very complex rhythms. It was almost like different rounds of rhythm. I closed my eyes to listen. It felt like a river of music flowing like the current.

Jit's dad's sister came from Nong Chok area. She must be in her middle 70's. Her back is very bent, she is a strong presence. Margaret and I had met her before in 2004.

When we came back it was raining medium hard, there was still lightening around, but the heavy storm had passed. We took the small boat, Git's son came with us. Crossing the river in the small boat, in the dark and rain is an experience. The tide was very high. You can see the small high intensity light bulb, like a flashlight bulb on a stick, on each of the boats. The motor on our boat stalled briefly and another boat came near, the people on our boat yelled a warning so that the boat would not hit us. We did not keep our umbrellas up because it would hurt visibility. We walked home from the small boat dock, sometimes it is hard to see the concrete paths in the dark, but I just follow people who know the way. We made it home just as the rain intensified. The water in the canals was very high.

When we walked around to the dock to take the big boat it was because it was too dangerous, when we returned on the small boat the conditions were worse. Sometimes things are hard to understand. I asked Jit and she said that on Saturday and Sunday there is no large boat after 8:00! That makes sense.

This morning Jit's dad is playing with Git's son. Git's son stayed over last night. There are getting some Walkie-Talkies to work. They are having fun.

I am getting ready for the cremation. Ton is going to classes and then will pick up the pictures. I want to give the family the pictures as soon as possible. The experience today can be very emotional and I want the family to see the kind of photographs that I take. I feel much more comfortable when the family can see the results of my photography.

Tomorrow we will be going back to STOU, maybe I will go to Alaska for a vacation this spring :)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Cremation, some thoughts on photography, and a pantomime File/Save

There is a chess board at the boat dock, sometimes I see some young people gathered around the chessboard, I think that is cool.

There is a difference between looking at photographs for content and looking at photographs. When looking at photographs for content, the photograph is just a container for information, who was there, what were they feeling, where are they know. The lighting and composition and even relationships within the photograph are not important except as it reveals content. When looking at photographs the lighting, composition, message, and emotion are important. When looking at photographs people think about the photographer and the subject. As I watched people looking at my photographs at the funeral today, they were looking at content. I am not sure about the depth of this idea, but it seems important to me.

I have many pictures to post, but I will need to take a break to edit and choose what I want to post.

Today was the cremation ceremony for Oowon. There was a rainstorm at 4:30, thunder, lightening, beautiful light, the storm was over by about 5:15. We could hear the rain coming on the roof or the Wat. The casket was carried around the crematorium three times with music and drums, then people gathered and dropped flowers on the casket. There was some people sharing there feelings. I took many photographs that I will need to edit and get printed. I have to edit and print photographs from both cremation ceremonies.

After the ceremony I looked up, there was a beautiful cloud with the sun reflecting off it, there was slight smoke from the crematorium chimney, the visual effect was unforgettable, I did not take a photography. We went home.

It has been a very long week. Tomorrow we go to STOU. I am looking forward to it.

I organized some files in my USB memory drive to take to STOU, my Excel lessons and curriculum material.

Sometimes something is not memorable until I think about it late at night. When we were visiting the Abbot at Ko Kred we were talking about computer skills. The Abbot did a perfect pantomime of searching and finding the print command in Word. I could "see" the whole process, the looking for the Print command, the finding it, and the surprise and satisfaction when the document printed. It still makes me smile to see his pantomime. The whole experience reinforces the ideas that I always tell me students, you do not have to remember anything, you just need to be willing to explore. When you are using a computer pose a question and rummage for the answer. Every time I visit the Abbot I have a memorable experience.

Ton, Jit's nephew is registering for a computer course at the Non-formal education center in Phra Pradaeng. We will visit the center soon, although this week is very busy. We have our meetings at STOU through Wednesday, then we have the adult education seminar, and then we go with Moi to a Kathin ceremony in Kao Yai. If it all happens it will be a pretty dense week.

It look like the Loy Krathong ceremony at STOU will be in the evening, maybe we will try to rent a room at the conference center. I am worried about getting caught in traffic, especially after our four hour experience Friday.

At STOU today I had a wonderful meeting with Tuk and Nun. I also got my haircut. I looked at ATutor, an open source course management package from Canada. I was impressed with its look and organization. One thing that is confusing to me is the role of the faculty at STOU. To me, and this is just an impression, faculty are divorced from the ongoing process of teaching and creating and modifying course content. I know I am missing something, but activities that I take for granted are not done by the faculty at STOU. This is just an impression, and I will be exploring the faculty role in greater depth. Comparing faculty roles is very helpful in understanding what we do at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

In our community we have a Motorbike taxi driver named Ooy. She is respected in the community and is very responsible. Once we needed to catch a ride on Sunday morning at 5:30 and she was there right on time. She transports people everywhere and also does shopping and picks up tools and building materials. We ride with her when we catch the boat or the bus. Both Jit and I get on the back of the small Honda motorbike. Ooy pays 2,000 Baht a month payment for her Motorbike. That is about $50 dollars, she had 5 more payments. She makes 20 Baht per trip for taking each of us to the dock or bus. She works hard. Even Jit's dad says she is a good person. The people in the community depend on her.

Coming home today the Taxi driver was crazy, driving way too fast and following cars too closely. I am going to have to only take newer taxi's. Maybe I am just more anxious because of the funerals, but I think I am also being realistic.

Tomorrow STOU again, I will get to share what I do at TVC and UAF. I like my new placement at STOU.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Wat Klong Toey Nok


Kathin ceremony at Wat Klang


Kathin ceremony at Wat Klang


Kathin ceremony at Wat Klang


Wat Klong Toey Nok


Wat Klong Toey Nok

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

From the taxi in the Phra Pradaeng area. We were returning from Big C.


Every day we see this women by the 7-11 in front of the Klong Toey pier. She is there late at night, early in the morning, and during the day. She used to be dressed in black. Today when we passed in the Taxi I saw her hitting herself, very hard, in the face. When we got back from STOU she was gone. I hope she is getting help. I always watch for her. It is sad to see a person so lost. I have not known what to do. The community around where she sits must know her well.


Woodworking shop, Bangkok, Taupoon area

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A "sickly cat", the women in black, and adult education

Today at STOU I shared many of my UAF and TVC resources with Tuk.

We looked at the following tools:
Training materials provided by Computing and Communication
The Center for Distance Learning
The Distance Education course rubric
The TVC faculty development workshop
The TVC Community Bulletin and the CIOS course schedule
The ITS competencies and course advising web site
My courses and materials including grade sheets and sample lessons
UA Online and the faculty support materials that are provided.
Faculty web sites that are provided by Computing and Communications
There were many similarities and possible tools that we could share.

We had an excellent lunch with Nun. Nun is a wonderful person to know, Jit and Nun have a great relationship. I enjoy talking with her also. She has many wonderful experiences and talents. What I especially appreciate are her values and perspective on life. I am very lucky to be working with Nun. As we walked to lunch there was a large open drainage manhole in the walkway. Over and over again I am reminded how important it is in Thailand to be aware and watchful. There is no safety net to protect us from ourselves. Before I leave each monring I, seriously, remind myself to "Watch both ways!"

Tomorrow we will visit Dr Sumalee's adult education seminar. I will then return to STOU on Monday. Next Wednesday will be Loy Krathon ceremony. At STOU, with its waterways, it is supposed to be a good experience.

Today we visited Dr. Sumalee's adult education seminar. There were students from many places in Thailand, they were finishing their research. The students were involved in many projects in Thailand. The man from Surin had some excellent ideas, he mentioned that there is a traditional craft of making medallions and necklaces, but that the craft is slowly dying. We talked about the similarity between his experience and some experiences in Alaska. We also talked about making items to sell to tourists and its effect of craftsmanship.

Another person was working with hill tribes in Thailand and cultural preservation. It was excellent to see so many similarities.

I talked for about an hour about how I grade and evaluate some of my courses using projects and activities. I especially talked about teaching adults. I also talked about the similarity of mission between Tanana Valley Campus and Non-Formal Education centers. There were many good questions about our community advisory board and our funding. There were also questions about the social conditions in Alaska and street people.

After the funerals I have been feeling worn down, I am going to take a break for a few days to just be around the house, at least that is plan for now. We will be leaving Saturday night to Kao Yai for a Kathin ceremony. Many people from Jit's community will be going in a van. I hope the music is as good as the Kathin ceremony we went to a couple weeks ago.

Coming home from the seminar we went to get some Thai herbal medicine for Jit's uncle. The location was near the "Big Court" the Hall of Justice. After using the cell phone we found it. It looks like people can go to the store to see a Doctor and get specific herbal recommendations. We bought what we needed and headed home.

Since our terrible taxi experience, a couple days ago, we have been more selective. So far the Taxi's have been fine. Jit always asks the driver "Do you drive safely?" Many times we see a smile and sometimes they ask why.

This morning when we caught a Taxi I looked for the women in black, who now wears flowers, at the 7-11. She was sitting in her usual location, but she was hitting herself in the face, hard. It was very sad. To me I think she is mentally ill. Thailand has good resources for people who are mentally ill, I hope that she gets help. When we returned in the afternoon she was not in her usual location. I hope that she was hospitalized and will get medication and treatment.

I have also been thinking about the very skinny cat that I saw last week. I keep wondering what I should have done, if anything. What would I would have done at home in Alaska? Probably the kindest thing to do for the cat would be to kill it, but when I write those words I am uncomfortable. At home, when my animals are very sick or in pain, and there is no reasonable chance for cure, I will have them "put to sleep" which is an euphemism for being killed. Anyway the very skinny cat is a challenge.

For anybody who is reading this blog, after seeing the picture of the cat, what would you do if you were in Thailand? What would you do if you were at your home? I am not being judgemental, I just know that seeing the suffering makes me think and feel. For now, and probably in the future, I will notice, probably document the experience, and walk by. What is the trigger that moves me from observation to action? And if I move from observation to action what action do I take?


Tree in Bopae Market area Bangkok


When a food seller saw me taking pictures of this cat, he said "That is a sickly cat!". I said "really". This cat has been on my mind.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bopae Market


Kathin ceremony at Wat Klang


Bopae Market


Bopae Market

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A day at home, enjoying the park, and not going anywhere!

Two of the community members came over Thursday night to visit. I showed them pictures of our home in Alaska and our marriage. I had to use Google to find the web site that I created for our wedding, I had not been there for a long time. I have pictures of Alaska on my computer from 2005. My web site, Wandering In Alaska, is not suitable for dial up connections. I did not know how slow it was until I came to Thailand. When I return to Alaska I will try to create two sites, one for low bandwidth connections. It is very frustrating to wait for a web site to load, especially if it is your own web site!

We ran into a lady on a motorcycle who delivers newspapers. We are going to have the Bangkok Post delivered each morning, pretty cool.

I spend a long time in the park today, I carried my binoculars instead of a camera. I saw a very large, eagle sized, hawk. It was beautiful to watch it fly by. I assume that it was a red hawk. I also saw white, parrot like, birds. There were many doves. I am trying to see the birds that go Whooo Whooo every morning. I hear them, but have not identified them yet.

In the morning there were many, 10 or 15 monitor lizards. A couple of them were up on the island sunning themselves. When I returned in the afternoon there was a lizard in the same location. I am not sure if it was the same one. The lizard was either sleeping and very secure, or sick. I will check again this morning. On the island I saw another monitor lizard get out of the water, but when it saw a lizard near by, it sort of arched up, and then went back into the water. The pattern of the skin on the monitor lizards is very diverse and beautiful.

There seems to be many more birds in the park now, but I am not sure if it is really true. I could just may be more discriminating in what I am observing. It is great to walk in the early morning, it is relatively cool and the light is beautiful. It almost takes two seasons to see the rhythm of a place. I like to stand, watch, and listen to feel what a place is like.

Jit is stuffing a mattress with bags of cotton, we bought the mattress covers in Phar Pradaeng. The cotton dust is all over the place, at least it is outside. I am not sure if it is very healthy.

It looks like December 11th will be the house dedication, I am not sure how the day was selected.

Today we are supposed to go to a house dedication for Keenon's cousin. This afternoon we will be going by bus to a Kao Yai for a Kathin ceremony Sunday morning. I have no idea about the details, but I will just go along and do photography. I will use a digital camera for a change.

Jit's uncle, the one who is very old, is still working with his nephew. I saw them building a ladder as I went over to Jit's old house to visit Jit's mother. It is great to see them team up.

Yesterday there were a couple puppies, about 4 months old. They were exploring and looking for food. I stopped and spent some time with one of them. The puppy came up and I could pet it. I like communicating with animals.

If you get a chance read Stuart's comment on my previous blog entry. I am glad to get comments and responses to my blog. I appreciate it when I get email and comments. I just recently turned comments back on since with word verification there is less chance of comment spam.

It is good to take a break from Bangkok. Spending time in the park, visiting, and bird and animal watching is a good break.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Kathin, Reggae buses, a steak house, and Sanuk.

We got up today at 4:30, we are going to take a van with some local people to a Kathin ceremony at Kao Yai. The Kathin ceremony is at the meditation center for Wat Thamkrissana Dhammaran. Jit's aunt, who is around 80 will be going with us. Tuke, Jit's aunt, Moit, a cool little kid about 4 or 5 years old, Jit, and I started walking to the boat dock. Sthe and Juke gave two people a ride and were going to come back for us, but Juke ran out of gas, we saw him wheeling the bike back home, and Sthe had to go back and get some gas, so the three of us walked a good distance, it was dark, cool, and beautiful. As the day slowly brightened the sun was reflecting off a cumulus cloud from the day before. The days are getting shorter, the difference between sunset and sunrise it is about 11 hours now. We all got to the dock and across the boat to the van eventually.

We got in the mini van and then waited for some other people to show up, Moey and her friend were going to meet us so that Moey could park her truck. We then picked up two more friends and family members in Bangkok. When we got in the van there was an awful, violent, adventure movie on, I did not especially want to watch people beat up, murdered, and lit on fire on the way to a Kathin ceremony. Luckily there were no more adventure movies, but there was a Cariboo (sp) concert and a funny Thai movie called Jaew (Servant). As I understand it the Servant is a person from Issan who helps the family and knows the families business, anyway from what I could catch, and the visuals, it was pretty funny. There was a dignified white women, the family matron I guess, who spoke Thai in a manner that seemed to be funny. Anyway there were no more violent movies and the movies were not too loud.

The women in black was at the 7-11 and when we returned she was also there at 8:00 at night. I also saw another "regular" a very disheveled man who sleeps on a mattress beside the road. I do not know where he goes when it rains. His "blanket" looks the color of a monks robe and his mattress is against the Wat wall. I think the Klong Toey Wat serves food around 8:00 in the morning and helps some of the people a little bit. The man has very long messed up hair and I would guess he is dealing with alcohol and maybe mental illness. I know that Thailand has a mental health system. There was a man in our community who has schizophrenia. He was hospitalized for a short time and is back in the community, I assume he is taking medication because he makes sense now. He lives in the house right next to Jit's old house. I do not know how street people get mental health care. I did read in the Bangkok Post that care was supposed to be available.

Waiting in the mini van I saw Monks and followers going out to gather food, Motorbikes carrying people every which way, pigeons, beautiful clouds, dogs, street food, a dog sniffing a Taxi's tire, a brilliant orange Taxi, bicycles, a ragged looking green bus, and Pepsi signs in Thai. People are getting ready for the day and all the systems are starting to work, it is Sunday morning.

Driving over the express way, with the sun coming up, I could see the silhouettes of minarets and Wats. There were many apartment blocks with clothes hanging from windows. The more I notice the more interesting the hanging clothes become. I see clothes hanging to dry in the oddest locations.

A see a sign advertising "Alpine Golf" which seems pretty odd in the Bangkok area. On the way to Kao Yai I also saw a totem pole beside the road, I thought I saw it in 2004, so I was looking for it again. The totem pole is just before you pass by the concrete plants on the highway to Korat. There are also cowboys, cows, and steak houses by the road. We stopped for a steak on the way back and it was, for me, not meeting my expectations, it was tough and cooked in some kind of sweet brown gravy. I think that is what a steak is in Thailand. We did eat at a Sizzlers in 2004 and the steak was what I was expecting. It is odd to see cowboys and spirit houses.

There are many corn fields on the road to Kao Yai, I had some corn on the cob at the Kathin ceremony and it was wonderful.

When we got to the ceremony I saw many buses and vans. I think the event was publicized well in Bangkok. The Abbott seems to be very well respected. He spoke a long "sermon" that was listened to attentively. The ceremony was very different then the one I experienced at our local Wat, especially there was no wonderful music. There were many large tents and people sat and ate, it felt like a large fourth of July picnic. A thunderstorm passed over and it poured, some trucks and cars got stuck in the mud, but everybody helped out and it all worked out. There were many nuns in white robes in attendance. There were some farangs wearing white. In the rain we went looking for the van, I said it was fun, the rain is not cold, and the person I was with said it was Sanuk. She was right, it was fun.

People bring pre-packaged buckets of gifts and pre-wrapped gowns. It seems a little insincere, but the buckets are for sale near every temple. I wonder what the monks think about all the buckets of stuff they get. It is supposed to be useful and essential, but it must be pretty boring too.

One of the people that was with us is very deeply in to Buddhism, to me she seemed a little like a "Jesus Freak" from the 60's, she was blissed out. Watching the happiness and attention in her face was amazing, but also unsettling, just like it was watching some of the "Jesus Freaks" when I was much younger. People sort of waited for audiences with the Abbot and she just stayed, and stayed, and listened. We spent an extra hour waiting, before we could go, because she would not leave. It all worked out though, and she is very sincere about her beliefs.

On the way back it was raining in the mountains and I could convince my self that we were in Western Washington with the hazy mountains, the green trees, and the road.

The steak house that we stopped at was right next to a bus rest stop. After eating we went shopping and the most amazing crazy buses were there. The front windows and sides were covered with VERY colorful decals and designs, the buses blared music when they arrived that sounded like Thai Reggae. One of the bus attendants was wearing a very obscene t-shirt. I did not get the entire slogan in a photograph which is probably a good thing. I asked Jit how you could avoid riding on one of the buses and she said they were charters. When we passed one of the buses, in our van, it looked like there were speckles of light on the ceiling like a disco ball from a nightclub. Somebody had there leg partly out the window, I assume sleeping. The whole thing was such an explosion of absurd energy that I felt happy thinking about it all the way back home. There are pictures in the blog to enjoy. To me they were Thai Reggae, rock and roll, disco buses. I would hate to ride in one, but I love seeing them!

The sunset was beautiful, we drove the long way to let some people off. I saw a burning tire beside the road and wondered what that was about, but later there was a stalled truck in the dark. I assume it was a warning. Some of the neon lights looked like a carnival. We passed Fashion Island and eventually made it home. We ran to get the large boat before it stopped running at 8:00 and then Juke came in the car to drive us to our community. My mind gets exhausted from all the experiences and sights that I see on our excursions.

Tomorrow we go to STOU and I will get a new project. Wednesday is Loy Krathong and we will spend it at STOU. STOU has some beautiful ponds and I have heard the celebration is a large event for the Nonthaburi area. We might try to visit Phuket to see Woody Leonhard this week. So many plans are mentioned,changed, modified, disappear, and then reappear, that I just try to stay one day ahead, if I am lucky.


House warming, bottles of whiskey, badminton

The lizard was not dead, this morning there was a small, different Lizard on the island. The size and skin patterns and coloring on the Lizards vary greatly. The skin is really beautiful. Now that I know what to look for I can see paths in the grass from the Lizards. I really enjoy watching the Lizards and learning their habits.

There are large white winged Egret type birds around. When they are on the ground the look brown or beige. There are birds that cluck like grouse. In the morning the dew on the grass is beautiful.

Jit's uncle and nephew are still working together, they are building a ladder. Jit's uncle is also re-finishing an old wood bed. He is over 80 years old and constantly active, both mentally and physically. His legs hurt so he uses a wheel chair to get around, but he can walk with a cane when he needs or wants to. He is an inspiration.

The road is still going on, it is passing the house, they will need to build an extension to reach the community. There are also rumors of upgrading the concrete path next to our house to an elevated concrete path way.

Jit and her dad picked star fruit from trees around our house. They used a long bamboo stick with a basket on the end, the basket had prongs or teeth to grad the fruit. There are two large plastic baskets. Jit used Google to look up information about drying or pickling the fruit. I think they are going to try pickling.

Google would have helped the community with health problems, with understanding how people describe the community and general information. If somebody had looked up Oowan's symptoms they would have known she was having a heart attack. The internet, and the confidence to search the internet are crucial tools for rural communities.

Two little boys are ridding by with a large bag of plastic for re-cycling. There is a man that comes every couple of weeks and buys plastic and paper. Many people collect materials for re-cycling and cell them. He has a motorcycle with a cart on front.

We went to a house warming at one of Jit's relatives. The house was a beautiful remodeled and restored Thai traditional house. It had the beautiful wood floor on the second floor. It was great to see. Jit could remodel her parents old house in the same manner.

The house warming was very crowded with a nine course meal and a bottle of whisky on each table, really, 99 Crown. There was, obviously a lot of drinking. I think there is something significant about a nine course dinner. I have been assured, multiple times, that our house warming might have nine monks, but it will not have a bottle of whisky on each table. I think the house warming is going to be December 11th. There was a large covered area, sort of like a shed without walls for the guests to eat.

One of the boys had a shirt on that said "Special Army Sailor". When the monks left they all got in the back of a pickup to go back to their community.

Jit is trying to get a trip to Ko Kret, and somewhere up North, for her family. We will use a rental van. I am especially hopeful for the Ko Kret visit because of the Mon connection. I will know more later. I think the plan is for November or December 28th, the anniversary when Jit's grandmother died.

Jit's uncle is not doing too well. He is not sleeping and wandering around the house. We called his daughter. I am hoping that he can go with us on our van trip.

People who speak Thai in front of me, if they know English, apologize for speaking Thai, even at STOU. I assure them that I am not offended. When I told Jit and Dr. Summalee not to worry about English there conversation increased in intensity and depth. I have never really thought about it being offensive or impolite. I figure people will let me know if something is important. Also I am the visitor and I am the one who does not know Thai.

We played badminton in the park until it got dark. Tomorrow we will wake up at 4:30 to go across the river and catch the van for the trip to Kao Yai. We will be going to the meditation center for Wat Thamkrissana Dhammaram. Jit's cousin is arranging the trip.

I see people in this community wrestling with alcoholism. I will share my personal experience when I get the opportunity. I want to help, I have expeienced the tragedy of alcohol abuse too many times. There is a difference between drinking and addiction. I see people who are addicted to alcohol.


Thailand bus from the rear window of the van we were riding in. We went to a Kathin ceremony at the retreat center for Wat Thamkrissana Dhammaran at Kao Yai today. I will have a detailed blog on our trip, and on my Saturday experience at a house warming ceremony in our neighborhood, later today. I just wanted to share some of my bus pictures this morning.


Thailand Reggae Party bus. What is missing from these pictures is the loud Thai Reggae type music that blares from the speakers as the buses stop at a highway rest stop. Jit says they are party buses, but as one of the buses pulled out a dignified looking older lady asked one of the attendents to get a bottle of water.


Thailand Reggae Rock and Roll Party Bus

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Worship at a Kathin ceremony


Worship at a Kathin ceremony


By Jit's home


By Jit's home



Impact Center, OTOP, and a new project at STOU

When we left in the morning there was a supply boat delivering bulk items, like pop and cooking oil, to stores near the river. The economy of Thailand is like a dense ecosystem with many niches. I guess it is like a tropical ecosystem in the sense of multiple niches within which to survive. The United States, with large stores and many franchises is more like a mono culture, there are a few niches dominated by very large stores. There are also many places for people to work in Thailand, some of them not too efficiently. For example we buy a boat ticket, then two steps later we give the boat ticket to a person just standing there. I suppose this helps with auditing, and it sure helps in distributing income, but I am not sure if it is the most productive use of a human's time. Part of what makes Thailand interesting is the dense and multiple levels of economic activity. It is not boring.

There are other boats that cross from the Klong Toey dock to other communities. There is a large long tailed boat that hauls people from Bangkaobua where we catch the bus to the Klong Toey dock, they are fast, powerful, and interesting. Sometimes they almost look like a hydroplane with their rooster tails of water being thrown up from the propeller.

I am getting new assignment at STOU. I am going to gather examples of different faculty web pages, I will look at the range of content as well as design. I will be able to work at home for much of the assignment. I will be using many examples from the University of Alaska Fairbanks faculty web pages. I will also use materials from the Center for Distance Learning at the University of Alaska. It is an interesting assignment that will apply to my work when I return to Alaska. I will be looking at web sites and resources that do not use a learning management system like ATutor or Blackboard.

I also will be working with the photographers at STOU on content and composition. I need more details on this assignment because I am not a commercial photographer. Photography for me is a personal means of expression. Just because I take photographs that express a unique world view does not mean that I have the skills or interests to help people create commercial or illustrative photography, but my mind is open and I will share and help any way that I can.

Pong, Jit's friend, is arranging a trip for us to Phuket. We might be leaving this Thursday for four or five days. I want to see Woody Leonhard and also the Non-Formal Education Center in Phuket.

We visited a show, the Best of Nonthaburi at the Impact center. There was an excellent display of e-learning resources at the center. It looked very good. Nednapa was there and it was great to see her.

The Impact center is a huge national exhibition hall, almost overpowering in scope. There is a large covered arena, football or soccer size, being built next to the current Impact Center. The Impact Center is very near to STOU.

At the exhibition were many "One Tambon One Product " items for sale. The packaging and presentation is top quality, the people doing the selling were deeply committed to their products. There were food items, gift items, and functional items all created and sold under the OTOP program. The OTOP idea is really working.

A Tambon is a unit of government in Thailand, similar to a county in the United States. Each Tambon chooses one product to promote and then gets assistance in presentation, packaging, and marketing. The quality of the goods that I saw was very high. The OTOP idea might be useful in Alaska for rural villages. I was very impressed with the variety and quality of the goods being offered.

In many places in Thailand you will see the OTOP logo, if you visit look at the items in detail, you will find high quality, good prices, and the items will be directly helping local communities. OTOP is the real deal.

Tuk gave me an large in-depth evaluation of STOU e-learning to read. the study, Recommendations For E-Learning Development at Sukothai Thammathirat Open University by John S. Green of The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand was written in 2001. I can see many improvements in technology since the report was written, but the culture of course creation and method of delivery is still the same. The report is very critical of the "text book, work book", method of course delivery. I agree with the criticism.

Most of the people I meet at STOU are talented, creative, and committed to the mission of the university, I do not think that professionals at STOU have the administrative freedom to use their ability. I am torn between my care for and enjoyment of the people I have met, and the thoughtfulness they have shown Jit and I, and my objective belief in what education means. What I do not see is the ongoing magic interaction that is the essence of teaching. I do not see a variety of approaches and experiments in delivering education. I think there is a problem of institutional leadership, not talent or vision. People need a means and support to initiate change. I also have been impressed by the students that I have meet at the provincial centers, in seminars, and on the street. Many good things are happening at STOU, but there is so much more to do to unleash the talented potential of the professional staff and faculty that I have met.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Dalai Lama at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience last Saturday

"Although Buddhist contemplative tradition and modern science have evolved from different historical, intellectual and cultural roots, I believe that at heart they share significant commonalities, especially in their basic philosophical outlook and methodology.

"On the philosophical level, both Buddhism and modern science share a deep suspicion of any notion of absolutes, whether conceptualized as a transcendent being, as an eternal, unchanging principle such as soul, or as a fundamental substratum of reality.

"Both Buddhism and science prefer to account for the evolution and emergence of the cosmos and life in terms of the complex interrelations of the natural laws of cause and effect.

"From the methodological perspective, both traditions emphasize the role of empiricism. For example, in the Buddhist investigative tradition, between the three recognized sources of knowledge - experience, reason and testimony - it is the evidence of the experience that takes precedence, with reason coming second and testimony last.

"This means that, in the Buddhist investigation of reality, at least in principle, empirical evidence should triumph over scriptural authority, no matter how deeply venerated a scripture may be.

"Even in the case of knowledge derived through reason or inference, its validity must derive ultimately from some observed facts of experience."

-- The Dalai Lama at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience last Saturday.

From Good Morning Silicon Valley, a great email news letter.

I am not a Buddhist, I do come from a Christian culture, but I have read many books about Buddha and Buddhism. I respect what I have read, as a way of looking at life Buddhism makes a lot of sense. As with Christianity, what a religion says, and how a religion is practiced, can be different.

I believe in the principles described in the Dalai Lama's quote completely, in fact the quote summarizes some of my core beliefs about truth and knowledge. Even on an ethical level the specific person takes priority over a general principle. Ethics is practiced through our individual acts, not our stated beliefs.

Love, Faith, and Manipulation

Yesterday I worked on my STOU project, just brainstorming. We are going to be staying at STOU tonight for Loy Krathong and then going to Phuket for a few days to visit Woody Leonhard and to see the Non-Formal Education center. I will be writing Blog entries on my Palm and might not be able to post photographs or entries until I get back. We will be returning on Sunday night or Monday.

