In the midst of the riots (I haven’t left my house – or my bed, for that matter – so I haven’t seen it yet) I recalled an incident in which I met a Thaksin supporter. I was in Lamphun on the field school trip, and as we all know, the north is where Thaksin’s stronghold is. There was this Lamphun resident who tagged along during the conferences and site visits because she’s retired and has nothing better to do.

So we were sitting and chatting at Dhamma Park (a weird cultish very alternative place) one day, and Daniel suddenly felt like telling her how in love I am with the current PM. Haha it usually is a good conversation starter, albeit making me look totally bimbotic. Not that day, though. Upon hearing that statement, she made a face, pointed her hand into a gun, and started making shooting noises at me.

Some people cannot take jokes.

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IMG_4690“Every woman needs to know how to weave. You don’t know how to weave, you will never get married.
Every woman also needs to know how to make local whiskeys.”

Dr Alexandra Denes from SAC briefing the participants for their fieldwork

Super transcribers: Malgorzata from London and us typing away

Sufie and I are in charming Lamphun after a nine hour bus ride from Bangkok. The pronvince’s located in northern Thailand and is a 45 minutes drive from Chiang Mai. We are rapporteurs for the SAC/UNESCO Field School on Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums. The first few lectures and discussion sessions did stir up memories of Dr Miksic’s cultural resource management class.

IMG_3854Wat Sela Rattana Papphataram in Lampang province

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Dr Ratanaporn Sethakul from Chiang Mai, leading expert on the history of Lamphun.

The two-week long Field School’s targeted for museum practitioners in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, but we’ve met architects, artists, graduate students amongst the participants. Interesting bunch of people with vast experiences…  there’s this painter who studied the secrets of royal painting techniques in the grand palace, but yet was conflicted over the inability to share them, and now worries for its survival. There’re also participants from Bhutan, Kun Ming in China, Vietnam and Cambodia. All of which have quite profound experiences with museum work.

Our job scope? Well, officially, we are rapporteurs for the lectures and discussion sessions. But it has generously been expanded to include various humbled tasks that require no skill, probably just a subservience attitude and a smile. We summarise the lecture contents and submit the reports the day after. Unknown to many, while everyone else goes to bed after dinner, we (and another intern from UNESCO) slave on our computers till late just to figure out what they were discussing in the day.

IMG_3904Buddhist scrolls at Wat Sela Rattana Papphataram dating back to 1001 (Thai calendar). 1551 years ago!

The past few days have been tiring with intensive museums and temples visiting. However, it has been quite an enriching experience, and we’ve actually learnt quite a bit from this field school.

It’s been a while since any of us updated this blog. We’re done with Thai classes at Thammasat… just when hordes of international exchange students come for the new Fall Semester. We’ve seen too many of them around with their Thai student guides. Jealous we are.

Amy’s begun her stint at the Bangkok National Museum while Sufie and Daniel are interning at the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre. Firmin will be finishing his teaching stint at St Gabriel’s College soon. Be patient. We’ll be updating our internship experiences in a while.

An ultra cool Dr Pattana with the Krung Thep Kiddos, and flanked by selected summer school peeps.

This was when we went to Wat Pho (pronounced like the red Teletubby), the temple known for its giant Reclining Buddha – or “Buddha Sleep”, in Thai –  and murals on meditation and massage. This took place two weeks ago, when Daniel went back to Singapore. But life in the form of an upper respiratory tract infection kinda took over for a little bit, so I’m updating only now.

With Ajarn Nuanthip, our Monday teacher

She insisted that we go on that day even without Daniel since we could go in free of charge, under the pretext of being Thai undergrads. Such an honest society we live in. We even put our shoes at the “Thai People” rack. Foreigners had to deposit their shoes at a counter.

I’ve never been to Wat Pho despite coming to Bangkok a few times before, so I was pretty impressed. And the swirls under the Buddha’s feet are made from Mother of Pearl!

It really helped that we had Ajarn Nuanthip with us. We’re Wat Pho experts now and we can tell you with conviction that the following meditation position, as demonstrated by the hermit statue and your favourite Krungthep Kiddos, is good for you:

xoxo,
Flufie

Dear friends, our time here has been good and we’re well.  The past week has been ‘life-altering’. Besides bugging and angering over the complexities of the thai language, much has happened. Sufie got sick and was hospitalised. And it never occurred to us how frightening H1N1 was, until someone that close to you gets it. But, she didn’t anyway. Take Amy for instance, she stopped by the pharmacy, and bought dettol, vitamins, hand sanitizers and an a N95 mask… now she knows. Dettol hand sanitizer’s my favourite companion now.

We were told to report for class the morning we sent Sufie to the hospital, despite having suspicions of having caught the swine virus. Reason being there was no more time for makeup class. (?!) Well, different culture, different country, different policies maybe. We ended up talking with our masks in class. I felt really safe and comfortable with the N95 over my face. Really.

The ladies have also been tutoring two Thai school girls English for about two weeks. They’re actively cultivating their motherly skills.

Conversations go like this:

Sufie: What’s this you’re drawing?
Girl: A rabbit.
Sufie: Oh, that’s pretty…
Girl: Yeah I know.

Me: You want some Tim Tams?
Girl: Yeah…

And then she grabs the whole packet and puts it next to her. I intended to offer ONE Tim Tam. oh, I love kids.

Face of an outstanding mother to be.

The day before, thanks to the sweltering Bangkok heat, Amy and I unexpectantly got ourselves stuck in a Starbucks birthday party. Yes, a Happy Jelly Party of Starbucks – the coffee chain.

So we were downing our cups of caffeine and cake at Khao San Road, when the barista troops in with small samples of their newest drink. Cool, one free sample, we thought. Then came cup after cup of their four new drinks, with coffee cake, sandwiches and quiche compliments, and the party began.


Caffeine madness

Amy’s back in Singapore for a week, Sufie’s entertaining her mom (who flew in in extra fast speed, like superwoman) and boyfriend. And my plans for Ko Samet, a gazzetted national park on this island four hours away, have been scrapped because of the rain forecasts for the week ahead.

IMG_0095

About to be specially hand carried back to Bangkok for khun Amy. umm, fish maw goodness.

While you guys spent your Sunday at Hua Hin, I spent my Sunday in at the Great Ancient City of Ayutthaya. Real ancient city, with lots of interesting architectures and interesting encounters.

I have always wanted to visit the Great ancient city, as I have heard lots about its culture, people and traditions. My friend’s aunt and uncle are kind enough to bring me there for a half day tour, together with their friends. A total of 6 of us headed up north of Nonthaburi which takes about an hour to reach there.

Our first destination is this area built by King Chulalongkorn. Apparently, King Chula loved western architectures. And so, he  built many architectures with a Victorian taste.

the facade church! *that's what I call it*

the facade church! *that's what I call it*

The exterior of this architecture looks like a typical Catholic church yeah?

the interior.. A Buddhist Shrine!

the interior.. A Buddhist Shrine!

Read the rest of this entry »

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