Sunday, March 20, 2011

Training in Thailand

Well, we've been doing training for a few days now here in Chiang Rai, Thailand. We're in the process of training a group of people to be a Read and Review Committee and Back Translators for the project that will most likely be forming here for the hill tribal group we're researching. The picture at the top is from church on Sunday. We sat in the front row, right in front of the tribal grandma section. :) They were really cute and smiled a lot at us. :)

So far in Chiang Rai we've been adapting to the culture in our own unique ways. For the twins this means trying to catch fish in the little pond outside the front steps of the hotel. For Connie it means eating peanut butter fudge and finding a new restaurant to eat at everyday within walking distance. For Uncle Ross it means preaching in his own style at the church, and for me it includes renting a motorbike and speeding all over town in a green helmet, trying to play a Thai wooden flute with the flute seller in the night bazaar, and learning some basic words in Thai like "Sawasdee ka" (Greeting/Farewell) and "Kap kun ka" (thank you).

There are some marked differences between Thai and Burmese culture that I've noticed in our short time here. It's only been a few days, but the atmosphere is completely different in Thailand. Even in the relatively rural area of Chiang Rai (about 60,000 total population) there are really nice pickup trucks. There are lots of motorcycles and scooters in traffic (like Kalay). Beyond that level though, the people themselves are very different. It's hard to put your finger on it exactly, but superficially at least, they seem to be less eager to practice their English. Compared with the English speakers in Mnmr (where even the beggar kids and peddlers know how to say "special discount" and "hello my friend!" "how much you pay?" and "very beautiful") the common level of English is a lot worse. We were told that even the English teachers here don't know how to speak it, it's all about writing and reading, so when we try to speak English people answer in Thai and try to avoid us. :) Thankfully our friends here speak good English and are not afraid to speak to us. I've made a friend here in our training sessions. One of the men here being trained brought his adopted daughter who's a 3rd year University student in Bangkok, and we've been having fun talking and sharing with someone in the same spot in life. :)

Some interesting language tidbits that we found so far...

"Man cannot live by candy alone..." (In their culture, rice is the staple food, not bread, so bread is like candy and in A__ language, the word for bread is the same word for candy).

"Are your garments spotless? Are they white as cotton?" (That's how they translated the song, since they don't have snow

They have one word that is both evil spirits and ghosts.

Anyway, other than riding a scooter around town, going to the night bazaar, buying a "Thai" passport, and going to sessions, there's not much to report on at the moment. I'll be flying out of Chiang Rai on Thursday afternoon here. Landing in Bangkok about 5pm on Thursday here, then overnighting it in the Bangkok airport, flying out of Bangkok 7am local time, arriving in Green Bay hopefully around 7pm Friday night there. It equals out to about 36 hours of flying I think, but because of the time change, it mostly ends up in one day. :)

Well that's all for now.
G&P to the Family!

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