I have been thinking of a couple recent conversations. I know a person that visited Thailand for two weeks, I think he is looking for a wife. His first week he spent in Bangkok with, as he says a, "girlfriend" he then went to Chiang Mai and spent another week with a different "girlfriend". His comment when he returned home is that "he could do better" and was "still looking". He also said their were "so many choices." To me there are so many complex interactions going on here, economics, ethics, sincerity, hope for a better future, honesty, etc.. I wonder if he communicated his decision to the women he met in Bangkok and Chiang Mai? I wonder if the women in Bangkok knew he was going to Chiang Mai to meet somebody else? I wonder what the womens hopes were and what their decision was. I wonder if you can be open to a long term relationship if you already are planning to meet somebody else? I just think the whole process is a sad messed up story. I know the hope for a better life is a strong incentive to want to immigrate, but it is also a motivation that can be easily taken advantage of. I also know that the longing for love can be easily taken advantage of, but honesty is the only way through the thicket of emotions and motivations to a valuable relationship.

When we were at Impact center I asked why there were so many English signs on the stores around STOU. I was told that there were many Christians who lived around the area and that they had a large building where they met. The Christians spoke excellent Thai. I asked if they went around visiting in peoples homes, and was told yes. The lady I spoke with then said "We do not know whether to trust them?" I said you probably can not because their goal was to get you to change your religion. Some Christians come to Thailand to show their belief by example and by works, and that is wonderful, others come to Thailand to convert people to Christianity, and to me that is disrespectful of the culture and tradition of Thailand. The only way that an honest relationship can be created around conversion is if the intentions of both parties are clear. "I am here to change your religion, I do not belief your religion is as good as my religion. Lets talk about it?" of course it is never stated so clearly.

Religion is like love and people can be very vulnerable to emotional manipulation, life, death, sickness, loss, longing, hope, guilt, are all messed up in religion, combined with luck, fate, and power, promises can be made that have no way to be proven true or false, emotions can be manipulated.

Both the person looking for a wife and the person looking for conversions are similar. People are coming to Thailand with very personal, highly emotional purposes, and both the Christians looking for conversion, and the people looking for wives, without an open heart, are using economic and emotional manipulation for their own personal ends. I do not think love or faith can really come form dishonest means.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Loy Krathong, Patong, and Phuket

Temple fairs are very similar to a US fair. There are ferris wheels, midway games like Pop the Balloon and Fishing for prizes, and many food booths. Coming back from Kao Yai I saw the lights of a temple fair, and it looked very similar to the Tanana Valley Fair. The ferris wheel is the one with a cage that you can make go upside down and swing. There was an article in the Bangkok Post about the temple fair at the Golden Mount and the pictures looked like a state fair in the United States.

We asked if the girl, Oum, who works at the store, could go with us on our trip with the family that Jit is planning. Oum must be around 12 and does not go to school. She helps her Aunt at the store. It looks like she has partial cerebral palsy. She is partly paralyzed on one side of her body. We are always kidding each other, she tells me to go home. Anyway we wanted her to go with us to Ko Kred and her aunt said no, because she did not have anybody else to help her, we will keep trying. Oum is an orphan, her parents died from Aids. When Nick, Nuck, and took she came to watch, we invited her to join us. Oum should be in school.

Loy Krathong at STOU was a big event. There were many Thai dances, and an excellent bad made up of high school students from Nonthaburi. The music was very exuberant, the band used Thai instruments. One of the Thai dances was supposed to be inspired by Rama III. There were dancers from each of the four regions of Thailand, dancing separately and together. It was supposed to inspire people to see Thailand as a single nation. There was also a little girl talent/beauty contest that, for me, was pretty boring. The contest went on and on. There was also a contest for the best Loy Krathong float. People were selling Loy Krathong floats around the lake. Nednapa spent the evening with us and we got to meet many professors. There was also a professor from Utah that was visiting Chuligon University. He teaches Micro-Economics. It there was ever a country that was rich in Micro-Economics it is Thailand. We stayed the night at STOU and, except for the very loud air conditioner, it was pretty good. The Moon was beautiful and came in and out of the clouds. There was also lightening in the distance. We left in the morning to meet Pong and to go to Phuket.

After a few cell phone calls we all got together at the airport and made the flight. As we were coming into the Phuket airport it reminded me of Ketchikan, with cloud covered green hills and blue roofs. From a distance it looks like southeast Alaska. Coming over the hill to Patpong beach it is hard not to remember the Tsunami. There are many signs of the Tsunami, especially the freshly painted buildings. There are many buildings still being rebuilt.

Our hotel, the Ban Thai is beautiful, but I believe that we saw it during the Tsunami coverage. The architecture and design are excellent. Even the art in the rooms is excellent with white on white paper prints of leaves, the pictures are even signed and numbered. Everything looks well designed and thoughtful. Jit arranged a good price.

We walked up to Woody's Bakery and he was gone. He had to suddenly leave for the Netherlands. His son was in some difficulty, but we emailed a few times. Woody's bakery is very nice, it is new shop house, there is free Internet and very good food and sandwiches. It did not feel like Thailand.

We also met Woody's niece who has taught herself excellent English. I had a meatball sandwich. When we left Jit and Pong got Papaya salad from a street vendor. We then walked home. Patong beach is a tourist place. There are many bars, many Pizza places, many street vendors and many German and English people. I can not really say I like it, but it is sort of interesting. Like most tourist places there are no real surprises, just the same thing over and over again.

The Tsunami experience echoes everywhere. I think it is like the Alaska earthquake or the Fairbanks flood, you will see evidence if you look, but you can also ignore the evidence if you want to.

We got up early and went walking on the beach. There are many brand new bright red mini-taxis, Diahatsu Hi-Jets. I think they must have been bought to replace transportation that was lost in the Tsunami.. There were many older people walking and running on the beach. Most had complete tans, so they must live in the area. I think that people come here to retire.

We walked up to the Amari Phuket Coral Beach, a very high class hotel. As we crossed the bridge over the river you could see new housing where long tail boats were docked. I assume it replaced housing lost in the Tsunami. I think they are the homes of the boat owners.

When we were walking a person asked me, on the street, if I was interested in Diamonds, I said no, but as if I would get a diamond from somebody on the street, I mean I would never buy I diamond anyway.

There were Christmas drinks advertised at Starbucks and Christmas decorations at Jim Thompson house, it does not feel like Christmas at all.....

We took the hotel shuttle to Phuket. We also got a ride with a car at the Central shopping center to look around a little and to go to a Wat that Jit and Pong wanted to see.

Phuket is a pretty interesting town, I bugged Jit and Pong and we walked through the old part of town and explored. I took many pictures. We also had to go to this stupid vast jewelry store to help our driver. He will get a commission if we go to the store. The scale of the store was immense. We got out of there.

We went to Wat Chalong, it was pretty new, but beautiful and interesting. There was a brick structure, like a cone, where people light off strings of firecrackers for some kind of luck. There was a large beautiful spire. We climbed up inside and looked around. The Wat was new since there was a modern elevator integrated into the design.

We got back and swam and lazed around. We then went looking for Thai food. We had to walk a long time. We finally asked some street vendors, who were eating Thai food, where to go and we found some restaurants. There was a group of restaurants distinguished by the color of their chairs, red, white, blue, and orange. When we got there people were competing for where we would sit, sort of like when you drive by the water front in Cha Am. The food was good.

Walking back we could see many bars, and many "activities" There sure were a lot of old, fat, tattooed men with young beautiful women. Somehow I do not think it was love. Patong beach has many bars. Actually it is pretty boring, even the people watching is a little boring. I have never seen so many people smoking. German people seem to smoke in public with out much thought.

When we got back to the hotel there was a band outside. The band was from Africa. The music was really excellent, I have listened to African music for years. The band was called Jumba Survivors. During the night it was pretty noisy, with random German yells. There was a thunder storm which calmed things down a little.

After we went for breakfast we walked up to Woody's to get a return airline ticket. Pong looked around a little, but we eventually went to a travel agent.

Woody's was like being in America. There was a picture of a Colorado mountain on the wall and bluegrass music. One of the songs was "I saw the light sweet Jesus, I saw the light" which is very odd to hear in Thailand. Many British and German tourists came in for the Internet access and to get bakery goods and sandwiches. Woody's even had Brown and Haley's Almond Roca candy. I grow up near the factory and we used to go get candy at the factory in Tacoma Washington. It took a double take before I realized what I was seeing. If I did not look out the window I would feel like I was in the United States.

The people at Woody's are very nice. I checked the email and heard from Margaret, she is leaving for Brazil for a week. In Fairbanks many new stores have opened, an Old Navy, a Petco, and soon (Yeah) a Barnes and Noble. I guess they might even be building another Walmart on our side of town. It was good to hear from Margaret and some Fairbanks news.

We went to a travel agent, we found out that the flights are full to Bangkok tomorrow, it was a long weekend holiday because of Loy Krathong, so we will leave Monday. We also got a driver from the travel agent to show us around the island. We agreed to stop for only one "commercial" stop, and no diamond's or pearls. We saw many beaches as we went south and many remnants of the Tsunami. One place had the beach houses all destroyed, across the road, where there was a hotel, was completely vacant. It was sort of a hazy gray day, but the feeling of Southeast Alaska or the Northwest United States around Bellingham remained. There was a spirit house dump. I guess there are certain places that it is "safe" to leave spirit houses if they are broken or need to be moved. Many of the beaches on the Island are nice places to be lazy.

Gasoline stations are pretty odd on Phuket, a 55 gallon drum with some kind of pump and a glass gauge on top. Some of them are advertised to be open 24 hours. I assume there are for motor bikes. The first time I saw these gas stations is in Phuket.

One thing the bugs me, is when I ask a question, it is changed into a desire. Just because I ask a question does not mean that I want to do something, I just want information.

Drivers on Phuket get commissions for steering people to different shops. Many of them are really large commercial enterprises. There are tour buses and vans clustered around the outside. It is pretty irritating to keep being distracted by things I do not want to see. We were told we did not have to buy anything, just go use the bathroom, and we would help the driver, but it was not so simple, and it was pretty boring. We finally made it very clear, or I really made it very clear, that I was not interested in jewelry or pearls. We did stop at a couple good packaged food stores that were actually worth visiting. We got some dried fruit and also some nampik. After we sorted out our priorities we did get to go to some useful stores. I also found out that we walked through the right places to see the old part of Phuket. We had an expensive dinner by the beach. Most of the customers were not Thai. The food was good, but again it felt like we were being manipulated.

When we got home it was windy and stormy. Psychologically it felt like it should be cold, but it was warm. Tomorrow we will explore Phuket some more. My preference will be to get stuff to read and to hang out at the beach. We will return on Monday instead of Sunday.

I have been doing a lot of photography. During the day I use the Olympus 7070 digital camera and at night I use the Hexar AF camera because of the quick focus and fast lens. I am not sure I am getting anything valuable, I do not know the area well, but it is still fun to take photographs.


Patong is sort of boring, it is an entirely tourist town. Tour agencies, restaurants, bars, hotels, T-Shirt, art, DVD, photo developing, dive shops, car rentals, all the normal tourist stuff. It is sort of like Anchorage after the tourist boom, downtown is a great place to buy T-Shirts, but that is about all.

Phuket is a full town with some interesting old buildings. There is a historic reclamation area that is interesting with narrow streets and interesting architectural detail. I think that renovation is permitted, but not tearing down and replacing buildings in the area. I like Phuket.

The other towns we saw are similar to Patong, they are tourist beach based and again sort of boring. The beaches are pretty nice, if your goal is to sit around on a beach and eat and drink there are many places. Summer is winter is a nice experience.

In Phuket there is a fairly new hospital that is abandoned. We were told that it is because it is near the fishing port and nobody wanted to go there. There is still a satellite dish on the roof so it must have been abandoned pretty recently. We were also told there were ghosts in the hospital, but I imagine any hospital will have spirits and ghosts!

The chess game that I saw at the boat launch across from Klong Toey dock is not really chess, it is a Thai board game called Mark Lok, or something like that. I also saw another Thai game in Phra Pradaeng. There is a basket hanging in the air and men kick a small ball into the basket. The men had uniforms and the game looked well organized. I was told the game is called Tra Kow

In Thailand some people use their middle finger for pointing, at first because of my cultures association with the middle finger, it seems a little odd, but after awhile it is normal. Small things illuminate cultural differences.

Yesterday there was a sun dog, a circular ring of haze around the sun. The sun dog looked like it was around the spire at Wat Chalong. I said it might rain tomorrow and I was right. I am not sure if sun dogs are really a good predictor of the weather, but it seems to work.

In the morning there are people running and jogging on Patong beach. There are also beach combers. We saw one person going along the tide line with a metal detector. Early morning is a great time to watch how everyday people live.

There is a large tower called Patong Tower. At night there are no lights. It is a huge new building. I think it might be condominiums, but I will search Google to see what it is. (It is a condomenium)

There is another large hotel tower called Montana Grand Tower. I do not know what the reference to Montana means, it might not even have anything to do with the state of Montana, but it is an odd reference to see in Thailand. (Here is a possible definition
"Arnica montana
n : herb of pasture and open woodland throughout most of Europe
and western Asia having orange-yellow daisylike flower
heads that when dried are used as a stimulant and to
treat bruises and swellings [syn: Arnica montana]"

A couple weeks ago we went to eat at a Thai restaurant with Pan, Jit's brother. It was a very nice place. There was a Thai women there who was eating, she grabbed her fork with the palm of her hand, it looked sort of odd. I looked around and nobody else was holding their fork in the same manner. This morning a saw a women holding her fork in the same way, I think she was from England. I assume that the Thai women spent some time in England. My poor brain works this way.

At breakfast I saw a T-Shirt today, "Alabama Dream", I wonder what an Alabama dream is about?

Tomorrow we go back to Bangkok, we will explore Patpong some more tonight and tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Some thoughts on Patong, sadness at a Wat, and John Denver

As you might guess from some of the photographs I posted, I found Patong Beach irritating and depressing. When we got back home it felt like returning to Thailand. I do not like to see people using each other, in economic desperation, or destroying themselves. I saw a lot of destructive behavior at Patong Beach. I also saw kindness, hard work, and kindness. The beaches on Phuket, as distinct from the party culture, are relaxing and a wonderful break from winter.

Sunday we also went to the grocery store that was below ground level. There is a plaque on the front that memorizes the Tsunami. Many people died in the store, they could not get out.

There was an excellent bookstore in Patong, with an in depth and intelligent selection of books. I bought a novel, Snow, and also Newsweek and Business Week. Newsweek had an excellent article on Asian poverty.

Sunday night we listened to the African band for awhile. People kept requesting rock and roll and pop. The band kept trying to get across that they were an African band, but I do not think that some of the people got it. It was sort of like requesting John Denver songs from Bob Marley. The band did play a few exciting songs, among the junky requests. If I had my way I would want the band to play the music they loved, then I could learn something. One sort of ironic request, for Patong, was "Oh Baby it is a Wild World, It is Hard to Get By on a Smile". Another song, that did sort of fit was Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds." I did like the band when they were playing African and Reggae music. The band is from Cameroon.

Monday morning Pong, Jit and I visited a Wat. Pong and Jit went to worship. Wat Lampetch (sp) is at the North end of Patong beach. Entering the Wat you can see that it was re-built. There was fresh concrete on the walls and no paintings or decoration. The crematory, though, looked like it was original. There were about 10 worshipers, women, most of them looked sad and like they were carrying a burden. I imagine going to the Wat on a weekday morning is usually because of the need to worship. There was a Monk, braiding a string, as he was receiving offerings of practical essentials. There were cats and chickens, it was a good break from the Patong experience. Pong said that many people were cremated here. There is another Wat nearby, up the hill a little, that also must have been the center of body identification.

Monday, before we took off, we went to Woody's to say goodbye, this time there was low key Reggae music playing. Others were using the Internet so we could not check out email. I still hope to meet Woody, but I will probably not return to Patong or Phuket this trip to Thailand.

Today, Tuesday I worked on my STOU project and sorted through some of my trip photographs. Tomorrow I will probably go to STOU because I need faster bandwidth to explore faculty web pages. It was actually cool today, it was nice. On Yahoo it said that the low temperature was 69 degrees.


Einstein and friends, Patong Beach, Phuket Thailand


Patong Beach, Phuket Thailand


Patong Beach, Phuket Thailand


Patong Beach, Phuket Thailand


Patong Beach, Phuket Thailand


Patong Beach, Phuket Thailand


Patong Beach, Phuket Thailand

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A sad dog, complicated caring, cool weather, and Snow

I saw a sad looking dog today in the community. I had seen it from the distance a few times. Both the dogs front paws are deformed. They bend to the front. The dog limps along very slowly. The dog has white fur and it's skin is in very bad shape. The dog has open bare sores over much of it's body. I mentioned the dog to Jit, she is noticing animals more now. She asked the owner if we could take the dog to the vet. The women said that her daughter found the dog when it was a puppy, beside the road, and raised it. She had taken the dog to get some medicine for its skin a few days ago. The dog has a good temperament, but how did the dog's skin get in such a bad condition if the owners cared for it?

It has been cool lately, around 70 degrees at night, 80 to 85 degrees during the day, it is nice. In the morning people huddle with their arms clutched around their bodies to keep warm while they are waiting for the boat. We do not have hot water, the volume of water is not enough to use the electrical heater for a shower. Taking a shower takes some courage, it is cold! Usually the cold water is a relief, but not the last few days.

With the cool weather it would be a good time go to the Weekend Market or wander in Chinatown.

I spent the day working on outlining my faculty presentation for STOU, it is going well. I also have been using My Web 2.0 from Yahoo, it is sort of a de.licio.us for humans. I am going to use it for tracking my bookmarks. The idea of tags is a powerful concept.

I am reading a novel, Snow, by Orhan Pamuk. The novel is set in Turkey and is about religion, faith, creativity, and politics. It is one of the best novels I have read in many years.

I have many photographs to edit, maybe tomorrow.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Street Photography in China

Street Photography in China
An excellent article describing street photography technique. I use an Olympus 7070, a Ricoh GR1v, or a Konica Hexar AF. Sometime I use a Bessa R2a with a 28mm, 40mm, or 75mm lens. Probably the best for street photography is the Hexar AF.


Phuket, Thailand


Phuket, Thailand


Patong Beach, Thailand


Patong Beach, Thailand

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Phuket, Thailand


Phuket, Thailand


Phuket, Thailand


Phuket, Thailand

Jatujak or Chatuchak market and Lizards eyes.

Today I worked on my STOU presentation. I will be creating a presentation on gathering and using information using the Internet next month. I will be creating a web site, hand outs, and step by step examples. It should be fun, and the material that I create I will also be able to use in the courses I teach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

I have been walking in the park with my binoculars. I watch for birds and the Monitor Lizards. The Lizards are very alert and I am learning their habits. If I surprise a lizard they freeze, they do not even flick their tongue. When I look at their eyes with my binoculars they are very alert and beautiful. If I move closer, or move away, they will quickly move into the water. If the lizard sees me first they will slip into the water, I will hear the movement in the water or see a ripple. Some of the lizards sun bath on an island. I love to watch them get out of the water and crawl onto the island. Even if they are on the island they will watch me, and sometimes freeze, or return to the water. One of the lizards had its back to me, as I walked I could see it turn its head to watch me. I walked from one side to the other and the lizards followed my movement. Their eyesight must be excellent. When I am using the binoculars I can see the pattern of their skin, their eyes, and also watch their tongue investigating the air. The lizards seem smart, and very alert. Lizards eyes are really beautiful.

The park is supposed to be getting paddle boats, I wonder how the lizards and the paddle boats will get along. There is also supposed to be a food stand opening in the park, two of the community members will run it. I hope that the increased activity does not disrupt the lizards life, or the number of birds that I see, but I know that it will.

Today we went to Jatujak or Chatuchak market, their were two signs, right next to each other, with the different spellings. The Chatuchak Market is an excellent place to shop. It is not a tourist place, there are things to by of high quality and excellent design. There are also pets, many puppies, but no real Thai dogs that I saw, and fish in plastic bags. We did our Christmas shopping and then shipped our gifts to my daughter Margaret, in Fairbanks Alaska, to organize and mail to others. The shipping people, TNT shipping, are really excellent. We used them last year and the communication was excellent. We had some professionaly packed dried fruit and a glass candle with an image of a Buddha that we wanted to send. It was recommended that we do not because of customs. The idea, which I appreciated, is that we did not want to give customs the opportunity to use judgement. There was the potential for complications if the package was inspected.

When we went to the Market in 2004 it was May and June. The Market was overwhelmingly hot. We mostly looked for clothes with my daughter. Today the weather was nice, a little cloudy and cool, meaning around 80. We got there about 9:30. We mostly looked at handcrafted items for presents. The selection was excellent, and Jit was excellent at bargaining. There was a Chinese Buddhist ceremony. There were monks chanting and also a dragon. The dragon went around the market, the dragon was followed by drums. I took many pictures. I used the small Ricoh GR1v with the 28mm lens since we were primarily shopping. I will not see the pictures for a week or so. We got home around 2:00.

I want to go to the market again with photography as my goal. When the weather is cooler the market is an excellent place to wander and explore. As we were leaving it was getting pretty crowded, for me the best time to go would be the first thing in the morning.

When we got home we took Jit's mom over to watch the community volley ball game. Both teenagers and adults were playing. People play until it is too dark to see. The games are very relaxed. We then went to a birthday party for one of our friends kids. It was a good evening.

Tomorrow their is supposed to be some kind of sports day in the park, people want me to take photographs, so I will. I think the games begin at 8:00 in the morning and many people from different muu's will attend.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Under the Mega-Bridge, the Phra Pradaeng Morning Market at 5:00 AM

If you are from Seattle you know the Pikes Place Market, imagine a real market, starting at early in the morning, before 4:00, that is packed with meat, vegetables, fish of all kinds, and is a true wholesale market for all the restaurants and food sellers in the community. The Phra Pradaeng market is just a normal town market, but it is amazing.

We got up at 4:00 to meet Naw to go to the market, she was buying food to prepare for the sport day today and Jit was getting food for her mom. Jit will prepare a special meal for the monks tomorrow morning. It is the anniversary of Jit's grandmothers death. We rode in the back of a pickup, we had to wake up the park caretaker to open the gate. Our driver was a little hung over so the ride kept me alert.

The market was very busy, it was still dark so the lighting was by florescent tubes and bare light bulbs, the floor was very wet, maybe hosed down. I will try to describe some impressions of the market.

There were vegetables of all kinds, large and small. Many stalls had fresh vegetables.

There were pans of fish, still moving. We bought a large burbot looking fish. The seller clubbed it in the head when we bought it. We then left, while he butchered and cleaned the fish. There were many stalls of fresh fish.

There was a motorcycle taxi, shopping in the market. He had his jacket on, he would go from place to place and load up his motorcycle for delivery.

There were stalls of dried peppers of many kinds.

There were many stalls selling chicken eggs. One chicken egg stall was on the ground in the dark. An old lady was trying to sell in the dark.

There were stalls of flowers for sale, some were for worship, and others were just beautiful.

There was shrimp and squid for sale.

There was butchered pork, pork heads, pork entrails, tripe, and even a skinned pork head.

There was a child sleeping on a counter top.

There were people wheeling large baskets on hand carts and filling the baskets with their purchases, one basket even had a boy in it.

Motorcycles and carts were going through the market, delivering and hauling purchases

The were people riding bicycles, some of the bikes, manufactured in Thailand are very practical with many baskets and seats for two. The bikes also are decorated with a sort of plastic web that is on the fender. Not too swift, but very practical.

There was a lady carrying a pretty large white poodle in her arms, a think carrying small dogs is a fad, but this dog was medium size.

There were bags of sauces and nuts for sale.

There were fish for sale in round coconut leave containers.

There was plastic bags of coconut milk for sale.

There was soy milk and fry bread for sale.

Many smiles, people saw my camera and thought it was fun, it is a real community. The market is the basis of many other businesses, the wholesale place for many retail shops. It is just an average Thai market in an average Thai town and that is what makes it so amazing. It is 5:15 and it is packed with people, working people, doing their jobs.

I can see ships going down the Chao Phraya river past Phra Pradaeng, I can hear the rumble of their engines.

There are Buddhist monks getting food and women in hair scarves.

There are desserts in bags, and little golden fruits.

There is even a fashion store, for clothes, but that was not a major part of the market.

There were Taxis, Tuk Tuks, Pedi-cabs, Blue Truck-Buses, and Green Mini-Buses. It is about 5:45 in the morning.

There are some dogs sleeping and wandering around looking for food, the downtown shops are shuttered, but the street sellers are open and ready to sell. The 7-11's and Family Marts are open.

The shop selling worship stuff for the temple is open and Jit bought some things for her mom.

There was a beggar looking for donations.

There was no espresso shop! I would have loved a good cup of coffee.

I took photographs, but the conditions were marginal. I do not know how they will look.

There was a girl with a stuffed animal key chain, I see these a lot.

There was a women in a yellow jacket and a straw hat sweeping in front of the market and a very old man in a white shirt shopping. It is still before 6:00 in the morning.

We loaded all the purchases and rode back home in the back of the pickup.

What is amazing is that the market is just an ordinary everyday market, yet it is fascinating and very exciting to see. I hear the Klong Toey Market across the river is much larger, but the market experience the basis of so much that is Thailand.

I had fun.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Phra Pradaeng Morning Market, Thailand


Phra Pradaeng Morning Market, Thailand


Phra Pradaeng Morning Market, Thailand


Phra Pradaeng Morning Market, Thailand


Chatuchak Weekend Market, Thailand


Chatuchak Weekend Market, Thailand


Chatuchak Weekend Market, Thailand


Sports Day, Bangkrachow, Thailand


Sports Day, Bangkrachow, Thailand


Sports Day, Bangkrachow, Thailand

Sports Day and STOU

The sports day was fun. Sunday morning, at 7:00 Soccer (Football) started with a women's game, there were then three very competitive, and fun to watch football games. There were many people from the surrounding community. Both men and boys played in the games. Ton, Jit's nephew played as a goalie on one of the teams. It was good to watch him play and also just to have fun. He works hard around the house taking care of his grandparents. The football games ended around 11:00 with a lunch. At 3:30 Volleyball started, I thought it was going to start earlier, but then I realized that people were scheduling around the hot time of the day, duh!

People in the community love volleyball. The game is slightly different in that people can also kick the ball over the net, like in soccer. The games including cheering, teasing, and much laughter. In Thailand people know how to play many games, because it is included in the school curriculum. I took some photographs with the digital camera, but I am not too happy with them. I also did some photography with my Nikon FM3 and the 105mm lens, I will look forward to seeing the result.

We went to STOU. I am working on my presentation. There is an outline for the presentation at http://www.cysewski.com/stou/interinfo/ It is fun to get back into the lesson creation business. I will be preparing a presentation and set of hands on experiences. Having the faster Internet access at STOU makes it easier. Tuk is a great person to work with, I enjoy taking with her when we go to STOU. She is very competent in her skills, and also very interesting. Nun, works with us also, she is helping me with Thai. She will spend next year in China teaching Thai at a Chinese University. The neighborhood around STOU is very different, sometimes it has a European feel, with bakeries and coffee shops. The area is near Impact Center. The experience in the area around STOU is very different then being in Phra Pradaeng.

Today Jit's mom goes to the hospital for a cataract operation. She will probably be in the hospital two or three days. We are getting ready to go now. Last night Jit spent some time talking with Ooy. Ooy is the motorcycle taxi driver for the community. People respect her. Ooy is around 40, she has three kids, two of them grown. She is from the Klong Toey area and is married to Lek's son. Ooy is supporting her folks who live in the park. Her dad does recycling. Ooy has had a tough life, but her values are very good, she works very hard to make a living and to support her family. There are many courageous people in Thailand fulfilling their family responsibilities.



Thursday, December 01, 2005

STOU, Vajira Hospital, Muang Thang Thani III, and political dialectic!

This morning I saw a two bicycle family. The mother and father were each riding a bicycle with a child on the back. They were riding their children to school.

In Bangkok the time spent to get to and from work is a great waste of time, Nun takes two hour each way to commute between her home and work. People leave for work between 5:00 and 6:00 AM. Imagine 4 hours a day waiting in traffic and trying to get to home or work.

Jit's mom is being admitted into the hospital for cataract surgery. Her operation will be tomorrow.

I worked on my STOU presentation today, the date has been changed to December 16th. I also have a presentation scheduled with the photographers at STOU December 23rd. I was asked to speak English slowly! I will know more later on the details of this presentation.

We woke at 4:30 so we could get to the hospital to prepare Jit's mom for surgery. We got the small boat at 6:00, during the commuter rush, many people from the community were lining up for the small boat to go to work. Over and over I get reminded how hard people work to make a living.

There was a large ship in the river surrounded by barges, cranes on the ship scoop rice from barges into the ships hold. The ship waterline rises as the hold fills, the barges rise higher as they are emptied. When crossing over the Chao Phraya river on the Rama IX bridge I can see ships in the middle of the river surrounded by clusters of barges.

Jit's mom is staying at Vajira hospital. the hospital is immense. When you enter the hospital you pass a large Spirit House with rocks and flowing water, it is a good place to stop and reflect. The hospital is built around the original hospital, an old building, in sort of a central court, a huge modern hospital has developed around the original old graceful "mansion". It is surprising and interesting.

There is a balcony by Jit's mothers room, it is a group room on the 7th floor of an older wing of the hospital. I wait on the balcony and just look around. I can see the central column of the Rama VIII bridge with the lotus blossom flame on top, it really is a beautiful bridge. There are birds, Pigeons of course and smaller black birds with yellow around their eyes. The bird makes a variety of calls. The birds have a confident curious attitude, sort of like small Ravens. There are white markings on their wings when they fly, they are about half the size of a pigeon. What ever they are, they are a pretty neat bird, fun to watch. There are Swallows or Swifts flocking around the 9th floor of the main hospital building, soaring and circling, catching up drafts, probably eating insects

Politically Thailand has an interesting process, the government will make a proposal, for instance transferring schools to local government authorities, vested interests will come to Bangkok and demonstrate and present petitions, and there will be a compromise, sort of a dialectic of proposal, demonstration, and compromise. When we left the hospital the Taxi took a different way to avoid today's demonstrations. There were three demonstrations going on at once, something about milk subsidies, and two demonstrations on whether schools can be transferred to local governments. Last week there was a gathering about safety inspections for the green mini-buses.

