Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I Think Therefore Siam
I tried to convince MaiThai to name her blog that. Apparently she didn’t find it as amusing as I did (I mean, c’mon guys, you miss my terrible puns).
I’m sorry about taking so long with this post – I’m so tired when I get home from school that I just lay on my bed in a semi-comatose state.
Speaking of school, it’s a pretty sweet place. Essentially, I do almost nothing because we’re not in normal classes. However, the other two girls and I have convinced our teachers to put us in normal classes starting next week.
So far, I’ve gone to art (which I’m really bad at), Thai Dancing (where I stand like an idiot and wave my hands around like a hyper child armed with pool noodles), French (which is just like sitting in an English class), and a few other random classes that we just get suddenly thrown into. Also, the other day I went to Chemistry class. It was so awesome! They were studying Hydrocarbons (i.e. what I studied last year), and they use the same nomenclature as we do in English and draw their diagrams the same, so I was able to understand. In fact, I even gave one of my Thai friends the answer at one point (go White Chick!).
The kids are really nice – though they rarely approach us farang when we’re all in a group. I have learned how to ask people to speak Thai to me, and (just as importantly) how to ask them to speak slowly.
I can now almost read Thai (kind of). There are maybe 7 vowels that I don’t know, and that’s because they are combinations of other vowels but don’t actually mesh those sounds together, as you might assume. Instead, these combinations make completely different sounds that are completely illogical. Not to mention, as soon as I think I’ve learned all the vowels a new one leaps out of nowhere. I swear. It’s as though there are these awkward vowel sounds just lurking in the shadows for whenever I start to feel confident about my reading capabilities.
But now when people come over to my house my Mae has me read for them (yeah…). It’s actually pretty cool, because Thai people continue to be extremely supportive of my struggling attempts to communicate.
The first day, before school, we went to go feed the monks. This is actually a really cool part of their religion, in my (not so) humble opinion, because the monks will eat only what they are given in their morning walk up to wherever they go (I think there’s a temple higher up the hill up which they all walk each morning).
Everyday driving through the city in the morning you can see the monks coming from all over and all eventually converging on the passage up this hill. And they are all barefoot, which is pretty intense – especially in a place like Thailand.
But onwards and upwards, my friends, to the world of Blazers and Banners, Sergeants and Presidents, and rooms filled with primarily middle-aged Thai people.
Yes indeed, I speak of none other than the marvellous world of Rotary club meetings.
The first meeting I went to, there were three Japanese businessmen visiting from the club of Tokyo North. They and my club (Lanna ChiangMai, for those who care) have raised I believe about 30, 000 $ to go towards building dams in some 3rd World country (I didn’t catch the name) which will re-hydrate multiple dried up springs and give water to many needy people.
I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t catch a lot of that presentation – but the gist was that I met cool Japanese people. My Mae warned me in advance that they would be there so I was able to prepare and bring an extra banner for them.
They were very kind, even going so far as to compliment the three stilted sentences I managed to spew out in barely-remembered Japanese. I thought it was really incredible that already I am making connections through Rotary – it truly made me feel like an ambassador of not only Canada, but of Rotary Sunrise Lethbridge and Rotary Youth Exchange in general.
Right now, I am at Orientation. It’s a pretty great time. All the kids here are really nice and we’ve been having a lot of fun. Hopefully I’ll be able to update you all on the entirety of this experience sometime in the coming week.
And, as you can see, I have incorporated pictures of my new shoes (goal 3 - COMPLETE)
P.S. I start Muay Thai next week! =D