Friday/Saturday: Bangkok! 2/9/2007 and 2/10/2007


10:35 AM

Hello from Thailand!

Sorry no message yesterday Ė Yahoo and the wireless network Iím using here donít seem to get along very well. Iím hoping to get a message out tonight.

Friday was largely a travel day. Had to get an early start because Kuala Lumpurís airport is a full hour out of the city. I loved the waiting area there Ė the seating actually included footrests! Pretty comfy. Easy flights to Bangkok via Phuket, and at Bangkok was happy to be met by my good friend Anne Finstuen. Anne and I meet up in some pretty interesting airports Ė I visited her in Indonesia years ago, my first trip to the Far East.

Had a nice lazy afternoon at Anne and Jonís beautiful house, catching up on news and meeting her two daughters, 12 year old Ava and 2-1/2 year old Ella. They live in a lovely expatriate community, which has its own stores, putt-putt golf, medical clinic, etc., all very compact and convenient. Went grocery shopping there with Anne and Ella, always interesting to see what looks the same and what is different. Family dinner of pizza, my first Western food of the trip! And some yummy fresh fruit, including my favorite mangosteens. In the evening Anne and I went out for a Thai-style foot massage, which I was surprised to find included legs, arms, back, neck too! Apparently the way they distinguish the two is, with a foot massage you stay in your street clothes and the massage is done in a chair; a body massage you change into loose clothing kind of like scrubs and youíre lying down. In any case, the massage was wonderful, relaxing and invigorating at the same time. All the staff are Wat Po-trained, Wat Po being THE place for Thai massage.

Today, Saturday, was a busy day. Unfortunately, I awakened with almost no speaking voice; my throat was a bit sore yesterday but I thought it might just be from the smog and heat etc. Now I donít think so! Anyway, I was picked up by a staff-person from the Chintakarn Music Institute where I was to spend the day; the person turned out to be Tum, who was my primary driver last time I was here. He was the one who, for the first week I was here, never spoke a word in English so I assumed he didnít speak the language; and then he let his secret out, he does know English after all!

My dayís work was all at CMI, a very busy and successful pre-university music school. It was good to see Bupavan again (director of the Institute), and Naporn (my translator last trip). This morning I did two hours of masterclass with various aged students Ė half university-level, half younger. All very enjoyable to work with. I had a 2-hour lunch break, so after a quick meal of Pad Thai, two of the office staff took me to Kamthieng House, a very interesting house-museum that is an old house moved to Bangkok from northern Thailand (Chiang Mai area). Lots of good explanations about the architecture, culture and lifestyle. All the rooms of the house were 2nd-story; the lower level is open to catch all possible breezes, making it much more pleasant to work down below during the day (spinning, weaving, washing, etc). But the kitchen is upstairs, in a separate building to the side of the main house; the hearth is earthen, packed into a wooden frame about 10 inches high. They had a very interesting video playing, showing cooking being done in the traditional fashion in that very kitchen. The rice granary is also a separate structure, also on the 2nd level, built with walls slanting inward to provide greater strength for the weight of all the rice that would be stored. Interesting information also about the matriarchal culture of the region. All in all a most worthwhile visit, and a good place to see before I go up to Chiang Mai later this week. The two staff that came with me had never been to this place, so they also found it very interesting.

Then back to CMI for afternoon masterclass, this time students of one of my former teaching assistants who is now back in Bangkok. An hourís break gave me a first shot at shopping at my favorite handcrafts store, though one hour wasnít nearly enough! Then I gave a session on Memorization for area teachers Ė very little voice left at this point, so I was glad they were able to supply me with a microphone. I never would have made it otherwise.

One of the attendees is a potential grad student for my university, and we had a nice talk afterwards. I have to listen to her audition CD, which she already sent to the States, but assuming it measures up to everything else, I think Iíve found a good new teaching assistant for next year. Good background and experience, and best English of any of the Thai students weíve had, which puts her in a very good light.

A short practice session, then delicious Japanese dinner with Bupavan and Tum, and finally back to Anne and Jonís house for the night.

Fortunately, though my voice is bad, I feel ok otherwise. I hope it will be better tomorrow!

Love to all,

Carlyn

Last updated 12/07. Copyright 2007 by Richard C. Morenus. Questions? Send email to richard.c@morenus.org