When we got to STOU I worked on my presentation, it is going well, but I have a lot to do. The work is an investment in a future course that I will teach when I return to Alaska, so it is valuable time.

In the courtyard at STOU there are a mother dog and puppies, the puppies are really cute, they are behind an ornamental garden and large rock. Seeing puppies is very tempting, if we were staying longer I would get a dog, a Thai dog, to watch the house and just to have around to enjoy. I will be glad to get home and see our dog Ava again, I wonder if she will remember us.

STOU is in the Muang Thang Thani III across across from a large Wat and the Department of Land, I think. Muang Thang Thani is a nice place to live, a mix of many stores. There is easy expressway access, and the mix of stores and atmosphere is not too overwhelming. I looked up the community on the web. There is a great web site that explains and documents the community. www.mttbkk.com The area we walked in is just up the road from Impact Center, there are many remnants of the economic collapse of 1997. If I were moving to Bangkok, to live, I would look at this area for an apartment.

We ate at Dr Lex. Steak and Thai Food. There is a set menu with a variety of pork, chicken and beef steaks and also Thai food. The meal includes ice cream for dessert. The meals were the equivalent of $2.00. The dishes and decorations in the restaurant were simple and tasteful. There was a Christmas Tree up, which is very disorienting. Christmas is not on my mind. It was a good place to eat.

At dawn the bird sounds are amazing, it is like having a very calming alarm clock. there are whoos, whirs, rumbles and chirps. The sounds are wonderful. At dusk many of the same sounds repeat, but in the morning it is a wonderful way to wake up. Today I am staying home to work.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Thai Dog




Morning light

Saturday, December 03, 2005

CNN.com - CNN Presents: Living with AIDS - Dec 2, 2005

CNN.com - CNN Presents: Living with AIDS - Dec 2, 2005

I watched the documentary "Living with AIDS" tonight, it was brutally excellent. I will not forget what I watched.

In Thailand I see the the effect of AIDS and HIV, but at least where we live, the community is helping people survive. In day to day living it is easy to forget about the effects of poverty. Some people simply do not have the money to provide the basic needs to survive. Poverty can overpower judgement. If you can, please watch this documentary, you will be changed.

Finding, Gathering, and Sharing Information Using the Internet: Stephen Cysewski

Finding, Gathering, and Sharing Information Using the Internet: Stephen Cysewski
Here is the outline for my morning presentation. All the links should work. I am not sure the presentation will make sense without my actual explanations, but the links should be valuable.

A sad looking dog


I saw a sad looking dog today in the community. I had seen it from the distance a few times. Both the dogs front paws are deformed. They bend to the front. The dog limps along very slowly. The dog has white fur and it's skin is in very bad shape. The dog has open bare sores over much of it's body. I mentioned the dog to Jit, she is noticing animals more now. She asked the owner if we could take the dog to the vet. The women said that her daughter found the dog when it was a puppy, beside the road, and raised it. She had taken the dog to get some medicine for its skin a few days ago. The dog has a good temperament, but how did the dog's skin get in such a bad condition if the owners cared for it?

Morning Light, Spiders, a black Mercedes 190, and fussing with a computer

This morning I went walking in the park early because of the morning light, I was feeling in black and white but using color. I can convert the images to black and white when I get them back.

Last night, when I woke up in the middle of the night, there was a large spider on the ceiling, sort of unnerving, but they do eat other bugs. It is easy to let my imagination make the spider more scary then it is. The spider is very fast and very alert.

Yesterday I worked on my computer, there was a problem with my web server and I had to work with my ISP in Texas to get it worked out, I learned a lot. My notebook has some kind of erratic problem with the CD, sometimes it can read a disk and sometimes not, I finally got it to record a CD of pictures from the sports day so I can make some pictures for the community.

Jit is spending the night at the hospital with her mother, yesterday afternoon we went to Phra Pradaeng. I got a CD that would not read transferred to my USB flash drive, we had a good meal, and then Jit went shopping, I found a place, out of the flow of peoples to just watch, I love Phra Pradaeng, it has no tourist illusions, it is just a working town, very dense and very busy. As I was watching a old black Mercedes Benz 190, maybe 1959 or so, went driving by, very good condition, with silvered mirror film on the windows, the car stopped, picked up somebody, and then turned around and went back out of town.

In the morning I was fussing getting my STOU presentation to look presentable in both Firefox and Internet Explorer. I converted my Word document using many different settings, but it still looked odd, I finally had to search and replace on a single character to get it to look OK. There still is a problem, Internet Explorer will not center the table that I am using, but Firefox will. I also downloaded and used Nvu, a free Web page editor. I like it and will use it in my "Using Internet Technology" course that I will teach in the fall.

I am starting to think more about Alaska, imagining what it will be like to be home. I am worried about being bored, but also looking forward to having some autonomy and competence.

Next Sunday we are having the house warming with the monks and the community visiting. I do not know how it will all work out with Jit's mom being in the hospital until next Thursday, but we will see.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Chatuchak, begging, and changes at the Park

Last night I saw the AIDS show on CNN. During the night I kept thinking about what I saw, the show was powerful, moving, and depressing. Yesterday we went to Chatuchak Market with Nuck, Nick, and Aoy. We picked up Jit from the hospital. There were people "begging" at the market. When we crossed the bridge there was a man with a large swollen leg, in the market there was a man crawling on the ground pushing a cup for donations. When I was in Thailand in 2001 at the, Bopae market, I saw the same thing. There were women with tiny babies asking for donations. Other people with different deformities or tragedies were asking for money. It is sort of overwhelming. Usually there is such a rush of sights, sounds and impressions that what I am seeing does not register until after I have passed. Some impressions do not sink home until the middle of the night when I reflect upon what I have experience. Anyway all the impressions from yesterday were jumbled together in a restless night.

Yesterday I finished another step by step lesson for my presentation. I created an exercise to install the Google Toolbar, the Google Desktop and the Blog This button on the Google Toolbar. I just found out tomorrow is Father's Day so I will not go to work at STOU on Monday. In the United States Father's Day is in June not November.

Jit's uncle came over with his two daughters and his son to look at the road, there is some decision that he needs to make. It was good to see them. I really like their family, after experiencing a funeral for six days you get close to people. I am not sure of the issues, or what was decided, about the road, but it was good to see them.

At the Chatuchak Market we went exploring, since we were with Nuck, Nick, and Aoy we did a lot of looking at clothes. There were music performers at the market, and it was packed, but fun. I got a CD from the world PINN Champion, they were playing at the market and it sounded like blues guitar, or Malawi African music. PINN is a northeaster Thai insturment. I also got a fake North Face backpack, after I got home and looked at the pack in detail I regretted the purchase, it was cheap, but the quality and details were very poor.

On the way home Jit took a Taxi to the hospital and I went with Nick, Nuck and Aoy on the subway to the Queen Sirikit center. On the subway many people were sleeping, one person was nodding off standing up. There is not much to do on the subway except watch people. There was a man, maybe from the middle east, who was really crowding the women he was with. It looks like her space was being invaded. Another man from France, that is what his accent sounded like, was trying to hold hands and hug the women that he was with, but I could tell that it made her uncomfortable, he was insistent. I have only ridden a subway for a few times in London and, unless you are reading or sleeping, it is sort of awkward. The only thing to look at is each other.

It looks like Jit will be at the hospital for a few more days. I walked around the park this morning, it was beautiful. The promotion has started, something about Green Prapaeng, and there are plastic kayaks and paddle boats for people to rent and also tents. I went and ate with Nay and Noy, they are opening a food shop over by park headquarters. I did not see a Monitor Lizard. I am a little worried about how the Lizards will handle all the commotion. It sounds like some people are going to really promote the park as a tourism destination.

They installed a low metal gate by the bridge between our community and the park, the idea is to stop motorcycle traffic. People are just using a different path to get into and out of the village.

Nuck came over and taught me five more Thai letters of the alphabet.

Today or tomorrow I will try to get some film developed and to get the pictures from Sports Day to give to the community. Since Jit is at the hospital, and tomorrow is Father's Day I should concentrate and get some work done. I hope I will....

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Falling in the canal, puppies, and a Father's day celebration

Monday was a busy day in the park, there were the paddle boats and kayaks for rent and many bike tours. Because of the gate on the main path to the park, to limit motor bike usage I guess, people are using the path by the house. A boy on a bike fell into the canal, but we fished him out. There have been four people who have fallen in the canal by the rough spot on the path since I have been here, luckily nobody has been hurt.

Jit came home for a little while, her Dad stayed at the hospital. We ate at the new food place in the park, the food was good. Nah and Oye go to the market every morning to get the food for the day, sometimes they cross on the boat to the Klong Toey market and other days they go to the Phra Pradaeng market.

We are having a puppy explosion in the community. Right now it is 6:00 in the morning and I can hear puppies yelping for their mom. There is a another bunch of puppies over by where the motorbikes are parked. I saw them with their mother last night. The puppies are sure not hidden, they are resting among the motor bikes near the big tree at the center of the community.

Monday night we went with Juke and Star and the family to a combination King's birthday and Father's day celebration at Wat Bangkrachow. The celebration was for the Bangkrachow Tambon. Each of the mu's, or most of them, had a free food booth. There was an amazing amount of food. At the celebration there were bright, very bright, fluorescent lights of many colors. Each of the elected representatives for the area were there in white military looking uniforms. At 7:19 we lit candles and listened to some speeches. There was a prayer and then a song, like an anthem, that everybody sang. After the ceremony there was Thai dancing and then a guy in a white suite, sort of like an Elvis Los Vegas costume, and eight dancing girls in feather head dresses and bare mid-riffs sang some popular music. It was sort of strange, we left early and headed home. As we arrived home it started to rain. I have no idea what happened at the celebration or how long it went on.

I was given a yellow shirt to wear to the ceremony that said in Thai, "I love the king". Actually, after reading his yearly speech in the Bangkok Post, I do. The speech was about accepting criticism and being thoughtful. I was impressed by the gentle humor and wise perspective of his comments. After all the issues of press freedom and criticism that have been going on lately in Thailand it was great to hear thoughtful in depth comments about public responsibility.

Tomorrow I will go with Jit's dad to the hospital and then we will go to STOU.

I got up early and went to the hospital with Jit's father. We then went to STOU. I am finishing up my hands on exercises for my faculty presentation. We visited with Tuk and Nun and then I met with the photographic department at STOU. The photographic department does everything from Photo ID's to documenting course content. We talked about photography and the process of taking pictures. I showed some of my photography web sites. I will also bring in some of the photographs that I took at the Loy Krathong ceremony at STOU.

It is hard to enjoy photography when it is a job. For me photography is about emotion and if you are having to take a photograph to represent a specific viewpoint it can alienate you from the joy of photography. We talked a little about taking pictures of things you hate! In one of the men's bathroom at STOU you can see outside through a slated window, there are pigeons roosting there and people throw out their cigarette butts, it is gross. I was thinking about how you could get in touch with the feeling of photography and recommended that people look for things they hated, sort of to clean out the system so you could feel the things you enjoy again. Taking photographs as a business could get pretty depressing. I will meet with the photo group again this Friday at the Photo Fair at Bitec.

One of the tasks of the photography department is to take pictures of the buildings at STOU. They are not happy with the results, the buildings just look like buildings. We talked about lights and weather and not just taking pictures when the weather is nice. People are not really taking pictures of buildings they are taking pictures of light reflecting from buildings. I was asked to go out with a few people and to take some photographs, if the opportunity becomes real it should be fun. If I get a chance I will try to wander around early in the morning as the sun is coming up.

Today I am staying home to finish my presentation. I have a lot more to write, but I should be done with the final draft today. The planning for Sunday's house ceremony is beginning. Jit is expecting more then 100 people. I have no idea how it all will work, but I will learn.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Laundry can be beautiful!


This morning on the back deck of the house.

This is not a Monitor Lizard!


One of the shops at the edge of the park has this poster on the wall. I am not sure why, but it is not a Monitor Lizard!

Some trees do lose their leaves in the winter


In Thailand it is winter, some trees do lose their leaves. Parts of the park have a thick covering of leaves. I always wondered is their were seasonal changes in the trees, and there is, for some of them anyway. Both these pictures were taken with my new camera, the Ricoh GR Digital.

In the Park this morning



Everybody is going crazy!

Tomorrow will be the house dedication, there will be nine monks here in the morning, food for the community, and a large gathering. The community is making sweets for the dedication, food is being gathered and prepared, people are coming from around Bangkok, it is a big deal. The house is all rearranged to make room, the chairs or seating pads for the monks are here. I am taking pictures with a new camera that I got yesterday at the Photofair at Bitec Center. Being a recluse by temperament it is a little stressful, but the feeling is good. I do not think that Jit will sleep much. She went to Phra Pradaeng market in the morning with a friend on motorbikes. We also went to Big C and Phra Pradaeng this afternoon to get more "stuff".

Yesterday I went to STOU to bring in my hand-on exercises and then we rode to the Photofair with the Photography department at STOU. The Photofair was all digital and really excellent, all the new things from Canon and Nikon were there. I saw the D200, and want one. I also saw, and purchased, the Ricoh GR Digital. I already own the GR1v and the GR21 and could not resist. The Ricoh GR Digital is not available in the United States. I have been using it today and am happy with it, it is fast, sharp, and sensible. I want to get the Voigtlander Mini-Finder for it, the 28mm-35mm one. I think it will be a perfect match.

There are going to be at least 40 people for my STOU presentation next Friday. I have the material prepared. Monday is a holiday and Tuesday I will bring in my computer to make sure the projector and Internet connection are working. I am looking forward to the presentation. The subject is Finding, Gathering, and Sharing Information with the Internet. Since my presentation was completed last Thursday Google has added RSS feeds to Gmail and Yahoo has bought del-iscio-us. The world of Tagging and RSS feeds is moving quickly. It is like the old days when the Internet was exciting and free. Everything that I will be presenting will be a free tool to gather and share information. It is exciting.

We are going to put the computer in a sperate room so I will be out of communication for a day or two. Monday we are taking Juk's computer to Pantip Plaza to get repaired. I hope to get to the Photofair tomorrow after the house dedication.

I will be keeping notes and taking pictures so I will update my Blog when things calm down.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Our house is now a home, Pantip Plaza, and Roller Blading!

Our house is now a home, Pantip Plaza, and Roller Blading!

This morning the monk came to our house to accept the morning offering of food. On the gate in front of the house, over the front door, and on each bedroom there are markings from the house dedication ceremony. There is also a white string around the house that was used in the ceremony. The purpose of the ceremony is to provide protection and the atmosphere for a happy home. Jit's mom and dad have moved into the house and people come and visit at the front porch. Yesterday morning people came for an early lunch. Jit's mom came out and joined in. The odd thing is that the house does feel different; it does feel like a home. I will post pictures of the marking and of the ceremony soon.

What was amazing about the ceremony was the community participation. Saturday night I visited at Juke's home and people were making flower baskets and palm leaf bowls for a fish curry. When I woke up at 3:00 AM there were people cooking and preparing vegetables in our kitchen. Under the big tree people they were cooking a large pot of soup and another large pot of green curry.

People brought dishes from all over the community and large pots and pans. A large blue ice chest, and even a large parasol were brought over to help out. Our house warming was a community event, not a personal event.

Monday morning people helped us put everything away and haul the dishes, tables, and monks chairs back to where they belonged. We then went with Juke's family to Pantip Plaza to get their computer fixed. The motherboard was replaced and a new DVD RW was installed as well as a complete software pack for under $60. We went to a small shop on the fourth floor. It was fun watching the person work on the computer; he was very fast and knew what he was doing. We will know in the next week or two if the repair really worked. I looked at the illegal software, the selection was amazing, Photoshop CS2 or under $3.00! There were also DVD training disks that were very cheap. I looked, but did not buy, but I was tempted.

I am frustrated with my new camera, it is slow and the images are noisy compared to my Olympus 7070. We are going to try to return it today, I purchased it with a credit card, so I should succeed. Also Jit will be around to do the negotiations. The Ricoh GR Digital is a great idea, poorly implemented. I really wanted to like the camera. Paying a premium price for a poorly implemented camera is not worth it. We will have to go to the store in Bangkok to work out the exchange or refund. After we are done I want to go to STOU to check out if my computer works correctly on the Internet. If it doesn't I will download and prepare all the software that I will be using in the demonstration.

Saturday night, as it was getting dark, a large turtle, with a lumpy head crawled out of the canal under the house and crawled to the next canal over. The turtle had to navigate around a maze of Jit's dad's plants. I could watch him for a awhile, and as the light got dim, I could hear him move. He finally made it to the other canal, but it took luck and persistence. I was hoping he did not get into a dead end.

We almost had a dog move in with us, during the house dedication a dog came over, joined in, was not a hassle, and picked up scraps, without begging. She even slept on the front step. I feed her some stuff across the path. I thought she was going to stay, but she got up, and walked away, I do not know where. It was a pretty cool dog, very considerate and friendly.

Monday night as we were returning from Pantip there was a women roller blading through the traffic. She carried a warning light, pretty amazing. If everybody Rollerbladed and used bicycles there would be no traffic problem! Anyway who ever was Rollerblading at night in downtown Bangkok traffic was both brave and skilled.

Across from Pantip Plaza, as we were going to a Pizza place, there was an amazing beggar. He was crying anguished tears, his expression was heart rendering. I can not imagine how he can keep up the tears and the anguish, but he does. Every human instinct is to reach out and try to help him, but it is an act, and excellent act, but an act.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A tree near our house



Chatuchak Market


Wandering in the Saturday market.

After the ceremony the Monks eat a meal prepared by the community


After the ceremony the Monks eat a meal. The meal must be completed by 12:00 noon. When the Monks are finished the community will eat. The meal is a large part of the ceremony.

The Monks arriving for the home dedication


There were nine monks, the traditional number, for the home dedication

The sign over the gate to Jit's parent's home.


During the home dedication the Abbot painted these markings on the sign over the front gate, above the entrance to the home, and a similar symbol on each bedroom door. The night before we put a white thread around the house, the monks held the thread when they sang. Our home is now protected from bad things and is a good place to live. It was a good experience

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Plants on the front path


Another picture of plants. It is cool and cloudy today. The light is different. I like it.

Just a plant


I took this photograph this morning, just fooling around. I like it. Tomorrow I will be at STOU all day giving a faculty presentation. The outline for the presentation is at http://www.cysewski.com/stou/interinfo/

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Presentation, Drink Don't Drive, Feel Green Feel Prapadang, and a new trip

This morning somebody delivered eggs, Jit's mom ordered them. In the morning we get Orange Juice delivered and also four newspapers, the Bangkok Post, The Nation, and two Thai papers, Matichon and Khaosod. It is nice sitting on the porch, reading the paper, and having fresh orange juice.

On the tallest building in Bangkok, Boyoke Tower, there is an advertising sign, Drink Don't Drive. That message is a little ambiguous, is it recommending drinking as an alternative to driving? Seriously though drunk driving, from what I see, is a huge problem in Thailand.

There are signs all over Prapadang advertising activities at the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park. The slogan is Feel Green Feel Prapadang. The web site, which does not seem too relevant, except there are Kayaks to rent, is http://www.feelfreekayak.com/ . Each weekend there are paddle boats, kayaks, and bicycles to rent. Some people are really trying to promote the park as a business enterprise.

It is hard to express how visually, emotionally, and intellectually dense it is in Thailand. On the short walk from the Klong Toey dock I see and feel many things, people, forms, shapes, sounds, and smells. I could just stop, sit, and watch for hours, and I would not be bored. To me this dense many layered flood of impressions is one of my favorite parts of being in Thailand.

I saw a new billboard on the way to STOU today, PC Magazine Thailand. In the IT field PC Magazine is the an essential resource, it is great to see it in Thailand. Also as we were going to STOU I saw an odd sign on the back of a silver van, Non Boy Team, The Adventure.

On the way back from STOU today I saw some more of those fantastic Thai buses, they were passing on a cross roads, so I could not view them closely. I think they were going to the port to pickup workers. On the side of the buses were large painted signs on the windows, one bus had Hurricane painted, another Bus Man Show, and the final bus had Perfect. Whenever I see one of these buses it just makes me smile, they are crazy.

My presentation went well, unless I am deluded. People stayed, in fact the participation increased during the day. We used the time effectively, and people seemed to understand the subject. The proof of the workshop will not be my impressions but if the information is used. I have posted the presentation outline in previous blogs.

Sunday we will be leaving for Cha-am & Hua Hin. We will be visiting Non-Formal Education Centers and will be looking at distance education implementations. Two professors were in my workshop who are specializing in technology education and non-formal education, they invited us to join them on their trip. The invitation to go on the trip comes at a perfect time since I just finished my presentation.

Finally, my new camera is not working, the lens will not retract. I am not sure if there is warranty service in Thailand, but we are communicating with the importer. I am VERY glad I paid with a credit card.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Thonburi, goldfish, and a police roadblock

This morning we went to Thonburi to take the Ricoh GR digital in for repair. We went to the Ricoh distributor for Thailand. We needed a map to find the location. It was in a very commercial area of Thonburi. When we crossed the river we ran in to the taxi driver that lives in our neighborhood so he took us. We ended up using him to get to the distributor and back home through Phra Pradaeng. The distributor will send the camera back to Japan, hopefully for no cost. It will take about a month. The distributor was interesting, it looked like the used to import Bronica equipment and they also distributed professional photographic lighting. They must have done other things too, during lunch there were about 20 uniformed workers who left for lunch. Anyway the camera is on its way to being repaired.

As we were leaving we were waiting for Keenon. There was a gold fish pond in a rectangle concrete box about 10 feet by 5 feet and maybe 2 feet tall by her house. There were some beautiful plants and many goldfish. The odd thing is that I have walked past the area many times and never noticed it. Again my experience in Thailand is being so overwhelmed with so much to see that I miss the details. There was also a very nice concrete pattern around a tree. I took a few photographs for my memory.

On the way to Thonburi there was a police roadblock, maybe 15 policemen. They were stopping some people, I am not sure for what, maybe seat belts. About a half mile further there were more policemen. I assume to capture escapees. At least, from my experience, people will flee the police if given a chance. Coming back we were stuck in traffic and a policemen walked up to a truck and got some papers. He then motioned for the truck to pull over when the traffic cleared. Saturday must have been a big police day.

Once you get off the main roads in Bangkok the activity seems to increase, the roads are narrow and packed with activity, people trying to make a living. I look down even narrower streets and there is commercial activity. The competition for making a living is intense. There are so many people doing similar things, and the prices are so cheap. For people to live their living cost must also be cheap. I think in many cases it is many people in a family pooling their incomes that allows families to survive. Bangkok is dense!

As we were stuck in traffic the car next to us had a sign, Moon eyes Sensitivity In Motion.

When we got home we went over to the park to eat at Nah and Noy's. There were people there who were working on promoting the park. Jit had a long conversation with them. I asked about what had happened to cause all the destruction in the other end of the park. I was told that there was corruption and poor building materials, but I do not think that is the whole story. Why did they build a park entrance where there is no road or place for people to get into the park? I have read some reference that the park was a part of a larger project and they were going to have all the communities move out. There was some kind of objection, thankfully, and like many projects it was never fully implemented.

We went home, and I read the newspapers and prepared for our trip tomorrow to Cha Am and Hu Hin. I might not post anything to the blog until Wednesday or Thursday because of the trip. I will be taking notes and making photographs so I will have a lot to share.

We got an email from one of our friends in Fairbanks Alaska, she works in Surinam's restaurant in Fairbanks. When she was in Thailand she ran an Internet cafe. She is coming to Thailand with her husband to have a Thai wedding. We have been invited. It will be in January. We will try to go. The wedding will be in Supanburi.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Pizza Delivery


We are off to Cha Am and Hu Hin to visit some non-formal education sites. I will post the results on Wednesday.

Behind the house


Behind the house



Palm and Banana Trees Behind the House



Dish Washing!


Preparing for the home dedication, sort of!


Palm Frond


Preparing for the house dedication


Many people helped prepare for the home dedication. It was a community event.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Center for Educational Technology and Non-Formal Education and an opportunity

We had a meeting with the Center for Educational Technology www.ceted.org. We met with people from Non-Formal Education to learn about the use of technology and distance education for the delivery of courses for Non-Formal Education centers.

We talked about distance education and non-formal education. We watched a well done video that described the purpose of non-formal education. It sounded like the community college mission. There are three broad themes for training, life skills, community development, and career development. We talked about what is essential to get adults to take advantage of training. I discussed the need for respect for the students, excellent teachers who listen and meet the students immediate needs, and content that is practical and useful.

The non-formal education centers are attempting to meet adults IT training needs, but the curriculum is not comprehensive or organized. I will be meeting with people at the Center for Educational Technology to share our Information Technology Support Specialist curriculum. The meeting will be December 29th. to see the ITS curriculum visit www.uaf.tvc.edu/its/ . I am looking forward to sharing our degree and course competencies and method of course organization and delivery. There is a real opportunity to share some of the material we have created for the ITS program at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, College of Rural and Community Development.

The meeting was in a formal conference room with food, audio broadcast capability, speakers, and food and drinks. In Thailand, during meetings, even in offices, people bring water, coffee, and usually a snack. There are people whose job is to serve the workers, at least in government offices. People in Thailand are very comfortable with having their pictures taken at meetings. In most meetings there are photographs to document the people present. I do not know what happens to all the photographs, but people pass around digital cameras and take pictures of each other.

After the meeting we went to Pantip Plaza and I had fun wandering around and looking at computers, software, and digital cameras. I got a mouse for Nick and Nuck's computer. The repair that we got at Pantip Plaza seems to be successful.

In the evening Jit had a whole group of the older kid's in the community and some young adults to talk about education. I was working on Photoshop so did not take part, I just listened and picked up what I could from the conversation.

Late in the evening there were fireworks, I assume it was because of winter solstice, but I do not know and nobody said anything.

Tomorrow I will read, get caught up, and not go anywhere. We will go to STOU on Thursday.

As we travel around I am losing my sense of wonder, I take things for granted that used to be fantastic.

Hua Hin, the Distance Learning Foundation, the Wang Klaikangwoo School

12/17/05 to 12/19/05

Driving back to Bang Krachow in the Taxi I saw two people who were disabled pushing a wheelchair over the bridge that goes over the new flood control canal under the Mega-Bridge. I also saw a pedi-cabs being pushed over the bridge with the passengers still riding. The hill is pretty steep for people to peddle over.

There is a new 7-11 on the read to Bang Krachow. It was built very quickly, almost a pre-fab, it is about half way out on the peninsula. That makes three mini-marts on the peninsula.
Before we went into Bangkok to get a ride to Hua Hin I went for a long walk in the park it was windy and I got goose bumps. The weather really is cooler now, people wear coats and hats sometimes. To me it is a relief.

We took a taxi to the Thai Farmers Bank under the Ari Sky Train station. We met Dr Siriwan Anantho with the School of Communication Arts at Sukothai Thammathirat Open University and rode with her to her parent's house at Cha Am.

We looked at the Cha Am beach, it reminded me of when we went there with Jit's family in 2001. When we were visiting Cha Am in 2001 we also stayed at Pan's house at Kaeng Krachan National Park. Going to a place again, remembering how I experienced it, and then comparing that experiences can be a revelation. My perspective is very different, what was strange is now normal.

We went to the palace of Rama VII. It was closed, but we walked on the grounds, the trees are huge. We went to Hue Hin and saw the old Railroad Hotel, now the Sofitel Central. It was really a beautiful old hotel, with a nice beach and swimming pool. There was a large Christmas tree and a large neon sign that said Merry Christmas. The hotel is an immaculate restoration. I think it would be an excellent hotel to stay at and relax.

I liked Hue Hin, it was not crazy like Patong Beach in Phuket. I will try to stay there in the future. We also saw the train station, it was ornate and interesting.

We then went to Siriwan's parent's house, it was near the beach and beautifully designed with beautiful wood floors and architectural details. We looked at the village and saw their old home on the beach. She has many family members in the community. There are many high rise hotels, but where we were, is an original village. The land will probably be developed, but for now it is a wonderful place to live. I love watching the ocean waves.

At Dr. Siriwan's parent's home we had a wonderful meal and were joined by Dr. Scott Mclean from the University of Calgary, Dr Kamolratchim and Dr. Nhing of STOU. We talked until 9:30 about the roles of the faculty, the uses of technology, and globalization. It was a deep and thoughtful conversation, when we were not teasing each other. It was also great to be able to use English and to understand the conversation.

We stayed at Dr. Siriwan's parents home, we had a separate room. It was very restful. In the morning we walked down to the village and did some photography.

We then went to the Distance Learning Foundation which is sponsored by the King. The Wang Klaikangwoo School is a Royal school that is also the source for the comprehensive set of distance education broadcasts that are available throughout Thailand as well as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Yunnan province in China. The Distance Learning via Technology system is television based, supplemented by Fax, print, and the Internet. The video technology was first class.

Two things that were thought provoking were the use of a school as the source of the broadcasts. The actual classes were bring broadcast in real time, there was tape delay available, but it was for time shifting. Having the educational programs of actual live classes I think has real advantages in making the presentations interesting. We saw a class being taught with two high quality television cameras. The school, which is a Royal school, is the source of the programs, each of the class rooms is equipped for broadcasting.

