Dateline Tuesday: Bangkok 2/13/2007


Wow, I had the morning off today! Anne surprised me last night by scheduling a Thai massage for me for this morning Ė that was really great! Itís a full body massage, but with a lot of stretching and flexing, so it ends up being simultaneously relaxing and invigorating. Lunch with Anne at the house, then I was off to do a little work (for a change, eh?) Today I was at Rangsit University, out here in the northern suburbs of Bangkok, so not too terribly far away. And a very nice music school they have! New building, very nicely designed, up-to-date, and I believe they have the strongest music program outside of Mahidol University. This was the only university with a music program that I didnít visit on my last trip here, so I was very glad to get there today. The student audience was mixed pianists and other musicians, and not all fluent in English, so a couple of the faculty translated into Thai for me Ė always challenging to deal with, because the train of thought is constantly interrupted. But we made it work. They also challenged me by requesting short versions of three presentation topics, all in a 2-hour period. I did manage to fit them all in, and ended right on time. I really enjoy doing the improvisation presentation, itís a fun topic and I like the way it facilitates interaction with my audience since I have people come up and try doing various improv examples. Today I requested only non-pianists to volunteer, so as to be a stronger test of my claim that the examples I was using really would work at any level of piano playing Ė and it was true, of course. I wasnít surprised, but the students were!

After the presentations, Tum took me home for the last time (this trip, anyway), and then Anne and I hit the road with their driver Jim. We went to Ko Kret, a little island just offshore on the Chao Praya River (the main river running through Bangkok). Two baht (five cents) to take the ferry across. Ko Kret is best known for its pottery Ė lovely earthenware that is intricately and gorgeously decorated with incised patterns. We were able to watch people making the pottery, and of course they had plenty for sale. The majority of it was terra-cotta colored, but by firing at a higher temperature it turns a lovely bronzy brown, and raising the temperature even further, it turns black. The higher temperature renders it harder and more waterproof also, desirable since they use no glazes. The island itself is charmingly old style; no cars, but tons of dogs roaming around; some rather dilapidated temples, obviously still in use; a lot of villagers just going about their daily lives. We didnít see any other tourists, though I know on weekends they get pretty good tourist traffic.

Beyond the pottery-making village, we looked around a fruit orchard of sorts Ė looked as if the trees were just growing there, but it may be that they do their orchards that way here. Not a lot of trees together of one variety, just everything jumbled together, durian, mango, mangosteen, banana, coconut, etc., with a lot of undergrowth to boot. Obviously they arenít using any power equipment, all hand labor.

It was very pleasant on the island in late afternoon Ė not too much sun, a nice breeze off the river. A good time to come. Once we finished our rambles there, we took the ferry back to the mainland and went to dinner at a beautiful restaurant situated on extensive grounds Ė beautifully landscaped. I was at the same restaurant on my last trip here, a wonderful place. We ate at a sheltered outdoor table right on the river, and enjoyed watching the sun set, the boats going by, and a beautiful evening. Delicious food Ė satay finally, a mild curry, and some other fun things I canít actually name. A lovely ending to the day, and awfully nice finally to have a little more time with Anne; with all the work days, we havenít really seen each other very much yet!.

Love to all,

Carlyn

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