The purpose of the DLT is to serve remote schools and schools that have few teachers, it sounded much like rural Alaska. The broadcasts are also available on UBC cable, channels 1-6 are for elementary school, channels 7-12 are for secondary school, channel 13 is for vocational broadcasts, channel 14 is for International broadcasts, and channel 15 is for use of the University. The broadcasts and supporting materials are also provided to the general public and for non-formal education students. Being under Royal patronage gives the foundation an advantage for gathering funds and in encouraging cooperation.

We saw a video of the King addressing the staff of the foundation. The King is impressive in action, he seems like a thoughtful concerned person who truly cares about the needs of the people. In Alaska I see the picture of the King on many walls and on calendars, it seems sort of silly, but being in Thailand and hearing his speech on his birthday, and seeing his influence, I am impressed. Most of all the King seems genuine, a real caring compassionate person, not a politician.

Another web site that supports the broadcasts is http://www.dlfeschool.in.th/

Some statistics, there are 3,107 secondary schools, 8,140 remote schools, and 16 remote boarding schools for orphans because of AID's or tragedy, that have distance learning reception with the correct satellite equipment. Everything is free of charge. The web site www.dlf.ac.th provides Internet support to the educational broadcasts. The material is even used Internationally. There is also a Wat in Los Angeles that provides materials to Thai citizens in the United States.

Video in Thailand makes a lot of sense, most people have access to television, although many can not afford cable. The audience that needs to be convinced to use the material is the teachers. As is usual there are problems getting the teachers to use the materials. There is printed support material of a high quality for the courses. What I saw was educational television done correctly with resources and support. The idea of an actual school being the source of live broadcasts is also interesting. The broadcasts were not taped and then re-used, except for time shifting. The material was fresh and real.

After the tour, and in depth discussion, we went to Rama VII's palace on the beach. The palace is very open and cool, there are huge trees on the grounds that provide shade. The feeling is almost like living outdoors. The palace is called Klai Kangwon "Far From Worries". The various buildings and rooms are on pillars that are connected by raised paths. Everything is in the air and the flow of air and feeling is bright and breezy. It really is an interesting building.

On the way back to Bangkok, we stopped in a town, Tha Yang, near Petchaburi, to have Pad Thai. The place is supposed to be famous, and it was excellent. There was nothing to distinguish the place, just a normal Thai food place in a market, but the word of mouth has created popularity. The food was excellent. The area was also interesting, there were many traditional wooden, unrestored buildings. The street we were in had not been overwhelmed with concrete shop houses.

We got dropped off where the road cuts off to Phra Pradaeng. We caught a taxi. There was a lot of construction, probably for the ring road that will connect to the Mega-Bridge.

Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park


Sometimes the Monitor Lizards rest on the island on the right.

Walking in the park


Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park

Bayoke Tower


The sign on the tower says Drink Dont Drive

Walking in the park


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Thieves Market, Giant Swing, Mae Hong Son, and Biking on the back roads

Today we rode the bus in to Phra Pradaeng and then took the Green bus to near the Grand Palace. I wanted to explore the Thieves Market area and also see some photo stores that I had read about. On the way there was a large fire, I could see a lot of dense black smoke, but no details. Riding the Green buses is an adventure, they are fast, full, and sort of erratic. Jit wanted us to get off, so we just jumped off the bus, but after Jit jumped off it started moving so I had to jump from a moving bus, foolish, but I succeeded. I had to decide quickly what to do. I was a little irritated with Jit for not thinking before she acted, but oh well.

Near the Giant Swing there is an area of stores that sell Buddha statues and temple art. I want to go back there for sure and wander and take photographs. There are whole stores full of large Buddha statues. I think people purchase them for their temples.

After we got off the bus, barely, we took a taxi over to the Thieves Market area. On Charon Krung there are some pretty good small photo stores, we looked around and I got an excellent camera bag, a Domke clone, but a different size then any Domke that I have seen before. As always it is fun to explore Thailand markets, especially the long established ones in Bangkok.

Before we leave I want to spend more time walking and taking photographs. I find my impressions change with familiarity, less a sense of wonder and more a sense of respect for the energy and history of an area. People in Thailand work hard for a living with intense competition and in exhausting conditions. Imagine working and living in the same area for generations. Every day getting up and dealing with the intensity of the day.

On the way back to our home we passed the Hua Lamphong railroad station. I have gone past it many times, but want to go inside and maybe take a short train ride. I think that in two or three weeks I want to focus on exploring Thailand and doing photography. I think I want to cut back on my STOU activities before we return to Alaska. I am definitely starting to think about Alaska more as we get nearer to leaving.

As we were returning I saw a wedding shop named "Beautiful Mary Women". There was a front window with impressive traditional, in the United States sense,

As we were walking to the Kong Toey dock a motorbike deliberately ran over one of the elephant skin dogs, the dog ran off whining and limping, it made me feel sad. I have been seeing dogs with coats on, I thought it was because of the cold, but it is really a way to put medication on the dogs skin to help their mange and itching. The black dog in our community has a coat on now, I hope it helps him.

The new road to our community has gone past Jit's house, everything is torn up and open, no more shade. I guess it will be OK in the end, but some of the charm and beauty of the place has been lost, at least for awhile.

I the evening Jit's mom and dad went over by the community tree, people were gathered around eating, playing table tennis, it is a good feeling. Jit's parents have moved into the new house, it is good for them to have moved, especially with the construction on the road.

It is Juke's birthday today, he has some friends over, they will party. I sure wished people did not drink as much.

We turned on the hot water for the first time today, it is hard to imagine when it was so warm the cold water was a cooling relief. I think humans, or at least this human, has a short memory for physical discomfort. Whether it is hot or cold that is what I experience, I do not remember the other experiences, except in abstraction.

Tomorrow we go to OTOP City again with Nuk and Nick.

We went to OTOP City again with Nick and Nuck, we purchased some things to take to Alaska, saw many new things, there are three halls stuffed with booths, on the back wall of one of the halls people were selling ad hoc products at discount, sort of bringing them to the back wall and setting up on the floor. The textile products from Mae Hong Son were beautiful, the textiles have multi-colored geometric designs and are functional. We bought some for selling in Alaska, or maybe just gifts. Nick and Nuck were involved, I think Jit is preparing them to be business partners.

Children's day is coming to the community and Jit is working to arrange some kind of bike tour for the young people. There are bikes to rent on the weekend in the park. Nick, Nuck, Ton and I went exploring on bikes with Jit and Ohy on the motorbike. We took the concrete trails to the Bang Nam Phueng Wat and floating market area. Riding the trails and back roads is interesting, there are many communities, stores, nice houses, farms, and the quality of life seems great. Going around the corners I slow down, because the concrete path is about 6 feet off the ground.

After we went to the floating market area we rode to this strange place with a large gate, looking inside there are some pretty impressive buildings, it is all abandoned, the gate is locked. I man with a large curly mustache opened the gate and went inside, he had a key. He said he was gong fishing. From what I can piece together they were building something for the Kings, but he told them to stop it. There was also mention of corruption. I assume it all happened 8 or 9 years ago. I wished I had the bandwidth for Google Earth, I would go exploring.

We then rode the long way back on the roads, it was fun, the traffic was not too bad, and it was cool for Thailand. I want to go exploring more places. I need a guide though, there are so many paths and trail branches I would not have a clue where I was going. A really fun day. I like exploring.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Drink Don't Drive


Thai Farmer's Bank


Thai Isuzu Trucks


Some of these trucks have ornate tin decorations and colorful paint jobs. The older ones, like these, do not have doors. I will try to take more pictures of these trucks. They show personality.

Thai Bus


Thai Bus


I love these buses!

Visiting, Cha Am



Amazing Trees, Hua Hin



Bicycle, Cha Am


Rich Man Beach House Cha Am



STOU, Alaska Exchange Program, and OTOP City

It is cool and grey today, sort of like a cloudy summer day in Alaska. People are wearing jackets, huddling up, and shivering.

We went to STOU today. Nothing much happening. We talked with International Relations. I looked at their web site and talked with the person who is creating and maintaining the web site. He is doing a good job and is motivated and knowledgeable. He showed me an excellent web site for web development. Check out www.webhang.co.uk .

We also talked about having an exchange program with Alaska. Maybe creating a summer school course for students to go to Thailand. We also would like to set up a reciprocal arrangement for Thai people to come to Alaska. When I return to Alaska I can start to sound out people about the possibilities.

Next Monday afternoon I will meet with the International Relations office to discuss the idea of an exchange program in more detail. Anne will also arrange a meeting with the Office of Continuing Education for my remaining assignment at STOU.

We got a call from the Non-Formal Education Office to confirm our meeting on December 29th. I have emailed Keith, my partner in Fairbanks, for current degree information and competencies. I am not sure how this new opportunity to share knowledge will evolve, but I am glad to be able to share our knowledge and resources.

After our time at STOU we went to OTOP City at the Impact Center. What a place, two huge halls filled with booths of OTOP products arranged by location. Each booth indicated the location of the items on sale. There were many items of high quality and excellent design. There were also generic and predictable items for sale that did not seem to really relate to the OTOP idea. If I ran a gift shop in the United States I would schedule a yearly trip to OTOP City to buy goods for my shop. I especially was attracted to the items from southern Thailand. To see everything in both halls would take two to three days, there were some repeating and similar items, but there were also items of real quality.

The OTOP idea would work in Alaska, in fact the old cooperative movement and ANICA were similar in intention.

As we came in to the hall there was a group of people playing temple music, music like we heard at the Kathin ceremony, drums, bells, saxophone, dancing, great music, I mean really great, I love it. I wanted to dance. The music is like band music and jazz all mixed together. It is music to celebrate with. Anyway the band was playing in front of the hall. Amazing music. I would love to get a CD of it.

I saw cloth being dyed and batik being made. There were different kinds of Thai music being played. There was a group of blind musicians playing classical Thai music. The Batik was interesting. They used a brass tool, with a cup of melted wax, to make the patterns on the cloth. Another person then painted in the colors. The design was beautiful and organic. I loved it.

Some of the items I saw were textiles, clothes of many types, lamps, wood sculpture, different kinds of hand made paper, too many kinds of imitation flowers (they were beautiful but there were too many booths with similar items) woven baskets, many kinds of food, fresh and packaged, wall hangings, there were different kinds of coffee, grass weaving, cowboy hats, embossed paper with gold inlay, porcelain, cosmetics, oils, herbs, juice, soap and shampoo, knives, fish, wine, sausages, cowgirls, and a man in a Confederate Army Hat! And this is just a small part of the variety and depth of the items on sale.

In one hall there were many policemen and soldiers in uniform. The policemen had uniforms on and somewhat redundantly had badges that said POLICE.

There was a booth called Net and Tent Paradise that sold a sort of mosquito net tent.

My understanding is that there is no fee for the booths, it is a major event. Sort of like a Christmas bazaar that it beyond imagination.

In Thailand people eat with sticks, sort of like tall large tooth picks. If you get fruit it will come in a plastic bag with a stick so you can spear the fruit and eat it. Meat and even bread is served with the sticks. I have not seen a similar thing in the United States, but it is a good idea.

We bought some different fabrics and wall hangings. We also got a reed mat and pillow. I think we can haul all the stuff home to Alaska. Our plan is to go again this Saturday with Nuck and Nick. If we go in the morning we should be able to explore before it gets too crowded.

Tomorrow we might go into Bangkok to look around.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Every morning people gather for exercises.


The morning exercise people came to the Feel Green Feel Phra Pradaeng celebration. Watching the morning exercising and jogging in the park is an inspiration.

Feel Green Feel Phra Pradaeng


Exploring Bang Krachow on bikes with Nick, Nuck, and Ton


We explored Bang Krachow with Nick, Nuck, and Ton. Jit rode with Oye on the motor bike. We were mapping a trail for a Kid's day tour. It is amazing how many different paths there are in the area. We rode elevated concrete paths with sharp turns so I had to be careful.

Feel Green Feel Pra Pradaeng and a Spider Tattoo!

There was a large celebration in the park today, they have been preparing for it for weeks. It is the final, I think, Feel Green Feel Phra Pradaeng event. Even though some of my comments are grouchy, the event was pretty cool. I just do not like kids beauty pageants and politicians reading proclamations.

There were kayak races this morning in the park, men, kids, and women raced, Keenon won the women's boat race.

There was a children beauty pageant again, just like STOU. The kids had way too much make up, and too me looked uncomfortable. When people have so much makeup they look like dolls and not people. The girls were very young.

When people finished with their performance there was steam and confetti that erupted from the stage. Some of the music was from the Olympics or Star Wars, the speakers were way too loud and the announcer was perpetually yelling. The pageant just kept going on and on, way too long, and pretty boring. To me, the girls looked nervous and stressed.

I noticed a young women in the crowd, an older sibling, or young mother, maybe 20 or 25, with two kids, maybe 7 or 8. She was dressed normally, enjoying the events, especially the beauty pageant, just a normal women enjoying the celebration, but she had a spider tattoo under her right ear! The tattoo was very disorienting and did not fit her identity at all. Dissonance, something that does not fit, like the spider tattoo, sticks with me for a long time. I think I will always remember her.

After the pageant, politicians read proclamations, there were at least two long documents that were read to the audience. It was not very exciting! The politicians were sitting, like a reviewing stand, looking at the ceremonies and events.

There were some cultural performances, there was a Mon ceremony in which young women and men went through some indecipherable rituals with disks, I think it was some kind of courting ceremony. There were costumes and it lasted a long time. There was Mon music also that was being played. I think, in Phra Pradaeng, there is a group of people working to preserve the Mon culture. Again, for me, there are echoes of Alaska.

After the Mon ceremony there was a ceremony with sticks and dancing, people stepping between the moving sticks. It was interesting and again like many of the cultural celebrations that I have enjoyed in Alaska

After the stick ceremony there was a dance, to recorded music, by some young girls, it was not too coordinated, but again it was clearly trying to teach young people cultural traditions.

After all the ceremonies there was a very long set of drawings for prizes, bikes, and kayaks. The politicians gathered around and drew names from a box. One of the people in the community won a bicycle.

I took many photographs with my Voigtlander Bessa so I will not have the photographs for awhile. Celebrations are a great place to take pictures of people, some of them were not exactly flattering, but I hope they are real. We shall see.

It was a good Christmas day, better then sitting around waiting to eat, and then feeling stuffed and bored. Since my kids are grown, Christmas is not too special anymore. When my kids were young it was fun.

Monday, December 26, 2005

At the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park


At the Feel Green Feel Prapadaeng celebration at the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park

A conversation


At the Feel Green Feel Phra Pradaeng celebration at the Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park

On the boat to Bang Krachow

Riding home on the boat today.

Muang Thong Thani from STOU


A very small portion of Muang Thong Thani from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University. None of the towers in this picture are finished.

An odd building for the "Supreme Commander"!

During the King's birthday I was in a large crowd, we were listening to politicians and holding lighted candles. I noticed, with surprise, that I was not short. I am 5 feet 4 inches and in the United States I am the shortest. In crowds I look between people. It was sort of a disorienting revelation to realize that I was not short, I could look over some people. I had never experienced being not short.

When we were going to the Royal School in Hua Hin we turned off one road too soon. There was a gate and a watch house, which is usual, but what was sort of intimidating was a soldier with a very real machine gun. I guess we were trying to enter the King's palace. I am not used to seeing live, real guns that could shoot me. I must say I did not like the experience.

When we got to STOU today, we ran over to the Continuing Education Department to meet the people, I stumbled into the bi-weekly staff meeting. We were introduced and talked for a little while, but we had to leave for our lunch meeting. I am not sure what the expect of me yet, I will have an office and I have heard rumors of developing a database. I will spend time trying to match their expectations with my ability, a good idea:).

The time we have left in Thailand is filling up! Jit and I went through the calendar of commitments. I still want to do a little traveling and exploring that is not sabbatical related, but we shall see.

At STOU we went to a department lunch with the E-Learning people. We drove through the popular condominiums at Muang Thong Thani. Some were undeveloped and others looked packed. The buildings look like they would be brutal blocks to live in, but inside there is an open square. The closest experience, in the United States, to what I saw, would be those huge public housing projects in Chicago. These condominiums though are middle class housing. I was told that many government workers live there.

The ambition of the Muang Thong Thani development and the conjunction between very busy and empty is sort of spooky. There is a lot to explore in the area, from the abandoned towers to the popular condominiums. The fact that the development is so close to the Impact Center seems to mean that there is potential for the area, but it is still a very odd place, large incompletely realized ambition.

After lunch we had a meeting to explore providing educational tours to Thailand, sponsored by STOU, for students or adults from Alaska to. I referred the people to Elderhostel as a possible means to the end of providing tours. There is an excellent potential to bring students to Thailand under university sponsorship, maybe offering a Summer School course in conjunction with the tour. Until I get back to Alaska and talk with the International Relations office I will not be able to ground any of our ideas in reality, but it is a project I would like to help implement.

As we were leaving the Muang Thong Thani place I saw a very strange building. I had seen it before from the airplane and also from the expressway. Nobody who I asked knows what it is. At the restaurant, which is right across from the building we were told that it was for the "Supreme Commander". The building is in the middle of a military complex, but it is not hidden. The center of the project looks like a large American football standing on end, or a fat rocket ship. There are buildings with odd structures on the top, sort of sculptural, maybe for air conditioning. If I would guess, without any knowledge, I would have thought that the building was a futuristic university or an amusement park. In any case, until I get better information, it is the building for the "Supreme Commander". Anybody can see the building, it is near Muang Thong Thani, and I saw it when we were driving to Nakhon Nayok. If anybody has more information I am sure curious. It is on my list of Google Earth searches when I get bandwidth.


adn.com | life : Ned Rozell: Physics of life at 40 below

adn.com | life : Ned Rozell: Physics of life at 40 below
An accurate description of my life back home when it is very cold. The only difference is that we do not have wood heat, just heating oil. I know people are curious about how people live and this article describes part of the experience when it gets "really" cold. We usually have 7 to 10 days a year of extreme cold a year. Minus 20 is fine, but -40 and below gets a little tense.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Non-Formal Education Centers. It all came together today, I shared what I knew!

I prepared for my presentation to the Non-Formal Education Department on Thursday. I created a web site to organize my presentation and collected files to take. I want to leave all the relevant information and documents so that the people, at the presentation, will have all the tools to explore the idea I am sharing. I also did some in-depth exploration on Photoshop CS2's new features. I can not really use The Bridge and Photoshop at the same time, I do not have enough memory and my notebook slows way down. I explored the new Sharpening Tool and the Raw Converter.

Many people in Thailand are very honest, when we ride back from the dock on motorcycles we usually pay 20 Baht, most people pay 15 Baht, and even if we do not ask, people return the 5 Baht difference. One person did not have change, so we gave her 100 Baht, she is keeping track of it and she makes sure we do not pay until the 100 Baht is covered. These are small example. Another is when I got out of a taxi I dropped my pen, I picked up the pen, but could not find the cap, a person saw the cap, picked it up, and gave it to me. These are not exceptional experiences, they are common experiences of honesty and thoughtfulness. There are some exceptions, Taxi drivers keeping more then the normal amount of change, with out communicating about it, but that is rare.

At STOU today we attended another session of Dr. Leslie Richard's workshop on rethinking learning. It was similar to the previous session, and it was practical and useful. I will apply his idea of task based teaching when I create my new courses in Alaska. During lunch we went over to the STOU Continuing Education Department. They were having their year end party with wonderful food and Karaoke. I also got a clearer idea of what I will be doing. I will be helping one of the Continuing Education Staff people to create a database to track resource people. I will also be helping to create worksheets to track expenses and reporting to make sure that the STOU reports are accurate. Talking with Tuk, she mentioned that I might also get to develop a continuing education course, which could be fun. It sounds like I will be busy.

On the way back to the seminar we stopped by the Counseling section to visit with Nednapa and the other people we know at the Counseling Center. Giving gifts for New Years is a polite thing to do, and Jit has been giving people medallions of the King. There are many people at STOU that I enjoy meeting with and visiting.

We had a wonderful meal at Juke and Star's. The family was gathered around a charcoal heated meat cooker, people were cooking individual pieces of pork, there was fruit and vegetables and a very good soup. Just sitting on the floor, cooking, laughing, sharing food, kidding each other, it was a special time. Family time in Thailand, the families that I have shared with, is special and for me some of the deepest experiences that I have had. I can not say that my family experiences in the United States are as much fun.

One of my goals in coming to Thailand was to share the curriculum and competencies that we have developed for the Information Support Specialist Associate of Applied Science Degree. I have spent the last 14 years developing and teaching practical computer skills courses. The Non-Formal Education Department is the educational institution that provides practical training to the people of Thailand. Today I got to present our curriculum to the Non-Formal Education Department. The meeting lasted for three hours and ended with a wonderful lunch. I felt a rapport with the people, we shared a common vision and set of experiences in working with adults. We have been invited to go and visit different Non-Formal Education Centers and to provide support and advise. The link to the resources that I provided in my presentation is here www.cysewski.com/sabbatical/ITSComp/ . The questions were deep, subtle and relevant, I am elated. Jit translated and she did a very good job. There was laughter, and we shared struggles, dilemmas, and analogies. I felt that I was with people who shared a common vision of teaching adults. I left all the relevant materials so people could copy, adapt, modify, or ignore what I provided. My major goal, what I came to Thailand to share, has been accomplished. The door is open to collaborate and work together. I have had many good experiences in Thailand, and have been able to share many skills and ideas, but I have now found the place where I fit, where my skills match. I am excited.

In the afternoon we went by Pantip Plaza, I bought a USB key and an extra battery for my digital camera, we explored some and then went home.

Tomorrow we will stay around the house and I can reflect upon and digest some of my recent experiences.

It was a very good week!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Years at Bangkrachow and Mu9

We will not have any newspapers delivered from the next four days, people are going on vacation and traveling over New Years. We have some trips planned for the next few weeks. We will be going to Chiang Rai area with the people from Non-Formal education. We will meet with them on the 6th. Next Sunday we will visit 9 temples with Mona and Jit's old "gang" from the Manhattan hotel. We will be going to Ayuthaya. The next weekend we will be going to Sing Buri for the wedding. It will be very busy, besides starting to work with continuing education.

We went to Phra Pradaeng today, took the bus. When we were getting our glasses adjusted and buying film there was a kid's marching band, with uniforms and everything going by followed by people marching with signs against drugs. It stopped all the traffic, sort of surprising, I took a couple pictures for the record. We then took a blue truck-bus to Big C to get a DVD player for Jit's mom. She loves to listen to Likay. She has a large box of Likay DVD's and listens to them over and over. There was a Sony on sale but we were encouraged to get a different model that included Karaoke and was multi-region, We resisted the opportunity.

Big C was way too busy, people getting ready for the holiday. When we left there was a large line for the taxi so we walked out to the road, where there was another line. We were going to get on a truck-bus but then a taxi appeared. The driver said people were arguing in front of Big C about who would get a taxi, so he just left. The taxi driver was interesting. He loves reading and computer. He had a Windows XP book and uses his son's school's account to access the Internet. He said he can not afford to go to school. He supports his parent's and helps his sister go to school.

Tomorrow there will be a Tambon New Years celebration

We got up early, prepared food for a Pinto, a Pinto is a stacked metal food container, and walked over to the Tambon heads home, people gathered and shared food. We walked on the new path. I did not recognize the road, Ratrangson #16, but we pass it every day on the motorbike on the way back from the dock. It was just a different perspective then I am used to seeing. When we got there people put food from their Pintos onto dishes. There are tables, with roofs, for the food. There were nine bowls to put rice in for the Monks. Each person spooned the rice from the Pinto into each bowl. Left over rice went into a large pot for the rest of the community. People made a donation an got the new calendar with the King's picture on it. As in many cases her is carrying a Canon EOS camera, not an expensive one either. There is a museum that is supposed to have some of the King's photographs. I would like to see them. There are many pictures of him carrying cameras.

Jit made an appointment with the head of the Tambon, I am not sure what about, but it is her nature. I think they will meet after the 10th.

A person using a microphone talks on and on, most people seem to ignore him. I think it is community calendar information. People just sit, visit and wait. The Monks arrive in a silver van, there is long chanting, the food is moved over to the covered building where the Monks are chanting, they eat, then we eat. Dog's move around, very politely, waiting for food. The dogs are also very good at getting out of the way. When the monks have finished eating the Abbott walks around splashing the audience with water. They then leave to return to their Wat. I love red and green curry, and there was a lot of it to eat. Jit made yellow cake, from a mix, but people were not eating it, I do not think they are used to having cake.

The Tambon celebration combines the King, the Nation and Buddhism. Politics and religion are not separate, there is an seamless merging of the three strands of the modern Thai nation.

When I am at these celebrations I just observe, think, reflect, fantasize about many things, and take notes. It really is interesting.

There was a women sharing Red Bull, or one of its clones, with her son. I like Red Bull and use it when I am driving from Fairbanks to Anchorage and back, a six hour drive. It really does help alertness. In Thailand people work so hard and get up so early that I can see why energy drinks are popular.

Many older men, and Monks, have extensive tattoos on their bodies. Some peoples backs and arm are covered in symbols. It think it is related to fate and luck. The process must be pretty painful. At the gathering there was an old man, with a beard, who was riding an old shabby bike. He had many tattoos. Jit's dad also has tattoos all over his back.

Some people in the community participate in these events and many do not. I recognize many people from the Kathin ceremony and the funerals. It is like a large community pot luck. Since Monks can not eat after lunch, many events start early in the morning. The weather is also not too hot then. Sometimes there is a pause in the day from about 12 to 3.

There are so many paths and many very nice homes, and some not so nice, when we walked over to the gathering. Most of the houses in our area are large and are nice, but some are very shabby. The communities of Bangabua and Bangkrachow are really beautiful and natural. I think there is a lot of pressure to develop residential houses in the area. The price of property is rising. The new road will open up more area for building houses. There are no housing estates or developments, the houses are individually built. I hear the fire crackers that signify the beginning of a house often, once or twice a week.

There are other similar events for the next few days because of the new years celebration. Tonight at the big tree and tomorrow there is supposed to be something for 49 Monks at the Tambon leaders house!

Keenon went to Bopae Market yesterday, she had her purse stolen. Somebody used a razor to cut the strap and run off. She said she did not lose anything. Keenon is a 60 year old women. When people are desperate they forget their values and lose their self. It makes me remember to be aware.

There was another big tree for Mu 3 surrounded with multi-colored thin cloth. I think that this makes the tree sacred, people wai when they pass the tree, or at least that is what I saw. In our community, Mu 9, I do not see people wai when they pass the tree, but that could be because they live right next to the tree. Hmmm....

There is very loud music from the community tree. We are getting ready to go over to the New Years eve gathering, I hope there is not much drinking. Last weekend there was a fight, we heard about it in the morning. I am a definite morning person and like to go to sleep early at night.

We went for awhile, there was a stage set up and sort of a DJ playing music, Kid's were dancing in costumes, people brought food, it was like a pot luck, there was also a lot of whisky being shared and people were getting drunk. Alcohol is a big part of community life. From my Alaska experience alcohol, especially large groups of people drinking, means fighting and craziness in the end. Somebody was acting a little crazy, a person who works at building houses, he was being moved away. People were having fun, I was encouraged to dance, but I am really a shy person. Anyway the music really was way too loud, I mean it is where it can hurt your ears, really, so we went home. The music is everywhere, but it is OK at home. I like Thai country music, it is really celebration music. It has been over 20 years since I stopped drinking and alcohol has hurt so many people in my life, I just do not like being around drinking. I am finishing the blog and then will go to sleep.



Sunday, January 01, 2006

Walking in the park

The morning light in the park. I love to walk in the park when the sun comes up.

A leaf by the front porch

A leaf by the front porch. The morning light illuminates beauty everywhere.

Laundry in the morning light.

The light in the morning is beautiful. I love to walk around and watch the light. Each leaf, or even the laundry, can be beautiful.

Another New Years Celebration

This morning we had another New Years ceremony. It started at 7:30 at the same place as the party last night. I was surprised to see so many people. I think the gathering was for the whole Tambon. A different Wat was being served. The Monks chanted, ate, and then there was food for everybody. Donations were also made to the temple. The book keeping was very exact. There was a book with all the donations and amounts listed. Many people came.

I was seated with the older people, which is sort of depressing. Jit's Uncle who is always doing things was there, I really respect him. I think he is approaching 90, he is always active and doing things. I especially like the way he teaches the younger men how to do things. I did not see many people who were sick or hung over, but maybe they did not show up. There were many more people then last night. I was told there will be another celebration for Children's Day next week, I hope it is not so loud. If it is people are going to lose their hearing! Seriously!

I went for a walk in the park with Jit's Niece and Nephew and Ton. We saw three Monitor Lizards, one crossed the path, a Turtle, many birds, and a squashed Frog. They were taking pictures also. I told them to take whatever interested them, they got it.

Nick and Nuck borrowed one of our cameras to go on a trip. Nick, especially, has a good photographic attitude. I see her looking at things from unconventional perspectives.

Wela's wife came by to invite us to go to Thornburi to visit somebody, but we have guests. We might go with them tomorrow to worship at nine temples in the Bangkok area. I would like to do that for the photographic opportunities. I know I am looking forward to the trip to Ayutthaya for the nine temple trip.

There is a family that builds homes. They did some of the concrete and metal work on our house. Jit said they lived one of our old tents, and then when the structure of the house is built they live in the house. They are building another house in the community. The man, his wife, and two kids work hard and drink a lot. There was some fuss over the amount they were getting paid at the other house and they left. They live a very hard life with little money. Drinking all the time does not help them make progress, but they get paid minimal amounts for hard work that requires some skill. People look down on them, I think because of the drinking. The family wanders from construction job to construction job.

Could I live in Bangkrachow? Sometimes I think so, where we live is beautiful and the people are very supportive. My lack of language skills is a big problem for me, I feel dependent. Financially it would be no problem. The ambiguity of the Thai bureaucracy is a little intimidating. I also need to be busy doing something constructive. When I am just being lazy I get stressed and restless.

When I return to Alaska I do not know how I will adapt either, I know it will seem boring. In 1967, when I live in an Alaska village near Nome, it changed my life. I think living in Bangkrachow is also changing my life. I know I need to work for at least three more years before I retire to support my daughter going to college, but then? It is possible to retire and live comfortably here, but I like what I do and need to be busy. I have a life works of photography to digest and share. I do not know how I will feel when I return to Alaska and I do not know if I could live comfortably in Bangkrachow. I am thinking about it though.

I have been gathering many blogs on Thailand. I subscribe through Bloglines. Some are excellent. I will create a list of blogs to share. I have also posted a request to www.2Bangkok.com to see is I can find out what the "Supreme Commander's" building is. I will try to go and take photographs if I can.

Cleaning Rags

Cleaning rags on the floor, on rag is in the kitchen, the other is in the laundry room. The rags are used to clean the floor. Sometimes they are wet.

The washing machine and iron

Because of the light and the color everyday things can be beautiful.

A large jar of water to wash your hands or to water plants


This is a large jar of water that people use to wash their hands or to water the plants. Many things around the house are beautiful because of their simplicity and function. The light also makes things beautiful.

A Pinto ready to carry food to the New Years Eve celebration


Pintos are a great way to carry a variety of food. Each of the pans can have a different item. When people go to celebrations or gatherings they bring their food in Pintos. I have not seen anything similar in the United States, except an ice chest, which is not really similar at all. This is a picture on our front porch. Many of the nature pictures in my blog are from around the house or the park, which is right next to our house.

Our home in Bangkrachow


Our home from the front. It is difficult to see the entire house because of the plants and trees.

Our home in Bangkrachow, from the rear.


My wife, Jit, worked very hard to have this house built for her parents. When we are in Thailand we stay here also. There are three bedrooms. The house is small so that it will fit over only one canal. Jit's dad works on the garden or "farm" everyday. The light on the water and shining through the leaves is beautiful. It is hard to imagine that we are 20 minutes away from Bangkok.

Monday, January 02, 2006

From the car near the Giant Swing


Jit at the temple


Shoes at the temple


At the noodle shop


Fuji Z2, natural light mode. Lucky photograph 

Near the giant swing


I took this picture through the side window of a moving car. I set my Fuji Z2 to sports mode and just took the picture. I am surprised at the quality. It is better to capture the picture then not take the picture at all.

Nine Temples in Bangkok and a tidal flood!

In the morning Jit's nephew was taking pictures with our old Konica digital camera. We are going to give it to the family. Git, Jit's brother, has two wives, well not really, it is more like he has one wife and the other he supports the kids and the home but does not really stay with the family. In Thailand it is having two wives, in the United States it is getting divorced and paying child support and sharing custody. Anyway Jit's niece and nephew and their mother visit often, the kids are a joy. Jit's dad is excellent with them. Jit's nephew got a battery powered remote car for Christmas, or New Years. He is running it all over the house and on the path in front of the house.

When we left for the trip the path to the small boat was flooded, we had to take off our shoes and socks and roll up our pants, We went along the concrete path, there was a lot of junk. Some of the houses were flooded. I think this is a common occurrence, I have seen remnants of the tidal flood before, I just never put it together. When we got to the river we rinsed our feet off and got into the boat. It was a little scary, if I waded off the concrete path, that I could barely see, I would be in the river. On the other side of the river there were wooden platforms to walk across to get over the flooded area.

Coming back from the nine temple exploration Wela asked me if I could swim, which I barely can. Wela seemed concerned, which is not confidence inspiring. I have seen nothing risky with the small boats, except getting in and out, but Wela has been using the boats all his life. I know if I mess up getting on or off either the small or large boat that I am in trouble. Like many things in Thailand I need to take may experiences with a little more risk then I would face back in Alaska. I have a choice, experiences, or safety. I am choosing experiences, but I try to be careful. Seriously, before I leave in the morning I tell myself to watch both ways, but I have had to make some snap judgments that could have been wrong.

The Lady in black looked sick today, I think she had a fever. When we got back to 7-11 she was not there. Her clothes are getting filthy again. The taxi driver, who gave her money, said she hassled him afterwards for more money, it makes me cautious. Maybe when we are leaving I can see if there is a way to leave some money at the Klong Toey Wat.

This morning there is much less traffic in Bangkok and many store fronts are closed. There are also many fewer street vendors. I have to remember this time, it is a good time to explore some of the places in Bangkok, sort of wander around in a car or taxi.

The temples we covered, some count for more then one because of the Buddha images, at least that is what I was told, were Wat Suthat, Wat Po, the Emerald Buddha, which was packed with tourists, the City Pillar which counted for four or five visits for some reason, Wat In, and Wat Chai Chanasongkhram near Kho San road. We ate near Wat In which is near the express way to the Rama XIII bridge. The noodle shop was under the express way, and the food, and ambience were interesting. I think my favorite places to eat in Thailand are the everyday noodle shop restaurants that have been opened for many years. Most of them seem to be run by families. There is a tall standing Buddha and also a Chinese temple in Wat In. There was also a statue of King Taksin. It was not a tourist place. The Emerald Buddha area and the Grand Palace were packed. We tried to get into the Thai entrance, but they would not let us, so we had to walk around the outside of the temple to get in. Wela, Jit, Poom, and Newey became honorary tourists. I had to pay to get in. The temple was packed. I have been to the Grand Palace in May, June, and September and it is pretty nice, but during the tourist season, now, it is too busy to even see anything. The other Wats were not overwhelming, but the City Pilar or Post was pretty busy also.

When we were leaving for our trip we were talking with Lek, he said we could do the same thing in the Phra Pradaeng area, there were twelve temples that we could visit. I think he is right. I am getting the idea that each community supports more then one temple. Lek's idea is a good one. Maybe after exploring nine temples at Ayutthaya we can do the same thing in Phra Pradaeng.

At Wat Po there is a Phallus statue, when I was there a couple German tourists were fussing with their camera trying to get it to work next to the Phallus. I naturally took some pictures with my film camera. I hope they capture the situation. As an aside I see many phallus symbols in Thailand. I see them in people houses and even on key chains. I guess it is a good thing to hope for and to pray about. In America we are preoccupied with the same things, we are just less direct. Another thing I notice in Thailand, if you are fat, people tell you so! The description is usually accurate, and I am not sure if people take offense, or even how they take it.

I took a lot of pictures, both film and digital. I used a Fuji Z2, a camera I am very happy, with to take pictures in the car. I know it is not right to take pictures from a moving car, and through a window, but better some pictures then none. Actually I am surprised, I like some of the pictures that I am taking in such a technically terrible situation. I will post some pictures from the taxi or car later, maybe I have discovered a new method of photography :) (Just Kidding) I need to let the pictures simmer awhile before I post them, I look at them, ignore them, and then look at them again. Usually after I let a little time past I can see what the pictures say and not just what I intended.

The tide was down when we got back, so no flood. We could wear our shoes all the way home. It was a good day. I love exploring.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Ko Kret, Mon Culture, and Jit's Dad

Jit's dad is planting many seedlings in the garden. There are rows of palm seedlings in the mud. He is building new land with bags of coconut shells covered in canal mud. Today he even pulled down an old dead tree with a rope.

In Thailand there is beauty and ugliness. The morning light is beautiful, but there is also much ugliness, especially trash around people's homes, in the canals, and along the road. Near stores there are also piles of trash. In Bangkok they are pretty strict about littering and it is pretty clean, but there are not many trash barrels so I end up carrying stuff with me, hoping to find a trash barrel. Usually you can find one by a 7-11. Outside of Bangkok people throw trash anywhere. I see people through garbage from the bus. After a weekend in the park there is trash in the lake and on the lawn. People do not seem to care about littering. It was that way in the United States before they started pushing anti-littering.

I saw a green snake yesterday, my first live snake in Thailand. There was also a squirrel on the telephone line. I also saw a bird with bright blue beautiful wings

Sometimes I do not realize what I saw until the next day. On our temple trip there were three young men sleeping by the curb. There was also a man who helped direct people into parking spots. People paid him a small fee. The young men were in pretty bad shape. two of them were almost making love by the curb. I think that if we did not pay the old man to help with parking the car could have been in some danger for vandalism.

Children's day is coming next week. I was told that it would be another very loud party. I am not talking about just sound, I am talking about hurting your hearing loud. Somebody has a very large sound mixer and some very large speakers. Somehow it get all fit together with a boom box to create an experience. Anyway we will be gone so I will "miss" the experience

Kennon's brother helps us a lot. He drove us at 3 in the moring to the Phra Pradaeng market. Today I saw his leg. It looked like it was badly burned from the scars, but it was from a traffic accident. There were deep scars and you could see where the grafts were. It looked like it was an agonizing injury. Surprisingly he plays goalie for the community soccer team and he still drives without caution.

By Wat Bangabua there are four ball fields, they play a game called, I think, Petong. People roll a small ball to the other end of the field. The game might be a cousin of shuffle board, or even bocce ball. The fields are not large, maybe 20 X 30 feet. When ever we go by the Wat on weekends or in the evening people are playing.

In Bangkok there is a Thai-Belgian bridge, just a curious observation.

I just realized, from the logo, that Johnny Walker is sponsoring the Drink Don't Drive sign on Bayoke tower. Duh!

I am craving a bagel with cream cheese, as I write this I still am. Odd!

Oy was kidding Nuck about having a dark skin. In Thailand light skin is a beauty advantage. There are even skin whitening stores or salons. Sort of like tanning salons in the United States. A couple cultural puzzles, why is nine popular in Thailand, nine monks, nine temples, nine rings of a bell. In the United States I think we are fixated on three. Also in Thailand people value white skin and in the United States people value tan skin. Similarities and differences.

Ever since I went to Ko Kret I wanted to introduce Jit's dad to the Abbot of the Wat. Jit's dad is Mon and the people of Ko Kret are also Mon.

We took two taxis to Ko Kret, Seven of us went, Kan, Tan, Star Jit, Jit's Father and Mother and of course me. The taxis came to two different entrances but with the cell phone and following different back roads we all got together

When we got to Ko Kret we had to get Jit's mom across on the boat. It was a little risky, we had to hold the wheel chair on the front deck of the boat, and then carry here off and on. There are no accomodations for people with disability. We succeded, but it was risky and a little tense.

We rented bikes for Stay, Kan, and Tan to explore the island. We also rented a bike for the Taxi driver who spent the day with us.

There are old brick pottery kilns that look beautiful in color and form. There was a women bathing on a ramp going in the river, it was very relaxed. I had noodle soup. Every noodle soup is a little different. This one had fried pork skin pieces in it. It was good, but not what I was expecting.

Jit's dad visited a store that sold Mon healing salves and drugs. Jit's dad, who was a doctor for the military, stopped and talked for a long time. We also got a book on the Mon language. Jit's dad who is almost 80 does not speak the Mon language, his father did though. It was over 200 years ago when the Thai King granted land to the Mon people because of there help during a war with Myanmar.

There was loud speaker playing music and announcements near the Wat we were going to, it was a main tourist area. There was distortion and static. One song sounded like it was from the 40's, sort of a nostalgic big band sound with women singing. I asked Jit and she said it was about Happy New Year, she remembered it when she was young. She said the singers were dead. It was a song from the 40's or 50's!

We saw a man with a T-Shirt with the same design as Jit's dad's tattoos. I think it is a Mon design. Jit's dad talked with the man for awhile. The man also had tattoos. We went to the Wat and waited to see the Abbott. He recognized me and then we introduced Jit's dad. The Abbott had to go eat with the other Monks and to have the morning ceremony. We waited and eventually Jit's dad and the Abbott spent some time talking. There was a discussion of Mon culture and history. Jit's mom needed to go, so we left a little early. Jit's dad said he would come back. He was happy to visit. There was also a museum of Mon culture and pottery and Jit's dad visited there and talked also. The man in the museum recognized Jit's dad from the amulet market. Upstairs there is a museum about Rama V. I took some photographs.

I did not take pictures of the Abbott, he has poor teeth and I felt that he was uncomfortable with the camera. Nothing was said, I just sensed a self-consciousness from the Abbott. He is such a dynamic and energized man. Just being around him is fun, watching his mannerisms and his actions.

At the temple there was a young man, around 30, I would guess, who was visiting from the United States. He was smoking a cigar. His method of smoking was so intense it was scary. Puff, puff, puff, puff, deep inhales without a pause. It was sort of mesmerizing to watch him. There was also a middle age women with two kids that just kept smiling at me. One of her kids asked if I could speak Thai. Jit thought she was trying to capture me!

We got Jit's mom across the river in the boat, split into two groups, and went home.

I helped Nik and Nuk with their computer, the phone line was bad. We got their connection to the internet working. I also think they have a virus. When I put in the memory card they were using in the camera I got a virus warning. I need to check their computer tonight. Nuk wanted to instant message with MSN, but it said they had the wrong version. I can not update it since their operating system is from Pantip Palace. I told her about Yahoo Messenger so she set up an account. I also sent her a Gmail invitation. I do not know where to get the cheap legal version of Windows XP. What I read about in the United States, and what I experience in Thailand, do not match. When I come back to Thailand I need to get a tool kit of software and tools to use while I am here.

I have, according to my computer, taken about 10,000 pictures so far during my sabbatical. Assuming that 200 are excellent, what do I do with them? What do I do with the almost excellent pictures? I know for the blog that I will archive it when I get home. I have been experimenting with Everynote. I think I can capture the blog for each month with Evernote and then convert it to a web page in chronological order and with the pictures illustrating the blog entries. When I get back to Alaska I will have time to reflect on and organize my experiences.

Tomorrow we go to STOU. It is going to be a very busy two weeks with many trips. If I am not posting it is because I am traveling. I will be taking notes and photographs an will post when I can.

Not much happening at STOU today, just getting orientated. This weekend is going to be very busy. We came back through Phra Pradaeng to get Jit's glasses fixed. We stopped at one of my favorite restaurants in Phra Pradaeng. It is almost like a 50's ice cream shop. We got spaghetti and macaroni. It is a real restaurant that serves floats, sundaes and banana splits. On the wall were posters about the Mon language. There is a Mon cultural center in Phra Pradaeng. They are trying to preserve the language. There were posters that were in Mon and Thai. It reminded me of Alaska. The Mon culture is still active and alive in Myanmar. Interesting echos of cultural preservation in Alaska.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tomorrow Mae Sot, Sunday Ayutthaya, next Saturday Suphanburi

Tomorrow we leave for Mae Sot with the people from Non-Formal Education. We will stay the night there and then get back to Bangkok, somehow, to catch the nine temple trip with Mona and Jit's friends from years back. Next Friday is Jit's dad's birthday and then we go to Suphanburi for the wedding. I will, I hope, have many opportunities for photography.

This morning we went to STOU to work with Continuing Education. The taxi driver is the same one that drove us to Ko Kret. He will also drive us to Suphanburi. He lives in the Klong Toey area. He has one daughter 22 who is separated from her husband and another daughter 17 that works in a wood working factory. He does not smoke, drink, or gamble. I think he used to, but stopped. He is a good driver. There is a chance that his niece will come with us to Suphanburi. Jit is not supporting it, but I am. If we are spending the money for the taxi we might as well add a little joy and experience for the family.

It was hazy, almost foggy this morning. There were many kids in scouting uniforms going to school. There were "herds" of motorbikes carrying families to school and work. The street vendors were busy selling food.

At STOU there was some kind of celebration for monks, there was supposed to be 99 monks coming on campus for food and ceremonies. It looked like it, but I did not count.

The Continuing Education department is a little dysfunctional. I have had to chase people down to get some clarity as to tasks and expectations. At first they wanted me to create a useless database with 46 records, some kind of template. I said I could not do it alone, but I could help one of the employees do it. That stopped that idea. There were some other vague proposals and then it became clear that they did not really have anything for me to do! I have an office and a computer but no meaningful tasks. After some more honest talk I will help the IT person with his tasks. He is responsible for the department web page and also creating databases. He does not have formal training in the area. We will start next Monday with any questions that he has. I think I can be of service, but it was a little bit of a charade to get people pinned down. I think I shocked Jit with my bluntness. At one point I flat out said that I was not going to do busy work! My schedule will be Monday through Wednesday from 9:00 to 2:00, but if there is not meaningful work I will leave and do my own valuable things. I have 12 days and 48 hours left at STOU. I am saving the rest of the time for my other Sabbatical goals and to do things with Jit's family. I also hope that Non-Formal Education continues to evolve into something of value. I feel rapport with the people there.

This evening I walked in the park, through young teenagers were watching one of the lizards. They were hiding behind trees. I stopped to watch. When the lizard came towards the shore the girl ran up on the bridge, the other boy jumped up on a park bench. The third boy stood his ground and as the lizard cruised along the shore he move to see it more clearly. I could tell they were interested and excited. When I first stopped I was wondering if they were going to through stones or something, but no, they were just interested. It was fun to watch their curiosity.

Jit's dad has put an elliptical ring made of reeds in the canal. The ring is floating around a stick in the mud. He throws fish food in the ring. I do not know why, but it looks cool.

When I was at STOU I experimented with Evernote to archive my blog. I displayed the September listings, selected all, and clicked on the Evernote clip button in the browser, it worked, all the text and photographs were copied to Evernote. Evernote uses XML so the file was not large. I have archived my blog! I will be able to rearrange the blog in correct chronological order and to publish it as a web page when I return to Alaska. I am planning to stop the Blog one week after I return home. I might, but I am not sure, re-awaken my Wandering In Alaska blog. I know I will use the Alaska blog for photography. I also, besides organizing my Thailand blog, will create a Thailand photography web site. I will have many things to do in Alaska

I will probably not post anything to the blog until next Monday or Tuesday, but I will be keeping notes and taking pictures.

Strange Building near Muang Thong Thani - 2Bangkok.com Forum

Strange Building near Muang Thong Thani - 2Bangkok.com Forum
Follow up to my question about the Supreme Commander's Building, it looks like in fact it is the Supreme Commander's building!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Wat Kum: Chiang Rai


Wat Po: Bangkok


Bus to Phra Pradaeng


Nissan, Volvo, Mercedes, Isuzu: Bangabua


Beauty Contest: Sri Nakhon Khuankun Park


Family: Phra Pradaeng


Sign: Phra Pradaeng


Painting on school wall: Phra Pradaeng


There are many paintings like this on the wall. I think it is something about Buddhist hell.

Vanishing Bangkok

Vanishing Bangkok
Excellent photography documenting Bangkok. Take the time to explore.

Mae Sot, Chiang Rai, Karen People, and Non-Formal Education


We left at 5:30, it is dark, there is dew on the Taxi window. I see early morning buses, Monks walking, dogs looking for food, a jogger and Taxis with the vacant light lit. The new 7-11 is very bright. There is a Monk riding on a pedi-cab. Trucks are lining up at the factories. The Wat neon lights are very bright and colorful, blue, white, and yellow fluorescent tubes. We arrive at the Center for Educational Technology early, we wait in the lobby, there are irritating mosquitos.

We are going to Mae Sot today

I have not worn any jeans since I have been in Thailand, except for some cut offs I wear around the house. This must seem unbelievable to people who know me.

We are in a Toyota van, it is an agency van, we are going around picking up people. There are seven people including the driver

I was asked to teach a one day workshop on basic computer skills for the staff at the Non-Formal Education E-Learning department

The web site that I created to explain the ITS program and competencies was well received. I am glad. The assistant director said he could see how things work, the details, and that it was very helpful.

The road is not crowded as we head north, different areas specialize in selling different things beside the road. We are going through an area that has many colored fishing nets. Another region by the road is selling wicker brooms and chairs.

The road from Tak to Mae Sot is a beautiful twisting road

We visit a school in Mae Sot, it is a government school, but there are people from the Catholic church helping out. Many of the Hill Tribe people are Christian. The students who took a math test at the school, did not do a good job, there answers were identical. The students are preparing for the high school exams. They discussed the problem and tried to give encouragement.

We go to the Friendship Bridge area to go to a market. The bridge is an entry point for people from Myanmar to come to Thailand to work. There is also exchange of goods. There is a fence surrounding the area and a border inspection area. There are people on the bridge looking through the fences. The market is interesting, many name brand food items, and odd and poor quality electronics. There are also many guns for sale, I do not know anything about guns, but I would be afraid to fire one. There were many excellent wood items on sale.

Up on the cement dike, that surrounds the market area, there were two kids, they saw me and yelled, they quickly showed me that they had a carton of Marlboro cigarettes for sale, it was sad to see the hope and necessity in the kids.

We talk for awhile and then go to our hotel, the Central Mae Sot Hill, we go out for a meal in the evening, it is great.

We are supposed to fly back from Lampang, but the plan might not work, Jit decides, and I am glad, that we will ride through to Chiang Rai and then fly home from there. The people we are traveling with are great, and we share many common interests.

Saturday morning we go to Saint Joseph Mae Ramat School to meet some students. We drive north, the area reminds me of Wisconsin, there are rolling hills, read earth, and corn fields. The details are very different, and there are hills in the distance, but the impression is of a well cultivated area.

We meet three students from the Karen community, they have made a seven hour trip with their priest to meet with us.

In there home community there is no electricity, only battery powered devices recharged with solar cells. To use e-learning tools takes planning. Electricity is used with caution and thought. The communities are very isolated, on top of hills with subsistence rice harvest, they have lived in the area for centuries Younger people are leaving the communities for Bangkok, they send money for about three months and then nothing

We met three students who might be the first people from the community to graduate from high school. They are using the e-learning materials from Non-Formal Education. E-Learning, I think, means anything that is not traditional teaching, it includes Video, VCD, DVD's, audio tapes, and self-study text books. The community can not access the satellite TV channels that are provided by the school we visited in Hua Hin. One student needs to pass an English course and the other two a Math course to finish high school. Their goal is to stay in the community and to help the community. The priest wants to help them continue to learn. I think the goal is to learn community development. Later we found that in Chiang Rai there is a Center for Inter-Ethnic Study that might be a good fit for the students, but they would have to leave home. I was moved by the students, and by the hope that they represented for their community.

The Karen people are a large cultural group, they live in the Mae Sot area and also up north. The school is teaching in both languages and is very aware of the need for cultural strength. The traditional leadership is by elders and the culture is strong. The priest has lived in the community for six years and was going to continue. I could feel his emotional and intellectual commitment to the community. There is a school with 200 students that is supported by donations, the school seems culturally and religiously respectful of traditions.

So many experiences echo rural Alaska.

Going back through Mae Sot and through Tak there are checkpoints to look for illegal immigrants. There were also checkpoints on the road south of Chiang Rai. In Mae Sot there are many people using bicycles along the high way to get to work. I think they are from Burma. I do not know the protocol for using Burma or Myanmar. Most people in Thailand seem to refer to Myanmar.

We leave and drive back to Tak and then north to Chiang Rai. There are large granite boulders and what looks like volcanic rock as we drive toward Lampang. I am interested in the geology of Thailand, I need to do some searching. Flying back from Chiang Rai I saw some very odd geographical forms. There was a large half arc that rose from a flat plane almost like the remnants of a huge crater. It was such a uniform shape. I took a vague picture. I need some good maps and some reference materials.

The road north is beautiful when we go through the national parks. There are some impressive mountains (hills to Alaskans) the form and structure is stark and spectacular. Some of the mountains look similar to granite volcanic remnants like the Angle Rocks area around Fairbanks. There are farming communities wherever there is flat land. One of Thailand's strengths is that so many families own land and use it for farming. The flat areas are farmed intensely. There are rice, bananas, grain, reeds, cattle, and corn all being cultivated. The towns have an agriculture infrastructure with farm equipment sales and even grain elevators. The housing that I see is not fancy, maybe even marginal, but the areas are very productive.

We talk a little about the Thailand government. I realize there are not the checks and balances of a federal system. I think the idea of each of the 50 states having it's own constitution is hard to explain. Also the split between state and federal responsibility is difficult to explain. Sometimes seeing another form of government makes concepts clearer.

We finally arrive in Chiang Rai about 5:30 in the evening. There is a hotel, a large hotel, called Little Duck! I suppose it seems more appropriate for the Chinese. We are staying at the Wangcome Hotel, which is an old central hotel in downtown Chiang Rai. We go to walk around the night market and then drive to a restaurant to eat northern Thai food. The food is excellent and very different from the Thai food in other regions, much more crunchy and spiced differently. I like it. We get home and sleep.

Jit and I get up early, her foot is sore because she twisted it last night. It is dark, but we go find a 7-11 to get some Tylenol. In the 7-11 there is a rack for people to put their motorcycle helmets. We then get a Tuk Tuk and go for a tour of Chiang Rai. I love the morning. We go to the market and get out and walk. There are many different fruits, vegetables, and arts and crafts then in other parts of Thailand. There are also many hill tribe people selling in the market. My favorite part of Thailand is the morning markets! I am excited and interested every time we go. We bought some gourds and a Roti. After exploring we went back to the hotel for breakfast. There was some excellent Thai filtered coffee. I have never seen it before, it was real coffee, very smooth and good tasting.

Since we are not going on the Ayutthaya trip Nuck and Star will go, we will pay their way since we can not cancel our places. I am glad that our trip will be good for somebody.

We go the Chiang Rai Rajabaht University, which has a beautiful campus. For some reason I get an experience of Deja Vu. I remember a dream from years ago. The dream is very vivid and strange. The things we think about when riding around:)! We find the building that we are looking for and meet with a group of about 20 students we have registered for non-formal education courses. There are discussions about registration, study skills, using e-learning tools, and how to get help when needed. Many non-formal education courses are like developmental education and pre-college preparation. The students were mostly middle aged adults.

Chiang Rai Rajabaht University offers two year and four year degrees. There is also an Institute of Inter-Ethnic Studies that was created to study and support indigenous cultures in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and China. We met with people there and shared common insights. Again the similarity between the challenges on Alaska and the Hill Tribe people is amazing.

During the presentation they were using a digital projector and one of those three-dimensional projectors, like an Elmo, to project transparencies. All that technology and cost was just replicating an overhead projector. It was sort of weird, but we do it too. Sometimes new technology is not an improvement. Overhead projectors worked well for projecting transparencies.

Many of the printed materials and e-learning resources like CDs and DVD's created by Non-Formal Education are similar to STOU's. I have gained new respect for educational television and printed materials like workbooks. Maybe we in Alaska should look at some of the old technologies and use them where appropriate. Audio conferences are no where to be seen.

After the presentation we have lunch at the University and then went to a weird fake Wat. The Wat was created by an artist with his own money, there are paintings for sale. You get to walk on a bridge over hell before you enter the Wat. There are contorted faces and grasping hands. The name, I think, is Wat Kum. There were no Monks and to me it was a rip off. I would much rather visit a Wat that is embedded in a community then a tourist attraction.

We fly home and go to sleep. It was a long wonderful trip with excellent travel companions.

The people of Non-Formal Education have arranged a three day visit to the Wi-Max community near Lampang. We also will be visiting a Bangkok school that is a demonstration project for using technology. I also will be doing a one day workshop for the staff at Non-Formal Education. I feel at home with this group, we share professional values and attitudes, we also have fun. Thankfully Jit is available for translation and interpretation.

I will be teaching a course at STOU. At work today I was confronted with seven students ready to learn! Pretty cool. They will have an hour and a half a day for 12 days. Today I had them, in Thai, organize their priorities. It looks like I will focus on Excel and Access, which is good. I made available all my Excel book files for their use. Tomorrow I begin. I am looking forward to it.

One thing I have found on my sabbatical is that I like teaching. When I get the opportunity to present or teach it makes me happy. When you do something like teaching everyday for years it is easy to forget that it is fun. Well now, because of my sabbatical I am reminded that I love to teach!

Charter flights bringing thousands of Japanese tourists to Fairbanks

News-Miner - Local
Interesting perspective on winter in Fairbanks. Chena Hot Springs is a resort about 50 miles outside Fairbanks. You can swim outside when it is -20 degrees. It is a good place to visit. Here is a link http://www.chenahotsprings.com/

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Stuart's Life in Thailand: Day Trip to Phra Pradang

Stuart's Life in Thailand: Day Trip to Phra Pradang
Stuart visited our house on Tuesday, this is a description of his visit. Thanks Stuart.

The Supreme Commander's Training Center?


I grabbed this shot quickly as we were rushing back from lunch with some people from STOU. At least there is some evidence of the buildings existence!

Puppies getting smart, Jit's dad training dogs, Stuart, and preparing for Lampang

In Cha Am in 2001 I saw a wonderful Thailand street dog. We were eating at the beach and the dog sat calmly within the our family perimeter. He had a great expression. It was like he made himself a member of the family. We, naturally, fed him some of our food, he did not like the crab parts and buried them with his nose. We have some puppies in the village, probably 4 or 5 months old, what is cool, is that I see a couple of the puppies doing the same thing. I will walk around the park, see a family picnicking, and there will be one of the puppies, sitting calmly, like he is a member of the family.

Jit's dad has placed a series of clear pop bottles, filled with water, along the perimeter of the path in front of our house. I asked why and the answer is to discourage dogs from using our path to poop! The idea is that the dogs will see their reflection when the sniff around and will go somewhere else. I also found out why there is a sling shot on the front porch, it is to help encourage the dogs to move on. I guess two different methods, the bottles and the sling shot work together! Actually the soda pop idea is pretty neat, seeing the world from a dog's perspective. I have no idea if it will work, but it is an excellent way to look at things.

I got some news from Alaska. It looks like I will be working to coordinate the Associate of Arts degree program offered through Tanana Valley Campus. There are both distance and face to face versions of the degree. I will be able to apply some of my Thailand experiences with e-learning is a practical and immediate way. I also will be doing some advising as well as teaching. It looks like Chris, my replacement during my Sabbatical, will be able to remain as a permanent faculty member which is great. My interests have been changing and having Chris join the program will make our ITS program deeper and more valuable for our students. The Alaska news is very good.

We went to STOU today, I taught and introductory Excel lesson using my Excel book. The lesson went well, the students are knowledgeable and motivated. The questions are good and it is fun to teach them.

I saw an overweight middle age man at the coffee shop at STOU. He had six rings on, large rings with green stones. I had to look a few times, the rings were just too much. The man had a nice smile, it was just odd to see so many rings.

Coming back to Klong Toey pier we stopped at 7-11 to pay the UBC bill, Jit, for some reason tried to give the women in black some money, the women yelled and slapped it away. Jit said the women made her feel guilty. The Women in Black's condition is getting worse, she is really filthy and she is in need of help.

Stuart's, of Stuart's Life in Thailand fame was going to visit us this Thursday, we have been emailing. Subscribing to his blog at http://www.sgtowns.com/ , through bloglines is highly recommended, also reading his archive, anyway when we were going into a street restaurant to eat we ran into Stuart. He was checking out where to catch the boat and to park his motorcycle. So instead of Thursday we met on Tuesday. It was great talking with Stuart. We explored the area with Oy on her motobike. We saw a ferry for motorcycles to cross the river, I think the crossing is near Bang Na. Jit prepared a good meal, and we talked about many things, from philosophy to food and even the United States. I asked questions about how it feels to return to the United States after spending a long time in Thailand. Stuart helped me gain some perspective on the feeling of returning to the United States. I know Thailand has changed me, I am worried about how I will feel when I get home, I do not even know if it will feel like home again. I am afraid I will be bored and restless. The visit was excellent and Stuart will go with us to Lampang next week.

The trip to Lampang is to see the Wi-Max village. We will stay in the community over night. We will leave on the train Tuesday night, spend Wednesday in Lampang, go to the community and stay overnight on Thursday, and return by plane Friday night. I hope to see how people really use the Internet when they have access and support. I will also be interested in training and support needs in the community. Stuart might find something of value if he pursues an advanced degree. Essentially I will be able to see and experience people using the Internet in a rural community. I am expecting to have a lot to think about because of this trip.


Today at STOU I taught formatting and printing using my book. Coming home we went to Immigration to file my 90 day residency paper work and then to Hua Lamphong station to get the train tickets to Lampang. We found a good taxi driver and will use him to drive us to Supanburi this Saturday for the wedding. We will leave at 4:30 in the morning.

The taxi driver helped us find a place for a roast pig. We were going to get it for Jit's dad. There is some ceremony that involves a roast pig. Jit and her brothers wanted to get the pig for her dad. Last night Jit's dad said he did not want to do the ceremony now, he would do it later. Jit's dad wants to go to Nakhon Sawan soon, he want to visit a temple there. We will try to arrange the trip soon.

Today we stayed at home, the first time in a long time. Tomorrow we will also be home, it will be Jit's dad's birthday. He will be 76 years old.

Dog Repellant


Friday, January 13, 2006

Walking concrete paths to Bang Krachow Kang


Opening the door at Wat Bang Krachow Kang


Inside Wat Bang Krachow Kang


The front door of Wat Bang Krachow Kang


Outside a Monk's home at Bang Krachow Kang


Fixing a Monk's Modem, maybe!

Today was Jit's dad's birthday. In the morning the Monk came to do a brief ceremony and to get our offering of food. Because it was Jit's dad's birthday we prepared extra food and a basket of necessities. There was also a longer then normal chant and a ceremony with water. My computer was on, I was checking email, and the discussion turned to his computer at his Wat. The modem was not working. Jit offered for us to walk over later in the day to look at it, so we did.

I found out that there are three Bang Krachow Wats, Bang Krachow Nok, outside, Bang Krachow Kang, middle, and Bang Krachow Nai, inside. We were going to Bang Krachow Kang to see the monk. We walked on the road from the park and got a ride with a motorbike to the first concrete path. We walked on the path by many homes and farms until we got to the river. We saw Bang Krachow Nok, by the river and took some photographs. The Wat is around the bend from where we normally cross the river. There is another ferry there. We looked around and then walked to Bang Krachow Kang. I had been to that Wat before for the Kathin ceremony. It was near the other Wat. There is a large palm oil refinery near the Wat. It seemed much closer to walk the concrete paths then it was to drive to the Wat.

We met the Monk, who I guess at one time worked for Jit's family. He used to take drugs and drink, but now he is pretty solid, except for smoking. Most of the monks I see smoke! Anyway we went into his room, which was really nice, older, with polished wood floors and many decoration. His computer was running Windows ME. There were a couple modem installations. After fooling around with configurations and the install disk we got it to work. It still is pretty marginal, it does not seat well into the motherboard, but it dialed and made all the appropriate noises. We did not have the correct password for an Internet service, but it did seem to work correctly. After fixing the modem we got to meet the Abbot who is over 80 years old. He has suffered a stroke so he is a little limited. He was watching Thai daytime television. We also got a tour of the temple and the Wat or ceremony hall with the Buddha statues and very nice painting on the back wall. I took quite a few pictures. The colors of the windows and doors were bright red. It was beautiful, real, and relaxing. Jit and the Monk talked for awhile. The Monk told us how to walk back home on concrete paths until we reached the park, so we did. We walked past Bang Krachow Nai where there was a Children;s Day celebration with loud music. The walk back was long, but interesting. We ended up in the park, I had seen the path before, but thought it only led to a house. There was even neighborhood store on the path. I love walking and exploring the concrete paths. You really see the homes of people and how they live. We encounter a few barking dogs, but they are used to people walking by, so if you ignore them they back away and leave you alone. I discovered many new places today.

I Thailand people can start stores and sell things anytime they want. In the Untied States you need zoning, licenses, and health inspections. I think I agree with the zoning, but I am not sure of the value of the licenses and the health inspections. In Thailand people do not get sick often from eating at all the creative and entrepreneurial places that people create. I wonder if the regulations end up just limiting opportunity and creativity. I know it is frustrating when people from Thailand come to the United States and face all the regulations and rules for running a small home based business.

Ome, the little girl, about 12, who is slightly disabled, takes care of kittens and puppies. Today she found one of the kittens dead, she picked it up and put it in the garbage, it was a matter of fact acceptance of the reality of the kittens death. In many ways Ome is being used by her Aunt, she does not get any education, is expected to work and help all the time, and yet she has a great spirit. She smiles and kids me all the time. I believe that her parents are dead from AIDS. We have invited her to go with us, but her Aunt wants her to work.

Tomorrow we leave at 4:30 for Supan Buri. It will be a long day!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

At the Likay performance: Phra Pradaeng


At the Likay performance: Phra Pradaeng


Wat Mahated: Supan Buri


At the Likay performance in Phra Pradaeng


Jim and Ewey's wedding in Supan Buri


Ewey "ransoming" Jim


Jim and Ewey's Wedding


Looking at the web camera 

Likay and a Wedding

Friday night we went to a Likay performance in Phra Pradaeng. The Likay was sponsored as part of a funeral. Going to the performance was part of a Birthday present for Jit's dad. Keenon, Star, Jit's mom and dad and of course Jit and I went. Jit's mom watches Likay performances on DVD or VCD for hours.

It was like a carnival, there was an inflated Disney jump for kids, all sort of food booths including a booth that sold hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries. There were colored lights and it was packed, an older audience, with many kids, but not many teenagers. There was also a large lighted house, made of thin wood and paper that was part of the funeral. Both the Likay performance and the lighted building were part of the funeral. We looked in on the funeral and the casket was much more ornate and on a much larger platform then the funerals that I had seen before.

Likay is a mystery to me, it is very popular. It is similar to pantomime in it's stylized movements. The people know the stories. They love the performers. There are many costumes. There is crazy narration with singing and comments, I imagined the performance without the narration and it would have lost it's drama. We left early because we needed to catch a taxi in the morning. Jit wanted to wait for a specific performer before we left. I did not have a clue!

Popular Likay groups travel all over the country. The group we saw was very popular and very expensive. The women who died, and in who's honor the Likay performance was being sponsored, was very rich.

The audience understands, they even give gifts to the performers, behind the stage you can see the performers preparing, people gather around and performers come over to meet and talk with the gathered people.

People sit on the ground on plastic sheets, it is not too comfortable, I got up and walked around a lot, when I went back to sit down the people next to us said "Hey Farang" and offered me something to eat, there were fried donuts and some deep fried squash or pumpkin kind of thing, they were very friendly.

I was people watching, as usual, and I saw what looked like a drug deal. A man was standing by the Wat wall, two other people came up to him quickly, they talked briefly, and then left quickly. They all looked pretty rough. I also saw a white street person, with a beard and long matted hair, he did not have shoes on. I looked a couple times to be sure.

The Phra Pradaeng Wat is interesting, inside the building, with the Buddhas, there are framed paintings on the wall. Jit's said that the paintings are about Mon culture, but to me they looked like they had many subjects, not necessarily cultural or religious. I want to go back to visit the Wat later. We pass the Wat everyday when we go from Phra Pradaeng to Bang Krachow, it is usually very busy with school kids and ceremonies.

When we came by the Wat on the way to the wedding, about 5:15 in the morning, the Likay stage was being dismantled. Jit said they would burn the large house structure as part of the funeral, but it sure looked too large to burn to me!

The wedding between Ewey and Jim at Supan Buri
We got up at 3:30 to get ready for the taxi. We walked out to pick up the Taxi at 4:30, the driver was a little late so we walked to the Bangabuah Wat. It was a lovely walk with the moonlight and the quiet. The driver picked us up and drove us to Supanburi. The taxi driver had tow bobble head spaniel dogs and a Buddha on his dashboard. The dogs head bounced as we drove along. The driver was excellent and a pleasure to spend time with.

The drive to Supanburi was quick, but it was very foggy, some people were driving with warning lights blinking, some people must have had radar because they did not seem to slow down at all, they were weaving through the traffic in the fog! Our driver was safe and calm. We were told that Ewey's place would be all lighted up, and it was. Out of the fog there were a bunch of brightly colored neon lights, we were there. There was loud music playing, it was 6:30 in the morning. There was a great, ancient, Isuzu sound truck. There were three large speakers on poles. I loved the truck and took many pictures.

Ewey's folks have a business constructing covered wooden benches, wood furniture, cabins, the quality and design look great. It was interesting.

Steve and Nela were there from Alaska. They are retiring in Thailand. They have bought some property near Hua Hin. Nela is originally from Thailand. Steve will act as Jim's parent for the ceremony. We talked about retiring in Thailand. Steve had a customs experience also. Shipping things, even your own things, to Thailand can be a frustrating experience.

The wedding ceremony was complex with many symbolic rituals and actions. I did not really understand much of it. At one point there was a ceremony between two families. "Jim's family" walked with palm fronds down the road to Ewey' house. There was chanting and a kind of wail, Jit knew the exact wail. The music from the sound truck also had the wail or chant. There was then some ritual where the women would not let Jim go, Ewey had to come "ransom" Jim and free him. He then had to cross a barrier to enter the house. Then both families delivered food, there was a ceremony of people sharing food and money. Before these ceremonies the Monk's came from the temple and went through a long ritual. Jim and Ewey had marks painted on their foreheads. After the ceremonies there was a meal and speeches. There was a singer who actually sang, or it might have been kareoke. I am not sure. It was great to see the ceremony and to share the experience. We were glad that we went. I took many photographs and will prepare a CD for Jit and Ewey when I get back to Alaska. There was a Web Cam set up so that Jim's parents in Florida could see the ceremony. The connection was slow dial up so the feed was pretty jerky.

Wat Mahated: A cool old temple at Supan Buri
We went to an ancient old Wat before we went back to Bangkok. It looked like the temple was similar to Ayutthaya, there were brick prangs with trees growing on them. One small tower was being split by the tree roots. There was a modern small reclining Buddha. Inside an old building, with broken iron gates, there were some Buddhas in storage. There was not a tourist in sight. The main hall was filled with Buddha images. I loved it. Jit chose to go there because the name of the Wat meant that there were old things there. I took many picture. I was gone for so long that Jit sent the Taxi driver to find me! Before we went to Wat Mahated we went to one of the Disney temples with a famous Buddha. There were many people. It just looked hot and tiring so we left.

On the way home to Phra Pradaeng we took a different way, we never crossed the river. It was like traveling through suburbia. There were freeways, shopping centers, car dealerships, housing developments, and wide open areas waiting for development. We came into traffic near the Rama 2 Central shopping area. We stopped in Phra Pradaeng to get some things for children's day.

To rent a Taxi for a day is only 1,500 Baht. It seems like a bargain to me, especially with an excellent calm driver.

In the evening there was a Children's Day ceremony with loud music, food, and drinking. It did not irritate me the way it did on New Years. I enjoyed the music! Hmmm.... In the afternoon, walking home, we heard another loud celebration in the distance. Another community was enjoying playing very loud music for Children's Day. It was different to hear the music from a distance.

At wats, weddings, funerals, political events, and carnivals there are plastic chairs to sit on, multi-colored, and actually comfortable. I asked Jit what people sat on before there were plastic chairs. She said people sat on the ground, sometimes with straw mats. At the Likay performance people sat on plastic. It was nor comfortable. Plastic chairs are a definite improvement, especially for older people who no longer are flexible like me!

When we were in Ko Kret there was a tug boat towing two large barges going through the channel, the only cargo on the barges was empty Pepsi bottles. The bottles were heading north, I assume for re-filling. In Thailand people collect a bottle fee and you can get a refund when you return your bottles. If you want to get a drink to go people will put it in a plastic bag with a straw, it seems odd, but it actually works well. The bag holds the whole bottle of pop, plus ice. Holding the drink bag from your finger is convenient, the only problem is that it is hard to put the bag down, it is better to hang the bag from something.

Small Cruelties

Sometimes, in any culture, there is cruelty, some of them stick in my mind.

Oem in the young teenager who lives near us, she is partially disabled, she walks with a limp and one arm is partially paralyzed. Today is children's day so we bought something for her, some clothes, when we went over to give them to her she was not there, her grandmother yelled a couple time for her and she came out, she was crying. We gave her the clothes, and then left. Her grandmother said that Oem talked back and her grandmother told her "You are acting just like your mother" The thing is, her mother is an alcoholic and a street person, she visits rarely. When she comes here she drinks and is very loud.

Dog's in a Box
Stey, a person who I like, he lives in Juke's families "compound". His two daughters are wonderful young professional women. At the front of the compound there is a box with three dogs, small curly haired dogs. You can tell when a stranger comes by the path because they bark loudly. The dogs, as far as I can see, are never let out of the box. The box is covered up or opened up, they are great for protecting the home and warning of strangers. There is another dog, of similar breed, that is let loose and is a nice dog.

Stey's Dog
Under Stey's house, which is over water, there is a small platform. There is a nice looking red dog that lives on the platform, he is on a short chain. Anytime anybody walks by he barks and snarls viciously, his lips curl back from his teeth, he looks like he will attack. I stopped and talked with the dog awhile; "good dog", "I am not going to hurt you", "it's OK" etc, the dog calmed down, but if I made movements he snarled again. If Stey is there he will just yell at the dog and it will stop growling, he usually sits above the dog on a deck. The dog is crazy, driven crazy. There are kids around the area and the dog is probably dangerous. he looks dangerous. I do not know enough about dog's to help calm it down or to get it back into a civilized behavior.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Lessons from Baan Sam Kha

Sabbatical Visit List Stephen Cysewski
I have added a link to the original information about the Wi Max community near Lampang.

A lazy Sunday, Roti's and Garden Pots

Today, Sunday, a traveling Roti vendor was wheeling a cart through the community, tooting his bike horn. We bought some without eggs. They were excellent. In the morning, after writing my blog entry I read the newspaper and watched the Seattle Seahawks win their playoff game. I was raised in the Seattle area and have been following the Seahawks for years. I only watched the fourth quarter.

Jit's dad heard a plant container salesmen from the road, they went and looked at the pots, we bought four large ones. The vendors wheeled the pots and potting soil to the house. There is a whole economic culture of trucks with loud speakers. I saw one truck, on the Bangkok side, advertising awnings for street vendors or shops.

Yesterday on the way back from Suphan Buri I saw a neglected concrete dinosaur. Next to the dinosaur were three used cars in a tent covering, one of the cars was a classic, mid 70's Alfa Romeo! When I travel I am concentrated on observing, there are many fascinating puzzles.

Jit bought the Monk who comes for morning offerings an eGo card for Internet access. Monday she will give it to him.

Next week will be busy, Monday and Tuesday we go to STOU. Tuesday night we leave for Lampang on the train. Wednesday we will tour Lampang. Thursday we will go to the Wi-Max community and stay overnight. Friday we will return to Bangkok by plane.

Jit's dad has anchored a rubber pipe like a shower hose, that he has made into a circle, in the canal. There is a stick in the mud that holds the circle in place. He feeds the fish by throwing the food in the circle. I asked why, the answer is that the canals have a current, by throwing the food into the circle the food does not move down the canal and the fish stay in one place. A really neat idea!

Today is Teacher's day, but for University faculty it is still a day of work. We took the Taxi in this morning. There was a bobble head sheep toy on the taxi dashboard. The taxi smelled a little of alcohol and the driver was not smooth. We got there OK, but I do get anxious about some of our taxi rides.

I taught Charting and Graphing today, tomorrow I was going to teach about Excel's List tools but one of the students will not be able to attend so I will teach the lesson next week. Instead I will do an introduction to Access, the essential concepts to understand and use Access. We switched next week so that I will teach from Wednesday to Friday.

Tomorrow we leave for Lampang, it will be an interesting trip.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Emergency and Chaos!

Yesterday afternoon something bit Jit's dad in the garden. At first we thought it was a snake, but it later turned out to be a centipede. It was extremely painful!

Jit's dad put a tourniquet around his leg, used a razor blade to lance the bite and mixed a compound of leaves to put on the bite, he thought it was a snake bit because there was part of a fang looking remnant in the bite. It was a pincer though, not a fang.

There is no emergency procedure in the community, or at least nobody knew what to do. There is no 911 number or equivalent and no ambulance. I was shocked by the chaos and lack of preparation. If somebody was burned or scalded or had a compound fracture I have no idea how the community would handle it, probably try to get a taxi! In any case motorbikes took Jit's dad, Jit, and I to the dock, we took the small boat across, Jit's dad was in real pain, and we still thought it was a snake bit. We took a Taxi to the Red Cross Snake bit center, but they said for us to go to a hospital. I finally put my foot down and we flagged a van that was driving by with a red cross on it and they helped us get to Chula hospital. Jit's dad's foot was swollen and dark.

When we were in the taxi we were caught in traffic, I asked if somebody could call an ambulance or somebody to help us through traffic. Jit called many people, but it was phone tag. I have no idea why we did not go to a clinic nearer our community or in Phra Pradaeng. We finally got to the hospital and Jit's dad got help. It took six hours, because they wanted to observe Jit's dad for side effects. Jit's dad was suffering from the medication, it was like he was drunk, his brain was not altogether there. Jit's dad was complaining about losing his memory, he looked scared.

It looks like it was a millipede or centipede. I read about them in a blog about Issan, the are supposed to be very painful. His foot was swollen and very sore. It is supposed to last two or three days.

I watched an ITV soap opera in the lobby while we were waiting. There was some Rasputin Hippy terrorizing people, the drama was either terrible or funny, I am not sure which.

In the morning Jit's dad was better but we went back to the hospital for a drug test. Git drove us to the hospital, we left Jit's dad there to go to STOU. Run went to the hospital to get Jit's dad home.

Chula hospital is immense. It is a very large teaching hospital, it is more of a campus of buildings then a hospital, there was even a small 7-11 in the building. Next to Jit's dad in the emergency room was a small semi-conscious girl about 3 or 4. There were many older people who were sick and quite a few younger people with injuries. There were Christmas decorations still up Going back through Phra Pradaeng they still have the Christmas decorations going across the road.

I used Google to look up about Thailand centipedes. They are dangerous and potentially life threatening.

I think that the driving force for Internet usage could be health, then economics and government, then education, and finally fun. Kid's would probably reverse that order, but for what I have seen health information is what people ask me to look up in the community.

Our community, and maybe many others, needs some emergency procedures! It was chaos trying to get help, there was much concern, but we were pretty much on our own to get to a hospital or clinic. All that is needed is a simple step by step list of procedures and contacts.

It was another Thailand experience.

We catch the train to Lampang in five hours.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Shopping in Phra Pradaeng

I write for my web log all morning and get caught up on reading newspapers. Tomorrow we go to STOU to teach a class on using Excel for lists.

We need to go shopping, we need all sorts of stuff, laundry soap, bread, bleach, that kind of stuff. We took the motorcycle to catch the bus. The Wat at Bangabua is having the roof replaced. All the tile is removed and then replaced with new tile, I think it is new anyway. When we were in Lamphun they were doing the same thing with their Wat. In both cases all the beautiful interior paintings and sculpture would be exposed to rain. People must be very confident about the weather, so far their confidence in warranted.

Riding the bus to Phra Pradaeng in always fun. I saw a flat bed truck unloading bags of rice at a small store. The area beside the road is filthy, it is depressing to see all the junk in the ditches and canals by the road. People are so busy, there are people selling things everywhere. Their are many motorcycle repair places, some of them are black with gas and oil. There are many interesting faces. What I see now is very different from what I saw when I first started riding the bus.

When we get to Phra Pradaeng we go up on the dike to view the river and the mega-bridge. The mega-bridge is moving quickly, they are adding the suspension pieces, soon both sides of the bridge will be joined. There were people fishing from the dike. Some people were using three rods and reels. One man caught a fish, it was pretty small, but people seem to enjoy the fishing. There were many ferries, some large passenger ferries and two different locations for vehicle ferries. One of the passenger ferries was packed with kids in school uniforms, I would guess there was over 100 kids on the ferry. I love to watch the river traffic. I can see three different Wats by the river from where we stand. Large ships pass through the traffic on the way up to Bangkok.

Phra Pradaeng is a working town, there are no tourists that I can see. I do not see any hotels, but I am sure their are working people hotels and dorms. There are many factories and shipping docks in the area. It is busy. I really like Phra Pradaeng, it is visually rich and very real.

We find a noodle shop to eat in, I order chicken noodles. There are chicken legs in the noodles as well as a chicken leg. I am picky today so I do not eat the chicken feet. If we were with guests I would have eaten the feet, but sometimes I do not want to experience new things.

People are selling lottery tickets, many people who sell lottery tickets are disabled. Some ticket sellers have three wheel vehicles that are hand powered. The rider moves a lever back and forth to power the vehicle. Other lottery sellers walk through restaurants looking for customers. The tickets are in large folding wooden boxes. Sometimes I see lottery sellers going to work carrying their wooden boxes.

I hear chimes, when the hour changes there are clock chimes that play on the loudspeaker.

We go to a grocery store on the main street, it is smaller then a 7-11 but packed with goods floor to ceiling. There are even items hanging from nets on the ceiling. We purchase five bags of goods and the people help us carry it to the curb where we catch a taxi. The taxi is nearing the end of its shift and can not take us home, the driver flags down another taxi and helps us load our bags into the new taxi. We make it home.

Phra Pradaeng is the real thing. Just standing on the street watching the people and traffic is an education on Thailand. I look forward to going to Phra Pradaeng.

Doi Inthanon, Treadle Sewing Machines, and packing for Bangkok!

Last night while thinking about the days experiences I remembered two images that I wanted to share. When we were walking around the edge of the Warorot Market we found a non-digital photo store. There were some used cameras, camera cases, filters, a lot of film of different varieties, some used cameras, old Nikon Autofocus and a Leica R4, and many point and shoot cameras. I looked the shop over carefully for cool stuff, but did not find anything that I wanted to purchase. There were also examples of portrait photography. Finding the photo store was like stepping back in time, maybe 4 or 5 years ago!

I also saw a store with an entire row of treadle sewing machines. There were at least three different manufacturers. In the glass display case at the front of the store were many parts for fixing sewing machines. There were also some old black electrical sewing machines also. I saw the shop from the Tuk Tuk and walked back to take some pictures and look around.

Last night at the Central Airport Plaza I saw a mother and young son sitting by a dedicated video game. The boy, four or five, was playing the video game. The mother was sitting near him and encouraging him. Pretty cool!

Today we are going to Doi Inthanon, the highest place in Thailand. We got up and packed the stuff we needed and then ate some street food, rice soup across from our hotel. There is no food service in the hotel. The van came and we were off.

As we were driving our of Chiang Mai I saw a used car lot with three excellent looking VW bugs, the old original kind, not the Super Beetles. Yesterday in traffic I saw an original VW Micro Bus. If you are a VW nut Thailand in a good place to explore.

There were many silver Toyota 11 passenger vans heading the same way, The Toyota vans are the standard vehicle for tours.

I saw some abandoned buildings, and like everyplace in Thailand vines were starting to engulf the building. Even the abandoned large towers at Mueng Thong Thani have vines starting to grow up the sides. Trees that are dead or dieing are also victims or the vines.

As we approached the park there was an admission gate. Some women, very persistently, were selling flowers. As we were waiting for the fee to be paid the women went from one side of the the van to the other. When the guide came back most of us bought flowers, persistence was rewarded.

The forest is very dry, here are dried leaves and grass, fire is a concern. As we traveled higher there were pine trees and Rhododendron. The Rhododendron reminded me of my grandparents home on Camano Island in Washington, they had many different kinds of Rhododendron plants.

On some of the hills there were terraces from cultivation. There were also trees growing in rows, I assume reforestation.

We finally got to the summit and there was a very ugly military installation with a large radar dome. Looking around the summit it reminded me of Murphy Dome in Fairbanks. Coming down from the summit there are two modern temples with beautiful temperate zone gardens. We stopped and explored.

The Thailand people at the summit and temples were dressed for winter with coats, hats, and even some gloves.

Driving back we stopped at a Karen village where they were weaving, had a meal at a roadside restaurant, and saw a beautiful water fall. It was a good trip and I took many pictures.

When we stopped at the Karen village we were told that the government did not have trouble controlling the Karen people because they did not plant opium or make heroin!

We had people from Switzerland, San Diego, Alaska, Korea, and Thailand on the trip.

Tomorrow we leave for home, Jit has bought MANY things! We went to a market to get some packing bags for the cloth and clothing. It will be a miracle to get all this stuff to our home in Bangkok. It will be even more of a miracle to get the stuff to Alaska!

Rooster Calls and wandering in Chiang Mai

This morning, in our hotel, I heard roosters calling, it was nice. In 2004, when we came with my daughter Margaret, we stayed at the Prince Palace Hotel. We stayed on the 16th floor. The first morning that I woke up I heard Roosters and Tuk Tuk's. I thought they piped in ambient noise to create an atmosphere of Thailand, but I was wrong, it was true!

The Toyota Yaris was released today, a pretty cool car that we will not be able to get in the USA. I would love to buy a Yaris or a Honda Jazz for Fairbanks. Anyway the slogan is Be Groovy! Sort of reminds me of the 60's.

We spent most of the day in the main Market downtown in Chiang Mai. The Warorot Market is great with all the usual food, many excellent clothes and fabrics, and flowers. I took a lot of pictures. I am very happy with my Fuji Z2. The natural light mode really works well in a street or market environment.

As we were walking around we found an excellent resteraunt. It is in a restored tea house. There is a garden with seating inside the house. We had American breakfasts. There were birds, butterflies, and peace. Just outside there was a hot busy street. The resteraunt gives a taste of what the Chiang Mai area might have been like before all the development. Jit purchased many kinds of fabric to take to Alaska. I have no idea how we will get the fabric to our home in Bangkok or back to Alaska. Jit says she has a plan!

We went to a travel agent to get tickets home, their were no flights tomorrow so we will leave on Monday morning. The sleeper train was also full. We are going to the tallest mountain in Thailand tomorrow on a tour. I am looking forward to it.

In the late afternoon we went to the Central Airport Plaza. The fourth floor is entirely IT. The selection and atmosphere are great. I can see why the Pantip Plaza in downtown Chiang Mai near the Night Market is partly empty. The atmosphere is much better at the Central Airport Plaza. I got a memory card for my camera.

Lampang, Ban Samkha, Seymour Papert, and an inspiration!

Jit's dad is wearing five amulets, but we still had to bug him to wear shoes in the garden. He is going to be fine. He will get a checkup for the next few days to check his condition.

We go to catch the train. At the Hua Lamphong station everybody stands at 6:00 PM for the Thai national anthem, this is the first time I have seen people stand for the anthem in Thailand. The railroad station is interesting and well organized. It is a great place to people watch.

Some families are sitting on the floor, there are not enough seats, they are not blocking traffic, a man in a uniform comes out and whistles for them to get up, this happens a couple times, Some Canadian girls sit down, they do not know the previous warnings, the whistling and warnings stop

We meet Stewart and get on the train, there is a Chinese man who speaks excellent English sitting with us. He is going to Lampang to check on a gold mine, I think he is the supervisor. He told me it is hard rock or underground mining. There was also a women from South Africa in our area.

The toilets are the Asian squat toilets, I just do not understand how they work, I have even looked it up on the Internet. The toilets are a mystery. I would lose everything in my pocket and get all wet if I used the toilet the way I think it should work, I must be missing something!

The train is restful to sleep on, the bed is comfortable, I get the upper bunk. We arrive in Lampang about 6:30 in the morning and go to our hotel to check in. The rooms are nice and we have breakfast. We then go to meet Suchin Petcharugsa with the Northern Region Non-formal education center. Suchin gave us a book, "Ban Samkha, Community that Learns" to explain the project in detail. The meeting was excellent. Suchin has worked with Seymour Papert and Constructivism. The project is called the Light House Project. The project was designed with and was inspired by the Constuctivism project at MIT. The recently retired head of Siam Cement is also involved. For the first time I understand the implications of micro-worlds and Logo as an educational tool. Micro-worlds are a means to start the self-actualization process of question, or idea, action, reflection, and revision. The micro-world experience of learning how to learn becomes a self-generalizing process that leads to understanding and growth. I was deeply impressed by our conversation, we were talking about the essential issues of education and community development.

In 1967, when I was a VISTA Volunteer, I learned about community development. I lived for a year in a village of 120 people in Alaska. The values and skils I learned in Shaktoolik have continued with me in my career. I use the ideas of community development in my teaching and counseling. Talking with Suchin Petcharugsa re-awakened and clarified some basic insights that have motivated my life.

We also talked about e-learning. In Thailand e-learning seems to be anything that is not face to face. I really think that the concept of e-learning tangles up and confuses many essential concepts. A few of the more fertile distinctions that are subsumed and hidden by the general e-learning concepts are: synchronous and asynchronous learning; distance and face to face learning; how course material is delivered; and the role or the instructor as facilitator or as presentor of information. For me e-learning is about using the Internet to teach and learn, it includes communication, student submission of work, teacher to student and student to student communication, content delivery and enrichment, using the Internet as a research tool, and using the Internet as a publishing tool. E-Learning is a tool, like writing and speaking, that is used to teach and learn. The Internet provides a huge array of evolving tools that can enhance the teaching process, using these tools, is the key to e-learning.

During our meeting we discussed the MIT $100 laptop project. Thailand is going to make a major commitment to implementing the project, but the issue of training, appropriate use, software, and how the laptops will be embedded in the educational process are a little murky. Dr Suchin talks about people bombing communities with their ideas and projects, it is a good analogy for top down projects.

After our meeting we got to visit an absolutely beautiful Wat. Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is over a 1000 years old. The cream color sand, the golden brown bricks, weathered wood, and form and shape of the structures are beautiful. It was sunset and we walked around and took pictures.

We went to our hotel and then took a horse buggy for dinner. The meal was good.

We go to Ban Samkha today, I was a little nervous. I am introspective and shy by nature. We drive for about 45 minutes and arrive at the community. It is beautiful. We meet the teacher Srinuan Wongtrakul and also meet with our guide and helper Thim. Both people were awesome in their presence and sparkle. We were meeting people that were a joy to get to know.

We got to see a small manufacturing building that was making dried banana snacks, sort of like fruit leather. The process was well organized and the product was very good. We also go to see a cooperative store that returns the yearly profits to the community. Many people have projects, we saw a man who was carving wood horses, Thim's family is growing Japanese pumpkins. The people are productive, creative and industrious.

The Ban Samkha community has an excellent leadership structure based on a committee of community members. The community is so organized that cow herders are expected to pick up after the cows when the are herded on the community streets. The community has created check dams in the mountains to trap water so that it can enrich the forests and also be saved for irrigation. We got to go on a long hike to see the mountains and also to see the check dams. The community is working with other communities in the vicinity to help prevent fire and to build check dams.

The community has developed an individual accounting system so people can see their financial situation. They also have a clear idea of dept in the entire community. Seeing the community debt has inspired many small money making projects sovthat people can reduce their debt. There are about 600 people registered in the community. There are about 40 students in the elementary school. The older students go to school in Lampang, but come home in the evening. Students are expected to share their ideas and talents with the community and to participate in community meetings. As we walk around the community we see no-smoking signs on many homes. There is a sign by the Wat that says Drugs and AIDS equal Death.

The teacher and school are an inspiration. I would have loved my daughter to be taught in the school. The school is built on community development and micro-world principles. Students are using lessons that are deeply embedded in and relevant to the community. There is a student teacher from Chula University at the school, she has been there for three months, she says she loves it

We went to a meeting at the Wat where two bus loads of people from Nakhow Sawan were learning about the community leadership and community projects.

There is a statue of a community hero in the village. He fought for Thailand against Burma. He had the opportunity to stay with the King but he chose to come home. It is a large statue near the library. Somehow honoring a person who returns to the community seems appropriate.

The NECTEC people are in the school helping to revise the configuration for the Internet connection. They are adding VOIP to the configuration. The students and community use the Internet for community projects.

In our walk up the mountains we see check dams, rice fields that are being used for vegetable gardens, crabs that live under rocks, a large snake skin from a poisonous snake, and a young man coming down the trail with a rifle and a traditional orange sash. He had been hunting. It was very dry in the woods, but beautiful. The women we walk with, Thim is a joy, she brings light and laughter wherever she goes. Thim is responsible for the home stay. She is also responsible for the women's check dam team and represents the community in forest fire prevention planning

We had a wonderful dinner with meat cooked over charcoal. A student joined us. She is in 11th grade and spoke English with excellent pronunciation and great spirit and confidence. She wants to be a tour guide for the community, she would also be an excellent teacher. She says she spends as much time with the teacher as she can!
There were some younger English speaking students who were also with us.

We go for a walk in the morning, the light is beautiful, there are many roosters and hens, I am surprised by how colorful and beautiful chickens can be. The bird flu is a tragedy, not only because of the human deaths, but also because chickens are an important part of community life. I hear cattle bells and roosters, watching the sun come over the mountains and seeing the mountain haze is beautiful.

Jit talks with one of the Monks, he is a little skeptical about technology. He would like to see the community focus on local problems like drinking.

We visit a old man who has knowledge about Lanna traditional healing and herbs. He has a library of very old texts on banana leaves that describes medicinal plants in the Lanna language. The school students are working with the man to translate the material to Thai and to create a computer archive to save and share the information. The Lanna herb project is an example of community based education. One student demonstrates how the Lanna script works on a computer, he points out the difficulty with one of the letters, he is in elementary school. I am impressed.

We leave the community, I will never forget my experience here. Driving from Lampang to Chiang Mai we pass a sign that points to the Lampang Volcano. I need to look this up on the Internet.

We stop at Lamphoo and visit another ancient Wat, Wat Phra That Haripunjana Lamphun. There are many people meditating at the Wat, it seems very active spiritually. There is a large school for young monks next to the Wat.

Crossing the pass between Lampang and Chiang Mai there were many, hundreds, of Spirit Houses at the summit. Going up the hill to the summit there were many stalled trucks, other trucks were crawling at less then a walking pace.

We get to Chiang Mai and check it to the "Airport Resident" a serviced apartment that Stewart arranged with a friend. It is an excellent value. All the hotel rooms in Chiang Mai are full, we are lucky to find a place to stay. We are tired and take a nap.

We go to the Night Bazaar and Pantip Plaza in downtown Chiang Mai. The Pantip Plaza is half vacant, sort of like it was in 2004. It does not have the energy of the Pantip Plaza in Bangkok. The Night Bazaar is not as interesting as it was in 2004. I think being in Thailand for a long time makes me see how superficial and touristy it is. We ate some great huge wonderful tasting corn on the cob and a fresh strawberry smoothie. Going back to our room I won a T Shirt at the Toyota dealership because I wore a red shirt. As we were walking by they wanted anybody with a red shirt to come and claim a prize, Jit heard the announcement and made me go over to win!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Things I do not like about Thailand and Community Candy Making!

Last night I finished cleaning the viruses from Nuk and Nik's computer. The Virus definitions were two years outdated and their was a Trojan Horse that was sending information like crazy. I got it all set up and configured and it seems to work OK.

Today we took the small boat across the river. During rush hour the big boat gets overloaded, people just keep piling on, the boat gets low in the water and wallows. Nobody seems to set a limit, of course the boat has not tipped over or sunk in years, but it is a marginal experience. The boat driver will even back up the stern of the boat to the pier to pick up a few extra passengers. I have watched the boat when it is fully loaded and it is very sluggish and seems to wallow. From now on, if we are traveling during rush hour, and if the tide is not too high so that it covers the path, we will take the small boat across the river. During less busy times the large boat is fine, at least as long as the driver stays in the boat. One driver still leaves the boat with the motor running and in gear pushing against the dock. He gets out and leaves the boat. If a wave came along and moved the boat it would sail away with no driver! Of course this has not happened either. Maybe it is just my cautious active imagination.

People sometimes ask me what I do not like about Thailand. I have been thinking and it would be the lack of safety. From crossing the road to riding in Taxis, to holes in the street and sidewalk, to dangling electrical wires, there is danger. I have to remind myself to pay attention wherever I go. It is an adventure, but it does cause an extra increment of anxiety.

The other thing I do not like is the alcohol abuse. Many people in Thailand drink too much. Today at lunch there were office workers eating and drinking beer. I did a count and each person probably had three beers in a one hour lunch. I know I would not be a good worker on three beers in an hour. Drinking and driving is common. I do not read about any recognition of fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effect. From what we know in Alaska any use of alcohol during pregnancy can cause potentially severe damage to the fetus. With the amount of drinking I see, there must be FAS and FAA in Thailand. I have experience with drinking, I drank too much for many years, I know how it harmed me and my family. I see excessive alcohol use, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism with people I know and care about! At least there should be a health education effort to educate people about alcohol abuse and fetal alcohol syndrome similar to that is given to smoking. For many people alcohol use becomes a tragedy. In the end drinking is not fun, it clouds judgment, limits emotional growth, hurts families, and destroys the health of individuals. I wished there was aggressive public education about the risk of alcohol usage.

There are a million things I love about Thailand, but I wanted to answer a question that I often get.

This morning at 8:00 in the morning there were drunk people at the Klong Toey dock, coming home there were more drunk people.

At STOU today I taught people how to use the List features of Excel and consulted on some Access problems. I am advocating for creating a simple database with sample data and getting the basic features to work before getting complicated.

When we got home the community was making candy to sell for Chinese New Years. I was told that the community will take the candy to the Klong Toey market to sell. People were gathered around working, splitting coconut, cutting banana leaves, mixing candy ingredients and teasing each other. There was a squirt gun. Jit's uncle, who is over eighty, was saying "Oh My God!" the phrase caught on, it was funny. It sounded like home. Maybe there was a missionary around, they were sure not talking about Buddha.

Jit's cousin wants to sell her Uncle's land. The land is right next to Jit's old home. I do not see how we could afford it, but her cousin wants to sell the land to help her uncle in old age. The uncle is the one who's wife died. He is a good man. We are supposed to go to a celebration to mark 100 days since her death. It will be the first weekend in February.

In the distance I heard Likay being played, I thought it was a truck selling VCD's but it was the Buddha replica being moved by barge to Bangkok. The replica started its journey from Chachoengsao. I wished I had known I would have run to the small boat dock to take some photographs.

Next Monday there will be a good by lunch at STOU. There are supposed to be 15 people there. I have met some wonderful people at STOU and will miss them. In fact, when I think about leaving Thailand to go home I think about missing the people that I have met!

What do I love about Thailand, above everything else, it is the people.

Looking across the river in Phra Pradaeng


Phra Pradaeng Ferries


There are many different ferries, two kinds of vehicle ferries at two different locations and large passenger ferries. Large ships go up and down this river also. It is a great place to watch river activity.

Grocery Store in Phra Pradaeng


We go to a grocery store on the main street, it is smaller then a 7-11 but packed with goods floor to ceiling. There are even items hanging from nets on the ceiling.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sewing Machine Store Chiang Mai


Sewing Machine Store Chiang Mai


I also saw a store with an entire row of treadle sewing machines. There were at least three different manufacturers. In the glass display case at the front of the store were many parts for fixing sewing machines. There were also some old black electrical sewing machines also. I saw the shop from the Tuk Tuk and walked back to take some pictures and look around.

Old Photo Store Chiang Mai


When we were walking around the edge of the Warorot Market we found a non-digital photo store. There were some used cameras, camera cases, filters, a lot of film of different varieties, some used cameras, old Nikon Autofocus and a Leica R4, and many point and shoot cameras. I looked the shop over carefully for cool stuff, but did not find anything that I wanted to purchase. There were also examples of portrait photography. Finding the photo store was like stepping back in time, maybe 4 or 5 years ago!

On the way to Doi Inthanon


Jit and her dad going to the hospital


A ring in the canal for fish food


Jit's dad has anchored a rubber pipe like a shower hose, that he has made into a circle, in the canal. There is a stick in the mud that holds the circle in place. He feeds the fish by throwing the food in the circle. I asked why, the answer is that the canals have a current, by throwing the food into the circle the food does not move down the canal and the fish stay in one place. A really neat idea!

The Dog Under the House


Under Stey's house, which is over water, there is a small platform. There is a nice looking red dog that lives on the platform, he is on a short chain. Anytime anybody walks by he barks and snarls viciously, his lips curl back from his teeth, he looks like he will attack. I stopped and talked with the dog awhile; "good dog", "I am not going to hurt you", "it's OK" etc, the dog calmed down, but if I made movements he snarled again. If Stey is there he will just yell at the dog and it will stop growling, he usually sits above the dog on a deck. The dog is crazy, driven crazy. I do not know enough about dog's to help calm it down or to get it back into a civilized behavior. I see sometimes that it wags its tail when the kids walk by, I even saw it try to play once. When ever I make a movement though it growls and prepares to snap.

Honoring the King with Professional Wrestling and the White String Psychologist.

On TV last night there was an English banner scrolling headlines along the bottom of the screen, one of the headlines said "The Thai Tourism Authority is sponsoring a WWF Smackdown at Muang Thong Thani in honor of his Majesty the King's 60th Anniversary of his Ascension to the Throne!" Huh!

When we went to Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in Lampang I had an experience with a White String Psychologist. There was a lady sitting outside, as I walked past she motioned for me to come over, I sort of ignored her, but she motioned me over, the feeling was, not the words, "come here don't worry." She tied a white string around my wrist and said something about good luck. Then she showed me a small basket with money in it, a 100 Baht bill was on the top, I gave her 20 Baht. I still have the string around my wrist. When Jit saw the same lady later she was told it was her lucky time and that she should think about the lottery, Jit also got a white string. The lady is doing an excellent job using psychology to make a living selling white strings.

One thing I have noticed when riding the small boats across the river is that people help each other into and out of the boat. A helping hand is always offered, it is pretty cool.

At STOU today I taught tables and mail merge in Word . The document I saw looked fine when it was printed, but when I viewed the invisible characters they were using tabs, spaces, and graphics to create the illusion of four blocks of text. They were creating graduation announcements. I created a four cell page layout and showed them how to do mail merge. It will save an immense amount of time. Not training your staff is a huge waste of time and money. The people I have been training at STOU are eager to learn, they are excellent students, they are motivated, the problem I think is one of opportunity or supervision.

Many days a couple of Indian men ride through the village on old bikes. They are selling things. Today I was talking with one of the men and he rode past, he asked me if I wanted to buy some perfume, I said no, he said you can see if you like any, I said even if it was free I am not interested in perfume. He asked where my wife was, I said in the back, but she was busy. It was a friendly conversation. Both the Indian men are like traveling salesmen. I think they also take credit and come each day to pick up a small payment. It seems like a pretty marginal existence to me.

Next semester I will only teach two courses, Excel, using the web, and Digital Photography. I will be working as the coordinator for the AA program and also doing advising and working in the advising center. The AA program is delivered through the web and also face to face. My sabbatical will provide excellent preparation for my new responsibilities.

Tomorrow I will work on my presentation on e-learning for Non-Formal Education. Jit will be going to Pantip Plaza with Ton. Ton is going to take a class on building computers, I think, from what I understand, that he will select and buy the parts at Pantip Plaza and build a computer that he can use at home. If I understand it correctly, it sounds like a great way to learn about computers. We have promised to by Ton a computer before we go. I have made him choose the computer and features that he wants, I wanted him to show me a specific computer that he found. He discovered this course while at Pantip Plaza . I hope it works.

Friday, January 27, 2006

On the way to Doi Inthanon


Sunday, January 29, 2006

-52 in Fairbanks and Mt Augustine: Bangkok Post

In the Bangkok Post today there was a picture of my home town Fairbanks Alaska. The picture showed immaculate Conception Church and the temperature sign on Denali State Bank. The temperature was reading -52. It is a strange experience to see a picture of your home town in Bangkok! I had to double take to recognize it. My first impression was just "Oh Fairbanks Winter!".

Next to the story on Alaska cold was a story of the eruption on Mt. Augustine near Homer. I guess even in Thailand Alaska has some news worth publishing. I took the story and picture around to show people in the community.

When we visited Jit's Uncle her cousin was redecorating a room, the walls were covered with pictures of Rama V. In Jit's uncle's house there was a picture wall also, it had many pictures of the King and two pictures of his kids graduating from college. It amazes me the number of pictures of Rama V that I see in Thailand.

This morning we went to the Banglapheu (?) floating market, it is near our house and we took a motor bike. We got there about 9:30 and it was very busy. There were no tourists. I can recommend going to the market on Saturday and Sunday morning, there is an amazing selection of food to eat, there are some arts and crafts to purchase, and it is a relaxed place to enjoy Thailand. Jit purchased some plants for our fish pots in front of the house.

A Monitor Lizard was near our house today, probably scared away from the park by the crowd. Jit's dad got out his sling shot and scared it away.

We had a picnic in the park in the afternoon. Juke's family and Jit's family went. It was fun and relaxing. I am still fighting a fever but I had fun anyway.

Tomorrow we go to STOU for the last time, I will teach Word in the morning and have a goodbye lunch in the afternoon. We have three more weeks before we leave. It is hard to imagine.

A confused ant


I watched a confused ant on the porch table. The ant was a large red ant carrying a piece of food. It was looking for a way off the table. It kept trying different paths but always ended up at the edge of the table, there was a plate of Star Fruit on the table and it crawled up there, looking for a path, From my perspective I could not see a way for the ant to succeed. Another ant was nearby, I was hoping to see if they were going to communicate. Jit came out with a plastic bag and put some of the Star fruit in a bag to take to her Uncle. I did not see the ants again.

Siam Paragon, watching a confused Ant, and -43.

Sometimes experiences that I did not blog about come back, I forget to mention that when I was in Ban Samkha I was shown a bag of bats. I think people gather them for food. People were kidding me when they showed me the bats.

Today we are going to Pantip Plaza to sign up Ton for a hardware class. I think that the course will include building a personal PC. We also need to pay our Phone and Electrical bills. There was a lot of traffic so Ton jumped out of the taxi and took a motorcycle to pay the electricity bill, he paid the bill and got back to us while we were still in the taxi.

People say Thai people do not read, I am not sure that is true. There are many Thai bookstores and news stands. I know though that I do not read as much, I do not have as much time to read. Getting around Bangkok takes a lot of time. When we are home people are coming over or we go visiting. There is not much solitary time. Reading is a solitary activity. At home in Alaska I read all the time.

We got a cell phone call from STOU, Monday they want more Word training, they have a list of specific questions about Word, great. It is fun to teach people who are ready to learn.

From the taxi I see a sign on a shop, Food and Drunk. I have also noticed T Shirt that and decals on the back window of some cars that say "Drunk 24 Hours."

We sign up Ton for the course at Pantip Palace and then go to pay bills and look for some bookstores, first we will pay the phone bill. We have to search for the TOT bill playing place, we then walk to Siam Paragon, the elevated walk is a nice way to move around Bangkok. By using the elevated walk I think you can go from Central World Plaza to MBK. Walking above the street is a very different experience from being at street level. At the Siam Paragon we find both of the English language bookstores, Asia Books and Kinokuniya. I find a few books to read. I want to make sure I have some good books for the flight home. I bought V.S. Naipaul's latest book, Magic Seeds and J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians. I also bought Phra Farang about an English Monk in Thailand. When we purchased the books they were put into plastic book covers, which is nice, but also a lot of work. I read in Thailand that books are respected, maybe the plastic cover is part of that respect. People might be shocked by the way that I take care of books! After exploring the Siam Paragon for awhile we go to Siam Center and eat at their food court F. The music is load and a there is a light show of flashing lights.

To me both the Siam Paragon and the Siam Center are boring. I love to look for good value and good design when I shop. I like to purchase things that solve problems and show good quality and good design. In Seattle and Anchorage there are REI stores that sell good quality clothing and outdoor equipment. When I shop at REI I can trust that I will be getting good quality and fair prices. I am not the audience for Siam Paragon. In the United States there is a huge mall in Minnesota, it is called the Mall of America. I was there for a conference and brought my daughter. She took me through every floor of the mall, it was also boring and predictable for me. I would rather look through Bopae market then go to Siam Paragon.

We take the taxi home. Nuke comes over and taught me some Thai. I also taught her some English. I have stopped trying to memorize the alphabet, I do not want to memorize the alphabet, there is not enough time to make it useful, I want to learn useful words, words I hear every day. Before I return to Thailand I will finish my Rosetta Stone CD. By the way while I was at Pantip Plaza I checked whether they had illegal copies of the Rosetta Stone Learning Thai CD, they did. I think we purchase our CD for about $300. The price at Pantip with about $7.50.


We go to Bang Su to see Jit's uncle and his family. As we were ready to go I watched a confused ant on the porch table. The ant was a large red ant carrying a piece of food. It was looking for a way off the table. It kept trying different paths but always ended up at the edge of the table, there was a plate of Star Fruit on the table and it crawled up there, looking for a path, From my perspective could not see a way for the ant to succeed. Another ant was nearby, I was hoping to see if they were going to communicate. Jit came out with a plastic bag and put some of the Star fruit in a bag to take to her Uncle. I did not see the ants again. When I was young I used to wonder if we looked like ants to God!

We walked to the small boat but the water was high, I did not want to wade through the junk so we walked back and took the motorcycle to the large boat.

On www.2bankok.com there is information about a new river boat express route that would be perfect for us, it would start from the large boat dock and go to all the different stops in Bangkok. We asked the ticket taker at Klong Toey and he did not know about it. The idea is good anyway

There are many fire crackers going off for Chinese New Year. I also see small burn barrels on the curb of the street. At first I thought it was for garbage but it is really to burn Chinese money for the dead, the money is fake.

The visit at Jit's uncle is great. Both his daughters graduated from STOU. The whole family works for the same government agency, I think it has to do with Pharmacy.

Jit's uncles place is surrounded by buildings. There is only a small narrow road into the property. Inside the buildings there is the family compound with. I think four or five traditional wooden Thai houses in excellent condition. I took pictures of the narrow road because I could not believe it.

After visiting we got a ride to Chatuchak Market to talk with the TNT shipping people. We have had excellent luck with them shipping things to Alaska. We arranged for them to come to our house to pick up things that we need to ship to Alaska. If we have any wooden things they will need to be fumigated and we should not ship any food items. Jit bought some fish for the large pots in the front of the house and also to put in to the canal.

When I got home I had a fever so I am going to sleep, take tylenol and try to get well. Monday will be a busy day so I need to me ready.

Last night Jit visited with her aunt, they talked about history and people in the community. She told Jit about how it used to be in the community, both the good and the bad. She wished she could have a large Thai house again but realizes that people are busy with work and life. She hopes that when she dies that she will not have to suffer and that she will not be a burden on people. Jit's aunt is a wonderful person, she does have a large extended family living with her, but it must not be as extended as it used to be. She has live in Mu9 all her life. She is always busy and is helping to raise her grand kids. Her two daughters are building a new house for the family right next to the old wood house. Listening to old people and documenting their memories is important. In Thailand, just like in Alaska Native cultures, people respect their elders.

Today in Fairbanks Alaska it is -43. There is always one or two very cold spells in Fairbanks. We are gaining 6 minutes a day of day light so the dark and cold will soon end.

The entrance to Jit's Uncles home


Jit's uncles place is surrounded by buildings. There is only a small narrow road into the property. Inside the buildings there is the family compound with. I think four or five traditional wooden Thai houses in excellent condition.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Last day at STOU and a Monk with a Poodle!

Yesterday at the picnic I noticed a monk with a white, overweight, very well groomed poodle. The poodle was following the Monk closely. The Monk was with a group of people, I think his family. I also noticed that the Monk was wearing shoes. I was perplexed, but I think what was happening is that the Monk was on one of the temporary religious experiences and not a permanent Monk.

Today was my last day at STOU. In the morning I taught Word skills and then we had a lunch. Many people were there including the President of the university, the directors of the departments that I worked with, and most importantly many of the people who I really worked with. The food was excellent, the speeches and comments were thoughtful, and I felt honored and happy to have had my experience at STOU.

One of the goals of my sabbatical was to get a new perspective on my life and my career, to fill my mind and my emotions with new experiences. I have done that with the assistance of the people at STOU. I have met people who are talented, motivated, and sincere. I will never forget my experience at STOU and hope to honor the people I have met with the work that I do when I return to Alaska.

I especially want to recognize Anne, Tuck, Nednepa, Nun, and Jum when I say goodbye. They were especially valuable to me in their communication, humor, and motivation.

Tomorrow I will work on my e-learning presentation for Non-Formal Education and Wednesday we will be visiting some schools that are using technology. On Thursday afternoon I will give a presentation on e-learning and then we will be done. We have just under three weeks left in Thailand.

Fortune Teller at the Floating Market.


Dog at the floating market


Thai coffee maker at the floating market


Some of the STOU staff who learned Word and Excel


Bangkok Post Articles on Alaska




Saturday, February 04, 2006

E-Learning is not about creating content! An awesome computer instructor, Somebody who get's it! Tou Poon, and Poodles.

We have been very busy the last few days. Tuesday I spent preparing for a presentation that I will give on Thursday summarizing my experiences looking at the E-Learning section of Non-Formal education. The web site that I have created is at www.cysewski.com/sabbatical/elearningexamples/

There is a massive amount of effort in Thailand to put educational content on line. At STOU, at Non-Formal Education and the Commission of Technology. There is also effort to distribute content by radio and television. What I have not seen is effort being put to using Internet technology to teach or learn. What I am recommending is to spend some time focusing on using technology for communication and process instead of content development.

The content that is being created is based on and similar to material already in print! Many of the CD's are of high quality and professional, but they are using the Pre-Test, Content, Multiple Choice Review, Post-Test methodology that is boring and fake! For the television programs and the Multimedia materials being created there is little connection between the production and the users. In a sense many people are creating text books, but there is no follow up marketing. Since people do not sell the material there is no consequence for unused materials.

Before the Internet we did the same thing, does anybody remember all the HyperCard stacks that teachers created. There used to be large catalogs of educational CD's for sale, some of them excellent. I remember spending $700 one Christmas for a CD player for my computer and a bunch of educational CD's for my daughters. The Internet has changed all that.

In Thailand there might be a need to develop materials on line because of the Thai language, but I am not sure why the material should be on-line if there are already workbooks. I do not see innovative or interesting new uses of the on-line opportunity to inspire independent learning. In any case I created a paper and some material to share so that people could see a broader view of e-learning. The Word document at http://www.cysewski.com/sabbatical/elearningexamples/ELearningIdeas.doc and the supporting web site are to start the conversation.

Wow, we visited a wonderful teacher and a wonderful school this morning. Satri Si Suriyothai School is in downtown Bangkok, Nick and Nook go there, It is a girls school. The computer teaching at the school, Poonsak Sakkatatiyakul has created excellent learning tools focusing on student communication and support. His knowledge and educational approach are astounding. You can see the web site at www.thaigoodview.com . The school was selected as a Microsoft Partners in Learning ICT Model School . The information about the award is at this location http://www.thaigoodview.com/ict/. The school web site in Thai is at http://www.suriyothai.net/ Thai students from all over the world use this site, the web log is amazing.

There is an exchange student from Alaska at the school, she is a 10th grader from Anchorage, it was great to talk a little about Alaska.

In the afternoon we saw a presentation on Multimedia Educational CD's and VCD's. for the Division of Educational Technology. The quality was excellent, but I have many questions about whether developing educational content, even of high quality, is E-Learning!

We also visited the Non-Formal Education Center for Target Groups. Jit is interested in people in Alaska taking advantage of the Thai learning resources, we have all the paper work, and sample course content to share with people when we return.

We met another amazing talent today, Rangsun Wibook-uppatum with the Bureau of Information and Communication Technology. He gets it, his description of working to bring teachers on board with effective use of technology as a learning tool was masterful. He understands teachers. He is also aware of the process of stimulating change in a non-threatening way. He has used the Intel Teaching to the Future curriculum to use ITC training as a means to teach about student centered and constructionist learning. Information on the curriculum as at both these web sites http://www.tmd.com.au/education/ and http://education.qld.gov.au/smartclassrooms/strategy/tsdev_intelteach.html . The content is very good, and is similar to what we might do in our Computer Business Applications course. He has many innovative programs. It was great to hear him in morning. Much of what we discussed were points I wanted to emphasis in my afternoon presentation.

In the afternoon I made a presentation about my observations and thoughts. I used the web site I created. The Director of the Education Technology Commission also showed up for the later part of the presentation. We spent some time discussing process and content. I really do not think he understood what I was talking about. I think one of the purposes of the meeting was to have me talk with him. He is a road block to innovative uses of technology!

Jit and I have made a contact with Stewart to talk with the E-Leaning people, he would be an excellent employee or consultant because he knows current technology that can be used to support education. I hope it works out.

In the evening I got sick, I think it was a slight case of food poisoning. Living over a canal can be very convenient. Also a dog bit Jit yesterday, she was invited in a house and the dog bit her when she came in. How people could invite somebody in, when they have a poorly mannered dog is a little murky. It had rabies shots though. People in this community do not have a clue about how to raise dogs or dog behavior. There is only one half decently trained dog in the whole community. I think that dogs are used as watch dogs and are probably abused. It is irritating.

Today is Margaret's birthday, she will be 21. We will be home in two weeks. I am looking forward to a good Pizza and fast Internet access. Today we are going to Pantip to get the computer parts for Tohn's computer. He will assemble it and bring it home. We spent three or four hours waiting for the computer teaching and selecting parts. We brought the Monitor home and Tohn will bring the computer. When the computer arrived home it still needed software so Tohn will go to Pantip to get the software tomorrow. He will continue to work with his computer teacher. We are going to get up early in the morning to go to Jit's Uncle's house, it has been 100 days since his wife died and there will be a ceremony and meal. I try to go to sleep, but I am restless.

We get ready and go with Juke, he will drive us and Jit's aunt to the gathering. It is early. Star has it set up to sleep in the back of the car, Juke, Star, Nook, and Nick all leave for school between 5:30 and 6:00 and arrive home after 6:00 in the evening, they need all the sleep they can get. We arrive at the gathering, there are many people we know, nine monks arrive, there is chanting, a meal a meal is served afterwards, and there is a lot of visiting. I wander around and do some photography. The area is a center of lumber and woodworking, there are many lumber and finished wood product stores. The road is very narrow, when a truck stops for delivery the traffic backs up. When we leave we drive to the end of the road, I am amazed by the number of wood related stores in the area. The area is Tow Poon.

Last weekend I posted a picture of the road to Jit's Uncle's compound, the narrow road. I walked around and explored, the compound and neighborhood.. There is a beautiful small garden in the compound and up on the roof of a surrounding building there is a very colorful rooster.

People are following the news on satellite TV, they are interested in the demonstration today, people are talking about what could happen. The King's statement last night calmed things a little bit, but there is a lot of discussion. There is a band with "Stop Thaksin" shirts playing on TV. The regular channels are not covering the demonstration, but most of them are government controlled or owned by, or used to be owned by, Thaksin.

Tohn is working on his computer installing the operating system, Norton Ghost, Anti-Virus, and Microsoft Office (Thai Version). I am observing, but not intruding.

We have a lot of work to do to prepare to return home. Monday morning I will watch the Super Bowl, I have followed Seattle, where I was raised, since the Seahawks began, I guess I should watch them when they finally make the Super Bowl.

Today I saw some more ornamental dogs, usually white poodles being carried, It is a pretty irritating fad, I never see the dogs walk. Sick dog, neglected dogs, mean dogs, scavenger dogs, and ornamental dogs, sigh!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

At the Bangnamphung Floating Market


Watching Professional Wrestling


At the Bangnamphung Floating Market


At the Bangnamphung Floating Market


At the Bangnamphung Floating Market


At the Bangnamphung Floating Market


At the Bangnamphung Floating Market


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Jit and her Uncle


A picture of the garden at Jit's Uncle's home


Pouring Water at the 100 day ceremony

Pouring Water at the 100 day anniversery ceremony

At Jit's Uncle's Home


It was the 100 day memorial for his wife. The Monk was part of the memorial.

Jit's Uncle


Bangnamphung Floating Market, a river trip, starting to pack, and thoughts of home.

Stuart and Steve drove over from Bangkok to visit. We went to the Bangnamphung floating market and took a boat trip down river from the small dock. I really like the floating market, it is relaxed and visually interesting. I took some photographs. I used my Olympus E-1 Digital SLR, which I love.
I got up early and watched the Super Bowl. It is a disconected experience not having the commercials and all the hype before the game. Even though I have been a Seattle Seahawks fan since the franchise was created watching the game was sort of abstract, it was a good game, but I did not really care that much. I thought about some of the other Super Bowl games that I watched and compared my perspective. Maybe it is because I do not really like to watch football!

Spent the day around the house, it was nice. We are organizing things to ship home. I read a book for awhile, took a nap, and in the late afternoon we went to visit some people in the community. I found some new paths to explore.

The home we visited is traditional wood on raised pilings. Under the house is a family or sewing room. There are three homes in the compound. It is near a different part of the park. The park is surrounded by houses and paths, but when you are in the park, except for some voices every once in awhile, it is not noticeable. The houses also give a hint of what the park was before it was constructed. I know, in a very sketchy way, that there was opposition to the park when it was created and I can see why. Jit said some people "gave" their land to the Queen for the park! The park must have disrupted many peoples homes.

I prepared some picture CD's for some people in the community, sharing some of my photography that I have taken during the trip.

Tomorrow there is supposed to be the 100 day ceremony for Oowon at the big tree.

It is getting warm in Fairbanks, it will be up to 20F or 30F above zero. The worst part of winter is over. I am thinking a lot about home and wondering how I will respond. I am going to miss many people in Thailand. I do not know when I will return. My work schedule gives me time off during the summer, but Jit's work time is less flexible. I know my trip has changed me! I will probably continue to post to this web log for a week or two after my return to share my impressions. We might come back for some time this summer, but I do not think Jit will be able to get time off. Jit's parent's health could also change all our plans.

Jit got an email from her work up on the North Slope of Alaska asking when she would be back. She will probably start work around the 24th or 25th.

My plan, for now, is to work for three more years and then retire. I think I will retire in Thailand, but three years is a long time with many opportunities and many possibilities.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Going home after the ceremony


At Oowon's 100 day ceremony

It has been 100 days since Oowon was cremated. We had the ceremony yesterday.

Pouring water at Oowon ceremony


Moit at Oowon ceremony


At Oowon's ceremony


Oowan's ceremony, Shipping "stuff" home, and thinking of home.

Today was the 100 day anniversary of Oowan's cremation ceremony. There was a ceremony in the community with food, nine Monks coming and chanting, and people visiting. The community brought a wide variety of foods. I got seated with the elders again, grrrr.... I also was encouraged to take many pictures. I got some good pictures of some of the older men in the community, I will post them later. Jit spent the afternoon packing things for shipping. A relaxed day.

Tone has finished his computer, it seems to work fine. The fan though is very noisy. It is sort of irritating. We need to download Adobe Reader and Winzip. He has installed a good variety of games, but seems to play the Soccer (Football) game the most. I copied my photographs of Thailand to his hard disk. I am going to make some CD's for different people before I go. It will also archive them in the community for later use, hopefully. There is about 50GB of pictures.

We called TNT today about shipping, we thought they would come here, but it will be better for us to go to them. We called our favorite Taxi driver to pick ups up since TNT is located on the eastern edge of Bangkok. TNT is only at Chackuchak on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Taxi came and we hauled four large boxes of stuff to the taxi. At TNT we found out we could not ship anything with wood, it would need to be fumigated. Some of the things we wanted to ship had wooden buttons. We will pack them in our luggage again. I think TNT is very cautious on what they ship to minimize problems, I agree with them. Getting fouled up with bureaucracy like we did with the postal customs office coming to Bangkok is not worth the hassle. All the "stuff" we wanted to ship is on its way, including a bunch of my film camera gear. The total cost for shipping is around $300. I have the Bessa R2 and the Olympus to take pictures for the rest of our time in Thailand.

Nook had her last test today, she is preparing to graduate from high school. It looked like the test was on NGOs, ASEAN, etc. I wonder what her next step will be? In Thailand the transition to adulthood is very different then in the United States, the flight to independence is very different. We shall see. I enjoy Nick and Nook a lot, they are fun to be with. We are always teasing each other. They both hang out at our house a lot. We also spend a lot of time with their family. I will miss them.

I have had a hard time sleeping the last two nights, thinking about Thailand and all the experiences I have had. I also am thinking about home in Alaska, just processing or digesting a lot of my experiences, sure wished I could sleep though. I get irritable with out enough sleep.

Jit's mom is going to the hospital for an appointment today. Tomorrow we have a trip with Non-Formal education.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Web Log Notebooks

These are the notebooks that I use to write my web log. I carry a notebook with me all the time.

I will be returning to Alaska 2/19 and will continue web logging for a few days after I return. Our flight will be only three hours , if I ignore the International Dateline. We fly from Bangkok to Taipei, from Taipai to Anchorage and then on to Fairbanks. We fly China Airlines, their New York flight stops in Anchorage.

I intend to create a photo web site of my Thailand experiences. I will post the URL to the web log when it is done.

I am not sure if I will start blogging on my Wandering In Alaska web log, if so I will also post the information to this web log.

Web logging has been a wonderful experience. The more I web log the more I observe and the more I remember. Both the web log and my notebook bring back the original experience. Web logging is similar to photography, both are based on specific observations and both highten awareness.

The Central Region Non-Formal Education Center, Ban Magrood, and some observations.

Today we are going to visit the Central Regional Center for Non-Formal Education in Ratchaburi. On the way we will stop at the Don Whey market. As we return we will see the Nakhom Pathorn Chedi. Nook will go with us since she does not have any tests to take.

The Non-Formal Education Regional Center is in a beautiful campus with many buildings, trees, and lawn. It is a former boy scout area. It looks like a summer camp. We visited a computer class where the students were learning web site creation using Dreamweaver. The students were nurses and teachers. The web sites looked well done. They had a server on site to publish the web sites. Amnart Choosuwan is the director of the center and speaks excellent English. The courses they teach seem practical and appropriate. Developing a Community Plan, Day Care, PHP and My SQL, Excel, Word, and Traditional Herbs were some to the courses offered.

The Center hosted E-Learning courses that were content based. People sign in and take the courses, the only support is through Web Board or email. If people want a certificate they need to pay a fee and come to the center to take an exam. Some of the courses have a supporting seminar at the end. The method of course delivery, whether workbooks or web based seems common in Thailand. Except for a few examples I do not see "teaching" in E-Learning. The responsibility for motivation and inspiration is entirely left with the students. The two exceptions to the content based E-Learning that we visited were outstanding, but more common is the passive presentation of material. The center has also developed a site for learning English that looked like an excellent resource for motivated learners.

If there was one thing that I would recommend it would be for E-Learning lessons to be "taught" using all the Internet tools available to provide communication and individualization. Every person I have met is committed, skilled, caring, and professional, what I do not see is the focus on human interaction as a necessary part of the learning process. I would love to be professional colleagues with the people I have met.

We visited the community of Ban Magrood. There is a community web site at www.magrood.com . The Non-Formal Education classroom is a bamboo building with palm frond and straw roof. There are two computers and a large study area. We met with the web site author and the community leader. The community, Ban Magrood, is a UNESCO demonstration project like Ban Samkha. I was very impressed with the web site creator, he took a course and has used that skill to develop a useful web site. Some of the uses that people make of computers is looking for funds for the community, information for community planning, and home accounting. Adults use the computers at the Education Center , and the Regional Center and at an Internet cafe. The web site has current community news on it, it scrolls like a web log so you can see the history of the recent activities. I was impressed and learned a lot from our community visit.

Driving back we visited the large Nakhom Pathon Chedi and got stuck in traffic on the Rama VIII bridge. Traveling with the people from Non-Formal Education, especially the Assistant Director is a joy, there is story telling and laughter. We asked Nook about the trip and she said that she had a much broader view of E-Learning, she said it would be great for mu9 to have some of the projects she saw at Ban Magrood. She also said it was the first time she had seem important people, professors and directors laugh and tell stories. She was surprised about their behavior. After we were dropped off we went out to eat before we took the taxi home. In the evening Nook gave me an embroidery that she made. I had to promise to have it on my wall in Alaska. I will fulfill that promise.

When we were at the Chedi there was a large roll of orange cloth that people signed with their wishes. I think the cloth well be put around the Chedi. Nook wished that she would do well on her tests and get into the university that she was hoping for. She want to study business. Jit wished that our families would have happiness.

Some observations
This morning as we were getting ready to go to Non-Formal Education there was a large Monitor lizard near the house. It was rushing down the path and jumped in the water. I am glad the lizards are afraid of people. If the lizard is near the community I imagine the dogs will get pretty upset.

Yesterday there was a large Green snake on the entry way to our home, it looked slim, like a Garter Snake. It crawled under some old coconuts. Jit said it was partially poisonous, but I am not sure. I looked around Google and could not identify the snake.

On TV there was a shot of some illegal logging, what was amazing was that they were using motorbikes to haul large logs, the logs were about 3 feet long and stacked on the back of the motorbike, maybe three or four logs on each motorbike.

Today there was a newspaper article that Honda has sold 50 million motorbikes since the 1960's, the picture reminded me that when I was in college in Bellingham Washington I owned a Honda 50, which is very similar to the current Honda Dream. I loved the motorbike, for awhile I sold my car and only used the motorbike for transportation. I even took a 50 mile trip to my grandmother's home with the motorbike. I had forgotten until I saw the picture.

Coming home from TNT yesterday we were next to a large truck, looking out of the passenger side of the truck, looking down on us, was a tiny dog. It made the taxi driver laugh. It was pretty funny.

When flying into Bangkok it is easy to see large community complexes, usually a large square of buildings with a road down the center, on each side of the rectangle there are shop houses. At street level the scale and organization of the buildings is hidden, there will just be a street, usually with a sign over the front, and a very busy looking community. From the air it looks very different.

On our drive I saw two motorcycles parked beside the highway, we made a U-Turn to go back to the Non-Formal Education Center and I could see that there were two boys swimming in a pond beside the road.

We passed a bus repair garage, there were old buses, diesel engines, and the ground was black with spilled oil. One of the workers was soaked in oil. There was a young child, maybe two years old, playing with a plastic trike. He was in the oil also. An unforgettable image.

On the way home, in the space of 15 minutes I saw three accidents, a motorbike fallen over with the driver and passenger hobbling around, a rear end "fender bender" between a van and a car, and a pickup truck flipped upside down in the middle of the road. I could not see the passengers.

Coming over the Rama VIII bridge we were next to an immaculately restored white 1961 Chevy Impala. It looked like it is was in perfect condition.

The Rama VIII bridge is beautiful, the large tower with a lotus blossom on top, the pattern of cables of the suspension bridge, and the form of the tower are beautiful design. The bridge is a little outmoded, only four lanes, but who ever was the engineer did a beautiful job. From the river the bridge is outstanding.

In Thailand there does not seem to be a clear boundary between private interest, business interest, and public interest. The demonstrations against Thaksin are serious. I hear serious political discussions. People are worried that Thaksin has sold the country. Political and business behavior that would lead to jail sentences in the United States are tolerated in Thailand. It is sad because with globalization good government practices and good business practices are crucial to compete.

Two United States citizens were killed in Northern Thailand. One of the people killed was supposed to be a relative of the former royal family. The scary part of the incident is that the newspapers say that the police did the killing. One of the police men that was interviewed said that "it was an 11mm gun, the Army uses 11mm guns, not the police"!!! Somehow I do not think that is a reassuring comment. When people are suspected of wrong doing they are transferred to "inactive positions" not fired. There are many newspapers accounts of police wrong doing, it is scary to think about.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Are you Groovy?

The new Toyota Yaris is being promoted using the slogan "Are you Groovy?" The slogan in on the radio, in the newspapers, and on bill boards. If you lived through the 60's the slogan seems pretty dumb.

Lizard and Jogger in the Park










Rangsit, Nakhon Nayok, an Elephant Downtown, and Rain

We had a relaxing day today, I finished two books and did some photography. In the evening Jit's dad brought in a large catfish, or at least it looked like a catfish. I would guess that it was 15 or 16 inches long. The fish was in a bucket of water. In the morning I asked where the fish was, it was still in the bucket. Nobody wanted to kill it because it was "Big Monk Day". Somebody said Star would kill it. We decided to let it go so Tone emptied it into the canal. I later saw it "resting against a log, its head was above water. I was told the water was salty and the fish needed to breath. The fish later moved to a different log, I took some pictures, and later in the day it was gone. With the very high tides lately it is possible that the water is salty.

Friday night the tide was also extremely low, coming back from the trip to the Regional Center the tide was probably 10 or 12 feet lower then the dock, we had to climb many stairs to get to the concrete path.

Juke, Star, and Nook came by and asked me if I wanted to go to Rangsit, I said "sure:. We drove to Rangsit and picked up Juke's sister. I really did not know where we were going or why, but I went along because I like to spend time with the family.

Jit stayed at home. In the morning there was a Tambon meeting and Jit participated. She had a bunch of papers to look at.

After picking up Juke's sister we drove along a long canal that paralleled the high way. The canal went on for miles. There were many floating rice barge restaurants on the canal, some of them were tilted. There were bridges that crossed the canals and led to subdivisions. There were large, old, signs advertising real estate for sale. We were going towards Nakhon Nayok.

Juke's mother lived in one of the subdivisions. We passed a temple fair, made a U turn, and then went through a security gate. There were a string of multi-story shop houses, then some newer single family homes, some abandoned, and then a long street with streets branching off on each side. The side streets were about 150 yards long. Some of the streets were occupied other streets were abandoned. Some of the construction was finished, others row houses were incomplete. I assume I am seeing more remnants of the 97 crash. We go to the end of the road, there were 62 cross streets. Juke's mother lives on the 60th street. They have a small row house with a store on the covered porch. We sit and visit for awhile, she is very happy to see her kids. Nook and I walk around and take some photographs. There are many empty houses. I peek over the fence that surrounds the subdivision and see rice fields. I assume I am seeing some one of the many subdivisions that I see from the air when landing in Bangkok.

Moit and Chulagorn are playing with their cousin. They run and run and play tag. They do that counting game with their fists to see who is it. Chulagorn is pretty active and they tip over a plant. Juke take a thin stick and whacks him. Chulagorn is mad and crying, he should be. I think physical discipline is common in Thai families. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I asked Nook is she was disciplined like that when she was young, she said yes.

Nook is improving her English and I am, sort of, improving my Thai. Nook is the person who tries to understand my language. We do communicate. I respect and like Juke, I wished sometimes I could communicate better with him. I have many questions and ideas I would love to share.

The horizon looks dark, like it might rain. I discount that idea because we have not had any rain for months. Well I was wrong, it did start to rain. Coming back it rained hard. This morning it is still raining. It is refreshing. Driving at night, when it is raining hard is very dangerous. Juke has driven the roads for years and is a safe driver. The roads though are very confusing, there are things sticking out in the road and I would have wrecked a hundred times. Visually it was very confusing.

We stopped to eat at one of the rice barges, noodle soup. It was, as usual, very good. There was a man fishing with a net in the canal beside the highway, the old way and the new way.

Coming home we stopped at the Klong Toey market to get oranges for orange juice. Juke's family makes orange juice to sell at their school. We buy some each morning. The family also makes white pollution masks to sell. I think it is to build character for the girls. Nick and Nook are wonderful to be around.

When we go to the market I get very confused, I know we are not going the normal way home and I am not sure what is going on. I eventually figure it out. Not knowing the language makes me very dependent. Many things are a puzzle and I need to watch closely to figure things out. It is a good experience.

We make it home. Jit is working on community papers. I go to sleep.

Today is supposed to be a holiday, Big Monk day. I am not sure what on Earth that means, but I will learn.

On the way home, right in downtown Bangkok, on a dark rainy street, there was an Elephant. I did not see it at first, Nook pointed it out. An amazing site. It was the first Elephant I have seen in Bangkok. A man was leading the Elephant. I am not sure about anything else, why or how, but it was there.

Sometimes I do not want to go home, sometimes I do. I am already thinking about when we return to Thailand.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Makha Bucha Day (Evening)


Makha Bucha Day (Evening)


Makha Bucha Day (Evening)


Makha Bucha Day (Evening)


Makha Bucha Day (Morning)


Makha Bucha Day (Morning)


Makha Bucha Day (Big Monk Day)

It was rainy and cool today, very nice. If I had thought deeper it would have been a good day for a long walk or to go explore a Bangkok neighborhood. Today was Makha Bucha day. It was a holiday for students and teachers. In the morning we went with Juke, Star, Chulagorn, and Moit to Wat Glang our local Wat. Wat Glang is where the Monks come for our local ceremonies. It is also the Wat that sends the Monks on the morning alms gathering. I like it very much. Anyway there was a celebration in the large wooden building. Families brought food, there was chanting, and a sermon. I took some photographs. In the evening there was a Vientiane ceremony or the lighting of candles. People gathered around 7:00 and there was chanting. The Monks came out and the community followed the Monks three times around the Bot. Everybody carried lighted candles and flowers. It was dark, except for the candles. There were stone or concrete structures, sort of small pillars at the corners of the Bot. People, using melted wax, placed the candles and flowers in the structures. The ceremony ended and then we went home. Nick and Nook also joined us in the evening. It is nice going to a small community Wat that is anchored in the daily life of the community.

During the day we went to Big C and got things for Jit's folks. We are leaving soon so we are stocking up on supplies.

There were two itinerant tool salesmen that came through the community wheeling a cart full of farming and garden tools, shovels, racks, scythes, etc. It looked like they were hand made. Some of the handles were bamboo and others were metal. Jit's dad looked at them, but we did not by any. When we went to Big C we watched them wheel their cart up the road to visit other communities.

It was a good and relaxed day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dead Fish, Canal Boat, Mission Hospital, and the Dentist

Spent the day reading and editing photographs. It was relaxing. The fish that we caught and released died. We saw it floating in the canal today. I took some pictures of it. I am not sure if it is because of salty water, I would think I would see many other dead fish if it was the water.
We went to Mission Hospital today to get Jit's teeth fixed. We had used the hospital before, it is a Seventh Day Adventist hospital. The marketing slogan is "Come Feel the Difference". I was impressed, it is organized, professional, and very courteous. It only cost 16,000 Baht, around $400, for everything. The hospital is near the Prince Palace Hotel. When Jit got food poisoning in 2004 we walked from the hospital to the hotel with Sutep. After leaving the hospital we walked over to the Prince Palace Hotel and had the lunch buffet. Going to the Prince Palace is like going home. When Margaret came to Thailand we stayed at the Prince Palace. After we ate we took the canal boat to the end of the line, Jit did not want to, but I was curious. The boat went all the way to Bangapet(?). Along the canal there were many Mosques, Temples, traditional wooden Thai houses, and multi-story apartments. You could tell they were apartments because of all the laundry hanging out the windows. We also passed two large Malls. We took a taxi back to Klong Toey dock and then made it home.

The canal boat went much further then I thought, it is a good way to travel, but it is a little exciting getting on and off. You have to duck under ropes and move quickly. I would not want to be carrying a lot of packages on the boat. Getting to our destination was much quicker using the boat then taking the Taxi back to downtown. Friday we go to the Mission Hospital again, maybe I can go the other way so I can see the complete canal boat route.

I got an email today from Jeep our guide at Kao Yai in 2004. He was an excellent guide with a deep enthusiasm for nature and good self-taught English skills. I can recommend him highly if anybody is interested in an in-depth look at Kao Yai.

Tomorrow we need to go back into Bangkok. We only have three more days before we leave Sunday. Time is going quickly. Last night I started to make mental lists of all the things that I need to accomplish when I get home. I think my worry about being bored is exaggerated. I know I have many exciting things to do in Alaska.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thoneburi, the Rose Garden, and the Golden Mount


There is politics going on in the community. Jit is involved. There are a few intense conversations. I am staying out of it. I wished that people did not speak so loudly, it is stressful hearing the intensity of feelings.

Today we are going to Thonburi with our special Taxi driver, Chi. Chi was the driver that tool us to Supen Buri. He is very calm. When ever we are not sure where we are going, or it might be complicated we try to call Chi. I feel safe and calm when we ride with Chi. Chi has been in the military and was a Monk for at least six months. He is married with one child. I enjoy spending time with him. We usually try to get him for the entire day.

When we were driving through Phra Pradang I saw a man that looked just like Teddy Mayac, my kids uncle in Alaska. I looked a couple times and the similarity was amazing.

People are trusting me enough to attempt English. With all the English education the people have in school many Thai people can understand some English. After we spend time for awhile they are willing to try to speak English. I am happy when people make the attempt.

We are having problems with customs in the United States, something is messed up with the shipment. I think we will have to pay some duty. The items are for personal use and not for re-sale, but I do not know if that counts. Many of the items are things that we brought with us from Alaska and are returning.

Tone worked with his teacher to do Internet Cafe computer maintenance, he got home after midnight. Tone goes to Pantip Plaza everyday to work with his teaching. It is good to see him energized by fixing computers. The teacher says he is good to work with and very motivated.

Many construction workers wear head coverings like the winter knit hats that we wear in extreme cold. The hats are knit and can cover your head and face. We use these hats in Alaska during the deepest winter, I can not imagine wearing one when it is hot. Part of the reason people wear the hats and masks is that people with dark skin are discriminated against. People with dark skin work outside and that usually indicates that you are poor and low status. I see some women with really fake looking white skin, it looks really wierd. It is sort of like women in the United States with obviously dyed blond hair. or men who comb hair over their bald spot to cover it up. Oh well, human nature.

They gave us a new Ricoh GR Digital today. The old one has not been returned from Japan yet and Ricoh authorized them to give me a new one. The people were very nice and helpful. I really appreciate it especially since the original damage was my own fault. They knew I damaged the camera and still helped me.

Last night I was restless I was thinking about all my Thailand experiences and the people that I have met. Sometimes I feel sad.

Driving to pick up the Ricoh today we went down a small road with a whole cluster of motorcycle taxis. The road went on and on and opened into a whole neighborhood. I guess you can tell how busy a street is by the number of motorcycle taxis that are waiting at the beginning of the road.

After we picked up the camera we went to the Rose Garden east of Bangkok. They have a cultural show similar to the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage that show traditional Thai life. Just about every Thailand package tour includes a trip to the Rose Garden. To me it was boring, the garden was OK, but I was not really happy to be there.

The Nestles Ice Cream motorcycles go through many communities. They are three wheel motorcycles with a large freezer compartment. The motorcycles has a very distinctive jingle. I think I will always associate the jingle with ice cream, sort of like Pavlov's dogs. The jingle is one of the distinctive Thai sounds that evoke a whole series of memories.

After going to the Rose Garden we went to Golden Mount to get a Buddha for Oy. I like the Golden Mount, it had a great view of Bangkok and is not too crowded. In 2004 we went there with Margaret, this time I could see many more sites and recognize what I was seeing. It was fun. We rode home with Chei and had a good trip. He took a different way to avoid traffic, and it worked.

When we were going to Golden Mount there were pictures of Jacques Chirac, the French President where the Royalty usually have their pictures. The President is visiting Thailand this week. It was a surpirse to see the pictures of him and his wife.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Next post from Fairbanks Alaska

We will be leaving Thailand tomorrow, early in the morning. We will be packing and visiting today. I will post again when we arrive in Alaska.

From a taxi window

Downtown Bangkok, returning from the Golden Mount

Conversation on the bus

Another picture from a taxi window.

Einstein Marketing

We were returning from the Rose Garden. I saw this sign as we were going past in the taxi.

Thai Truck

We were in a traffic jam on the express way. I saw this truck next to us. I missed taking a photograph of it and our line pulled ahead. I waited and after many lurches and pauses we were next to the truck again. This is another picture from a taxi window.

Thai Truck

I love the colors of Thai trucks. The picture was taken through a taxi window. I will create a web page of "taxi photographs" when I get home.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Khao Yai Guide Mr Jeep

In a previous posting I mentioned that I got an email from Jeep. Jeep took my daughter and I for a day long trip in Khao Yai. We also saw the bat caves in the evening. The trip, and the communication was wonderful. I wanted to post the specific information on how to contact him. This is a copy of the email he sent me.

Do you remember me? My name is Mr.Jeep
I was your tour guide at khao Yai National Park in Thailand. I very much hope that you remember me.
This my E-mail address:monsoonforest@yahoo.com
and jeep@monsoon-travel.com
Every day, I put pictures and information about species on the website.
So.. if you have anything I can take care of, or a friend of yours who wishes to visit the Khao Yai National Park you can contact me.
I offer you a 1 and a Half day tour
I offer you a Bird watching tour
I offer you a 16 K.m Trekking tour
I offer you Elephant Riding or a Special tour (2 day 1 night)
For more details, please contact me.
However I will send you more details about my website:www.monsoon-travel.com
I hope to hear form you as soon as possible.Sory if my english has mistakes,
could you please correct it for me?
Thank you and Take care
Mr.Jeep Sung

We made it!

We are home! I will post details of the trip later. We started three hours late, but China Air lines was great. They held the Anchorage/New York flight so that the people from Bangkok could make the connection. In Anchorage they had somebody to help us through customs so we could make our flight to Fairbanks. We are slowly unpacking and trying to stay awake. It is good to be home, but I already miss Thailand.

To me when I went to Thailand I had one home, after our trip I have two homes. It is a mixed blessing, having two homes always means that I will be missing at least one home! There can be worse problems though.

Juke, Star, Nook and Nick drove us to the airport. Ah also came over with her pickup to carry our luggage. When we got there the flight was delayed, we had breakfast and visited. It was hard to say goodbye.

Coming through immigration in Anchorage we found out that it was not good for Jit to spend six months in Thailand. We had to apply for permission, she let it pass, but it could become a problem in the future. It was actually more hassle to get from Anchorage to Fairbanks then from Bangkok to Anchorage. TSA opened our luggage and messed stuff up, pretty irritating.

Anyway I will revise this blog entry and add more details tomorrow. It is 6:15 PM Sunday night in Alaska.


Wandering In Thailand 2006